| Iraq: Blix Report|
With Dr. Ken Allard
National Security Studies Program, Georgetown University
Friday, Feb. 14, 2003; Noon ET
Earlier today, chief inspector Hans Blix reported to the U.N. Security Council that his team has not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but many banned materials remain unaccounted for. The latest report could determine whether the U.S. will receive support from the U.N. for military action against Iraq.
Dr. Ken Allard, international security expert , will be online Friday, Feb. 14 at Noon ET, to discuss Hans Blix's most recent report to the U.N. Security Council.
Allard is an adjunct professor in the National Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. He is a former US Army Colonel who runs his own consulting company in McLean, Va. A frequent television and radio commentator on foreign policy and security issues, he is a consultant to NBC News and a featured military analyst on MSNBC and CNBC. Allard also appears before business and trade groups around the country, speaking on the general theme of "Business As War," with topics ranging from the war on terrorism to leadership and corporate governance.
The transcript follows.
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washingtonpost.com: Thank you for joining us Dr. Allard. Was there anything that Blix had reported to the U.N. that was surprising or provided new information? Basically, Blix reported many banned materials not accounted for but no weapons of mass destruction found. Will that be enough for the U.S. to take military action?
Dr. Ken Allard: There was no new information the Blix Report except that he obviously failed in doing what it was the SC had asked him to do: assess Iraqi compliance. Instead he seems committed to nothing more than more inspections, probably as a way to "contain" Iraq in this way. And that was not what USCR 1441 directed him to do. Without doubt that makes it tougher for the US to take prompt military action, or even to get a second UNSCR authorizing force.
Wheaton, Md.: To the nations that oppose action against Saddam Hussein, does it really matter what the inspectors find? It is clear that France, Germany and Belgium wouldn't support removing Hussein even if the inspectors found live nuclear warheads.
Dr. Ken Allard: One wonders what exactly would constitute clear evidence of Iraqi non-compliance - or if indeed the other UNSC members would ever do anything if such proof were found
Cumberland, Md.: How much longer do you think that the inspections will continue?
Dr. Ken Allard: Ad infinitum - if France et al would have their way!
Harrisburg, Pa.: Perhaps Saddam Hussein is minimally complying with United Nations directives. Yet, as long as he is complying, even belatedly and suspiciously, would the United States do severe damage to our international reputation if we attack Iraq while they are under compliance with international standards?
Dr. Ken Allard: The US now faces a tough choice - at what point does it conclude the UN is simply a weak reed that cannot be counted on to do more than endlessly debate. That it is indeed the feckless debating society that Bush has warned against. And that unilateral military action is the only way. If so, it would not say very much about the future of the UN.
Baltimore, Md.: In what way has Iraq not complied with the UN resolution?
Dr. Ken Allard: The USCR gives Iraq one last chance to demonstrate its full cooperation. In its statement, it failed to do so or to resolve numerous outstanding issues about what it had.and what it did with those materials. And it has clearly failed to give full cooperation to the inspectors.....interviews, coming clean, etc. And that was what it was directed - for the last time - to do.
New Haven, Conn.: During his speech he seemed to contradict evidence presented by Powell. Would you comment?
Dr. Ken Allard: Blix is a Swedish diplomat/bureaucrat...and he seems determined to avoid the central issue of Iraqi compliance. If what they have done thus far is "compliance," then how would one define "non-compliance?"
Copenhagen, Denmark: Do you think that Mr. Blixs' report to the UN Security Council today will be the end of the UN track, that the American administration has followed until now?
Dr. Ken Allard: I think and hope that this will not be the end, altho it is tough to be hopeful, given the sheer obstructionism that the UNSC seems seized of at the moment.
Cumberland, Md.: How long do you think the US will let the inspections continue? Does the U.S. have the power to stop them?
Dr. Ken Allard: The inspections may continue, but only until the US simply runs out of patience with the charade, or until its deployment of military forces is complete - whichever occurs first
Nashville, Tenn.: Dr. Allard, how clear is it that Iraq does have WMD? A sceptic might say that they're being asked to prove a negative, the absence of something.
Dr. Ken Allard: Iraq was DIRECTED to prove they had nothing left to hide. And they have clearly failed to do that, despite the clear evidence held by the US, UK, et. al - all of whom know very well that Saddam has those weapons. Much of what Powell had to say last week was striking - and I strongly suspect there is even more that hasn't yet been made public.
