Oil is at the heart of the crisis that leads towards a US war against Iraq. For more than a hundred years, major powers have battled to control this enormous source of wealth and strategic power. The major international oil companies, headquartered in the United States and the United Kingdom, are keen to regain control over Iraq’s oil, lost with the nationalization in 1972. Few outside the industry understand just how high the stakes in Iraq really are and how much the history of the world oil industry is a history of power, national rivalry and military force.
For the Global Policy Forum, James A. Paul writes:
Why Iraq’s Oil is so coveted by the big companies
Oil in Iraq is especially attractive to the big international oil companies because of three factors:
(1)high quality/high value product
Iraq’s oil is generally of high quality because it has attractive chemical properties, notably high carbon content, lightness and low sulfur content, that make it especially suitable for refining into the high-value products. For these reasons, Iraqi oil commands a premium on the world market.
Iraq’s oil is very plentiful. The country’s proven reserves in 2002 were listed at 112.5 billion barrels, about 11% of the world total. With little exploration since the nationalization of the industry in 1972, many promising areas remain unexplored. Experts believe that Iraq has potential reserves substantially above 200 billion barrels. The Energy Information Administration of the US Department of Energy has estimated that Iraqi reserves could possibly total over 400 billion barrels. If new exploration fulfills such high-end predictions, Iraq’s reserves could prove close to those of Saudi Arabia, now listed at 260 billion barrels but likely also to go considerably higher as well. The Department of Energy assessment says that:
“Iraq contains 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the second largest in the world (behind Saudi Arabia) along with roughly 220 billion barrels of probable and possible resources. Iraq’s true potential may be far greater than this, however, as the country is relatively unexplored due to years of war and sanctions. Deep oil-bearing formations located mainly in the vast Western Desert region, for instance, could yield large additional oil resources (possibly another 100 billion barrels), but have not been explored.” (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/iraq.html)
On May 22, 2002, Iraqi Senior Deputy Oil Minister gave an interview to Platts, a leading industry information source. Discussing Iraq’s estimates of its potential reserves, he told Platts that "The figure we reached and which is widely known, is that we could discover 214 billion barrels of oil in addition to the present proven reserve [of 112 billion]. We are sure of this figure as all available indications and scientific standards say. This means that we will exceed the 300 billion barrels when all Iraq's regions are explored."
Hamud indicated that more reserves were probably to be found. "We have also said on many occasions that we have indications of oil structures--these are only primary indications--estimated to be more than 560 reservoirs that could be oil fields that need digging, appraisal and which we believe have a high potential oil presence. We believe that when we prove all this, Iraq will be the number one holder of oil reserves in the world. We are highly confident of this."
According to Iraq oil expert Mohammad Al-Gallani at British-based GeoDesign Ltd, Iraq has 526 prospective drilling sites, of which only 125 have been drilled. Of those, 90 have proven potential as oil fields, but only 30 have been partially developed and just 12 are on stream. “You can imagine the huge potential that lies there for the future,” Al-Gallani told Canadian Press in a story datelined December 14, 2002.
As world demand for oil increases and as oil reserves in other areas decline at a fast rate, oil in Iraq will represent a steadily-larger proportion of the world’s total. If Iraq’s fields meet high-end estimates in the 3-400 billon barrel range, Iraq’s reserves could reach over 30% of total global reserves by mid-century or even before.
(3)exceptionally low production costs, yielding a high per barrel profit
The US Department of Energy states that “Iraq’s oil production costs are amongst the lowest in the world, making it a highly attractive oil prospect.” This is because Iraq’s oil comes in enormous fields that can be tapped by relatively shallow wells, producing a high “flow rate.” Iraq’s oil rises rapidly to the surface, because of high pressure on the oil reservoir from water and from associated natural gas deposits.
More than a third of Iraq’s current reserves lie just 600 meters (1800 feet) below the earth’s surface and some of Iraq’s fields are among the world’s largest. The fabulous Majnoun Field, not yet in production, is said to hold at least 25 billion barrels. According to Oil and Gas Journal, Western oil companies estimate that they can produce a barrel of Iraqi oil for less than $1.50 and possibly as little as $1, including all exploration, oilfield development and production costs and including a 15% return. This is similar to production costs in Saudi Arabia and lower than virtually any other country.
By way of comparison, a barrel of oil costs $5 to produce in other relatively low-cost areas like Malaysia and Oman. Production costs in Mexico and Russia might potentially be as low as $6-8 per barrel (higher under current production arrangements by local companies).
Offshore production areas like the North Sea, with expensive platforms, can run to $12-16 a barrel. In Texas and other US and Canadian fields, where deep wells and small reservoirs make production especially expensive, costs can run above $20 a barrel. When world market prices dip below $20 a barrel, the North American fields yield no profit at all, and many are capped, while production in an area like Iraq proves extremely profitable in all market conditions.
Oil companies' future profits (and share prices) depend on their control of reserves. In recent years, as older fields have begun to run out, the companies have faced rising “replacement” costs. According to a 2002 report by energy consultants John S. Herold, finding costs for new reserves rose 60% in 2001, pushing replacement costs to $5.31 a barrel. ExxonMobil, BP and Shell are facing this difficulty. Imagine the lure of the vast Iraqi fields, with little prospecting required, offering nearly free acquisition. As Fadel Gheit of Fahnstock & Co. in New York commented in an article in Dawn, Iraq “would be a logical place in the future for oil companies to replace their reserves.” http://www.dawn.com/2002/12/15/ebr12.htm Another expert called Iraq an “El Dorado” for the oil industry.
Estimating Profits in Iraq
Oil prices fluctuate widely, so any discussion of financial yield must be based on a long term average price estimate. For this discussion, we will use an average prices of $25 a barrel in real (inflation-adjusted) terms. This average is higher than the average price in recent years, but as oil becomes scarcer, the price should rise steadily and might well reach a far high level than $25. (During 2002, by way of reference, the price of oil has fluctuated between $20 and $30).
We will assume the level of Iraqi reserves at 250 billion barrels (a very conservative estimate) and recovery rates at 50% (also a very conservative estimate). Under those conditions, recoverable Iraqi oil would be worth altogether about $3.125 trillion. Assuming production costs of $1.50 a barrel (a high-end figure), total costs would be $188 billion, leaving a balance of $2.937 trillion as the difference between costs and sales revenues. Assuming a 50/50 split with the government and further assuming a production period of 50 years, the company profits per year would run to $29 billion. That huge sum is two-thirds of the $44 billion total profits earned by the world’s five major oil companies combined in 2001. If higher assumptions are used, annual profits might soar to as much as $50 billion per year.
Though such numbers are highly speculative, the oil companies themselves engage in similar exercises, as they develop their global strategies and plan for a flow of profits many years into the future. For instance, two Russian companies, Zarubeshneft and Rosneft, told journalists in 2002 that that they were preparing to develop Iraq’s Nahr Umr field that they estimated was worth about $570 billion. This estimate appears too high, based on our assumptions, but they suggest the order of magnitude. Reliable estimates for the value of the fabulous Majnoun field go up to $400 billion and beyond.
If diminishing supplies drive future prices steadily higher or if Iraq’s oil reserves prove to be much larger than 250 billion barrels, the profit yield might be considerably greater. On the other hand, a nationalist government in Baghdad that would demand a higher percentage split would reduce the profit potential, as would the development of major alternative energy sources and taxes on carbon-based fuels in response to global warming. Whatever the exact results, and assuming a U.S.-friendly government, it is clear that Iraq is a goldmine that is literally “worth fighting for” in the view of the big companies.
Iraqi Gas Reserves and Pipeline Routes
The same multinational companies that rule the oil industry are also in the natural gas business. Gas is increasingly popular because it burns with less particulate and has a lower carbon content per unit of energy output. Large gas reserves have been discovered in fields in northern Iraq and other gas fields may be found elsewhere in the country. Though Iraq’s gas may not prove to be as lucrative as its oil, this resource is also coveted by the companies and could be a source of additional multi-billion dollar profits. In December, 1996, Gaz de France and ENI of Italy formed a consortium to build a pipeline from the Iraqi fields to Turkey, a project that could eventually link up with the European gas grid. But because of the UN sanctions against Iraq, this project could not proceed. In post-war Iraq, the big US-UK companies will seek gas production and transport deals along with oil deals, in hopes of snatching these lucrative prospects away from continental European competitors. Other pipeline projects, to bring gas from Qatar and other Gulf states through Iraq to the European market, are also under study and offer huge profits to whichever companies get permission to build them.
New Oil Company Strategy Aims to Regain Dominance in Production
After the nationalizations that swept the oil producing countries, beginning with Iraq’s nationalization in 1972, the oil multinationals lost much of their role in production, known in the oil business as “upstream.” Forced to abandon the cornucopia of profits in the Middle East (and to buy Middle East oil on the world market), they developed alternative production in such areas as the North Sea and the West Coast of Africa where production costs were higher and profits lower. They had to shift much of their profit-making to “downstream” activities such as transportation (tankers and pipelines), refining, petrochemicals and retailing. Major national oil companies (such as Kuwait and Venezuela) pursued downstream strategies as well, however, leading to overcapacity and falling rates of return.
By the mid-1990s, the companies began to revise their strategy towards a return to upstream, crude-oil production, pressing oil producing governments to offer production-related arrangements that could give the multinationals a direct share in crude reserves. Such ideas proved controversial and contrary to nationalist public sentiment in the producing countries.
By the end of the 1990s, however, oil-producing governments were mired in political crises, due to corruption, wars, and civil unrest. In Venezuela, Iraq, Algeria, Iran, and other producer countries, the US government appeared to be involved in destabilization measures, deepening existing social instability and what some scholars call “the crisis of the rentier state." Facing domestic unrest and oil production problems, the nationalized companies confront the need for large new investments to preserve production in older fields and to prospect for new reserves. But corrupt and instable governments want to take all the oil revenue stream, leaving little left over for investments. The multinationals argue that their enormous finances, greater technical competence and lower production costs could benefit producer governments, but behind these technocratic arguments lies the threat of further foreign destabilization and even direct military intervention. Clearly, the companies hope to roll the clock back to the “good old days” when they ruled the oil business and gave producer governments only a very small share.
Effects of US-Dominated Iraq on Other Oil Producer Governments
A U.S. client government in Baghdad – or a U.S. military occupation government – would doubtless hand out upstream production concessions to US-UK companies that would set an important precedent in the world oil industry, tipping the balance of power in favor of the companies and away from the producer states. In this way, the war against Iraq would have an effect on the oil industry that would go far beyond the borders of Iraq.
Oil analysts believe that a US-controlled Iraqi government would quickly make deals with the companies for privatized production. Such deals, though possibly agreed-to in advance of the war, would be justified by the new government on the basis that only the companies would be able to quickly resume post-war production, in order to resume exports and buy critical food, medicines, and other humanitarian goods. Further, Iraq’s huge needs to rebuild its post-war infrastructure would lead towards high production.
Even before Iraq had reached its full production potential of 8 million barrels or more per day, the companies would gain huge leverage over the international oil system. OPEC would be weakened by the withdrawal of one of its key producers from the OPEC quota system. Indeed, OPEC might face the paradox that a US military government of occupation in Iraq would be an OPEC member! Alternatively, such a government might pull out of the producers’ cartel.
This would put pressure on all major oil producers like Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to de-nationalize their oil companies and offer US-UK companies new concessions or production-sharing agreements that could lead to far higher company profits in these areas. Iran has already made some deals based on a 50/50 split and Saudi Arabia has returned to production sharing in its emerging gas business. US military presence in the Gulf and US clandestine operations to overthrow nationalist governments such as Chavez in Venzuela would increase the pressure. Privatization, even if incomplete, could yield additional tens of billions of profits to the oil companies and would weaken and even destabilize the major oil-producing states. Oil prices might be lowered temporarily to achieve this purpose, then raised later on when a new company-friendly order had been established.
Competition among the Multinational Oil Companies
Five companies dominate the international oil industry, four of them based in the US and the UK. The largest, US-based Exxon Mobil, was the world’s most profitable company in 2001 ($15 billion in profits) and the largest industrial company in terms of revenue. The three other companies in order of size are: BP Amoco (UK), Royal Dutch Shell (UK), and Chevron Texaco (US). France’s TotalElfFina ranks in fifth place. Predecessors of these firms controlled nearly all of the Iraq Petroleum Company from the discovery of oil in the late 1920s until nationalization in 1972. The British firms held half of the company, reflecting the dominant colonial position of the UK at that time in the region.
After nationalization, the Iraqis sought to gain greater control of their oil resources. They shunned the UK and US companies, while developing working relationships with French companies and the (Soviet) Russian government.. Just before the Gulf War (1990-91), Japanese companies negotiated for production-sharing contracts in Iraq and were said to have concluded a deal for the Majnoun field, but that deal collapsed due to the US-led war and the subsequent sanctions. During the 1990s, various firms negotiated with the Iraqis in hopes of gaining access to Iraqi oil once the sanctions were lifted. Shell, and possibly other US-UK companies held secret talks that did not succeed. In 1997 TotalFinaElf, China National Oil Company, and Lukoil of Russia signed agreements with the Iraqis for deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Lukoil’s deal concerned development of the West Qurna field, while TotalFinaElf obtained rights to Majnoun and China Nations to North Rumailah (the latter is the huge field that lies astride the border with Kuwait). A number of smaller companies, mostly Russian but also from Malaysia and other countries, got contracts at about this time.
The US-UK companies, keen to regain their former dominance in Iraq, fear that they would lose their leading role in the world oil industry if these contracts with their competitors come to fruition. France and Russia pose the biggest threat, but serious competitors from China, Germany, Italy and Japan also are players in this sweepstakes. China is especially keen to gain a stake in the region’s oil reserves because its rapid economic growth is pushing up its oil consumption. Chinese economists estimate that China may have to import as much as 5.5 million barrels a day from the Gulf by 2020.
The US-UK companies strongly favored the sanctions, as a means to hold their competitors at bay (and hold down excess production on the world market), but weakening sanctions in the late 1990s threatened their future prosperity. The companies are nervous but enthusiastic about Washington’s war option, for it seems to be the only means left to oust their rivals and establish a dominant presence in the fabulously profitable future of Iraq oil production.
It appears that the Washington has used its post-war control over Iraqi oil to win over opposition in the UN Security Council. Discussions over access to future oil production in Iraq have apparently been going on between Washington, London, Moscow, Paris and Beijing and also between the companies directly. Many news stories have suggested that these parleys have taken place and statements by government leaders have underscored the importance of the oil issue.
"We will review all these agreements, definitely," said Faisal Qaragholi to a Washington Post reporter in September. Quaragholi is a petroleum engineer who directs the London office of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an umbrella organization of opposition groups that is backed by the United States. "Our oil policies should be decided by a government in Iraq elected by the people."
Ahmed Chalabi, the INC leader, went even further, saying he favored the creation of a U.S.-led consortium to develop Iraq's oil fields, which have deteriorated under more than a decade of sanctions. "American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil," Chalabi said. Such statements have deepened the fears of the non-US-UK companies and pressured them to go along with the US war plans in order to get a share of the post-war concessions.
Business news agency Reuters, in a story datelined December 15, 2002, put the matter bluntly when it wrote “Iraq's crude reserves, the world's second largest after Saudi Arabia, are at the center of a tug-of-war between countries hoping to grab a share of Baghdad's oil wealth once United Nations sanctions are lifted.”
Free Market Forces vs. Government Intervention and Military Might
The specially high rate of profit (or “rent” as it is sometimes called by economists who study the oil sector) results from the unusual monopolistic structure of the oil industry and its unusual pricing system. From the earliest days in the 1870s, when John D. Rockeller built the Standard Oil Trust, a relatively small number of major companies have controlled world production and prices. These companies have tried to keep prices and production at a controlled level – to maximize their profits. The industry has always relied on close ties to governments. Governments have helped to maintain favorable market conditions, to promote managed pricing and to help the companies gain new sources of supply in foreign lands.
In the early decades, the Standard Oil Trust completely dominated the international oil markets, and US production represented a very large share of the world’s total. During World War I, US oil supplied an estimated 80% of the Allies’ needs. But by the end of the war, the British had built alternative companies – the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later BP) and Royal Dutch Shell, which together controlled more than half of the world’s oil reserves. US companies feared that the British, through exclusionary policies in their empire, were going to dominate the world’s oil industry. British government purchase of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now BP) in 1914 confirmed these fears. And British firms’ leading role in Venezuela brought the competition right into the backyard of the American companies.
Throughout the inter-war period and up to the present the US and the UK have dominated the international oil industry, always in rivalry but also in collusion. The companies in these two countries have towered above those of all other nations. Bids by Japan, Germany, Italy, Russia and France to gain a major stake in the industry have largely failed, though a single large French company remains the sole challenger today to Anglo-American domination.
The Anglo-American companies have always sought to manage global oil output, though collusive agreements. In 1928, they reached the famous “Red Line Agreement” on joint action in the Middle East and the “Achanarry Agreement” to divide up (and avoid competition in) international markets. These agreements have maintained the extraordinary “rent” of Middle East producers, while supporting continued high-cost production in the United States and Canada. If oil markets functioned “normally,” production would increase in the low-cost areas like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq, driving out of business the low-cost producers in North America, but this has not been the case.
Because of the enormous value of oil concessions and the high “rent” that results from low-cost fields, oil concessions are rarely allocated on a purely “market” basis. The companies typically win the most lucrative concessions through their host governments’ political and military power.
Imperial Control and Local Opposition: Will the US Iraq Plan Succeed?
The long, bitter experience of oil producing countries with the US-UK companies has left behind an anger and militancy in local politics that hinders the companies’ efforts to re-organize the “upstream” system. Such feelings run deep in Iraqi politics, going back to British seizure of Iraq after World War I and the bloody repression (including the use of poison gas) that crushed the nationalist revolt of 1920. British leaders fulminated against "Turkish misrule" in Iraq, but their own rule proved equally odious to Iraqis seeking independence and democracy.
