The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
The following op-ed by Scott Ritter, former chief weapons inspector for UNSCOM, appeared in today's Boston Globe. Please distribute widely. Ritter has now become a consistent advocate for ending the sanctions. Going nowhere on Iraq By Scott Ritter, 3/9/2000 Hans Blix, the newly appointed executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring and Verification Commission, has his work cut out for him. He takes over the difficult task of disarming Iraq from the now defunct United Nations Special Commission. In addition, he finds himself in a political firestorm over economic sanctions against Iraq. These sanctions are the foundation of the Clinton administration's efforts to contain Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Under new Security Council resolutions that created UNMOVIC, economic sanctions can be suspended (not lifted) only after Blix finds Iraq to have fully complied with its disarmament obligation. Even then, all proceeds from the sale of oil would be controlled by the Security Council. This arrangement is unacceptable to Iraq, which has refused to cooperate with the new disarmament agency. In light of this, the Clinton administration has proclaimed that economic sanctions will be locked in place for the foreseeable future, despite compelling evidence that these sanctions are responsible for massive suffering on the part of the Iraqi population. Even if Iraq did agree to cooperate, Blix has a tough job. I spent seven years as a senior weapons inspector with UNSCOM, and can testify to the frustration of trying to disarm Iraq. Blix inherits the task of overseeing the ''quantitative disarmament'' of Iraq - that is, accounting for every last vestige of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. There is no latitude for inspectors to accept anything less than 100 percent disarmament, which, given the combined effect of the passage of time and Iraqi intransigence, leaves the inspectors in the nearly impossible position of trying to prove a negative. The reality that, from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has in fact been disarmed has been ignored. The chemical, biological, nuclear, and long-range ballistic missile programs that were a real threat in 1991 had, by 1998, been destroyed or rendered harmless. Iraq did not readily submit to this disarmament. Iraq concealed the fragmented vestiges of its past weapons program. However while these documents and disparate components would be useful if Iraq were to try to reconstitute a weapons of mass destruction manufacturing capability, on their own they represented a viable threat to no one. However, it is the policy of the Clinton administration to maintain economic sanctions until Saddam Hussein is removed from office. This means that weapons inspections will be supported only so long as they legitimize the continuation of economic sanctions. This is the reality faced by Blix, and understood by Iraq. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration has no viable vision for Iraq beyond containment through continued economic sanctions. Its policy of regime removal has no chance of success. The Iraqi opposition is plagued by deep internal divisions, and has no meaningful constituency inside Iraq. America's fumbling embrace of these ineffective exiles-in-waiting guarantees that Saddam Hussein will remain in power for the foreseeable future. It also assures that no progress toward the resumption of meaningful arms control in Iraq will take place, thus condemning the people of Iraq to continued torment with no hope of relief. The Clinton Iraq policy is morally bankrupt. There can be no honor in a policy that has resulted in the doubling of the infant mortality rate in Iraq and that leads to the death, through malnutrition and untreated disease, of 5,000 children under the age of 5 every month. It is time for a new approach toward Iraq, one which builds upon the concepts of diplomatic engagement. Trading the lifting (not suspension) of economic sanctions for the resumption of meaningful inspections would represent an important first step. Earlier this year, Iraq opened the door for compromise by indicating its willingness to deal with weapons inspectors if the Security Council agrees to an immediate lifting of sanctions. The Clinton administration, locked into its failed policies of the past, is unable and unwilling to take advantage of this diplomatic opening. It will be up to the next president of the United States to solve the Iraqi problem. This is an issue that the candidates should be debating. Unfortunately, they all have indicated that they will support a continuation of the policy of containment through economic sanctions. Such policy formulations only guarantee that the next administration will keep stumbling deeper into the Iraqi quagmire. The American people, and the people of Iraq, deserve much better. Scott Ritter is the author of ''Endgame: Solving the Iraqi Problem Once and For All.'' This story ran on page A23 of the Boston Globe on 3/9/2000. © Copyright </globe/search/copyright.htm> 2000 Globe Newspaper Company. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi