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SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): The meeting of the Foreign Relations Committee is called to order.
This is the third of a series of hearings on the post-conflict Iraq situation. During our first two hearings, administration witnesses identified the needs and problems in rebuilding Iraq, and outlined the administration's responses. Those hearings have given the American public and the Congress insight into the complex decisions involved in formulating United States policies in post- conflict Iraq.
Today, the Foreign Relations Committee will hear from expert witnesses from outside the Bush administration. And we welcome Ambassador Peter Galbraith, from the National Defense University, a long-time associate of this committee, and, of course, a former ambassador.
And Dr. Geoffrey Kemp, director of regional strategic programs and the Nixon Center, who was very helpful to the committee prior to Iraq, and we look forward to his comments, especially at this juncture.
And Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, co-chair of the Council on Foreign Relations task force which recently published the report "Iraq: The Day After," an extensive and very important contribution. And Ambassador Wisner is a many-time participant in our hearings, a long-time friend of all of us.
We are delighted that all three of you are here to share your wisdom this morning.
Now, each of these experts has a wealth of experience and knowledge on Iraq, the Middle East region, and United States foreign policy. And we've asked them to examine our policies and our plans in Iraq from three perspectives.
First of all, how should the United States deal with domestic issues in Iraq and in other Middle East countries? In particular, how can we promote the prospects for democracy, for stability, for economic reform, all simultaneously?
And second, what are the repercussions of United States policies in Iraq on regional political and economic issues, on traditional regional alignments, and on the evolving Middle East peace process, which the president has become very, very much involved in recent days.
Finally, what is the likely impact of our policies in Iraq on broader foreign policy concerns, including the war on terrorism, non- proliferation efforts generally, and our relations with the United Nations, our NATO allies, and other nations?
The ramifications of United States policies in Iraq go far beyond the Iraqi people or Iraqi territory. Nations throughout the Middle East, including regimes that have supported terrorists, are assessing how the United States and coalition reconstruction of Iraq will affect their own interests.
An American presence in Iraq that is devoted to achieving democracy and a healthy economy puts enormous pressure on states in the region to undertake reform. It improves our ability to encourage the transformation of repressive countries such as Iran and Syria, and to promote the liberation of minorities across the Middle East.
The achievement of democracy and a sound economy in Iraq could dispel growing anti-American and dampen Islamic extremism and terrorism. It could raise expectations in the region for general economic growth, personal freedom, and women's rights. By improving United States credibility, underscoring the benefits of participation in the global economy, success in Iraq could also provide added impetus for a permanent diplomatic resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
But, these opportunities will not be realized if we fail in Iraq. In the worst case scenario, an ineffective or unsuccessful reconstruction effort could lead to sustained civil unrest or even open civil war between ethnic or religious factions. In that event, Middle East states might become more repressive, more entrenched, their populations more divided and extremists. Anti-American sentiments already festering could spread, leading to an increased threat of terrorism.
As we work to reconstruct Iraq, we must prepare for unintended consequences of our efforts, and this the committee has stressed during the chairmanship of my distinguished colleague, Senator Biden, last year, and during the extensive discussion of Iraq which we have had this year. If United States policies inspire more agitation for democracy in Iran, for instance, a crackdown by the mullahs might ensue.
In Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, while reformers may be strengthened, existing divisions might be intensified, leading to instability in countries that have long been friends of the United States. These states already face demographic pressures, stagnant economic growth, uncertain political succession, and smoldering regional disputes which threaten to undercut stability.
None of this, in my judgment, should dissuade us from pursuing the most aggressive and effective reconstruction and reform agenda possible in Iraq, but we must be flexible enough to deal with problems and consequences and farsighted to see those consequences throughout the region. Achieving ambitious goals in Iraq and the Middle East will require that we act with both patience and a sense of urgency. We must understand that our prospects for success depend greatly on what we do in the next several months.
Right now we are at a critical stage in that reconstruction, and no expense should be spared to show signs of progress and to demonstrate our commitment. But we must also keep in mind Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz's admonition, to avoid unrealistic expectations. Success may not be instant, and we have to prepare to stay in Iraq as long as necessary to win the peace. And if the international community knows that the United States will not run out of patience in Iraq, we may find it easier to generate contributions that reduce our burdens and to gain support for our diplomatic initiatives.
The military victory in Iraq has presented us with a once in a generation opportunity to help remold the Middle East. We must speak frequently to the American people about the costs and benefits of seizing this opportunity. Historically, Americans have been anxious to disengage from post-war commitments. This impulse is understandable, but in the case of Iraq, we do not have the luxury of disengaging after the battles have been fought. It would be irresponsible and contrary to our own national security interest to walk away from Iraq before it becomes a dependable member of the world community. We would provide an incubator for terrorist cells and activity.
The American people know this. A recent poll by the program on international policy editors found that an overwhelming 86 percent said the United States has, quote, "the responsibility to remain in Iraq as long as necessary until there is a stable government." End of quote. And nearly as many, 73 percent, said that pulling out prematurely, quote, "would be unwise and immoral." End of quote.
As leaders, the president and Congress must make the case for why we are risking American lives and spending American resources in Iraq. We may spar over particular policy decisions, but we must not let partisanship or inattention undermine the basic United States commitment to rebuilding and democratizing the country.
It's my privilege to turn now to the distinguished ranking member, Senator Biden, for his opening statement.
A Senator from Delaware, and
Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
As is often stated on the floor of the Senate, I'd like to associate myself with your remarks, in the interest of time. You've covered all or most of all I had planned on saying in my opening statement, and it will not surprise our witnesses we're in agreement, you and I, on this subject.
I would like to emphasize just two, maybe three points. One, is the poll results you cited are encouraging. I have been of the view, and you know this well -- you share the same view -- that the American people are prepared to do whatever they are told or convinced is in the interest of the United States, including making sacrifices. We are going to see more body bags come home. They're going to come in dribs and drabs, as we both, you and I, predicted last October. If we have only American uniforms guarding oil fields, guarding buildings, guarding checkpoints, guarding -- maintaining peace and order, it's inevitable. And it is a -- it's a heck of a price to pay, but it's an inevitable price to pay.
It's also going to cost us and the world community, God willing, if we do this right, billions of dollars. There's not enough oil in Iraq to provide for all of the needs, let alone the billeting of our troops in that country for the expected time. And that expected time, to most informed observers, is a whole lot more than a year, and less than 10. Everybody can argue in between, but nobody is any longer talking about being able to bring American forces home in the near term.
And -- which leads me to the primary point that I wish to make, and I hope our witnesses will speak to, and that is that, as I said, I firmly believe if you tell the American people the facts, they will do whatever it takes, and they're prepared to do it. One of the things that this notion about the -- Secretary Wolfowitz saying we cannot have unrealistic expectation, the American people have no real good expectation yet because they have not been told yet by the president or others what is likely to be expected of them, other than the generic phrase "well stay as long as it takes."
And we're soon going to find, I predict, that an awful lot of those National Guard units from Delaware, and Indiana, and California, and Wisconsin, and all over the United States who are there, who are now being extended for another six months, and eight months, and four months, you're going to find that in the neighborhoods back home, people are going to want a broader, clearer explanation of what is expected, and what it's going to take.
And so I'm going to ask at some point, not that any of the three are military experts, but what are the realistic expectations of how long we are going to be deeply involved -- whether that means with 75,000 forces, or where we have now over 160,000 forces, or whether that means with large numbers of deployed MPs or whatever it means, we ought -- just what is -- what are we talking about here? What do these three experts think we're talking about here in terms of duration, in broad terms? Broad terms. I'm not looking for someone to say 16 months and four days, or nine years and two months, but just in broad terms.
And the other point that I'd like to make and I'll cease, is before the war, we heard a great deal of discussion about the so- called democracy domino theory. And I'd like to hear our witnesses talk about what impact they think will occur in the region if we handle the situation in Iraq well, as it relates to democratization in the region, and what is the impact -- it's a version of what you said, Mr. Chairman -- if we do not get it right.
And most importantly, I'd like to know from these three men who I have inordinately -- an inordinate amount of respect for -- I mean, they've been before this committee, and I count two of them as personal friends, because I've known them longer and I've known the more intimately -- I'd like to know what you all think constitutes success in post-Saddam Iraq. What is it? Because we talk about democratization, we talk about stability, we talk about -- we use a lot of phrases, but I'm not sure what we really mean by what constitutes success.
For me, the notion of being able to have a democratic -- a liberal, democratic government in Iraq in the near term would be difficult even if the Lord Almighty came down and sat at the witness table and told us every single decision to make. I think it would be difficult even with divine guidance. But I do think it's possible to have a stable democracy, to paraphrase a delegate from Pennsylvania at the Continental Convention, that squints toward democracy, one that is -- that is more of a republic, that has a growing and sustained respect for human rights, for the rule of law, for the marketplace. And -- but I think that's a pretty tall order all by itself.
So, in conclusion, I'd like to get a sense at some point from the witnesses what they think constitutes, would constitute success in Iraq. And again, we have a number of specific questions, all of us. I really am grateful to the three of you for being here. We've called on you many times, and the record should note that the chairman and I and others on this committee call on you personally as well. Poor Dr. Kemp was sequestered in my office for about two or three hours this week, my asking his advice. I do the same with Peter. I've often done it with Frank. And so, your commitment to trying to get this right across party lines, in a bipartisan way, is something that is -- that is greatly appreciated and very much needed.
So, I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm anxious to hear our witnesses.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you, Senator Biden. Let me indicate that we'll hear the witnesses in the order of, first of all Ambassador Galbraith and Dr. Kemp, and then Ambassador Wisner. All of your statements will be made a part of the record in full, so you need not ask for that to happen, it will. And each of you may proceed to summarize or extemporize, but present the ideas that you have in the most effective way possible. The chair will be liberal in terms of the time that's required to do that because the purpose of the hearing is to hear you, not to constrain you, but make sure that your ideas are fully presented, and then we will have questioning by the members.
Procedurally, there will be a roll call vote, I'm advised, on the Senate floor, at 11:00 a.m., so at that point we probably will have completed the original testimony by the witnesses, we'll be into the questioning period. We'll take a short recess that members may vote and come back, and so we will ask for your patience during that recess.
So, now I'm privileged to call upon you, Ambassador Galbraith, for your testimony.
Faculty, National Defense University,
Associate, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
and Former Ambassador
MR. PETER GALBRAITH: Mr. Chairman, Senator Biden, Senator Feingold, Senator Alexander, as a former staff member of this committee, it is, of course, a real honor to be invited back to testify. And I consider that the work I did for this committee in the 1980s and '90s documenting the atrocities of the Saddam Hussein regime, to have been some of the most important of my career. And what I talk about today draws on 20 years of experience with Iraq, as well as a three-week trip I took shortly after American forces entered Baghdad, from April 13th to May 2nd of this year.
I would note for the record, since I am an employee of the Department of Defense and the National Defense University, as it will be pretty obvious, my views do not necessarily reflect the views of those institutions.
Operation Iraqi Freedom has transformed Iraq. Even Iraqis opposed to the American occupation embrace the result -- that is, the removal of Saddam Hussein. And in three weeks, I saw many scenes of joyful liberation. Shi'ites exuberantly marching on a pilgrimage to Karbala that had been banned for 27 years. Kurds posing for family pictures on ruined Iraqi tanks. Picnickers playing soccer in one of Saddam Hussein's vast -- grounds of one of Saddam Hussein's vast palaces in Mosul. And ex-political prisoners banging away at toppled statutes of the fallen dictator. And everywhere I saw the evidence of the horror of Saddam's regime -- men, literally, digging up corpses with their bare hands, names inscribed on dank cell walls of people, shortly before being executed, and everywhere Iraqis holding faded pictures and scraps of paper as they searched for loved ones who had disappeared.
Because of this exceptional record of genocide, murder and cruelty, I believe President Bush's decision to remove this regime from power can be fully justified as a humanitarian intervention, very similar to those the United States undertook in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, U.S. goals in Iraq have been, in my view, seriously undermined by the conduct of the immediate post-war period. This includes the failure to stop the catastrophic looting of Baghdad, the slow pace of restoring essential services, and an uncertain and confused approach to post-war governance.
