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US Avoiding Inspection Confrontation



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 An Associated Press report notes that after UN inspectors were withdrawn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




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