Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Between Iraq and a Hard Place. (Letters ...)

Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Between Iraq and a Hard Place. (Letters ...)

Article excerpt

To the Editor--I basically agree with the critique by Ted Galen Carpenter in "Postwar Strategy: An Alternative View" (JFQ, Winter 00-01) on the U.S. policy of dual containment. The Persian Gulf is a region with friendly nations who do not always share American beliefs in democratic institutions and prefer to strike a balance with governments that we define as rogues--even though we warn that they pose great risks to their security. Carpenter finds this balance contradictory because it comes at a time when the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council--Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates--are seeking greater security commitments from the United States, but with a more limited military presence.

But there are several discrepancies in his analysis. The dual nature of containment policy was neither equally applied nor equally successful. It contained Baghdad for a long time because it was applied under U.N. resolutions and supported by both Iraq's neighbors and the international community. Most importantly it restrained but has not prevented Saddam Hussein from rebuilding his military and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and threatening his neighbors. As Carpenter indicates, Iraq retains a significant capability to harm its people, in particular Kurds in the north and any potentially rebellious Shi'a Muslim elements in the south. Considering the ten-year military embargo, Baghdad has created a leaner, meaner military machine in reducing force size and cannibalizing spare parts to maintain equipment, even if it is old and ill-serviced. Clearly, the Iraqis have been able to manufacture, repair, and purchase new radars and telecommunications systems to monitor and threaten U.S. and British aircraft flying missions over the no-fly zones.

I am especially concerned about the rather blase statement that Iraq would be deterred from using its long-range missiles--which it is almost certainly developing--and any WMD arsenal it has retained, hidden, or will reconstruct. Saddam Hussein has not, in my view, shown himself capable of such admirable restraint, especially when he has sulked under a heightened sense of insult, as he did after signing the accord with the Shah of Iran in 1975 (revenge came in 1980), and in invading Kuwait in 1990 (whom he blamed for taking advantage of Iraq by refusing it more loans and allegedly slant drilling into Iraqi oilfields). …

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