New Haven, Conn.: Going to war is a serious thing. Don't you think at this such an important decision that Mr. Bush should ask Congress for their opinion, e.g., a declaration of war?
Dr. Ken Allard: He has already done so, in the joint res passed by both houses.
Vienna, Va.: Is there any other last resort before war that would be pursued? Why is that we seem so hell bent on war? Is there anything beyond inspections that the U.N. can advise and pursue?
Dr. Ken Allard: What concerns me now is the thought that we may have only a limited period of time before Saddam actually has the capability we are so worried about. Who is to say that more delays - and time passing - will not play perfectly into his hands? And what would we then do if he announced (a la N Korea) that he now had such weapons?
Columbia, Md.: What reasons have the Bush Administration given for not sharing any of their intelligence with the weapons inspectors prior to Secretary Powell's presentation. Couldn't inspectors armed with that kind of real-time intelligence have a chance of finding these missing weapons and actually disarming Iraq?
Dr. Ken Allard: Where do I begin? Passing intel to the UN is precisely the same as handing it to Saddam...and the time that would surely pass between the intel and the inspection would simply invite counter-measures. And insure we would lose whatever sources - and military options - we had when the intel was developed.
Seattle, Wash. : In your view does Saddam Hussen really have weapons of mass destruction as the US claims, or has he been more successful than anyone thought possible of hiding them?
Dr. Ken Allard: He clearly has the weapons...and is more competent at hiding them than the UN can ever be at discovering them
Bellevue, Wash.: Is there other support at the UN that would support a move to replace Blix and bring in a new chief form the UK or US?
Dr. Ken Allard: For all of Blix' deficiencies - and his track record is discouraging - the major problem here is institutional. The UN is NOT an action agency that can actually DO the hard things very well. Its central problem however is the one reason why it was created - to coalesce the will of the international community.
Washington, D.C.: Israel is known to have nuclear weapons. After disarming Iraq from the weapons of mass destruction, how will the U.S. re-balance the power of possessing WMD in a region e.g between the Arabs and Israel?
Dr. Ken Allard: Good question but essentially a sidetrack. The issue is not Israel-Arab nukes (and remember that the Pakis have one too!) but a very simple one. Iraq, having lost Desert Storm, was directed to do certain things as a condition of peace. Failure to do those things simply reverts us back to status quo ante - ie, bombs dropping and Iraqi military forces being destroyed.
Goslar, Germany: Can you site one specific piece of evidence of the weapons of mass destruction that Iraq is supposed to have that was revealed to us by either the Bush administration or the Blair administration?
Dr. Ken Allard: Read BOTH of the reports published by the US and UK administrations on this subject. I am astounded that the wealth of data revealed there is apparently not enough to convince the undecided that Iraq possesses these weapons and is more determined to keep and develop them than the UN is to deprive him of them!
Washington, D.C.: You are obviously pro-war. So, my question to you is, what action(s) would be required of Iraq to avoid war? I've heard many advocates ask the opposite of my question to those who are anti-war. So far, there is no hard proof that would deem a war necessary. As Blix stated in his speech, they did not find any WMD nor can they prove that they exist. From what point are you basing your decision to support the Bush administration in it's pro-war stance? From what we (public) have heard and read from various news sources, there is nothing concrete about the US's evidence and reasons to attack Iraq.
Dr. Ken Allard: Please see my previous response about the specific situation we find ourselves in post-Desert Storm. The obligation is clearly on Iraq to account for what we know they had before and demonstrate they are serious about disarmament. So far they have simply returned to the old game of hide and seek, while utterly failing to be candid even about the old stuff. I participated (in Bosnia) in a successful disarmament exercise, attendant on the Dayton Accords that required total open-ness about weapons, locations, etc. by the former warring factions. They did that: Iraq simply has not.
Arlington, Va.: Thanks for taking the questions. I read that Blix's goal of this was do everything he could to prevent a war. He said if he did that, he would consider it a success. That is not his job. Who if anyone can tell him to do his job as it's been instructed to him?
Dr. Ken Allard: People need to remember the basic:
1. It is Iraq's obligation to avoid war by proving it is dis-arming and
2. The UN is NOT a sovereign body with a corps d'elite of diplo-bureaucrats who can simply interpret UNSCRs as they see fit.
