spying on saddam
david kay: interview
He worked for the International Atomic Energy Agency and was the chief nuclear weapons inspector for UNSCOM, 1991-1992. He now is Vice President of Science Applications International Corporations.
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Can you sum up what had been the problems with the I.A.E.A.'s monitoring of Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

david kayFor ten years they had been inspecting twice a year. As a matter of fact, they had been inspecting three sites that are separated only by 300 yards in the midst of over 200 other buildings. They hadn't looked or even asked to look at the other buildings. It was a case of institutional blindness, which a lot of people in the I.A.E.A. knew and criticized, but that was the nature of the safeguard system. As late as during the air campaign, you have statements by the I.A.E.A. Director General that "there is nothing of a nuclear weapons nature in Iraq. We know because we've safeguarded their material."

So suddenly you're drawn into this new creation, UNSCOM, and told, "Go find nuclear weapons in Iraq."

Well actually, what we were told, which is even more amazing--under the UN resolution, Iraq was obligated within a very short period to provide a list of the prohibited materials they had. And I still remember when the Iraqi initial declaration on nuclear material came in. They said, "We have nothing. We have none of these materials." And we were sort of astounded, because even the materials declared before the war that they had, the Russian supplied nuclear reactor, high enriched uranium from the French, all this was prohibited under the new resolution. And so we went back and said, "You've got to reconsider, because we know and you admitted you had this material."

So, sure enough, they took two weeks; they come back with a declaration of exactly what they had before the war. So the initial assignment was to go in, confirm that this stuff still existed--and a lot had been moved by the Iraqis already--and then to discover what else there might have been.

Was the UN's assumption in the beginning that maybe Iraq will cooperate?

Absolutely. There were a series of key assumptions. One is that the Iraqis would declare what they had, so the inspection process could work. Secondly, that they didn't have very much, so that in fact inspectors could find a relatively defined program. And thirdly, Saddam himself would not survive, so you would be dealing with a different Iraq.

This Administration tried to run a dual track policy:  saying publicly  they were pressing the Iraqis as hard as they could; they were fully supporting UNSCOM...while privately arguing that UNSCOM should be careful  and not provoke a crisis.   Because  if UNSCOM became the focus of a crisis, the Security Council would fracture. Now, all those assumptions turned out to be wrong. Iraq did not make an honest declaration. In fact, today, eight years after, they have not made what most people judge to be a full and complete declaration of their prohibited materials. Second, it turned out to be far more extensive.

In the nuclear area, for example, it turned out they had spent over $10 billion in the 1980s to develop a program that explored practically every known way to enrich uranium, and to craft a nuclear weapon. This was not a small program. It was one that was so extensive, that as an inspector, when you faced it, your mind boggled. The largest team I ever took into Iraq was a team of 44 individuals, and we were expected to root out by ourselves this massive program? That was a challenge.

And then, of course, Saddam survived, and it became quite clear early on into the inspections, that this individual had no intent of giving up, not only his nuclear program, but his biological, chemical and missile program. So you were dealing with an actively hostile regime that was determined to frustrate the international inspectors.

One of the very first incidents was what happened in June 1991.

Well... the first week of that inspection, we played by the rules that the I.A.E.A. had before the war. We would tell the Iraqis that the next day, "we would like to inspect this area." Of course, the next day they wouldn't allow us in, and ultimately would lose the material. Finally, after a week, I decided that we're going to use the full powers we had under the UN Resolution 687 and carry out a no notice inspection. Because otherwise we weren't going to find anything. So we suddenly appeared at the gate of a military facility and demanded access.

The poor commander of the base that day said, "I have no orders to let you in." But he made what turned out to be a genuinely fatal mistake for him. He said, "You can put up as many members of your team as you want to on this water tower, which is right inside the gate." So I had four of my daring-do members climb this 50 meter water tower, and literally--because we video-taped this-- if you look at the timeline of the video, it's about 90 seconds into it and it looks like dinosaurs rolling around the back of the base, there's so much dust being stirred up. What had happened is they were--the calutrons were--stored on these very large tank transporters, which are about 90 feet long, actually, some of the bigger ones. And they were charging out the back of the base.

