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[casi] Re: On Brian's message...[NOTE: Long Post]

Dear List,

I very much appreciated the feedback from Hassan.  I’ll try to
answer some of his points, but I fear it likely that he and I have
differences of perspective and opinion that are – frankly – of an
irreconcilable nature.

Some general comments:

I don’t disagree that Iraq’s sovereignty has been violated and
will continue to be for the near future.  It lost a war.  Both Germany
and Japan experienced significant violations of their national
sovereignty in the years following World War II.  This is, dare I say,
usual after defeat.  When contemplating or actually going to war, a
statesman (and as I use this term, please note that I mean it in a
gender-inclusive way – it’s just easier than continually writing
“statesman/woman” or intentionally switching between
“statesman” and “stateswoman” in my text) puts the future
sovereignty of their state (as well as the physical safety of their
state) at risk.  One gambles with one’s sovereignty in war.  This is
a truth for the American president as much as it is for any other
state leader.  Should – in the days of my children, grandchildren or
great-grandchildren – the United States lose a war to a Russia-China
alliance or a China-EU coalition, its sovereignty (let me personalized
it, our sovereignty) will be violated in the postwar period as well.
It is, I think, peculiar that many expect something different in the
case of Iraq and the Gulf War.

As well, another risk that every statesman (again, including the US
president) takes when contemplating and choosing war is that of the
potential suffering of his/her people.  Before I’m accused of being
an amoral ogre, does this mean that I’m all for continued sanctions
simply because Iraq lost the Gulf War?  No.  Does this mean that I
believe it is right, proper or good that the people of Iraq should
continue to suffer because of its statesman’s choices (esp. a
statesman that they did not put into power)?  Certainly not.  The
US’ logic of ‘the continued pain of sanctions will cause the
people to overthrow Saddam’ was ill-conceived from the beginning and
represents a clear case of American mirror-imaging (“we’d do it,
why don’t they?”).  A somewhat-better option could have been
limited sanctions + military assistance to help the Iraqi people rid
themselves of their bad statesman (which is, by my definition, a
statesman who cares more about his personal power and personal profit
to the complete detriment of those under him).  In retrospect, perhaps
the best option after the Gulf War might have been, as with post-WWII
Germany and Japan, occupation.  Though some might consider the idea
distasteful, when compared with the decade of sanctions, occupation
might have been a more moral and compassionate choice.

Now to some of Hassan’s specific points:

>In 1998, UNSCOM's Scott Ritter accused Iraq of hiding WMDs in
>Presidential Palaces. Ritter knew very well that that was not true,
>simply because Saddam Hussein uses those palaces sometimes, and he
>is not known to be self-destructive or suicidal.

First, I must point out that it appears that Hassan is attributing his
own theory to Scott Ritter.  I’d like to hear in Ritter’s own
words why exactly he accused Iraq in 1998 of hiding WMD in
presidential palaces.  Second, ‘presidential palaces’ are logical
places to hide WMD.  They are under Saddam’s personal control.  They
are somewhat hardened against attack and there are a number of them
(which allows dispersal and a ‘shell game’ if desired).  Moreover,
there’s no reason that Saddam can’t safely co-locate himself in a
presidential palace with WMD if (a) the risk of attack is low; and (b)
the weapons have built-in safety features.

>Ritter was carrying out orders from his superiors, because the US is
>not interested in lifting sanctions no matter what happens. And
>thus, whenever there is a remote possibility that sanctions could be
>lifted, a new crisis has to be created.

The initial clause of the first sentence is undoubtedly true.  Ritter
worked for an organization.  Ritter reported to people above him.  The
rest, however, makes assumptions about US goals and about the nature
of Ritter’s and UNSCOM’s orders.  Who in the US government has
stated that the United States “is not interested in lifting
sanctions no matter what happens?”  When was this said?  Hassan also
suggests a theory that Ritter and UNSCOM were intentionally meant to
create a climate whereby sanctions could not be lifted and further
military attacks could be justified.  This is, I emphasize, a claim…
a theory.  From where does Hassan get the evidence to support this
claim about UNSCOM’s orders? The fact that Desert Fox followed the
“August crisis” is not evidence that the “August crisis” was
intentionally organized or manufactured to ‘cause’ Desert Fox.

>In 1998, the inspectors went in and DID NOT find evidence that Iraq
>had hidden WMDs in those palaces.

Technically correct, but I will refer readers to Appendix III of
S/1998/326, Report of the Special Group Established for Entries into
Iraqi Presidential Sites (found at

Appendix III, Point 2: “It is important to emphasize that this
mission was not a search-type mission, nor was it no-notice. Iraq had
over a month to make whatever preparations it desired.”

Appendix III, Point 11: “The mission was not intended to be a search
for prohibited material and none was found. In fact, there was very
little equipment, documentation or other material in the sites at all.
It was clearly apparent that all sites had undergone extensive
evacuation. In all the sites outside of Baghdad, for example, there
were no documents and no computers. The buildings were largely empty.
In the Baghdad area, there were limited documents and a few computers
at selected government facilities such as the Presidential Diwan.
However, like other areas, most buildings were emptied of contents.
The Republican Palace, including the area described as belonging to
the President, was evacuated. Iraq's explanation for this was that
such measures were taken in anticipation of a military strike. This
makes follow-on missions more important.”

In summary, the late-March – early April 1998 Special Group
inspection of presidential palaces was not meant as a one-time only
event.  Rumsfeld is indeed correct.  It does not follow from a
one-time view of an empty Presidential palace that (a) Iraq is without
WMD and (b) isn’t using Presidential palaces to hide what they have.
 A one-time look at an empty Presidential palace doesn’t prove
anything (save that the palace is empty at the time of inspection).
Multiple, no-notice, intrusive inspections are required to verify
Iraq’s claims that it possesses no WMD.

>In 1998, the inspectors DID NOT find ANY evidence at the Palaces "of
>possible deception" by Iraq.

See above.

>The reason for attacking Iraq in 1998 was not because Iraq >refused
"to comply and open up", but because Butler and his staff >were
carrying out US orders to torpedo the whole inspections >operations,
with the spying accusations having become evident.

Again, where is Hassan’s supporting evidence for his claim that
Butler and his staff were under orders to “torpedo” inspections?
One can explain the 1998 “August crisis” and Desert Fox just as
well by arguing that Iraq, under its own (mistaken) belief that a
one-time UNSCOM look at Presidential palaces would result in the
lifting of sanctions, chose to ‘put its foot down’ and ended
inspections when it saw that this visits of presidential sites were to
continue (as well as sanctions).

>Brian's view of the "strengths" of the US draft SCR seems to stem
>from his belief that "disarming Iraq" is a legal act, and not a
>violation of its sovereignty. I just wonder what Brian would say if
>his own country were at stake...

As I said at the beginning, of course it is a violation of
sovereignty. Defeated states forfeit aspects of their sovereignty,
particularly when it comes to the continued possession of armaments.
This is a risk that states take when they go to war (or invade the
territory of others).  And, as I also stated above, the United States
can expect the same (and perhaps even worse) if defeated in the

>Brian therefore believes that Iraq is hiding WMDs, and thus wants to
>have "no-fly and no-drive zones" to ensure that " equipment/
>materiel of possible interest can NOT be transported out the back
>door as inspectors come knocking at the front." Interesting, but how
>about international law and the sovereignty of states? Should we
>apply that regime to EVERY COUNTRY in the world, or only to selected
>ones? I wish Brian could elaborate on that a bit..

The regime only applies to selected states.  Namely, tyrannically-led
aggressor states who, upon being defeated in combat, refuse to be
transparent when it comes to disarmament – particularly in the area
of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

>Should there be, for example, "no-fly and no-drive zones" in
>Britain, coupled with inspections, to prevent it from developing
>WMDs, or are we going to hear the same explanation that "this is a
>different case"??

>Why does Brian think that inspectors should have "unrestricted
>access to Presidential and sensitive sites" in Iraq alone? Should we
>have inspectors at 10 Downing Street or Buckingham Palace??

Great Britain hasn’t invaded its neighboring states and lost a
subsequent war to an international coalition.  Again, to restate,
Saddam gambled with Iraq’s future sovereignty when he decided to
move military forces into Kuwait.  Despite entering on the defense,
Roosevelt and Churchill also gambled with the future sovereignty of
their respective states when each decided to enter World War II
against the Axis powers.  Roosevelt and Churchill won; Saddam

>Brian also wants to have "diplomatic representation" during
>inspections limited to the P-5, because that would provide the
>opportunity for "checks and Balances". I found that statement
>bordering on racism, and very insulting to those countries which had
>representatives in the '98 MOU Special Group. Brian's statement left
>me with the understanding that representatives of the P-5 are all
>honest people, who would be objective and truthful, while those of
>other countries could be influenced by Iraq through "in-roads"...
>Did I read that right??

Not quite.  I also think that Hassan realizes that my statement
wasn’t meant to be racist in character or else he wouldn’t have
pulled his punch (“bordering on racism” vs. plain “racist”).
I’m not making any judgments as to the honesty, truthfulness or
honor of individual, non P-5 countries.  Nor am I suggesting
distinguishing between the honesty of ‘developing world’ countries
versus big, ‘industrialized countries’.  I’m only concerned with
one thing: the sheer number of possible ‘in-roads.’ (the larger
number of diplomats from different states get involved, the number of
political interests increases, adding additional pressure points for
Iraq to exploit)

>The fact that the SC made a wrong and illegal resolution (687) to
>disarm Iraq, does not mean that we should submit to it and accept
>it.That is what we should try to fight and oppose, not find
>justifications for the US or the UK to attack Iraq, or make it look
>that it is Iraq's duty to submit to the will of the US. Where is our
>morality? What has happened to it??

I think, perhaps, that we can both agree that our morality isn’t the
main problem.  Saddam’s morality is.  Granted, I’m not denying
that the United States and its allies made the morally wrong and ugly
choice of attempting to use sanctions to force Saddam out of power.
We should have done it ourselves or, at the very least, provided the
means for others to do it.  Honestly, I believe allied occupation
would have been a hundred-times better for the lives of individual
Iraqis than this last decade of sanctions.  But Saddam, on the other
hand, watches his people starve and die, knowing all along that all it
would take to fix it is (a) complete transparency in the area of WMD
and (b) his abdication.  Is his moral choice any better?

Apologies for the length.

Brian Auten

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