DISARRAY IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OVER FACING SADDAM HUSSEIN;
HEARING OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE;419 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON, D.C.
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JESSE HELMS (R-NC);
WITNESS: RICHARD BUTLER, FORMER EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMISSION ON IRAQ
10:37 A.M. EDT TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 1999
SEN. HELMS: The committee will come to order. And as usual at this time of year, every senator has two other committee meetings to attend, and it's difficult to be two places at once. They will be coming in later, Mr. Ambassador.
And you being the first witness -- and let me inform the young people, who are welcome here this morning, that the first witness is the Honorable Richard Butler, the former executive chairman of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq, called UNSCOM. He's a diplomat now in residence on the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.
And Mr. Ambassador, we would of course welcome you and very much appreciate your going so far out of your way to participate in this important hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee.
As we meet this morning, the U.N. Security Council is contemplating a new weapons inspection regime for Iraq to replace UNSCOM, a commission that you headed. In order to buy off certain Security Council members, some may be working to ease the existing sanctions on Iran (sic).
Now I have a few thoughts on the deliberations going on up in New York City. I've heard some argue that any weapons inspection in Iraq are better than no inspections. I don't subscribe to that myself, for one obvious reason: meaningful inspections must be intrusive, thorough, and open-ended -- in other words, not different from the inspections conducted by your organization, sir, when you headed it. If anybody concludes, therefore, that I regard any new inspection regime accepted by Saddam Hussein as a charade, that conclusion is perfectly valid, for that is precisely the way I feel about it.
Worse yet, in exchange for whatever inspection regime Saddam and his allies will agree upon in the United Nations, the United Nations will ease sanctions on Iraq. And our friends at the Department of State obviously believe that easing sanctions on Iraq will undercut the argument that it is sanctions that are starving the Iraq people, which, it seems to me, is bureaucratic nonsense.
It is Saddam Hussein, nobody else, who is starving the people of Iraq.
Food and medicine are rotting in Iraqi warehouses, undistributed, while little children suffer and die. In Northern Iraq, where the United Nations distributes food -- and the child mortality rates are below the prewar levels. And in the center and the South, where Saddam Hussein is in charge, rates -- the mortality rates, that is -- are twice -- are twice what they were before the war.
Forbes magazine recently rated Saddam Hussein as one of the richest men in the world, with $6 billion in personal wealth. So lifting sanctions on Iraq will do nothing more than enable Saddam Hussein to import the building blocks for weapons of mass destruction. And I have no doubt about his eagerness to do precisely that.
Some -- UNSCOM was drummed out of Iraq. And since that happened, Saddam had been up to his old dirty tricks. And while a new inspection regime might -- and I think I want to underscore "might" somehow -- might slow that process a bit here and there, Saddam Hussein is not going to tolerate a serious weapons inspection and monitoring effort for very long.
So it's back to the drawing board. And what we will do? Will we buy him off with nuclear reactors? Not with the willingness of this senator. We need to face up to the fact that we are playing Saddam Hussein's game, not ours. He wanted inspectors out, and out they went. He wants sanctions lifted, and sanctions are being eased.
This game can be played for a little while, while scarcely anybody is paying attention, but it has to end somewhere. Clearly, the majority of the permanent Security Council members don't care about the council's credibility. But if the United States does not stand up and be counted, Saddam will have tweaked the noses of weak- kneed diplomats once more.
Sooner or later, and I imagine sooner rather than later, this administration will have to admit that Saddam Hussein is determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction at any price.
So if the United States is serious about ensuring stability in that region by disarming Iraq, Saddam is going to have to ousted first.
So Mr. Ambassador, I will have some questions after your statement. Again, I commend your courageous work in Iraq. It may be that we disagree about some matters, but you have my unreserved admiration and respect for your leadership in that job.
You may proceed, sir.
MR. BUTLER: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for your great kindness in inviting me here today to this honorable body. I am deeply honored to sit here before you and to have the opportunity to make a brief statement and to attempt to answer whatever questions you and your colleagues, whomever of them are able to be here, are able to pose to me. And I'm very conscious of the fact that this meeting is a meeting that is on the record and I will want, therefore, to be as clear and as forthright as I can be.
I propose to make a brief statement, the text of which has been made available but in which there will be one or two minor corrections, and I would ask that they be made for the record and then presumably we'll move into a period of discussion.
SEN. HELMS: The reason I turned abruptly, I understood you to say "off the record."
MR. BUTLER: On the record.
SEN. HELMS: She corrected me. I don't hear everything clearly sometimes.
MR. BUTLER: Well, I apologize. Let me refer to --
SEN. HELMS: So it is on the record, and you may proceed. (Laughs.)
MR. BUTLER: I'm very conscious of the fact that this is on the record --
SEN. HELMS: Yes, sir.
MR. BUTLER: -- and that is the way I would prefer it to be and therefore I will try to speak with as much clarity and forthrightness as I can muster.
SEN. HELMS: Good.
MR. BUTLER: My statement will talk a little bit about the history of how we got to where we are now and then, of course, a little bit about where we are now and the choices that lie in front of us. So I'll begin.
Eight years ago, following the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait, the Security Council of the United Nations passed resolutions relating to the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and sanctions. Those resolutions were amongst the most detailed resolutions ever adopted by the Security Council, but their key elements are able to be summarized simply.
First, Iraq was to be disarmed of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the means of manufacturing them, and was prohibited from holding, acquiring or manufacturing missiles which could fly further than 150 kilometers. Secondly, only after the Security Council agreed that Iraq had taken all of the disarmament actions required of it would the oil embargo and the related financial strictures be removed.
The Security Council created the Special Commission, UNSCOM, to carry out this work of disarmament with Iraq. Iraq was required to cooperate fully with the commission and to give it immediate and complete access to all relevant sites, materials and persons. Another United Nations organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, was given a parallel responsibility to that of UNSCOM but, in its case, in the area of its competence, namely, nuclear weapons. And IAEA and UNSCOM worked hand in hand.
The basic system for disarmament which was established had three parts. Iraq would declare in full its prohibited materials, the commission would verify those declarations, and then the illegal weapons and related materials so revealed would be, and I quote, "destroyed, removed or rendered harmless," unquote, under international supervision.
The key disarmament resolution was Security Council Resolution 687. Another resolution was subsequently adopted under which UNSCOM would monitor all relevant activities in Iraq as a means of seeking to ensure that illegal weapons were not reconstituted following the disarmament phase. And the main resolution dealing with that monitoring was Security Council Resolution 715.
Now, it is essential to mention that the Security Council had in mind that the disarmament of Iraq would take place very quickly. This was reflected in the fact that the declarations, step one, the declarations sought from Iraq were required to be delivered within 15 days. And thus it was broadly anticipated that thereafter the work of destroying, removing or rendering harmless all relevant materials might be completed in a period of between nine and 12 months.
Mr. Chairman, I want to emphasize this; 15 days. Three thousand days later, those declarations are still not in, complete or honest.
So, what has been the practical experience with that basic setup? Iraq's actions may be summed up as having four main characteristics. First, its declarations were never complete.
From the beginning, Iraq embarked upon a policy of making false declarations. Secondly, Iraq divided its illegal weapons holdings into two parts: the portion it would reveal and the portion it concealed. Thirdly, to mask its real weapons of mass destruction capability, Iraq embarked upon a program of unilateral destruction -- itself illegal -- unilateral destruction of a portion of its weapons. And finally, it refused to comply with the resolutions of the Security Council in many ways, very many ways, so that the commission was never able to exercise the rights spelled out for it in the resolutions of the Security Council.
In this respect, I'm talking about rights of access, rights of inspection, rights of aviation, things that I readily admit a year ago must have been driving good folks crazy; why were we going on about things like inspections? And it's because the law gave us those rights so we could get our job done, and from the beginning, Iraq denied us those rights.
In practical terms, this has meant that the job of disarming Iraq, which should have taken about a year, is still not complete. Now, a little over a year ago, during consultations in Baghdad, the deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, sitting across the table from me and my colleagues, simply demanded of me there and then that I declare Iraq disarmed. This was consistent with the position Iraq had stated during preceding months. They commenced writing to the secretary-general, writing to the Security Council, saying in public, "We are disarmed." And he demanded that I leave the room, go back to New York and say, "I declare Iraq disarmed."
Mr. Chairman, I refused to do that. I told him I would not do that because I could not do it. I was not able to because we have given Iraq a list of remaining materials and evidence that we needed to complete the disarmament job, to be able to not make a mere declaration but to show by evidence that the job was done.
And Iraq had refused to give us that evidence, so I refused to agree to his demand.
A few days later Iraq shut down all work by UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Now as a result of these actions, there's been no disarmament or monitoring work in Iraq for a year. And throughout that period, the Security Council has been unable to reach any agreement on how its resolutions may be enforced and how the work -- and on how the work of disarmament and monitoring may be resumed.
Earlier this year, in the context of the Security Council's consideration of what it might do to solve this problem, I directed that UNSCOM provide to the council a basic document setting out the then-current state of affairs with respect to the disarmament of Iraq's proscribed weapons and ongoing monitoring and verification in Iraq. That document was in due course published as Security Council Document 94 of 1999. It remains the basic statement of position.
The initial response, by the way, of some members of the Security Council was to seek to prevent its publication, was to seek to suppress that document. But in -- but that was able to be solved; that did not happen, and the document is now a public document.
The council subsequently undertook its own examination of the position in special panels of inquiry, and in April of this -- in April of 1999 the Panel on Disarmament of the Security Council, disarmament and monitoring, issued a report which came to broadly similar occlusions to those of UNSCOM Document Number 94.
Now since that time there has been a continuing negotiation in the Security Council about a draft resolution which would address both the disarmament and monitoring issues, and the sanctions issues. One draft resolution, provided by Russia, would essentially accept -- accept -- the Iraqi claim that it is in fact disarmed, and removes sanctions altogether, in return for which Iraq would be obliged to accept an ongoing monitoring system.
Another draft resolution -- and China now supports that resolution, and I think France has indicated it would do the same.
Now another draft resolution, tabled initially by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, would in fact establish UNSCOM Number 2, a successor organization to UNSCOM, with a different name, and would charge it with bringing the disarmament task to conclusion.
No assumption would be made that there are no more such tasks, unlike the Russian resolution, to bring those tasks to a conclusion and to establish a serious ongoing monitoring system. This resolution would not simply abolish sanctions, as would the Russian one, but would suspend them for renewable periods provided Iraq remained in compliance with the terms of the resolution.
Now in recent months, negotiations have tended to focus increasingly on this second British-Dutch draft resolution. There doesn't seem to be much interest in the Russian-Chinese one. The United States administration has indicated broadly that it could go along with the British-Dutch draft.
However, recent reports have suggested that it is in fact unlikely that the Security Council will be able to reach a consensus on this draft. And moreover, statements from Baghdad have indicated that the government of Iraq would not be prepared to cooperate with that resolution even in the event that it were adopted by consensus.
Now, Mr. Chairman, this state of affairs has many aspects and implications, but I want to mention two that I believe are of grave concern. One is in the area of arms control, and the other is in the area of the authority of the Security Council.
Now, with respect to arms control, Iraq's challenge to the nonproliferation regimes is the most serious and direct challenge ever faced by those regimes, quite specifically by what I call cheating from within. This is the worst challenge to the nonproliferation regime. Cheating from within is where a state signs up, in this case, for example, promises not to make a nuclear weapon, and the next day proceeds to do so secretly, cheating from within.
Iraq has posed that challenge and, I suggest, in all of the nonproliferation fields -- nuclear, chemical, biological -- the most serious challenge that those regimes have ever faced. And I think it is a matter of serious concern that, if Iraq is able to get away with it successfully, to ignore its own obligations under the various weapons-of-mass-destruction, nonproliferation regimes, then the fundamental credibility of those regimes as such around the world, will be called into question.
Secondly, all of the resolutions adopted by the Security Council on Iraq and its disarmament have the force of international law pursuant to Chapter Seven and, in particular, Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations.
Now, it follows from this that if Iraq succeeds in rejecting those resolutions, those pieces of law, it will by that action have most deeply harmed the law giver itself and its authority, namely the Security Council. And Mr. Chairman, I don't know what the consequences of that would be, but I suspect that they would be very broad -- maybe even incalculable.
I wrote an article recently published in the current issue of the journal Foreign Affairs, the September-October, 1999 issue of that journal, the organ of the Council on Foreign Relations. And I proposed in that article, which deals with repairing the Security Council, I proposed that there should be a consultation amongst permanent members of the Council on the question of the veto power. I have not proposed that it be removed; I think that's impossible. I won't even discuss it. But I've proposed that they discuss the uses to which it may be put and, very specifically, I have proposed that they should reach an agreement that the veto should not be used to protect a clear transgressor of an arms control undertaking; that such a use of the veto or threatened use of the veto should be considered inadmissible.
Now, Iraq is in such a position of noncompliance today, yet certain permanent members of the Security Council, states with the veto, appear to be unprepared to insist upon Iraq's compliance with the resolutions, with the law that they themselves have adopted. I think that's deplorable, but more importantly, I do not believe, Mr. Chairman, that Iraq would be able to continue to defy the Security Council, not for very long, if those five permanent members were in fact to stand together in insisting to Iraq that it must return to compliance with the law. Their unity is essential.
Now, finally, I will say a very brief word about the issue of sanctions, to which you in your statement referred. I want to make clear that in my role as executive chairman of UNSCOM, sanctions were, in fact, never within my responsibility. My job was for disarmament and arms control. The sanctions were designed by and applied by the Security Council in order to back up and provide an incentive for Iraq to comply with the resolutions of the Council. The key connection between disarmament and sanctions was the one that I mentioned earlier, namely, in Resolution 687, where it says that when the Security Council is satisfied that Iraq has been disarmed -- the words are "has taken all the actions required of it" with respect to disarmament -- then it would abolish the oil embargo, the embargo against the import by other states of oil from Iraq.
Now, the British-Dutch resolution, may I say, states quite specifically -- and I quote -- "The conditions do not exist that would enable the Council to take a decision pursuant to Resolution 687 to lift the prohibitions referred to in that resolution. It specifically says they're not yet disarmed, and so the oil embargo can't yet go. Now, we'll talk about this in a moment, I'm sure. It goes on to say many other things, but it does actually say that.
Now, in this context of sanctions, I believe it is a point of fundamental significance -- it's a point, Mr. Chairman, you made in your statement -- that the refusal by Iraq to comply with the disarmament law has been the main source of the continuation of sanctions. The key to sanctions relief has been disarmament; that's been the case for eight years, the eight long years in which ordinary Iraqis have suffered from sanctions. The key to it has been disarmament and Saddam Hussein has always had that key in his hand; he has always refused to turn it.
That concludes my statement, and I thank you for your attention.
SEN. HELMS: Mr. Ambassador, it's a great statement. And I was thinking as you made it -- and I followed you in the printed transcript --at the time you were trying to get compliance by Iraq, we got a dribble of reports here in the news media and a dribble there, and they were more interested in who was the president's latest girlfriend.
And I doubt that 1 percent of the American people understand what has happened. And I do hope that some attention will be paid through the C-SPAN or whoever it is that is carrying this.
Now, I have some questions, but I underline the portion of your prepared remarks, which you delivered in this case. You say that little over a year ago, during consultations in Baghdad, you said, "Tariq Aziz demanded of me that I declare Iraq disarmed. This was consistent with the position Iraq had stated during preceding months, including in writing to the secretary-general of the United Nations and to the Security Council, and I refused," you said, to do so on the grounds that I was not able to do it, obviously because it was not so and it would have been detrimental to anything that anybody considers self-protection of interests of nations and all the rest of it.
You said further that, "I refuse to do so on the grounds that I was not able to. We had given Iraq a list of the remaining materials, the evidence it needed to provide in order for UNSCOM to complete the disarmament job." Iraq had failed to provide that evidence. "Following my refusal," you said, "to agree to the demand, Iraq shut down all work by UNSCOM." In other words, they shut you up, and the International Atomic Energy Commission -- Agency in Iraq.
Now, at the time, how did you feel about the possibility that the people of any nation -- and of course I'm particularly interested in the United States -- would understand what was really going on there? Did you -- are you -- were you concerned about the failure to report this to the people of all of the member nations of the United Nations? Were you concerned about that at the time?
MR. BUTLER: Well, the simple answer is yes, of course I was. But I'd like to go a little bit further than that.
I fundamentally refused Aziz's demand because I was not prepared to lie.
SEN. HELMS: Right.
MR. BUTLER: But I also said to him -- and it's on a videotape that Iraqi propaganda machinery then put on television, amusingly, because they thought it showed a good case for them -- but I actually said to him: "You must understand, I can't do disarmament by declaration. I can't wave a magic wand. Either they are facts, or they are not."
And I had given him a list --
SEN. HELMS: Right.
MR. BUTLER: -- which involved taking a risk. I was not absolutely sanguine, and nor were my very competent professional staff absolutely sanguine, about that list of the key remaining disarmament requirements. It wasn't to make it easier for them, but it was to try to get a sensible picture of a larger landscape, a disarmament landscape, that we gave them this list of the key priorities.
I covered the requirements of the truth by making very clear to Aziz that this list represented the necessary conditions for Iraq to be disarmed; whether or not they would be the sufficient conditions would depend on the quality of the evidence they gave us. So we were walking a tight line here.
And I had given him this list in that spirit, two months earlier. And he had said: "Come back to Baghdad in August. In the meantime, we'll work on your list. You come back and see me in August, and we'll come to a conclusion on it."
When I came back in August, he said: "Well, you start the conversation. How did we do?"
And I said: "Well frankly, I don't see that you gave us anything that was on our list. I mean, we are in the same place we were two months ago."
But he listened more or less in silence. And then, at the end of the morning session, in a rather pompous way, said: "This evening. Come back this evening, and I will give you the answer of the leadership of the government of Iraq" -- which means "Saddam." And it was when we started the evening meeting, a few minutes into it, that he put this demand on me.
Now, am I concerned about understanding of -- oh, sorry. I have to say one other thing. That list is reflected in that document that we published with the Security Council; document number 94.
SEN. HELMS: Right.
MR. BUTLER: All the background material is there; the foundation stones on the basis of which we came to that list of necessary -- maybe not sufficient, but priority conditions for disarmament. It's all thoroughly explained and documented.
Now, in blowing us away on the third of August last year, what Saddam Hussein was doing was saying, "I refuse to give you those last remaining materials." I believe it's because our list was right -- because they are materials that would really disarm him. He was saying, "I refuse to give you that." And he was saying, "I care more about retaining this weapons capability than I do about sanctions on 22 million ordinary Iraqis." That's what he was saying. He was also saying, thirdly, "I calculate that the split in the Security Council will give me comfort here and I'll be able to cut and run and get away with this," and that's what was happening. Now, I wanted ordinary people to understand that.
