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"Misreading Iraq", an editorial from the OCR (southern California)

13 July 2000
An editorial from the Orange County Register (southern California) 

Perhaps it's because the two major presidential candidates have few serious 
differences on the matter, but the presidential race has thus far been devoid 
of meaningful discussions about foreign policy. A good starting point for a 
much-needed debate would be Iraq, where the Clinton administration, like the 
Bush administration before it, continues along its path of bombing and 
embargoing the country 

The rationale is to stop Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass 
destruction, but there appears to be little high-level U.S. willingness to 
even question whether the policy is working, whether it is planting the seeds 
of future conflicts, whether it is leading to unnecessary destruction. 

There's plenty of solid information emerging that portrays the problems with 
the current approach. In recent months, international reports have shown that 
the U.S. sanctions are directly responsible for the deaths of about 5,000 
Iraqi children every month. And the former chief U.N. weapons inspector in 
Iraq, Scott Ritter, has recently published a book and a lengthy article in 
Arms Control Today arguing that the Security Council, by focusing on removing 
Iraq's leadership rather than its weapons programs, is undermining serious 
efforts to keep Iraq from developing its weapons. 

"As the situation stands today, Iraq and the Security Council are 
deadlocked," he wrote. "There is no hope for the return of inspectors to Iraq 
any time soon. With each passing day, concern increases over the status of 
Iraq's [weapons of mass destruction] programs because there are no inspectors 
in place to prevent their reconstruction. Unless the Security Council can 
come up with a compromise solution, the situation will only continue to 

Such a compromise would mean switching from a program that insists on 
accounting for every last trace of a weapons program - what Mr. Ritter calls 
quantitative disarmament - to a program that focuses on "qualitative 
disarmament," or assuring that Saddam has no "meaningful, viable capability 
to produce or employ weapons of mass destruction." 

It would also mean linking the removal of sanctions with new inspections. 
That sort of approach could result in better monitoring of Iraqi facilities 
and to a reduction in the suffering among Iraqi citizens. But, according to 
Justin Raimondo in, Mr. Ritter told a British newspaper that he 
believes the administration may want to focus attention on Iraq as an 
opportunity to let Al Gore appear tough on "a so-called foreign threat." 

That may be pure speculation, but it is clear that U.S. policy toward Iraq 
defies the humanitarian objectives America claims to uphold - and it simply 
isn't working. Here's a chance for Al Gore or George W. Bush to get past the 
soundbites and take a stand on a complex, serious issue.
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