Tracking Number:  179992

Title:  "Quayle: Military Intervention in Iraq Would Be Unwise." Portions of remarks of Vice President Quayle before an American Society of Newspaper Editors convention in Boston. (910411)

Date:  19910411


04/11/91 HQUAYLE: MILITARY INTERVENTION IN IRAQ WOULD BE UNWISE SH(Excerpts: remarks to newspaper editors) (1500)

TBoston -- There is a time, says Vice President Quayle, when military intervention is appropriate, but "it would be unwise to intervene militarily now and to get U.S. forces bogged down in a civil war in Iraq."

The Persian Gulf war is over "and we have achieved our stated objectives," Quayle told the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention in Boston April 11, "but though the war is over, our concern remains. In particular, we are deeply troubled by the terrible human tragedy now unfolding."

The vice president said that Operation Provide Comfort, the "major air-lift of humanitarian assistance to those who have been brutalized, and turned into refugees, by Saddam Hussein," is "the largest U.S. relief effort mounted in modern military history."

Following are excerpts from Quayle's speech:

(begin excerpts)

...The Gulf War was a clearcut victory against the forces of aggression and lawlessness. It demonstrated, yet again, that in times of crisis, the world looks to us for leadership. Today, it is clear that the United States is a reliable ally -- an ally that follows through on our commitments.

Although many statesmen played responsible and courageous roles during the Gulf crisis, the key player was President Bush. During all of the decisive moments of the crisis -- August 4, November 8, January 15, and February 23 -- the president never wavered. The depth of his commitment, and the skill of his personal diplomacy brought forth an Allied Coalition of 28 nations. In many ways, this was an exercise in coalition building that was relatively unprecedented. For instance, over one third of the nations with military forces in the Gulf were drawn from predominantly Islamic nations.

Today the war is over -- and we have achieved our stated objectives:

-- Saddam Hussein is out of Kuwait.

-- Aggression has been repelled.

-- All hostages and POWs have been released.

-- The legitimate government of Kuwait has been restored.

But though the war is over, our concern remains. In particular, we are deeply troubled by the terrible human tragedy now unfolding in Iraq.

To deal with this tragedy, we have undertaken a major air-lift of humanitarian assistance to those who have been brutalized, and turned into refugees, by Saddam Hussein. Operation Provide Comfort is the largest U.S. relief effort mounted in modern military history. It has, in less than one week, out-stripped the massive air-lift of relief shipments the United States sent to Soviet Armenia in December, 1988. Its objective is to provide the basic needs of 700,000 refugees for 30 days. This is equivalent to feeding, clothing, and sheltering a population greater than the city of Richmond, Virginia.

We are also supporting international efforts -- including U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 -- to help victims of Saddam's brutality. We have warned Iraq not to interfere with the humanitarian efforts currently underway. We have never been timid about championing human rights, and we won't start now.

Of course, our policy in the Persian Gulf is not without critics. Many of our current critics have opposed the whole course of our policy since August. It is ironic that some of those who originally opposed the use of force are now in favor of using force.

Our critics accuse us of stopping the war too soon. Well, I was with the president when he made his decision to stop the war, and I can tell you all: There was no dissent -- none whatsoever.

One of the questions raised at that historic meeting was whether all our military objectives had been achieved. The answer was: Yes, they had. Did it make any military sense, therefore, to continue the war? The answer was no, it did not.

Looking back at the president's decision today, we should all ask ourselves one simple question: Would it have been wise, would it have been moral, to slaughter Iraqi soldiers in full retreat, when our military objectives had been achieved? I think most Americans would agree that such a slaughter would be neither wise, nor normal. I think most Americans would also agree that the president's decision was correct.

Our critics are also saying that we should have shot down Iraq's military helicopters. Unfortunately, what some of them overlook is that distinguishing between a helicopter on a military flight, and a helicopter on an administrative mission, is quite difficult. However, Iraq has now been told that there is to be no military action above the 36th Parallel. Moreover, even if all of Iraq's helicopters had been grounded, unfortunately the outrageous atrocities would have continued anyway. Don't forget, Saddam's best weapons against the opposition were tanks and artillery.

What I find most disturbing about some of today's newly-hatched hawks is that, directly or indirectly, they imply that the United States should intervene in Iraq's civil war and become an occupying force. But before embarking on such a course, we had better think it through and determine whether or not it's in our national interest.

Back in 1986, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger laid out six conditions that must be met before our military is placed in harm's way. Let me review four of those conditions:

1. Are vital U.S. interests at stake?

2. Do we have clear-cut military objectives and missions?

3. Will the Congress, and ultimately the American people, support us?

4. Are there better alternatives?

Let me go through these conditions as they apply to the current civil war in Iraq.

Would America's intervention in Iraq's civil war advance vital national interests? If our armed forces intervened on behalf of the Kurds and the Shiites, and some of our troops were killed, could the president turn to the bereaved families and say, "Your son or daughter died to protect vital American interests?" I'm afraid the answer is "no." What are the vital interests of the United States in Iraq's civil war? Very little, if any.

We did have a vital interest in getting Iraq out of Kuwait. Had Saddam's aggression succeeded, Saudi Arabia would have been next, followed by the Gulf coast states: Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. With Saddam expanding beyond Iraq's border, the entire region was threatened -- a region containing 65 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. And if aggression were allowed to stand, peace in the world would have been threatened in the same way that redrawing the boundaries of Europe in the 1930's destroyed the structure of peace set in place by the League of Nations.

Let's look at Secretary Weinberger's second condition: What would be the clearly defined military objectives of our intervention in Iraq? In Operation Desert Storm, you'll recall, we did have clearly defined objectives: Liberate Kuwait, restore its legitimate government, free the hostages, and restore stability to the Gulf. But what would our objectives be here? Overthrow Saddam Hussein? Impose Western-style democracy? Achieve a U.S. brokered reconciliation among Kurds, Sunnnis, and Shiites? Dismember Iraq? Prevent Iraq from being dismembered? Merely to pose these questions demonstrates how complicated the situation is -- how easy it would be to get into Iraq, but how hard it would be to get out of the quagmire. In our nation's past, we have not always asked ourselves these important questions. At times, we have acted first and devised our policy, strategy and objectives later on. Today, we must ask the tough questions first. We can't ask our people to risk their lives for ill-defined objectives and with no clear end in sight.

Let's move on to Secretary Weinberger's next condition: Would the American people really support this type of involvement? Today, military intervention on behalf of the Kurds and Shiittes might enjoy popular support -- but it wouldn't last long.

I presume there would be pressure to go in and get Saddam -- but that would mean occupying Baghdad at considerable cost to American lives. Moreover, if the president did decide to intervene, wouldn't the same chorus of voices now denouncing the president for his alleged inaction turn against him and accuse him of becoming the world's policeman?

Finally, Secretary Weinberger's fourth condition: Are there alternatives to military action? At present, the United States, working with the international community, is trying to find non-military ways to care for the refugees while achieving stability in the region. These efforts are far from exhausted.

Please don't misunderstand me: I'm not maying that we should abandon the Kurds and other anti-Saddam rebels to their fates. On the contrary, the United States has launched a major humanitarian relief effort. We should pursue this.

But we must draw the line; we must act responsibly. There is a time when military intervention is appropriate. There is a time when military intervention is inappropriate. It would be unwise to intervene militarily now and to get U.S. forces bogged down in a civil war in Iraq....

(end excerpts) NNNN

File Identification:  04/11/91, TX-405; 04/12/91, AR-513; 04/12/91, PX-503; 04/11/91, EU-410; 04/11/91, NE-412; 04/12/91, NA-505
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  Arabic
Document Type:  EXC
Thematic Codes:  1NE; 2HA; 6RE
Target Areas:  AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  179992