Senator, Mr. Chairman, I've been approached a lot by members of the general public in this country and in other parts of the world in ways that demonstrate that there is a good measure of understanding of how serious the situation is. But there isn't an adequate understanding of what I tried to lay out here today and what I'm describing to you now about how far we went towards trying to sensibly come to terms with the remaining elements of Iraq's weapons program. I would never use the word "accommodate," but sensibly and intelligently come to terms with those remaining elements. And that when we did that, when we really made it as sharp and clear as possible, what we got was dismissal.
Now, I don't think that that's adequately understood in public. I don't think that the implications of that that I mentioned here today are adequately understood. And finally, I think the fact that this story has disappeared somewhat from the headlines because of other stories -- most recently Kosovo, now East Timor, and so on, in the political arena -- doesn't mean that he's gone away. Doesn't mean that the threat isn't there. Doesn't mean that there's still not a job of most serious arms control to be done and preservation of the authority of the Security Council to be achieved.
And it doesn't mean that he won't be back. I suspect he will, and maybe soon.
SEN. HELMS: Okay. One other reference to your prepared remarks, which you delivered in this instance:
You said that since that time there's been a continuing negotiation in the Security Council about a draft resolution which would address both the disarmament and monitoring issues, and the sanctions issues. Now my question is, who is negotiating with whom? Do you know?
MR. BUTLER: Yes.
SEN. HELMS: Okay.
MR. BUTLER: Yeah, well, I do. I do, up to a point. But obviously, having left my previous job, what, almost two months ago now, I've been somewhat excluded from the level of detail that I previously had when I was on the job.
But one of those two months they took off, the month of August, the Northern Hemisphere holiday month -- (soft laughter) -- so nothing happened in that month, except maybe Saddam Hussein got some of his weapons factories up and running again. Now I don't know that for sure, but I think it's foolish to make any other assumption.
SEN. HELMS: Right.
MR. BUTLER: So in the period since I was closer to those negotiations, it -- sorry, in the main period of those negotiations, it went like this, okay? First, the British put down a draft resolution on the table, which the Dutch decided to support. Instant response was a Russian draft resolution on the table, which the Chinese decided to support. So you had the lines of battle drawn.
The United States stood back and looked for a little while, and thought about things. And France, in a way -- I hope I will be forgiven for saying this -- but in a way that is, let's say, not untypical and especially creative -- the French are like that -- kind of said that it was looking with interest at both sides, kind of straddled things.
SEN. HELMS: Two quick questions --
MR. BUTLER: Now --
SEN. HELMS: Oh, go ahead.
MR. BUTLER: -- since that time, the negotiation, I think, has shown that the Russian and Chinese draft has basically got no future, because of the summary removal of sanctions without first getting any kind of disarmament or monitoring guarantees, although in that time France joined up to that resolution, and the United States joined up to the British-Dutch resolution.
But in addition, six or seven other member states of the Security Council joined up to the British-Dutch resolution. So that's the main document now that -- as I said in my statement, that's the one that is the focus of main attention.
Last week, however, when very senior people from the Permanent Five members of the Council were gathered in New York for the beginning of the General Assembly, their attempt to come to consensus on that British draft resolution, which theoretically has about 11 votes out of the 15 behind it, that attempt broke down, and Baghdad, in addition, said, "We don't care what you do, we're not going to accept it." So I don't think there's much of a future in this.
SEN. HELMS: They're thumbing their noses at you. Did you ever discuss this with Kofi Annan, the secretary-general?
MR. BUTLER: Discuss which?
SEN. HELMS: Did you discuss this entire problem with the --
MR. BUTLER: Oh, on many occasions. But this --
SEN. HELMS: Was he sympathetic or did he take any position, or what?
MR. BUTLER: I have not discussed these draft resolutions with him because they became live at the time when I was moving on to the Council on Foreign Relations, and no, I have not discussed those with him.
SEN. HELMS: Very well.
Let's say six minutes. And now we'll welcome you, Senator Kerry.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Oh, I'm sorry. I apologize.
SEN. HELMS: You are Mr. Kerry.
SEN. KERRY: Still am, Mr. Chairman --
SEN. HELMS: Good.
SEN. KERRY: -- to my pleasure, but the chagrin of some.
Mr. Ambassador, welcome.
MR. BUTLER: Thank you.
SEN. KERRY: And thank you very much for being here with us. I appreciate the many conversations you and I had, and I appreciate your confidences during that period. And I also want to express my respect for the great effort that you made, under difficult circumstances, to try to see that the words spoken in the U.N. and by politicians had some meaning, and that can sometimes be a difficult task.
There's a huge irony, I think, maybe not so big to some, but I'm looking around here; we're talking about the same Saddam Hussein who was equated by some to Hitler.
We were willing to marshal an entire army to prevent him from doing certain things in the region. And there was an urgency in the aftermath of that to the proliferation, a strategic threat that this individual represented to the world, an urgency that has led us to fly no-fly missions since that time, put American forces at risk, to continue to be dropping bombs and firing missiles. And yet, you know, there's not a lot of interest in this, not a lot of colleagues here today. And, in fact, most of the world seemed to have backed off from the realities of the threat that this individual and his acquisition of weapons of mass destruction represent.
I personally believe that nothing has changed. I think you share that belief. I think we are in exactly the same situation we were when all of this urgency was expressed by so many people. We're in exactly the same situation except that we've had now one year without any inspections. You were concerned during the time that you had inspections that he was capable of continuing to employ subterfuge and guile and all kinds of tricks in order to continue to build weapons. And I think the assumption of most people in the intelligence community is that that's exactly what he's been doing. Is that correct?
MR. BUTLER: That's correct.
SEN. KERRY: Is there any indication to the contrary?
MR. BUTLER: Not to my knowledge, no.
SEN. KERRY: So, in fact, the threat that was sufficient to summon all of this international outrage and the very precise and clear goals, as clear as any goals I've ever seen the U.N. state, that threat is, in fact, greater today than it was then, is it not?
MR. BUTLER: It's undiminished. And possibly greater because of the absence of monitoring.
SEN. KERRY: So, what has happened? I mean, you may have described -- I just read your testimony -- have described a little bit. But, I mean, what really has happened here? Have we been bamboozled? Is our policy simply a failure? Are we frightened? Is there something that has changed in the nature of this threat? Because I really don't understand it. And it seems to me that for the cause of proliferation, whether it's with respect to Iraq or any other number of countries about which we have enormous concerns, the message that comes out of this is that maybe the forces aligned to try to hold people accountable are, in fact, paper tigers and not serious about it.
MR. BUTLER: I think I'd like to approach your question's two parts. One part has to do with what's happening on the ground in Iraq. And the other is the much more difficult question of why have we seemed in the last year to have walked away from this, where on your assumption, the situation hasn't changed; if anything, it may be worse?
Now, on what's happened on the ground in Iraq, I think it's very important for me to say that we are not absolutely sure, and that's because we are not there. And the point I am, therefore, trying to underline is that it is important to have an arms-control and monitoring presence in Iraq. Its absence harms us greatly; it reduces our knowledge in a way that is dangerous.
Now why; why in Iraq? And the answer is the track record. This man has shown, over a decade and a half, a profound addiction to weapons of mass destruction. He has used them inside and outside the country; in the former meaning, including on his own people. As a means of domestic political control, he has used chemical weapons. Now, that's an established track record.
And I add to that: "What are the conventional tests of whether or not a crime has occurred? Did the person have the means, the motive and the opportunity?" And the answer, with Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction, is, yes, we know he had the means. He was making an atomic bomb; mercifully, we stopped him. We know that he made chemical and biological weapons and used chemical weapons. We know that he had long-range missiles with which to deliver various kinds of warheads. (Phone rings.) Is that for me?
SEN. KERRY (?): Go ahead.
MR. BUTLER: And so we know he had the means. We know from a variety of ways that he has the motive, and he has demonstrated that.
Finally -- this is what I want to focus on -- he know has an opportunity, because of our absence, which is larger than any opportunity he has had in almost the past decade. So that makes for a very serious situation.
And my position on it is this: I do not know precisely what's happening in Iraq now because of our absence. But I think it would be utterly foolish to assume that he isn't taking the opportunity of that absence to reconstitute these weapons-of-mass-destruction programs.
That's what the track record is, and that's what means, motive and opportunity represents.
Now, on the other part of your question -- Why isn't the world community dealing with it? -- well, one can't know precisely, but one -- let me have a shot at it.
Saddam Hussein has set out the world community in a sense, by a process of longevity, attrition, digging in. He's just decided that time is not a factor for him. And the world community, in some respects, has grown tired of the continuation of the same problem, the recurrent Iraq syndrome. That has been reflected to me on many occasions. I've recorded elsewhere a discussion I had with an ambassador in the Security Council, and if I may, I'll just share it with you now. I won't name him out of discretion. But a distinguished ambassador in the Security Council said to me about a year ago, he said, "Richard, I know the man is a homicidal dictator, I know he's been lying to you, I know he retains weapons of mass destruction, but can't we get the Iraq problem off our plate?" Now, I found that obfuscatory nonsense because it separates the substance of the problem from the need for a solution -- "This may be terrible, but can't you please take it away from me?" The only way it can be taken away is by addressing the substance. Now, the world community seems to have grown tired of it and has then, secondly, had other preoccupations, whether Kosovo or now East Timor or wherever.
Next point is Iraq has staged a brilliant propaganda campaign about sanctions and how harmful they are to the people and how this has all gone on too long -- mentioned everything in sight except the one salient fact, which is the personal responsibility that they have for these circumstances. And I think they've been very influential reasons why this has gone from the headlines. But I made a point earlier, Senator, today where I said -- and predictions are always dangerous, of course -- but I don't believe that's a permanent phenomenon -- he's there and he'll be back.
SEN. HELMS: Senator Brownback.
SEN. KERRY: Mr. Chairman, I do have some more questions, but maybe we'll have another round, if we could.
SEN. HELMS: Oh, certainly. Certainly.
SEN. KERRY: Thanks.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Ambassador Butler, for coming here. And I want to thank the chairman for holding this hearing. I think it's very important that we do this.
Just building on your last statement, the situation has evolved to what I'd feared the most would happen, which is that we would confront Saddam for a period of time and then we would grow weary of this good deed and we would go somewhere else in the world and seek to do another good deed because this one became recalcitrant and it wasn't solvable in a short enough window of time, and so we just got bored and moved on, and Saddam is left there; which is precisely what the neighbors in the region were most concerned about as well, the other countries near -- adjacent to him, is that we would stir up the hornets' nest and then not remove it at the end of the day, so that they're left there faced with him developing weaponry again, them having taken, in many cases, very difficult stances against Saddam Hussein, and then we leave to go do a good deed somewhere else before finishing this one up.
Ambassador Butler, one of your points that I want to get to specifically is, I think you said in your written testimony that Saddam Hussein would never accept a legitimate weapons inspection regime for weapons of mass destruction. Is that correct? Do you think he would never accept one that would actually get to the very heart of his program to develop weapons of mass destruction?
MR. BUTLER: I don't think that's in the written testimony, but I welcome the question. By the way, on the first part of your remarks, may I say I'm also one of those people who would like to move on. I mean, I'm sick of talking about Saddam Hussein and Iraq. You know, I've got other things to do with my life. But -- but -- the two reasons why I think we have to continue to address this issue are in my statement, and they're not so personalized to him and his regime. I hope and assume the Iraqi people will take care of that sometime soon. But they have to do with what is now almost a half-century-old attempt by the world community to restrain the spread of weapons of mass destruction in all of their aspects. And his behavior has constituted the major threat to those regimes, and I think we have to protect those nonproliferation regimes. Also, his behavior as deeply challenged the authority of the Security Council, in a way that I think is potentially very dangerous and could have widespread effects in other parts of the world.
Now, sorry -- just quickly -- the second part of your question?
SEN. BROWNBACK: Will he ever accept a legitimate inspection regime that actually goes to the heart of his program of developing weapons of mass destruction?
MR. BUTLER: The track record says no. Not --
SEN. BROWNBACK: (Inaudible) -- anything to believe --
MR. BUTLER: But not withstanding that, UNSCOM actually produced a terrific outcome, at the cost of years.
It should have been done in a year. It took six or seven years to get our main outcome, which was a fairly complete account of their missile program, and of their chemical, but not of their biological. And that task took far longer and was made far harder than it should have been because at no stage did Iraq show that it was prepared to genuinely cooperate with an effective arms control regime. So I think the answer is basically no. They've always resisted that.
Now, what is proposed in the British-Dutch resolution on paper is actually a genuine regime. Now, it's for that reason that I think one of two things will happen: either Iraq won't accept this resolution if it's ever adopted, because it is a genuine regime; or it will accept it, but then seek to water it down from within in the way that they tried to with UNSCOM procedures.
SEN. BROWNBACK: The reason I raise that point is because of Saddam's track record and my own belief that what we need to do, Mr. Chairman, is move forward and press the administration to move forward on implementation of the Iraq Liberation Act, that the problem continues to be Saddam, it has been Saddam, it has been and continues to be his willingness to use these weapons of mass destruction wherever, even against his own people, and that we need to press the administration to implement fully this act, to remove Saddam Hussein. Even if the British and Dutch proposal is accepted, I think we've got clear operating history on his part; he's just going to continue to thumb his nose at it regardless. And now he's got a weakened international resolve, or at least a much more distracted international community, if nothing else, to the point that he's got to be feeling pretty good, that he's just going to ride this one out unless we really press them to implement this act. And I think we need to do so now.
Thank you for holding the hearing, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. HELMS: Senator Wellstone?
SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE (D-MN): Ambassador Butler, I'd like to thank you for appearing before the committee, and I appreciate how tireless you've been in your efforts to disarm Iraq, and your extraordinary service to the international community. I have a couple of questions, trying to stay within my time limit.
You have focused, of course, on the whole question of what's going on with Iraq's efforts to build long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction and, I think, about the worldwide effort to limit the proliferation of these weapons. What importance do you attach to various nonproliferation treaties, and what realistic prospects do you see that these regimes would be useful?
MR. BUTLER: Well, I said a moment ago I'd like to get on with some other non-Iraqi things in my life --
SEN. WELLSTONE: Yes.
MR. BUTLER: -- and that would see me returning to something that I --
SEN. WELLSTONE: I thought I'd build on that point you made. (Chuckles.)
MR. BUTLER: Yes. Thank you, Senator. That would see me, Mr. Chairman, going back to where I started a quarter of a century ago, as a young man at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, looking at the problem of the spread of nuclear weapons. And as we come to the end of the 20th century, I think we can truly say that in a very difficult period of world history, a period that I would start with the depredations of Hitler, who was wanting to make an atomic bomb, by the way --
SEN. WELLSTONE: Yeah.
MR. BUTLER: -- and comes down to where we are now, a hundred days away from the end of the 20th century, there have been a lot of bad things happened, and in various parts of the world. The Middle East is not alone; think of Pol Pot in Cambodia, for example.
But there have been some good things happened. I mean, one of the things that humanity can be truly proud of in this last 50 years is the building that started, started with the proposal by the United States of America, weeks after the detonation of the atomic bomb, called the Baruch Plan, which -- in 1946, which started a process of saying, "You know, we can live a civilized life. We can build a world in which weapons of mass destruction don't just willy-nilly proliferate, that we can have regimes that keep this sensible." And it started with nuclear, it went on to biological, on to chemical, and now a missile technology control regime.
And Senator, on the whole, I think those regimes are sound. The least sound one is the biology one, because it's the hardest to verify. But on the whole, I think they've served humanity well, and they've rested on the three key things that those treaties need. One is the moral judgment that some weapons should be inadmissible, followed by the political commitment to build treaties to give effect to that judgment, that moral judgment, and thirdly, the practical, hard-headed business of inspections, verification, the means to see and to provide confidence to others that these treaties are being obeyed.
Now they've all got faults. They're all hard. But my answer to you, Senator, is that on the whole, this tapestry of treaties we've built is good and has helped keep this world far safer than it looked like being when President Kennedy, I think, in about 1962, foresaw a world that -- or was it '63? Around that time he talked -- he gave a speech where he foresaw a world that might have 30 or 40 nuclear weapons states in it.
So these regimes have served us well.
Saddam has, root and branch, sought to destroy those regimes. And that's the main problem he poses.
SEN. WELLSTONE: Let me ask you a second question. Now we have disagreement in the committee on the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. I mean, I think it's one of the reasons we need to support it. But saving that for another time, I want to try and raise a different question with you, and maybe you covered this already.
UNICEF estimates that -- I am reading it's more than 500,000 kids under age 5 have died from lack of access -- I think this is since 1991 -- to food, medicine and safe drinking water. Now, they point out to me they are clear that, while Saddam Hussein's regime is responsible for some of these problems facing Iraq's civilians, that the sanctions are also responsible for some of these problems.
And the administration's recent response to the UNICEF report, and to the State Department's statements explaining the report -- what they do is the administration has said, "Look, we do not believe sanctions are responsible for any part of this humanitarian crisis."
I want to ask you this question: How do you see the balance between the regime's responsibility -- I mean, I think we all know that Saddam Hussein is a very cruel man -- but also the role of sanctions? And I know that this hasn't been your primary area, but maybe I can ask you this; as a diplomat in residence at the Council of Foreign Affairs, how your analysis or evaluation of the sanctions?
MR. BUTLER: Yeah, I will answer it in that role. I couldn't when I was head of UNSCOM.
SEN. WELLSTONE: I know that.
MR. BUTLER: Yeah. Now, I draw a distinction between the structure of sanctions and their specific details. By the structure, I mean "their very existence" -- it begins with a legal decision by the Council to impose sanctions -- "and their nature." And their nature in this particular case is spelled out in a couple of Council resolutions; that it will apply to certain things, but not to food and not to medicines and so on. "That they are there or not, and what they are"; that's what I mean by "structure."
In that context, I say to you plainly that the person who is responsible for them being there, and his refuse (sic) to allow them to be removed at an early date, is the president of the Republic of Iraq -- end of story.
Now, the second thing, their practical nature and impact, these sanctions have been harmful to too many ordinary Iraqis. The community has progressively tried to address that. The Iraqi government has greatly contributed to the harm by maldistribution and hoarding and dishonesty with respect to the materials, but nevertheless, these sanctions have been harmful and for the future I think the answer to that problem lies in a much more sophisticated design of sanctions as such, targeted sanctions.
The chairman mentioned in his remarks that Saddam Hussein is one of the richest men in the world and the people around him are doing very well. They are the people who should be targeted, the Swiss bank accounts and so on, not the ordinary people, and I think sanctions would then be more effective.
SEN. HELMS: All right.
SEN. WELLSTONE: Thank you very much. That was very powerful.
SEN. HELMS: Sir, let me -- I have two or three questions that I really want to ask you. You did an article for (Talk ?) magazine, which I found very interesting. You referred to Russia as the "strongest", I believe, advocate -- no, "most aggressive" advocate of Saddam. Who else is an aggressive advocate of Saddam? China?