When the United States entered Baghdad on April 9th, it entered a city largely undamaged by a carefully executed military campaign. However, in the three weeks following the U.S. takeover, unchecked looting effectively gutted every important public institution in the city, with the notable exception of the oil ministry. The physical losses include the national library, which was looted and burned. Equivalent to our Library of Congress, it held every book published in Iraq, as all newspapers from the last century, as well as rare manuscripts. The Iraqi National Museum, where the losses numbers in the thousands -- not as bad as we originally thought, but still large, and in value over $100 million; banks, hospitals and public health institutions; the universities in Baghdad and Mosul, where it's not just the equipment and furniture that's gone, but decades of academic research; and government ministries, almost all of which were looted and/or burned.
Even more surprising, the United States failed to secure sites related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program or obvious locations holding important intelligence. Ten days after the Marines took over Baghdad, looters were banging open safes and setting fires in Iraq's unguarded Foreign Ministry. Important sites related to Iraq's WMD program, such as the Iraqi version of the Centers for Disease Control, for the Tuwithi Nuclear Facility were left open to looters and were looted. There is a remote chance, and I think very remote chance, that dangerous biological or radiological material could end up in the hands of terrorists. But what is fairly certain is that the United States lost vital information related to WMD procurement, Iraqi foreign intelligence activities, and possible links to al Qaeda. I've described this in more detail in my prepared statement.
The looting was both predictable -- it happened in 1991 -- and at least partially preventable. In spite of meticulous planning for the war fighting, I saw no evidence of any plan to secure critical sites. Obviously U.S. forces could not protect everything. But even the more limited forces that entered Baghdad could have protected more. The looting cost billions in property damages, demoralized educated Iraqis with whom we will want to work, and undermined Iraqi confidence and respect for the occupation authorities. This has complicated the task of the coalition provisional authority, and in my view has likely increased the risk to U.S. personnel in the country.
The fall of Saddam Hussein has left a political vacuum that the U.S. civilian authorities were slow to fill. General Garner did not arrive in Baghdad until 13 days after the Marines entered the city, and did not effectively set up operations for days after that. Even today staff of the coalition provisional authority remain ensconced behind concertina wire in Saddam's palaces, traveling around Baghdad only with full military escort.
The lack of preparation and planning, as well as the much publicized bureaucratic battles between agencies of the United States government, have created confusion in the minds of Iraqis, and undermined confidence in the coalition. Early on Garner and his team moved to reappoint prominent Ba'athists to top positions. Then on May 16th, Ambassador Bremer announced that all senior Ba'athists were disqualified from top posts. Similarly, General Garner traveled around Iraq, promising that a representative Sunnist assembly would soon be named to choose a provisional government. Ambassador Bremer reduced the Iraqi participation in the new administration to a small appointed advisory council. These radical changes of course contribute to an impression of incoherence.
The first weeks of the U.S. occupation have shown the limits of American power in Iraq, and the missteps have served to limit American power in the country. In my judgment, any occupying power has a relatively short window before the good will generated by liberation is replaced by anger and frustration at the inevitable lack of progress in improving the quality of life of the people of the country. For the reasons outlined above, the United States may have an especially short window in Iraq. This, in my view, involves transferring real power to Iraqis as soon as possible. The problem is: Which Iraqis?
The coalition provisional authority should in my view give up the search for mythical insiders who can help lead Iraq to prosperity and democracy. Unless we plan on staying in Iraq for the decade or more needed to develop alternative leadership, we must work with the leadership that exists, and these are the former exiles and the Kurdish leaders. Iraqis, even if exiles and Kurds, will have more local knowledge than the coalition authorities, enabling them to avoid some of the more obvious mistakes the Americans have made. And from the U.S. perspective it is far better to have Iraqis blaming their own provisional government for the inevitable shortcomings of the occupation than for everyone to be blaming the United States.
The long-term challenge facing the United States in Iraq is developing a democratic political system while holding the country together. Decades of dictatorship have contributed to a crisis of identity within Iraq that cannot be wished away. While there are many Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs who proudly consider themselves Iraqi, many other Shi'ites look at themselves primarily through the prism of their religion. As an oppressed monopoly, many feel it is their turn to run the country on their own. The Ba'ath ideology encouraged Arabs to think of themselves less as Iraqis and more as part of the larger Arab nation. Sunni Arabs, now fearful of losing their historic privileges, may again find pan-Arabism an attractive alternative to minority status within Iraq.
For the last 12 years, four million Kurds have governed themselves in a de facto independent state protected by the United States and Great Britain. With their own elected parliament and having enjoyed relative freedom and prosperity, the Kurds have no desire to return to control from Baghdad. For most Iraqi Kurds, Baghdad is associated with decades of oppression, and more recently Saddam Hussein's genocide. With Kurdish replacing Arabic as the language of the schools in the north, of the media and the government, the Iraqi identity has largely disappeared in the Kurdish region, especially among younger people. While Kurdish leaders understand that independence is not a realistic option, virtually no Kurd would choose to be Iraqi if given a free choice. And over the long term it is in my judgment hard to hold the democracy together where the population a geologically defined area overwhelmingly does not want to be part of that country.
Holding Iraq together by force is not an option. The Kurds now control the only remaining Iraqi army, the 100,000-strong Peshmurga, who possess the heavy weapons they have long coveted. It is unlikely that a future Iraqi regime will have the power to destroy Kurdish self-government, and inconceivable that the United States would or could coerce the Kurdistan region into accepting political arrangements for a future Iraq that did not include a continuation of much of the current level of self-government. The Kurds after all were America's second major ally in the recent war, sustaining more casualties than the British, and compensating for Turkey's non- cooperation by creating the desperately needed northern front.
If Iraq cannot be held together by force, then the only alternative is to build incentives for its peoples to form a voluntary union. Fortunately the prospect of oil revenue does provide an incentive for Iraq's diverse peoples to stay together. The Iraqi opposition has long supported federalism as a model for a future Iraq, a position both secular Arab and Shi'ite religious parties have reaffirmed since the fall of Baghdad. While there are different views of federalism, it will clearly be a loose federation. The Kurds look to Canada and Bosnia as possible models. They will want a single Kurdistan parliament and government, the power to tax and spend, control police, ownership of natural resources, while although oil revenues they likely would want to see pooled, and the right to maintain a Kurdistan self-defense force. Like Canada, the Kurds will insist on equality of the Kurdish and Arab languages, and that Arab Iraq not define itself as an Arab state.
It is not clear how the Arab parts of Iraq would organize themselves. Some Shi'ite leaders have spoken of creating a predominantly Shi'ite province in the south that would in essence be a mirror of the Kurdistan province. Others have spoken of using the existing Arab government as a basis for federalism. It is likely that a future Iraqi federation will be asymmetric, meaning Kurdistan will have more power than other federal units.
Federalism, especially when combined with revenue-sharing, resolves many of the contradictions of modern Iraq. In the south, the Shi'ite religious parties may be able to adopt a more Islamic form of local administration without imposing it on the aggressively secular Kurdish Kurds or on all of Baghdad. Federalism may help ease the fears from Sunni Arabs about domination from an unholy alliance of Kurds and Shi'ites. And federalism may persuade the Kurdish people over time that they can have a place within Iraq.
Creating a federation will be complicated. Among the difficult issues to be resolved will be the boundaries of different provinces, and particularly how much territory south and west of the former green line would be included in Kurdistan. Presumably this would have to be resolved by local referendums or censuses. All parties will have to take into account the interests of other communities who may have their own demands for self-government, such as the Turkmans, Assyrians and Chaldeans. The United States should refrain from opposing its own views on the outcome, and should avoid coercing any of the parties into accepting political arrangements they will later regret.
It seems to me that President Bush had it right when he outlined his vision of Iraq as a place where Shi'ite and Sunni and the Kurds can get along in a federation. Indeed, in my view this is the only way Iraq can long survive. Thank you.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Dr. Galbraith.
Dr. Kemp, would you please give us your testimony?
Director of Regional Strategic Programs,
The Nixon Center
MR. KEMP: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Chairman and Senator Biden, for your kind remarks. I believe these hearings are very timely. And I just might as a footnote that I actually worked for this committee way back in 1976 as a consultant. And at that time the preoccupation was the implications of the major American military presence in Iran, and what that meant for the region. So I guess it's familiar territory for me.
I was asked to talk about some of the broader regional issues stemming from the ongoing situation in Iraq. And I will do that, but I would just like to preface it with a couple of background notes which I think reflect some of the points you've all made so far this morning. I mean, it's interesting to recall that in the months preceding the Iraq war when the international debate took place on the wisdom and the consequences of using military forces to overthrow Saddam Hussein, one issue on which both supporters and proponents of the war concurred was that the U.S. and its allies would defeat the Iraqi forces, and that the most difficult problems were likely to arise after victory. And this prediction was correct. The short-term glory of a quick, decisive and remarkably effective military victory has been replaced by a more sober realization of America's long-term strategic commitments to the region.
Most troubling of these events, of course, the problems of how to reconstitute Iraq's military forces and bring law, order and a better quality of life to the citizens of Baghdad, Basra and other Iraqi cities. Particularly difficult is the need to bring responsible Iraqis into the decision-making process, while assuring a balance of representative leaders within Iraq's diverse population. How to deal with the majority Shi'a population is probably the most complicated task.
Now, when we go and look at the regional issues and how Iraq affects that, I think it's important to remember that there were lots of benefits for Iraq's regional neighbors while he was in power, because so long as he was in power he posed no direct military threat to his neighbors, thanks to U.N. sanctions and the formidable U.S. presence in the region and the enforcement of the northern and southern no-fly zones. Iraq's oil exports were contained by lack of investment in the U.S. oil-for-food program; a tight but by no means fool-proof embargo on military supplies assured that Iraq's conventional weapons were not in good condition. Nevertheless, under these constrained circumstances, Saddam retained enough internal power to rigidly control his country and prevent large-scale instability. These conditions suited a number of neighbors, especially Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Farther afield, traditional rivals of Iraq, such as Egypt, did not have to share the limelight with the leader of Baghdad, who was isolated in Arab circles and unable to exert Iraq's traditional influences on Arab politics. Many countries directly or indirectly, profited from the flourishing black- market trade with the Saddam regime.
With the coalition victory, these perks have all ended. So several realities must be acknowledged at the outset, particularly when discussing short-term conditions. Until Saddam and his entourage are found dead or alive and the issue of Iraq's WMD is resolved and the day-to-day conditions of Iraq is improved, it would be premature to pass judgment on what has happened in the war except in the short term.
Postwar scenarios are always messy. And while clearly there was a lack of foresight in preparation for the aftermath of Saddam Hussein, perhaps because his army collapsed so quickly, Iraq is very much a work in progress, and therefore requires the most careful scrutiny by the U.S. Congress and the American public; hence the reason I'm so pleased you're having these hearings.
This is the time to look at the facts on the ground and interpret them in a sound and sober manner. No one anymore doubts the effectiveness of U.S. military power in destroying regimes such as the Taliban and the Iraqi Ba'athists, but the early mistakes of the administration in handling the postwar reconstruction need to be fixed quickly.
At this time, post-Saddam Iraq does not look like postwar Germany or Japan. It looks more like Afghanistan or Bosnia. The coming months will be decisive in determining whether or not a brilliant military campaign and faulty postwar policies can be formulated into a successful outcome.
Now, I'd like to focus on three regional countries and how they're affected by what's happening in Iraq and the perennial problem of our European allies. One country I think it's important to talk about is Syria. During the first week of the fighting, when things were not going so well for the coalition, the leader of Syria, Mr. Bashar al-Assad, gave a blistering interview to the Lebanese newspaper Assafir in which he, in effect, called for guerrilla operations against American occupying forces, equivalent to those conducted against both the United States and Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s.
However, once the war went well for the coalition, both Secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell weighed in against Syria, including a visit by Secretary Powell to Damascus. Since that time, Syria has remained quiescent. One reason for this is that the United States has been on record for many months indicating that Syria's involvement and support for terrorism that kills Americans, notably its protection of Hezbollah, will eventually become a target for U.S. wrath.
This was put very explicitly by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in an address to the U.S. Institute of Peace on September the 5th, 2002, when he said, in effect, "Hezbollah is part of the A team and we will come after them."
So Syria, Mr. Chairman, finds itself in a difficult position, accused of harboring Ba'athist renegades and possibly storing Iraqi weapons. Syria fears that Iraq could emerge, with American help, as a powerful challenge to its own influence and interests in the region. And therefore it may have an interest in destabilizing our presence there.
However, the Syrians must be very careful, for they now have to consider that on their border they have three extremely powerful military establishments: Turkey, Israel and the United States. Any false move by Syria could prove fatal to the Assad regime.
However, Syria, along with its neighbor Lebanon, will want to keep the pot boiling, if only because both Syria and Lebanon have unresolved issues with Israel. In the case of Syria, until the Golan Heights problem is addressed as part of a formal agreement with Israel, Syria's interests will lie in non-cooperation with the United States, but not to the point where it is likely to attract a military response.
Now we come to Iran, which I think may be the most important country at this point in time. Iran has huge stakes in what is happening in Iraq. It also has the most potential to influence, for good or ill, how the situation in Iraq emerges.
Of course, there was no love for Saddam Hussein in Iran and no tears when his regime was ousted. Iranians are still bitter about their isolation during the eight-year war with Iraq and the fact that they were victims of massive chemical attacks. Nevertheless, as described above, they benefited from Saddam Hussein's control of the country and his containment.
Now they face a formidable American presence on all their borders. They are literally surrounded by American military power, whether in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq or Turkey. Iranians fear both a strong pro-western Iraq, but also an unstable Iraq that they do not control.
Iran will be under great pressure from its own nationalists to continue to exercise a nuclear insurance policy; that is to say, build a nuclear infrastructure, but not to cross the nuclear threshold and build nuclear weapons, not at least at this point in time.
Iran will clearly be influenced by how the United States handles the Iraqi military situation and how we deal with the rebuilding of the Iraqi armed forces as they consider their own security needs. If the United States sets out to provide Iraq with modern conventional technology, including weapons that could ultimately have an offensive capability, then Iran will clearly continue its own strategic modernization and perhaps cross the nuclear threshold.
However, the most immediate issue for Iran is the future of the Shi'ite community in Iraq. As the majority group, the Shi'ites have the power to determine Iraq's future. It would be quite wrong to assume that Iran controls the Iraqi Shi'a, yet they do have strong influence with certain Shi'ite factions.
Control for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi Shi'ites is perhaps the most serious problem confronting both the United States and Iran. Many Iranian reformers -- that is to say, those who want to change the constitution of the Iranian regime rather than mount a counterrevolution -- believe that the re-emergence of Najaf as a center for Shi'ite learning will have a powerful impact on the theocracy of the Iranian revolution and could strengthen the hands of those who believe that hardline Iranian mullahs will have their authority further undermined if countervailing theocratic voices emerge in Najaf, voices that are respected and listened to by a growing number of Iran's more moderate clerics.
Thus the future of the Teheran regime may be affected by how the United States manages the Shi'ite question in Iraq. If it does so in a sensible and effective way, it could achieve the best of both worlds for Iraq and those in Iran who want modernization and reform. For Iran's hardline mullahs, the coming months will be crucial for the future of their power base.
If events go badly for the coalition forces in Iraq, with more and more attacks on U.S. and UK soldiers, some Iranians may be tempted to use the occasion to further undermine the American presence by participating in terrorism. The effect of this would be to draw American forces deeper into the occupation of Iraq and would at some point lead to voices in the United States calling for massive retaliation against Iran if its sponsorship of such acts was clear and proven.
Alternatively, if the mullahs decide to be pragmatic and to follow a wait-and-see policy, then there are those in Iran who believe that there are opportunities for the United States in Teheran to address some of their long-standing disputes and for Iran to reappraise its own foreign policy on matters such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, support of Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and even their nuclear program.
Were the Iranians to use the new balance of power in the region to reassess their relationship with America, this could indeed become one of the great positive outcomes of the war. But for this to happen, Mr. Chairman, the United States must adopt a more sophisticated and nuanced policy towards Iran and stop using simplistic sloganeering, including extremely unwise and potentially dangerous talk about destabilizing or overthrowing the regime in Teheran.
Such behavior will only convince the hardline mullahs that they must resist the American military presence and make it difficult for the reformers, both inside and outside the government and on the universities and the streets, to push for their own reforms.
Now the question of Israel, Mr. Chairman. Aside from Kuwait, no country benefited more in the short run from the coalition victory than Israel. Ever since the founding of the Jewish state in 1948, the Israeli military's strategic concerns focused on threats from three primary fronts -- Egypt, Syria and the East.
So long as Iraq was controlled by a hostile leader, Iraq's military potential could never be ignored by Israel, particularly since it had engaged in previous Arab-Israeli wars. The Israeli fear was that if Saddam was not removed decisively by the United States, there could come a time where he would be able to reconstitute his weapons programs, the sanctions would end, and Iraq would, in a matter of years, re-establish itself as the predominant military power in the peninsula.
This is no longer the case. Israel now has strategic dominance over all its neighbors and no longer has to worry about an eastern front. It is the only nuclear power in the region and has the support and largess of the United States.
Some Israelis believe, possibly even Prime Minister Sharon himself, that for this reason Israel must use the victory in Iraq to make bold strategic decisions about its own future with the Palestinians and its place in the Middle East.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, what about Europe and NATO? All these scenarios about what's going to happen in Iraq are subject to the ebbs and flows of the reconstruction and stabilization program itself. In the worst case one can imagine the situation where the United States finds itself deeper and deeper embroiled in counterterrorist operations and U.S. casualties continue to mount on a daily, if not weekly, basis.
Once the number of U.S. casualties lost in the postwar period exceeds those lost during the war itself, the political stakes of the administration will become even greater. How long the American people will wish to stay in such an inhospitable region without clear results is anyone's guess. And I think this is one of the reasons you asked us these questions today. The betting might be perhaps not forever.
On the other hand, if things go better than expected in Iraq and a viable leadership emerges within a year, then indeed the contagion effect, the positive contagion effect, may have benefits for the region and international security.
However, Mr. Chairman, whatever happens, the United States cannot do it alone; why it is so important eventually to bring in outside powers, including the much-maligned Europeans. Despite the hope on the part of some that Europe would just stop meddling in the Middle East, geopolitical realities rule this out.
It is Europe, not the United States, which is adjacent to the Middle East. The EU is Israel's largest trading partner. As EU expansion continues, perhaps eventually including Turkey, its relationship with the Middle East and the Muslim world will grow ever closer. But this in turn could lead to serious conflict potential, as representative governments continue to elude most Middle Eastern countries.
Europeans argue, with frequency that we are all familiar with, that a failure to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict has a profoundly negative impact on the political and social environment in the Middle East, which in turn affects the Europeans directly.
This finally brings up the question of NATO and its potential involvement in Iraq. If the United States and Britain decide that a broader military presence is required, NATO is the natural choice, as has been the case in Afghanistan. A NATO decision to participate would go a long way to repair the bitter schisms that developed in the period leading up to the war.
However, such a development would invariably mean that key NATO members other than the U.S. and UK would have to have a greater say in the management of Iraq. This could be to the benefit of the United States, which has neither the temperament nor the will to be a permanent hegemon in such an inhospitable region of the world.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Dr. Kemp. Ambassador Wisner.
AMBASSADOR FRANK G. WISNER
Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations Task Force
MR. WISNER: Senator Lugar, Senator Biden, it is a real pleasure to be here again before your committee and to join two men who I respect as much as I do, Mr. Galbraith and Mr. Kemp. And Senator Alexander, it's an honor as well to be able to appear before you, I think, for the first time.
I bring to the table today some reflections on the two subjects that Mr. Galbraith and Mr. Kemp have addressed on Iraq and on the region around it, borne of a number of years of experience in the region, including my own time in the diplomatic service, which included a time as ambassador in Egypt during the first Gulf War; a period of reflection on nearly two and a half decades of Saddam's persistent attempts to undermine American interests in the region, repress his own country, engage in terror and subversion, and commit aggression against his neighbors.
I bring as well today, Senator Lugar, to the table the reflections that were put together by the Council on Foreign Relations in two publications that came out earlier this year, and both of which I will leave for the record today.
In my written testimony, I have advanced a number of contentions about the situation and about American policy. Let me summarize these in four points.
The first, which I consider absolutely vital as all of us look at the future in Iraq, is the issue of the maintenance of law and order, of public security. The United States has done a number of things right in Iraq, but one has to recognize that where we've succeeded, we've made a huge contribution to the liberation of the country through feeding its population. We're moving rapidly to re-establish its infrastructure.
That said, it is time now to move to involve a broader international community, as my two fellow witnesses have pointed out. We've begun to do so by establishing the basis of international legitimacy with the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483.
We are already sharing the humanitarian and stabilization burdens of Iraq, and we're starting to reach out for financial support. These are powerfully important directions in American policy, for we cannot and should not try to bear the burden alone, but broaden the base to increase the legitimacy of ours and the coalition's efforts.
More needs to be done to involve the United Nations in the process that is underway in postwar Iraq. The United Nations is not only playing the roles I mentioned shortly before, but has the potential of playing a significant role, as it has elsewhere, in the process of constituting a politically sovereign Iraq, a constitutional and political dispensation that will lead the country forward. It has experience, and we'd do well to call on it.
It is not wise, in my judgment, for the United States to rush to judgment or try to impose a political outcome, even in the interim, on Iraq. It takes time for the communities of the country, divided as they are, to come together, to identify their leaders, to reach some common ground even before the July deadline is approached.
This said, and as the Council on Foreign Relations reports indicate frequently, restoring Iraqi sovereignty is absolutely critical. Restoring Iraqi sovereignty is important not only to Iraq and the region, but to our capacity to achieve American objectives in the country. And therefore, making clear what we're about is most important.
But I return to my opening contention: Public order is essential. And that has not yet been achieved. Without it, there is no political or economic progress possible, nor will there be public confidence in the United States, the coalition, and our role in an outcome in the postwar Iraq.
This means the United States is required to assign sufficient and adequate forces. It means as well we must move rapidly to recruit, train and deploy Iraqi police, intelligence and security services to bolster the peace and order situation.
My second argument is that the United States has yet clearly to articulate, and must do so, a vision for the postwar Iraq, a vision important for Iraqis, for the region, for the world at large, and for the people of the United States. That vision has a number of components that we need to hear come together.
The commitment of the United States and the coalition to see the job through in Iraq for as long as it takes is clearly one aspect. Another is a commitment to the restoration of complete Iraqi sovereignty within a political structure that we would recognize as just, based on democracy, even to steal Senator Biden's argument that democracy is partly achieved and also squints towards the future; a federal system of organization to take into account the disparate communities and ethnic groups inside of Iraq; a free market which is in Iraqis' hands, and Iraqis who control not only their oil but other natural resources; a vision of a democracy that shows the greatest of respect for the dominant religion of Islam, but allows for the free practice of faith; a vision of democracy that strengthens Iraq's past bias toward social and gender equality. A vision that includes Iraq, sees Iraq as a unified nation, one free of weapons of mass destruction. A vision of an Iraq that calls for peace with its neighborhood, with Iran, Turkey, and the Arabs.
The absence, Senator Lugar and Senator Biden, of such a statement, such a clear and articulated statement of American intentions, leaves Iraqis unsettled, and the region as well.
My third argument is based on a view that I hold very strongly, is that the United States will not be able to complete its job in Iraq, achieve our objectives in Iraq, unless there is a broader framework of stability in the region. You cannot treat Iraq in isolation. And therefore, it is important at the same time that we pursue our most important objectives in Iraq, that we address as matters of equivalent priority, the issues that keep the region alight.
The Israeli-Palestinian matter is, of course, the one that comes first and foremost to mind. And here, with the publication of the road map based on 242 and 338, the President's own commitment, we have taken a first and very important step. But it's rough. As the blood that spilled in recent days indicates, we are going to have a tough time ahead of us. And I can only hope that we will treat this matter with the importance and sustained involvement that it deserves. Peace, without a determined American involvement, cannot be achieved. Not today, not in the past, not in the future.
I believe that it is also possible to take advantage of the momentum of the outcome of the war in Iraq to reconfigure our relationships with other centers of power in the region, as well as address the region's longer-term issues of political order and economic progress.
First, in terms of our relationships with the region's major powers, I put the question of Iran at the center. It is absolutely right, as Geoff Kemp noted, that for the first time in our history and in Iran's, we are near neighbors in Afghanistan, the Gulf and in Iraq. We cannot afford the luxury of standing back from Iran, criticizing it from a distance. We have to recognize that as neighbors we have a real and immediate national interest to attend to. And that we cannot attend to them without dialogue and without engagement.
We need to understand where the Iranians are with regard to the future of Iraq, Afghanistan, the peace process, terror, weapons of mass destruction. We need to engage in our interests without trying to guess what will be the political changes in the future inside of Iran which we will only dimly perceive. We have immediate American interests to attend to.
I also believe the time is right to strengthen ties to the key pillars of American policy in the Arab world, notably to Saudi Arabia and to Egypt. Not for any moment setting aside the priority we must attach to the war on terror, but to recognize in these two countries the United States has old and long-standing friends and their evolution in the future is of critical national importance to the United States.
Yes, it is important that the United States back democracy in free markets as the best way out of the stagnation of the Arab world over the past many decades. At the same time, the nations of the region, including our old friends, are old societies with deep and long-standing cultures where change can occur as long as it's approached carefully and with respect.
I close with an argument, Senator Lugar, that comes back to the final contention of your opening statement. And that is my fourth point. It is absolutely clear to me that the United States has got to be clear about its objectives, the administration and the Congress, so that the American people will understand what's at stake in this region and the time that we'll be involved. For we will be involved for a long, long time to come.
We are committed to a region in a manner that in unparalleled to any American commitment since the one we undertook in Western Europe after World War II. This will demand blood. It will demand treasure. It demands a vision in political engagement of more than just the United States government. It's a commitment that needs to be articulated, Senator Lugar, I would argue as clearly as you made it this morning by both the administration and the Congress before it settles fully into the American conscience, that we are in the Middle East and will be there for some years to come.
Senator Biden closed his remarks with a series of questions. I can't pretend I can answer all of them in the time available to me. But I'd like to argue that in terms of trying to understand how long and how many American troops will be involved, and what will constitute success, I would suggest that we be very careful about setting dates and times. But rather be clear about the objectives that we want to achieve.
If we're clear about the objectives that we hope to achieve politically, reestablishment of peace and security, regeneration of the Iraqi economy, and to break those responsibilities as the Council on Foreign Relations tried to do in its December report, into phases, we set objectives that Americans can understand. And therefore the timing becomes a secondary matter.
We assumed in our deliberations that we might be in Iraq for three to five years. That was much less important than deciding what objectives we would try to achieve at each step along the way. I say this because I watch as well the example of the American involvement in Afghanistan next door. And I watch with concern that our objectives are not broadly clear and deeply felt and therefore committed to, and therefore that Afghanistan is at the moment slipping through our fingers. It is profoundly important that we get it right in Afghanistan and in Iraq if we are to maintain our credibility as we go forward in this troubled century and face other crises where we will need friends, allies, financial commitment.
The United States isn't persistent, clear about where it's headed, what stages it needs to go through, in achieving goals in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We're going to find it hard to lead in future crises.
Senator, thanks very much for the privilege of appearing before you.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Ambassador Wisner. Let me say that the committee will adopt a ten minute rule for the first round and we will have a second round if that is necessary, and it may well be given the numbers of questions that we have for all of you. I'll begin the questioning at this point.
I'm curious, ready to get an impression from the three of you as veterans of the trail, of really how our nation ought to prepare in the future. We have work in process in Afghanistan as you point out, Ambassador Wisner, and clearly in Iraq, and these are different situations than Germany and Japan. The World War II situation you cited is our last big challenge. And each of you have pointed out reasons why.
In the case of Iraq, the disparate groups that were grouped together, perhaps arbitrarily by history a few decades ago. The sense of can there be sufficient Iraqi identity in which Kurds are prepared to say we are Iraqis. And likewise the other groups. The same might be the case in Afghanistan. Certainly our experiences in the former Yugoslavia with the various pieces indicate that perhaps in this particular era in which the United States does not face threats from very large powers like Germany, or Japan, or nation-states of that variety, but in fact are dealing with terrorism with dissident sects of people, with different sorts of issues that may be part of the history of why certain peoples came together. That we have a distinctly new set of challenges.
Now this committee and others, and the press is now replete with the fact that the military operation was superb, the planning was remarkable. In our testimony, one witness after another came to say the day after the hostilities start, law and order will be required, who will be the policeman, all the things that we are discussing today. These were not hidden issues.
We were unable in this committee to find very much from the administration about what they were going to do. This is sad, in a sense, because the administration in my judgment wasn't well prepared. So we've been through that. Now the aspects of this, as Ambassador Galbraith points out, are very severe.
The looting, which was predictable, going into hundreds of millions and maybe billions of dollars. And now we ask for a business plan of how we might begin to recoup through oil sales or various other things, money coming back in the door. But already huge losses that are very tough for the Iraqi state. Huge debts that have not been resolved. We had in our last testimony the thought there's a moratorium throughout 2004. But still, how do you settle what the liabilities are of this state we're trying to work with vis-a-vis the rest of the world?
This leads me to wonder. We do not have, at least institutionally in the United States as best I can tell, a training institute or a sophisticated graduate school or any group of people that think about the hereafter, the military action. We all call upon our government to mesh gears. But as a matter of fact, it's not an equal task. People involved in the military train. They think through scenarios. They work this through fairly well. And thank goodness, in terms of our security.
But what about the hereafter? Who does the training for this? On an ad hoc basis, we pick up a few people from various agencies that go out to the Pentagon for awhile, they come out to Kuwait and sort of do their best. But still, a pick-up game all the way along. My own view, I suppose is, that the American public by and large supports the military aspect. We understand that mission. We're prepared to devote funds and training and so forth. And we understand victory.
But perhaps what we have not tried to think through, and we must, is the so-called nation-building, or peacekeeping, or whatever. Here we have said we're not involved in this. And therefore we have not devoted resources to it. And when we're forced to do something of that variety, we try to improvise, and in this case, not very successfully. But the fate of not doing it successfully is likely to be very, very tragic.
So, I'm wondering, from your own experience, each of you have faced this in a way, because you've had in your roles in government to improvise, sort of fill in the gaps here. But is there value in sort of facing upfront, as an administration, as a Congress, the fact that the threats to our country from instability, from failed states, from incubators of terrorism, what have you, are likely, without being able to name names or know where we want to head, that lead to a requirement for a very large number of skilled Americans.
Now add to that the point you've all made that American should not do it alone. To what extent should this be a NATO function, for example, should be an international function, in which we bring together in fact at this point in preparation, people from several nations, all of whom come together to share these skills. In the same way that in a rough way we find work with NATO partners in military niches or various things that they do.
It just seems to me we're at a threshold of an important decision here that we really have to make, or the failure to make it is likely to lead to just either good luck or bad luck coming from this situation without any predictability. And no constituency whatever in the American public understanding why we have such people or what we are about. Do you any of you have any reaction to this general scenario?
MR. GALBRAITH: Well, I think you've hit on absolutely critical questions. And the first point I would underscore is the close connection between getting the postwar right, the nation-building, and our military resources. Because where we don't get it right we actually put our troops at danger and we increase our military commitments. I know that this is a battle that this committee has been engaged in for decades. You know our unfortunate tendency to starve our diplomatic instrument, and of course, we support well our military instrument, as we should. But somehow we don't see the connection between the two. And that is absolutely true in this case.
I think it's unfortunate that at this point in time there's discussion of even closing down the Peacekeeping Institute at Carlisle, which trains our military people. And certainly my students at the War College understand that peacekeeping is a critical part of what they end up doing. They may not like it. But they understand that that is part of the mission that they have.
REP. LUGAR: This is about to be shut down?
MR. GALBRAITH: I understand that there is discussion of shutting it down and some legislation to try and keep it open. That is my understanding. I haven't looked in it that closely.
I'd make just a couple of other points. Nation-building is critical, and it is something that the United Nations does, and it does rather well. I have had the privilege of participating for 18 months in the mission in East Timor. Now, it has many inefficiencies, but it is, as we can see in Iraq, it is a very difficult and complicated task. I think it's fortunate in Iraq that the United Nations has chosen Sergio Vieira de Mello, absolutely the most capable diplomat I've encountered, and I think he can and should play a critical role, particularly in the political process, because I think his persuasive skills will be very valuable. But the U.N. has resources in the area of justice, civil -- (inaudible) -- and a lot of other areas that can be helpful, but there's no magic wand.
A second point I'd make is I think we need to rethink how we do the -- some of these things. The -- a lack of planning -- I mean, people -- part of the problem is they were recruited at the very last minute, so naturally they didn't have time to figure out who was who, and they ended up making some horrendous mistakes, actually working with the head of Abu Garibe (?), or at least meeting with him -- the man who ran the most notorious prison in the world since 1945.
We also have to be prepared to take risks. You cannot go in and occupy a country and not assume a certain element of risk for your personnel. It is a somewhat dangerous business. You don't take unnecessary risks, but when your civil authorities -- some of them actually never got out of the republican palace -- that's ridiculous.
SEN. : (Inaudible.)
MR. WISNER: Senator, I join Peter Galbraith, and I think the questions you put before us are really the challenging ones.
As I think back on the experience of the United States over recent years and the issue that you raise of how do you go about planning for a post-war period, I'm struck I think by the principal fact that it's fundamentally a political question. It's a political question in a commitment on the part of the United States to doing the job of nation building. We actually are quite good at nation building. We showed it in Western Europe, in Japan, in Korea. We have a good track record.
At the same time, our history also tells us that we got very disappointed with the mission of being nation builders. It fell into disfavor as a result of the war in Vietnam, and, of course, during the crisis in Somalia, the very concept of nation building took further hits and was politicized in the American environment.
I believe the starting point, therefore, is to look frankly at the kinds of crises, the risks the United States will be running in this century, and recognize that the question of nation building is going to be with us for a long time to come. And it's part of our political responsibilities, not only as a nation with interests in the world, but being clear with our own people about the commitments we're asking from them.
From that flows, as Peter has just said, a number of practical steps that one has to take. I recall reading the history of the last two years of World War II, the bloody fights inside the United States government over what shape nation building should take with regard to Germany and Japan, and how far off the plans in those two regards were from the outcome.
One is always reminded of General Marshall's wonderful statement that plans never work out the way you think, but you always must plan. In the Western European context, we worked out very different arrangements. We have to be flexible. But the political mind set that we would stick with it, that we would have the right people, we would follow policies with broad principles -- all of that made sense -- and that we would have the resources available to be a nation builder.
I believe we know how to do it. It's a question of establishing the political priority and a consensus among ourselves that the job needs to be done.
You asked specifically about NATO and the international dimension, the coalition dimension of nation building and our responsibilities in these post-conflict phases. We've all been talking during the course of the morning about the role the United Nations must play, or NATO, or ad hoc coalitions. All can play roles, and are indeed playing roles right now in Iraq.
It is -- as we sat down to think about the coming conflict in Iraq in New York at the Council, we all recognized that one of the toughest problems about the first phase justifying our intervention in Iraq where would where it would leave us when the war was over -- who we would have on our side, what our legitimacy would be, getting our diplomacy right struck us as absolutely important. It couldn't be truer today. It is possible to get our diplomacy right. I think the world is on the whole prepared to cooperate, to try to share some of the burdens to create an Iraq that will be more stable, and accommodate the United States, key members of the coalition and their diplomacy, to contribute treasure, contribute funds, contribute forces. It is important the United States not only look for that -- not to escape responsibilities, but to involve the world and to legitimize our presence in Iraq by enveloping it in a stronger international consensus, to get the level of our profile down so that we are not the targets of all the criticism and the failures -- a point I think Peter made when he talked about making certain we get Iraqis into office as quickly as possible. The same is true of broadening the base of the international coloration of our efforts there. So let me associate myself with your two remarks. We are nation-builders, we will be nation-builders, we must prepare to be nation-builders, accept that responsibility; and, second, it's best done in a coalition framework, an international framework, and we have an opportunity in Iraq to do that.
SEN. LUGAR: Dr. Kemp, do you have --
MR. KEMP: I have very little to add to what my two colleagues have said, Mr. Chairman. I mean, I would just stress that I think historically the United States has not wanted to set up a colonial service, so there are not institutions that train the civilians to go out and manage the rest of the world, as some countries have done in the past. And part of the problem is that we have extraordinarily military forces who can intervene anywhere in the world unilaterally without any support from anyone apart from forward logistic bases. But we do not have this back-up capability which we now see is so essential. And yet other countries do. Other countries have far more effective constabulary forces than we do. They are much better suited for peacekeeping, because they train for it for years. And the question really is do we try to duplicate these capabilities ourselves through building new institutions and calling them nation-building or peacekeeping, whatever you like, but -- or do we cooperate? And it seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that is the fundamental dilemma the United States faces at this time: Is it going to be a unilateral power that essentially writes its rules and does what it likes, or are we going to work with others? And if the latter is the case, as I think it should be, then indeed there has to be an understanding that the upcoming conflicts that we are going to face will have a front end which we will deal with because we have the strong military, and the back end that we are going to need enormous support and help for. And in that regard I think working closely with the NATO countries is a good place to start.
I would just conclude that I think what you are pointing out reflects a deeper problem in the diminishing regional skills that are now available to many of the institutions in the U.S. government. For instance, one of the complaints in the early days of the occupation of Iraq has been the absence of Arabic speakers. And if you talk to anyone in the intelligence agency, much the same thing can be said there. This may have improved since 9/11, but we clearly still have a long way to go.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, sir. Senator Biden.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you. As the three witnesses know, your answer to the chairman's last question has been a constant drum beat by the chairman and me and others in this committee for the last year. I would offer two observations and then ask some specific questions.
One, I think this town is a reflection, Dr. Kemp, of what hasn't happened. When the Berlin Wall came down, the intellectual institutions that were erected over the past 40 years remained, and everyone was looking for a job in effect. I'm not being facetious when I say that. We had a whole helluva lot of Soviet experts, a whole lot of Eastern European experts, a lot of arms control experts, a lot of very brilliant people who for 50 years guided our policy. We did not have the focus of the most significant minds in this country in and out of government focusing on the region we are now talking about. There were people who had expertise, but you didn't have entire think tanks and institutions built around just dealing with these issues we are now confronting. And it has taken time. I remember -- well, anyway -- so this has taken time. And I hope we speed it up a little bit.
And Dr. Kemp's comment that, concluding comment that we have to -- I'm paraphrasing -- we have to make a decision about whether we are going to move unilaterally or not, and that we may be able to unilaterally handle the front end, but the back end of the process we need help.
One of the things that I spent the last 12 months -- apparently falling on deaf ears in the administration -- is you can't expect the back end if you don't have some discussion on the front end. The idea that we can unilaterally decide where we want to change the world, and then after the fact go out to the rest of the world and say, now, by the way, you clean it up with us, and you take on a major responsibility in doing it. They may do it, because they have no choice because of the chaos that may be left if we don't do it and they are left with it. But it sure would be a hell of -- a heck of a lot better had we had a thing called diplomacy at the front end of this process, which I think was sorely lacking -- which leads me to a point I want to make for the -- relative to the last hearing, this hearing and future hearings. Speaking only for myself, but I suspect it may be for the committee, who may share a similar view -- when we discuss with you, as we will today and in the future, why we were so unprepared for the post-Saddam period, it is not to assign blame. It is not to say, Aha, I told you so -- you didn't do what you were supposed to do -- you failed. That is not the purpose. At least it's not my purpose. The answer to that question as to why we were so woefully unprepared -- although there were some serious successes -- the oil fields are basically intact, people are not starving, there's not major exoduses, there's not major flight, and there is not major recriminations that are going on at the moment. So there are genuine successes. But why we were so unprepared, the answer to that question is important because -- not because we need to assign blame, but to determine whether there is an ideological impediment to this notion of nation-building that exists among very important people in this administration. The people who are -- who have been primarily in charge are very, very, very bright people -- among the most informed and brightest people I've dealt with in 30 years as a senator. It's not that they could not have known what the Council recommended in a number of its areas, including establishing stability and the need for, on page three of your executive summary, or on page five of the first report to the Council, establishing law and order. There's no one in this administration who could have failed to understand that. They're not tone deaf.
And what I'm trying to get at, the reason I keep pursuing this, is look at Afghanistan. I'm not saying anything out of school. Dr. Rice has said it personally -- I mean, publicly. When I would meet with her once a week back when I was the chairman, we were pushing, many of us in this committee for expanding the international security force beyond Kabul, so there was something other than that there was a prospect that Mr. Karzai would be something other than the mayor of Kabul. We talked in great detail about the need for all the aid to go through his hands, so he had something to disseminate in Herat, or something to disseminate in other parts of the country, that there was some reason for the warlords needing him.
I remember midway through this debate, after we lost the debate and the State Department lost the debate on expanding the ISAF and making it more muscular and so on and so forth, Dr. Rice said, There is stability. I said, Yeah, specifically, Ishmael Khan is in control of Herat. She said, Yes, there's stability. That was a definition of stability. That was the objective. And then told that that country has never been able to be controlled by a central government.
So what I am trying to get at here -- I want to make sure you understand the context of my questions -- is I think there is a great ideological divide here among the neoconservatives and the rest of the administration and many of us as to what is doable and what is the objective, because I can't for the life of me believe that the leading lights in this administration didn't understand the very things that the Council and each of you have recommended ahead of time as to what were the glaring deficiencies. And so that's the context in which I ask the questions here, is whether or not we are running up against a need for a change in the predominant thinking of the administration in order to get the job done, or whether or not there is a consistency that we only need to tweak a little bit here.
Now, toward that end, let me go specifically to my questions. The idea of the involvement of NATO, the EU and the United Nations -- you have all mentioned them being involved in one way or another. Can any of you be specific with me other than in State Department terms, which are bland, impressive and have little content terms, of telling me precisely what role do you look for for NATO? Should NATO comprise -- NATO forces comprise 50 percent of the, quote, "occupying forces"? Should they comprise 75 percent? Should we be sharing as we did in Bosnia, having a military commander who is an American, but making up only 15 percent of -- I mean in Kosovo -- making up only 15 percent of the forces? Are we talking about -- is it have we already met the goal of involving NATO because we have got the Poles and the Brits there? I'm of the view this administration would tell me we already have NATO involved, so. So what do you mean by NATO involvement?
The second question is: What kinds of -- I think again, Dr. Kemp, you said -- you all reflected the same thing that Dr. Kemp said, which was that there is a need for there to be -- this has to be internationalized more. I assume you mean that in terms of decisions on governance within Iraq.
When I speak to our interlocutors in France, Germany, even Great Britain, Spain, Italy, they basically say, Look, you want us in on the deal. We've got to have -- and I think it was your phrase, Dr. Kemp -- I may be mistaken -- we are going to have to in effect yield complete dominance on every decision of consequence that's made. There has to be some -- some input that they have. And the -- and with regard to Iran, and I'll come back in a second round, because I have some very -- but with regard to Iran, I had an opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Kemp, and I've had some time in the past with Ambassador Wisner to talk about Iran, there seems to me to be an absolute -- and it goes back to this ideological divide that I perceive that exists in the administration -- and absolute -- put it another way. I believe that if tomorrow the reformers prevail in Iran, and established what we would call a democracy along the lines of an Islamic state like Turkey, that that new democratic government would be unwilling to give up its nuclear capacity; that it would be unwilling -- there is no government I can perceive in Iran that would voluntarily say, You know, we're in a rough neighborhood here, and the idea of us having the ability some day to have a nuclear capability is something we're going to forswear. And so any negotiation with Iran seems to me forces any administration to come face to face with how do you not eliminate, but how do you constrain, control and/or have total transparency about any nuclear program? And that to me, from my discussions with leaders in this administration, and the last administration as well, a nonstarter. You cannot start with that as being something that may end up being at the end of the negotiation. Therefore no discussion.
So if you could speak to me about any of what I have raised, and then I'll come back in a second round to pursue -- because I realize what I've asked you cannot be answered in a very -- pick any piece of it to respond to, I'd appreciate it.
MR. KEMP: I'll just respond on the nuclear Iran, and maybe my colleagues will add on the other points. Senator, this is a critical issue, because I think first we have to be very clear by what we mean about Iran's nuclear program. I mean, at the moment -- we'll know more on June the 16th when the IAEA governors meet to decide whether or not Iran has violated any of its NPT commitments -- but there is an important distinction between an Iranian nuclear program that includes all the infrastructure for a full fuel cycle and an Iranian nuclear weapon.
SEN. BIDEN: Agree. I meant an Iranian nuclear structure -- not an Iranian nuclear weapon.
MR. KEMP: Right. Well, my argument would be that if Iran had turned into Turkey, we could live with an Iranian nuclear infrastructure that was on IAEA safeguards, and Iran had signed the additional protocols. I think that would be far less dangerous for instance than the current situation we have in Pakistan, where we have a government that is not under any safeguards, that is ruled by a military dictator who could be overthrown at any time. So I would be more comfortable, frankly, with a reformed Iran that still had a nuclear potential than a regime in Teheran that conducts terrorism and has not signed the additional protocols.
But clearly how the United States thinks a putative Iranian nuclear capability has to be a function of other things the Iranian government is doing in its foreign policy, particularly terrorism and how it deals with Iraq and Afghanistan. If they reconfigured their foreign policy in a way that was acceptable to us on those issues, I think we could be more laid back about the nuclear infrastructure issue.
MR. WISNER: Peter, forgive me, I'm jumping in right here on the tail end of Geoff Kemp's remarks about Iran and the nuclear issue. I think perhaps I see it a bit differently. I agree with Geoff that what we have before us is an extraordinarily dangerous situations. The Iranians are developing capabilities that could day be weaponized. The question is: Will they weaponize them, and what will deter them from weaponization?
At the heart of the matter, whether they see eye to eye with us politically or they do not, or they change their policies, this problem is going to continue to exist. I think it's very important therefore to focus with the Iranians in dialogue with the Iranians on fixing the inspection regime, increasing the safeguards, going to 93- plus-2, making it clear that understanding that we cannot live with a process that goes to weaponization, that in the context of progress on other fronts we will not be able to turn our back on -- the Iranians will continue to have a capability. But we are going to live with ambiguity with the Iranians, whatever happens in the end. And I think the best we can move for at the moment is to intensify the internationalization, the safeguards, and introduce 93-plus-2.
As to your first point, I would frankly welcome NATO being as early as possible a player in the Iraq front, starting with logistics and planning functions, moving to command functions, increasing the numbers of forces, and would associate myself with your wish in that regard. But let's not lose sight of the fact the objective is to put security in the hands of Iraqis, and to train and equip police and Iraqi security forces.
SEN. BIDEN: Let's not lose sight of the fact that in every place we've tried to do that it's taken years and years. So anybody who thinks this is going to occur in six months or eight months, I'm willing to bet my career that they're wrong.
MR. WISNER: The rate we turn out Afghan battalions, you are absolutely right. (Laughter.)
SEN. BIDEN: The rate we did it in Bosnia, the rate we did it in Kosovo, the rate we did it anywhere is on a very tough deal.
MR. WISNER: But, true enough, at the same time, if we don't start now, and start with large numbers, we won't reach the objective. International forces, in short, will not be the final arbiter of Iraqi security.
The second point --
SEN. BIDEN: But on that point, though, I mean, international forces will not be the final arbiter. But can we get to the final arbiter without international forces?
MR. WISNER: No, we have to --
SEN. BIDEN: And internationalizing the force. That's really the question now. I mean, that's the next piece here, isn't it?
MR. WISNER: I'm fully in agreement, and therefore the role that I briefly outlined for NATO makes a great deal of sense.
SEN. LUGAR: Trying to get perhaps to Senator Alexander before we have a break, in fairness, so he can get into this situation, because we'll be coming back. Senator Alexander.
