November 21, 1997
Return to this forum's introduction.
Questions answered in this forum:
Wouldn't it have been better to remove the American inspectors? What do Arab nations think of America's peace keeping objectives now? Who would be impacted most by an unrestricted Saddam Hussein? Why is U.S. foreign policy so inconsistent? How would the U.N. have reacted to a U.S. military strike? Viewer comments?
Vincent J. Grenier of Whitefield, ME asks:
Who would be impacted the most by an unrestricted Saddam Hussein? Israel,Saudi Arabia, Iran? What measures if any are they taking to protect themselves? What contributions are they making to the overall effort to check Saddam?
Amb. Alvin P. Adams of UNA-USA responds:
The whole world would be impacted by an unrestricted Saddam Hussein, not just countries in the Middle East. Just hours before last week's emergency session on the Iraqi crisis in Geneva by representatives of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the Head of the U.N. Weapons Inspection Team, Ambassador Richard Butler, presented frightening evidence to the Security Council of Iraq's ability to produce biological and chemical weapons within a matter of weeks. Iraq is believed to have 25 warheads filled with some of the world's deadliest germs, and its missiles are thought to have a range of 400 miles. U.N. officials say Iraq's store of anthrax and botulinum toxin, if shot off under the right conditions, could kill from 100,000 to one million people.
Although Israel is likely to be a prime target of any Iraqi strike, intimidation of Iran and Saudi Arabia will continue to be key objectives in Saddam Hussein's regional power strategy. Iraq fought a devastating eight year war with Iran. The wounds from that conflict have not healed, and there is no friendship between these nations. Nor is there any great love lost between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. More to the point, there is no guarantee that any Middle East country, Turkey included, would be safe if the restraints on Iraq were lifted.
Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran have all spent considerable sums to protect themselves against the likes of Saddam Hussein. And they continue to build up their defense capabilities all the time. These countries have also contributed to the overall effort to check Saddam Hussein by enforcing the economic sanctions against Iraq, and by paying their respective share of contributions toward the UNSCOM inspections.
John Bolton of American Enterprise Institute responds:The unrestricted Saddam Hussein already has an impressive record: a lengthy, bloody and costly war with Iraq, the invasion of Kuwait, the massacre and gassing of Kurdish, Shi'ite and other Iraqi citizens, and a brutal, authoritarian government in Baghdad. We do not need further evidence of his intentions and his methods.
I believe that the other governments in the region fully understand the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. What they worry about profoundly, however, is the staying power of the United States generally, and the Clinton Administration particularly. If Saudi Arabia and the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council come to believe that the U.S. is prepared to leave them in the lurch, or to cave in to Saddam's relentless assaults on UNSCOM and the economic sanctions, they will seek their own accommodation with him. Such conduct would be the true end of the Gulf War coalition crafted by President Bush.
Israel has a similar fear about U.S. staying power, but its reaction would be radically different. Rather than seeking a "deal" with Iraq, Israel would take whatever military steps it thought necessary to defend itself, and one could hardly blame them. From the American perspective, however, we want to keep decisions about the use of military force in the region to ourselves, if there is ever to be a realistic hope of a lasting peace.
Iran will not be influenced by anything that the United States does in any event.
Yahya Sadowski of The Brookings Institution responds:Saddam has, at one time or another, threatened and attacked Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. However, the 1991 Gulf War and the ensuing embargo have gutted Iraq's economy, greatly reducing its ability to contemplate aggression against its neighbors. Saddam is probably trying to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons because they would give him a deterrent capability. That is, they would contribute to Iraq's defensive capabilities.
In particular, the Iranian military is now much stronger than it was when Saddam barely defeated them in 1988-9. Saddam probably hopes that he could use chemical weapons on the battlefield to stop Iranian offensives or that he could use biological toxins mounted on Scud missiles as a way of retaliating against Teheran.
Mind you, Iran is not actively threatening Iraq today. But the Iranians have not forgotten how Saddam invaded their country and imposed a long, debilitating war upon it. The Iranians have the resources to be the dominant power in the Gulf. The Iraqis must assume the interests of their countries will clash again, sooner or later.
Next: Why is U.S. foreign policy so inconsistent?