Beyond War: How to 'Deal With' Iraq

Article 2 of the UN charter reads in part, “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.” War is supposed to be a last resort when all other measures fail; but America has declared that war is its new foreign policy, its new means of diplomacy. Here is a non-violent way to end the needless suffering of Iraqi civilians and yet protect global security.

1. Lift sanctions on Iraq in accordance with UN Security Council (SC) Resolution 687, Paragraph 22.

It is clear that the SC made a grave error in refusing to do this in 1998. Former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter states that Iraq was “effectively disarmed” by the end of 1998. Speaking to the Russian Foreign Minister in December 1998, UNSCOM Chief Richard Butler said that the inspectors “might have a satisfactory account of Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction program within six to eight weeks,” after which he “could declare Iraq disarmed.” In July 2002, Hans Von Sponeck, the former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq who resigned over the ongoing sanctions, called the SC decision not to recognize Iraq’s progress “a fundamental mistake of historic proportions.”

During the 1998 crisis, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed a framework for reviewing Iraq's compliance, but the American and British representatives removed the promise of a date for lifting sanctions before presenting it to Iraq. Since America had already announced it would not lift the sanctions even if Iraq disarmed, Iraq balked at this review process. When Iraq withdrew cooperation in protest, America claimed that this constituted a violation of Resolution 687.

In fact, Iraq was demanding that the Resolution be properly applied. The American ambassador advised Richard Butler to withdraw the inspectors for their safety, which Butler did, and then America and Britain launched a series of missile strikes against Iraq, ostensibly because Iraq had “kicked out” the inspectors. It was this kind of self-fulfilling provocation that defeated the inspections process, not Iraq's non-cooperation.

2. Shift the inspection focus to qualitative monitoring.

Rigorous weapons cataloguing was an effective way of disarming Iraq when it still had a viable weapons program, but today’s provocative model of invasive "anyone, any place, any time" inspections (including barging into presidential suites and party offices) has only served to antagonize Iraqi officials without finding new weapons. It makes more sense to focus on monitoring and maintenance to ensure that Iraq’s weapons programs do not resume in secret.

Whatever unaccounted equipment may remain in Iraq does not, by itself, constitute a threat. As such, it has been "rendered harmless" in accordance with Resolution 687, Paragraph 8. At this point, the focus should be on ensuring that no new programs are developed to make use of whatever miscellaneous equipment might remain in existence.

3. Leave weapons inspection to the UN.

The American/British "anyone, any place, any time" mantra should not be used to undermine the exclusive authority of UNMOVIC and the IAEA. After American spies infiltrated UNSCOM, Iraq is understandably reluctant to cooperate with any inspection party that lacks integrity and credibility. As such, the SC should not require Iraq to accept or cooperate with unilateral American or British inspection teams.

4. Promote a WMD-free zone in the entire Middle East, in accordance with Resolution 687, Paragraph 14.

It is time to pressure Iran, Israel, and other regional powers to eliminate their own well-established WMD programs and accept impartial UN weapons inspectors. That way, Iraq won't feel singled out, and the goal of ensuring global security and peace will be advanced fairly and broadly.

5. Offer carrots as well as sticks.

The US has promised to invade Iraq and topple its government no matter what Iraq does, giving Iraq no reason to cooperate with the UN. That policy clearly violates international law and the core principles of the UN. It also grossly undermines the purpose of diplomacy, which is to use both incentives and threats to encourage appropriate behaviour. The SC must tell Hussein that Iraq will be welcome back into the world community and receive the benefits therein if he demonstrates cooperation and good faith in both his internal treatment of Iraqi citizens and his dealings with other countries.

It is unreasonable to demand obsequious compliance with impossible US demands. America must give up its pre-emptive "regime change" policy before Iraq can be expected to cooperate. The possibility of invasion should be a last resort, reserved for clear Iraqi acts of aggression, of which there have been none since 1991.

6. Any international decision on behalf of the Kurds must also encompass Turkey and Iran.

It is hypocritical to make demands of the Iraqi government when the other two governments have equally appalling human rights records for oppressing their Kurdish populations. At present, America has offered to allow the Turkish army to occupy parts of Kurdish Iraq. This profound betrayal of Iraqi Kurds must not be allowed to take place.

7. Discontinue the no-fly zones and the frequent American/British bombing sorties.

They were never authorized by the SC and constitute an illegal occupation and attack by a foreign power. America and Britain must begin to withdraw their massive build-up of troops in the Middle East and stop their weekly bombing incursions. What country in history has ever agreed to disarm while it was being attacked?

Ryan McGreal
February 1, 2003

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