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News - 24 May 2002
[excerpt] The uniformed leaders of the U.S. military believe they have persuaded the Pentagon's civilian leadership to put off an invasion of Iraq until next year at the earliest and perhaps not to do it at all, according to senior Pentagon officials. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have waged a determined behind-the-scenes campaign to persuade the Bush administration to reconsider an aggressive posture toward Iraq in which war was regarded as all but inevitable. This included a secret briefing at the White House earlier this month for President Bush by Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who as head of the Central Command would oversee any U.S. military campaign against Iraq. During the meeting, Franks told the president that invading Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein would require at least 200,000 troops, far more than some other military experts have calculated. This was in line with views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who have repeatedly emphasized the lengthy buildup that would be required, concerns about Hussein's possible use of biological and chemical weapons and the possible casualties, officials said. The Bush administration still appears dedicated to the goal of removing the Iraqi leader from power, but partly in response to the military's advice, it is focusing more on undermining him through covert intelligence operations, two officials added.
In a series of meetings this spring, the six members of the Joint Chiefs -- the chairman, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers; the vice chairman, Marine Gen. Peter Pace; and the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps -- hammered out a position that emphasizes the difficulties of any Iraq campaign while also quietly questioning the wisdom of a military confrontation with Hussein. "I think all the chiefs stood shoulder-to-shoulder on this," said one officer tracking the debate, which has been intense at times. In one of the most emphatic summaries of the direction of the debate, one top general said the "Iraq hysteria" he detected last winter in some senior Bush administration officials has been diffused.
In their Tank sessions, the chiefs focused on two specific concerns about the conduct of any offensive. One was that Hussein, if faced with losing power and likely being killed, would no longer feel the constraints that during the Persian Gulf War apparently kept him from using his stores of chemical and biological weapons. The other was the danger of becoming bogged down in bloody block-by-block urban warfare in Baghdad that could kill thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. In addition to those tactical concerns, some of the chiefs also expressed misgivings about the wisdom of dislodging an aging, weakened Hussein who, by some accounts, has behaved better than usual in recent months. Their worry is that there is no evidence that there is a clear successor who is any better, and that there are significant risks that Iraq may wind up with a more hostile, activist regime.
By emphasizing the large force that he believes would be needed, Franks's briefings also seemed to rule out an alternate plan that some civilians in the Bush administration had advocated. Dubbed "the Downing plan," for retired Army Gen. Wayne A. Downing, who suggested it four years ago, this approach calls for conquering Iraq with combination of airstrikes and Special Operations attacks in coordination with indigenous fighters. That option, which would have required a fraction of the U.S. troops Franks indicated he would need, was not presented as a briefing either to the Joint Chiefs or to the president, officials said. Downing serves as the White House's coordinator for counterterrorism efforts. This spring, "the civilian leadership thought they could do this Ì la Afghanistan, with Special Forces," said a senior officer. "I think they've been dissuaded of that."
Despite the confidence expressed by some officers that an attack on Iraq has been postponed and may never occur, some on the other side of the argument warn that it is far from concluded. There are other top officers in the U.S. military who disagree with the chiefs' assessment. Their worries, said one general, "smack to me of risk aversion." He added: "The fact is they [the Iraqi armed forces] are one-third the size they used to be. Their air force isn't there." Advocates of an Iraqi invasion note that Bush has not backed away from his tough State of the Union rhetoric. "They [the military leaders] have been able to defer it, so they've won this round of the bureaucratic battle," said one Republican foreign policy expert who is hawkish on Iraq. But, he continued, "I don't believe you're going to see the president sit back and say, 'Sure, containment's the way to go, keeping him in the box is working.' "
News - 21 May 2002
[excerpt] Britain gave warning of the "very real and very disturbing" possibility of nuclear war between India and Pakistan last night as the Government prepared an emergency mission to Delhi and Islamabad. Jack Straw is to fly to the capitals next week to try to avert "the most serious conflict in the world in terms of potential casualties and the use of nuclear weapons." In a chilling assessment of the escalating tensions in the sub-continent, the Foreign Secretary told journalists: "The international community is watching events with mounting concern. This is a crisis the world cannot ignore."
News - 21 May 2002
[excerpt] While differences persist between the Pentagon and the State Department on how and when Hussein would be removed from power, the evolving blueprint suggests the administration doesn't want a repeat of Afghanistan, where the civilian nation-building efforts lagged behind the military campaign.
A forum of organizations, known as the Group of Four, has recently gained prominence. It brings together the two Kurdish parties, the main Shiite opposition group, and the Iraqi National Accord, an organization that draws on former Iraqi military officers and has long been a favorite of the CIA.
The State Department initially envisioned an Iraqi opposition meeting in Europe that would draw together hundreds of exiles and dissidents. But the Middle East Institute, the group it chose to organize the conference, drew opposition in Congress over its leaders' criticism of President Bush's description of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an ''axis of evil.'' The State Department decided to delay the meeting.
News - 19 May 2002
[excerpt] Though Iraq possessed chemical and probably biological weapons during the Persian Gulf war of 1991, it did not use them, possibly because of American threats of retaliation. But now that President Bush has placed himself behind an effort to change governments in Baghdad, military experts and Pentagon officials say they must assume that Mr. Hussein would use every weapon in his arsenal. "This time, once the tanks start rolling, Saddam knows they won't stop until they reach Baghdad," said Kenneth M. Pollack, the director for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the former director for Persian Gulf affairs in President Bill Clinton's National Security Council. "He has no incentive for restraint."
News and Analysis - 14 May 2002
[excerpt] On one side is Brent Scowcroft, who had been national security adviser for former president George Bush and is now the embodiment of the Republican establishment's view of foreign policy. On the other side is Richard Perle, a Reagan administration Pentagon official called the "Prince of Darkness" by foes, and now intellectual guru of the hard-line neoconservative movement in foreign policy. Scowcroft and Perle have relatively minor, advisory posts in the current Bush administration. Yet each man has profound influence over Bush policies and officials in the competition for the hearts of the president and his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Scowcroft represents the moderate, realpolitik strain in Republican foreign policy, promoting internationalist policies and the interests of American industry. Perle's allies favor a more hawkish foreign policy and an inclination for the United States to go it alone. Perle's lineup of like-minded thinkers is impressive, starting with Vice President Cheney. The vice president sometimes stays neutral, but his sympathies undoubtedly are with the Perle crowd. Cheney deputies Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Eric Edelman relay neoconservative views to Rice at the National Security Council. At the NSC, they have a sympathetic audience in Elliott Abrams, Robert Joseph, Wayne Downing and Zalmay Khalilzad. At the Pentagon, Perle's allies are not just Rumsfeld but also deputy Paul D. Wolfowitz, an academic and a neoconservative purist, and Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith. Perle also has a man at Powell's State Department: Undersecretary John Bolton, late of the American Enterprise Institute. Bolton, who often irks European allies, was the official who announced the U.S. rejection of the International Criminal Court.
Scowcroft's lineup is far less deep. In addition to Powell, his allies are Powell's policy planning director, Richard Haass, formerly with the Brookings Institution, the establishment-central think tank. Powell's deputy, Richard Armitage, is loyal to his boss, although he is sometimes suspected of neoconservative tendencies. Marc Grossman, the No. 3 at State, is a career foreign service officer with establishment credentials. CIA Director George J. Tenet, a Clinton administration holdover, is also grouped with the Scowcroft wing. United Nations Ambassador John D. Negroponte has establishment ties, as do Middle East specialists Anthony C. Zinni and Bill Burns. Scowcroft's allies would lack the numbers and heft to stand up to the Perle wing, except for one other establishment figure: the president's father.
These days, the referees in the struggle between the establishment and the neoconservatives are President Bush himself and Rice, a Scowcroft protege under the first Bush administration, who picked up conservative influences from George Shultz and the Hoover Institution while at Stanford. Rice deputy Stephen Hadley, who has neoconservative leanings, helps Rice play the honest broker. On many issues -- missile defense, the promise to topple Saddam Hussein and the axis-of-evil declaration -- the neoconservatives have clearly won the battle for the minds of Bush and Rice. In Bush's support for foreign aid, the establishment prevailed. On the Middle East and China, where policy vacillates, the winner is less clear.
Source - 13 May 2002
[excerpt] With some degree of reluctance I would also like to comment on the allegation of bioterrorism. I do this because these allegations were made maybe not coincidentally just before our visit to Cuba. In preparation for this unprecedented visit, I requested, and we all received, intense briefings from the State Department, the intelligence agencies of my country, and high officials in the White House. One purpose of this briefing was for them to share with us any concerns that my government had about possible terrorist activities that were supported by Cuba. There were absolutely no such allegations made or questions raised. I asked them specifically on more than one occasion is there any evidence that Cuba has been involved in sharing any information to any other country on Earth that could be used for terrorist purposes. And the answer from our experts on intelligence was "no."
Source - 06 May 2002
[excerpt] The international security environment has changed, and our greatest threat comes not from the specter of nuclear war between two superpowers, as it did during the Cold War, but from transnational terrorist cells that will strike without warning using weapons of mass destruction. Every nation--not just the United States--has had to reassess its security situation and to decide where it stands on the war on terrorism.
In the past, the United States relied principally on passive measures to stem proliferation. Arms control and nonproliferation regimes, export controls, and diplomatic overtures were the primary tools used in this fight. But September 11, the subsequent anthrax attacks, and our discoveries regarding al-Qaeda and its WMD aspirations have required the U.S to complement these more traditional strategies with a new approach.
States that renounce terror and abandon WMD can become part of our effort. But those that do not can expect to become our targets.
The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support BW programs in those states.
Analysis - 06 May 2002
[excerpt] Since 1976, Israel had been the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. According to a November 2001 Congressional Research Service report, Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance, U.S. aid to Israel in the last half century has totaled a whopping $81.3 billion.
The use of U.S. weapons in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authority appears to be a clear violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act prohibiting U.S. weapons from being used for non-defensive purposes. The State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001, released in March 2002, stated that the IDF employed "excessive use of force" against the Palestinians, noting their use of live ammunition, even when not in imminent danger.
News - 29 April 2002
[excerpt] Senate leaders said Sunday there is broad support for toppling Saddam Hussein but that it is too early to take military action against Iraq. "We've got to win the war on terror, we've got to stabilize Afghanistan. We have to do all that we can to ensure that we succeed there before we take on another mission," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said.
News - 28 April 2002
[excerpt] Leading Pentagon officials are putting the final touches on a military plan to invade Iraq, perhaps as soon as this summer, according to two senior administration officials. Reports had indicated that the Defense Department would not support an invasion until this fall or the end of the year because of troop commitments elsewhere and back orders of weaponry. But the two officials said that top aides to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld would like to start the military campaign earlier, despite concerns within the State Department that an invasion would backfire by alienating the Arab world. The proposal, which advances the administration discussions on Iraq over two months, is expected to be presented to President Bush in the next few weeks.
News - 28 April 2002
[excerpt] The Bush administration, in developing a potential approach for toppling President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, is concentrating its attention on a major air campaign and ground invasion, with initial estimates contemplating the use of 70,000 to 250,000 troops... any offensive would probably be delayed until early next year, allowing time to create the right military, economic and diplomatic conditions.
The planning now anticipates the possible extensive use of bases for American forces in Turkey and Kuwait, with Qatar as the replacement for the sophisticated air operations center in Saudi Arabia, and with Oman and Bahrain playing important roles.
Commentary - 05 April 2002
[excerpt] So when Mr. Bush decided to attack Iraq, he was surprised to find all the Arab leaders saying that they won't support an attack on Iraq as long as the United States continues to allow the Israelis to trample on the rights of the Palestinians. He sends the vice president overseas, and Dick Cheney gets the same message. To save face, Cheney comes back and slyly resurrects the old canard that Arab leaders say one thing in public and the opposite in private. Notice, however, that Cheney did not say that any Arab leader either said or implied that he would support an attack on Iraq in private. No, Cheney, a master of double talk - as all experienced politicians are - said that in private "they expressed concern about Saddam Hussein." Hell, they've been expressing concern about him in public for years. But Cheney wanted to leave the impression that they secretly support the U.S. policy. They don't. Neither, for that matter, do most of the European countries.
So Bush belatedly discovers the Palestinian conflict and rushes people over to end it by at least restarting the peace process. Now he's discovering, though not yet admitting it publicly, that Israel's idea of partnership is for the United States to do what it says while it refuses to adopt any suggestions we make. Look, here are the facts: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the day he took office that he would not negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians. And during his entire time in office, he has refused to meet with Yasser Arafat and has engaged in a campaign to discredit Arafat and to break the spirit of the Palestinians. When the Saudi peace plan was proposed, he rejected it immediately. Israel, he said and still says, will never withdraw to the 1967 boundaries. Well, no withdrawal, no peace; no peace, no Arab cooperation with the U.S. scheme to overthrow Saddam.
News - 04 April 2002
[excerpt] Britain has scuttled plans to publish an intelligence dossier on Iraq's secret arms programs that it had planned to release on Washington's behalf. And Mr. Blair, traveling to Crawford, Tex. on Friday in his favorite role as the bridge between Europe and the United States, is confronting a gap so wide that it now prevents him from openly backing an American attack on Iraq. The decision to pull back the intelligence dossier came as the government has started to argue that public anxiety over Iraq is misplaced because there are no plans for any immediate action. One reported reason for withholding the document was that its release now would give the contrary impression and fuel more panic and anger. Government ministers who saw drafts of the dossier were reported to believe it was not convincing enough and would therefore not serve to calm critics of the need to act against Baghdad.
Commentary and Analysis - 02 April 2002
[excerpt] Sharon's master plan is clear. He seeks to...create small and disconnected Palestinian "Bantustans" forced to make their own separate deals with Israel on Israeli terms ( see West Bank, Palestine: Facts on the Ground, January 2000 ).
The guiding strategic vision is to completely isolate Palestinian population centers from one another and encourage local leaders to make their own deals with Israel as the price for ending the state of siege. The broader hope, openly proclaimed by many of Sharon's key ministers, is that the violence will encourage many Palestinians to flee their homes as part of a broader historic pattern of "ethnic cleansing" for Israel. Sharon's master plan guarantees the destruction of any real chance for a viable peace in the region. It will likely lead to an escalation of violence that is unprecedented in the history of the conflict. It is a recipe for permanent war and regional destabilization. It will not lead to greater security for average Israelis and will only heighten Palestinian desperation...
Analyis - 01 April 2002
[excerpt] Richard Haass, Director of Policy Planning for the State Department: "What you're seeing from this Administration is the emergence of a new principle or body of ideas (I'm not sure it constitutes a doctrine) about what you might call the limits of sovereignty. Sovereignty entails obligations. One is not to massacre your own people. Another is not to support terrorism in any way. If a government fails to meet these obligations, then it forfeits some of the normal advantages of sovereignty, including the right to be left alone inside your own territory. Other governments, including the United States, gain the right to intervene. In the case of terrorism, this can even lead to a right of preventive, or peremptory, self-defense. You essentially can act in anticipation if you have grounds to think it's a question of when, and not if, you're going to be attacked."
"Is there a successor idea to containment? I think there is," [Haass] said. "It is the idea of integration. The goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to persuade the other major powers to sign on to certain key ideas as to how the world should operate: opposition to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, support for free trade, democracy, markets. Integration is about locking them into these policies and then building institutions that lock them in even more."
News - 01 April 2002
[excerpt] ...[While] the summit's final statement "categorically" rejected a military strike against Baghdad, bigger gains came by way of a well-orchestrated series of diplomatic coups that President Saddam Hussein's regime unfolded in the presence of 22 countries in the Lebanese capital. First, in the face of U.S. threats, Iraq sought to consolidate reconciliation efforts with its Gulf neighbours by pledging in writing, for the first time, never to repeat its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Second, and equally if not more significant in the immediate context, Iraq's presidential envoy Izzat Ibrahim and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz hugged and kissed -- again the first such high-level public contact since the 1990 Gulf crisis, when Iraq had threatened to oust all "illegitimate Gulf monarchies" and Riyadh had allowed the United States to use its base to raid Baghdad.
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