Iraq: Confronting the Threat to Regional Stability, U.S. Security, and Global PeaceWilliam Keppler, Chairman, Open Forum
March 19, 2003
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome to the Secretary's Open Forum here at the Harry S Truman Building at the State Department. We are very pleased that you could join us today for what I think you are going to find a very, very compelling, topical, and timely program.
As we assemble here today, our nation stands poised on the brink of war with Iraq. Responding to the threat of Saddam Hussein and his weapons and arsenals of mass destruction, President Bush has reluctantly concluded that there cannot be a diplomatic peaceful resolution to Saddam's intransigence, and has ordered military leaders to forge and to lead a coalition of the willing and to undertake military action against Iraq, both to eliminate the threat of the weapons of mass destruction, but also to effect a regime change, to liberate the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein and his accomplices.
Many are asking why and how did we get to this point. What will happen next? How will it end? Twelve years after signing a surrender agreement which ended the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein agreed to divulge and destroy his weapons of mass destruction, related materials and technologies, and to abandon his nuclear weapons development programs. Twelve years later, he has not. Despite numerous UN Security Council resolutions that were designed to reinforce and enable the terms of the surrender, Saddam has not complied. Despite the fact that there have been numerous inspections by multiple teams of UN weapons inspectors, Saddam has not complied. And despite the imposition of devastating economic sanctions that have brought both havoc and hardship on his own people, Saddam has not complied. The bottom line is Saddam Hussein is still in power, has not complied with the terms and conditions of his surrender; and, more importantly, he gives no indication of ever intending to do so. Moreover, his undisclosed arsenals of chemical and biological weapons, and the threat that they pose to both regional and global security--it is a threat that the President of the United States has determined to be a clear and present danger to the homeland security of the United States as well.
Leading up to this 11th hour, there has been much debate as to whether or not Saddam Hussein really does have arsenals of chemical and biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and is he really pursuing a program to develop nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction. People have asked, If so, is this threat imminent? Can this threat be eliminated without resorting to war? There has been no shortage of analysts, experts, commentators, prognosticators, and pundits tackling and talking about these critical questions and issues. However, in my opinion, one expert truly stands out among the most insightful, thorough, convincing, and articulate and objective of these people analyzing these important issues, and we are very fortunate to have him with us today as our distinguished guest speaker.
In his best-selling book, The Threatening Storm: The Case For Invading Iraq, Ken Pollack provides what I consider to be the most balanced, comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his regime, and makes the most compelling case for regime change using military force if necessary. In his presentation, Dr. Pollack will address and assess Iraq, confronting the threat to U.S. security, regional stability, and to global peace.
Dr. Kenneth M. Pollack is an expert on Middle Eastern political military affairs, with particular emphasis on Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other nations in the Persian Gulf region. He currently is a senior fellow and Director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Dr. Pollack began his career as an Iran-Iraq military analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he was an employee from 1988 to 1995. During that time he was the principal author of the CIA's classified postmortem on Iraqi strategy and military operations during the Persian Gulf war of 1990-91.
Dr. Pollack received the CIA's certificate of distinction for outstanding performance of duty for work before and during the Persian Gulf war. He also twice received the CIA's exceptional performance award, also for work related to the Persian Gulf War. Dr. Pollack also served twice on the staff of the National Security Council: in 1995-1996 he was the director for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs; and in 1999 through 2001 he served as director for Persian Gulf affairs. In this latter capacity he was the principal working-level official for U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Gulf Cooperation Council states at the White House.
In addition to these positions, Dr. Pollack also has been a senior research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, where he principally worked on long-term issues related to Middle East political and military affairs for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has been the Director for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Released on May 2, 2003