Iraqis also remember the way the companies treated the country after it gained its independence and how the companies held Iraqi production down, to manage international supply and price levels. Iraqi’s also remember the fierce company resistance to Iraqi proposals for new exploration contracts in the 1960s. Such sentiments would doubtless not change after the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
These feelings are magnified by US support for Israel and by the long, punishing US-UK-UN sanctions. The US-UK would thus find it very politically difficult to create an indigenous post-Saddam government that would agree to a sweetheart deal for the US-UK companies. For this reason, the US-UK have announced that they are planning a military government that will “purge” Iraqi politics of its Baathist and nationalist elements and remain in power more than a year or as long as necessary. Though the US-UK official announcements speak about “human rights” and “democracy,” it would appear that the main goal of the war and “regime change” is to carry out the oil deals and re-fashion Iraqi politics on a new and more conciliatory and pro-US basis. Scenarios circulating in Washington talk about rapid military seizure of the oil fields, rebuilding oil infrastructure and protecting the oil production system from the negative effects of local politics.
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Oil is at the heart of the crisis that leads towards a US war against Iraq. For more than a hundred years, major powers have battled to control this enormous source of wealth and strategic power. The major international oil companies, headquartered in the United States and the United Kingdom, are keen to regain control over Iraq’s oil, lost with the nationalization in 1972. Few outside the industry understand just how high the stakes in Iraq really are and how much the history of the world oil industry is a history of power, national rivalry and military force.
In the Psychiatric Bulletin, "Mental Health Care in Cuba" (S.R. Collinson, Lecturer, Bartholomew's and the London Medical School, West Smithfield, EC1A 7BE, T. H. Turner, Consultant Psychiatrist and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Homerton Hospital):
Given the marginal nature of psychiatry in terms of Western health priorities, it is always worth reviewing how countries with clearly different political systems treat their mentally ill. The 40-year economic embargo imposed by the USA on Cuba, the effects of which have been compounded by the hardships suffered during the ‘Special Period’ from 1989 onwards when the collapse of the Soviet Union left the island's economy in ruins (Pilling, 2001), is one of the most stringent of its kind. It prohibits the sale of food, and sharply restricts the sale of medicines and medical equipment, which, given the USA's pre-eminence in the pharmaceutical industry, effectively bars Cuba from purchasing nearly half of the new world class drugs on the market (Rojas Ochoa, 1997). Between 1989 and 1993, Cuba's gross domestic product fell by 35% and exports declined by 75% (Pan American Health Organisation, 1999). This has reduced the availability of resources and has adversely affected some health determinants and certain aspects of the population's health status. Despite this, however, Cuba has developed a system prioritised to primary and preventive care, with an infant mortality rate half that of the city of Washington, DC (World Health Organization & Pan American Health Organization, 1997; Casas et al, 2001). Furthermore, biotechnology and family medicine are being developed by Cuba as a human resource for other developing countries. Cuban medical schools also train physicians specifically for many developing countries around the world (Waitzkin et al, 1997).
The Cuban constitution makes health care a right of every citizen and the responsibility of the government. The national health system is based on universal coverage and comprehensive care, with free preventive, curative and rehabilitation services. Drugs and medical aids are charged for, but prices are low and subsidised by the state. Despite the imposition of the US embargo in 1961, Castro's Government has consistently invested both human and financial resources in the health care system. Thus, the doctor per population ratio has risen steadily during the past 25 years, with 60 000 now in practice: one doctor for every 214 Cubans, the world's best doctor—patient ratio (Garfield & Santana 1997). Family medicine specialists practising in the local community serve more than 90% of the population. There are currently 272 hospitals and 442 poly-clinics. New health projects for 2001 include the development of four mental health centres and a psychiatric occupational health therapy complex. In general, and in keeping with the tenets of ‘revolutionary medicine’ (Guevara, 1987), mental health services are oriented not only toward the biomedical aspects of mental health, but also toward promotion of health, prevention of mental illness and, importantly, social rehabilitation. It was against this context that in January 2001 we accepted an invitation to visit the Hospital Psiquiátrico de la Habana (HPH), known locally as Mazorra, located in a western suburb of the capital, Havana.
The original hospital was founded in 1853 and, as with European asylums, was designed to be outside the city. On our arrival, we approached the hospital along a wide avenue that led to the main building, which was dated 1930, and displayed the legend Casa de Dementes above the entrance door. The hospital itself covers some 7 hectares and consists in the main of single storey buildings surrounded by spacious lawns and flowerbeds. A band was playing underneath a pergola, and apparently practises there regularly, although its members are not part of the patient population. The layout of the hospital is reminiscent of the ‘pavilion’ system of, for example, the Bethlem Royal Hospital in England, and of colonial asylums around the world.
Until 1959, HPH was the only public psychiatric hospital in Cuba. Prior to that time the only other psychiatric facilities were private clinics. The doctors we met were reluctant to talk about the pre-1959 era, as this was considered a dark time, when the hospital was compared to a lunatic house, or even a concentration camp. We were, however, shown around an extensive archive of the hospital's history, and photographs and artefacts from this time certainly bore out these statements. The photographs of the hospital from 1859 onwards formed an anthology that moved from images of colonial paternalism, through the neglect and despair of the Batista years, to the humanitarian transformation that took place under Castro's régime. The photographs from 1959 onwards show clean, white-clothed patients helping to build their own new hospital.
The transformation of the hospital was deemed a priority by the new Castro Government, and the current Director, Dr Eduardo B. Ordaz Ducungè (now aged 78), was chosen for this task because of his ‘very humane behaviour’. Originally an anaesthetist, he had been fighting with Che Guevara in the jungles of the Sierra Maestra, and the day after arriving in Havana with the victorious guerrillas, after the collapse of the Batista régime, Fidel Castro put him in charge of the hospital. When the Director and his team arrived at the hospital on 9 January 1959, they found 6000 ‘unclassified’ patients, that is to say, none of them had a clear diagnosis. Furthermore, these 6000 patients were incarcerated in a 2000-bed hospital, with the result that many of them were living on the floors of the wards and corridors. As was evident from the photographs in the archive, conditions were clearly atrocious. Patients were tied to beds with ropes and manacles, and most of the beds were iron-framed and without mattresses. Many patients were locked away behind iron bars. Few had adequate clothing; some had none. A range of physical disorders, including leprosy, were endemic, and there was, of course, a wide mix of psychiatric presentations (learning disability, neurological conditions, psychosis, etc). There was also a special ward for the children of patients (who were actively procreating).
Under the leadership of Dr Ducungè, a team of psychiatrists and psychologists set about trying to classify the patients and reform the hospital, and in the 1960s a group went to Europe, to acquire expertise in new treatment approaches. A particular innovation they picked up on was the rehabilitation model, principally because of their experiences in France and Spain. It is clear that these are the two European countries that have developed the closest professional contacts with psychiatrists in Cuba. There is in fact a Cuban—French Psychology and Psychiatry Association, which holds regular meetings to promote exchanges between specialists in the two countries, and to encourage scientific cooperation.
The current situation
We were told that today HPH has some 2000 in-patients, and about another 2000 attending on a day or community basis. It is one of the three major psychiatric hospitals in Cuba, the others (in Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba) both having about 500-600 beds each. Each of Cuba's 14 regions also have a psychiatric unit, attached to the general hospital, and usually with about 20-30 beds. Most of the patients in HPH had long-term schizophrenic illnesses, requiring rehabilitation, and that was very much the kind of patient we saw.
Altogether, there are about 1000 psychiatrists in Cuba, about 200 of whom are child psychiatrists. The training programme involves 6 years as a medical student, 3 years of general medicine (internships), followed by 3 years of specialist psychiatric training. There are also a number of grades among the psychiatrists themselves, and presently there are eight professors of psychiatry in Cuba, with two senior ‘titular’ professors based in Havana. There are 150 doctors working in HPH, 50 of whom are non-psychiatrists. It was noteworthy that the hospital had its own ‘somatic’ clinic. Facilities included X-ray, electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram and other physical assessments, but patients needing an operation required transfer to a general hospital. The psychiatric hospital itself covers all specialities, including acute and emergency, as well as forensic and rehabilitation. It does not take older patients (over 65), but does quite clearly receive a significant forensic load. Our senior guide was actually a forensic psychiatrist.
In terms of the general treatment approach, it seems that most patients in the hospital were there on a non-voluntary basis (brought in under the Cuban version of the Mental Health Act), although there were some voluntary patients. The reverse is true for the psychiatric units attached to the general hospitals, in which most of the patients are voluntary. The process of bringing someone into hospital is very similar to that in the UK. It requires the signatures of two psychiatrists, one of whom must be the psychiatrist in the receiving hospital, and a family member. Initially an order is for 72 hours. A commission reviews those patients detained for a longer period every third month. The last Cuban Mental Health Act was passed in 1983, with an enhancement in 1984. Our guides mentioned that their process was modelled on the Canadian system. They also talked about the ethical background to their legislation, and referred to a list of patients' rights and the principle of consent.
