The Duelfer Report:
An Expos of Saddam Goals and Ambitions
Recently Charles A. Duelfer, who is the weapons inspector in Iraq, summarized his findings in a report about a thousand pages long. The finding that has caught the eye of the press, predictably, is that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the time of the invasion by the United States and its allies. This bit of news, however, was a long gone conclusion after David Kay, the previous inspector, said so in his preliminary report. Duelfer's report is more comprehensive, including detailed interviews with many members of the regime and scientists, as well as details of many meetings between government officials (including dates and times of such meetings) and the arms dealers from around the globe.
The Sanctions Regime
A picture of Saddam Hussein emerges from this report that has caught little attention with the impatient press that is looking only for sensational headlines. Saddam was obsessed with procuring or manufacturing weapons. His main aim was to have the sanctions lifted, so that he could pursue his ambition with impunity, unimpeded, with the cooperation from willing partners in Europe, Asia and Africa.
After the war of 1991, Saddam was forced to destroy his stockpiles of WMD. But he maintained the intellectual capital for future production of WMD, with the hope to start his program some day. To this goal, he worked cunningly in bribing countries and influencing United Nations to lift sanctions. The oil for food (OFF) program created by the United Nations in 1996 was a gold mine for Saddam. The program was fashioned as a humanitarian gesture to buy medicines and food for children in Iraq, and to facilitate this Saddam was allowed to sell some of his oil. However, the money went straight to the coffers of Saddam Hussein and billions of dollars worth of oil contracts were given to willing accomplices. Saddam rapidly built his conventional weapons including banned long range missiles. The UN was completely corrupted by money flowing to its member nations and it conveniently turned a blind eye, as the sanctions imposed by it were ignored. Evidence is mounting that the UN Oil for Food Program Director, Benon Sevan was one of those in Saddam's payroll.
By the year 2001 Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of the sanctions and undermine international support for it. 'Iraq was within striking distance of de facto end of sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and trade embargo' contends the Duelfer report. He had corrupted the United Nations so much that lifting of sanctions was within his grasp in 2002. There was full support from members of the Security Council, especially France and Russia (and China to a smaller extent). France had defied the sanctions and had even scheduled some flights between Paris and Baghdad, despite the embargo. Items banned by the United Nations sanctions were being openly traded with Baghdad, thus undermining the restrictions placed on Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. Prohibited items were flowing into Iraq disguised as spare parts for agricultural products.
Duelfer names six countries ' Syria, Belarus, Yemen, North Korea, the former Yugoslavia and possibly Russia ' as the governments which traded directly and openly with Iraq. In addition, private companies from Europe, Asia and the Middle East provided key military components for conventional weapons. Among the European allies, France's military industry had extensive contacts with Iraqi officials. Until 23 days before the invasion an intermediary for the French Thompson Co. held discussions about supplying missile parts to Iraq. A French company Lura sold a tank carrier to Iraq and continued to talk to Iraqi officials with the hope of further deals. Jacques Chirac always had such a soft corner for Saddam's oil wealth that he had earned the nickname Jacques Iraq! Saddam also bought parts for conventional arms programs from countries far and wide. Jordan, China, South Korea, Bulgaria, India, Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Rumania, Taiwan, Italy and Turkey ' sold items to Iraq and Saddam used his OFF money to lure them into selling him the parts. A number of US companies as well as two U. S. citizens are implicated in this scam but the names are withheld in the report so as to comply with US laws.
Saddam is quoted to have said, 'We have said with certainty that the embargo will not be lifted by the Security Council resolution, but will corrode by itself.' Such was the confidence of Saddam Hussein about the power of money. After the sanctions were effectively neutralized and the country was stabilized, Saddam had ambitious plans for Iraq. But his goal of acquiring WMD had changed compared to before. He aspired to acquire nuclear capabilities and ballistic missile technology as well as chemical warfare (CW) capabilities. He had planned to do this in incremental fashion despite the economic risks. He was said to have lost some interest in the biological weapons as it was difficult to maintain a viable stockpile for a long time without deterioration.
