November 21, 1997
Wouldn't it have been better to remove the American inspectors? What do Arab nations think of America's peace keeping ojectives 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? Since October 29th, U.S.-Iraqi relations have taken on the look of a dangerous tennis game, each side lobbing tougher and tougher words at the other. But now that Iraq has expelled American inspectors from the country, a tense hush hovers, suggesting that the exchange may escalate from a war of words to a war of weapons.
At issue is the presence of Americans in the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) which has monitored and destroyed Iraqi chemical weapons since the gulf war. Although Americans do not dominate the inspections team, Iraq maintains that they bring a hostile presence to the multinational effort, and has repeatedly turned away inspection teams that included Americans.
Both the U.S. and U.N. have rejected Iraq's attempt to fracture the team by nationality, unanimously agreeing to restrict travel of senior Iraqi officials as a warning. But Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's defiant response, rebuffing U.S and U.N. sanctions and expelling the American faction, has escalated the conflict to a new level.
Is it a military level? The U.N.'s quick decision to remove the entire inspections team after the expulsion would suggest that the international community expects the Iraqi conflict to take a different turn. And although President Clinton is currently down playing the possibility of a military strike, it is clear that sanctions have been ineffective thus far.
Then there's the problem of Saddam Hussein. Analysts and administration officials sigh with frustration that they don't understand the Iraqi leader, viewed as both dangerous and irrational. And as a leader who amasses biological weapons at a pace U.N. inspectors can barely keep up with, Hussein is viewed a constant threat to stability, both in the Middle East and the world.
Concern over Hussein may be widespread, but agreement on how to handle him is far from universal. Within the international community, France and Russia have strongly opposed the use of military force to control the Iraqi conflict.
There are other costs to consider as well. A large military strike could also devastate Iraq's civilian population. And it remains unclear whether ousting Hussein would produce stability; a more volatile situation could replace him.
What is the next move? Should the U.S. launch a military strike against Iraq? With U.N. members opposing extreme measures, how would a U.S. led attack affect international relations?
We have three guests for this forum; Ambassador Alvin P. Adams is President and CEO of the United Nations Association, a nonprofit organization, which seeks to enhance U.S. participation in the United Nations. John R. Bolton is senior vice president of American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and Yahya M. Sadowski is a Senior Fellow in foreign policy studies at Brookings Institution.
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 ojectives 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?