Treatment was generally eclectic, combining rehabilitation, social therapies, occupational therapy and medication (Pan American Health Organization & World Health Organization, 1998). Our guides talked of ‘social therapy linked to the pharmacotherapies’, as well as socialist transformation and other Marxist accounts that informed their understanding of mental illness. They felt that their occupational therapy, for example, went beyond mere ‘ergotherapy’, and was aimed at generating both emotional and social benefits, a major improvement, in their view, over the more limited approaches used in North America or Europe. They also use electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), considering it to be a very effective therapy, although they agreed that the profession in Cuba was quite divided about ECT (‘50/50’), not unlike the profession elsewhere.
The drugs available to them seem to be general (e.g. standard antipsychotics and antidepressants), but they have only a very limited number of atypicals. They mentioned olanzapine, but seem to have to rely on help from certain hospitals and institutions in France and Spain, who channel medications to them. They do seem to have fluoxetine regularly available as an antidepressant, as well as the usual tricyclics. It should also be noted that the hospital has a high staff—patient ratio with, in total, about 2000 members of staff. These seemed to be well-trained and interacting enthusiastically with the patients. We saw occupational therapists and nurses engaged in a range of activities, including sports, music therapy (psycho-ballet), hair-dressing, language and numeracy classes, foot massage and handicrafts. We also attended a musical show put on by the patients.
In relation to other diagnoses apart from the psychoses, they see little anorexia or bulimia nervosa. The hospital has a drug dependency unit (DDU), but this is largely for foreigners. Most of the patients in the DDU are Spanish speakers, from countries such as Venezuela and Colombia. This seems to be a way of bringing in an additional income. There is apparently not much drug misuse in Cuba (antidrug laws are very severe), but recently the doctors have begun to see cocaine-dependent patients. Inevitably, their biggest problem is alcohol, as rum is widely available and quite cheap. The regimen in the DDU is based on intensive group therapy, a model used elsewhere in the world.
In terms of community outreach, a number of patients go home at the weekends, and many others come in as day patients, for occupational therapy and other activities. There was also a ‘night ward’, where patients who went off site during the day — often because they had jobs — would return to sleep. It seems that there are community-based teams throughout the Havana region (consisting of some 3 million people) who do most of the community care. Each patient does have an assigned social worker, but it was difficult to clarify the actual training of these. It is also of note that medical students come and live on site for 2 months, in one of the pavilions, when they do their psychiatry firm. Typically, however, psychiatry is not a high status specialism within the medical profession.
When asked about ‘untoward incidents’ in the community, the doctors said that these were not really a problem for psychiatrists. They said at first that this was because ‘we don't have lawyers to attack the psychiatrists’. They conceded that there might be a problem if a forensic patient was let out without full consultation with the whole team, and in defiance of the legal ruling. They mentioned the notion of a patient not being evaluated correctly, and of the importance of ethical practices. They felt there was a difference between their approach and that of psychiatrists in a capitalist society, in so far as in the latter any decision about discharge implied some sort of ‘responsibility’.
They discharge patients into the community, and the community organises follow-up and tries to prevent relapse in the usual way. They mentioned a recent famous case that had involved a well-known actress killing her daughter and then killing herself while actually being ‘evaluated’ (presumably while in hospital). She was, it emerged, suffering from a psychotic illness. However, these tragic events did not provoke a huge outbreak in the press. They gave as reasons for this: first the fact that their press ‘does not want that, and it's not a big scandal’; but also that there was a sense that they did not let ‘the media take power’ in terms of what happens. Thus, it simply was not ‘a matter of news’.
While at HPH, we walked past a half-built building, originally planned as a new forensic unit. The money for this had, however, run out, and the building was going to be completed, at a reduced cost, as a theatre for the patients' use. There is a visible lack of resources throughout Cuba, but the Cuban government has begun to address this with great resourcefulness. It has realised the marketable value of a highly trained medical workforce situated in a beautiful location. Cubanacan, the state tourism company, has openly developed a thriving health tourism service, which has turned into a tourist sub-system in itself. It provides primary care in the form of physicians at hotels and international clinics; secondary care in clinics and hospitals offering specialised medical care in a wide range of disciplines, including surgery and dentistry; and a large number of goods in the field of medical products, pharmacology and optics.
Among the clinics and centres promoted by Cubanacan are several that specialise in the treatment of drug and alcohol misuse; and of degenerative and neurological conditions. The health tourism industry also offers ‘centres to improve the quality of life’. These include `thermal centres, aesthetic centres and thalassotherapy centres, where tourists can receive ‘executive checkups, stress control, general biological restoration, and sleeping disorders control’. Although a majority of the health tourists are from Spanish speaking countries, an increasing number are arriving from North America.
Our general impression from the visit to HPH was of a positive attitude towards mental health, with much work being done in order to destigmatise those with mental illness. However, it was agreed by the doctors that some families did still cover up mental illness, and that others would resort to traditional remedies if they felt that conventional medicine was not working. The doctors themselves were enthusiastic about their work, although biologically orientated. The sceptical Westerner might consider whether we were being presented with a ‘show piece’, but the overall feel of the hospital was of a caring and well-organised institution. Fidel Castro's 42-year régime has been notable for its drive to eradicate poverty, hunger and disease through a comprehensive social welfare programme. For this psychiatric hospital, having one of Castro's oldest comrades as Director may well have further ensured that vital resources were forthcoming. A lesson perhaps in realpolitik for mental health workers of the world?
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GARFIELD, R. & SANTANA, S. (1997) The impact of the economic crisis and the US embargo on health in Cuba. American Journal of Public Health, 87(1), 15-20.[Abstract]
GUEVARA, E. C. (1987) Speech on ‘Revolutionary Medicine’ given in Havana, August 19, 1960. In Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution: Writings and Speeches of Ernesto Che Guevara. New York: Pathfinder/Pacific & Asian Press.
PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION (1999) Improving the health of the peoples of the Americas. Epidemiological Bulletin, 21(4), 206-219.
PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION & WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (1998) Health in the Americas: Improving the Health of the Peoples of the Americas. Technical Report. Washington, DC: PAHO & WHO.
PILLING, D. (2001) Cuba's medical revolution. Financial Times Weekend, January 13-14, p. 10.
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WAITZKIN, H., WALD, K., KEE, R., et al (1997) Primary care in Cuba: low- and high-technology developments pertinent to family medicine. Journal of Family Practice, 45(3), 250-258.[Medline]
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION & PAN AMERICAL HEALTH ORGANIZATION (1997) American Association for World Health Report Executive summary. Denial of food and medicine: the impact of the US embargo on the health and nutrition in Cuba. American Association for World Health Quarterly, 1-11.
Thursday, October 31, 2002
The ubiquitous vegetable is wreaking havoc on everything from public health to foreign policy, argues writer Michael Pollan
The Christian Science Monitor reports:
Food may well be one of the biggest stories of the new century.
Witness the extensive news coverage of mad cow disease and E.coli contamination, and the controversies over growth hormones and genetic engineering. Modern-day Upton Sinclairs like Eric Schlossinger have given us exposés on the beef and fast-food industries. And the organic revolution has reached adulthood, with its coming out party on the cover of Newsweek last month.
So important has the food story become that the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, recently invited scientists, farmers, and government officials to talk to journalists about industrial food production, food-borne pathogens, and other issues in food writing.
Among those panelists was Michael Pollan – well-known for his groundbreaking books that explore the relationship between humans and nature. In "The Botany of Desire," Mr. Pollan looks at his garden in Connecticut and sees scheming arugula and plotting asparagus. We humans might think we control our agriculture and engineer our environment, but Pollan argues that plants use us as much as we use them. He follows the trail of the apple and the tulip to show how they cleverly manipulated American frontiersmen and Dutch merchants to extend their domain.
One plant has gone too far, however, according to the author. Pollan accuses corn of wreaking havoc on everything from public health to foreign policy.
Corn's place in the US economy is secure, judging by Congress's approval this spring of an unprecedented $190 billion farm-subsidy package. One of its largest beneficiaries was corn growers.
In an interview, Pollan talked about why he says that this brazen vegetable is calling the shots.
What exactly led you to corn?
When you see that a plant has taken over – like grasses and lawns, and like corn – it has somehow manipulated us. We're doing its evolutionary job, spreading it around, because it's made itself attractive to us. Corn is like this second great American lawn – I mean miles and miles of it, all through the Midwest, and even where I live in Connecticut. This plant is so successful. And the productivity of corn is astonishing. The reason is that it responds very well to fertilizer. We've gotten the yield per acre from 20 bushels a hundred years ago to 160 now.
Why is the productivity of corn a problem?
We're producing way too much corn. So, we make corn sweeteners. High-fructose corn sweeteners are everywhere. They've completely replaced sugar in sodas and soft drinks. They make sweet things cheaper. We also give it to animals. Corn explains everything about the cattle industry. It explains why we have to give [cattle] antibiotics, because corn doesn't agree with their digestive system. It explains why we have this E.coli 0157 problem, because the corn acidifies their digestive system in such a way that these bacteria can survive.
And we subsidize this overproduction. We structure the subsidies to make corn very, very cheap, which encourages farmers to plant more and more to make the same amount of money. The argument is that it helps us compete internationally. The great beneficiaries are the processors that are using corn domestically. We're subsidizing obesity. We're subsidizing the food-safety problems associated with feedlot beef. It's an absolutely irrational system. The people who worry about public health don't have any control over agricultural subsidies. The USDA is not thinking about public health. The USDA is thinking about getting rid of corn. And, helping [businesses] to be able to make their products more cheaply – whether it's beef or high-fructose corn syrup. Agribusiness gives an immense amount of funding to Congress.
What about corn growers?
To pull out of that system for them is very hard. It depends on where they live. They should be diversifying and growing other things, niche crops, and getting away from commodities. It's very hard to compete with agricultural commodities. Somebody [at the Berkeley conference] said that 40 percent of farm income is represented by subsidies. Say the farmer could make more money doing strawberries. There's no subsidy for that. So he's taking an enormous risk, and he's giving up for all time his corn subsidy.
What about economies of scale? We've been able to feed more people, democratize meat.
I don't know if democratizing beef is a good thing. The industry can always make the popular arguments, because they certainly make things cheaper. But is it really cheap? Think of the taxpayer, who's actually subsidizing every one of those burgers. All that corn requires an immense amount of fossil fuel. Corn requires more fertilizers and pesticides than other crops. It takes the equivalent of half a gallon of gasoline to grow every bushel of corn. [Almost] everything we do to protect our oil supply ... is a cost of that burger.
And then there are the health costs. It's not really good for us. Corn-fed beef has much more saturated fat. So, yeah, it's cheap, if you only look at the price tag.
You talked about how you were encouraged by the idea of engineering corn so it could be a perennial.
I have no problem with interfering with nature. We live in places where we can only live by changing the environment. This is the human condition, and I don't think that's bad. It's working with nature. It's taking the prairie and figuring out a way to get food out of [it] without having to plow, without having to break the sod. If you could make corn and wheat and rice perennials rather than annuals, you would just come and mow it, and get your food that way, instead of having to tear it up every year. That could help end world hunger.
Many people read your book and think of ... Thoreau.
Like him, I'm interested in looking at my relationship with the natural world, and doing it in my backyard rather than wandering around in Yosemite or the Amazon. And he used his everyday experiences to explore his connections to the much larger world. However, I see us as having much more participation in the natural world. I don't have as much of a sense of opposition between nature and culture. At this point, I think we have more to learn by looking at the working landscape: farms and gardens. I think we have said all we can say about the 8 percent of this country that's untouched. It's still very important. However, there is this other 92 percent. We need models of how to take care of that.
You talk about ending our love affair with the lawn.
I call it in my first book a totalitarian landscape. You have wilderness on one side and the lawn on the other end. I don't think you choose between them. You work on that middle answer. Even though we think we are subjugating those lawns, we're probably doing exactly what they want us to do. Because, if you're a lawn, what do you want? You want some creature to come along every week and mow you so the trees won't come back. So, in fact we're dupes of our lawns.
Do you have any corn in your garden?
Not this year. I have a big raccoon problem. As soon as the corn gets ripe, they come in and steal it. So I guess corn isn't winning in every way. But it may be in the corn's interest to have a raccoon eat it, because they're so wasteful. They leave more seed around.
There's corn in that?
• Of 10,000 items in a typical grocery store, at least 2,500 use corn in some form during production or processing.
• Your bacon and egg breakfast, glass of milk at lunch, or hamburger for supper were all produced with US corn.
• Besides food for human and livestock consumption, corn is used in paint, paper products, cosmetics, tires, fuel, plastics, textiles, explosives, and wallboard – among other things.
• In the US, corn leads all other crops in value and volume of production – more than double that of any other crop.
• Corn is America's chief crop export, with total bushels exported exceeding total bushels used domestically for food, seed, and industrial purposes.
Sources: www.campsilos.org; www.public.iastate.edu; www.ontariocorn.org
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Transcript of Hillary Clinton's comments before voting yes to authorize Bush to use military force against Iraq:
Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from West Virginia for his courtesy. By far beyond that, I thank him for his leadership and his eloquence and his passion and commitment to this body and to our Constitution. I join with the remarks by both the Senators from Michigan and Maryland, expressing our appreciation for the way in which he has waged this battle on behalf of his convictions. It is a lesson to us all.
Today, Mr. President, we are asked whether to give the President of the United States authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program.
I am honored to represent nearly 19 million New Yorkers, a thoughtful democracy of voices and opinions who make themselves heard on the great issues of our day, especially this one. Many have contacted my office about this resolution, both in support of and in opposition to it. I am grateful to all who have expressed an opinion.
I also greatly respect the differing opinions within this body. The debate they engender will aid our search for a wise, effective policy. Therefore, on no account should dissent be discouraged or disparaged. It is central to our freedom and to our progress, for on more than one occasion history has proven our great dissenters to be right.
I believe the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who has tortured and killed his own people, even his own family members, to maintain his iron grip on power. He used chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and on Iranians, killing over 20,000 people.
Unfortunately, during the 1980s, while he engaged in such horrific activity, he enjoyed the support of the American Government because he had oil and was seen as a counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.
In 1991, Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait, losing the support of the United States. The first President Bush assembled a global coalition, including many Arab States, and threw Saddam out after 43 days of bombing and hundreds of hours of ground operations. The United States led the coalition, then withdrew, leaving the Kurds and the Shiites, who had risen against Saddam Hussein at our urging, to Saddam's revenge.
As a condition for ending the conflict, the United Nations imposed a number of requirements on Iraq , among them disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction, stocks used to make such weapons, and laboratories necessary to do the work. Saddam Hussein agreed and an inspection system was set up to ensure compliance. Though he repeatedly lied, delayed, and obstructed the inspectors' work, the inspectors found and destroyed far more weapons of mass destruction capability than were destroyed in the gulf war, including thousands of chemical weapons, large volumes of chemical and biological stocks, a number of missiles and warheads, a major lab equipped to produce anthrax and other bioweapons, as well as substantial nuclear facilities.
In 1998, Saddam Hussein pressured the United Nations to lift the sanctions by threatening to stop all cooperation with the inspectors. In an attempt to resolve the situation, the U.N., unwisely in my view, agreed to put limits on inspections of designated sovereign sites, including the so-called Presidential palaces--which in reality were huge compounds, well suited to hold weapons labs, stocks, and records which Saddam Hussein was required by U.N. resolution to turn over.
When Saddam blocked the inspection process, the inspectors
left. As a result, President Clinton, with the British and others, ordered an intensive 4-day air assault, Operation Desert Fox, on known and suspected weapons of mass destruction sites and other military targets.
In 1998, the United States also changed its underlying policy toward Iraq from containment to regime change and began to examine options to effect such a change, including support for Iraqi opposition leaders within the country and abroad. In the 4 years since the inspectors, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capability to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East which, as we know all too well, affects American security.
This much is undisputed. The open questions are: What should we do about it? How, when, and with whom?
Some people favor attacking Saddam Hussein now, with any allies we can muster, in the belief that one more round of weapons inspections would not produce the required disarmament and that deposing Saddam would be a positive good for the Iraqi people and would create the possibility of a secular, democratic state in the Middle East, one which could, perhaps, move the entire region toward democratic reform.
This view has appeal to some because it would assure disarmament; because it would right old wrongs after our abandonment of the Shiites and Kurds in 1991 and our support for Saddam Hussein in the 1980s when he was using chemical weapons and terrorizing his people; and because it could give the Iraqi people a chance to build a future in freedom.
However, this course is fraught with danger.
We and our NATO allies did not depose Mr. Milosevic, who was responsible for more than a quarter of million people being killed in the 1990s. Instead, by stopping his aggression in Bosnia and Kosovo, and keeping the tough sanctions, we created the conditions in which his own people threw him out and led to his being in the dock and being tried for war crimes as we speak.
If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. In recent days, Russia has talked of an invasion of Georgia to attack Chechen rebels. India has mentioned the possibility of a preemptive strike on Pakistan. What if China should perceive a threat from Taiwan?
So, for all its appeal, a unilateral attack, while it cannot be ruled out, is not a good option.
Others argue that we should work through the United Nations and should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it. This too has great appeal for different reasons. The United Nations deserves our support. Whenever possible we should work through it and strengthen it, for it enables the world to share the risks and burdens of global security and when it acts, it confers a legitimacy that increases the likelihood of long-term success. The United Nations can lead the world into a new era of global cooperation. And the United States should support that goal.
But there are problems with this approach as well. The United Nations is an organization that is still growing and maturing. It often lacks the cohesion to enforce its own mandates. And when Security Council members use the veto on occasion for reasons of narrow national interest, it cannot act. In Kosovo, the Russians did not approve the NATO military action because of political, ethnic, and religious ties to the Serbs.
The United States, therefore, could not obtain a Security Council resolution in favor of the action necessary to stop the dislocation and ethnic cleansing of more than a million Kosovar Albanians. However, most of the world was with us because there was a genuine emergency with thousands dead and a million more driven from their homes. As soon as the American-led conflict was over, Russia joined the peacekeeping effort that is still underway.
In the case of Iraq , recent comments indicate that one or two Security Council members might never approve forces against Saddam Hussein until he has actually used chemical, biological, or God forbid, nuclear weapons.
So, the question is how do we do our best to both diffuse the threat Saddam Hussein poses to his people, the region, including Israel, and the United States, and at the same time, work to maximize our international support and strengthen the United Nations.
While there is no perfect approach to this thorny dilemma, and while people of good faith and high intelligence can reach diametrically opposing conclusions, I believe the best course is to go to the United Nations for a strong resolution that scraps the 1998 restrictions on inspections and calls for complete, unlimited inspections, with cooperation expected and demanded from Iraq .
I know the administration wants more, including an explicit authorization to use force, but we may not be able to secure that now, perhaps even later. If we get a clear requirement for unfettered inspections, I believe the authority to use force to enforce that mandate is inherent in the original 1991 United Nations resolutions, as President Clinton recognized when he launched Operation Desert Fox in 1998.
If we get the resolution the President seeks, and Saddam complies, disarmament can proceed and the threat can be eliminated. Regime change will, of course, take longer but we must still work for it, nurturing all reasonable forces of opposition.
If we get the resolution and Saddam does not comply, we can attack him with far more support and legitimacy than we would have otherwise.
If we try and fail to get a resolution that simply calls for Saddam's compliance with unlimited inspections, those who oppose even that will be in an indefensible position. And, we will still have more support and legitimacy than if we insist now on a resolution that includes authorizing military action and other requirements giving other nations superficially legitimate reasons to oppose Security Council action. They will say, we never wanted a resolution at all and that we only support the U.N. when it does exactly want we want.
I believe international support and legitimacy are crucial. After shots are fired and bombs are dropped, not all consequences are predictable. While the military outcome is not in doubt, should we put troops on the ground, there is still the matter of Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons. Today he has maximum incentive not to use them or give them away. If he did either, the world would demand his immediate removal. Once the battle is joined, with the outcome certain, he will have maximum incentive to use weapons of mass destruction and give what he can't use to terrorists who can torment us with them long after he is gone. We cannot be paralyzed by this possibility, but we would be foolish to ignore it. According to recent reports, the CIA agrees with this analysis. A world united in sharing the risk at least would make this occurrence less likely and more bearable and would be far more likely to share the considerable burden of rebuilding a secure and peaceful post-Saddam Iraq .
President Bush's speech in Cincinnati and the changes in policy that have come forth from the administration since they first began broaching this issue some weeks ago have made my vote easier.
Even though the resolution before the Senate is not as strong as I would like in requiring the diplomatic route first and placing highest priority on a simple, clear requirement for unlimited inspections, I take the President at his word that he will try hard to pass a United Nations resolution and seek to avoid war, if possible.
Because bipartisan support for this resolution makes success in the United Nations more likely and war less likely, and because a good faith effort by the United States, even if it fails, will bring more allies and legitimacy to our cause, I have concluded, after careful and serious consideration, that a vote for the resolution best serves the security of our Nation. If we were to defeat this resolution or pass it with only a few Democrats, I am concerned that those who want to pretend this problem will go way with delay will oppose any United Nations resolution calling for unrestricted inspections.
This is a difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Any vote that may lead to war should be hard, but I cast it with conviction. Perhaps my decision is influenced by my 8 years of experience on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House watching my husband deal with serious challenges to our Nation. I want this President, or any future President, to be in the strongest possible position to lead our country in the United Nations or in war. Secondly, I want to ensure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and support for the President's efforts to wage America's war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. Thirdly, I want the men and women in our Armed Forces to know that if they should be called upon to act against Iraq our country will stand resolutely behind them.
My vote is not, however, a vote for any new doctrine of preemption or for unilateralism or for the arrogance of American power or purpose, all of which carry grave dangers for our Nation, the rule of international law, and the peace and security of people throughout the world.
Over 11 years have passed since the UN called on Saddam Hussein to rid himself of weapons of mass destruction as a condition of returning to the world community.
Time and time again, he has frustrated and denied these conditions. This matter cannot be left hanging forever with consequences we would all live to regret. War can yet be avoided, but our responsibility to global security and the integrity of United Nations resolutions protecting it cannot.
I urge the President to spare no effort to secure a clear, unambiguous demand by the United Nations for unlimited inspections.
Finally, on another personal note, I come to this decision from the perspective of a Senator from New York who has seen all too closely the consequences of last year's terrible attacks on our Nation. In balancing the risks of action versus inaction, I think New Yorkers, who have gone through the fires of hell, may be more attuned to the risk of not acting. I know I am.
So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our Nation. A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war; it is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our President. And we say to him: Use these powers wisely and as a last resort. And it is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein: This is your last chance; disarm or be disarmed.
Monday, August 26, 2002
Remarks by the Vice President to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Jim, and I appreciate your introduction, and your strong leadership for the VFW. And I especially appreciate your warm welcome.
I've been looking forward to this opportunity to visit the historic city of Nashville, and to being with the members of the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary. I see many good friends here in the audience this morning. I know I have attended your convention in the past. It's a special privilege to stand before you today, for the first time, as Vice President of the United States. (Applause.) And it is my great honor to serve with a commander in chief every soldier and every veteran can be proud of - President George W. Bush. (Applause.)
I'm grateful to Jim Goldsmith and Diana Stout for their hard work on behalf of the nation's veterans and military personnel. I also want to thank Bob Wallace, your fine executive director who runs the Washington office. And permit me to be among the first to wish great success to Ray Sisk of California, who will exceed Jim -- succeed Jim this Friday as the VFW Commander-in-Chief, and Betty Morris of Maryland, the incoming national president of the Ladies Auxiliary. I know Ray and Betty will both do a superb job. (Applause.)
As members of the VFW, you are united by common experiences and shared commitments. In the military, you devoted yourselves to a cause above self-interest, served with a firm sense of duty and developed personal standards that make you an example for your families and your fellow citizens. The daughter of an Army Air Corpsman described growing up with her father, and the values she learned from him without even knowing it. As she recalls, "Honesty, integrity, hard work, personal responsibility, and perseverance were all around me and I absorbed them almost imperceptibly." Our veterans have had a similar effect on the entire nation.
Those values are embodied in this organization. In the VFW our nation sees a continuing ethic of service, shown in the time, talent, and money you have given to citizens in need. Last year alone, VFW members gave more than 16 million hours to worthy causes. Your Operation Uplink has allowed service members and hospitalized veterans to make free calls home. I know they and their families are deeply grateful to all of you.
The VFW also serves the nation by leading on a range of important issues, such as health care and education, employment opportunities and homeland security, military readiness and the quality of life for our service families. The VFW stands firm for protecting our country's flag and for defending the right of every American to pledge allegiance to one nation under God. (Applause.)
Our administration is proud to have strong ties with the leadership and the membership of the VFW. We believe that in dealing with the federal government, every veteran deserves a response that is fair, respectful and prompt.
We are working every day to improve the level of service to our veterans. On taking office we found a large claims backlog, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. The backlog is falling steadily, as is the average time for processing each claim. But there's a lot more work to be done and America's veterans can now be certain that someone is doing it. The President has put a solid, results-oriented veteran in charge of the Department, Secretary Tony Principi. Under our administration you won't receive excuses, you will receive action.
To further improve health care services to veterans, President Bush has established a veterans health task force, of which Bob Wallace is an influential member. And although we are holding most discretionary spending to 2 percent increases, the President has asked Congress for an 8 percent increase for veterans' health care, and a seven percent increase for veterans' programs overall. (Applause.) The money is necessary to meet pressing needs, some of which have gone neglected in recent years.
We will continue working with VFW leaders and members on homeland security, drawing upon your experiences in military and civilian life. And we share common cause on the matter of servicemen whose fate is still undetermined. For all the uncertainties that remain, the basic issue is clear: thousands of brave Americans, last seen doing their duty, remain unaccounted for. The nation remembers these men, and this government will persist in the effort to account for every last one of them. (Applause.)
As we meet all of these commitments, our administration is moving forward on an agenda to build a safe and prosperous future for the American people. We have laid the foundation for greater prosperity and opportunity with the most significant education reforms in 35 years, with free trade legislation to open up markets to American producers, with tough new laws to ensure corporate integrity and honest accounting, with spending discipline in Washington and with the largest federal tax reduction in twenty years.
There is a full agenda for the fall, and beyond. Yet the President and I never for a moment forget our number one responsibility: to protect the American people against further attack, and to win the war that began last September 11th.
The danger to America requires action on many fronts all at once. We are reorganizing the federal government to protect the nation against further attack. The new Department of Homeland Security will gather under one roof the capability to identify threats, to check them against our vulnerabilities, and to move swiftly to protect the nation.
At the same time, we realize that wars are never won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy. We will take every step necessary to make sure our country is secure, and we will prevail.
Much has happened since the attacks of 9/11. But as Secretary Rumsfeld has put it, we are still closer to the beginning of this war than we are to its end. The United States has entered a struggle of years -- a new kind of war against a new kind of enemy. The terrorists who struck America are ruthless, they are resourceful, and they hide in many countries. They came into our country to murder thousands of innocent men, women, and children. There is no doubt they wish to strike again, and that they are working to acquire the deadliest of all weapons.
Against such enemies, America and the civilized world have only one option: wherever terrorists operate, we must find them where they dwell, stop them in their planning, and one by one bring them to justice.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime and al Qaeda terrorists have met the fate they chose for themselves. And they saw, up-close and personal, the new methods and capabilities of America's armed services. (Applause.) May I say, as a former Secretary of Defense, that I have never been more proud of the America's military. (Applause.)
The combination of advantages already seen in this conflict -- precision power from the air, real-time intelligence, special forces, the long reach of Naval task forces, and close coordination with local forces represents a dramatic advance in our ability to engage and defeat the enemy. These advantages will only become more vital in future campaigns. President Bush has often spoken of how America can keep the peace by redefining war on our terms. That means that our armed services must have every tool to answer any threat that forms against us. It means that any enemy conspiring to harm America or our friends must face a swift, a certain and a devastating response. (Applause.)
As always in America's armed forces, the single most important asset we have is the man or woman who steps forward and puts on the uniform of this great nation. Much has been asked of our military this past year, and more will be asked in the months and the years ahead. Those who serve are entitled to expect many things from us in return. They deserve the very best weapons, the best equipment, the best support, and the best training we can possibly provide them. And under President Bush they will have them all. (Applause.)
The President has asked Congress for a one-year increase of more than $48 billion for national defense, the largest since Ronald Reagan lived in the White House. And for the good of the nation's military families, he has also asked Congress to provide every person in uniform a raise in pay. We think they've earned it. (Applause.)
In this war we've assembled a broad coalition of civilized nations that recognize the danger and are working with us on all fronts. The President has made very clear that there is no neutral ground in the fight against terror. Those who harbor terrorists share guilt for the acts they commit. Under the Bush Doctrine, a regime that harbors or supports terrorists will be regarded as hostile to the United States.
The Taliban has already learned that lesson, but Afghanistan was only the beginning of a lengthy campaign. Were we to stop now, any sense of security we might have would be false and temporary. There is a terrorist underworld out there, spread among more than 60 countries. The job we have will require every tool at our means of diplomacy, of finance, of intelligence, of law enforcement, and of military power. But we will, over time, find and defeat the enemies of the United States. In the case of Osama bin Laden -- as President Bush said recently -- "If he's alive, we'll get him. If he's not alive -- we already got him." (Applause.)
But the challenges to our country involve more than just tracking down a single person or one small group. Nine-eleven and its aftermath awakened this nation to danger, to the true ambitions of the global terror network, and to the reality that weapons of mass destruction are being sought by determined enemies who would not hesitate to use them against us.
It is a certainty that the al Qaeda network is pursuing such weapons, and has succeeded in acquiring at least a crude capability to use them. We found evidence of their efforts in the ruins of al Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan. And we've seen in recent days additional confirmation in videos recently shown on CNN -- pictures of al Qaeda members training to commit acts of terror, and testing chemical weapons on dogs. Those terrorists who remain at large are determined to use these capabilities against the United States and our friends and allies around the world.
As we face this prospect, old doctrines of security do not apply. In the days of the Cold War, we were able to manage the threat with strategies of deterrence and containment. But it's a lot tougher to deter enemies who have no country to defend. And containment is not possible when dictators obtain weapons of mass destruction, and are prepared to share them with terrorists who intend to inflict catastrophic casualties on the United States.
The case of Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of our country, requires a candid appraisal of the facts. After his defeat in the Gulf War in 1991, Saddam agreed under to U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 to cease all development of weapons of mass destruction. He agreed to end his nuclear weapons program. He agreed to destroy his chemical and his biological weapons. He further agreed to admit U.N. inspection teams into his country to ensure that he was in fact complying with these terms.
In the past decade, Saddam has systematically broken each of these agreements. The Iraqi regime has in fact been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents. And they continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago. These are not weapons for the purpose of defending Iraq; these are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam can hold the threat over the head of anyone he chooses, in his own region or beyond.
On the nuclear question, many of you will recall that Saddam's nuclear ambitions suffered a severe setback in 1981 when the Israelis bombed the Osirak reactor. They suffered another major blow in Desert Storm and its aftermath.
But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we've gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors -- including Saddam's own son-in-law, who was subsequently murdered at Saddam's direction. Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.
Just how soon, we cannot really gauge. Intelligence is an uncertain business, even in the best of circumstances. This is especially the case when you are dealing with a totalitarian regime that has made a science out of deceiving the international community. Let me give you just one example of what I mean. Prior to the Gulf War, America's top intelligence analysts would come to my office in the Defense Department and tell me that Saddam Hussein was at least five or perhaps even 10 years away from having a nuclear weapon. After the war we learned that he had been much closer than that, perhaps within a year of acquiring such a weapon.
Saddam also devised an elaborate program to conceal his active efforts to build chemical and biological weapons. And one must keep in mind the history of U.N. inspection teams in Iraq. Even as they were conducting the most intrusive system of arms control in history, the inspectors missed a great deal. Before being barred from the country, the inspectors found and destroyed thousands of chemical weapons, and hundreds of tons of mustard gas and other nerve agents.
Yet Saddam Hussein had sought to frustrate and deceive them at every turn, and was often successful in doing so. I'll cite one instance. During the spring of 1995, the inspectors were actually on the verge of declaring that Saddam's programs to develop chemical weapons and longer-range ballistic missiles had been fully accounted for and shut down. Then Saddam's son-in-law suddenly defected and began sharing information. Within days the inspectors were led to an Iraqi chicken farm. Hidden there were boxes of documents and lots of evidence regarding Iraq's most secret weapons programs. That should serve as a reminder to all that we often learned more as the result of defections than we learned from the inspection regime itself.
To the dismay of the inspectors, they in time discovered that Saddam had kept them largely in the dark about the extent of his program to mass produce VX, one of the deadliest chemicals known to man. And far from having shut down Iraq's prohibited missile programs, the inspectors found that Saddam had continued to test such missiles, almost literally under the noses of the U.N. inspectors.
Against that background, a person would be right to question any suggestion that we should just get inspectors back into Iraq, and then our worries will be over. Saddam has perfected the game of cheat and retreat, and is very skilled in the art of denial and deception. A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with U.N. resolutions. On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow "back in his box."
Meanwhile, he would continue to plot. Nothing in the last dozen years has stopped him -- not his agreements; not the discoveries of the inspectors; not the revelations by defectors; not criticism or ostracism by the international community; and not four days of bombings by the U.S. in 1998. What he wants is time and more time to husband his resources, to invest in his ongoing chemical and biological weapons programs, and to gain possession of nuclear arms.
Should all his ambitions be realized, the implications would be enormous for the Middle East, for the United States, and for the peace of the world. The whole range of weapons of mass destruction then would rest in the hands of a dictator who has already shown his willingness to use such weapons, and has done so, both in his war with Iran and against his own people. Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror, and seated atop ten percent of the world's oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world's energy supplies, directly threaten America's friends throughout the region, and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail.
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors -- confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today, and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no basis in Saddam Hussein's conduct or history to discount any of the concerns that I am raising this morning. We are, after all, dealing with the same dictator who shoots at American and British pilots in the no-fly zone, on a regular basis, the same dictator who dispatched a team of assassins to murder former President Bush as he traveled abroad, the same dictator who invaded Iran and Kuwait, and has fired ballistic missiles at Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, the same dictator who has been on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism for the better part of two decades.
In the face of such a threat, we must proceed with care, deliberation, and consultation with our allies. I know our president very well. I've worked beside him as he directed our response to the events of 9/11. I know that he will proceed cautiously and deliberately to consider all possible options to deal with the threat that an Iraq ruled by Saddam Hussein represents. And I am confident that he will, as he has said he would, consult widely with the Congress and with our friends and allies before deciding upon a course of action. He welcomes the debate that has now been joined here at home, and he has made it clear to his national security team that he wants us to participate fully in the hearings that will be held in Congress next month on this vitally important issue.
We will profit as well from a review of our own history. There are a lot of World War II veterans in the hall today. For the United States, that war began on December 7, 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the near-total destruction of our Pacific Fleet. Only then did we recognize the magnitude of the danger to our country. Only then did the Axis powers fully declare their intentions against us. By that point, many countries had fallen. Many millions had died. And our nation was plunged into a two-front war resulting in more than a million American casualties. To this day, historians continue to analyze that war, speculating on how we might have prevented Pearl Harbor, and asking what actions might have averted the tragedies that rate among the worst in human history.
America in the year 2002 must ask careful questions, not merely about our past, but also about our future. The elected leaders of this country have a responsibility to consider all of the available options. And we are doing so. What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat is give in to wishful thinking or willful blindness. We will not simply look away, hope for the best, and leave the matter for some future administration to resolve. As President Bush has said, time is not on our side. Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network, or a murderous dictator, or the two working together, constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined. The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action.
Now and in the future, the United States will work closely with the global coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. And the entire world must know that we will take whatever action is necessary to defend our freedom and our security.
As former Secretary of State Kissinger recently stated: "The imminence of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the huge dangers it involves, the rejection of a viable inspection system, and the demonstrated hostility of Saddam Hussein combine to produce an imperative for preemptive action." If the United States could have preempted 9/11, we would have, no question. Should we be able to prevent another, much more devastating attack, we will, no question. This nation will not live at the mercy of terrorists or terror regimes. (Applause.)
I am familiar with the arguments against taking action in the case of Saddam Hussein. Some concede that Saddam is evil, power-hungry, and a menace -- but that, until he crosses the threshold of actually possessing nuclear weapons, we should rule out any preemptive action. That logic seems to me to be deeply flawed. The argument comes down to this: yes, Saddam is as dangerous as we say he is, we just need to let him get stronger before we do anything about it.
Yet if we did wait until that moment, Saddam would simply be emboldened, and it would become even harder for us to gather friends and allies to oppose him. As one of those who worked to assemble the Gulf War coalition, I can tell you that our job then would have been infinitely more difficult in the face of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein. And many of those who now argue that we should act only if he gets a nuclear weapon, would then turn around and say that we cannot act because he has a nuclear weapon. At bottom, that argument counsels a course of inaction that itself could have devastating consequences for many countries, including our own.
Another argument holds that opposing Saddam Hussein would cause even greater troubles in that part of the world, and interfere with the larger war against terror. I believe the opposite is true. Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region. When the gravest of threats are eliminated, the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace. As for the reaction of the Arab "street," the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are "sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans." Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of Jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced, just as it was following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991.
The reality is that these times bring not only dangers but also opportunities. In the Middle East, where so many have known only poverty and oppression, terror and tyranny, we look to the day when people can live in freedom and dignity and the young can grow up free of the conditions that breed despair, hatred, and violence.
In other times the world saw how the United States defeated fierce enemies, then helped rebuild their countries, forming strong bonds between our peoples and our governments. Today in Afghanistan, the world is seeing that America acts not to conquer but to liberate, and remains in friendship to help the people build a future of stability, self-determination, and peace.
We would act in that same spirit after a regime change in Iraq. With our help, a liberated Iraq can be a great nation once again. Iraq is rich in natural resources and human talent, and has unlimited potential for a peaceful, prosperous future. Our goal would be an Iraq that has territorial integrity, a government that is democratic and pluralistic, a nation where the human rights of every ethnic and religious group are recognized and protected. In that troubled land all who seek justice, and dignity, and the chance to live their own lives, can know they have a friend and ally in the United States of America.
Great decisions and challenges lie ahead of us. Yet we can and we will build a safer and better world beyond the war on terror. Over the past year, millions here and abroad have been inspired once again by the bravery and the selflessness of the American armed forces. For my part, I have been reminded on a daily basis, as I was during my years at the Pentagon, of what a privilege it is to work with the people of our military. In whatever branch, at whatever rank, these are men and women who live by a code, who give America the best years of their lives, and who show the world the finest qualities of our country.
As veterans, each of you has a place in the long, unbroken line of Americans who came to the defense of freedom. Having served in foreign wars, you bore that duty in some of our nation's most difficult hours. And I know that when you come together, your thoughts inevitably turn to those who never lived to be called veterans. In a book about his Army years, Andy Rooney tells the story of his childhood friend Obie Slingerland -- a decent, good-hearted, promising boy who was captain of the high school football team. Obie later went on to be the quarterback at Amherst before entering the Navy and becoming a pilot. Still a young man in his early 20s, he was killed while flying a combat mission off the carrier Saratoga. Andy Rooney writes: "I have awakened in the middle of the night a thousand times and thought about the life I had that Obie never got to have."
Many of you have known that experience. The entire nation joins you in honoring the memory of your friends, and all who have died for our freedom. And the American people will always respect each one of you for your standing ready to make that same sacrifice. On the nation's behalf, and for myself and President Bush, I thank you for the service you gave to your fellow citizens, for the loyalty you have shown to each other and for the great honor you have brought to your uniform, to our flag, and to our country.
Thursday, August 15, 2002
. . . . It would undermine our antiterror efforts," says Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under President Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, and is founder and president of the Forum for International Policy
From the WSJ opinion page:
Our nation is presently engaged in a debate about whether to launch a war against Iraq. Leaks of various strategies for an attack on Iraq appear with regularity. The Bush administration vows regime change, but states that no decision has been made whether, much less when, to launch an invasion.
It is beyond dispute that Saddam Hussein is a menace. He terrorizes and brutalizes his own people. He has launched war on two of his neighbors. He devotes enormous effort to rebuilding his military forces and equipping them with weapons of mass destruction. We will all be better off when he is gone.
That said, we need to think through this issue very carefully. We need to analyze the relationship between Iraq and our other pressing priorities--notably the war on terrorism--as well as the best strategy and tactics available were we to move to change the regime in Baghdad.
Saddam's strategic objective appears to be to dominate the Persian Gulf, to control oil from the region, or both.
That clearly poses a real threat to key U.S. interests. But there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks. Indeed Saddam's goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them.
He is unlikely to risk his investment in weapons of mass destruction, much less his country, by handing such weapons to terrorists who would use them for their own purposes and leave Baghdad as the return address. Threatening to use these weapons for blackmail--much less their actual use--would open him and his entire regime to a devastating response by the U.S. While Saddam is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor.
Saddam is a familiar dictatorial aggressor, with traditional goals for his aggression. There is little evidence to indicate that the United States itself is an object of his aggression. Rather, Saddam's problem with the U.S. appears to be that we stand in the way of his ambitions. He seeks weapons of mass destruction not to arm terrorists, but to deter us from intervening to block his aggressive designs.
Given Saddam's aggressive regional ambitions, as well as his ruthlessness and unpredictability, it may at some point be wise to remove him from power. Whether and when that point should come ought to depend on overall U.S. national security priorities. Our pre-eminent security priority--underscored repeatedly by the president--is the war on terrorism. An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.
The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam's regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive--with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy--and could as well be bloody. In fact, Saddam would be likely to conclude he had nothing left to lose, leading him to unleash whatever weapons of mass destruction he possesses.
Israel would have to expect to be the first casualty, as in 1991 when Saddam sought to bring Israel into the Gulf conflict. This time, using weapons of mass destruction, he might succeed, provoking Israel to respond, perhaps with nuclear weapons, unleashing an Armageddon in the Middle East. Finally, if we are to achieve our strategic objectives in Iraq, a military campaign very likely would have to be followed by a large-scale, long-term military occupation.
But the central point is that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost and risks, is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism. Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive. The most serious cost, however, would be to the war on terrorism. Ignoring that clear sentiment would result in a serious degradation in international cooperation with us against terrorism. And make no mistake, we simply cannot win that war without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence.
Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were seen to be turning our backs on that bitter conflict--which the region, rightly or wrongly, perceives to be clearly within our power to resolve--in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us. We would be seen as ignoring a key interest of the Muslim world in order to satisfy what is seen to be a narrow American interest.
Even without Israeli involvement, the results could well destabilize Arab regimes in the region, ironically facilitating one of Saddam's strategic objectives. At a minimum, it would stifle any cooperation on terrorism, and could even swell the ranks of the terrorists. Conversely, the more progress we make in the war on terrorism, and the more we are seen to be committed to resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue, the greater will be the international support for going after Saddam.
If we are truly serious about the war on terrorism, it must remain our top priority. However, should Saddam Hussein be found to be clearly implicated in the events of Sept. 11, that could make him a key counterterrorist target, rather than a competing priority, and significantly shift world opinion toward support for regime change.
In any event, we should be pressing the United Nations Security Council to insist on an effective no-notice inspection regime for Iraq--any time, anywhere, no permission required. On this point, senior administration officials have opined that Saddam Hussein would never agree to such an inspection regime. But if he did, inspections would serve to keep him off balance and under close observation, even if all his weapons of mass destruction capabilities were not uncovered. And if he refused, his rejection could provide the persuasive casus belli which many claim we do not now have. Compelling evidence that Saddam had acquired nuclear-weapons capability could have a similar effect.
In sum, if we will act in full awareness of the intimate interrelationship of the key issues in the region, keeping counterterrorism as our foremost priority, there is much potential for success across the entire range of our security interests--including Iraq. If we reject a comprehensive perspective, however, we put at risk our campaign against terrorism as well as stability and security in a vital region of the world.
Mr. Scowcroft, national security adviser under President Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, is founder and president of the Forum for International Policy.