USIS Washington 
File

02 March 1998

IT'S UP TO IRAQ

By Madeleine K. Albright (700)



(This article by the Secretary of State is in the public domain. It
first appeared as a byline column in Newsweek magazine at the end of
February.)


Last week, I traveled to college campuses to discuss U.S. policy
towards Iraq with the American people. The experience brought me back
to my days as a college professor. In Ohio, we met on a basketball
court. Having taught at Georgetown, I should have remembered how loud
a basketball court can be!


During my travels, I found strong support for our policy towards Iraq
-- but I also heard some good, serious questions. It seemed to me that
there were two general concerns: first, there was a strong desire to
see the crisis settled peacefully: second, if a peaceful resolution
proves impossible, many people seemed to want a military outcome that
ends with Saddam Hussein's removal from power.


Let me discuss each of these in turn.



First and foremost, President Clinton and his entire national-security
team share the desire for a peaceful, diplomatic solution. The United
States has worked long and hard to achieve that end. Last week, we
backed U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's mission to Baghdad. But we
must be very clear: a peaceful solution is in the hands of Saddam
alone. Our standard for a solution is, and has always been, very
simple. Iraq must abide by the obligations it accepted in 1991 after
the Gulf war. Saddam must end his defiance of the U.N. Security
Council and give U.N. weapons inspectors the unfettered access they
need to do their jobs.


Why do we care so much about access for weapons inspectors? Because
Saddam has a long track record of aggression and deception. Unlike any
other modern leader, he has used chemical weapons against other
countries and even against his own people. He has started two wars.
And be has lied again and again about Iraq's weapons programs. We need
a tight inspection program to make sure that Saddam cannot continue
building and developing these weapons.


If Saddam refuses to accept full access for U.N. inspectors, we are
prepared to use military force to contain the threat posed by him and
his weapons of mass destruction. If diplomacy fails, we will deliver a
serious blow that will significantly diminish the threat posed by
Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and reduce his ability to
threaten his neighbors.


Second, if diplomacy fails, why don't we use military force to remove
Saddam from power? The answer: the threat posed by Saddam is the
threat of a dictator armed with chemical and biological weapons, and a
track record of using them. But toppling Saddam requires a far vaster
commitment of military force and afar greater risk to American lives
than we need to contain that threat.


Some have suggested that, instead of military strikes, we should arm
and encourage the Iraqi opposition to initiate a civil war. That
option sounds -- but is not -- simple. We have worked with Iraqi
opponents of Saddam Hussein in the past, and we are ready to work with
them more effectively in the future. But the opposition is currently
divided, and it would be wrong to create false or unsustainable
expectations that could end in bloodshed and defeat.


If President Clinton does order military strikes against Iraq, we will
do everything we can to minimize the harm to civilians. We care about
the Iraqi people. We have led U.N. efforts to permit Iraq to sell oil
so it can buy food and medicine: we voted to double the size of this
program last Friday. It is Saddam who has squandered Iraq's resources
an weapons of mass destruction and palaces.


The bottom line? We want a peaceful solution, but it must be a
principled one that gives weapons inspectors full and unfettered
access. If Saddam prevents that, we will act to counter the threat he
poses. We will do it in a way that minimizes the risk to the lives of
Americans and Iraqi civilians alike, and we will have the support of
many nations around the world.


The ball is in Saddam's court.