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]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Scott Ritter's response to Sandy Berger in Financial Times (10 May 2000)

Scott Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector until his resignation
in 1998, has written the following article in today's Financial Times.
Letters to the editor can be written to

The article may be found at:

I am confused that the online version indicates that it is a 9 May
article.  It is clearly published in today's print FT.  I will write the
FT webmaster for an explanation.  Perhaps the "published" indicates

Colin Rowat

Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq               fax 0870 063 5022

393 King's College  
Cambridge CB2 1ST             tel: +44 (0)468 056 984
England                       fax: +44 (0)870 063 4984

Mr Berger's blinkered vision for Iraq

The US national security adviser's insistence on maintaining sanctions is
simplistic and misguided, says Scott Ritter

Published: May 9 2000 19:37GMT | Last Updated: May 9 2000 19:52GMT

Samuel Berger, the US national security adviser, argues that  the
continuing economic sanctions against Iraq will contain  Saddam Hussein,
Iraq's dictatorial president, and hasten his  departure from office. (FT,
May 4)

Not only has such a policy failed egregiously over the past  decade, but
because of the widespread suffering that  sanctions have inflicted on 20m
innocent Iraqi civilians, Mr  Saddam is more secure today than at any time
since the Gulf  war. 

Furthermore, Mr Berger ignores the facts about the true situation in Iraq
as described by  such men as Dennis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, both
former United Nations  humanitarian co-ordinators for Iraq. They resigned
out of frustration over repeated US  interference and the resulting
ineffectiveness of the UN-led humanitarian aid programme. 

Sadly, Mr Berger is not alone in his views. Last week about 100 members of
Congress  sent a letter to Bill Clinton, the US president, urging him to
keep the current sanctions regime  in place. The move was initiated by Mr
Berger, together with the American-Israeli Political  Action Committee,
one of the most influential lobbies on Capitol Hill. 

What Mr Berger and Aipac fail to consider are the long-term consequences
of the Clinton  administration's policies. Iraq today does not represent a
threat to any of its neighbours,  including Israel. Its conventional
military, crushed by Operation Desert Storm, is unable to  project its
power in any meaningful manner outside Iraq. Even if sanctions were lifted
today, it would take Iraq years to rebuild its conventional military. 

The isolation and hostility engendered by Mr Clinton's Iraq policy only
makes matters worse,  ensuring that when Iraq does eventually rearm, it
will do so in a manner that further  destabilises an already volatile
region. And, unless something is done to reinstate a viable  UN weapons
inspection programme, such rearmament will inevitably include weapons of
mass destruction. 

Sanctions exist today for one reason only: as a means of compelling Iraq
to comply with  Security Council resolutions mandating the elimination of
Iraq's programmes for building  weapons of mass destruction. The Security
Council determined that Iraq presented a risk  to international peace and
security so long as it possessed such weapons. Hence, UN  weapons
inspection teams were dispatched to oversee the destruction, removal or
rendering harmless of Iraq's prohibited arsenal - including the means of
production. The  Security Council mandate called for total disarmament,
something the inspectors were  never able to accomplish, largely because
of Iraqi noncompliance. 

However, the inspectors were able to achieve the qualitative disarmament
of Iraq. Iraq no  longer possesses vast quantities of chemical and
biological agents, nor the bombs, shells  and long-range missiles used to
deliver them. It also lacks the means to produce such  weapons. Above all,
Iraq's nuclear weapons programme has been eliminated. 

Iraq's industrial infrastructure, which could be adapted to bring back
these banished  programmes, was subjected to one of the most stringent
monitoring and verification  programmes in the history of arms control.
Iraq can thus no longer threaten Israel, nor any  of its neighbours. 

Unfortunately, this reality does not square with the US policy of removing
Mr Saddam from  power and the related policy of containment through
continued economic sanctions. 

The key to solving the problem with Iraq is not, as Mr Berger suggests,
removing Mr  Saddam from power. This formula is simplistic in the extreme,
and does nothing to address  the myriad issues - domestic and regional -
that influence the question of the Iraqi  leadership. Mr Saddam is a
product of modern Iraq, and if he is removed from power,  someone just
like him will assume the mantle of leadership. The Israeli government
knows  this, as do all the nations in the region. Even Britain, the
long-time staunch ally of America,  tires of this game. It is the US alone
which pursues a Saddam-centric policy. 

The problem with Iraq can only be solved in the framework of a larger
vision, one that  addresses not only the considerable internal
difficulties of Iraq today, but also the role Iraq  will play in the
region at large, politically and economically. Such a vision must be built
on a  foundation of stability. The best way to achieve such a foundation
is to lift economic  sanctions in exchange for the resumption of
meaningful weapons inspections inside Iraq.  This can only be achieved
through diplomatic engagement, something Mr Berger and the  Clinton
administration are loath to consider. 

It will be up to the next president to formulate policies regarding Iraq
that are based on hard  facts and sound analysis. Only in this way will
America once again be able to assume the  mantle of moral authority that
comes with being the world's leader. 

The writer was formerly chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]