Shifting Sands of Policy
In two crucial areas of national security interest – Iran and Iraq – the Clinton Administration promulgated strong polices but failed to implement them.
In two crucial areas of national security interest – Iran and Iraq – the Clinton Administration promulgated strong polices but failed to implement them. Now, in the face of international weariness with dual containment, the Administration may be looking for a way to end those policies instead of implementing them.
On Iraq: Under UN Security Council Resolution (SCR) 687 (April 1991), which set out the cease-fire terms for ending the Gulf War, Iraq is obliged to: (a) accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless of all its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and ballistic missiles with a range over 150 km, and research, development, and manufacturing facilities associated with the above; and (b) undertake not to develop such weapons in the future.
Seven years later, most of the world is tired of our failure to bring Saddam to heel or get rid of him. And the principles have begun to wobble. According to a well-placed source, the US will be changing its policy toward Iraq from “containment” to “deterrence” meaning we will only use military force against deployment or use of missiles or WMD – not their acquisition or possession. What then? After they are deployed, will we say, “The US will only retaliate against their use?” Or after they are used, will we say, “The US will only retaliate if they are used against someone we like?”
On Iran: The President supported passage of The Iran-Libya Containment Act to penalize countries and companies that invested heavily in those countries, providing their governments with hard currency. But the Administration failed to levy sanctions against a French-led consortium directing a $2 BILLION investment in Iranian gas fields.
Now, Rep. Lee Hamilton may be offering the President a way out. The influential former Chairman of the International Relations Committee has publicly called for dramatic changes in American policy toward Iran: beginning an official dialogue, ending any covert US effort to overthrow the regime, and dropping sanctions on European and other firms trading with Iran. He added that given a chance, today he would vote against the Containment Act, and called on the president to use a national-security waiver provision contained in the legislation to delay or drop sanctions.
This could set the stage for a change in US policy toward Iran without the Iranians having to take concrete steps to change their policy of WMD and ballistic missile technology acquisition or end their sponsorship of terrorism.
We’re sorry our European, Asian, Russian and Arab friends are tired of supporting our (minimal) stands against the proliferation of weapons that will threaten them before they threaten us. But we are really worried if the Administration finds it impossible to stick to its own (minimal) stands.