Blix has failed in his mission and we ought to say that publically.
Maryland: Dr. Allard, Why now? If we had intelligence information over the years, why wasn't the threat of Iraq and war pursued earlier? The timeliness of the war is pretty awful since we are also fighting a war on terrorism. And I do not think they are one in the same.
Dr. Ken Allard: I think we are in a race against time before Saddam develops precisely the same capabilities we now find so troubling in N Korea. If you want a good discussion of why and how we "kicked the can" for so long, check out Krauthammer's op-ed in today's WP.
And if not this, then what will it take to deal with this problem? And if not now, then when?
Cleveland, Ohio: What effect will Iraq's declaration today that it now bans weapons of mass destruction have on existing allied support and the prospects of the U.S. having to "go it alone" without UN approval to disarm Iraq?
Dr. Ken Allard: I assume that resolution passed unanimously? Seriously: That was a laughable piece of totally self-serving/transparent propaganda. And from a regime whose word is - being tactful here - somewhat suspect.
Arlington, Va.: We always say "clear evidence" of WMD in Iraq but UN always don't think so "had not found any weapons of mass destruction during the search in Iraq, but did not rule out the possibility that they may exist."
What leads to these two different opinion? Who we should trust?
Dr. Ken Allard: Blix et al made a distinction without much of a difference.Exactly the kind of "OJ didnt do it" kind of declarations that the UN substitutes for decisive action. And you should trust the UN only if you prefer their declarations to those of, say, Colin Powell. And are willing to take the consequences if, by chance, the UN happens to be wrong.
Bellevue, Wash.: The international community, represented by the UN, has a lot of counties with first hand experiences of the cruelty of war. Should the US and the UK (one of those nations referred to) be more respectful of their experience based point of view and maintain the inspection regime?
Dr. Ken Allard: It is astounding that the UN has so many countires with first-hand experience of cruelty, usually inflicted by themselves on their own people. Remember that Libya is about to head up the UN human rights panel and that Iraq will have similar position monitoring disarmament. In short: while the UN is important, I don't believe the Charter is suicide pact. Nor do I think we place our own national security in the hands of countries who are arguably part of the problem.
Edgewater, Md.: Dr Allard,
Why do you really think France Germany and Russia haven't backed the US/Britain and the other European allies in imposing the "serious consequences" for non-compliance? I have heard that France and Russia have economic ties to IRAQ and therefore a diplomatic solution would be in there interest as opposed to regime change? Is there any substance to this? I understand the German chancellor Shroeder was elected on an anti war referendum and he is "boxed in" and will be opposed to war in any circumstance.
Dr. Ken Allard: Don't forget that this is all about politics and self-interest, including economic. In the case of France there may well be additional ties to Iraq they don't want publicized. Germany is simply beset by angst and a bevy of leftist politicians who consider the US as a traditional rival and enemy. None more so that Joschlka Fischer who presided over todays session. ABout which: read Michael Keyy's op-ed on him in Wednesday's WP.
Vancouver, BC: WP says "Blix's counterpart, nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei, told the council that inspectors found no evidence Iraq had resumed its nuclear weapons program and said inspectors do not need Iraq's full cooperation to complete their work." Would you please analyze this statement of ElBaradei's?
Dr. Ken Allard: I found his statement baffling at best. Rumsfeld may have said it best: "the absence of evidence does not necessarily mean the evidence of absence."
Towson, Md.: If the U.S. were to back down now and continue inspections, would this be a blow to our credibility in the region?
Dr. Ken Allard: Yup! The deployment in the Gulf has now reached a point where the failure to engage would be seen as incontrovertible evidence that the US simply is continuing the Clintonian policy of tough rhetoric and the avoidance decisive action.
New York, N.Y.: Dr. Allard - In your opinion then, is there anything to be done by the Iraqis to prevent an invasion?
Dr. Ken Allard: Nothing short of a coup, assassination or other departure of Saddam. ANything else simply creates the presumption that, once the world is no longer watching, that the Iraqi WMD programs will be further re-constituted and developed.
washingtonpost.com: Dr. Allard, Many Americans are nervous about the country's own safety if the U.S. does invade Iraq especially since hearing the latest bin Laden tape. What do you think about the timeliness of the invasion? And, would taking military action lessen our defenses here at home?
Dr. Ken Allard: Please remember that the primary reason why the terrorists will strike at us is less because of what we do than who we are - the living refutation of everything they stand for - and the only power in the world that can effectively stand in their way.The solution is to deprive terrorists of the state support which they need to do their business. Precisely the idea of either "for us or against us."
London, UK: How do you think Hussein has hidden his weapons? Are they without reach to him if there was a sudden war? Do you think he would be ready to use them in case of US troops entering?
Thank you - C. Larson
Dr. Ken Allard: Saddam has an entire Cabinet-level agency and vast resources devoted to the frustration of the inspections and the hiding of the WMD: caves, underground bunkers, etc etc across a country large then CAL. And as Secy Powell pointed out, they have added important mobile capabilities to confound the inspectors still farther. SO their WMD development will go on, until they are forced by military action to surrender it - or Saddam himself.
Reston, Va.: "...that, once the world is no longer watching, that the Iraqi WMD programs will be further re-constituted and developed. "
Do you imply that continuing inspections and/or some sort of international monitoring presence will prevent the WMD program from developing? Why isn't this a viable alternative to invasion?
Dr. Ken Allard: Let me clarify: inspections/verification/UN debates are the symptoms. The disease is Saddam...and it has now become chronic. Eliminate him and you solve the problem.
Washington, D.C.: What is the risk of casualties from biological weapons in an Iraq war to both the people of Iraq and US soldiers?
Dr. Ken Allard: More for the Iraqis - less so for US soldiers, who are trained and equipped to function in those environments.
St. Olaf, Minnesota: While it is clear that Saddam has weapons, what suddenly sparked this administration's push last year? What suddenly sparked interest, right now, after several years? It was not on the agenda, and then it was VERY important. Why?
Dr. Ken Allard: I am reading Bob Woodward's book right now : BUSH AT WAR. Fascinating stuff. I think the Iraq agenda is a function of both 9/11 and the impact of personalities in positions of power who - in the aftermath - at last came to understand they had blown it the last time around in not removing Saddam entirely. Add to that the fact that "drying up the swamp" means you have to take on and defeat those states that directly or indirectly support terrorism. Which Saddam clearly does. (Or at least Bin Laden THINKS he does.)
Burke, Va.: Keeping the inspectors in Iraq, and getting good compliance from the Iraqis is exactly what I want. The inspectors did a good job throughout the 90's, when they had poorer compliance, and I'm sure with the compliance they have now they will be very effective. I would like them to stay indefinitely, as I believe that this will result in a safer, saner world. If we attack Iraq we will basically tell the rest of the world that it's ok to attack first, and we will provide a recruiting bonanza for Al Qaeda.
Dr. Ken Allard: Let me invite your attention to the fact that the twin notions of "inspections" and "containment" of Iraq are precisely the strategies which allowed him to develop the very capabilities we are now so worried about. (See Krauthammer's piece in today's WP about our "holiday from history" in the 90's.) With reason. It is one thing for N Korea to have nukes. Quite another for Saddam to have them - within reasonably close proximity of 70% of the world's proven oil reserves.
Reston, Va.: It does appear to me that Powell's report which had no persuasive evidence, combined with Blix's report which indicates that Iraq is cooperating to some fair extent argues for an extension of beefed up inspections over the next six months. Why is this such a bad idea?
Dr. Ken Allard: I disagree entirely that the POwell report had "no persuasive evidence." To the contrary, it contained all-source intell that clearly demonstrated the only issue that should have been at issue here: Iraqi compliance. What good would six more months of inspections do? And would Saddam have a nuke if we kicked the can down the road yet again?
Dr. Ken Allard: I have enjoyed the dialogue here today. But let me respectfully remind everyone that "dialogue" by itself achieves very little beyond making us feel better. The issue now is what we actually do about all those inconvenient facts about Iraq that have been avoided ever since the end of Desert Storm.
Not the least of which - interestingly enough, an issue which did not come up in your questions - is the fate of the Iraqi people, who have been murdered, oppressed, betrayed and starved by Saddam and his henchmen. Anyone care about them at all? Or is this just another unpleasant reality from which otherwise well-intentioned and well-informed people avert their eyes?
I hope not. So thanks again. And say a prayer for our troops as they are about to go in harm's way. Or better yet: go up to any one of them who you may see in uniform and simply tell them THANK YOU.
All the best,
COL USA (Ret)
That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.
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