TOM DONNELLY, Deputy Executive Director
George W. Bush came
to office declaring he would defend Americas interests in
the Persian Gulf by reviving the vision of his fathers
Gulf War coalition. But more was promised. Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz were signatories to
a May 1998 letter, sponsored by the Project for the New American Century,
calling for the establishment of a provisional, free government in those
areas of northern and southern Iraq not under Saddams control. The
letter also argued that U.S. and allied military forces should be prepared
to support the Iraqi opposition and be prepared
to help remove
Saddam from power. Likewise, the Republican Party platform demanded
a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.
It now appears that
those campaign promises arent likely to be fulfilled. Although the
Bush Administration is in the midst of what is supposed to be a thoroughgoing
review of policy toward Iraq, the outcome is close to a foregone conclusion.
The sanctions imposed upon Iraq after Operation Desert Storm are in shreds,
and the UN this week would not even allow the fiction of an orderly American
retreat under the flag of smart sanctions. Saddam already
is earning enough to revive his missile and weapons of mass destruction
programs and UN inspectors were ejected from Iraq years ago.
In the wake of the
failure of the smart sanctions policy, it is increasingly
difficult to countenance the fiction that Saddam Hussein remains safely
in his box. If the Bush Administration compounds the problem
by embracing a defense review that takes a regime-changing ground
option off the table, Saddam will not only be free of the threat
of removal from power, but will have little to deter him from renewed
trouble-making and oppression in the region.