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[H.A.S.C. No. 10610]
UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARD IRAQ
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
MARCH 10, 1999
UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARD IRAQ
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWashington, DC, Wednesday, March 10, 1999.
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a.m. in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Floyd D. Spence (chairman of the committee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. FLOYD D. SPENCE, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM SOUTH CAROLINA, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
The CHAIRMAN. The meeting will please be in order. Today the committee begins 2 days of hearings on the security challenges facing the United States and the Persian Gulf and, in particular, relative to Iraq. Tomorrow, we will hear from administration witnesses, but today we have a panel of outside witnesses to help us sort through the confusion that characterizes our United States policy toward Iraq.
Joining us this morning are the Honorable James Woolsey, the Clinton administration's first Director of Central Intelligence; Dr. Thomas Keaney, Director of the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and Co-director of the Air Force's Gulf War Air Power Survey; and John Hillen, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a decorated United States Army veteran of the Gulf War. And I can't believe how young they are these days.
Gentlemen, we welcome you. Many of us are deeply troubled by the course of our policy and the pattern of United States military operations in the Persian Gulf. Iraq and Iran are clearly determined to develop long-term ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Yet we seem to shy away from the kinds of resolute actions required to deter and defend against these threats or to effect change to political ambitions and calculations which underlie them.
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The lack of a clear and consistent Iraq policy deprives increasing United States military operations of a guiding purpose or rationale. Operation Desert Fox and the ongoing skirmishes in the Northern Watch and Southern Watch no-fly zones illustrate my point. From a technical standpoint, they are being executed almost flawlessly.
We attack with precision and skill. There have been more than 100,000 soldiers flown over Iraq since the end of the Gulf War without loss, a record that would be remarkable in the simplistic training environment let alone over hostile territory. Yet despite aggressive military action, there appears to be no sustainable impact on Saddam Hussein.
By most counts Saddam Hussein remains in control of Iraq. Indeed, the apparent collapse of the United States weapons inspection regime in Iraq allows him to inch closer to a lifting of sanctions and to easier development of the weapons capabilities and the consequent leverage he covets. Until the United States articulates a consistent policy that brings coherence to our military efforts in the Gulf, we will find ourselves faced with small scale technical military victories within the broader context of strategic defeat.
Nor do I believe the time is on our side. When Iraq or Iran feels ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction is only a matter of time, in my estimation our position in the Gulf will be significantly complicated and more dangerous.
In sum, the pattern I see in the Gulf where our interest in doing it but our long-term influence is in question is disconcerting. I hope that our witnesses today will help us better understand the challenges, the problems and options for placing the United States policy toward Iraq on a firmer footing.
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Before they begin, I would like to recognize the committee's ranking Democrat, Mr. Skelton, for any remarks he would like to make.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Spence can be found in the appendix.]
STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. Let me join you in welcoming our witnesses, the Honorable Jim Woolsey, Dr. Tom Keaney and Dr. John Hillen. We look forward to receiving your testimony regarding U.S. policy in a strategic and important area of the world.
Beginning at the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the United States has undertaken an effort with the support of other nations to contain Iraq and to prevent it from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and to prevent it from deploying systems that can deliver these weapons against the U.S., our troops in the area or our allies.
Our policy has included disarmament and economic sanctions. As part of the disarmament effort we have imposed no-fly zones in both northern and southern Iraq. Unfortunately, our efforts have not brought about a change in the attitude of Saddam Hussein or a change in the regime itself. Indeed, the weapons inspection in the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq, a centerpiece of the disarmament effort, has been discontinued in the face of Iraq's refusal to permit them, a refusal that is in direct defiance of U.N. resolutions.
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As we all know, this continuing violation of U.N. resolution by Iraq caused us to launch Operation Desert Fox in 1998, and now we are seeing almost daily provocations from Iraq in the northern and southern no-fly zones. All of us would like to see a long-term effort to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to hold power, this effort which I call containment plus, means: One, keeping substantial American military forces in the Persian Gulf for the foreseeable future; second, devoting considerable diplomatic efforts to rebuilding the allied coalition that has fragmented over the past 8 years; third, maintaining economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein while permitting humanitarian food and medicine to make it clear that our argument is with Saddam Hussein and not the Iraqi people; fourth, helping those Iraqis opposed to Saddam Hussein to fashion a viable option to the current regime; and, fifth, being prepared to use military force when necessary to enforce the relevant U.N. resolutions, including the no-fly zones.
If we are serious about the threats Saddam Hussein poses to the world through this program to develop weapons of mass destruction, we must set the agenda rather than having Saddam Hussein set the agenda. I look forward to receiving the views and recommendations of this quite distinguished panel.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Skelton.
Without objection our witnesses' complete written statements and any accompanying material can be submitted for the record, and, Mr. Woolsey, the floor is yours, followed by Dr. Keaney and Dr. Hillen.
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STATEMENT OF HON. R. JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
Mr. WOOLSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to be asked to testify before this committee, again, on this important subject. If it is all right, I will use my statement as notes and speak from it informally.
I testified over a year ago before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about an overall approach toward Iraq. Nothing that has occurred in the meantime suggests to me that this approach was wrong. I still think it is the best of what is frankly a rather undesirable lot of choices under the current circumstances left to the United States.
I would suggest, and did then, that we maintain the existing no-fly zones in the north and south; we make it for all Iraqi aircraft, including helicopters, and to expand those zonesto create no drive zones, so-called, for Iraqi military vehicles; recognize an Iraqi government-in-exile, possibly centered in the first instance on the Iraqi National Congress, and arm it with light weapons, including anti-armor, and when areas of the north and south of Iraq can be adequately protected from Iraqi ground force encroachments by a combination of indigenous troops, including defecting forces and our own use of air power, to permit those areas to be free of trade restrictions imposed on Iraq; for example, to let such regions pump oil; fourthly, to bring charges against Saddam Hussein in international tribunals and do everything possible to hinder his use of offshore assets, and to indicate that we do not support the continued existence of a Ba'athist regime; broadcast into Iraq in the fashion of Radio Free Europe and utilize any opportunities to conduct air strikes, such as his current efforts to attack our aircraft in the no-fly zones, in order to damage as severely as possible the instruments of his state power; and although the current strikes seem to be limited to air defense forces, perhaps broadly construed, I see no reason why they should need to be, why we should not retaliate also against the Special Republican Guard, Special Security Organization, Iraqi intelligence, and the like.
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Over the last year, we have done something quite different. We have rather reversed Teddy Roosevelt's dictum about speaking softly and carrying a big stick; we have spoken loudly, waved the stick around and emoted about how we didn't really want to hit anything with it. On several occasions, beginning in the fall of 1997, we made bold threats to try to encourage Saddam Hussein to cooperate with UNSCOM or otherwise live up to his obligations and then back down, most dramatically last October.
And finally in December we did conduct several days of apparently rather effective air strikes, and we also expanded recently the way we retaliate for Saddam Hussein in the no-fly zones. But confusion has been introduced, both by the fact that the President now has a somewhat belatedly stated policy of working to replace the Iraqi regime, statements by his Secretary of Defense which seem then to be taken back and statements by his military commander in the field, General Zinni, or by his new appointee the National Security Council staff, Mr. Pollack, which seem to cut in the direction opposite from what the President stated in terms of removing the Ba'athist regime.
Perhaps the administration needs to post a sign on the wall of the White House situation room in order to stay focused, ''It's the regime, stupid.'' The concerns of General Zinni, Mr. Pollack and others about the probable failure of an effort to replace the Iraqi regime seems to be rooted in four views. These are not irresponsible views. I think they are debatable, however, and let me take them up one at a time.
First, opponents of removing the Ba'athist regime seem to want to dash any optimism that there will likely be a quick and easy replacement of this regime by a coherent and fully democratic opposition. Well, the point is taken, no one should expect any of this to be quick and easy.
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Second, opponents of removing the Ba'athist regime emphasize the really divided character of the Iraqi opposition. That point is taken in part, but David Wurmser in his recently published Tyranny's Ally, an excellent book on this subject, demonstrates clearly I believe to any objective observer that a major share of the divisiveness within the Iraqi opposition can be laid at the feet of American actions, particularly in 1995, 1996.
Third, opponents of removing the Ba'athist regime seem to be to underemphasize the practical importance of an opposition being able to hoist the standard of democracy as a rallying point, either because they undervalue the role of belief and ideology and conflict or because they despair of a movement toward democracy succeeding in this part of the world.
