Zunes Debates U.S. Policy Toward Iraq (video)

In this video, Dr. Stephen Zunes and Mark Lance debate two right-wing analysts at Georgetown. The exchange explores “policy toward Iraq and whether the U.S. should engage in military action to remove Saddam Hussein”?as well as “Iraqi weapons capability, stability in the Middle East, and building an international coalition to take action against Iraq.”


Carter’s Less-Known Legacy

With all the liberal columnists singing the praises of Jimmy Carter in honor of his winning the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, I’d like to contribute a somewhat dissident note. Only somewhat, however. I am very pleased Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize and believe it is well deserved. I also enjoyed the subtle send-up by the Nobel committee and the not-so-subtle criticism by the committee’s chairman in contrasting this former American president with the current American president.

However, though criticism of Carter’s presidency has often centered upon his alleged weak governing, the sad truth was that his administration was a disaster when it came to the areas for which he is now best known: peace, international law and human rights.

President Carter, who came to office in early 1977, not long after Indonesia invaded and annexed the tiny island nation of East Timor, increased military aid to the Indonesian dictatorship by 80%. This equipment including OV-10 Bronco counter-insurgency aircraft that was crucial in the rounding up of much of the country’s civilian population into concentration camps. Most of the 200,000 East Timorese deaths as a result of Indonesia’s occupation took place during the Carter Administration, in large part as a result of this military aid.

Carter also dramatically increased military aid to the Moroccan government of King Hassan II, whose forces invaded its southern neighbor, the desert nation of Western Sahara, barely a year before the former Georgia governor assumed office. Carter fought Congress to restore military aid to Turkey that had been suspended after their armed forces seized the northern third of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974. Carter promised that the resumption of aid would give Turkey the flexibility to withdraw. Turkish occupation forces remain there to this day.

All three of these U.S. allies were in violation of repeated demands by the UN Security Council that they unconditionally withdraw from these occupied territories.

Under President Carter, the United States vetoed consecutive UN Security Council resolutions to impose sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Ignoring calls from the democratic South African opposition to impose such pressure, Carter took the line of American corporate interests by claiming U.S. investments (including such items as computers and trucks for the South African police and military) somehow supported the cause of racial justice and majority rule. (Barely five years after Carter left office, the United States imposed sanctions against South Africa by huge bipartisan Congressional majorities and no longer vetoed similar UN efforts.)

When the people of the African country then known as Zaire rebelled against their brutal and corrupt dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Carter ordered the U.S. air force to fly in Moroccan troops to help crush the popular uprising and save the regime.

Carter sent military aid to the Islamic fundamentalist mujahadeen to fight the leftist government in Afghanistan in the full knowledge that it could prompt a Soviet invasion. According to his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, it was hoped that by forcing the Soviets into such a counter-insurgency war would weaken America’s superpower rival. This decision, however, not only destroyed much of Afghanistan, but the entire world is feeling the ramifications to this day.

As president, Carter opposed Palestinian statehood, refused to even meet with Palestinian leaders, and dramatically increased military aid to the right-wing Israeli government of Menachem Begin. When Israel violated an annex to the Camp David Accords by resuming construction of illegal settlements on the occupied West Bank, Carter refused to enforce the treaty despite being its guarantor. Carter also dramatically increased military aid to the increasingly repressive Egyptian regime of Anwar Sadat.

Meanwhile, Carter ordered that the evidence his administration had acquired of a joint South African-Israeli nuclear test be covered up to protect their governments from international outrage.

In May 1980, pro-democracy protestors seized the center of the South Korean city of Kwangju, challenging the U.S.- backed dictatorship of Chun Doo Hwan. Carter ordered the release of South Korean troops under U.S. command at the request of the dictator in order for them to re-take the city for the regime, massacring thousands. (When former South Korean dictator Syngman Rhee made a similar request that his troops be released from U.S. command two decades earlier, President Dwight Eisenhower refused.)

President Carter ignored pleas from Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero to not send arms and advisors to the junta whose forces were massacring many hundreds of peasant leaders, trade unionists, priests, human rights workers and other dissidents. Carter continued his military support of the junta even after Romero himself was assassinated while saying Mass, a shooting carried out under the orders of a top Salvadoran general. One of Carter’s last acts as president was to approve a record level of arms transfers to the junta just weeks after Salvadoran troops (under orders from high-ranking officers) raped and murdered four American churchwomen.

Carter was the president who enacted Presidential Directive 59, which authorized American strategic forces to switch to a counterforce strategy, targeting nuclear weapons in their silos, indicating a dangerous shift in nuclear policy from deterrence to one of a first-strike.

He supported the Shah of Iran to the end, even as the dictator ordered his forces to fire onto thousands of unarmed demonstrators. Carter dismissed Iranian anger at the 1953 U.S.-led overthrow of the country’s constitutional government by saying that it was “ancient history,” a particular ironic comment in reference to a 4000-year old civilization.

