Memo To: Sen. Joseph Biden, Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Going to War With Iraq?
Having wondered how you could have objective hearings on President Bush’s insistence that there be a “regime change” in Baghdad, when you said you agreed with him, I was pleasantly surprised with your Sunday appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert. Although you concluded the interview by answering “Yes” to Russert’s point-blank question, “Do you think we will go to war with Iraq?,” the substance of the interview pointed in the opposite direction. It would have been more appropriate for you to have answered, “I hope not,” but perhaps that would have branded you as a weenie. It is enough for you to explain how difficult it would be and how the White House has not yet made the case that Iraq presents a clear danger, which it will have to do if it expects allies in Europe or in the Arab world.
The one issue to which I clearly disagreed with your assessment, Senator, is of the letter that Iraq sent to the United Nations on August 1, inviting a return of a UN weapons inspection team. At the behest of our government and the British, the invitation was rejected. Russert did “load” his question by saying Iraq was only offering to “negotiate” a return of inspectors, and you quickly said you agreed this was a “delaying action” by Saddam Hussein. Perhaps you did not read the letter from Dr. Naji, the Iraqi foreign minister, as it was not published anywhere in the United States in full. The Iraqi mission to the United Nations e-mailed me a copy at my request, as I have been trying to assist in furthering communications between our government and Iraq’s. [I’ve often wondered if you agreed with official U.S. policy forbidding any contact with our U.N. Ambassador and Iraq’s delegation.]
If you read the letter carefully, you will see Dr. Naji explicitly agrees there would be no pre-conditions in the offered discussions. All Iraq is asking for is that they be told when the U.N. inspectors will be satisfied there is nothing going on. Iraq, he says, “aims at reaching a common ground on the scientific and practical criteria that will be adopted to treat and resolve what UNMOVIC might see as pending issues in the disarmament stage.”
In other words, Senator, Baghdad is not worried about delaying actions. It is worried about the U.N. inspection regime delaying action, by constantly throwing up new demands and requirements, as I believe the old UNSCOM regime did until it voluntarily decided to quit inspections in 1998 so the US and British air forces could begin the bombing campaign. Surely you agree that the UNSCOM inspectors were not “kicked out” in 1998. They left when they publicly acknowledged that they could not find anything out of order, but insisted that it was up to Saddam to prove that nothing was out of order.
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Final "Unofficial Translation"
H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan,
Secretary General of the United Nations
At the outset I would like to express thanks and appreciation for your earnest efforts in bringing the ongoing dialogue between us to reach a comprehensive solution to the outstanding problems between Iraq and the United Nations, as to insure the implementation of all the requirements of Security Council resolutions, especially your sincere efforts during the round of talks in Vienna during the period of July 4-5th, 2002. Noting our agreement during that round of talks on continuing communications including the continuation of technical talks between the United Nations and Iraq, I have the honor to inform your Excellency of the desire of the Government of the Republic of Iraq in conducting a round of technical talks between Iraqi experts and the Chairman and experts of the United Nation Monitoring and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC) in Baghdad at the earliest agreed upon time to review what was accomplished in disarmament issues during the period May 1991 until December 1998; to look into the remaining issues as viewed by the former UNSCOM which was included in the report of Amb. Amorim to the Security Council on 30 March 1999 (S/1999/356); and to study and assess their importance and decide upon the measures to resolve them when the inspection regime returns to Iraq.
The meeting of the experts from the Iraqi side and the Chairman and experts of UNMOVIC we are suggesting does not carry a premature judgment on the opinion of Iraq or that of UNMOVIC regarding assessing what was achieved on disarmament issues, but rather aims at reaching a common ground on the scientific and practical criteria that will be adopted to treat and resolve what UNMOVIC might see as pending issues in the disarmament stage. The suggested meeting will be in harmony with and follows-up on the suggestions you made in August of 1998 to conduct a comprehensive review to the disarmament file and assess the degree of Iraq's implementation of its obligations.
We believe that this review will be an important step towards the appropriate legal and technical assessment and treatment of the issues of disarmament and to establish a solid base for the next stage of monitoring and inspection activities, and to move forward towards that stage including agreeing upon the practical arrangements to resume cooperation between Iraq and UNMOVIC in a way to strengthen the common ground to progress towards a comprehensive solution and a concurrent implementation of all the requirements of relevant Security Council Resolutions.
I would be grateful if you conveyed my letter here to the members of the Security Council.
Accept Excellency the assurances of my highest esteem.
Dr. Naji Sabri
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Of the Republic of Iraq
Baghdad August 1, 2002