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Think tanks wrap-up

Oct. 15, 2002 at 6:57 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The UPI think tank wrap-up is a daily digest covering opinion pieces, reactions to recent news events and position statements released by various think tanks.


The Cato Institute

WASHINGTON -- Declassified CIA report undercuts Bush's desire to invade Iraq

by Ivan Eland

The CIA's newly declassified judgments on the likelihood of Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction severely undercut the Bush administration's case for attacking Iraq. The CIA noted that Iraq now appears to be deterred from initiating terrorist attacks against the United States with conventional, biological or chemical weapons. But if the United States invades Iraq and attempts to depose Saddam Hussein, the CIA concluded that he would be more likely to conduct such attacks.

According to the CIA's analysis, Saddam might decide that the extreme action of helping radical Islamist terrorists in carrying out a biological or chemical attack on the United States would be his last chance to get revenge by taking a large number of American victims with him. The CIA's assessment confirms what opponents of a U.S. invasion of Iraq have been arguing in public all along.

The uncovering of such analysis shows that the policy of deterring and containing Iraq does work and that a more aggressive policy of invasion could prove disastrous. The U.S. government's national security policy is supposed to enhance the security of the nation, not reduce it. Risking terrorist attacks against the United States with conventional, biological, or chemical weapons merely to remove a thug who has been successfully deterred and contained for more than a decade defies common sense.

Deterring and containing Iraq should be a much more manageable task than the successful deterrence and containment during the Cold War of a rival superpower -- the Soviet Union -- which possessed thousands of nuclear warheads and a bloody ideology of worldwide communist expansion. Despite hostility between the superpowers, the United States did not launch a risky attack against the Soviet Union to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power. Nor did the United States attack a tyrannical communist China under Mao Zedong as it obtained nuclear weapons during the 1960s.

Rather than insisting that opponents of attacking Iraq must prove that the tyrant Saddam Saddam would not launch an unprovoked attack on the United States with weapons of mass destruction, the president could better spend his time looking at the historical record and examining Saddam's incentive structure (as the CIA apparently has). In fact, because the president is the one who would put American sons and daughters in harm's way, the burden of proof is on him to show that it is not possible to continue deterring and containing Saddam.

Saddam was deterred during the Gulf War and ever since from attacking either the United States or Israel, both nuclear powers, with biological or chemical weapons. That's because, at the time, the United States threatened to use nuclear weapons in response to any Iraqi use of biological or chemical agents. Saddam previously used biological and chemical weapons against the Kurds and the Iranians, but these opponents do not have huge nuclear arsenals to use for massive retaliation. Even in the worst case -- if Iraq got nuclear weapons -- the thousands of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal should deter Saddam, who would possess only a few.

Saddam has also refrained from giving or selling biological and chemical weapons to the Iranian and Palestinian terrorist groups that he supports. Radical terrorist groups --including al Qaida -- in possession of such weapons and without a home address, could get the Iraqi government, which has a known location and a leader whose primary goal is survival, into a lot of trouble with the great powers. Saddam, ever paranoid, does not even let his own regular military units have biological and chemical weapons. So it is unlikely that he would give them to terrorists.

In its analysis, the CIA has apparently discovered such disincentives for Iraqi use or transfer of superweapons. But the CIA also understands that if the United States invades Iraq, Saddam's incentives change for the worse. Saddam could become a loose cannon and do exactly what the Bush administration is trying to prevent with an invasion. Under the deterrence and containment strategy, Saddam is like a lion in a cage. The threat that he poses has been circumscribed.

But the Bush administration's apparent desire for an invasion is like going into the cage with a stick and trying to kill the lion. The United States has a big stick and can probably kill the lion, but must expect to be bloodied in the process. Getting bloodied when the threat was already contained does not seem sensible.

Will the CIA's assessment put a damper on the invasion plans? In Washington, the invasion train has already left the station and is steaming down the track. Some of the more alert passengers are telling the engineer that a truck is blocking the tracks up ahead, but the engineer insists on opening the throttle wider. Unless the unlikely occurs and the train is stopped, a bloody mess could ensue.

(Ivan Eland is director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute, and author of the book, "Putting 'Defense' Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.")


The Reason Foundation

LOS ANGELES -- Arrogant Americans vs. Irresponsible Germans: Why Europe needs to show some backbone

By Doug Bandow

The United States remains at war in Afghanistan, has troops searching for terrorists throughout Africa and Southeast Asia, and is preparing to initiate war against Iraq. As if that weren't enemies enough, Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, wants to add Germany to the list, calling on newly reelected Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to resign.

Why? Because Schroeder criticized U.S. policy towards Iraq.

"Never in my life have I seen relations with a close ally damaged so fast and so deeply," says Perle.

Instead of recoiling at the thought of Berlin proclaiming policy independence, Washington should use the opportunity to push Europe towards defense independence.

Without a Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, there is nothing against which America must defend the Europeans. Unfortunately, neither side has conducted itself with much maturity in the ongoing international spat. The Bush administration believes that allies such as Germany should do what it says, no questions asked. The Schroeder administration believes that Germany deserves a significant say in international relations, while shrinking its military and relying on Washington to resolve tough global problems.

Despite Washington's claims to undisputed international leadership, Berlin is entitled to set its own foreign policy. Even when the Soviet threat helped maintain a degree of European unity, interests between America and its allies often diverged. It is even more natural today that other NATO members look at the world differently than does America. Especially when it comes to launching an unprovoked war in the world's least stable region.

That Washington believes itself to be the final arbiter of every dispute everywhere on earth bothers some Americans; it certainly should concern Europeans. Stuart Reid, British deputy editor of The Spectator, notes that even some British conservatives have "begun to look to Europe as a bulwark against the spread of American ideas."

In fact, the Unite States will act more responsibly only when confronted with consistent and firm opposition from other major powers. Thus, Washington should be sobered rather than angered that Chancellor Schroeder, backed by German voters, is not enamored with Washington's aggressive plans against Iraq.

Still, it is understandable why Europe has so little influence over American policy. Europe as a whole is a security black hole for America. True, some analysts made much of the fact that after the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history, formally declaring the attack on the United States to be an attack on all.

But expressions of solidarity are cheap. Providing a handful of special forces and lending a couple of AWACS planes would not have been necessary were the United State not devoting a substantial share of its military to defending Europe. The Europeans would do far more for America by simply garrisoning their own continent, instead of expecting the United States to maintain 100,000 troops to protect populous, prosperous industrialized states, as well as another 13,000 to enforce order in the Balkans, a region of no strategic interest to America.

In short, Europe currently consumes U.S. defense resources while providing few assets in return. Yet the alliance is considering including several Central and Eastern European nations.

Expanding NATO will offer no benefits to America. Rather, doing so will extend U.S. security guarantees to peripheral regions without augmenting Western military power.

And there is no doubt that it would be Washington that would be expected to resolve any new security problems. The membership might be in NATO, but the security guarantee would be American. It's not likely to be German troops confronting Russian forces in, say, any dispute with Latvia.

Washington's goal should be to turn NATO into a European-manned and European-run alliance while concentrating its own resources on genuine threats to its own security. That, however, requires a Germany that is serious about international leadership, including taking a more active military posture.

Obviously history remains a deterrent, though Berlin has begun participating in international military operations, most importantly in the Balkans and Afghanistan. But instead of taking on serious international responsibilities and building a potent, future-oriented military, Berlin lets the Unite States do the heavy lifting and relies on an outmoded conscript force. Indeed, as Washington dramatically hiked military spending -- President Bush's proposed increase of $46 billion next year is more than any state other than Russia spends in total -- Berlin has steadily shrunk defense outlays.

Washington currently outspends the Federal Republic of Germany by more than 10 to one. America's force deployment in Germany is the equivalent to almost one-fifth of the entire Bundeswehr.

In short, why should anyone, least of all America, take Germany's international pretensions seriously?

Schroeder unveiled his stance as the peace candidate a bare month before the election, without offering a larger, independent foreign policy vision. That would mean devoting the resources necessary to build a capable military, and ending Germany's and Europe's security dependence on Washington. It would involve joining with other European states to create a genuinely independent military and foreign policy, and refusing to allow the United States to use German territory to launch military missions that it opposes.

The last step -- forbidding use of German facilities for U.S. military operations -- is particularly important. Rhetoric alone will inspire only contempt in Washington. For Chancellor Schroeder to criticize America's plans in Iraq, but not take the one step that might slow down the Bush administration's rush to war, shows that he is interested only in cheap political gain.

Washington has long wanted Europe to do more militarily; Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently proposed a rapid reaction force for use outside of Europe. But America still does not want to share decision-making authority with its allies.

Indeed, at the NATO summit in Warsaw Rumsfeld admitted that the alliance had not been asked -- which means it is not likely to be asked -- to play a formal role in any war with Iraq: "It hasn't crossed my mind; we've not proposed it."

The administration wants doormats, not allies. Germany and Europe don't have to remain irrelevant, however. The Schroeder-Bush fight offers Berlin and other European states a unique opportunity to strike a more independent course. It's time for Washington to encourage such a change.

(Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and the author and editor of several books. He is a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan.)

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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