by U.S. Senator Jon Kyl
Americans were proud of the men and women of our armed forces when, in 1991, they successfully ejected Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's military forces from Kuwait. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait represented a threat to a region of vital importance to America's interests. Unfortunately, as recent events have demonstrated, Saddam Hussein still poses a substantial threat to America's interests -- and a significant challenge to America's policy-makers.
As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I receive frequent briefings from the nation's intelligence community about the extent of Saddam Hussein's efforts to develop dangerous nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Saddam also has ballistic missiles to deliver these deadly weapons - weapons that he has used before and would not hesitate to use again. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration never had a consistent strategy for effectively dealing with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
The administration recently took military action against Iraq because of Saddam's repeated refusals to allow international inspections of his weapons programs -- as he agreed to do at the end of the Persian Gulf War. The President's team of advisors has not yet determined how great a setback our strike will provide to Saddam's efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction; however, one judgment can be made at this time -- military action will never be truly successful unless it is a part of a coherent and consistent strategy not just to contain, but to eliminate the Iraqi threat.
Every time Saddam Hussein raises an aggressive profile, the U.S. reacts with limited (but costly) military action -- enough to cause Saddam's quick retreat while leaving him strong enough to continue causing trouble in the future -- all the while reducing the will of other nations to continue supporting the U.N. sanctions on sale of Iraqi oil and U.S. military action.
For more than a year, senators have been calling on the Clinton administration to consult with Congress to devise a comprehensive strategy toward Iraq. Elements of that strategy would include: increasing American support for Iraqi opposition groups; expanding the zones over Iraq where Saddam's air force is prohibited from operating; stronger enforcement of the sanctions (there is a huge black market for Iraqi oil today); and establishing monetary rewards to encourage Iraqi military officials to defect.
Last year, Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act, which provided the president with the authority to financially support an Iraqi opposition movement. As its name indicates, the goal of the Iraq Liberation Act is to begin a process that, hopefully, will lead to the eventual removal of Saddam Hussein from power.
Although the administration has used a small amount of the authorized funds to bolster anti-Saddam radio broadcasts into Iraq, the administration has yet to put forth a concrete plan to utilize its new authority. This uncertainty leaves opposition groups, such as the Iraqi National Congress, in a tenuous position, unsure of the level of U.S. support for their struggle to free Iraq from Saddam's tyranny.
As the 106th Congress gets under way, I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to impress upon the Clinton administration the urgent need to develop a clear and consistent long-term strategy to deal with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Otherwise, Iraq will continue to threaten its neighbors, America's friends in the region, and even the United States itself with its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs.