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]
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 http://www.un.org/Depts/unscom/s98-326.htm): 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 future. >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 didn’t. >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 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk