Skip to comments.Brookings Scholar Scores Saddam Hussein's Human Rights Record (War more justified than ever)
Posted on 03/14/2003 6:50:06 PM PST by Mark Felton
WASHINGTON -- Those who supported the Clinton administration's armed interventions in Bosnia, Haiti and Kosovo have even more reason to support a U.S.-led war with Iraq, according to Brookings scholar Kenneth Pollack.
During an abbreviated digital video conference (DVC) March 14 with three State Department posts in India, Pollack argued that the case for armed intervention in Iraq on humanitarian grounds is as strong or stronger than those instances when President Clinton ordered U.S. military intervention during the 1990s. Pollack, who now is director of research at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, is the author of "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq." He was previously director of Gulf affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, and before that was a CIA military analyst for the Persian Gulf. He holds a doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Pollack asserts that Saddam Hussein is one of the worst tyrants of the past 50 years. He notes that the United Nations' Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iraq says that Saddam Hussein's regime is comparable to the World War II-era Soviet Union under Stalin and Nazi Germany under Hitler. Saddam Hussein is reputed to have killed more than a million Iraqis -- his own people -- a figure which must be compared with Iraq's population of about 24 million. Pollack also notes that Saddam Hussein is considered to have attempted genocide against both Iraqi Kurds and Marsh Arabs, which constitute crimes against humanity.
In addition to the human rights considerations, of course, Pollack emphasized the strategic rationale for armed intervention -- Saddam Hussein's possession of biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and his ongoing, decades-long quest to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. Pollack considers Saddam Hussein uniquely dangerous among contemporary rulers for his view of nuclear weapons not as a defensive assurance against outside attack, but rather as an offensive enabling factor allowing him to pursue a foreign policy of aggression and conquest.
Pollack emphasized to his Indian audience that having nuclear weapons per se is not the problem. He sees India's possession of nuclear weapons, or Britain's, as non-threatening, because the governments are not expansionist or aggressive. But Saddam Hussein, by contrast, wants nuclear weapons so that Iraq can become a superpower, can control the Persian Gulf's oil and can destroy Israel. And, Pollack says, with nuclear weapons in his arsenal, he believes even the United States would be unable to effectively prevent his accomplishing those goals. Saddam Hussein's brother is famously noted as saying Iraq needs nuclear weapons in order to have a strong hand in re-drawing the map of the Middle East, Pollack said.
A questioner from Calcutta asked why war with Iraq must happen now since containment was working with U.N. inspectors in Iraq. Pollack answered that containment was not working, but failing. For instance, he said, Iraq has increased its smuggling from $300 million a year several years ago to $3 billion ($3,000 million) in 2002, enabling Saddam Hussein to acquire almost everything he needs militarily. Pollack also insisted that containment only seems to be working now because both the Security Council members and Saddam Hussein himself recognize the presence of 250,000 U.S. and coalition forces in the Persian Gulf region ready to force Saddam Hussein's hand if he does not cooperate.
Moreover, Pollack said, for containment to be effective, it must last 10-20-30 years -- the life of the current regime, including not only Saddam Hussein but also his sons, who are likely successors. Finally, the United States is not hearing anything from France or Russia that would lead it to believe either country is serious about containment, Pollack said.
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