Now, this was a problem for us, because the photo interpreters had told us, "Don't worry about covering the whole perimeter of this huge base, because there is no rear entrance. Well, there was a rear entrance. It was a very small one, but the Iraqis decided to use it, and that's what kicked up the dirt. So I had the team split and go around the base to try to get parallel to the calutrons being moved, and stop them or photograph them. In the process, the Iraqis decided to fire shots over their head, but we did get the photographs. And the photographs are damning as to what the Iraqis were doing.

These calutrons are giant magnets used to enrich uranium?

That's right. They vary in size. But some are over 50 feet in diameter, soft iron magnets. Actually, most of them had been produced in the West, produced at a firm in Austria ... The Iraqi program was based on a lot of work done in western Europe.

And one of your inspectors managed to pursue them and get these photographs.

Yes. The humorous story about that is, we threw together these inspection teams. There was no preparation during the war for them. So it was come as you go with whatever equipment you had. Rich had managed to bring his family's camera, the only camera he had. And his wife had told him before the mission, "One thing: don't lose this camera. This is our brand new camera." So the Iraqis, after firing shots over their heads, stopped finally, ran the team off the road, and demanded the cameras and the film. Well, Rich, at that point, had secreted the film in a place that the Iraqis were unlikely to easily find, but he didn't want to give up the camera, so he managed to convince the Iraqis, "It's not a camera. It's binoculars." I later told him, "Give up the camera. We'll chip in together. It's the film that's ...(inaudible), not the camera." But he remembered his wife's charge to him.

Was that incident a kind of turning point?

I think the scope of the program, and active concealment, became clear in that June mission. And that was a turning point... At the end of the first inspection, the senior officials of the I.A.E.A., including the Director General, had wanted to declare that Iraq was in total compliance, because we had in the first mission found everything that they had said they had. And it was only because a few of us were determined to look at the evidence seriously and really see if in fact we had found everything--that we had a second mission. Well, this was proof that no one could deny. It was physical evidence of a very, very large uranium enrichment program. And it was also the evidence of concealment, that from the very beginning, the Iraqis had not been living up to their obligations. And you couldn't deny that.

In September, '91, you get involved in an even larger incident--in that the world ends up knowing about it--involving the parking lot situation where you're stuck for four days.

Well, starting in July we had evidence from a defector that they were consolidating documents [describing their nuclear program], and some evidence as to where the site was. In fact, I led another mission in July between the June and September one, and the building was actually very close to the hotel we used. And although I was not ready to inspect it at that time, I jogged every morning in Iraq, and the Iraqi security officials thought this was a silly American habit. And so their surveillance was a little loose, particularly if you would go down one-way streets the wrong way, and if you're a jogger you can do that routinely. And so I used to jog around this building to see if I could identify the surveillance on the building and whether in fact it was likely. By late August, early September, we were convinced that, in fact, we knew where the documents were, and we decided to conduct this inspection mission. This was a mission going after the very heart of the program, and in fact we were lucky. We did know where the documents were, and we were successful in finding them.

But it turned into a protracted situation. What happened?

We got the documents, and the Iraqis were astounded. In fact, one of the documents we got is still an amazing one--an order to the Iraqis two weeks before we arrived, saying that I would be leading the team. They thought we would be going after the documents and they were ordering the Chief of Security to the building to empty the building of all sensitive documents. He wrote back on the bottom of the memo, "I can't do it in this time frame." And, thank God, he wasn't successful in that time frame. We suddenly were in the building, and the Iraqis realized we had the damning evidence, the full extent of their program. And this was laid out exactly in black and white that they were proceeding to produce a nuclear weapon. Not just enriching uranium, as they claimed: "Well maybe we did that. But we didn't have any intent to produce a weapon." This described their progress in great detail towards producing successfully designed nuclear weapons.

And so they kicked us out of the building, literally, by force, and said, "You can leave the parking lot, but you're not taking these documents." We said, "If the documents don't go we're not leaving the parking lot." And so, that was the source of that standoff. The determination of our team of international inspectors that their mission was sufficiently important that they were willing to be hostages, or as the Iraqis preferred to refer to us, "guests of the state," in a downtown Baghdad parking lot.

