Talk with Saddam, Experts Say `NO BENEFIT TO AGGRESSION'

By David Mutch, Writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, September 1, 1990 | Go to article overview

Talk with Saddam, Experts Say `NO BENEFIT TO AGGRESSION'


David Mutch, Writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


IRAQ'S Saddam Hussein can be bargained with in the Persian Gulf crisis, and he should be bargained with, say some top negotiators in the United States.

The process would "start with the condition that he doesn't get anything that he couldn't have gotten by peaceful means," says Roger Fisher, director of The Harvard Negotiation Project and author, with William L. Ury, of the book, "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In."

"But given all that has happened, you also must now build that proverbial golden bridge over which Saddam Hussein can retreat, and this latter element doesn't appear to be on the agenda yet," he continues. Backed into a corner

"I'm very concerned," says Mr. Fisher, a professor of international law who helped former Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance design the negotiating process used to achieve the Camp David Middle East peace accords of September 1978.

"The West, including the action of the United Nations Security Council, which includes the Soviet Union, has given the appearance of escalating demands on Baghdad in a way that makes an acceptable settlement unobtainable."

Fisher says he is also worried that the summit this weekend between President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev could back Saddam further into a corner.

"We know Saddam Hussein has blood on his hands. We know he is a dangerous tyrant. But he isn't a Hitler. He's already indicated that he can be flexible, by the recent arrangement with Iran. But most of the negotiations so far have been through the media," Fisher says.

"What is urgently needed ... is for a competent negotiator to draw up a list of promises that could be made to the Iraqi leader in exchange for his willingness to pull his troops out of Kuwait and to release all of the hostages."

Fisher says the list of proposals would need an endorsement from the UN Security Council.

"I believe, frankly, that the man is now afraid that he will be bombed even if he does pull out of Kuwait."

Mr. Ury agrees with Fisher. "Saddam Hussein is a classic bully. He's calculating, he understands and uses power. He must be shown there's no benefit to aggression. He must be shown that his best alternative to a negotiated agreement is only a continued blockade and possibly war. Of course, there's no certainty negotiation will work. However, it must be tried," he says.

Saddam Hussein on Sept. 5 called for an Islamic holy war against US forces in the Gulf, and urged Arabs to overthrow King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

Fisher says the Iraqi leader's heated rhetoric comes as no surprise. "I would expect someone in his tight situation to be saying something like that, especially the way Bush has been building up our military. …

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