Carter was also a strong supporter of Philippine dictator Fernando Marcos, Pakistani General Zia al Huq, Saudi King Faud and many other dictators. He blocked human rights legislation initiated by then-Congressman Tom Harkin and others. He increased U.S. military spending, militarized the Indian Ocean, and withdrew the SALT II Treaty from the Senate before they even took a vote.

It is certainly true that Jimmy Carter has made many positive contributions to the world since leaving the presidency. He did not simply join corporate boards like his predecessor Gerald Ford. Most leaders (as they have gotten older and more experienced in foreign affairs) have tended to become less idealistic and more prone to support military solutions to conflict. Carter, however, has gone in the opposite direction. And there were undoubtedly some positive achievements even while he was president for which we should also be grateful.

At the same time, we should not whitewash the past.

President Bush Fails to Make His Case

Given what is at stake, one would have thought that the administration would have made a stronger case for going to war than President George W. Bush did on Monday evening.

The weakness of the administration’s position is apparent in its insistence of repeating stories of Iraqi atrocities from more than 10 to 20 years ago, such as its support for international terrorist groups like Abu Nidal and its use of chemical weapons. It was during this period when the United States was quietly supporting the Iraqi regime, covering up reports of its use of chemical weapons and even providing intelligence for Iraqi forces that used such weapons against Iranian troops. Though the 1980s marked the peak of Iraq’s support for terrorist groups, the U.S. government actually dropped Iraq from its list of states sponsoring terrorism because of its own ties to the Iraqi war effort.

Two decades later, in its annual report, “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” the State Department presented no evidence of any current Iraqi support for active terrorist groups, only the granting of sanctuary to some aging leaders of dormant groups.

The president’s speech again presented no evidence that the decidedly secular Baath regime of Saddam Hussein and the Islamist al-Qaeda had overcome their longstanding hostility toward one another. The only charge that appears to have any credibility is that of al-Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan being seen inside Iraq, yet all of these sightings have taken place in Kurdish areas in the north that are beyond Baghdad’s control.

Accusations of Iraqi possession of ballistic missiles are similarly outdated: According to a 1998 report by the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM), 817 of Iraq’s 819 Soviet-build ballistic missiles have been accounted for and destroyed. Iraq may possess up to a couple of dozen homemade versions, but these have not been tested and it is questionable whether they have any functional launchers.

One of the few new threats mentioned in the president’s speech is the alleged development by Iraq of unmanned aerial vehicles capable of distributing chemical or biological agents over a wide area. Given that virtually all of Iraq’s neighbors have sophisticated anti-aircraft defenses, however, and that the U.S. Air Force rules the skies in that part of the world, such slow-moving UAVS would likely be shot down before they even left Iraqi air space.

President Bush’s demands for a new Security Council resolution on Iraqi disarmament is a classic case of moving the goalposts. The U.S. had supported the terms that were spelled out in previous resolutions, but as soon as Iraq accepted them, the administration suddenly demanded this new resolution that would usurp them.

There are provisions in the U.S. proposal — such as insisting on the right for U.S. officials to accompany the UN inspectors (who Iraq presumes would be spying), allowing the use of force for alleged noncompliance without first seeking UNSC approval, scrapping previously agreed-upon protocols, and demanding that simple reporting errors from the Iraqi side are legitimate grounds for war — that seem designed to simply give a legal cover for a U.S. invasion.

Claiming that the UN’s credibility is at stake if it does not back up its resolutions requiring Iraqi disarmament is similarly disingenuous. There are well over 90 UN Security Council resolutions that are currently being violated by countries other than Iraq. The vast majority of these resolutions are being violated by countries that receive U.S. military, economic and diplomatic support, such as Turkey, Indonesia and Israel. Indeed, the U.S. has effectively blocked the UN Security Council from enforcing many of these resolutions.

Perhaps the most misleading statement in the president’s address was that the United States “has never permitted the brutal and lawless to set history’s course.” Had this been the case, successive Republican and Democratic administrations would have never supported the Indonesian dictator Suharto for over three decades, as he presided over the massacre of half a million of his own people and invaded the tiny nation of East Timor, resulting in the deaths of an additional 200,000 civilians. Nor would the United States have supported governments like Turkey, Israel and Morocco, which have also invaded neighboring countries at the cost of thousands of civilian lives.

Despite President Bush’s assertion to the contrary, nobody believes that Saddam should be trusted. Yet renewed UN inspections combined with satellite and aerial surveillance, ongoing military sanctions and more, make it very unlikely that the Iraq regime could proceed with the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Claims that the threat from Iraq is “far more clearly defined” than al-Qaeda prior to last Sept. 11, 2001, are totally false. Al-Qaeda was quite explicit that it was targeting the United States. The reality of that threat was clear, such as the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the attack on the USS Cole. Iraq has never claimed it was targeting the U.S. Indeed, outside of the Gulf War in 1991 and the attack on the USS Stark more than 15 years ago (which the U.S. claimed was accidental), Iraq has never directly attacked American assets at home or abroad.