MR. BUTLER: Well, yes, Mr. Chairman, going back to that earlier question about the negotiating history, the line-up is, amongst the Permanent Five members, is the U.S. and U.K. on one side and Russia, France and China on the other side. That second side varies in intensity of advocacy of the Iraqi position. But certainly I recorded in that article, and I stand by it, that Russia has -- became -- a most active, proactive, advocate of the Saddam and the Iraq position.
I said in that article that I found it extraordinary that on many occasions the Russian ambassador would come to my office with Saddam's shopping list and I would think, Well, this man is supposed to be representing Russia but he was in my office saying,"This is what the Iraqis need." Not an absolutely invalid thing to do in diplomacy, but it was, as a matter of degree, I thought, a bit extreme. And the Chinese, too, for their reasons, have been quite supportive of Iraq, and France, for its yet other reasons, have not been in that first camp that -- the main members of which have been the U.S. and the U.K.
I hope that answers your question.
SEN. HELMS: Would it be fair to say that if this were a poker game, Saddam Hussein would be holding a royal flush; himself, Russia, China, a do-nothing United Nations, and Kofi Annan sitting it out? Is that approximately correct?
MR. BUTLER: This is an admission that maybe I shouldn't make on camera, but I inadequately understand the betting system in poker -- (laughter) -- to be able to deal with the question in that form. But let me -- I think I know what you mean -- the winning hand. I'm concerned about this: that Saddam Hussein, absent arms control monitoring and inspection, is rebuilding his weapons capability. I answered that question earlier by referring to means, motive and opportunity. Our absence gives an enhanced opportunity, and I think that's very serious.
On the economic side of it, sanctions and all that, it's well known that he and his cronies have developed an enormous black market industry, exporting oil and so on, which the British-Dutch resolution would try to rein in by bringing it above the ground from below the ground. And I think that's probably another reason why the Iraqis wouldn't like this resolution, because this healthy little industry they're running on the black market now could get shut down. So, you know, they're doing quite nicely out of all of that. So that's two -- is that two cards, Mr. Chairman? I don't know how close you have --
SEN. HELMS: Doing pretty well so far.
MR. BUTLER: That's two cards. The next card is that I did refer earlier to the divisions in the Security Council. I think it's almost an axiom that the beneficiary of any division amongst the five in the Security Council is the rogue state. So that's his third card, I guess.
Now, against that, I can't believe that he's feeling all that comfortable about having dropped out of the headlines. I really do think that -- I think that Iraq has done very well in propaganda terms by being in the headlines, and now that they're not, almost as if the problem's being ignored, I'm not sure that they'll be feeling very comfortable about that. And finally, if there is any truth in what they repeatedly say about wanting to be free of sanctions and back as a normal part of the international community, then they're not going anywhere on that one. So that's two cards down, isn't it? So I think it's a mixed bag.
SEN. HELMS: But he's got a winning hand so far because he's pushing everybody else around.
MR. BUTLER: I don't --
SEN. HELMS: Including your own self.
MR. BUTLER: Sorry to say this, but -- it saddens me greatly, and I think it's wrong -- but I don't think, in this current period of a year of our absence from Iraq, I don't think you could call him the loser.
SEN. HELMS: Very well. One final note. You don't have to comment on this, but I talk to -- a lot of young people come to the office, college students. And they don't even know whom I'm talking about when I talk about the Kurds, let alone what Saddam Hussein did to them. He murdered thousands of his own people, and he left many others maimed horribly. And yet that is not known by the people being educated in our schools today, colleges today.
I see my time is up. I'm going to yield to the distinguished senator from Massachusetts.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Do I understand your position to be, Mr. Ambassador, that if the real inspection protocol put forward now were to be able to be implemented, if they did surprise you and accept it, that you would be satisfied with that inspection regime sufficiently to then agree that if that's what it -- if lifting the sanctions is what it takes to get that real regime, you'd take that deal?
MR. BUTLER: This British-Dutch resolution -- I want to be very plain about this. I think it's a central question -- we haven't got time, Mr. Chairman, to analyze it. But you've got excellent staff, and you're brilliant people yourselves. You can read it yourself and see what it means -- what it provides. My view of it is that it would, on paper, reinstitute an acceptable arms control and disarmament system.
Now, the price that it offers -- or, it's the other way around. The incentive that it offers for Iraq to accept this and have monitoring and arms control back in their country is this four-month rolling suspension of sanctions. I have mixed feelings about that. But this goes, Mr. Chairman -- and senator, the chairman made a point in his opening remarks where he raised this issue that some people raise, that any inspection is better than none and raise that as a question.
My answer, Mr. Chairman -- I'll give it now. You didn't actually ask me directly -- is that I agree with you. I don't think any inspection is better than none.
I don't think we should be in the business of taking counterfeit bills; someone handing you a piece of Monopoly money and says, "All right, it's not legal tender, but it looks like it." I mean, phony inspections would give a false sense of security. We need real inspections.
So, Senator Kerry, this document, I think, properly implemented, would give real inspections. The question of whether or not this incentive of four months release from sanctions being rolled over depending upon Iraqi compliance, whether or not that's a good idea, whether or not the great powers will come to accept it is something that I have some misgivings about. And, you know, I guess it's really for others and larger people than me to decide. If they can get it up and running --
SEN. KERRY: I suppose the argument can be made that if you can get that real inspection, and you've agreed it's a real inspection, so if that's the inspection that we're agreed to over a four-month period, you can raise the profile of the issue again and begin a process of focusing on the inspections, which is non-existent today. I would assume you'd agree that if it really is going to be a rolling four month, that you're better off testing a real one. Now, I agree with the chairman. I don't want -- I don't think any inspection is worth anything, if it's just any. It has to be satisfactory to those who make the tough judgments of whether or not they're getting the answers.
MR. BUTLER: Absolutely. I agree with that. I think this is a good meeting of the minds, Mr. Chairman. And, you know, at the back of this resolution is something that is terribly, terribly important. There's a provision here that the new head of (UNKIM ?), as it would be called, the successor to UNSCOM, and the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency could -- you know, they have to certify that this is being done properly, and then you get the 120-day rollover, but at any moment where they say it isn't, that Iraq is cheating again, all bets are off. Now I think that's very important.
SEN. KERRY: Well, we're back to where we were. But the question is whether or not if we go back to where we were, having reasserted the principle and recommitted ourselves to that outcome, whether or not we might have the staying power and the courage to proceed forward. I mean, I'd rather have it refocused on and reenergized than continue down the road we're on today --
MR. BUTLER: I agree.
SEN. KERRY: -- which I think is far more dangerous.
MR. BUTLER: I agree with that. I agree with that.
SEN. KERRY: Now --
MR. BUTLER: In that context, can I just say that test of Iraqi compliance I actually think would come quite early --
SEN. KERRY: I'm convinced, as many of us predicted -- I think yourself included -- that it will go quietly and privately, that it would almost certainly come in the last round. And the question was always, what are we prepared -- we, the international community -- prepared to do about it?
Let me ask you another question. It's a little bit sensitive because this is the place where we're having sort of some disagreements on it. But I've heard from many people, when I talk to people in the international community, as we try to leverage a coalition on this, that people say, "Well, you know, your hands aren't very clean" -- you, the United States -- because of course we have not joined the community of nations in the Comprehensive Test Ban. Do you have an opinion as to whether or not this is something you feel leverages against us and has a negative impact on our moral suasion or other capacities to -- if not real capacities, to argue for a stronger proliferation regime internationally -- anti-proliferation regime?
MR. BUTLER: I think the linkage is false. I think both things are important.
It goes without saying that I personally hold, intellectually and personally, great importance to the CTBT, among other reasons because I was the one who brought it to the floor of the General Assembly in 1996, having spent 25 years working for it. I think it's outstanding that the United States signed it. I think it should ratify it. And I think that would send a very important signal to the rest of the world with respect to nuclear weapons as such and the United States' position on sensible arms control.
But to link that in some negative way to the transgressions of Saddam Hussein is a false linkage. And this has dogged the process. It's polemical and has dogged the process of dealing with something that is absolutely simple. The council made clear-cut international law on the disarmament of a rogue, recalcitrant state. It created the system to get that job done, and the government concerned has sought to defeat that system from day one. That's a problem that is serious and must be treated intrinsically. I don't see that there's anything beneficial or even logical in seeking to link that to another part of the arms control field, which has its own intrinsic importance.
SEN. KERRY: Mr. Chairman, could have your indulgence, just to continue one more?
SEN. HELMS: Go right ahead.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, sir.
When we came to one of the early confrontations a year and a half, two years ago, I don't remember exactly when in time now, many of our former allies in the coalition that President Bush put together expressed a willingness to go the distance, but only if the United States and Great Britain, obviously, were really prepared to do so. And it was their lack of a sense that we would be there when it finished that held them back. And then we began to hear that it was hard to put the coalition together again.
And I wonder if it's your perception, which came first -- sort of the reluctance to participate in the coalition or the perception that the United States and Great Britain were not prepared to go the distance and therefore, they, too, sort of looked to the longer term and a different approach?
MR. BUTLER: I don't know. I'm sorry. I don't know.
SEN. KERRY: But you're familiar -- I mean, you know the equation I'm --
MR. BUTLER: Up to a point. One of the things I think that --
SEN. KERRY: Well, do you think the coalition could have been put back together? Let me just ask you that bluntly.
MR. BUTLER: For --
SEN. KERRY: To uphold the full measure of what the United Nations resolution called for.
MR. BUTLER: For example, at the time of Desert Fox -- with difficulty.
SEN. KERRY: Should it have been, or was it impossible?
MR. BUTLER: It would be better if it had been, but more important was for the five Permanent Members to stand together. I said in my opening statement here today, it has no substitute. I do not believe that Iraq, Saddam Hussein, could hold out for long if the five really stood together and said to him, "You're not going to stay outside this law. We mean it and we mean it together." There have been repeated instances in contemporary history that demonstrate that. The five must stand together.
And secondly, what signal does it send when states who themselves made the law then proceed to walk away from its enforcement? The law we're dealing with here was made by Russia, China, France, as well as the U.S. and the U.K. So it starts with those five.
Now, one factor I would mention in your theoretical question of putting the coalition back together was something we did hear through 1998, as Iraq repeatedly pushed us into crisis.
Remember that in November, there was an almost-bombing that was called back, and then there was a bombing in December, in the months leading up to that, going right back to the time when the secretary-general went to Baghdad in February -- March, April -- that period -- one of the things we heard, for example, from potential members of the coalition, senior representatives of Gulf States, was quietly and pleasantly uttered but seriously meant remarks about how: "In the intervening years, between Desert Storm and Desert Fox, you had not paid us that much attention. But now that it seems you might need us again, you are coming back."
And I am not in a position to, and I do not make this as a direct criticism, but I observed that what they were saying was that, "We'd like to be attended to on a long-term basis and continually -- continual diplomacy -- not just on occasions where a certain need starts to emerge." And I think there may have been a message there.
SEN. KERRY: Sure.
Well, I thank the chair. And I thank you again.
I just have -- as a parting comment -- I mean, the strategic exigencies that brought us to understand that it was unacceptable to have the invasion of Kuwait, which was cloaked in a certain amount of rhetoric, was far more oriented towards longer-term implications of the potential of his moving further south -- oilfields, economy. As Jim Baker said back then, "This is about jobs." And then they found other rhetoric to couch it in. But that was a code word for those oil fields and, I think, the longer-term strategic implications of the Middle East. Now, that was sufficient to bring all of us to believe, though timing was questioned, that we had to be prepared to use force, and we ultimately did.
It seems to me that a Saddam Hussein who has the ability to develop potentially more threatening weapons of mass destruction -- and notwithstanding -- I mean, it was the show of force and the determination of the United States that really took away from him that option, previously. If the determination is not there, then the use that he put it to previously, in other circumstances, could become far more attractive again in the future, which I think is the bottom line of what you are saying.
So I think we're -- and I thank the chair for having this hearing. I mean, I think we're talking about a very significant, large strategic interest of the United States that for various reasons has been second-tiered to sometimes more emotional and certainly of-the-moment perceptions of other issues that don't rise to the same strategic, longer-term interests of our country. So I think it's important for us to be thinking about where we go, because I've said, and I think you and others have said, there's an ultimate time -- as long as he's there, and it may well be that the Iraqi people will settle that. But as long as he is there, I think most people understand that that threat remains and it's real. So -- and there's a time of confrontation. So I think we're better to do it sooner rather than later and to be real about our resolve.