Iraq: AreSanctions Collapsing?
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
May 21, 1998
Statement of Richard Perle before the United States Senate Committees on
Foreign Relations and Energy and Natural Resources
May 21, 1998
The Committee has convened this hearing to examine the question
"Iraq: are sanctions collapsing?" You will hear at least three
perspectives on this issue this morning, probably more.
I can give you mine with some efficiency: the sanctions regime is
indeed collapsing, along with American policy toward Iraq. In fact,
there is little to distinguish the Iraq sanctions from American policy
since American policy is nothing more than the desperate embrace of
sanctions of diminishing effectiveness punctuated by occasional whining,
frequent bluster, political retreat and military paralysis. What the
Administration calls a policy of containment has become an embarrassment
as our friends and allies in the region and elsewhere ignore our
feckless imprecations and reposition themselves for Saddam's triumph
over the United States.
More than six years after his defeat in Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein
is outsmarting, outmaneuvering and outflanking what may be the weakest
foreign policy team in any American administration in the second half of
the century. The coalition once rayed against Saddam is in disarray,
marking a stunning reversal of the position of leadership occupied by
the United States just six years ago.
Ambassador Pickering will undoubtedly tell you everything is fine,
that American diplomacy in the Gulf is determined and effective, that we
have been and will continue to be successful in "containing" Saddam.
But everything isn't fine; American diplomacy in the Gulf is weak and
ineffective; we have been failing to contain Saddam politically; and he
is getting stronger as American policy becomes manifestly weaker. The
United States, mass-marketer to the world, is losing a propaganda war
with Saddam Hussein, mass-murderer of his own citizens, over the issue
of humanitarian concern. With much of the world believing that Iraqi
babies are starving because of U.S. policies rather than the policies of
Saddam Hussein, we are facing a political-diplomatic defeat of historic
significance in the Gulf and the Administration, bereft of ideas, energy
or imagination, is doing nothing to stop it.
You will hear from others, perhaps in classified meetings as well as
this one, about violations of the existing sanctions against Iraq. I am
sure that even the CIA, which has a nearly unbroken record of failure in
assessing, understanding and operating in the Gulf, will report how
Iraqi oil is loaded on barges and shipped to UAE waters where, after
appropriate fees have been collected by Iran, the cash flows back to
Saddam. You will certainly hear about how enough South Korean four wheel
drive vehicles to equip two Republican Guard brigades made it easily
through the barriers erected to enforce the current sanctions-barriers,
by the way, based on 151 United Nations inspectors overseeing a country
of 22 million people. The Committees will learn how Saddam controls the
ration cards that tighten hisgrip on a hapless Iraqi people as they
queue up to receive humanitarian food supplies purchased with "oil for
After you have been briefed by the Administration and its experts,
after you have examined the facts about the efficacy of the current
sanctions and the prospects that they can be kept in place and made
effective, I suspect you will come to the following 10 conclusions,
which I urge you to consider:
First, there is no reason to believe that a continuation of the
sanctions will drive Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq or that they will
be effective in eliminating his relentless pursuit of weapons of mass
Second, the pressure to relax the sanctions, which has already pushed
to more than $10 billion per year the amount of revenue Iraq is allowed
from the sale of oil, will not subside and will almost certainly
Third, the French, Russians and others will continue to agitate for
the further relaxation of sanctions and the United states will almost
certainly make further concessions in this regard.
Fourth, there are already significant violations of the sanctions and
these can be expected to continue and even increase. The United Nations
is hopelessly ill-equipped to monitor and enforce a strict sanctions
Fifth, Saddam's exploitation of the health and hunger issue has
created the impression that sanctions, and not Saddam's manipulation of
the humanitarian food and medicine programs, is the cause of mass
suffering and ill health in Iraq.
Sixth, No one in the region believes that the United States has or
will soon adopt a policy that could be effective in bringing Saddam
down. The result was a collapse of support for the United States when it
blustered about getting tough with Saddam-and an inexorable drift away
from the U.S. and toward Saddam.
Seventh, When the sanctions have diminished, as they inevitably will,
when they have been eroded by circumvention, relaxation and
de-legitimization, Saddam's triumph will be complete and he will become
the predominant political force in the Gulf region with disastrous
consequences for the United States and its allies.
Eighth, Saddam's eventual political victory will be followed by a
restoration of his military power.
Ninth, only a policy that is openly based on the need to eliminate
the Saddam Hussein regime has any hope of attracting sufficient support
in the region to succeed.
Tenth, without legislation and other pressure on the Administration
there will be no change in current policy, previous Congressional
initiatives will be sidelined or ignored and irreparable damage will be
done to the position of the United States in the region and the world.