There are any number of regimes in the world today — China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, among others — for which one can think of worst-case scenarios similar to or worse than those being brought forward regarding Iraq. Yet no country has the right to invade another based upon such worst-case scenarios. Otherwise, there would be scores of new wars breaking out all over the world.


U.S.-Iraq: On the War Path

Key Points

* U.S. support for Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1980s contributed to Iraq’s emergence as a major regional military power.

* The U.S.-led Gulf War in 1991 forced the withdrawal of Iraqi occupation troops from Kuwait and led to an ongoing U.S. military presence in the region, including periodic air strikes against Iraq.

* War damage from 1991, combined with severe economic sanctions and periodic U.S. air strikes, precipitated Iraq’s severe humanitarian crisis.

With its enormous oil wealth, large agricultural base, and population of over 20 million, Iraq has long been considered one of the most important countries in the Arab world. The site of the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, Iraq emerged as an amalgam of three Ottoman provinces under a British-imposed monarch in 1921. A nationalist revolution in 1958 led to a series of military-led leftist governments, eventually coalescing under leadership from the Baath Party, a secular Arab nationalist movement.

Though Muslim Arabs predominate, they are outnumbered by the combined populations of Sunni Muslim Kurds in the North and Shiite Muslim Arabs in the South. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the Baghdad regime engaged in severe repression against these two minorities. The United States has twice backed Kurdish uprisings against the regime only to precipitously abandon them later.

By the late 1970s, Saddam Hussein had risen to leadership in a bloody series of purges, allegedly with some support from the CIA, which hoped he would steer the country from a pro-Soviet to a more nonaligned direction. Under Saddam’s leadership prior to the Gulf War, the Iraqi people gained an impressive level of prosperity, ranking near the top of third world countries in terms of nutrition, education, health care, housing, and other basic needs. Yet Saddam ruled with both brutality and a cult of personality, establishing a system closely resembling fascism.

The U.S. quietly supported Saddam Hussein during the 1980s with economic aid, largely covert military aid, and technology transfers including key components for Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs. When Iraq invaded Iran in 1980 and again when it used chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and Kurdish civilians, the U.S. refused to support sanctions against the Baghdad regime. Such special treatment likely led the Iraqi dictator to believe that appeasement would continue.

In 1990, following a dispute with Kuwait regarding debt repayment and oil policy, Iraq invaded and annexed the sheikdom. Applying enormous pressure, the senior Bush administration eventually won approval from the U.S. Congress and the UN Security Council to authorize the use of force to end Iraq’s occupation. The United States, with support from some allied governments, commenced a heavy bombing campaign in January 1991 targeting both Iraqi military forces and the country’s civilian infrastructure. The U.S.-led assault, known as Operation Desert Storm, ended six weeks later after a ground offensive liberated Kuwait from Iraqi control with minimal allied casualties but over 100,000 Iraqi deaths.

The cease-fire agreement included unprecedented restrictions against Iraq’s military and the dismantling of its weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their delivery systems, enforced through rigorous inspections by international monitors under the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM). This intrusive yet innovative effort at unilateral arms control was damaged both by Iraqi evasiveness and by Washington’s abuse of UNSCOM for spying purposes.

The Iraqi regime’s severe repression against rebellious Shiites in the South and Kurds in the North immediately following the Gulf War provided a pretext for the United States and its allies to create so-called “no-fly zones” restricting Iraq’s military movements even within its borders. In addition, since early 1999 the U.S. has engaged in unauthorized air strikes on an almost weekly basis.

Alleging that Iraq has not fully complied with provisions of the cease-fire agreement, the U.S. has successfully prevented the UN from lifting sanctions. The result has been a humanitarian catastrophe, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians—primarily children—dying from malnutrition and preventable diseases resulting from the inability of Iraqis to obtain adequate food and medicine or the materials necessary to rebuild the war-damaged civilian infrastructure.

In 1993 and 1996, the U.S. engaged in a series of sustained air strikes as punitive measures against alleged Iraqi transgressions. The U.S. engaged in a heavy four-day bombing campaign in December 1998, forcing the withdrawal of UN weapons inspectors. This prompted Iraq to forbid UN inspectors from returning until September 2002, when Iraq agreed to allow inspectors from UNSCOM’s successor, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

After President George W. Bush took office, the U.S. attempted to create an armed Iraqi opposition group out of disparate exile leaders, but with little success. By late 2001, official U.S. policy stipulated a “regime change” and included threats of a full-scale U.S. invasion of the country in order to install a new government more to Washington’s liking.

Problems with Current U.S. Policy

Key Problems

* A United States war on Iraq is illegal without explicit approval of the UN Security Council, and Washington’s policies of “preemption” and “regime change” violate basic principles of international law.

* The Bush administration has failed to provide evidence that Iraq threatens the United States with weapons of mass destruction or that it is linked with the Al Qaeda network.

* During the 1990s, UN inspectors succeeded in eliminating most of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems.

Although the senior Bush administration assembled strong international support for the 1991 Gulf War, subsequently the U.S. has taken an increasingly unilateralist stance toward Iraq. In early 2002, the Bush administration began warning that it was not enough for Iraq simply to allow UN inspectors to return; what was required was nothing less than a “regime change” in Baghdad, imposed by invading American forces if necessary. This was the first test of a new doctrine of “preemption,” whereby the United States reserves the right to invade and overthrow any government that it deems a potential threat to U.S. interests, a position that violates the United Nations Charter and basic principles of international law developed over the past century.

Iraq still has not recovered from the 1991 war, during which it was subjected to the heaviest bombing in world history. Since the war, the U.S. has insisted that UN sanctions not be lifted until Saddam Hussein is ousted. However, other UN members originally agreed to extend the sanctions only until Iraq complied with demands to dismantle its WMD capability and address other outstanding issues from the 1991 cease-fire resolution.

Rather than encouraging popular opposition, the sanctions have resulted in an unprecedented level of poverty, and the dependence of the population on the central government for rations has further consolidated Baghdad’s grip on power. Given the serious humanitarian consequences of the sanctions, combined with their ineffectiveness, by the mid- to late-1990s most UN Security Council members supported lifting nonmilitary sanctions altogether. The United States has blocked such efforts, though the sanctions were modified.

By the time Iraq agreed to a return of UN inspectors in September 2002, WMDs were only one of a litany of issues raised by the Bush administration to justify an invasion. Many of Washington’s accusations—including human rights abuses, violations of UN Security Council resolutions, and the harboring of terrorists—were either gross exaggerations or were not unique to Iraq. The latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1998 declared that Iraq’s nuclear capability had been completely dismantled. According to some UNSCOM inspectors, 95% of the country’s chemical weapons were accounted for and destroyed. Much of the biological weaponry has also been destroyed; there is some debate over how much remains or has since been developed. And whatever remaining functional ballistic missiles Iraq may have capable of delivering WMDs are of dubious reliability and probably number less than two dozen.

The Bush administration has also been unable to explain what might motivate this impoverished third world country either to launch a first strike against the world’s one remaining superpower or to pass on such precious technology to a terrorist group it could not control. Saddam Hussein has repeatedly valued his survival in power above all else, and he knows that any attack against the United States or its allies would be suicidal. Yet despite the absence of any direct evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, a means of deploying them, or the motivation to launch a suicidal offensive use of such weaponry, the Bush administration still maintains that the Iraqi regime is an intolerable threat to American security and must be overthrown.

Iraq is in clear violation of some sections of UN Security Council Resolution 687 as well as subsequent resolutions reiterating demands for Iraqi disarmament and related concerns. However, only the UN Security Council has the prerogative to authorize military responses to violations of its resolutions; no single member state can do so unilaterally. A unilateral U.S. invasion, therefore, would be a clear violation of international law. Moreover, as in most wars, innocent civilians will suffer the most.

Despite efforts to link Iraq to the ongoing war against terrorism, the Bush administration has been unable to show any firm evidence that the strongly secular Baathist regime is supporting the Islamic fundamentalist Al Qaeda network. Ironically, when Iraq was most active in its support of international terrorism during the 1980s—bankrolling the now-defunct Abu Nidal group and other radical secular nationalists—the U.S. dropped Iraq from its list of states sponsoring terrorism. Today, Iraq is back on the list, although the State Department’s most recent report on international terrorism failed to find any direct Iraqi support for terrorist activities.

In contrast to the 1991 Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, today there is virtually no support within the Arab or Islamic world for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Indeed, such an attack could result in an outburst of anti-American protests and extremist violence, possibly threatening a number of pro-Western regimes. Furthermore, a U.S. invasion of Iraq would meet with far greater resistance than during the Gulf War: rather than facing poorly trained conscripts in flat open desert, American forces could end up fighting loyal, heavily armed elite units in the densely populated center of the country.

Finally, U.S. double standards have greatly harmed American credibility in the region. Most Arabs and many others around the world question why Washington insists on singling out Iraq for its alleged possession of WMDs while raising no objections to such allies as Israel and Pakistan developing nuclear weapons and sophisticated missile systems. This is particularly duplicitous, given that UN Security Council Resolution 687, which the U.S. claims to be enforcing through the sanctions and bombing, calls for “establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery.”

Toward a New Foreign Policy

Key Recommendations

* The U.S. must end its threats of an invasion of Iraq, support the return of UN weapons inspectors, and return to working within a multilateral framework.

* To maintain credibility in curbing potential Iraqi threats to peace and stability, the U.S. must support arms control and UN Security Council resolutions throughout the region rather than singling out Iraq.

* The U.S. must support the lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq’s civilian population. A credible democratic opposition movement capable of ousting Saddam Hussein’s regime will more likely emerge if sanctions are lifted and outside intervention is kept at a minimum.

The Bush administration must drop its illegal doctrines of “preemptive strike” and “regime change,” support the return of UN weapons inspectors, and work to build genuine multilateral coalitions and decisionmaking. The most effective means of preventing any potential deployment or use of WMDs is to support unfettered access for UNMOVIC inspectors in Iraq, which would be impossible during a military attack.

Washington must pledge to enforce other outstanding UN Security Council resolutions and not simply single out Iraq. As long as the United States allows allied regimes to flout UN Security Council resolutions, any sanctimonious insistence for strict compliance by the Iraqi government will simply be dismissed as hypocritical and mean-spirited, whatever the merit of the actual charges.

In a similar vein, the United States must support a comprehensive arms control plan for the region, including the establishment of a zone in the Middle East where all weapons of mass destruction are banned. Such an agreement would halt the U.S. practice of transporting nuclear weapons into the region on its planes and ships and would force Israel to dismantle its sizable nuclear arsenal. This more holistic approach to nonproliferation might include, for example, a five-year program affecting not just Iraqi missiles but phasing out Syrian, Israeli, and other countries’ missiles as well.

As with its highly selective insistence on the enforcement of UN Security Council resolutions, the double standards in U.S. policy render even the most legitimate concerns about Iraqi weapons development virtually impossible to successfully pursue. If Iraq is truly a threat to regional security, there must be a comprehensive regional security regime worked out between the eight littoral states of the Persian Gulf. The U.S. should support such efforts and not allow its quest for arms sales and oil resources to unnecessarily exacerbate regional tensions. In addition, the United States should withdraw its ground forces from the Persian Gulf, since the U.S. military presence—aimed largely at Iraq—has not contributed to the security of the region and has led to an anti-American backlash, most dramatically in the form of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Washington should continue to support a strict UN arms embargo on Iraq and closely monitor potential dual-use technologies. However, the U.S. should join the growing number of countries in the Middle East and around the world calling for a lifting of the economic sanctions that have brought so much suffering to Iraqi civilians. The Bush administration should promise to no longer block the lifting of economic sanctions once the UN secretary-general recognizes that Baghdad is in effective compliance with Security Council resolutions. The United States, in consultation with other members of the Security Council, needs to clarify the positive responses that Iraq can expect in return for specific improvements in its behavior.

International guarantees protecting the oppressed Kurds of northern Iraq are necessary. However, this should not be taken as an excuse for ongoing punitive air strikes, which perpetuate the sad history of using Kurds as pawns in international rivalries. Comprehensive initiatives for a just settlement of the Kurdish question—including the oppressed Kurdish minorities in Turkey and other countries—should be pursued by the international community.

Finally, there needs to be a greater understanding by U.S. policymakers of Iraqi politics and society, which Washington not only lacks but appears to have done little to improve upon. Most successful changes of regime in recent years have come from internal, nonviolent, popular movements.

Although there is nothing inherently wrong with the United States or other countries supporting democratic opposition movements against autocratic regimes, the U.S. has so thoroughly destroyed its credibility that little good can result from actively supporting an Iraqi opposition movement, particularly given its weakness and internal divisions. In particular, support for any kind of internal military resistance is not only futile but would give the Iraqi regime an excuse to crack down even harder against the country’s already-oppressed people. The lifting of economic sanctions, a cessation of the bombing, and an end to the threat of an invasion, offers the best hope of some kind of organized opposition emerging. However, to be successful, it must be seen as a genuinely indigenous force, not the creation of yet another ill-fated intervention by Western powers.


After President’s Speech, Questions Remain Unanswered

At the House International Relations Committee markup of H.J. Res. 114, U.S. Representative Sherrod Brown (D-OH) put forward an amendment that contained a series of questions he argued the administration must answer in order for Congress to fulfill its constitutional responsibility regarding a prospective war, and to gain the confidence of the American people. The address by President George W. Bush on Monday evening failed to provide answers to these critical questions. Representative Brown’s amendment, as did a previous letter to the president from House Armed Services ranking Democrat, Ike Skelton (dated September 4th) asked a number of important questions, and requested specific information on a number of points. Among these are:

THE INFORMATION REQUESTED : A comprehensive analysis of the effect on the stability of Iraq, and the region, of any “regime change” in Iraq that may occur as the result of U.S. military action, including, but not limited to, the effect on the national aspirations of the Kurds, Turkey and its continued support for United States policy in the region, the economic and political impact on Jordan and the stability of the Jordanian Monarchy, and the economic and political stability of Saudi Arabia.

THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE : While pledging to “help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors,” the president mentioned no specifics and offered no plan.

THE INFORMATION REQUESTED : A comprehensive statement that details the nature and extent of the international support for military operations in Iraq, and what effect, if any, a military action against Iraq will mean for the broader war on terrorism, including, but not limited to, that of support from our allies in the Middle East.

THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE : President Bush claimed that the United States would be leading a coalition of allies but failed to mention any countries that would be part of such a coalition. Most of our “friends” in the region–Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan–have strongly urged us not to go to war.

THE INFORMATION REQUESTED : A comprehensive plan for U.S. financial and political commitment to long-term cultural, economic, and political stabilization in a free Iraq.

THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE : Bush stated, “If military action is necessary, the U.S. and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq, at peace with its neighbors” Yet, he failed to make any commitments. According to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times , “Decapitating Saddam’s regime will take weeks. Building Iraq into a more decent state, with a real civil society, will take years. But it is this latter project that is the most important–the one that really gets at the underlying threat from the Middle East, which is its failed states. But do we know how to do such nation rebuilding, and if we do, do Americans want to pay for it? We need to go in prepared for this task (which is unavoidable if we really intend to disarm Iraq) or stay out and rely instead on more aggressive containment, because halfhearted nation-building always ends badly and would surely weaken us.” With respect to this point, Rep. Skelton asserted in his letter to the president that, “The American people must be clear about the amount of money and the number of soldiers that will have to be devoted to this effort for many years to come.” The president has offered no such information to the American people.

As well, rebuilding Iraq will take enormous amounts of trust on both sides. As Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times noted in his October 4 report from Baghdad, this will be a difficult task. Kristof wrote, “while ordinary Iraqis were very friendly toward me, they were enraged at the U.S. after 11 years of economic sanctions…. Worse, U.S. bombing of water treatment plants … and shortages of medicines led to a more than doubling of infant mortality, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.”

THE INFORMATION REQUESTED : A comprehensive statement that details the nature and extent of the international support for military operations in Iraq, and what effect, if any, a military action against Iraq will mean for the broader war on terrorism, including, but not limited to, that of support from our allies in the Middle East.

THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE : President Bush claimed that the United States would be leading a coalition of allies but failed to mention any countries that would be part of such a coalition. Most of our “friends” in the region–Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan–have strongly urged us not to go to war.

THE INFORMATION REQUESTED : A cost estimate for military action and reconstruction along with a proposal for how the United States can pay for these costs.

THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE : There was no mention of this during President Bush’s address.

THE INFORMATION REQUESTED : An analysis of the impact on the U.S. domestic economy of the use of resources for military action and reconstruction of Iraq.

THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE : There was no mention of this during President Bush’s address.

THE INFORMATION REQUESTED : The letter from Rep. Skelton to the president referred to “the need for Congress, the American people, and our friends around the world to [be given the information to] understand exactly what is at stake and why we must act now.” In other words, Rep. Skelton asked the president to offer proof of an imminent threat from Iraq to the national security of the United States and its citizens.

THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE : President Bush reiterated accounts of Iraqi atrocities from the use of chemical weapons to support for Abu Nidal terrorists as evidence of Iraq’s aggressive intent. However, these took place during the 1980s when the United States was quietly backing the Iraqi regime. As Michael Kinsley wrote in the Washington Post (September 27, 2002), “The fact that these episodes happened years ago does not diminish their horror, and there is no reason to think that Hussein has become kinder or gentler over the years. But it does realize the question of why now, years later, they are suddenly a casus belli. If that did not constitute a good enough reason for going to war with Iraq in 1988, it certainly is not a good enough reason now.”


United Nations Security Council Resolutions Currently Being Violated by Countries Other than Iraq

(Editor’s Note: In its effort to justify its planned invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has emphasized the importance of enforcing UN Security Council resolutions. However, in addition to the dozen or so resolutions currently being violated by Iraq, a conservative estimate reveals that there are an additional 88 Security Council resolutions about countries other than Iraq that are also currently being violated. This raises serious questions regarding the Bush administration’s insistence that it is motivated by a duty to preserve the credibility of the United Nations, particularly since the vast majority of the governments violating UN Security Council resolutions are close allies of the United States. Stephen Zunes, University of San Francisco professor and Middle East Editor for Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www.fpif.org),compiled the following partial list of UN resolutions that are currently being violated by countries other than Iraq.)

The cases are listed in order of resolution number, followed by the year in which the resolution was passed, the country or countries in violation, and a brief description of the resolution.

Resolution 252 (1968) Israel
Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind measures that change the legal status of Jerusalem, including the expropriation of land and properties thereon.

262 (1968) Israel
Calls upon Israel to pay compensation to Lebanon for destruction of airliners at Beirut International Airport.

267 (1969) Israel
Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind measures seeking to change the legal status of occupied East Jerusalem.

271 (1969) Israel
Reiterates calls to rescind measures seeking to change the legal status of occupied East Jerusalem and calls on Israel to scrupulously abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the responsibilities of occupying powers.

298 (1971) Israel
Reiterates demand that Israel rescind measures seeking to change the legal status of occupied East Jerusalem.

353 (1974) Turkey
Calls on nations to respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Cyprus and for the withdrawal without delay of foreign troops from Cyprus.

354 (1974) Turkey
Reiterates provisions of UNSC resolution 353.

360 (1974) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus “without delay.”

364 (1974) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.

367 (1975) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.

370 (1975) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.

377 (1979) Morocco
Calls on countries to respect the right of self-determination for Western Sahara.

379 (1979) Morocco
Calls for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Western Sahara.

380 (1979) Morocco
Reiterates the need for compliance with previous resolutions.

391 (1976) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.

401 (1976) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.

414 (1977) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.

422 (1977) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.

440 (1978) Turkey
Reaffirms the need for compliance with prior resolutions regarding Cyprus.

446 (1979) Israel
Calls upon Israel to scrupulously abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the responsibilities of occupying powers, to rescind previous measures that violate these relevant provisions, and “in particular, not to transport parts of its civilian population into the occupied Arab territories.”

452 (1979) Israel
Calls on the government of Israel to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction, and planning of settlements in the Arab territories, occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.

465 (1980) Israel
Reiterates previous resolutions on Israel’s settlements policy.

471 (1980) Israel
Demands prosecution of those involved in assassination attempts of West Bank leaders and compensation for damages; reiterates demands to abide by Fourth Geneva Convention.

484 (1980) Israel
Reiterates request that Israel abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

487 (1981) Israel
Calls upon Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the safeguard of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

497 (1981) Israel
Demands that Israel rescind its decision to impose its domestic laws in the occupied Syrian Golan region.

541 (1983) Turkey
Reiterates the need for compliance with prior resolutions and demands that the declaration of an independent Turkish Cypriot state be withdrawn.

550 (1984) Turkey
Reiterates UNSC resolution 541 and insists that member states may “not to facilitate or in any way assist” the secessionist entity.

573 (1985) Israel
Calls on Israel to pay compensation for human and material losses from its attack against Tunisia and to refrain from all such attacks or threats of attacks against other nations.

592 (1986) Israel
Insists Israel abide by the Fourth Geneva Conventions in East Jerusalem and other occupied territories.

605 (1987) Israel
“Calls once more upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide immediately and scrupulously by the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, and to desist forthwith from its policies and practices that are in violations of the provisions of the Convention.”

607 (1986) Israel
Reiterates calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention and to cease its practice of deportations from occupied Arab territories.

608 (1988) Israel
Reiterates call for Israel to cease its deportations.

636 (1989) Israel
Reiterates call for Israel to cease its deportations.

641 (1989) Israel
Reiterates previous resolutions calling on Israel to desist in its deportations.

658 (1990) Morocco
Calls upon Morocco to “cooperate fully” with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the chairman of the Organization of African Unity “in their efforts aimed at an early settlement of the question of Western Sahara.”

672 (1990) Israel
Reiterates calls for Israel to abide by provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Arab territories.

673 (1990) Israel
Insists that Israel come into compliance with resolution 672.

681 (1990) Israel
Reiterates call on Israel to abide by Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Arab territories.

690 (1991) Morocco
Calls upon both parties to cooperate fully with the Secretary General in implementing a referendum on the fate of the territory.

694 (1991) Israel
Reiterates that Israel “must refrain from deporting any Palestinian civilian from the occupied territories and ensure the safe and immediate return of all those deported.”

716 (1991) Turkey
Reaffirms previous resolutions on Cyprus.

725 (1991) Morocco
“Calls upon the two parties to cooperate fully in the settlement plan.”

726 (1992) Israel
Reiterates calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention and to cease its practice of deportations from occupied Arab territories.

799 (1992) Israel
“Reaffirms applicability of Fourth Geneva Convention…to all Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, and affirms that deportation of civilians constitutes a contravention of its obligations under the Convention.”

809 (1992) Morocco
Reiterates call to cooperate with the peace settlement plan, particularly regarding voter eligibility for referendum.

822 (1993) Armenia
Calls for Armenia to implement the “immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kelbadjar district and other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan.”

853 (1993) Armenia
Demands “complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces” from Azerbaijani territory.

874 (1993) Armenia
Reiterates calls for withdrawal of occupation forces.

884 (1993) Armenia
Calls on Armenia to use its influence to force compliance by Armenian militias to previous resolutions and to withdraw its remaining occupation forces.

904 (1994) Israel
Calls upon Israel, as the occupying power, “to take and implement measures, inter alia, confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by settlers.”

973 (1995) Morocco
Reiterates the need for cooperation with United Nations and expediting referendum on the fate of Western Sahara.

995 (1995) Morocco
Calls for “genuine cooperation” with UN efforts to move forward with a referendum.

1002 (1995) Morocco
Reiteration of call for “genuine cooperation” with UN efforts.

1009 (1995) Croatia
Demands that Croatia “respect fully the rights of the local Serb population to remain, leave, or return in safety.”

1017 (1995) Morocco
Reiterates the call for “genuine cooperation” with UN efforts and to cease “procrastinating actions which could further delay the referendum.”

1033 (1995) Morocco
Reiterates call for “genuine cooperation” with UN efforts.

1044 (1996) Sudan
Calls upon Sudan to extradite to Ethiopia for prosecution three suspects in an assassination attempt of visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and to cease its support for sanctuary and offering of sanctuary to terrorists.

1054 (1996) Sudan
Demands that Sudan come into compliance with UNSC resolution 1044.

1056 (1996) Morocco
Calls for the release of political prisoners from occupied Western Sahara.

1070 (1996) Sudan
Reiterates demands to comply with 1044 and 1054.

1073 (1996) Israel
“Calls on the safety and security of Palestinian civilians to be ensured.”

1079 (1996) Croatia
Reaffirms right of return for Serbian refugees to Croatia.

1092 (1996) Turkey/Cyprus
Calls for a reduction of foreign troops in Cyprus as the first step toward a total withdrawal troops as well as a reduction in military spending.

1117 (1997) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates call for a reduction of foreign troops in Cyprus as the first step toward a total withdrawal troops and reduction in military spending.

1120 (1997) Croatia
Reaffirms right of return for Serbian refugees to Croatia and calls on Croatia to change certain policies that obstruct this right, and to treat its citizens equally regardless of ethnic origin.

1145 (1997) Croatia
Reiterates Croatian responsibility in supporting the political and economic rights of its people regardless of ethnic origin.

1172 (1998) India, Pakistan
Calls upon India and Pakistan to cease their development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

1178 (1998) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates call for a substantial reduction of foreign troops and reduction in military spending.

1185 (1998) Morocco
Calls for the lifting of restrictions of movement by aircraft of UN peacekeeping force.

1215 (1998) Morocco
Urges Morocco to promptly sign a “status of forces agreement.”

1217 (1998) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates call for a substantial reduction of foreign troops and reduction in military spending.

1251 (1999) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates call for a substantial reduction of foreign troops and reduction in military spending.

1264 (1999) Indonesia
Calls on Indonesia to provide safe return for refugees and punish those for acts of violence during and after the referendum campaign.

1272 (1999) Indonesia
Stresses the need for Indonesia to provide for the safe return for refugees and maintain the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps.

1283 (1999) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates UNSC resolution 1251.

1303 (2000) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates UNSC resolutions 1283 and 1251.

1319 (2000) Indonesia
Insists that Indonesia “take immediate additional steps, in fulfillment of its responsibilities, to disarm and disband the militia immediately, restore law and order in the affected areas of West Timor, ensure safety and security in the refugee camps and for humanitarian workers, and prevent incursions into East Timor.” Stresses that those guilty of attacks on international personnel be brought to justice and reiterates the need to provide safe return for refugees who wish to repatriate and provide resettlement for those wishing to stay in Indonesia.

1322 (2000) Israel
Calls upon Israel to scrupulously abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the responsibilities of occupying power.

1331 (2000) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates UNSC resolution 1251 and subsequent resolutions.

1338 (2001) Indonesia
Calls for Indonesian cooperation with the UN and other international agencies in the fulfillment of UNSC resolution 1319.

1359 (2001) Morocco
Calls on the parties to “abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to release without further delay all those held since the start of the conflict.”

1384 (2001) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates 1251 and all relevant resolutions on Cyprus.

1402 (2002) Israel
Calls for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities.

1403 (2002) Israel
Demands that Israel go through with “the implementation of its resolution 1402, without delay.”

1405 (2002) Israel
Calls for UN inspectors to investigate civilian deaths during an Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp.

1416 (2002) Turkey/Cyprus
Reiterates UNSC resolution 1251 and all relevant resolutions on Cyprus.

1435 (2002) Israel
Calls on Israel to withdraw to positions of September 2000 and end its military activities in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of security and civilian infrastructure.

Explanatory Notes:

This list deals exclusively with resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, a fifteen-member body consisting of five permanent members (the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom) and ten non-permanent members elected for rotating two-year terms representing various regions of the world. The Security Council’s primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, is for the maintenance of international peace and security. For a resolution to pass, it must be approved by a majority of the total membership with no dissenting vote from any of the five permanent members. Since the early 1970s, the United States has used its veto power nearly fifty times, more than all other permanent members during that same period combined. In the vast majority of these cases, the U.S. was the only dissenting vote. The preceding list, therefore, includes only resolutions where the United States voted in the affirmative or abstained.

This list does not include resolutions that merely condemn a particular action, only those that specifically proscribe a particular ongoing activity or future activity and/or call upon a particular government to implement a particular action. Nor does this list does include resolutions where the language is ambiguous enough to make assertions of noncompliance debatable, such as UNSC resolutions 242 and 338 on the Arab-Israeli conflict that put forward the formula of “land for peace,” to cite the most famous. Similarly, it does not include broad resolutions calling for universal compliance not in reference to a particular conflict, particularly if there is not a clear definition. For example, in a resolution that proscribes the harboring of terrorists, there is no clear definition for what constitutes a terrorist. This list does not include nonstate actors, such as secessionist governments, rebel groups or terrorists, only recognized nation-states.

Furthermore, this list does not include resolutions that were also violated for a number of years that are now moot (such as those dealing with Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, South Africa’s occupation of Namibia, and Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon). If these were also included, the number of violations would double. In most of these cases, the United States played a key role in blocking enforcement of these resolutions as well.

Finally, it should be noted that this is only a partial list, since some of the resolutions involved technical questions I was unable to judge, particularly when they involved parts of the world with which we were less familiar.