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]
1) Voices article on US policy/the inspection crisis/Gore, Bush and Cheney 2) Washington Post article on US policy/the inspection crisis Intro The latest Voices UK newsletter contains the following multi-part article on US policy towards Iraq and how it might be affected by the Presidential elections. The first part argues that the US may well be avoiding the opportunity to spark confrontation with Iraq by demanding access for UNMOVIC , contrary to fears/hopes expressed by former UNSCOM officials Scott Ritter and Richard Butler. This analysis is supported by a 31 August Washington Post article which is at the end of this email, reporting that the US has helped to rein in UNMOVIC. Cheers Milan Rai 1) Voices article on US policy/the inspection crisis/Gore, Bush and Cheney >Paralysis or confrontation? There may be an inspection crisis within days of this newsletter reaching you. Both Richard Butler and Scott Ritter have suggested that the US may be heading towards confrontation this autumn. Once the new inspection agency UNMOVIC is ready, Washington could spark another inspection crisis by demanding immediate entry for UNSCOM's replacement. holding back However, other reports suggest that the US has actually restrained UNMOVIC, and that Washington finds the current impasse acceptable. According to a report in May in the Financial Times, 'the US is content to hold back on inspections for now': 'Given Washington's desire to keep Iraq out of the headlines, senior US officials made clear there is no appetite for resorting to force to send the inspectors back.' The officials indicated that the present situation of 'quiet defiance' suited Washington: 'If inspectors were sent in, renewed attention would be drawn to the negative effects of sanctions.' (23 May 2000) clinton silence An Associated Press report notes that after UN inspectors were withdrawn (at US prompting) and then barred from returning to Iraq, Clinton said, 'It is essential that those inspectors go back to work. The safety of the children of the world depends upon it.' Yet in his address to the Democratic National Convention on 14 Aug., Clinton worked in references to Nigeria and Colombia, but not Iraq. (AP, 16 Aug.) State Department briefers talked about Iraq for a whole hour on 2 August, the 10th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. But they never mentioned the administration's thinking about the status of Iraq's military arsenal since the inspectors were withdrawn. 'The administration's rationale seems to be that public discussion of this issue could produce demands for a tough response. 'By avoiding the subject, the administration is able to keep its options open, which is no small consideration in an election year.' (AP, 16 Aug. 2000) keeping things static The basic US stance was articulated with precision a year and a half ago: An anonymous US official told the Washington Post, 'We bought seven years and that's not bad... The longer we can fool around in the [Security] council and keep things static, the better.' (28 Jan. 1999) This August, the Christian Science Monitor quoted 'a Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity': 'Iraq has taken an autistic stance, and the US is fine with the actual sanctions. There are important factors at play that keep the issue deadlocked in the mid- and maybe long-term.' (14 Aug. 2000) The present anti-sanctions movement is very largely a result of the mobilization around the February 1998 inspection crisis. (Building of course on the work done over the previous years by stalwarts such as Felicity Arbuthnot and many others.) It may be that Washington fears the strengthening of the movement that could result from a confrontation similar to that of February 1998. In other words, US (and therefore UN) policy is being dictated in part by the need to try to undercut the growing anti-sanctions movement. >Cheney link If the Republicans win back the White House on 7 November, the Vice-President will be a man who has spoken out against unilateral US sanctions, and who has strong links with an oil company interested in obtaining contracts in Iraq. Former Defence Secretary Dick Cheney has for the past five years been Chief Executive Officer of Halliburton Inc., a huge oil-services company that has thrived on Cheney's global contacts. oil millionaire Last year Cheney is said to have earned around £1.3m in salary, benefits and stock options at Halliburton. In June, Cheney sold 100,000 Halliburton shares raising over $5m. Then Halliburton gave Cheney a 'retirement' package worth $20m - after less than five years at the company - so that he could stand as a vice-presidential candidate. Halliburton has a stake in two US oil industry companies, Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser Pump Co, which are involved in trying to reconstruct