So you're in this standoff. What do you do?

If you're in a situation like that, you survive by two things. A), you've got to go through the normal bureaucracy of filling out reports anyway, so you keep the team busy that way. And you think of how you make the Iraqis more uncomfortable than they're making you. That is, you don't let the pressure focus on you. I mean, it was dangerous, from our point of view, for us, but you forget, it was also dangerous for the Iraqis. Here they had a group of 43 inspectors stuck in a parking lot, not letting them go. They didn't know how the U.S. and the Coalition would respond. And we kept trying to emphasize to them that they didn't know how, and that it could be dangerous for them. We had the advantage--it was the first time that satellite communications made a difference to an international inspection.

I had the rule, on every inspection I led, that as soon as we got to wherever we were inspecting, we set up a satellite telephone. Now, in the first mission, it was two suitcases--two huge suitcases. By the time of the September mission it was the size of a modest sized briefcase. That's how much the technology had progressed. So in fact, we were in communication with the rest of the world. People could and did call in from wherever to ask to interview. So we did that as a means of keeping the world informed of what the Iraqis were doing. The Iraqis had no way of understanding the power of the world's media and the larger public as they focused on that issue. And by the time they figured out that this probably wasn't in their interest-- We now know they considered taking out our satellite communication capability, but they were worried. How would the world respond if suddenly we went off the air?

And we did that. We played on that as a means of keeping pressure on them. Now, let me say, we got out of that parking lot not because of communications; we got out of that parking lot because the Security Council was united behind the inspection purpose. And that's the real difference of what changed over the eight years. When I came out of that parking lot raid, I went back to a private member meeting of the Security Council. The first two states to speak in support of what we had done after I finished a briefing, were Cuba and Yemen, neither states generally friendly to the United States nor personally friendly to me at any time in my career.

They were united. This was not something led by the United States or the British. There was a strong Security Council purpose there. And my great regret is, in fact, that purpose is gone now. And I think that's what's happened to UNSCOM. The Coalition has fundamentally fissured.

Back then, the world was worried about Iraqi nuclear weapons-- There was a period of optimism that if in the post-cold war world, that the Council could act together, it could deal with the threats of the peace. I guess in retrospect, maybe it was naive optimism that the UN Security Council could do the role that was intended for it in 1945. In '91, '92, that still prevailed. But certainly by '94, '95 and now in '99, that optimism is gone. It's gone as a result not only of Iraq, but because of Somalia, as a result of Rwanda, as a result of Bosnia and Kosovo now. And fundamentally, as a result of Russia falling apart.

And now instead of a united Security Council, you have Russia, France, other countries, pursuing their own interest.

Absolutely. You know, in '91, Russia, while not irrelevant, was essentially marginalized. It had to go along because otherwise, it simply wouldn't be a part of the Coalition. China was by and large, in '91, marginalized. The European allies--our sometimes European allies, like the French--were caught up and going along now. All of that has disappeared and the Council has just fallen apart. It's not splintered into two parts. It's splintered into a multitude of parts.

One last thing on the parking lot incident-- you're surrounded by the Iraqis, and yet you're on a satellite phone to CNN.

That's correct. You know, that's the power of communication. In fact, it's the first time I personally realized, the Earth really is round, because you would sit there, and not only was it CNN. You'd do the Japanese morning television news, the Australian-- I had a very accurate understanding of where the sun was at any one time, because of the ...(inaudible) of morning and noon and evening newscasts.

"Live from the Baghdad parking lot, David Kay."

Well, my favorite interview was actually a Chicago radio station called in and asked what we really wanted. I said, "We'd really like some pizza." Because we were existing off of MRE's and there was a promise, "Well, don't worry. When you get out of the parking lot we'll see that you get Chicago pizzas." We're still waiting for those pizzas, as the matter of fact (laughs).

But I should emphasize, this was done by Rolf Ekeus, who asked the team if they would be willing to conduct these interviews. The team decided, yes, we would. That was, we thought, our one lifeline. We weren't going to be rescued by the intervention of military forces. We were in downtown Baghdad surrounded by high buildings. It would have been a disaster to try to rescue us. Keep the pressure on the Iraqis. Make them--become unwelcome guests. You know, ultimately, if the guest is unwelcome, you finally kick them out of the house, and we were more than happy to be kicked out, as long as we had our documents.

And the Iraqis had to be thinking: "If we really hold these people indefinitely, or if we harm these people, there could be a military strike?"

Absolutely. I think the Iraqis were genuinely worried about military action being taken place. And that's why they didn't take the satellite telephone down.

The controversy that surfaced recently regarding UNSCOM is that it was infiltrated, misused by western intelligence agencies. But from the beginning, as you were saying, there were intelligence people who had to be drawn into UNSCOM for it to do its job. How would you characterize this sort of uneasy relationship?

Well, I think it was a Faustian bargain. The intelligence communities of the world had the only expertise that you could use if you were unmasking a clandestine program. It's often forgotten--it became necessary because the Iraqis did not live up to their obligations under the UN Resolution to declare everything they had and let the inspectors go in and identify, tag it, and destroy it.

Once you were dealing in a clandestine, competitive environment, you needed access to satellite photography, access to signals intercept, access to measurements of leakage and contamination from the programs, so you could identify where it is. Access to defectors, who, after all, were not defecting to the U.N. They were defecting to national governments to use them.

So, from the very beginning, you needed that expertise, but I can say for myself personally--and I'm really only comfortable talking about myself-- although a number of us discussed this in the early days--I realize it was always a bargain with the Devil--spies spying. The longer it continued, the more the intelligence agencies would, often for very legitimate reasons, decide that they had to use the access they got through cooperation with UNSCOM to carry out their missions.

And for me, the real change occurred in '94. By '94 I was no longer an inspector, but I was testifying and writing on Iraq. And if you go back to those writings, it was in '94 that I started writing, "There is no ultimate success that involves UNSCOM. It's got to be a change of regime. It's got to be a change of Saddam."

I really think that was the period in which, in many governments, the dawning realization, which now the president speaks out, the necessity of getting rid of Saddam. Once that dawned on national policymakers, that maybe the only way out of this dilemma of Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, is the replacement of Saddam.

That meant that, for the United States, for example, American men and women were likely to be asked to fight and die again in Iraq. Well, if you're asking American men and women to fight and die, it's incumbent that they have the best available of intelligence. So at that point, the intelligence agencies became under increasing pressure to collect all the possible information.

Now, what did they do? They immediately realized that the only access they had to Iraq in those days was through UN inspection teams. And my view is, that's the point where the relationship started to tilt. There's an old Russian term that goes back to the Russian Revolution...it means, "Who eats whom?" And that was always the relationship. I'm convinced that in the period of 1991, '92, '93 the intelligence community contributed a lot more to UNSCOM's success than they ever got out of it. I think by 1994 and '95, the balance inevitably started swaying as the realization was, "The only way out is Saddam goes."

It's a Faustian bargain.

But when it works; when there was cooperation, it seems like it was quite a factor.

It made the inspections certainly more effective... I don't think I would have ever found anything without information being provided from satellite photography and by other means as to how the Iraqis were playing the shell game of moving material around. It was not ever going to be by itself possible to make UNSCOM so effective that it got rid of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.

It was clear by 1994 that Saddam was willing to spend almost any amount of money. You have to realize, by 1997, he had foregone over $100 billion of revenue just from deferred oil exports. So, sure, he was willing to accept huge costs. And so that meant UNSCOM, by itself... it would be successful in keeping the program maybe under control. But not eliminating it.

In your period, how effective were you? What were you able to accomplish, regarding the nuclear program?

I think we were able to accomplish something that, even in retrospect, I'm still amazed at. We were able to uncover a clandestine weapons program. Up until that time, realize that the record of arms control is really confirming that people--who have no intention of cheating--are not cheating. The Belgians aren't developing their clandestine nuclear weapons program--oh, big surprise! Iraq was the case of actually being able to discover a program that the opposition didn't want you to.