SEN. ALEXANDER: Well, thanks, Mr. Chairman and Senator Biden. I thoroughly enjoyed the testimony. I just have one area I want to explore a little bit Mr. Galbraith got me thinking about, and Mr. Wisner as well. I want to talk about the Iraqi identity, if there is one. It seems to me, Mr. Galbraith, you've suggested that the two principles that might unite the national identity of Iraq are basically the principles that unite a university and its president, which are, number one, get our share of the money; and, two, leave us alone. I mean, those would be the -- and I'm not really being facetious with that, that we talk about nation-building, and all of you talked some about comparisons in history to that. But we don't have much comparisons in history to this kind of nation-building, as I think at least not the ones we usually think about. I mean, we think about Germany -- you mentioned Germany, you mentioned Japan, you mentioned Korea. But all those are nations who are nations because of the great principles or conditions that usually create a nation, and those are almost always the same. They began with religion. They usually have to do with ethnicity. They often have to do with a common language. Then there are some cultural attitudes. Then there sometimes is a common enemy. And when all those factors are in play you have a nation. So one says, I'm a German, or I'm a Korean, or I'm a Japanese. And what we forget as Americans is if we move to Germany we don't become German; if we move to Japan, we don't become Japanese; if we move to Korea we don't become Korean. And we look at the world in terms of people moving here. And if a Korean or a Japanese or a German moves here, we expect them to become Americans. And what makes them Americans? Well, none of the things I just -- not many of the things I just suggested, because we come from many places, have many different religions, started out with different languages, and our ethnicity has really nothing to do with what it means to be an American -- in fact, we deny that it has anything to do with it.
And so in trying to apply our notion of what it means to be a nation to Iraq seems to me to be completely impossible, and we should recognize that to start with. It wasn't a nation to start with. It was just lines drawn in the sand around three different kinds of people. And, Mr. Wisner -- after World War I -- and Mr. Wisner then began to state the principles that we might suggest to them, and they are all great-sounding principles -- you know, free market. You know, I can think of the things that unite us -- liberty, equality opportunity, rule of law, individualism, democracy, laissez-faire. We might suggest all that, but it would be as if the French were suggesting it to us 230 years ago. So the question is, if we were going to -- if someone were going to write, "We hold these truths to be self-evident" in the new nation of Iraq, I mean, who would do it? Who is the Washington and Jefferson and Madison? And then what would they say? Would they say, We hold these truths to be self-evident, give us our share of the oil money and leave us alone in our three sections. Those are the truths."
Is there anything else that unites the nation of Iraq? Are there any principles, any cultural attitudes, besides federalism and a share of the oil money?
MR. GALBRAITH: Senator, I think you've really put your finger on the central problem of Iraq. It is not a nation-state, because it's not a single people, not a single nation. The Arabs are part of a larger Arab community. The Kurds are, in fact, part of a larger Kurdish community. And there are other peoples there as well.
If we were back in 1919, I think we might -- or 1923 -- we might wish to reconsider the idea of creating Iraq. It has been basically a failure for most of the people who live there for its entire history. And this didn't just begin with Saddam Hussein. But unfortunately, we're not in 1923. We're in 2003. And it would be very complicated and possibly bloody and would have enormous regional repercussions to redraw the maps there or even to break Iraq up into too much less three states.
Now, the fact is, it isn't much to hold the state together when the only reason to do it is to say that it would be very messy if it broke up. And I, having served in the former Yugoslavia, I can tell you a lot about those complications.
So the truth is there isn't much there. That is why I strongly recommend a political system that basically allows each of these communities to have almost complete self-government within the borders, within single internationally recognized borders, and to try to provide an incentive for them to stick together, which is sharing some very large oil revenues. Whether that lasts or not, I don't know. And if there can be a peaceful divorce at some point in the future, not in 2003 but in 2013, I don't think that that should necessarily concern us very much.
I want to touch on one point that's so critical to this. I mean, you talked about a number of things that are absent in Iraq, like a common language. Islam is the predominant faith, but you have the two different branches. There's no common ethnicity. And the issue of the common enemy -- well, if you are a Kurd, an Iraqi Kurd, the main enemy that you have had for 90 years has been the Iraqi army. And it is the Iraqi army, no foreign army, that actually participated in genocide, open-and-shut case of genocide. And that is not exactly parallel but similar for the Shi'ites.
And so if we go in with a vision of nation-building, that we're going to create in Iraq a multi-ethnic Iraqi state on the American model, we are really doomed for failure. That's why I would say let's understand this. Let's accept, for example, that the Kurds have what they have. And let's accept that they would retain even their own military, at least for the time being, because what they worry about is not any foreign country. It is that there'll be a resurgent Baghdad that will resume what happened to them. And frankly, if you were in their shoes, you would feel the same way.
SEN. ALEXANDER: Just one sense. What this all makes me think about is we correctly celebrate our diversity so much, which is a magnificent strength of our country, that we tend to forget that our greater accomplishment is finding a set of principles and attitudes that creates the e pluribus unum idea. It is a rare and very difficult thing. And it seems to me that it would be misguided to try to impose that idea upon a set of circumstances so dramatically different than anything that exists here, certainly for the foreseeable future.
MR. WISNER: Senator, I'd have to agree with that. At the same time, you don't want to be unnecessarily gloomy. Iraq may be a new nation of 80 years standing, but it is a very ancient culture. And the history of communities living side by side is the more common rather than communities divided, a fact of Iraq's history, as it is true of much of the region.
I wouldn't, therefore, say that you cannot create a nation of communities, but that ought to be the right objective. At the same time, in setting your objective of allowing the communities to coalesce, identify their leaders, bring those leaders together, create the incentives that Peter has talked about that will tie them together, I would argue that it is really important to surround them in a framework of democratic principles.
Now, lest one thinks those democratic principles are alien to Iraqi culture, Iraqi political culture contains very strong liberal principles. If you go through the recent experience, even the dreadful years of Ba'ath rule, respect for women's rights, women's participation, social objectives have always been in the forefront of Iraqi political thinking.
Now, I would only argue that you divide matters into two time zones. One is to get a basic political structure in which the communities live side by side. That's your first objective, and that's the realistic first objective; the second, to create democratic principles that, over time -- and I recall Senator Biden's statement of squinting towards democracy, where maturing habits allow you to arrive at a greater set of democracy. The way I would see it is two different time frames.
MR. KEMP: I'll defer, because I think my two colleagues have answered the question very appropriately. I would only add that for a period of 32 years, Lebanon, which is an equally diverse and complex society, actually did form a national covenant and the groups did work together. But unfortunately, in 1975 it all came tumbling down. So the record in the region is not a good one for these societies living together like this.
SEN. LUGAR: Let me intervene at this moment to say that we do have the roll-call vote proceeding, and the committee will stand in recess for about 10 minutes until senators have had a chance to vote. And then we will return for my questions. Thank you.
SEN. LUGAR: The hearing is called to order again. Let me ask a question about our public diplomacy in the area. Each of you have touched upon this in a way. But the thought has been obviously progress must occur with the Israel-Palestine question, perhaps with other questions, for people in the area not only of Iraq but the surrounding nations, to have a better feeling about the United States, about our objectives, about who we are and what we are doing.
Many people have been quoting a recent Pew Foundation report indicating country by country the large percentages of people in that region, but likewise Europe and elsewhere, who have a dislike for America, for our objectives, for us. And those percentages appear to have increased during the problems of hostilities in Iraq, although perhaps in the postwar period things will improve; have in Australia, for example, anecdotally in other countries.
Each of you are veterans of that area. What do we need to do, and does it make a difference? In other words, is it important that America be liked by more people, that they have greater confidence? Or do we simply accept the fact, as some have suggested, that we have tough things to do, difficult jobs, and we believe we're on the right course of history, and in due course people will catch up with us? What is your own judgment about the importance of public diplomacy and public opinion in Iraq and in the surrounding countries?
MR. GALBRAITH: Mr. Chairman, I think the first point about public diplomacy is that it is the policies and the results that matter most. I think, as you know -- and I worked on those issues for this committee -- so often we hear, "If only people understood us better." But I think the core of the problem is that people do have an idea about what our policies are, and they simply disagree with them.
In this part of the world, I think it's obvious that a genuine commitment to solving the Palestine-Israel conflict, the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty, a number of these steps, will produce results.
I think there are some things that we can do in the Iraqi context that will be very important. One of them is to really get out the story. And, again, it's not telling a story. It is just the facts about what the Saddam Hussein regime was about. I'm not sure that this should be done by the United States government. I think this is a perfect thing for an international commission, like the Bassiouni Commission, which you'll recall documented some of the crimes in Bosnia and was a precursor to the international criminal tribunal.
But that information should be recorded, a record created, and the people identified. And, of course, doing that, I think, will help make the case that what we did was, in fact, the right thing.
I think there's a larger point, which is that -- and one that Senator Biden, I think, was also alluding to. In the whole process, I think it is important to have respect for the opinions of others, even if we disagree with them. And I think sometimes our officials need to realize that statements made for domestic consumption have ramifications.
I'm sorry to say I think we sort of rubbed the salt unnecessarily in the wounds with the Germans and the French. I don't think it served any national interest. And I think some of the comments that have come out of -- have been made -- and the Iraqis, for example, were constantly talking to me, saying, you know, "Is the looting of our museum, is that your idea of a little bit of exuberance, of democracy?"
So we need to be careful in some of our statements because they can really play into -- in this interconnected world, they have an audience beyond the domestic one, and all these things are heard around the world.
SEN. LUGAR: Does anyone else have a view on public diplomacy?
MR. WISNER: I'd perhaps add a couple of thoughts to Peter's statement. I think that, in addition to the fact that our policies will decide the framework of public opinion, some people will like them; others will not. Perfectly fair.
I would also argue that as a core view of the success of the United States over the past 50 years, I hold to the notion that we have been successful because we appear to operate within international norms. We appear to try to legitimize our efforts by going through the United Nations, involving international instances, building coalitions. And while not everybody agreed with what we were doing or what we stood for on a given case, given instance, the fact that the United States attempted to subject itself to a framework of international norms improved our policy.
To take the opposite view, that our national interests will override an international consensus, then I think we open ourselves to huge doubts about the legitimacy of American efforts. It does not mean that the United States shouldn't defend its most essential interests -- of course we should -- but to, as a general practice, try to accommodate the broader international concerns.
The second comment I would make is that one of the reasons we'll never be fully understood is that people approach problems with different assumptions. And if you simply talk about the conclusions, in the Arab world there is a deeply-held assumption that the United States wishes to weaken the Arab world. We weakened it most recently by invading Iraq. We weakened it by undermining the oil industry; whatever. There are many assumptions about maligned American purposes.
We must -- to come back to a point Geoff Kemp made, we've got to have people who know those assumptions and therefore can engage in the dialogue.
And that means a serious strengthening of our information services. In the United States Government, over the past 10, 15 years, we have reduced the effectiveness, the numbers, the standing of officers, who are skilled in international communications. And from a high point in the immediate postwar period to a low point in the 1990s.
I think in a world in which we've discovered as much hostility and even questioning of American policies and purposes, part of the work this committee can contribute to, is to making certain our people speak Arabic, know the culture of the region, but also are skilled in the practice of understanding arguments, understanding assumptions, and therefore being able to debate the conclusions on the same ground that the arguments are being advanced.
MR. KEMP: Mr. Chairman, just two points I'd like to add to what my colleagues have said. The Pew report that you cited is, of course, extraordinarily troubling. But you know it's just the last of many troubling opinion polls we've seen out of the region over the last 10, 15 years.
There's a certain ambiguity here because I think that both that poll and what you actually see in the Middle East reflects also another component that we should not in any way minimize. That is to say, that while public opinion is very, very critical of the behavior of the United States Government, there are still huge, long lines outside every American embassy in the Middle East, of people trying to get visas to come to this country.
And so you have the anomaly of fortress America and downtown Cairo where Frank was, or out in the boondocks like as in Kuwait, but still, the people want to come here. So there's this ambiguity about America and American policy. And I think on the policy issue, I'd just like to reiterate what my colleague said. That like it or not, the Palestine issue is a touchstone for how we are seen to be handling the broader issue of the region. And it's obviously not the case that this is the only problem to resolve after Iraq. But, were we to succeed, were the President to succeed in bringing about a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, this I think would have enormous momentum for the good.
And I must say, I was in Europe last week when the President went to Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba, and it was remarkable how impressed people were. That he did seem at last to be taking this burden on himself, rather than deferring to Secretary Powell. And I think that if we get over this immediate crisis we're in right now, and the administration takes the plunge, then I think ultimately it could be the best public diplomacy we could have, other than of course the success in Baghdad.
