Iraq: Opposition to military action gaining new ground

Lexington Herald Leader – Feb. 17, 1998


Kuwait in 1990, touching off the Persian Gulf War.

U.S. officials think that some of the proposed solutions to the crisis would compromise UNSCOM’s integrity.

“It’s our view that any solution to this problem centers around the two core principles,” Richardson said. “First, clear unfettered access to all sites by UNSCOM inspectors and secondly the full integrity and professionalism of UNSCOM needs to be maintained.”

Bishop Craig Anderson reviewed a “We Don’t Want War” letter to President Clinton

Episcopal Bishop Craig B. Anderson, president of the National Council of Churches, and Rev. Joan B. Campbell, the organization’s general secretary, reviewed a “We Don’t Want War” letter to President Clinton yesterday.

Russia, France and China, all permanent members of the council along with the United States and Britain, have opposed a military strike, instead calling for compromises such as sending a new set of inspectors to visit eight presidential sites that the Iraqis have placed off-limits.

A widely discussed compromise calls for diplomats from Security Council member nations to accompany U.N. inspectors to off-limits sites.

Asked whether he would accept any reduction of UNSCOM’s role, Richardson replied; “The United States is not for any deals or compromises.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, opposition to bombing Iraq is gaining ground as Congress struggles over how far it should go in supporting military action. Catholics and Protestants, former military and intelligence officers, longtime anti-war groups and Arab Americans say air attacks would do little more than kill Iraqis.

Opponents are scattered across the political spectrum. Some insist the bombing wouldn’t go far enough, including conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill who believe the ultimate goal should be to remove Hussein from power.

Others fear a U.S. attack would go too far, killing thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, destroying Mideast peace efforts, and bypassing Congress in making war on another nation – all to punish the Iraqi president.

Rep. Lee Hamilton, D – Ind., one of the capital’s most respected foreign affairs voices, said he backs Clinton’s Iraqi policy but doesn’t think force would diminish the threat of Iraq’s weapons or its ability to threaten its neighbors.

The administration, I think, has a very heavy responsibility now to articulate with very great precision what our purposes are in Iraq,” Hamilton told Serectary of State Madeleine Albright.

To bolster support, President Clinton plans a speech today at the Pentagon to make the case for why the United States may launch airstrikes on suspected chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons making sites in Iraq. His foreign policy team, including Albright, Defense Secretary William Cohen, and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, will hold town hall meetings this week in Ohio and Tennessee.

Clinton was not expected to break new ground in today’s address, but aides said it offered him the best opportunity yet to fully explain the objectives and risks of military action.

Aides said the president’s speech would highlight:

The global danger posed by Hussein’s suspected production of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.

Clinton’s resolve to “diminish and reduce” Hussein’s arsenal through airstrikes, if necessary. He has previously vowed to eliminate the weapons, a goal advisors say cannot be achieved by air.

His foremost desire to solve the matter diplomatically and put U.N. weapons inspectors back on the job of ferreting out Hussein’s weapons.

The risks to U.S. military personnel and Iraqi civilians in the event of airstrikes. Military leaders have said in recent days that U.S. casualties should be expected. Clinton is expected to echo the words of Berger; “Ther is no cost-free, risk-free option.”

Berger also plans to address Middle East and European citizens by satellite.

The administration has its work cut out. In a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll released yesterday, 54 percent of Americans surveyed said they favor more diplomatic action, up from 46 percent Feb. 1 Sixty four percent said the goal should be to remove Hussein from power, while 31 percent said airstrikes should be used to “substantially reduce” Iraq’s capacity to develop mass weapons.

This entry was posted in Press and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.