Containment of Iraq: Status and Challenges
from a review in
York Review of Books
March 29, 2001
and Carr Professor of Human Rights Practice
Book reviewed by M. Ignatieff:
Center for Human Rights Policy
F. Kennedy School of Government
Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological
by Hamza Khidhir and with Jeff Stein
352 pages, $26.00 (hardcover)
published by Scribner
[with added links and some information that became available since this paper was published]
State of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Arsenal
Saddam develops weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam has actually used WMD.
weapons program is more than 20 years old,
developed chemical and biological capability
has been credibly demonstrated by UN inspections.
Saddam has two operational atomic bombs
in his arsenal (information provided by Iraqi
Since the Desert Fox air strikes of 1998
Iraq had rebuilt "key portions" of its chemical weapons capability (CIA
Containment of Iraq.
Sanctions against Iraq have been redirected by Saddam
against his own people (Thomas L. Friedman, "Saddam Has Won the Propaganda War, So Change Tactics," International Herald Tribune, February 7, 2001).
to December 2000, for example, Saddam could have spent $7.8 billion he
received from UN-approved oil sales on food and medicine for his people.
Instead he spent only $4.2 billion [Thomas L. Friedman, "Saddam Has Won the Propaganda War, So Change Tactics," International Herald Tribune, February 7, 2001] (see also: compilation of some facts on the UN Oil-for-Food program, oil sales under UN Oil-for-Food program by phase),
- ignored by several dozen European and
Asian companies (2,
... Also associated with these missiles and related developments is the import, which has been taking place during the last few years, of a number of items despite the sanctions, including as late as December 2002. Foremost amongst these is the import of 380 rocket engines which may be used for the Al Samoud 2.
Iraq also declared the recent import of chemicals used in propellants, test instrumentation and, guidance and control systems. These items may well be for proscribed purposes. That is yet to be determined. What is clear is that they were illegally brought into Iraq, that is, Iraq or some company in Iraq, circumvented the restrictions imposed by various resolutions. (H. Blix, "The Security Council, 27 January 2003: An Update On Inspection)
More than 4,500 companies took part in the UN oil-for-food program and more than half of them paid illegal surcharges and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, the committee investigating the program was to report Thursday, Oct. 27, 2005. The country with the most companies involved in the program was Russia, followed by France, according to investigators for the committee. The inquiry was led by Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
In an interview, Volcker said that while he knew the naming of companies and the exposure of international "machinations" would draw attention, he hoped it would not obscure his committee's purpose in keeping the focus of their work on the need for UN reform.
"In my mind," he said, "this part of our investigation, looking at the manipulation of the program outside the UN, strongly reinforces the case that the UN itself carries a large part of this responsibility and needs reform. "Even though we are looking at it from the outside, it kind of screams out at you, 'Why didn't somebody blow a whistle?' The central point is that it all adds up to the same story. You need some pretty thoroughgoing reforms at the UN."
(Warren Hoge, New York Times, Thousands implicated in payoffs to Saddam, International Herald Tribune Okt. 27, 2005)]
Replacing "dumb" sanctions that hurt the general
population with "smart" ones that affect the elite.
The techniques for such targeting exist.
Targeted sanctions would be directed at
particular officials and their families, in the ruling political, military,
scientific, and technological elite.
prevent such leaders from traveling,
impound their overseas assets,
stop them from buying sinister technologies
Control of export licensing, aimed at preventing
Western companies from supplying Iraq with the equipment and material Saddam
Banks routinely run sophisticated computer
programs that trace and block transactions by named individuals and accounts.
A policy of targeted sanctions requires
coordination and the sharing of intelligence among state and banking authorities
across the world.
Apart from the Office of Foreign Asset
Control (OFAC) in the US Treasury, the central banking systems of Western
governments lack the capacity, so far, to administer a targeted system
for freezing and seizing Iraqi assets.
A scandalous collusion of European
precision equipment manufacturers, and
Dual use exports have been accepted
by foreign governments even if the ultimate military use in Iraq is apparent
and prepared by the supplier company (example: the German sale of a pesticide
production plant, and of heat protected flat-bed trailors by Daimler-Benz ).
Export control together with targeted
The willingness of foreign scientists to work
abilities that America probably has while
its allies do not. It would therefore require a degree of alliance cohesion
that is fast disappearing (see also the limited number of members of the
No credible "lite" version of UN weapons inspection
exist (see e.g.
Scott Ritter's documentation).
(Technical and intelligence) problems with precision
Support of a move from containment to regime change.
Even if America were capable of fomenting a revolution,
it is not clear that it could control its consequences.
Many people think the right policy in the short term
Saddam's WMD are the very foundation of his strategy
for defending the country.
Why should we be frightened of him?
- Matthew Meselson of Harvard and Julian
Robinson of Sussex University have proposed to make it a criminal
offense subject to universal jurisdiction, for any scientist, businessman
or technician to render substantial assistance to the development, production,
acquisition, or use of those biological or chemical weapons already banned
by international treaty.
The purpose of American policy should not be to overthrow
It is not wise or just to attempt to keep Iraq poor
American purposes should be confined to
This limited set of goals should be attainable with
credible threats and the determination to use targeted and discriminate
protecting Kurdish autonomy in the north of the country,
preventing Iraq from harming, destabilizing, or overthrowing
its neighbors, or endangering the flow of oil.
(added by JoachimGruber)
Oct. 2, 2006
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