SEN. LUGAR: Sir, doubling back to one of the purposes of the hearing, at least anecdotally, observers of the President's visit with the Arab leaders noted that within the Arab leadership group, the meeting with the President, there were very great strains. Not everybody likes each other. Or, as a matter of fact, the numbers of problems that, leaving aside the Israelis and Palestine, appeared evident in the meeting, come back to some of the things we are talking about today.
What if some degree of democracy, human rights, freedom, occurred in Iraq in this area in which there are some elements of that elsewhere. It's not totally devoid of those thoughts. But at the same time, a good number of regimes that do not manifest this, that apparently have a lot of unhappy, young people in particular, who feel thwarted at every turn by what they fear are elderly types still around. And what does this mean in terms of the dynamics? Even as we are busy talking about the Arab world, the fact is this is made up, as all of you pointed out and delineated today, very sophisticated situations in different countries, different degrees of development.
You argue as devil's advocates that the Iranians see Saddam as certainly a bad ruler, but nevertheless, as one who brought stability. It's much the view, for instance, of the Chinese with regard to the North Korean regime. That's one reason to provide a lot of fuel and food, not to withdraw it but to use that leverage. There's the fear that somehow the regime might collapse, the North Koreans might spill over into China, and other bad things occur.
So, evaluations are often made on the basis of stability. That is, nothing happens, there's a containment of the situation. But now we've upset that. At least for the moment it would appear that something different is going to emerge in Iraq that might offer hope in the best instance, to the best instincts we would hope of people who might seek freedom and so forth.
How do we then work with our old friends in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt, to name two that are good friends, to understand what's occurring before strange things happen in those countries? And which then, as the power that can send people everywhere, can handle all the problems that we are called upon to handle, a new set of difficulties? Not of our making, we would say.
MR. WISNER: Senator, really extraordinarily important questions. I was very troubled as the debate took place leading up to the war in Iraq, that somehow, as part of our justifications and public dialogue, there were arguments being advanced that democracy could be forced down the throat of Iraq by Americans. I didn't believe it then. I don't believe it now. I also don't believe that democracy can be exported, either from this country to the rest of the Arab world, certainly not under pressure, not to be seen to be coming out under pressure.
That said, Iraq does give us a terrific opportunity if we get it right, to build on some of the liberal traditions that have existed in Iraq, to have a coalescence of the communities where there are incentives that bring them together. All of these will send powerful signals.
But the Arab world, much like the Muslim world, each country sees its own dilemmas in its own ways. And people are at various different ends of the world of evolution. A society like Egypt is extremely sophisticated, has long experience of political institutions. In the Gulf the experience is much more recent, merging from tribal societies to modern societies within one generation. One must take into account obviously these regional differences. But I believe what happens in Iraq will send a very powerful signal and working for the long-term success of democracy in Iraq is the right American objective.
Second, that our own dialogue, diplomatic dialogue, with other nations in the region, including two of the governments that I believe are key pillars of America's presence in the region, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that we care and listen and watch how they're evolving, how they're taking public opinion into account. Very important.
I believe our explicit work has to be discreet, respectful, and work to strengthen institutions in these societies in Egypt where you and I met on many occasions, United States can do a lot associating itself with the education, the press, the judicial institutions. Egypt is changing. All of the Middle East is changing.
Our objective should be to associate ourselves with change. And to not appear to be imposing the pace or content of change, but nurturing it and furthering it along. And at the same time creating the right image about the United States addressing issues that matter. - (inaudible) - people of the Middle East, the involvement in the peace process is just underscored as critical to our overall image and ability to promote our thoughts about democratic institutions, democratic future, and free markets.
SEN. LUGAR: Ambassador Galbraith, I'd like to ask, as you were in Baghdad, as you pointed out, pretty rapidly after the military conflict ended, if a member of this committee or a delegation of Senators were to go to Baghdad tomorrow, what should we ask for? What would be the most useful intervention on our part? Because obviously the intervention of Senators in Baghdad at this particular point is an imposition upon everybody. They're busy and they have lots of things to do.
On the other hand, it is important at least probably for us to have some better understanding, to raise the right questions or offer the right comments of support. Can you offer any consular advice to Senators of this committee who might be on such a mission?
MR. GALBRAITH: I think that obviously travel to Iraq would be extremely useful for the Senators of this committee. And if I might add also, the staff. The trouble is, you know, what is it that you'll be able to do there? And if the kind of restrictions that have existed on congressional travel remain, then I would have some doubts about the wisdom of doing it. At least substantively. It would be a photo-op, obviously a chance to cheer the troops, which is very important to do. But it wouldn't give you a good sense of the scene that is in Baghdad.
My sense of the security situation in Baghdad during the day is that it is a place you can go around. And while I was there I traveled around without any protection, sometimes by myself. I went into buildings as they were being looted, the Foreign Ministry. Frankly the looters were very friendly. (Laughter.)
They lit trees to show me around because it was dark. There was obviously no electricity. And people are very forthcoming. Now, I'm not sure that a senatorial delegation could quite do that. But I think one absolutely would have to insist upon being able to get around. I think you should look at the physical destruction and make some of your own decisions about some of these issues that I've raised.
I would certainly want to talk to the political leadership, the former exiles who have established offices there. Very interesting to see how people are actually holding court, who's coming. And the kind of political dialogue that's being undertaken.
Ideally, frankly, I would also say to you, urge you to seek some other parts of the country. I think it would be very useful to do what Senator Biden and Senator Hagel did, and that is, go up to Kurdistan. And I use that term not as a political one, it's how it is called under the Iraqi constitution even of Saddam Hussein. But meet with the Parliament and get a sense of what is possible.
Now they certainly have not created a perfect democracy by any means. But they have created, against enormous odds, a pluralistic society and they did actually manage to hold completely fair elections. They had the unfortunate problem that it produced a tie. And you know what happens with a tie in this country. Imagine if that happens in your first election. And then I would also want to go to Karbala or Najaf and talk to some of the clerics to give you a different picture.
But it is my view that you could carry out such an itinerary with a high degree of confidence in the security.
SEN. LUGAR : Thank you for those insights. Let me note that the Senate's ranking member has just returned, and I want to recognize him as I've had the monopoly of all you for much more than my allotted 10 minutes. Let me just ask the ranking Member, after you've raised questions and answers, it's my intent to adjourn the hearing. I've had a good opportunity and wanted to make certain that you do, too.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm sorry I got -- there's a dangerous no-man's land for United States' Senators, and that's between the Floor and the elevators. And I was importuned by a number of reporters on matters that were beyond my competence to respond to. And the more I told them I didn't know, the more they asked questions and believed I knew something. But at any rate, if the Chairman went to any of these issues, please just let me know and I will literally read the record.
With regard to the role of the United Nations, if you can, in as specific terms as you can, had you Ambassador Bremer's job right now, you're sitting in his spot, what would you recommend specifically to the President about further U.N. involvement, if you would? Anyone.
MR. GALBRAITH: I think my own preference would actually have been to put all this under a U.N. mandate. I mean, beyond what was in the resolution. But I think there are some discrete things that the United Nations can do. The most important, in my view, relates to the area of justice. This really requires impartiality. And I think that is much more likely to come from the United Nations or be seen as coming from the United Nations. I think the United States, of course, can be impartial as well. But I think it is better if it is seen as coming from the United Nations.
SEN. BIDEN: When you say justice, you mean a judicial system?
MR. GALBRAITH: I mean two things. One of them is the judicial system. So I would bring in the United Nations and give them the task of vetting judges. In fact, I think basically you have to get rid of all the old Iraqi judges. I mean, they -- this was a -- they administered injustice for 35 years, and I don't think you can credibly have a new beginning with people who have done that. So a process of identifying and recruiting new judges. There are a lot of capable Iraqi judges. I think it is doable. I would -- and then training. I would then also let the United Nations do the documentation of the crimes that took place under the Ba'ath regime. And in my view I think ideally I would have an international criminal tribunal to try people. I know that this administration is not keen on such things, but it is such an open-and-shut case that we really ought to take it to the entire world, and we have a number of the senior leaders. I think we ought to try them in Iraq, but before a U.N.-mandated tribunal. Incidentally, people complain about these trials as being long and slow. The fact -- and I may be testifying later this week in the Milosevic trial, which is -- or next -- later this month -- which has gone on for more than a year. The fact is that genocide is a very complicated crime, and it's not a discreet murder case. You know, you have a perpetrator and a victim and a handful of witnesses and some gunpowder. And if you were trying to try somebody for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people, that is a very big task, and I think it's no surprise that this takes a long period of time. But I think it is important to do that, and that is a role I also would assign to the United Nations.
There are other things that the United Nations is doing in Iraq, in the development area, in the humanitarian assistance. Obviously those kinds of activities should continue. And I would urge the United States, the president, Ambassador Bremer, to take advantage of the very special skills of Sergio Vieira de Mello. It was the United States who wanted him in that job. He really will be very capable at helping to forge a political consensus. This is what he has done his entire career.
SEN. BIDEN: Let me -- and I'm going to ask the others to comment too, but let me specifically ask you about the last point. Forging a political consensus really means being part of forging a new government in Iraq, an Iraqi government. Now, how does in the present circumstance a U.N. representative within the constraints of the resolution that he is operating under now, how does he or any other U.N. personnel get involved in that process? One of the things that I have believed for a long time, and I am happily disabused of the notion if it's warranted that I be disabused of it -- is that there are conflicting, genuinely conflicting interests here on our part. One is to get the heck out as possibly quick as we can in terms of being the face of the Iraqi government. And two is making sure we don't move so fast that we end up leaving a government in place that does not have any reasonable prospect of developing into a quasi- democratic institution. We have several models. We have the model we tried to pursue in Bosnia, which you are extensively familiar with, where when we went to elections, quickly in my view, we guaranteed that the most extreme nationalists in each of the competing factions would become the representative of that portion of the population -- no time to develop any new or more moderate blood, if you will. We have an example in Bosnia -- I mean in Kosovo. We have an example in Afghanistan where the world community under our leadership met in Germany with a group of Afghanis, somewhat boisterous and somewhat contentious, but it resulted in a consensus pick by the vast majority at that moment of the varying factions within Afghanistan of a single man who was going to transition to a pluralistic government in time.
I don't know what the plan here is. I don't know what the mechanism we are looking at here is. So what I'm really -- when you say to me that we get the diplomatic skills and the negotiating skills of a particularly talented diplomat assigned by the United Nations to this process, how does he or anyone else get in the game? Should he be sitting in the room with Bremer? Should they be now talking about what is the outline and the steps to be taken to transition to an Iraqi control of Iraq? I mean, how does this in mechanical ways happen?
MR. GALBRAITH: These are extremely good questions. I think that Sergio Vieira de Mello probably should be playing a supporting role to what Bremer is doing, and I think it's very likely that is what he is doing. In some instances he definitely should be in the room. In other instances he ought to be tag-teaming with Bremer, meeting with the different Iraqis, helping in this process of trying to find a consensus.
You've touched on something which I should have said, which actually is terribly important, which is, What is the -- leads to the question of, What is the exit strategy? My view of the process is you establish a provisional government as quickly as possible, accepting your point not wanting to do it too quickly, and not wait too longer either; but establish provisional government as quickly as possible, by some kind of loya jirga process, which I think actually worked very well in Afghanistan; and then move to elections. And here's another role I think for the United Nations. The United Nations has a lot of experience in conducting elections in post-conflict situations, and I think does it extremely well. And again, I think the result is likely to be more widely accepted if done by the United Nations.
I think the analogy to Bosnia is not a good one.
SEN. BIDEN: I'm not suggesting that any of these are analogous --
MR. GALBRAITH: No, but -- no --
SEN. BIDEN: I'm just saying --
MR. GALBRAITH: But this is raised continuously. The problem in Bosnia was that the -- it was the product, as you know, of a peace treaty in which the power in November and December of 1995 still rested with Tudjman, Milosevic, and the parties in Bosnia. NATO came in, and over time began -- and the High Representative -- began to increase their power. And in that context I agree that it probably would have been better for the elections to be delayed until they had had -- they had done more, they had helped reshape some of the mentality, and they had arrested some of the war criminals. This is a completely different situation. The coalition has basically all the -- the military forces have all the power, and I think that we then are being blamed for the shortcomings, some of which we could do better, and some of which are inevitable. I think in turning this over to Iraqis in some kind of coalition government -- and here's they've looked at a Bosnia type of model of rotating -- you know, take three top positions -- Kurd, Shi'ite, Sunni -- but some type of coalition like that does make sense. The one caveat I would have on it, and it's a big one -- the one thing I would be concerned about is that this government that might come in, a kind of provisional government reflecting the Iraqi political leadership, may -- you know, is going to have a rough time, and it may become quite unpopular. And when the elections are held, then the more extreme elements, and particularly the religious parties, may campaign against that government, because it hasn't delivered -- and even if we'd done everything right, it was not going to be able to deliver. People have very unrealistic expectations in these circumstances, but I don't know how you solve that problem. I think the worst alternative is for the United States to continue to govern Iraq.
SEN. BIDEN: Gentlemen, would you each comment on that for me?
MR. KEMP: I have very little to add to what Peter said, and it's not something I am intimately familiar with. I would only suggest that in an area where perhaps an international hand, U.N. or otherwise, might be advisable at some point concerns the central issue of the oil industry and who is going to control it and how the money is going to flow, because that is the issue that all the neighborhood is worried about, and there are all these conspiracy theories that that was the reason we went there. And ultimately how the oil wealth of Iraq is distributed will make or break all these proposals for federation or confederation.
So I would argue that some U.N. involvement in the management of the financing of the oil industry is going to be important to convince the donors we want to bring into Iraq from around the world that this is an above-board operation, and that they have nothing to worry about, and that there is transparency.
SEN. BIDEN: Ambassador Wisner?
MR. WISNER: Senator, I think the main points have been made. Let me go back to a remark of Peter's and focus on it for just a moment. I think the starting point is to revise our policy a bit. Of course the coalition is responsible right now for reestablishing law and order, for setting in place the essential feeding and infrastructure services, getting the oil back up and running. But I'd like to think that it would become the policy of the United States to shift the visible responsibility towards the United Nations, and that means at the moment that Sergio de Mello, who is a terrifically capable, smart man, would begin in very close consultations with Mr. Bremer, taking -- working through the steps that have to be taken in the Iraqi political process. And assuming a greater and greater responsibility, to the point that when you move from an advisory council to an interim government, from an interim government to a constituent assembly, the U.N. umbrella over the operation becomes more and more visible.
I argue that because a U.N. umbrella, a U.N. tone, will bring in fact the practical advantages that Mr. Galbraith talked about -- the practical advantages of real experience. But, more importantly, it legitimizes the political process in the minds of the Iraqis, in the eyes of Arabs, and around the world, and it allows the United States to play its role behind the scene. We are going to have to be very careful in Iraq that the wrong people don't emerge in the political process -- people we can't deal with, people who will subvert the very principles we believe in and went to war for. But it is better if we exercise that veto behind the stage rather than on stage. Having the U.N. out front is exactly where we ought to be. So I would argue basic principle, begin to shift the responsibility for the political development away from a coalition and towards a U.N. responsibility.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, I -- my observation is there are only two -- there are only two places in Iraq where there has been over the last decade an ability for there to develop any political leadership. One has been in the Kurdish-controlled areas, and Senator Hagel and I spent some time up there, and it was remarkable the progress they made under the no-fly zone with revenues, let alone, the number of hospitals, schools, et cetera -- I mean, literally the quality of life -- and the mosques and the religious leaders within the mosques. And so I don't know any other place in Iraq where you are likely to find in the near term, meaning months, indigenous groups, individuals or leadership beginning to flourish or show the ability to participate. And it seems to me that -- well, I shouldn't -- that's my concern about how quickly we transition. And the second concern is yours, Peter, is that unless we have in the meantime, in my view, established stability, order, security, gotten the major infrastructure up and running and functioning, that whatever that transition or whatever government you want to call it, when it comes time for elections is going to be the whipping boy for the more radical elements within the country, establishing the very state that Ambassador Wisner is by implication concerned about. We don't want the "wrong people," quote/unquote, end up running Iraq. That will not -- we'll not let that happen -- then all then we will be viewed as is having illegitimately dethroned the process that we were essentially attempting to establish in the first place. So it leads me to this question: Is the -- we ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time -- I understand that. I'm not suggesting that we can only do one thing at a time. But is the most urgent need establishing order, safe streets, the ability of people -- I am told that Iraqi police officers will not show up at their police stations on duty, because they are fearful that they will be killed on the way; that they will literally, literally, there is such a lack of sense of safety on the street that even those police officers we're trying to develop and bring back are reluctant to go on post. And as part of that question, how important is it that we produce the body? How important is it that Saddam Hussein be determined with certainty to be dead or alive in captivity? Because there is a stretch of a parallel, Peter. As long as Karadzic, as long as those boys were wandering the countryside in Bosnia, in Srpska, the ability of actually being able to get anything really done was I think nonexistent. I realize it's not the same, but if you read the press accounts of folks on the ground in Iraq, like you were for three weeks, the ghost of Saddam Hussein seems to loom very large in terms of the chances people are willing to take to begin to build this new Iraq. And you have Chalabi before your organization, Frank, up in New York -- I think it was in New York -- didn't he speak to the Council?
MR. WISNER: Mmm-hmm. (Affirming.)
SEN. BIDEN: Saying that he's sure Saddam Hussein is not only alive and well, but that he is orchestrating and paying for and coordinating these attacks on American soldiers and the killings that are taking place. And, if I'm not mistaken, I thought I heard him say in an interview yesterday that he believed that Saddam has this plan in place from the beginning, that it was not -- there was a decided decision not to resist in any meaningful way, quote, "the invasion," because he couldn't, and so there was already this plan was made at the same time to be able to engage in essentially guerrilla warfare once we were in occupation. Now, I don't know if that's urban lore or whether it's real, but how much of that is absorbed in Iraq by Iraqis as fact, and how does it affect conduct or participation?
MR. GALBRAITH: Well, you raise a lot of issues. First, I'd like to just come to the point you made about the two sources of leadership, and you are completely right. You have the Kurds and you have the mosques, and it was very apparent to me going to what was Saddam City, now Al-Sader City and to Karbala, you know, within a week of the takeover that the mosques have filled the gap. They have come in. There were armed men on the streets providing security in Karbala. They were picking up the garbage, and they were restructuring the school curriculum.
The trouble is if we delay a long time in setting up a provisional Iraqi government, will another leadership, alternative leadership, develop? I'm not sure that that's the case. So -- and I'm not sure that -- and there is the problem if we go with our favorite exiles, who some of whom -- they are talented people, and they shouldn't be belittled. And, incidentally, they stayed with this --
SEN. BIDEN: I am not belittling them.
MR. GALBRAITH: But you've seen the kind of suggestion that Chalabi is a (salvo row ?) -- you know, revolutionary. A lot of these people took significant personal risks, and they pursued a cause when it basically seemed hopeless. But there is the problem if they are there, if you put a provisional government there, will that strengthen the radical alternative? I think these are some of the reasons why in fact the federal system is very much in our interests, so that if certain parts of Iraq become more radicalized, so there will be anchors that will not. And Kurdistan is clearly going to be a moderate secular, very pro-American region, which it is. It's probably the most pro-American place in the world.
On the question of the body, I think again there's a different between the Karadzic/Mladic case and the Saddam case in that Karadzic and Mladic were genuine heroes to a real constituency in the Bosnia Serb Republican, and indeed in Serbia itself. I think Saddam is much more a discredited figure, and this comes to the issue Senator Lugar had raised, I think in your absence, about public diplomacy. This is another reason why it's so important that we get the record out about this regime, because I think it -- on the killings and the corruption -- because I think that will serve to further undermine his support.
SEN. BIDEN: If I could refine my point slightly, I did not believe and do not believe that Saddam Hussein has a constituency. I think Saddam Hussein is mortally feared by all constituencies. And so my question really was: Absent producing the body, and the urban lore that he's alive and well and coordinating attacks, does that prevent people who disliked him, hated him, or people who would otherwise be willing to cooperate and prepare to transition a new government, does that keep them on the sidelines out of fear that the man is coming back?
MR. GALBRAITH: I think that -- I think the answer to that largely is no. I think it has a limited scope in the so-called Sunni- Arab triangle, you know the Faluja to Tikrit, Samara, some of the Sunni areas of Baghdad. But other than that -- and there are plenty of people who are coming forward in those areas. But other than that, I think people accept that he is gone. That was clearly true in the initial period as we were advancing toward Baghdad, but I think a lot of that had to do with what happened in 1991 and a sense that the United States, here it is, it is encouraging us Shi'ites to rebel again. Will it let us down again with the horrific consequences? I think people are -- people now understand that Saddam is gone and that the U.S. is there.
MR. WISNER: Senator, your first question was, Is law and order the overriding objective? I'd like to argue that, bluntly, yes is the answer, but yes but, and that is law and order must be improved. Adequate coalition forces have got to be available, Iraqis brought into positions of security responsibility, intelligence services, the rest -- all have to be near-term objectives for the coalition.
At the same time, adequate security is linked to politics. To get a political framework in which the component parts of Iraq feel that they are going to get a hearing and it will be responsible, will be consulted, will be contributing to the future of their own country, gives the security forces legitimacy.
We cannot be the government. And therefore, moving down the road as fast as circumstances permit to create a political authority seems to me connected very directly to the issue of law and order.
Second, on the question -
SEN. BIDEN: Was Bremer right in postponing the commitment made by Garner about transitioning?
MR. WISNER: In my judgment, he was. But what bothers me is that there now is not a view of where we go next and who will be involved and what will be the rules of the road. So we've ended one. We've talked about a short-term -- ended one formula, a short-term interim advisory council. But a point I tried to make in my opening remarks, the issue of vision, of where we're going, so that Iraqis understand what the rules will be, that remains to be set out.
I would add just quickly on that point, I'm not quite -- I'm not totally discouraged about the sources of leadership in Iraq. It's not just Kurds and mosques. Iraq is a remarkable country. The depth of education exceeded that virtually in any Arab country. There are substantial numbers of high-quality academics, professionals. There are people who performed ably in the civil service. And then there are the traditional elements of Iraqi power, the tribal structures, not all of which were necessarily corrupt, were necessarily fully corrupted by the Ba'ath regime.
In short, how you bring these constructive elements to the table is part of the political process that I would like to see the U.N. share in. And I'd just add as well that if you talk, as I'm sure Peter and Geoff have, to Iraqi Shi'a, there are many who say they see the importance of dividing the mosque and the state and that there are intellectuals, businessmen, professionals who are deeply devout who can speak on behalf of the mosque but are not themselves clerics.
I think Iraq, properly consulted, brought forward carefully, watching who is of real quality and has respect in the community, could actually produce a leadership that would do credit to it and to our efforts.
MR. KEMP: I have very little to add, Senator Biden, except to embellish your first point. I mean, I think we all said in different ways at the beginning of this hearing that we do not want to repeat in Iraq what has happened in Afghanistan. And essentially if indeed President Karzai is still the mayor of Kabul, it is because there is not law and order outside the law, and that therefore the security issue obviously has to be the number one priority. Without security, you cannot rebuild infrastructure. And until you really rebuild infrastructure, you can't regenerate the economy and get people work and jobs and be more content.
The situation we do not want to be in is months from now, if Iraqis are asked, "Were you better off six months ago than you are today?" and they answer in the positive, then we will be in trouble, because if you read the press reports, if you read an extraordinary report that the International Crisis Group issued yesterday about the day-to-day conditions in Baghdad as we enter the summer months, it really is, I think, quite disturbing. And therefore I would say that has to be Ambassador Bremer's number one priority.
SEN. BIDEN: Mr. Chairman, I thank you. I have many more questions, but I'll have many more opportunities, and I won't trespass on your time anymore. I thank you for very, very helpful testimony.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Biden. And I join you in thanking our witnesses. Each of the papers you presented were really very important contributions, and I hope that they will have wider circulation than simply the testimony before this committee today. We thank you for being so forthcoming in your responses. And we look forward to seeing you again, if not soon on this issue, on various other areas of American foreign policy.
The hearing is adjourned.