American Forces Press Service

Cohen Takes Aim at Iraqi Propaganda


  By Jim Garamone
 American Forces Press Service

 MANAMA, Bahrain -- There was nothing diplomatic in 
 Secretary of Defense William Cohen's warning about what 
 would happen if Saddam Hussein is successful in his 
 propaganda campaign to end U.N. sanctions against Iraq. 
 According to Cohen, if Hussein can manipulate opinion to 
 have the sanctions lifted, there will be "no restraint upon 
 his weapons of mass destruction program, no restraint upon 
 his missile production program, no inspectors, no control, 
 with revenues flowing back into his military." 
 Cohen spoke of the need to counter Hussein's propaganda 
 after an Oct 18 meeting with Bahrain's Amir Shaikh Hamad 
 bin Isa Al Khalifa. Bahrain, an island country 
 strategically located in the Persian Gulf, was Cohen's 
 first stop in a 10-nation, nine-day visit to the Middle 
 The United Nations passed resolutions after the Gulf War 
 requiring Iraq to destroy all weapons of mass destruction 
 and the means to make them. To enforce compliance, it 
 imposed sanctions that prevented Iraq from trading with 
 other nations. The sanctions remain in effect because Iraq 
 refuses to allow U.N. inspectors to verify that the weapons 
 of mass destruction have been eliminated. 
 "Now what they are seeking to do is lift the sanctions," 
 Cohen said. "So there will be absolutely no requirement on 
 Iraq to do what it was required to do at the end of the 
 Gulf War. This is simply unacceptable."
 He warned against being misled by Hussein's effort to blame 
 the U.N. sanctions for creating shortages of food, medicine 
 and clothing in Iraq. "Iraq has been waging a successful 
 propaganda campaign, and we should see it for precisely 
 what it is -- propaganda," he said. 
 A U.N. report points out there is far less suffering in 
 northern Iraq, where Hussein has less control, than in the 
 south. "He does in fact manipulate millions of dollars 
 worth of humanitarian supplies," Cohen said. "He refuses to 
 distribute food and medicine and clothing to his own 
 In 1997, a U.N. oil-for-food program allowed Iraq to sell 
 some oil and purchase humanitarian supplies. The United 
 Nations had offered the program since 1992, but Hussein 
 refused it. A British-Dutch resolution currently before the 
 United Nations aims to increase the scope of the oil-for-
 food program to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi 
 Cohen said the United States and its allies must counter 
 Hussein's propaganda. "We will continue to remind people 
 who Saddam is, and what he's done in the past, and what 
 he's capable of doing in the future."