To Liberate Iraq

Iraq News, Mon, 04 Oct 1999

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .

Washington Post
To Liberate Iraq
By Bob Kerrey
Monday, October 4, 1999; Page A23 

Throughout this century, American support and determination have helped 
liberate many countries. But we have unfinished business, none more 
urgent than the regime of Saddam Hussein. Later this month, members of 
the united Iraqi opposition will meet in New York to hold their first 
national assembly. This is an important step toward liberation, which is 
not only inevitable but also may be imminent. Yet a certain amount of 
Iraq fatigue exists among policymakers. This fatigue is based on false 
presumptions and delays a fuller commitment to Iraq's liberation. 

The first presumption is that dictators bring stability. The Arab world 
proves this notion's falsity. Dictators bring stasis. Stasis freezes 
things. And because frozen things inevitably thaw, dictatorships end not 
with stability but uproar. A variation on this is that without a 
dictatorship, Iraq would dissolve into ethnic mini-states, threatening 
its neighbors' stability. The performance of Iraqi soldiers in the war 
with Iran and the polyglot composition of Baghdad demonstrates Iraqis' 
strong sense of nationality. 

A second presumption is that Iraq cannot practice democracy. The notion 
that Iraqis are deficient, that the democracy lines are missing from 
their DNA, is racist. Because I am a democrat with a small as well as a 
large D, I believe Iraqis can rule themselves better than others can 
rule them. I believe this based on elections in Jordan, Kuwait and 
Lebanon, as well as Israeli-Arab participation in Israeli politics and 
the participation of Arab Americans in American government. 

A third presumption is that Saddam is strong. Iraq is almost certainly 
developing more weapons of mass destruction. But in terms of current 
capability against a well-armed rebel force, Saddam looks weak. He may 
have enough capability to terrorize lightly armed Kurds or Shia 
rebels--but not enough to conquer them. Iraq's air defenses are daily 
proven ineffective. Also, we saw in the Gulf War that few wanted to make 
the supreme sacrifice to follow Saddam's orders, and the many ensuing 
desertions suggest that little fighting spirit is to be found in the 
Iraqi military.

Saddam is also weak in terms of subordinates who can enforce his 
authority. Saddam has eliminated not only his rivals but also his more 
effective lieutenants. Family ties provide little insulation from 
Saddam's wrath; he murdered his cousin and two sons-in-law. His 
leadership circle has shrunk to himself and two sons. This is not a 
coalition that could withstand a unified, well-financed rebel movement. 
This is leadership that will topple. 

Behind the arguments for inaction is the notion that no one cares. Some 
of our allies suggest we accept the Iraqi regime as it is, drop the 
sanctions, and accept a "less confrontational" inspection system. French 
Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine says that we are "insensitive to the 
human disaster underway in Iraq."

We have been callous, but not through sanctions. We have been callous by 
failing to support the Iraqi opposition. We have been more interested in 
avoiding risk than in ending the regime that used chemical weapons on 
its own people, invaded two of its neighbors, fired ballistic missiles 
at Israel and which even today embroils our military in combat 

The Iraq Liberation Act counters false presumptions about Iraq that have 
shaped the safe-sided U.S. approach. I praise the administration for 
putting the United States on record as opposed to Saddam's regime. I 
also appreciate the efforts of Frank Ricciardone, the special 
representative for the transition in Iraq, to unite the Iraqi opposition 
and coordinate U.S. policy. At the same time, I encourage the 
administration to act with greater boldness, especially with regard to 
the draw-down of defense articles for the Iraqi opposition authorized 
under the Iraq Liberation Act.

The liberation of Iraq is inevitable. When it comes--and the truth about 
Saddam's regime spills out--we will be proud of the stand we took. And 
if our subsequent support of Iraq leads to democracy, our pride should 
double. Democracies do not wage war against one another. Democracies do 
not allow their people to starve. A democratic Iraq will transform the 
Middle East, where ethnic rivalry, poverty and excessive armaments will 
be supplanted by security, prosperity and creative diversity.

The writer is a Democratic senator from Nebraska.