I would only say that I would once have been somewhat skeptical of the role of ideology in such matters myself, Mr. Chairman, but I changed my views about a decade ago. On a diplomatic assignment in Europe, I got to know some of the members of solidarity in Poland and the Czech resistance in the Czech Republic. I believe that Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel were right in saying that Radio Free Europe might have been the single most important thing the United States did during the cold war.
And, yes, it is indeed the case that the culture and history of the Mideast have not to this point been friendly toward democracy, but not too many years ago many people would have said there are no Asian democracies either, and they would have been right, until around the time of the mid to late 1940's, and now we have India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, even Mongolia. Until rather recently knowledgeable experts said Latin America was not conducive to democracy because of its traditions and culture, and there were almost all dictatorships in that continent and few democracies such as Costa Rica. Today Fidel Castro is virtually alone as a dictator in Latin America. The experts who told us yesterday that Asian democracy was impossible and that Latin American democracy was impossible, some are today telling us that Middle Eastern democracy is impossible. Frankly I don't believe it.
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I don't believe that democracy's benefits are limited to those who conceived of the idea in fifth century B.C. Athens or even in eighteenth century Virginia, as good as it is, the constitution that they wrote. And I think we need to understand that when we stand for a people's right to govern themselves, we add a lot of arrows to our quiver.
Now, finally, those who don't support moving to replace the Ba'athist regime with democracy stress that if the regime were overthrown, Iraq might come apart with Iraqi Kurds joining other Kurds from Turkey, Iran and Syria to establish a Kurdistan or a Kurdish state, and with Iraqi Shia either falling under the sway of Iran or encouraging revolt among the Shia of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf.
Let me spend just a moment on this point because I think it in many ways is a crucial one. Those who judgewhose judgment I value the most in these matters suggest that the Iraqi Kurds would highly prize local autonomy with regard to language and education, within some sort of Federal structure in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, but they would likely prove willing to work within the structure of an Iraqi state.
A little of the same approach that Spain has used with regard to its Basque minority would go a long way toward accommodating the Kurds in a post-Ba'athist Iraq or, for that matter, in today's democratic Turkey. Spain has granted a great deal of autonomy with respect to Basque culture and language and has thereby been able to split the majority, the vast majority of the Basque people away from support of the violent ETA. The capture of Ocalan by Turkey gives Turkey the opportunity to move somewhat in the same direction.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If Turkey, our democratic ally, and a post-Ba'athist Iraq can both be persuaded to adopt a sort of Spanish style model to deal with their Kurdish regions, it is not our problem to save the dictatorships of Syria or Iran from the consequences of their own oppression of the Kurdish minorities.
Let me turn to the Shia. Concerning their role, both Iraqi and Iranian Shia have been unfairly tarred by the behavior of a small and declining faction within their division of Islam. Those who support Khamenei and the rest of the Iranian wilayat al-faqih, often translated the ''rule of the jurisprudential,'' meaning essentially the theocratic and dictatorial portion of the Iranian government under Khomeini and now Khamenei.
As Judith Miller makes clear in her fine book on Islamic extremism, God Has Ninety-Nine Names, the wilayat, the theocracy in Iran, is a marked departure from Shia tradition. There are many courageous Shia clerics even in Iran who speak for the mainstream view of the proper relationship between the Shia clergy and a state, a relationship like that of the clergy in most other religions, and who urge the clerics who are involved with the Iranian government to come home to Qom; that is, to the Holy City, and to assume a traditional role.
It is a major mistake to blame Islam or Shia Islam for the state of affairs in Iran today. The problem is that a few men, in the government and among Iranian clerics, have chosen terror to be a major tool of the Iranian state. There are some bright spots in Iran, of course, the election of President Khatami 2 years ago and even the recent local elections.
But the point is the one I think that David Wurmser expertly makes in his survey of the history of Shi'ism in Iraq in Tyranny's Ally. He outlines why the Iraqi Shia are far more a threat to Iran's wilayat, to Iran's theocracy, than they are to Saudi Arabia. He outlines why the Iraqi Shiathis was demonstrated in the spring of 1991, when the Iraqi Shia revolted, Saudi Arabia urged us to assist them, as then Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has recently set forth, and Iran abandoned them. We sadly took a path parallel to Iran.
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To this point, this has had 8 years of tragic consequences. David Wurmser concludes, I believe correctly, that a free Iraqi Shi'ite community would be a nightmare to the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran.
Now, I don't pretend that these issues are free from doubt, Mr. Chairman, and I know there are experts who support General Zinni and Mr. Pollack's views. But it is far from the case that the only clear eyed, intellectually sound approach is to spurn the effort to establish democracy in Iraq and instead to fiddle around with doomed coup attempts by other Ba'athists or merely to contain Saddam Hussein and thereby giving him time to perfect his weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
In my judgment, the far sounder approach under current circumstances is to declare solidly for democracy in Iraq and to give it all support short of actual invasion by American ground forces. I believe we should also take steps to reduce our and the rest of the world's long-term dependence on Middle East oil, but that may be a subject, Mr. Chairman, for another day.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Woolsey can be found in the appendix.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Woolsey.
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STATEMENT OF DR. THOMAS A. KEANEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FOREIGN POLICY INSTITUTE, SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
Dr. KEANEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and again I echo Mr. Woolsey, it is an honor to be asked to testify before this committee this morning.
I would like to talk about a very specific aspect of the U.S. strategy against Iraq, specifically the series of air strikes that have been going on since December almost on a daily basis. I want to talk about them in terms of what they have in mind, because they have beenmany things have been claimed, whether they represent some new departure in strategy or whether they are a continuation of the Desert Fox campaign, those 4 days in December, when the air strikes took place against Baghdad and surrounding areas, or whether they are simply retaliation to Saddam Hussein's encouragement to the no-fly zones. And for any of these aspects, I want to look at them in terms of how effective they have been, how effective in attaining the objectives that have been set forth and what the risks that are entailed.
First of all, I want to say that I have had no access to any bomb damage assessment of the strikes that have taken place and also no direct knowledge of the planning that Central Command has put in place to prosecute these strikes. My perspective is of someone who is reading the open sources on what the effects have been and what the administration has been saying about them and also looking at them from the perspective of the work I have done just after the Gulf War looking at the effectiveness of air power in that war. Therefore, rather than conclusions about what the administration ought to do, my remarks are more aimed at giving you some perspective on what issues you ought to address and things you ought to ask later on when you talk to the people in the administration and the military who are in charge of the strategy.
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First of all, from my background in the Gulf War assessment, the United States Air Force just after the Gulf War commissioned an independent study of the effectiveness of the bombing and of the employment of air power in the Gulf War, and I was a part of that study. And as a part of that study, I looked at specifically how effective the bombing was against a variety of targets that were attacked in that war from the leadership'sthe command and control to the SCUDs, to the nuclear, biological and chemical development programs, to the Iraqi army in the Kuwait theatre and to the lines of communication to that theatre; also to look at each one of those individual sets of targets and determine what the effectiveness was versus what the objectives set for those strikes.
Well, that was then and this is now, because the attacks and the operations that are going on are really quite different than the Desert Storm bombing campaign of 1991. There really are very different endeavors, different in scope and coalition support, in focus, and I think in desired results, just to name a few. For instance, the mostI think the greatest difference is that in 1991 air operations were aimed at getting the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, destroying the Iraqi army in the Kuwait theatre. There were other operations against a range of Iraqi targets, but that was a specific focus.
As a point of reference, first of all, in terms of precision versus nonprecision weapons. Laser guided bombs were about 5 percent of the total of the unguided bombs that were dropped. Most of the attacks that occured, took place in the Kuwait theatre. The attacks against the Iraqi leadership and command and control represented around 5 percent of the effort at that time, something considerably different in this war.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But there were some similarities. When you look at Desert Fox this past December, they were aimed at the leadership, the command and control, the weapons of mass destruction production systems. They were carried out almost entirely with precision weapons, and during the Gulf War most of the attacks on those specific targets were carried out with precision weapons. So there are some similarities that can be looked at.
First of all, the leadership, command and control in Desert Fox, there were some attacks against the Iraqi military, but they were principally aimed at the Iraqi leadership of four Republican Guard divisions, certainly not the Iraqi armed forces overall. Second of all, Desert Fox took place, was actually a very limited operation, it took place in only 4 days, only at night, and actually very few surprises in the campaign, and almost all precision. There were more Tomahawks launched in those 4 days, Tomahawk cruise missiles, than there were in the entire Gulf War.