Saddam's Future Plans
Saddam believed that chemical weapons had saved his regime multiple times in the past. He believed that his use of CW had halted the ground offensive in the war with Iran. His ballistic missile attack on Tehran, he believed, broke the political will of Iranians. Moreover, he sternly believed that his arsenal of chemical weapons deterred the coalition forces from advancing to Baghdad during the first Gulf War. Though he had not reconstituted his WMD programs, it was well understood by his lieutenants that revival of the weapons program was a goal of Saddam based on his infrequent but firm assertions to them. Under Saddam's instructions every effort was made to conceal documents from weapons inspectors. Documents concerning uranium enrichment technology were carefully protected by the scientists. This was done at the behest of Saddam and it was widely believed that Saddam would not waste any time in his scheme of producing nuclear weapons once the sanctions were lifted. Saddam Hussein took extraordinary steps to maintain the knowledge base for future production of nuclear weapons by giving the scientists raises and preventing them from leaving Iraq.
Saddam Hussein also maintained the knowledge base for production of chemical weapons in the future. Inordinate amount of money was allotted to research of chemicals and improving infrastructure so that the chemical weapons could be produced quickly when opportunity permitted. Dual use laboratory equipment and chemicals were acquired, all with the eye of producing weapons in the future and at the same time dupe the weapons inspectors.
Saddam severely underestimated the American resolve in her decision to invade Iraq with the intention of finding illegal weapons. Saddam had fueled the idea that he was hiding them. Whether he believed that he still had those weapons or if he was duped by his own scientists into believing he had them, will be for historians to judge in the future. However, he refused to come clean and like other previous UN resolutions, he ignored the eighteenth resolution that threatened him with serious consequences if he did not comply. He had bought over many countries with his oil for food money, and never believed America will go against Security Council veto to attack Iraq. Little did he realize that America had started viewing the world differently after September 11 attacks in New York and Washington. There was a sense of urgency in America to thwart future heinous attacks on American soil and the possibility of weapons of mass destruction appearing in its shores was real.
Intelligence reports from CIA as well as abroad pointed to the fact that Saddam was hiding these weapons. Russia's Vladimir Putin warned Bush about WMD in Iraq, and Saddam's willingness to use them against Americans, if he could. France, Germany and all the neighboring Arab countries as well as UN believed that Saddam was hiding his stockpile of weapons from the world. Though the UN was content in continuing the inspection regime - while France, Germany and Russia were busy subverting the sanctions with illegal trade with Iraq ' America saw the slow ineffective process too dangerous for its security. High level meetings by Saddam's government and the Al Qaeda were also reported. Saddam was openly supporting terrorism by paying $25,000 for the Palestinian family members of suicide bombers in Israel. Saddam was waging a covert jihad against America. This kind of blatant support of terrorism was now in direct conflict with the Bush doctrine. Bush had pronounced that the terrorists and the regimes that supported terrorism, as enemies of America.
When six months of intensive diplomacy failed in the UN, America had to act. Saddam was toppled and the gruesome details of his cruel regime and its mass graves were exposed. Yet, the world body remained unimpressed. The hundreds of thousands of murders committed by Saddam, his interest in procuring nuclear weapons once the sanctions were lifted, his history of using chemical weapons on the Kurdish population as well as in Iran were not reason enough for the UN to oppose the dictator. The new UN has lost its penchant for saving lives (remember the remarkable work done by UNESCO and UNICEF in the past?), as proven repeatedly as in Bosnia and Rwanda, when it stood by passively while the brutal regimes perpetrated genocide. Sudan is another example now.
When America acted, Saddam felt betrayed. He blamed the French, the Germans and the Russians for not protecting his interest. He had severely miscalculated America, after the attack in the summer of 2001. He had almost succeeded in having the inspection regime removed. This was not about to happen because he had a change of heart and decided to abide by the numerous UN resolutions. But he knew very well how the ambitious political heads of states and their minions would swarm like flies to dung, when a few hundred thousand dollars were waved in the wind as bribes.
Though it is possible that Saddam fooled the civilized world by making it believe that he had weapons of mass destruction, it is indisputable that world is a better place today without him in control in Iraq. Hubris and arrogance may have been Saddam's style but he has met his rightful place in history.
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Dr. Neria H. Hebbar
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