the Iraqi oil industry. Cheney has publicly opposed unilateral U.S. sanctions that hold back US oil companies. He told a 1996 oil conference, 'The problem is that the good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas reserves where there are democratic governments.' (Washington Post, 30 July 2000) A 1 Aug. Reuters report entitled 'U.S oil's anti-sanctions drive aided by Cheney run' noted that 'a Republican victory in November's Presidential race might be U.S. firms' best bet of getting at' Iranian oil reserves. Iran is not Iraq, and unilateral sanctions are not UN sanctions, but the oil-based Cheney-Halliburton-Iraq connection is extremely intriguing. >Bashful Bush While some of his advisers have been putting out a very hard-line on Iraq, presidential candidate George Bush Jr. himself has been curiously quiet on the subject. $97m liberation Some Republicans have been trying to make Iraq into an election issue by focussing on the 'Iraq Liberation Act.' A year and a half after Congress promised $97 million to the Iraqi opposition, the President has passed on only $20,000 - by sending three Iraqi exiles to a Florida training course on civilian-military relations. Bush adviser Richard Perle, known as 'The Prince of Darkness' when he served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan Administration, told a Senate hearing in June, 'In 31 years in Washington, I have not seen a sustained hypocrisy that parallels the current administration's public embrace of the Iraq Liberation Act and its dilatory tactics aimed at preventing any progress taking place under the act. That will not be the case in a Bush administration.' (Reuters, 28 June 2000) gore stung To counter such criticism, Vice President Al Gore met a delegation from the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and gave verbal support for their goals. This translated into military training courses for up to 140 opposition volunteers, starting this autumn. Other opposition requests - for an expansion of the 'no fly zones', targeting of Iraqi ground forces, and the setting up of relief centers inside Iraq to be operated by opposition groups - have been stonewalled by the Administration, though taken up by some Republicans. Perle, for example, wants the U.S. to help the opposition 're-establish control over some piece of territory' inside Iraq and remove economic sanctions from that toehold of Iraq. Iraqi military defectors would 'come in droves.' (Wall Street Journal, 28 June) In contrast to such civilian sabre-rattling, US military commanders are pragmatically pacific. General Anthony C. Zinni, commander of all US forces in the Persian Gulf, believes Iraqi forces would easily crush an armed insurgency of the kind proposed by some opposition groups. 'I don't think the military adventures that they're seeking for us to fund are reasonable,' General Zinni said in June. 'They are pie in the sky. They' re going to lead us to a Bay of Goats, or something like that.' (New York Times, 3 July 2000) bush himself Bush himself has been rather cautious in his comments on Iraq, saying merely that he would hit Iraq hard if he saw any clear sign that it is building weapons of mass destruction or massing its military forces. He has steered clear of big promises. '"Bush could get into a 'read my lips' syndrome," says one of his father's former advisers.' (Newsweek, web version, 23 July 2000) Bush's senior foreign policy adviser Condoleeza Rice, a Russia expert in the last Bush Administration and professor of political science at Stanford University, is also cautious: 'I would expect a somewhat tougher policy toward Iraq, where ... Governor Bush would be committed to a decisive use of force if the opportunity ever came again.' (Reuters, 15 Aug. 2000) An interestingly cautious 'if'. Rice also says, 'This is something that could take some time.' The anti-Iraq coalition would have to be re-built, including Persian Gulf states and Turkey, as a precondition for overthrowing the regime. (Wall St Journal, 28 June 2000) >Roll on November It is politically impossible for the US to shift its sanctions policy until after the presidential election. As far as ordinary families in Iraq are concerned, then, the sooner the election is over, the better. But does either party offer real hope of a release from sanctions? Gore is no doubt inclined to continue with the current policy. (His running mate, by the way, is Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew known for his conservative social views.) Bush has his wilder advisers, but he may well be more 'pragmatic' than his Democratic opponent, especially if Halliburton Inc. get his ear. No signs of moral concern, though. A rising tide Whether it is Bush-Cheney or Gore-Lieberman in the White House in November, they will have a rising tide of opinion to deal with. In February, 70 Congressional representatives - from both parties - signed a letter calling on the President 'to do what is right: lift the economic sanctions'. This August, thousands of people demonstrated around the USA, and over a hundred people were arrested outside the White House. If there is sufficient grassroots pressure, if the number of Congress people speaking out against the sanctions grows, and particularly if the British government shifts away from US intransigence, there are real possibilities for change. There are 'important factors' keeping the issue deadlocked. But there are also increasing numbers of people around the world taking action to lift the sanctions. We have changed the situation. As Dave Dellinger once said, 'We have more power than we know.' Milan Rai 2) U.N. Arms Inspectors Back Down By Colum Lynch Special to The Washington Post Thursday , August 31, 2000 ; A25 UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 30 -- To avoid a confrontation with Baghdad at an inopportune time, the United States and other permanent members of the Security Council have persuaded the chairman of a new U.N. arms agency to cancel his planned announcement that weapons inspectors are ready to return to Iraq. The move follows repeated statements by the Iraqi government that it will never submit to inspections by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Diplomats said U.S., Russian, Chinese and French members of a panel that oversees UNMOVIC advised its chairman, Hans Blix of Sweden, to drop a conclusion from a draft report that 44 inspectors have completed training and are "now in a position to start activities in Iraq," including "baseline" inspections of facilities that might be involved in building prohibited weapons. The final version of the report, released to the council today, says the arms experts "could plan and commence" preliminary tasks to prepare for future inspections. Given the uncertainty, more than half of the newly trained weapons specialists have been sent back to their home countries. Their names will go on a roster and they may be called up for service in the future. "The U.S. and Russia agreed that it was not appropriate to give the impression that Mr. Blix and the commission was ready to go back into Iraq," said a Security Council diplomat. "They cautioned that this might create a climate of confrontation at an inappropriate time." The Security Council's five permanent members--the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain--want to avoid a clash over Iraq policy when their heads of state meet at the United Nations next week during the so-called Millennium Summit of World Leaders, according to diplomats. A U.S. official also contended that it would be premature to re-launch weapons inspections in Iraq. "They have more work to do," the official said. "While UNMOVIC has finished its first stage of preparation, it's a plain fact that they are not yet ready to launch a full-scale program in Iraq." Despite the reversal, Blix reported that he would continue preparing for a resumption of on-site inspections. He said a new team of inspectors would be trained in France from Nov. 7 to Dec. 8, and U.N. officials said he was talking with various countries about technical assistance, such as communications equipment and surveillance aircraft. Under the terms of the 1991 cease-fire that ended the Persian Gulf War, Iraq is prohibited from possessing medium- and long-range missiles or nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. A former inspection agency, known as the U.N. Special Commission, or UNSCOM, pulled its inspectors out of Iraq on the eve of a U.S.-British air campaign in December 1998. UNMOVIC may face a renewed challenge from Iraq's allies when the council debates the future of inspections during the week of Sept. 11. Russia has told Blix that the participation of some former members of UNSCOM on the new team--particularly two Russian arms experts, Nikita Smidovich and Igor Mitrokhin--would make it difficult for Moscow to press Baghdad to cooperate. "We warned [Blix] that he should take into account that Iraq might not be satisfied with this decision" allowing former UNSCOM members to serve in UNMOVIC, said Gennadi Gatilov, Russia's deputy representative to the United Nations. He noted that the two inspectors were associated with some of the U.N.'s most aggressive inspections. "We will see how this situation develops in the future, but I personally envisage difficulties," he said. In an unusual twist, the United States and Britain have defended the Russian inspectors while their own government has pressed Blix to get rid of them or push them into the background. U.S. officials praised the Russians as experienced and professional inspectors with unparalleled knowledge of the Iraqi weapons program. © 2000 The Washington Post Company -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi