Jack Kemp's Iraq Initiative
Jude Wanniski
January 20, 1998

 

Memo To: President Bill Clinton
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Iraqi Embargo

I'm sending this to you through your chief-of-staff, Mr. President, on the chance that you have not been told about Jack Kemp's initiative on the Iraq problem. On Friday afternoon, he issued a statement at Empower America recommending that the UN Security Council consider the idea of a limited number of snap inspections each month for six months, including the palace sectors, after which the economic sanctions would be lifted if no evidence of weapons of mass destruction is uncovered.

It is important that you read the statement carefully and take the initiative seriously, Mr. President, because your diplomatic team is now conveying the impression that your administration has no intention of lifting the sanctions, no matter if Iraq complies with UN demands or not. On "FoxNewsSunday," your UN Ambassador Bill Richardson stated that full UN compliance with demands that he open all of Iraq to unlimited inspections will only "ameliorate" the situation. He indicated there was not much chance the sanctions would be lifted under any circumstances. On "Meet the Press," your Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also indicated there would be no lifting of the sanctions unless Saddam Hussein exhibited good conduct in other unspecified areas. This is the public position she took last year that led the Iraqi government and the world diplomatic community to conclude that we are playing a game of charades, at the cost of several thousand civilian lives each month in Iraq.

The record is now becoming clear enough, Mr. President, that I believe you will not be able to avoid an extremely harsh verdict by history if you continue on this path. Yes, you inherited a policy from the Bush administration which assumed that the suffering of the Iraqi people would cause them to pull down Saddam. It is plain that the Iraqi people continue to support Saddam and that they blame the United States for the deaths of 1.4 million civilians including some 800,000 children under the age of 12. Unless you find a way off the path we are now on, it is plain enough that you are going to ask the American people to support unilateral military action against Iraq and that you will have to goad Saddam into providing a casus belli. If you watched the McLaughlin Group on Sunday, you will note that a definite impression is developing in our press corps that your people are looking for a way to provoke a war.

This is why Jack Kemp's initiative is so important and why you should not dismiss it out of hand, as Ambassador Richardson did on Sunday, rejecting any "political deal." Iraq's Ambassador Nizar Hamdoon, who also appeared on "FoxNewsSunday," indicated his government would be prepared to discuss any idea that could lead to the lifting of the sanctions when asked about the Kemp initiative. If you were to embrace the initiative and Iraq refused, it would help persuade the rest of the world that Saddam really does have a secret cache of weapons of mass destruction. The American people and the world would be much more agreeable to the use of military force to resolve the problem, if that is what it would take. On the other hand, if you reject this reasonable diplomatic solution, you would not have the support of the American people, who I believe would see it as a sensible way out of the logjam.

Economic sanctions that cause great suffering to a civilian population can be justified in war, but not in peacetime. This is only my opinion, but I think it is also the opinion of mankind and of history. You must have been informed, Mr. President, that during the Gulf War our military destroyed a significant fraction of the water and sewage treatment facilities of Iraq. This is one of the primary reasons for the continued high mortality rates among the children and elderly. On the excuse that Iraq could turn chlorine into a weapon of mass destruction, it is on the prohibited list of imports, as are a great many other chemicals that are critical to protecting the health of modern, urban populations. It is my personal opinion that we would not have permitted this degree of suffering if the people of Iraq were Protestants, Catholics or Jews, but that we have hardened our hearts to it because the people are Muslim. The 1.4 billion Muslims in the world may be of the same opinion, as I note that we have little support for our policy even in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Mr. President, please do not look upon the Kemp initiative as a political ploy. You may know that as a matter of principle he opposes the use of economic sanctions in any case. The fact that the initiative comes from a Republican, who is prepared to defend his position within his own party, clearly makes it easier for you to move in this preferable diplomatic direction, even while making it more difficult to move in a military direction. The flow is in the right direction, especially with Pope John Paul II calling for a lifting of the sanctions. Reconciliation is in the air.

PRESS RELEASE FROM JACK KEMP AT EMPOWER AMERICA:

Empower America Co-director Jack Kemp today recommended that the United Nations Security Council consider the idea of "snap inspections" anywhere in Iraq as a way of breaking the diplomatic logjam that continues to threaten peace in the Middle East. Mr. Kemp said he believed that if Saddam Hussein would be willing to permit the U.N. inspectors to make a limited number of unannounced "snap inspections" each month of any site they choose, including all the presidential palaces, for six months or so, and they find absolutely nothing suspicious, then the economic sanctions could be lifted.

Kemp said: "We have unfortunately arrived at a standoff with Iraq over how U.N. inspections are to be conducted. The longer the standoff persists, the more dangerous the situation becomes. It is essential, therefore, that both sides give serious consideration to new approaches. If Iraq would agree to a number of snap inspections each month anywhere in the country, I believe it would become possible for the United Nations to satisfy its strong suspicions that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction and agree to lift all sanctions on Iraq at the end of six months.

"This might help break the diplomatic logjam because it would make it possible to determine whether Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction while at the same time giving Iraqi citizens some light at the end of the tunnel on lifting the sanctions. The spot checks could then continue for some negotiated period after lifting the sanctions, but at least there would be no further question among our allies that President Clinton is serious when he says there is a way for Iraq to comply.

"On the other hand, if the U.N. inspectors 'swoop down' on a site and catches Saddam red-handed, we would have an end to the arguments among our allies and at the U.N. about the veracity and intent of Saddam. If Saddam were to refuse this offer, we would have to conclude that he really has weapons of mass destruction stashed, as the U.N. teams have been alleging.

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