Secondly, we were able, for the first time, to use new tools of arms control. And not just intelligence. Zero notice inspections did not involve intelligence. It involved a change of policy and will of the international community to allow inspectors to inspect without telling you in advance where you were going. The standard I.A.E.A. inspection before the war, and one that is still used today in most states: you're coming, inspectors are coming, six months in advance. They have to apply for visas. They have to get airplane flights. So, if you want to hide something, you have more than ample opportunity. We pioneered new tools and new methods of doing it. And I think that's terribly important over the long run.

But let me say, we did not fully understand the Iraqi program. The biological program was far too difficult for inspectors to find and really was not uncovered until the two son-in-laws defected.

What is the status now? What would Iraq be able to reconstitute or develop?

Iraq knows the secrets of how to make nuclear weapons. What they lack today is not scientific talent. They don't lack the secrets and technology. They've solved all those problems. What they lack is time and access to nuclear materials. If the Iraqis were able to import, for example, from a Soviet program--that has now fallen apart--nuclear material, plutonium or high-enriched uranium, it would take them only a matter of months to fabricate a crude weapon. Now, a crude weapon, if it goes out over you, it is effective enough.

You will never be able to forget that Iraq knows the secrets of nuclear weapons. We do not know how to erase knowledge from the hands of scientists once they've solved a problem. All they lack is opportunity and will. That's why I'm personally convinced that as long as Saddam is in power, you've got a problem there. Because in fact you know all the secrets. It's just opportunity and access.

Scott Ritter. What were your initial impressions of his work?

Well, it must have been late '91 or early '92. I knew people and know people who worked for him, and I followed Scott from the very beginning. I was impressed by Scott as an aggressive inspector who was-- Scott had all the qualities you really wanted in someone who led an inspection mission. That is, the dedication, understanding of the objectives, tactically smart, knowing how to achieve something in ways that were surprising. Ultimately, remember, as an inspector you had to surprise the Iraqis. If they knew where you were going, how you were going and how you were going to do it, frustrating you was terribly easy.

Scott also had that quality of being able to motivate those who served with him. Motivating, actually, in Scott's case, really inspire deep affection and loyalty. Holding a team together in Baghdad is not easy. Your rooms are audio-monitored. A number of them are video-monitored. You never have the opportunities to speak freely. I mean one of the reasons I jogged and walked a lot in Iraq is only by keeping moving you made the audio surveillance very difficult for the Iraqis. So you're always under pressure.

Scott was, and is, a superb team leader. He understands how to do it. So my impressions of that period were, you know, he really deserves a lot of credit. I think Scott also understood the role of deception activities in a clandestine program, and understood how to target those deception activities and make them a weakness, not a strength, of the program.

He's charged that essentially the CIA infiltrated UNSCOM and undermined UNSCOM itself. What do you think about those charges, and why do you think he's making them?

I don't agree with Scott's charges of that type. I think they're way over the top. I don't think he understands, and really ever understood, the subtlety of the play of cooperating with the intelligence agencies. And it was always a Faustian bargain, from the very beginning. Spies spy. And that's not a great surprise in today's world. And spies don't always tell you the full truth. They've got other missions, appropriately, from their point of view, to do.

Now, motivations for making those charges: I can't speculate on that. I will say that Scott's decision to leave and to resign was the result of a failure of leadership. And not of Scott's leadership. It was the failure of American leadership.

This Administration tried to run a dual track policy: on one track saying publicly that they were pressing the Iraqis as hard as they could; they were fully supporting UNSCOM and the inspection missions; they wanted aggressive inspections. While privately arguing that UNSCOM should be careful in these days and not provoke a crisis, because UNSCOM, if UNSCOM became the focus of a crisis, the Security Council would fracture.

Quite frankly, I think the Administration was correct. You had to wait for that point where the Iraqis made a mistake, so you could keep the pressure on the Iraqis, and not let the Iraqis successfully play their propaganda game of saying it was a case of rogue inspectors. But don't do that in dual track.

The history of dual tracking foreign policy in a democracy is a history unblemished by success. Most Americans have forgotten that Tony Lake, who was President Clinton's first national security advisor, resigned from the administration of Richard Nixon--working on a National Security staff for Henry Kissinger--because the Nixon Administration, with Kissinger at the forefront, had a dual track policy: denied that we were intervening in Cambodia while we were massively bombing the Cambodians. When that became public, Tony felt he'd been lied to, this was duplicitous and not worthy of a democracy, resigned and spoke out about it. And that is, broadly, the history.

In Scott's case, I think as long as he was speaking about the dual track policy, he was on sound ground. But a lot of charges, I think, are wild, and often closer to fiction than fact.

So, he was being told publicly: "Go hard, charge, uncover," and privately, as you say, "No, we don't really want this."

Yes, that's right. It's the failure of the [Clinton] administration leadership, of asking someone to do something--while publicly saying you're really supporting them, and doing something else. And what is often forgotten--it's particularly true on a person like Scott--if you're a good leader of teams, you feel responsible for their safety and for their professional performance.

Every time you take a team into Baghdad, and I can tell you personally, I never took a team into Baghdad that I didn't worry about their personal safety--I had people call me up in the middle of the night and say, "I know where your wife your wife is; I know where your daughter is going to school." That happened to other members of the team. And Scott, because he is such a good leader, felt that more deeply than, probably, I did. And so the dual track policy grated on him more than it might have on others. I think, again, that's to Scott's credit.

When someone like Ambassador Ekeus (former head of UNSCOM) says that he feels Ritter was a terrific inspector, but that he now feels saddened or betrayed by Ritter's saying, what are your thoughts?

I would join Ambassador Ekeus in that. I'm saddened that Scott, as he has spoken out, has not kept the focus on Iraq. I mean, this whole thing started because Iraq didn't live up to its obligations under the Security Council resolution. The whole involvement of intelligence agencies was caused by Iraq. Scott has shifted the focus back to what he sees as the impact of U.S. policy and the U.S. intelligence community undermining UNSCOM. UNSCOM was undermined by the Iraqis. And I think Ambassador Ekeus is saying, and I certainly feel I'm speaking more competently on that, that Scott has missed the whole purpose by talking about this. A), I don't think it occurred the way he described it. And B), I don't think that is the problem. The problem is Iraqi behavior. And so I'm saddened by that.

You know, in a way--and I don't think Scott meant this--but I think in a way Scott has led to what I think is the effective end of UNSCOM. And people are going to view UNSCOM as the problem. We already have the Secretary General of the United Nations referring to UNSCOM inspectors as "a group of wild cowboys." Now they were never a group of wild cowboys off the reservation. In fact, the only reason we resorted to behavior and to non-standard diplomatic behavior was because the Iraqis didn't comply with their obligations.

Do you think that UNSCOM at this point is dead?

I'm afraid that UNSCOM as we knew it, and certainly as we created it in 1991, is finished. And by that I mean, UNSCOM being an inspection mission that uses a broad range of tools to pursue the elimination of Iraq's program of weapons of mass destruction.

I think we will a) no longer see it doing anything other than, at most, formal sorts of I.A.E.A. inspections, and no longer focused on the past, unearthing Iraq's program. In fact, if you listen to what the UN Secretary General [Kofi Anan] has said, he's said, "Let the past be past." That means let Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program that survived the war and have survived eight years of inspection exist. We'll only worry about the future.

As a neighbor of Iraq or as a citizen of the U.S. whose sons and daughters are ultimately going to have to be the guarantor of peace in the Middle East, that worries me tremendously. I have no confidence in that regime.

Can you say who or what killed UNSCOM?

I think quite clearly, you can. Iraq killed UNSCOM. UNSCOM had to do what it did in the ways that it did it, and ultimately led to the current crisis, because Iraq didn't comply. So fundamentally, the responsibility is Iraq. When it ultimately came down to it, the second responsibility is the splintering of the Security Council coalition. Once the Council coalition started to fray in 1994, everything that UNSCOM had done became extremely hazardous.