Now, what are the effects of those attacks in Desert Fox this past December? One can assume, for instance, that they were more effective than what took place in the Gulf War simply because by 1998, we had far better intelligence of what Iraqi's command and control, their leadership targets, the weapons of mass destruction, far more information than we had in 1991.
But when you try to measure Desert Fox bombing, that begs the question. Compared to what? And here the answers get a bit murky, because the stated objectives of Desert Fox were to degrade and diminish, Saddam Hussein's ability to make and use weapons of mass destruction, to diminish his ability to wage war against his neighbors. Without some specific metric about how much to diminish, how much to degrade, the answer becomes an almost automatic yes. In other words, as soon as the first bomb falls, you have in fact diminished at least to some degree. So you have ensured yourself of some success.
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But I assume that the objectives that were stated were not the only ones; that is, there was a reason for stating those for, one for political cover, to show that the attacks were going to be a success, but they certainly couldn't have been the basis for the military planning. There were unstated objectives that were just as important; that is, to specifically weaken the regime control of its armed forces and the control of its people; if not in Desert Fox, then certainly in the attacks since then have certainly aimed and become an explicit part of the U.S. strategy since then.
Now there is some evidence that Desert Fox had some good results; that is, there were reports after Desert Fox of security forces moving throughout the area and General Zinni mentioned there were signs of Saddam Hussein having trouble controlling his regime and maintaining control within Iraq. But if Desert Fox was going to be more than just 4 days in December, something more lasting has to be effective. There has to be some sort of continuing impact than an immediate aftermath of what happened in December. There must be some impact, in other words, to counteract what the most visible impact of Desert Fox was; that is, that there is no longer an inspection regime in place. And this raises a few questions now that this inspect regime is no longer in place of some line of inquiry in terms of assessing what the U.S. strategy is now and where to go next.
For instance, the signs of unrest that were there in December 1998, are they still there? Have they gone away? In other words, are the effects still lingering? The degradation of the weapons of mass destruction production and delivery program, how much? Are they really measurable and significant? More important now, I might add, not at the inspection regime, the one way we had of monitoring that program is no longer in place. And finally what takes the place of the inspections? And that in part is a U.N. question, but since the United States has seemingly come to believe that the United Nations, the UNSCOM inspectors have not been effective, they have got to have some way, they have got to have some strategy for putting some substitute in their place.
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Now, the present series of attacks on the Iraqi air defense system, first of all, they do not appear to be any way related to the Desert Fox campaign of December, nor do I think they can be meaningful in that way. If they represent a new departure in strategy, as some people have suggested or posited, I frankly am at a loss to explain what that is. And viewing these retaliations through Saddam Hussein incursions as a new strategy simply calls into question the elements of what a strategy ought to be.
Now, first let me state though that the continued attacks on the Iraqi air defense system are perfectly understandable as retaliation. In fact, I think they are mandatory. But that doesn't make them a strategy or the makings of one. In fact, I don't see how the retaliations at this point can either be lessened, because of the impacts on allies in the region, or significantly escalated, because I think we are already seen by some of our allies in the region as having some problem with us. Several states, the Turks, just in the past few days have talked about their unwillingness to see these kind of attacks go on as they have in the past.
Now, there has been some escalation from the direct missile sites or radars that have eradiated the aircraft to the surrounding air defense system. But I think the targets, that they have been escalated to and the probable effects really remain quite limited. The arguments that these attacks are going to dismember what is already a dismembered air defense system, in that these attacks can contribute in any sort of significant way to the military regime instability, just doesn't seem persuasive.
It is just not an important target or an important resource for Saddam Hussein. And before the escalation went any further, beyond those sites that are directly related or indirectly related to the air defense system, I think you ought to want to know precisely where it was going and what sort of results are being sought.
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A troubling aspect of these current operations; Iraq maintains the initiative in these operations. And this situation can't be comfortable for the United States. The Iraqis pick the time, the place, and to a great degree the extent of the operation. And despite losses, around 20 to 25 percent are the latest estimates, Iraqi has really been able to limit its exposure. Notice, for instance, that of this 20 percent attrition, there were no aircraft claimed, Iraqi aircraft claimed knocked down. Even though a great many of the aircraft are aircraft in the no-fly zone, they have been limited enough so these aircraft don't come under attack. In short, in terms of the targeting of these systems, they have very little relationship to the kinds of targets that were attacked in Desert Fox and the initiatives seems to have gone to the Iraqis.
My point is based on the fact that an air defense system, attacking and destroying an air defense system is important, but it is important as an enabler to do something else. Destroying the Iraqi air defense system simply for its own sake has not a great deal of value, unless it opens the door to some attacks and some other sorts of weapon systems or some other larger strategy.
For the operations themselves, a number of questions arise. What happens when something goes wrong? Now, Iraqi air defenses appear to be in pretty bad shape. In fact, the risk of an aircraft malfunction or a midair collision is probably a greater danger to the crews than losing them to a missile or an Iraqi aircraft. But what happens is if you lose an aircraft and the crew is seized? What is the response? What is going to be the next reaction? And it is simply more retaliation.
Finally, there doesn't appear to be any difference right now between the U.S. and the British perspective on attacking these targets, although the French have signed off as part of the U.N. operations. But there are some important seams I think between the U.S. command that require a closer look. Northern Watch, the forces in Turkey that are enforcing the no-fly zone in the north are a part of the European Command; Southern Watch is a task force of Central Command.
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They are conducting essentially parallel operations with no single command in charge; though they are confronting obviously a single Iraqi strategy. If two commands are required, certainly great attention is required to the principle of maintaining unity of command so that the Iraqis confront a single integrated U.S. strategy in whatever is attempted against these strikes.
With that as an opening set of questions, I thank you for your attention. I will be ready for questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Keaney can be found in the appendix.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. This might be a good point to break for the vote we have. And so we will break and come right now, Dr. Hillen, and take you up then.
The CHAIRMAN. The meeting will please be in order.
Dr. Hillen, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF DR. JOHN HILLEN, SENIOR FELLOW FOR POLITICAL-MILITARY STUDIES, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. HILLEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Snyder, members of the committee. It is an honor to come before you today and offer some thoughts on current U.S. policy toward Iraq. Eight years ago today I was in southern Iraq. Indeed, we were the northernmost unit in southern Iraq, and ironically we were confronted with almost the same set of questions even then.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for submitting my full statement for the record. I will make a short statement now and I would like to echo some of the important points of the previous two witnesses.
As the committee is aware, since the end of Operation Desert Fox in December, the United States has undertaken a low key but very active campaign against Iraq and, as we heard, focused almost exclusively on challenges to the no-fly zones from Iraqi planes and anti-aircraft batteries. The public reports state that in over 3,000 combat sorties flown in the past 10 weeks, the U.S. has attacked over 100 different targets with almost 300 precision guided munitions. The administration seems quite happy with these attacks; indeed happier still with the notion of these attacks as representing the centerpiece of the new U.S. strategy toward Iraq.
As one senior military officer quoted in The Washington Post remarked, it is a strategy we fell into. It is not one that was originally planned, but it is working out very, very well for us. And several very high-ranking administration officials with whom I have spoken recently have reinforced this optimism about the success of the new policy.
I would like to offer the committee a different view on this issue. To call any military strategy a success presupposes the coherent measure of that success. The current set of operations against Iraqi air defenses are deemed successful because by and large American and British planes are hitting their targets and slowly degrading Saddam's anti-aircraft capabilities. Of this there is no doubt and we should all greatly admire the skill and professionalism of the aircrews in carrying out these missions. Nonetheless, while these short-term military goals appear definable and achievable, they do not appear to be conclusively linked to an end game in Iraq.
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If the U.S. is only in the business of incrementally plinking 1970's era anti-aircraft batteries in Iraq, then the policy is indeed a success. If on the other hand, those military actions are supposed to be conclusively linked to a larger and more sustainable political objective in Iraq, I am not so sure. Using the destruction of anti-aircraft batteries in Iraq to measure the success of our overall policy may be as irrelevant as using body counts to measure the success of America's strategy in Vietnam.
The daily military actions in and of themselves are important tactical victories. But do they add up to a comprehensive policy? The question the President and his policy staff must answer is strategic to what end?
The administration claims that containment is the official strategy and the U.S. wishes only to keep Saddam in his box, such that he lacks the military capability to threaten his neighbors, develop weapons of mass destruction or destabilize the Persian Gulf region in some way. American officials have even indicated that if Saddam ceases his challenges to the no-fly zones, then what has been described as a low grade war against Iraq will stop. In fact, members of the committee may have seen the story in today's papers that Secretary Cohen told the Qatari foreign minister that if Iraq stopped challenging the no-fly zone these American attacks will indeed cease. At the same time the President and his National Security Advisor have strongly hinted at the need for a change of regime in Iraq and joined Congress in passing the Iraq Liberation Act.
Now, there is an inherent tension between these two goals, and I would argue the administration cannot have it both ways. In the first place, pursuing two different policies on the cheap greatly reduces the chances of either coming to fruition. Second, the administration has not constructed a policy framework for either policy that would prepare Congress, the American people or our allies for a lasting solution to the problem of Saddam Hussein.
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American and British pilots are very busy in the skies over Iraq, but little work has been done in the White House to plan for either a post-UNSCOM containment strategy or the chance to help force Saddam from power. For his part, Saddam appears to be counting on the fact that an administration with only 22 months in office will be mostly interested in running out the clock.
Incoherent as it is, the current policy could most optimistically be explained as playing for a break, and some analysts who agree with my thesis that American actions do not appear to be linked to a larger objective still maintain that bombing is better than nothing, perhaps so long as there are no American POW's in the equation. However, when you weigh the considerable danger of a Saddam Hussein with an unfettered and unmonitored weapons of mass destruction program, the current campaign may not be much better than bombing.
The recent bombings have not been directed toward Saddam's ability to build and deliver weapons of mass destruction or toward his elite forces and these, of course, are the two instruments with which he maintains control and could threaten the region. There is the possibility that attacking remote anti-aircraft sites may send some indirect signal to the Iraqi military that Saddam is a weak and dangerous leader. I cannot see how this could be a stronger signal than when he lost two-thirds of his army in Operation Desert Fox, but that is the line of argument.
Even then if Saddam is weakening and Desert Fox or this current air campaign is accelerating his demise, the U.S. is ill positioned to influence or take advantage of the outcome. Our lukewarm approach to a regime change in Iraq has put America in the back of the bus, not the driver's seat.
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Playing for a break where the U.S. applies relatively small amounts of risk-free military pressure in the hopes of something good happening can work, some of the architects of President Reagan's policies in Central America have described their approach this way. If we have patience and good fortune in Iraq, then this method can be supported. I believe that Saddam is too wily a survivor and his weapons of mass destruction is too dangerous and advanced for America to rely solely on this strategy. As we used to say in my military unit, hope is not a method. More important, I will describe in this testimony two scenarios where the threat posed by Saddam in the future will grow greatly unless the U.S. takes action today.
The immediate threat is not imminent, but decisions are. The policy of containment, bombing or no bombing, is not sustainable for several reasons. The first is it is inconclusive, having not yielded even the glimmer of a solution to the Iraq problem for the past 8 years. Second, every indecisive round keeps pressure on Saddam, but also allows him time and breathing space to further develop weapons of mass destruction. This is especially so now that the U.N. inspections regime, imperfect though it was, has collapsed.
Third, the continued sanctions on Iraq give Saddam Hussein legitimacy and strengthen his hold on power over the suffering Iraqi people. Fourth, the policy, as you well-know here on the Hill, is expensive and demoralizing, costing the U.S. billions every year to rush troops to the Gulf back and forth and further taxing the much-stretched American military. Fifth, containment fatigue is setting in, with allies and other powers tiring of the routine and wanting to resume normal and business relations with Iraq.
Finally, and, most importantly, the current containment policy leaves many parties other than the U.S. in charge. During all of these crises over the past years, America has reacted with great gusto, but the prime determinant of the outcome has been Saddam Hussein. Occasionally, an interlocutor has been involved to give temporary direction, such as Russian Prime Minister Yvgeni Primakov last November, and U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan in February 1998. Given the amount of political and military capital the U.S. is spending to keep Saddam under pressure, retaining the initiative action should be the foremost elements of a strategy for dealing with a dangerous bully.
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Now, Mr. Chairman, in my testimony, I describe many different policy options we should consider, and two of these policy options would require the U.S. to think very hard about using force. I would like to associate myself with the comments of Jim Woolsey in terms of supporting the opposition, and I would describe this as one scenario in which the U.S. could find itself using considerably more military force than it might have planned.
I wish for the sake of our friends in the Iraqi opposition and the American public that Saddam Hussein could be removed with only a light American touch, air support, logistics, training and intelligence and the like. Having worked with the Shiites in the south and having studied the Kurds in the north a great deal, I am not as sanguine about their chances under these circumstances. Moreover, if the U.S. does not prepare immediately to heavily reinforce an opposition in which we have invested our prestige, then America should think carefully about being involved at all.
I think at some point in time, Iraqi opposition groups are likely to need more help than was expected, and I think it should be given to them. Needless to say, the more the U.S. is involved on the front end of these efforts, the more it can influence the manner and form in which American troops may be involved further down the road. It would be much easier for the U.S. to ensure success and maintain influence in an opposition movement if it is a key player from the beginning, rather than having to come in as a key player on the heels of an imminent disaster or a stalled effort.
There are many questions contained in this policy, and the point I would like to make today is that these sorts of issues must be thought through, war-gamed and planned for, and I don't see evidence that the administration is prepared in this sense.
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The second scenario that I will leave you with before I close centers on the possibility of Saddam Hussein's Iraq being on the verge of developing nuclear weapons. Saddam has every inventive to do so recognizing, as the Pakistani defense minister said after the Gulf War, that the chief lesson of the Gulf War to the rest of the world was not to take on the United States unless you have a nuclear weapon. Biological and chemical weapons he has and are easier to develop and can be used to devastating effect. But they do not, as a nuclear capability would, make Iraq a world power overnight.
If Saddam is close to realizing this capability, as many analysts think he is, the U.S. would face a threat more serious than that of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. I think it is well worth thinking now about how to handle an Iraq on the brink of developing nuclear weapons.
I don't come here as an advocate for invading Iraq in this circumstance, but I do advocate thinking about it early. Strategic preemption on this scale is a very difficult decision, because the best time to undertake this decision is early, when the threat is not manifested enough to galvanize the various actors involved. Unfortunately, the worst time to preemptively invade Iraq would be when Saddam actually has a nuclear capability where he is close enough to shock the world. Then the international community would be motivated to take action, but against a much more formidable opponent.
The audio tapes made in the Oval Office during the Cuban missile crisis have an interesting exchange between President Kennedy and Maxwell Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and President Kennedy is regretting not having used the Bay of Pigs or similar episodes early in his administration to depose Castro, because at that point he was facing the prospect of dealing with a nuclear Castro as the Soviet missiles were moving in. Similarly, much of the international community long bemoaned the failure to dispatch Hitler while he was weak, rather than paying the terrible cost to do it when he was strong.
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It is my fervent hope that we have no similar regrets of facing a nuclear Saddam in the future. Once again, I don't know the immediate threat is imminent but the kind of decisions we need to begin thinking about this are. I think there is a feeling from the administration that we have to play the hand we were dealt, and we can just go along to get along in Iraq.
I think real leadership from an American President can shape the will and the ambitions of the international community, as President Bush showed in the fall of 1990. President Clinton or his successor should not be tempted into kicking the Iraq can down the road yet again. Instead the President should invest the political capital necessary to make the case against Saddam and mobilize domestic and international opinion in the direction of removing him. If Saddam is dangerous enough for the world to laboriously keep in a box, he is dangerous enough to expel from Iraq.
The campaign to build the case for undermining and overthrowing Iraq will be long and difficult and accomplished only with much diplomatic sweat and military muscle and perhaps the blood of many involved. But having undertaken some limited military action over the past 10 weeks, perhaps President Clinton has answered in his mind the question of whether Iraq is worth fighting for; that same question should be put before Congress. If the answer is yes, the fight should at least accomplish something important.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Hillen can be found in the appendix.]
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The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
Let me just ask one question of Mr. Woolsey. Since we don't have any inspections going on now in Iraq, what does this do to our ability to deter or detect their efforts in the field in weapons of mass destruction?
Mr. WOOLSEY. It hurts a great deal, Mr. Chairman. The real breakthrough I believe in UNSCOM's and our understanding of many aspects of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program, the way in which material was moved around by the Special Security Organization and the Special Republican Guard and the rest came as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamel and the other son-in-law of Saddam, and that string of information is now somewhat run out and somewhat stale.
There are things that we can learn from traditional intelligence collection. But UNSCOM was a very important piece in the puzzle of keeping track of what was going on in Iraq even with the thwarting of it by Saddam. And I think that we may well be in a situation now for the foreseeable future, without either inspections or a forceful policy against Iraq, of their resuming pretty much unrestricted efforts to develop ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, because they do have a substantial amount of money coming in from the so-called oil for food program, and Saddam gets money from overseas by other means as well. So I think it is a very serious problem.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you want to add anything to it?
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. HILLEN. Mr. Chairman, if I can just add a note, as some of you may have seen the frontline program a few weeks ago on loose nukes in Russia especially, there is some 70 to 80 nuclear weapons unaccounted for in Russia, so this is not a case where Saddam needs to take years to build a nuclear capability himself from scratch, he can literally buy it off the shelf.
Dr. KEANEY. No comments on that.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. Jim, you said something about recognizing an Iraqi government in exile. As I see it, there are some 91 opposition groups flowing out there. How does America pick one to choose? There have also been some articles, I wish I can remember who wrote them, but I know there are some articles about the problems in trying to replace Saddam Hussein alleging that Iraq splits into three different parts. I believe you alluded to it earlier.
Mr. WOOLSEY. Yes.
Mr. SKELTON. Where do we go from here on all of this?
Mr. WOOLSEY. Well, on the groups issue, certainly there is this famous list of 91, but a lot of those are post office boxes or single individuals. There really are, I think, four principal ones, the Iraqi National Congress, the Iraqi National Accord, the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The administration might be able to find a fifth, but I think it should not be beyond the capacity of American diplomacy under the current situation to get the four, five leading groups together and persuade them to form a single structure.
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The Kurds, at least from this morning's press, appear to be getting along, the PUK and the KDP, with one another a bit better than they were certainly back in 1996, when Mr. Talibani, threw in briefly with Saddam, and I think that the issue of coordinating this is largely a question of American will. If we want to make this happen and are willing to use some of the resources that Congress has appropriated for that purpose, I think we can do it. But it won't happen by our just sort of sitting on our hands and asking them to please get organized with no incentives or no American effort.
And as far as in the event a post-Ba'athist, post-Saddam Iraq, the country splitting into three parts, that is what I was alluding to in the brief discussion I had in my opening statement about the Kurds and the Shia. Certainly, there are some Kurds and Mr. Talibani was quoted this morning in the Washington Times as sounding as if what he reallyhis heart's desire would be a single Kurdistan drawing on the Kurds from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. But there have been some body blows struck at that since, particularly in the Turks' arrest of Mr. Ocalan, at least a body blow against the violent effort to bring that about.
And I think that if one works with the Kurds and gives them a degree of autonomy inside a democratic Federal future Iraq, one could reasonably expect them to stay as part of Iraq. This is not a matter that is absolutely free from doubt. But I would encourage both a review of David Wurmser work and also there is an Israeli scholar who has gotten into this issue substantially and written some things that I think are quite good, Dr. Liora Lukitz, on the subject.
As far as the Shia are concerned, I think the Saudis are quite close to that issue, they have a number of Shia in their own northern provinces and the rest of the Gulf, and we have been told for a long time that, well, the Saudis don't want Saddam overthrown, and they didn't support the overthrow of Saddam in 1991, because they were worried about the Iraqi Shia joining their own Shia.
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We all know from Paul Wolfowitz, the former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy during the Bush administration, that is not the case; that the Saudis were supportive of Saddam's being removed from power in 1991 and were willing to support the Shia. It was the Iranians who backed off supporting the Shia for exactly I think the reasons that I pointed out. The Iranian wilayat, the theocratic terrorists who run much of Iran today, are worried about a strong Shia movement across the border.
The Shia after all are a majority in Iraq. They have generally not been well treated by the minority Sunni, and I think that there is a strong current of reasonableness in the clergy and in the history and tradition of Shi'ism that has been masked by our current problems with this small faction of Shia that are running Iran. I think there is a very good chance that some of the experts are wrong and that people like Mr. Wurmser are right, and that if Iraq became more democratic, that the Shia in Iraq would not be a fundamental problem to the continued existence of an Iraqi state, but instead would be a fundamental problem to the continuation of the wilayat in Iran, and that would be all to everybody's benefit, except Mr. Khamenei and his colleagues.
Mr. SKELTON. OK.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Bateman.
Mr. BATEMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am delighted that we have this panel before us today, because you have looked at the question of our policy and actions vis-a-vis Iraq more broadly and much more deeply than someone like I have been able to do it.
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Let me give you my best recollection of the events of last November and December and ask your comments. My recollection is that in October, Saddam Hussein had effectively ended the UNSCOM inspection regimen. We reacted and made some threats. Ultimately after the Secretary of Defense traveled to the Middle East apparently had a consensus of the Egyptians, the Saudis and the other states in the Persian Gulf that we would have to take military action against Saddam Hussein, even I think the French ultimately agreed and the United Nations was not opposing taking that action, which was planned and ready to go and planes in the air in some date in November.
We then got a letter from Saddam Hussein assuring virtually very little or nothing and we called off the air strikes. Is that scenario, am I recalling it correctly?
Mr. WOOLSEY. That is essentially my understanding, Congressman Bateman.
Mr. BATEMAN. Do you have any insights as to why, when we had the consensus to do things and a coalition that was approving what we were about to do, that we for little reason or justification terminated the action and then thereafter in December pursued the Desert Fox operation with no cooperation, no consensus from anyone except the British?
Mr. WOOLSEY. I think that was a bad mistake by the President. According to the press reports, he relied on the advice of his National Security Advisor and rejected the advice of the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and the Vice President on that point. And I don't know whether that is true or not, simply the press reports.
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But I believe that was the end of a year's worth of bad decisions about not standing up to Saddam, and my understanding and attitude toward it is identical with yours.
Mr. BATEMAN. Anyone else have any different observation?
Dr. KEANEY. Yes, I do. I think the situation moving from October to November was as you described; that is, the United States and the other U.N. members had a very strong consensus both around the world as much as could be expected and within the region for a strong military strike then, in good part based on the things that Saddam Hussein had done. But there seemed to be in November a very strong consensus for the U.S. moving ahead as directly as possible.
I think what happened then is Saddam Hussein essentially gave in on everything he was holding out against, in other words, for the United Statesand I assume this is the reason that the administration made the decision it did, is that Saddam Hussein said, OK, we agree, we will do it, whatever it was.
At that point I think the administration, having risked so much or depended so much on the strong consensus, was afraid to see it disappear before its eyes, in other words, risk the at least temporary disapproval of the members orthe members of the U.N. and in the region that had approved this action; that is, that I think there was a lingering suspicion that the United States, alone, had its own agendacertainly in the region had its own agenda for dealing with Saddam Hussein.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I think it must have been that the administration saw that this would makein the eyes of many in the region would make this come true. So that at the time when Saddam Hussein said, OK, we give up or the U.N. Ambassador says, yes, we agree to everything that we said, then, of course, it was only a matter of time because clearly it wasn't going to be the case.
Mr. BATEMAN. Well, am I correct that it was never officially Saddam Hussein who communicated anything, it was the Iraqi Ambassador who communicated it and no one was ever able to get an official confirmation out of Baghdad as to their position yet notwithstanding the planes were in the air ready to execute the mission?
Dr. KEANEY. I think that is correct. I think that is correct.
Mr. BATEMAN. It seems to me if any time military action were justified that would have been the time to do it, and it was an exercise in silliness not to proceed.
Mr. Chairman, my time is expired. I had one other question I would like to slip in if I could.
The CHAIRMAN. How about let's leave that for the second go round. These other people are waiting.
Mr. BATEMAN. I don't think I will be here for the second go round.
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The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, I am always struck by the irony that every time we seek to punish a one-man dictatorship that some Iraqi POC somewhere gets blown up and the one man who violates the rules is apparently living pretty well, maybe in secrecy but still pretty well. Realize that Congress has a law against political assassinations but Congress can also undo what Congress does.
So my questionI think it is actually an executive orderbut would there be any value in this committee, this Congress passing a resolution, making it a part of the defense authorization bill that we expect Saddam Hussein, since he is the sole ruler of Iraq, to abide by the terms of the cease-fire and that if he does not, that he is personally responsible for the consequences, including the possible loss of his own life?
Mr. WOOLSEY. Let me take that one on, Congressman, because I wrestled with that one for a couple years as DCI. I think there are two main reasons I would not advise that. The first is that the real problem is not just Saddam Hussein. He is a crafty, street tough hit man who became a dictator, but his regime is thoroughly rotten. If we ended up with either of his two sons, for example, if something should happen to him, we would end up with people who like to kill for pleasure and the structure of the Ba'athist nationalist regime is one that does not suggest to me that we would see a substantial change if something happened to Saddam as an individual. That is why I always talk about the regime, not the individual.
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I think that there are other reasons not to change the assassination policy that President Ford, and you are quite right is an executive order 12333, I think, for the last 20, nearly 25 years that has been the policy of the United States. And I think there is several reasons it is a good policy. First of all, when the CIA tried to conduct an assassination of Castro back in the beginning of 1960's, it botched the job
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Woolsey, if I may though, I think there is a difference between enforcing a United Nations sponsored resolution. There is a difference between the U.S. Congress acting in an open manner and someone secretly telling the CIA to try to kill a leader of a country. I think there is a huge difference.
Mr. WOOLSEY. I agree, Congressman. So if you repeal, effectively repeal 12333
Mr. TAYLOR. Or make an exception.
Mr. WOOLSEY [continuing]. Or make an exception would be the way you say it, then people are going to wonder the next time we have a dispute with a state if we are going to make an exception then. And at that point it becomes a policy or at least an occasional policy of the U.S. Government, pursuant to U.N. resolution as you suggested, but nonetheless to use killing of a single individual as an instrument of state policy.
And I think there are some real problems with that. One problem is that, although there are some people in the world, Saddam I am sure is one of them, who would dearly love to assassinate American political leaders, there is probably a range of people who would be put on to that idea by the factin addition, by the fact that the U.S. Government abrogated to itself the role of openly and explicitly espousing assassination, even in a rare case, as an instrument of state policy.
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I can understand how in the middle of a war for survival, World War II really was something like this would happen, there was an OSS authorization, we believe from a couple of biographies, in possibly Switzerland to assassinate Mr. Heisenberg, the German nuclear scientist, if the OSS agent believed that he was helping Hitler develop nuclear weapons. And we essentially assassinated Yamamoto, the architect of Pearl Harbor, by shooting down his aircraft after breaking the code and knowing exactly which aircraft that was.
But other than in a war for survival of the state, and I don't think we are there yet with Iraq, I personally would advise against the course. But I think it is a reasonable debate given the circumstances and what Saddam stands for and what he may do in the Middle East and elsewhere. I think it is a reasonable debate to have.
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, can I ask the other gentlemen to just hold their thoughts for the second round?
The CHAIRMAN. We can hold for the second round, yes.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I appreciate so much your testimony today. I think it has been excellent. I apologize that I haven't been able to be in all of it, because of the interruption and trouble getting back. So you may have answered this question a dozen of times, and I apologize. I have recently had the opportunity to be in that neighborhood and to visit with some of the neighbors over there, the Turks and the Greeks and Cyprus and so forth. When you press them, almost to a person, you say are we accomplishing anything with what we are doing now, our policy in Iraq, and almost to a person the response was that, well, really we don't think you are, that we think you are solidifying his dictatorship, that here is the guy that is standing up to the big bully, the United States, and succeeding. He is going right along his way, and we are exploding things and so forth. But in reality, he is succeeding and standing up to us and they are proud of him and it solidifies his strength.
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Would each of you respond to that concept?
Dr. HILLEN. I agree with you entirely, Congressman, and much of my testimony went to that. They get actually quite giddy in the White House when our bombs hit their targets, and there is a lot of self congratulations. But nobody really seems to be asking to what end, to what does this lead, that this is not actually the end game, and I think that has been picked up by a lot of our allies in the region.
I think the allies are willing to be led and our experience with the Persian Gulf allies has shown that if the United States is determined and has a realizable plan and an achievable and sustainable objective, they will come on board. Nobody expected in August 1990 that the Gulf allies would fall in behind a huge U.S. led coalition that would involve over half a million troops in Saudi territory and an invasion.
But as soon as then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney showed King Fahd we had a real plan and we were going to exert real leadership and we were determined to see it through to a conclusive outcome, King Fahd gave the nod. And, similarly, in the late 1970's when President Carter sent a squadron of F15s to reinforce Saudi Arabia, then it was leaked they were unarmed, the Saudis were very offended and turned around and sent them home. So I think a real key is a U.S. leadership.
If there is a real plan I think our allies will support it. If we continue to just kick the can down the road and take these incremental steps that may add up to nothing but may be therapeutic for us in the meantime, I think the allies will grow tired of it.
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Dr. KEANEY. Yes, two points. One, it is my opinion that Saddam Hussein has started thisthese incursions of the no-fly zone perhaps to try to knock down a U.S. aircraft, British aircraft. That would be fine, but that is not the real purpose. The real purposethe real target of this strategy I believe is bothis primarily domestic but also international, domestic public opinion within Iraq, in other words setting himself up as the savior of the Iraqis, in other words that he is the only thing that is standing between them and further destruction by this Western coalition.
To a lesser degree, I think it is international opinion, in other words, to the allies, making him wear out, making the U.S. wear out their welcome. And if the allies in the region arewe worry, the United States worries a good deal about the opinion of the allies in the region. I would say just as much, if not more, our allies in the region worry about the staying power of the United States. Therefore, I think when they start openly questioning U.S. strategy, that to me is sort of the last straw. In other words, they are going to just internalize that for a long time, when they startthey may have already disagreed with it, and I think when they start openly talking about it, I think that is sort of the inner, outer limit.
Mr. WOOLSEY. Congressman, I just add one point. I think our current strategy is, if you can call it that, is sort of as if in 1929 when Al Capone was running Chicago and all the businessmen were afraid of him, Elliott Ness had showed up in Chicago with the Untouchables and instead of really going after Capone and figuring out he was going to get him one way or another and doing what he did, eventually getting him in jail on income tax evasion, he had just sort of randomly wondered around Chicago shooting at a building where some of Capone's people might have been from time to time.
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People who are on the border who live near a thug are, of course, going to say, hey, you know, that thug is doingreally doing a good job standing up to you guys, unless they believe that the person who really has responsibility, whether it is the FBI in Chicago in 1929 or us with Saddam today is committed to making a difference in making something happen. As long as we continue this kind of feckless random behavior vis-a-vis Saddam, the allies, such as they are, and neighbors are going to be cozying up to him, critical of us, doing the things that they know they need to do in order to survive.
It is only if they see us behaving the way President Bush did in 1990 or hopefully, at least according to my testimony, going in that general direction, but at least being able to do the job short of using U.S. ground forces, that I think they will realize that something is going to happen and they better get in with a winner. We are not acting like a winner. So they basically kind of have been watching us and judging us and occasionally making fun of us.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
The gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Snyder.
Mr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Hillen, I just wanted to ask about your comments on, if you will give some comments on Mr. Woolsey's outlines. He gave some very specific outline of a potential way to initiate a strategy for changing regimes in Iraq. But it seems to me that that may be an example of a plan that you might be critical of. I want to be sure I am reading that correctly. I mean you give a description that the campaign is going to involve a lot of military muscle and the blood of many involved. That sounds to me different than a plan of expanding, you know, the no-fly zone to no-drive zones and arm an Iraqi force with light weaponry.
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Do you have anyam I reading you correctly?
Dr. HILLEN. One caveat, Congressman. There isI support the efforts and the plans, especially those put forward by people like Paul Wolfowitz and Jim Woolsey. My point on this issue, the U.S. needs to go into it with eyes wide open, and there is no free lunch. And hopefully we won't have to do and if we do it right and follow a sensible strategy, such as that one laid out, or others, it could work.
But if it doesn't work, the U.S. has invested, we have invested through the Iraq Liberation Act. We are invested in other ways. And that debate needs to happen before the disaster, if, and hopefully there will not be one, if there is even a slight chance of there being one, and in the military business there always is, that that debate especially needs to happen, especially in the Hill, before we get into that so the Iraqis are aware of that.
Mr. SNYDER. I appreciate that. I appreciate your comments. I mean when youit is almost I think in your last paragraph, you talk about the blood of many involved, it is very easy for usI mean we love to be quarterbacks. It is very easy for us to say we need to take him out. It is very easy to say President Bush should have given the decision to take him, but it neglects phrases about the blood of many involved, and I think, Mr. Woolsey, I think that that is a very concrete plan. But I think that acknowledgment can lead to those kinds of very potential disasters.
Mr. WOOLSEY. I agree with what Mr. Hillen said. I think we ought to go into this with our eyes wide open, and if it fails within a period of time, you need to give it some time. But if it does fail, I think the United States is invested and we only ought to do this with Congress' approval and debate. I agree with that.
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Mr. SNYDER. I want to be sure if I heard you correctly when we were talking about the current policy of what the President called enforcing the no-fly zones. If I heard you correctly, you were very clear though that we do need to retaliate when the radar comes on? Did I hear you correctly?
Dr. KEANEY. Absolutely, I think we do.
Mr. SNYDER. Thank you. And, Dr. Hillen, maybe you can amplify for me when you talked about the inherent tension or conflict between a policy of keeping Saddam Hussein in the box versus the change in the regime. And I am sitting here thinking I guess I don't see why those are inherently in conflict. I would think thatI am not sure if we decide to undertake an aggressive policy of change in regime and taking the chance on the blood that you described, whether we would anticipate that would be 3 months, 3 years or a decade, but I would assume that during that period of time we would also want to keep the boy in the box.
So help me understand the tensions again. I read through your written statement, but just amplify on that if you would.
Dr. HILLEN. I will give you an example from a conversation I had with a very the high ranking official on the National Security Council very recently. He was very proud of the fact that the current air campaign is keeping pressure on Saddam, and he was alluding to the fact that this sort of pressure is the type of mechanism the administration would like in moving toward a regime change, and both the President and the National Security Advisor both said publicly they would favor this.
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But at the same time he said if the Iraqis stopped locking on, if Iraqi radar stopped locking on U.S. planes and Iraqi planes stopped challenging this no-fly zone, this pressure would cease. And it appeared to me those were completely inconsistent policy goals; that you are either pressuring Saddam to some end or you are not, and it appeared to me he was trying to have it both ways with the same small air campaign.
Mr. SNYDER. Now, I would assume that when we talk about pressuring Saddam Hussein, we have a variety of mechanisms though, do we not, in terms of economic sanctions and the efforts that Mr. Woolsey described, tentative as they may have been at this point, in terms of opposition groups, I mean the pressure is more than just hitting radar sites?
Dr. HILLEN. Absolutely. And we would need a very comprehensive campaign, I mean sanctions obviously have not worked. In fact, I would argue they have strengthened Saddam's hand inside Iraq. But in terms of using American diplomatic and military pressure to an effective regime change, an anti-aircraft battery campaign is not enough.
Mr. SNYDER. Right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you all.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Mr. Hunter. We are enforcing the 5-minute rule today, Mr. Hunter.
Mr. HUNTER. I got it. Mr. Chairman, I am in the no-fly zone here. And just to be mean, since we are going to have a debate and possibly a vote on Kosovo tomorrow, I have listened carefully while I have been hearing your testimony on Iraq, and it is very much appreciated.
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I would like to know, Mr. Woolsey, where you come down on thewhat your thoughts are about the introduction of American troops into Kosovo?
Mr. WOOLSEY. I think this is a tough one, Congressman Hunter, and I think it is a very close call. I think we were far too slow to intervene in Bosnia, and we let 3 years of massacres go on without doing what we should have there, but that was a cross border operation. Admittedly, it was a complicated situation, because of the existence of a lot of ethnic Serbs in Bosnia and the history of the former Yugoslavia and the rest.
But, nonetheless, as far as the international community was concerned, the Serbs were effectively operating across the border from their country into Bosnia, and I think we could have, and with the UN's authority and support should have, stopped that a lot sooner. Kosovo is a different matter, because although it is on the verge of being and at times in the past has been a terrible civil war involving massacres, and there is a terrible repression of the Albanian 90 percent majority by the Serbian minority, nonetheless, it is at the present writing internal to Serbia.
I see both sides of this as having good arguments. And I suppose where I would come out at the present writing is that as long as the other NATO allies are taking a strong stance, this is in Europe, there is at least some risk of substantial spreading of hostilities to other countries if Kosovo explodes. I would be willing to have U.S. ground forces as part of a NATO European force take part as long as it was clear that at least one side had signed on to the agreement that we have been seeking to set up.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If the Kosovars don't sign on to it as well as the Serbs, then certainly we should not go in. But if the Kosovars agree to the autonomy for a period of years, structure, that we have been seeking to negotiate and the Serbs insist on maintaining the regime of massacres essentially as they have been, I believe that given the cover provided by NATO and the regional situation in Europe and potential instability for the rest of southeastern Europe, I think this is a close call, but I would support, yes, going ahead and putting the forces in.
Mr. HUNTER. All right.
Dr. HILLEN. Mr. Hunter, at the risk of jinxing myself, my colleague and I, Bob Zoellick, have a long piece on this coming out in tomorrow's Washington Post on what we think should be U.S. policy in Kosovo. I will just sum up some of our main points. It appears to us that the United States right now, and this is all very particular, are negotiating merely to put U.S. forces in Kosovo without a clear end to what they might accomplish while they are there and what the U.S. actually hopes to accomplish in the Balkan region in general.
This is a confusion of means and ends and so it relates to our discussion on Iraq. If the goal is to stop the bleeding, we are going to be there a long time, as we have seen the Bosnia mission drag on. If the United States is absolutely seeking to use this power to effect a solution insomuch as one is possible in that area of the world, then we need to have a strategy where we treat the causes and not the symptoms.
So we argue for a diplomatic and then possibly military strategy down the road that isolates and weakens and seeks ultimately to remove Slobodan Milosevic. I think one of the points that I am sure Congress is going to address, and I hope you do, because I think it is a big constitutional question that has flummoxed this Congress in particular for the past few years is that it seems to me that Congress never gets to vote on the merits of a military deployment, that the vote comes to you only after the decision has been taken and then it is sort of a mom and apple pie vote just to support the troops that have already been committed.
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So I would hope in your discussions and in your votes you can get out in front of that wheel so we can restore some of the constitutional balance that the founders put in in relation to where and how and when and why American military forces should be used.
Mr. HUNTER. OK.
Dr. KEANEY. I would be in favor of using American ground troops if there is an agreement between Kosovars and the Serbs. I think there is a more difficult problem if the Serbs don't agree to this. I think at that point the issue is going to be sortwill not be do we go in with ground troops only but do we use air power in order to convince the Serbs they ought to do that. I think that is going to be the tougher call.
But I think if the Serbs agree to it, I think it would be all to the good to have U.S. as part of the UN-NATO force in the region to try to enforce this divorce or to give it some time to actually take place, even without knowing whether it is going to lead to autonomy or eventual independence for the Kosovars.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Mr. Thornberry.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Woolsey, I would like to get a little deeper into one aspect of U.S. policy that you mentioned briefly. And let me start by just laying out some facts, and then I would like to see what your conclusions are. In 1997, Iraq exported 700,000 barrels of oil a day, and in 1998, it tripled and they exported about 2.1 million barrels of oil a day. Most of the oil analysts, industry analysts believe that Iraq is producing oil at its full capacity. In other words, the oil for food program cap is a dollar cap. With the low price of oil, they are getting every barrel possible out beyond what makes economic sense and beyond what makes geological sense for the health of their oil reservoirs.
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Money is not going to feed the Iraqi people. Last week, Secretary Cohen was quoted as talking about several hundred million dollars of food and medicine and supplies that are stored in Iraqi warehouses that are not being distributed to the people. The world, as you know, has too much oil. We overproduce roughly about a million barrels a day, and some people have reached the conclusion that Iraq is basically waging economic warfare against its neighbors, because the amount of increased production which it supplies doesn't make any sense really, but it does depress the price and that hurts Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and Iran and puts their economies in a real bind.
And, of course, the other thing it does is, it drops other producers out of business, making us more dependent upon that region of the world, and perhaps gives him more leverage in the future to manipulate the price and supply.
Do you think there is economic warfare going on here?
Mr. WOOLSEY. Most certainly. I think Saddam is a street fighter and will use anything that he can get his hands on, and one thing he has got his hands on is the oil for food program. I think you are quite right, the production levels that are permitted are above Iraq's current actual physical capacity to pump, given the state of its oil business now. And he almost certainly is sequestering his largest share of those resources as he possibly can for his own personal benefit and for the benefit of those who are close to him and loyal to him, and not seeing that most of it goes for food for the Iraqi people, and using the deprivation of the Iraqi people as cleverly as he can on CNN and otherwise street demonstrations and all the rest to try to weaken support in the Arab world and among our allies for maintaining the sanctions.
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I think he is doing all of that, doing it quite consciously and doing it rather cleverly and I think that continuing to raise those oil-for-food ceilings as we have in the past is an extremely short-sighted way to buy a bit of diplomatic peace with some of our Security Council colleagues, and they just come right back in another few months asking for higher and higher ceilings.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Yes. Dr. Hillen, I would like to hear your comments. And also from what you have seen, does his attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction benefit from oil-for-food; if not directly, indirectly in some way?
Dr. HILLEN. Well, absolutely indirectly, because insomuch as he has any sort of cash at all, especially with the state of some of thebeing able to woo scientists or weapons that are already made to Iraq, insomuch as he has cash at all, that helps. And I think you are very accurate when you stated that the money that Iraq gets from the oil exports is not going to the people. It is, in fact, staying in the regime.
I was alarmed when the Vice President signaled that he was willing to consider the French policy to raise the ceiling, and then happy that he has since backed off from that. I think the basic big point is in putting this into the context of our strategy with Iraq is economically, politically, diplomatically, militarily, our approach needs to be consistent, and it should be that for every step he tries to take forward he has moved two steps back, and that needs to be an economic strategy as well as a military one.
Mr. THORNBERRY. So do you think that we are now undermining what we say our policy is with this oil-for-food program?
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Dr. HILLEN. It could undermine, and I agree with Mr. Woolsey's comments that many times we take these steps for some short-term diplomatic leverage at the U.N. or elsewhere, but ultimately it doesn't all add up.
Just to give you another example of how I think they failed to put the pieces together, somebody had an idea about using U.S. intelligence assets in and around and through the UNSCOM effort but at the same time, at the grand policy level, the administration is relying on the United Nations framework to keep the coalition together. These two goals, one at the bottom of the policy chain and one at the top, are inconsistent. And so there is just another example of, I think, where they haven't put the pieces together into a coherent policy.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Hill.
Mr. HILL. Dr. Hillen, in your first scenario, you say that if we are not willing to be heavily involved in reinforcing opposition that we should carefully think about not being involved at all, I assume that means pulling out?
Dr. HILLEN. Not so much pulling out as determining which set of opposition groups to support and funneling support in their direction. Before we make those decisions, I think we need to commit as a nation overall to the effort.
Mr. HILL. So you are not advocating that if we are not willing to do that, that we should get out of the area?
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Dr. HILLEN. Not at all. As a matter of fact, I am advocating that we undertake very vigorous efforts to remove the regime. But what I am saying is I am just raising that point that before we do that, we go in eyes wide open into what our role should be.
Mr. HILL. Let me ask the question then, if we wouldand any member of the panel can answer this question, but if we would make the decision to pull out, because our present policy is ineffective and we are not willing to take the political risk of invasion or whatever, what would that do to our standing in the region and what would eventually happen to Iraq?
Mr. WOOLSEY. Well, I think first people probably ought to stop buying SUVs, because when Saddam stopped at the Kuwait border in 1990, he was about 100 miles away from controlling around half the world's oil supply, if you add Iraq, Kuwait and the northeastern fields of Saudia Arabia, and so unless and until the United States finds some way to deal with that problem, it had better decide that it is going to be a power in the Middle East.
And it is no good saying that somebody else ought to do it without us, that can't be the Europeans. The Europeans on something like this are sort of like the townspeople in the movie High Noon without the sheriff. There is just no way they are going to be able to pull anything off. It is us or no one.
So if we don't want the world's oil supply to be dominated by the hands of this regime, we better make common cause with friends and allies, and I think, I agree with Mr. Hillen, we ought to take steps to try to remove the regime, much more effective steps than the administration is taking now.
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Mr. HILL. Well, having said that, you know, I go to bed every night not worrying about Saddam Hussein, to be honest with you. And I have a feeling that probably the American people are not worrying too much about him as well. Can you devise a compelling reason politically to do what you just are advocating?
Mr. WOOLSEY. Well, people have to be willing to look beyond their current prosperity and low oil prices to envision a situation in which someone can cause great trouble to their individual lives as was done in 1973, as was done in 1979, as was done in 1990, by the reality or at least the possibility of control of a substantial share of the world's petroleum by this individual.
Now, I think that in this type of regime, there are a lot of other reasons why Saddam is important, particularly in developing weapons of mass destruction, and he is a street killer who has become a dictator and he is a man who believes revenge is terribly important. And he will do his best to take revenge on the United States and on individual Americans.
He tried to kill President Bush in 1993 when he was in Kuwait. I think that we have on our hands here a cobra. And if we let him grow and relax and we relax, he is going to bite. It is the same type of argument that people should have made and listened to in the late 1930's about Hitler or earlier than that about Mussolini and so forth. If you only wait until it is clearly obvious, often it is an awful lot harder than dealing with a situation when it is still somewhat malleable.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I can't do better than that, Congressman. It is really very difficult to tell people with booming stock markets and $9 barrel an oil and driving SUVs and all the rest that they are going to have some trouble from this gentleman within the next few years. I don't envy you all your jobs. You have got to convince them of that if you believe it and you are likely to get yawns. It is not easy.
Dr. HILLEN. Mr. Chairman, can I just add a quick footnote, because I would like to associate myself with all of those remarks. Congressman, I lived the first quarter century of my life never having heard of or worried about Saddam Hussein, and within a few months after my 25th birthday, I was leading American combat troops into battle against him. So these situations can manifest themselves quite quickly and with the range of American interests around the world and the degree to which we were economically tied to this region through a lot of different systems, I don't think the importance of a dictator, especially one bent on acquiring power to the extent that he is, can be underestimated.
I list in some detail in my testimony of military analysis of his behavior since the 1970's, and the basic pattern is every time he acquires some means of power, he tries to use it. And this has been true in the region and outside the region. So now that we cannot see what he is doing vis-a-vis weapons of mass destruction, I have got a particular concern that we may be 1, 3, 5 years, whose guess, away from Saddam Hussein trying to dominate the region and blackmail it by using weapons of mass destruction or other means.
Dr. KEANEY. Just one quick comment, on your point aboutwell, let me just state it, I think the United States has theit is imperative that the United States maintain its reputation for going through what it says; however, I think there is a real danger in making Saddam Hussein the center of our foreign policy. That is exactly what he wants. And I think keeping him in the box, I think, has some merit and we may not want to move too far to try to solve this problem.
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He may get weapons of mass destruction, tryingwhether he buys them or whether he develops them. And we have got to understand that; whether he uses them or will attempt to use them is something quite different. What we are talking about after all is at the minimum at least 50-year-old technology for chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, trying to enforce a situation around the world, we are going to keep that out of the people's hands that we don't like, I think is a very difficult proposition.
It can't be the sole aspect of our foreign policy. And I think many of the people in the region understand better than than we do that Saddam Hussein is probably not in any near-term or any long-term danger to taking over the oil supply. I think we have ways for dealing with that and can settle with that. I think a greater danger is focusing so much on Saddam Hussein, many other of our interests around the world are compromised, either by our allies or trying to do something that is inherently just too difficult and something we can't everyone sign up to doing.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. We have got two votes on and we will have to clear this room anyway. So if we can try to get the others, Mr. Larson, we will get you in, if we can, you and the answer both in in 5 minutes, we will make it.
Mr. LARSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My question will be directed to Mr. Hillen, and it is more of a process question and just having to do with listening to your comments with respect to Congress' historic role and inasmuch as there is going to be a vote tomorrow. And I think this was expressed at least in part, and it is a concern of the Democratic Caucus to make sure that Congress is more engaged in these decisions. And your point was well made, I thought, in terms of the direct involvement with Congress, and it seems as though we always get involved after the fact.
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However, with theand this is just a procedural thing from my standpoint. With the President, with Secretary of State Albright, with the head of the Joint Chief of Staffs out of the country and most of the Joint Chiefs out of the country, what kind of a message does that send if we vote on this issue tomorrow, what would be your opinion on that?
Dr. HILLEN. Well, I would think the terms that the administration has laid out is that a vigorous debate and especially a vote in Congress during the sensitive period of negotiations, trying to put together a peace plan at Rambouillet, would send a signal that America is divided, America is weak, and indecisive on this issue. I think if Congress accepts that as a terms of the debate, it should just accept that it can offer a thumbs up, yes or no vote on American troops after they have been deployed.
And I think given the nature of the mission and the fact that nobody wants to appear as if they are pulling the rug out from under troops, that will for the most part always be a yes vote in the absence of casualties. I think that Congress needs to rethink and wants to accept those terms of the debate so it can inject itself into the policy process early.
It is supposed to be hard in a democracy to send troops off, especially to do something dangerous. And there should be a lot of voices involved. And I think if just Congress accepts that it only has the power to vote up or down after all of the important decisions have been made and then I think that is a pretty narrow role for this deliberative body.
Mr. LARSON. Thank you, sir.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, all of you gentlemen. You have helped us tremendously in doing our work. And at this time, if there is nothing else, we will adjourn for the day.
Mr. WOOLSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. HILLEN. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you gentlemen.
[Whereupon, at 12:23 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
March 10, 1999
[This information is pending.]