And Ambassador Ekeus has my ultimate respect as a diplomat because he held together UNSCOM on a steady course in the face of a coalition that had fallen apart. Richard Butler [his successor] bore, unfortunately, the responsibility of coming in and trying to do that as the coalition became even more splintered.

So, first it's Iraq. Secondly, it's the failure of the coalition. And ultimately, it was doomed at that point. I never believed from the beginning we would keep an UNSCOM type of aggressive inspection together for eight years, nor did I believe that we would keep sanctions on of the type that we have in Iraq, for eight years.

Where do we go from here, assuming that this is now not going to continue the way it has for eight years? What should we do now?

I think ultimately, the only way out of this is the replacement of Saddam. Now, my personal guess is that's more likely to occur as a result of internal developments in Iraq. That is, Saddam is not going to freely step aside and decide to retire to the South of France and enjoy the Riviera. Saddam is only going to be removed by lead poisoning, that is, by some Iraqi, probably military officer, who decides that Saddam is a greater threat to his personal safety and his family or tribe's safety than are the Americans, and tries to remove him. There have been a number who have tried, none successfully. I don't think there's any way out of that.

Now, you can seek partial solutions: try to keep the sanctions on as long as possible, some type of I.A.E.A. inspection that makes it more difficult and more expensive to resume a massive weapons program. I have no confidence that those things will ultimately work. Nor do I believe that Saddam Hussein is likely to transform himself into a Jeffersonian democrat. Saddam Hussein is today who he has always been, a completely paranoid character without any sense of responsibility or bonding to norms. It's a regime that in its brutality is mind-boggling.

And the people who ultimately suffer are not Americans. It's ultimately the people of Iraq who are paying the price for Saddam Hussein. And we forget that.

So, contain him? Some kind of inspections? And hope that eventually someone inside Iraq removes him?

No, I would say you've got to be more active, and hope. I'm always in favor of hope and prayer, but I think if you restrict yourself to that-- I think, in fact, we have got to actively try to aid those who are inside Iraq and outside Iraq who may have motivations for replacing him. I think we also ought to shape the political environment. Iraq today has become a terribly sad place. Yet, we forget what Iraq was just a short ten years ago. It had the largest middle class in the Middle East. It had a superb education system, high system, public health system-- It lived under a tyrannical and horrible regime, but in fact it was a secular society, a garden spot in the Middle East where they are few garden spots. It has two river valleys that have been irrigated successfully for thousands of years. The agricultural production in Iraq was always fantastic.

And yet, today--and I fault American policy for this as much as anything else--we have not held out an image of what is the future after Saddam? If I were an Iraqi, would I be willing to run the risk to my own survival and that of my family, by trying to get rid of Saddam, if I didn't know what tomorrow is likely to be? I think we should have crafted a package that said, look, with Saddam's replacement, Iraq will be reintegrated into the world. The debts and all will be forgiven. We view you as a major rock of stability in the Middle East, etc.

We haven't crafted that political strategy. I think it is wrong to think that $97,000,000 fed into clandestine opposition groups or open opposition groups, without a political strategy-- So I would not just hope. And I don't, quite frankly--let me say--I don't believe containment, over the long run, is an appropriate strategy. Containment is condemning of Iraq to a regime that is truly horrendous, as well as condemning the region to things-- I don't think, for example, the maintenance bombing that the Administration is carrying on almost daily in Iraq, is something that we as a country should be happy with. A), I don't think it will win the political battle. I think it is going to very quickly become a larger political issue with our allies. We're already seeing the Turks object to it. And there's less enthusiasm in the Gulf than there used to be for this policy. Containment of that sort worked with regard to the Soviets, but it existed under far different conditions there. So, I think, in fact, the pressure--I would turn it on its head and say, a), we work actively for replacement of Saddam. In the meantime, we certainly do try to contain him. And we certainly might resort to some level of inspections, although I'm not very confident they're good. But the first objective has got to be replacement.

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NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Losing IraqJuly 29th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS
../etc/what.html ../interviews/ ../photos/ ../experts/ ../