Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on U.S. Policy Towards Iraq; with Former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Former National Security Advisor Robert C. McFarlane
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.(D-DE): The hearing will come to order, please. Good afternoon. Late July this committee held two days of hearing on U.S. policy toward Iraq and our purpose was to begin a national discussion of that policy and to raise some of the difficult questions surrounding any consideration of the next step. We heard from a broad range of expert witnesses and, in the week since, prominent Americans with decades of experience in foreign policy and national security policy have spoken out, and so has the Bush administration in public statements, in hearings before the Congress, and President Bush's powerful speech in the United Nations General Assembly.
As a result, I believe there is an emerging bipartisan consensus on the basic principles for moving forward on Iraq. And rather than give this entire statement that I have, which I will submit for the record, let me suggest that I'm of the view, speaking only for myself obviously, that no matter how well informed of foreign policy, it cannot be sustained without the informed consent of the American people.
I personally am looking forward to the president shortly going to the nation, as he went to the U.N., and making the case for what he wishes to do relative to Iraq. He made a compelling case at the United Nations as to why Iraq has violated the United Nations' own rules, principles and sanctions. But that is not sufficient, in my view, nor do I believe the president believes it's sufficient, to convince the American people as to what we must do. It is one thing to lay out the threat. It's another thing, we need a clear, unequivocal statement of what the U.S. objective is in Iraq.
Is it weapons of mass destruction, is it regime change, is it return of Bahraini prisoners? What is it? What are -- why has, and I believe -- I'm inclined to believe it has. But why has the policy of containing Saddam failed? What is the urgency? What are the regional considerations? What should we be prepared for? What is likely to occur in the mind of the president? And what about -- Senator Lugar and I sent an extensive letter to the president prior to his speech before the United Nations, asking him to consider, which I'm positive he will, what other commitments we are talking about.
What about the day after? What responsibility, if any, do we have? What is the president's vision for what Iraq will look like after Saddam is gone? Are we committing the American people to a sustained commitment to Iraq until there is stability in Iraq? I realize no one can predict exactly how long that would take, but what is the commitment we're making? What are we about to do?
And so there are many questions to be answered. I think they all have answers and I am, for one, anxious to hear the president lay out in some explicit detail what it is that he's going to be asking of the American people. And I, for one, believe that, as I've said before, if Saddam Hussein is around five years from now we have a serious problem. The question is again, what are we asking the American people, what are we about to commit them to, and what latitude and authority does the president need to meet those commitments?
But with that, let me yield -- I might add, tomorrow we are going to be hearing from former secretaries of State as well as the secretary of State. Unfortunately, two of our witnesses had to cancel. I sincerely thank Mr. McFarlane for responding on such very short notice to be able to be here today. But we will continue this process of trying to discern what it is that we are about to sign on to. And as I said, I know of no policy that can be sustained until you tell the American people front end what it is that we're going to expect of them, and I think they're up to anything, anything we ask of them if we are straight with them and tell them what the potential price may be in order to secure -- enhance our security. And we'd clearly be more secure without Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction.
I yield to my friend, Senator Helms and I think I'm right, Mr. Chairman, that this is your first hearing. You've been here for markup but your first hearing since you had to take a little sojourn and get yourself back in shape again and we're delighted to see you back.
SEN. JESSE HELMS (R-NC): I'm running 60 miles an hour now.
SEN. BIDEN: You're running 60 miles an hour?
SEN. HELMS: If you believe that --
SEN. BIDEN: Well, that's about 20 miles an hour faster than I run and about 40 miles slower than you usually run and I have no doubt you'll be up to 100 in no time.
SEN. HELMS: If you believe what I just said you'll believe anything.
Well, of course we welcome Richard Holbrooke and Mr. McFarlane. We've met them many times and they've been many times helpful. The focus of the hearing today, as Joe has said, will be the role of the United Nations in addressing the threats posed by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. And, Mr. Chairman, I recall when we took our committee to the United Nations for hearings when Ambassador Holbrooke was serving in New York, we had a discussion about Secretary General Kofi Annan's assertion that the United Nations Charter was the sole source of legitimacy in the use of force.
And during that hearing, you and I forcefully agreed that this was not the view of the United Nations Senate. While the president is attempting to ascertain a political resolution at the United Nations and support from a coalition of the willing, there's no debate that the United Nations remains the authority to use force to protect the national security interests of the United Nations. And with that I'm going to conclude and await anxiously the testimony of our two distinguished witnesses.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, our first panel today is Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, who's served as the United States permanent representative of the United Nations from '99 to 2001. Before joining the U.N. mission he was vice president of Credit Suisse First Boston in 1996 to '99. He also served as assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs from '94 to '96 and was the ambassador to Germany from '93 to '94. He's currently a counselor for the Council on Foreign Relations and vice chairman of a leading private equity firm.
And we also have the honorable Robert McFarlane. It's good to have you back, Mr. McFarlane.
He was NASA security advisor from '83 to '85. He also served as deputy NASA security advisor '82 to '83 and counselor at the State Department from '81 to '82. He's currently chairman of Energy and Communications and Solutions, an infrastructure development firm.
I welcome you both and we regret that Mr. Pickering and Ambassador Kirkpatrick were unable at the last minute to be able to appear and we thank both the witnesses for being here.
The floor is yours, Mr. Ambassador.
MR. RICHARD C. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this distinguished committee. It is a great honor to appear before you again today at the start of hearings of such historic importance and to join you, Mr. Chairman, in especially welcoming Senator Helms back here again. Last time I testified before this committee he sat where you did and you were very gracious in your support of me and I welcome the confidence and support all of you who are here today have given me.
In my opening remarks I shall discuss three key issues. First, the process which is finally underway in both the Congress and the United Nations Security Council after what I believe was a costly and unnecessary delay. Second, the goal of American policy in regard to Iraq, that is regime change, which I support. And third, the draft resolution before you today to which I would suggest four specific changes before passage.
In regard to the first matter, let me say that the process does indeed matter and the prolonged reluctance of the administration to consult adequately with either the Congress or the Security Council was a costly, self-inflicted mistake. During the long and confused summer, an impression of disarray was left with the world. And during that same period, those who opposed any action against Saddam and those who simply disagreed with the tactics being followed coalesced into a large, almost inadvertent opposition. It was only when the president and the administration, however reluctantly, pledged to send a resolution to the Hill that the problem here began to resolve itself. But the problem is far from over.
If the administration refuses to consider responsible and serious changes to the resolution that come out of Congress, it would again needlessly weaken the unity necessary for success. Congress always has a role in such issues and it must be a coequal branch in deliberations over the draft before you. Senator Helms, I even knew that before you told it to me because I learned it in high school, but it was one of your main lessons on your trips to New York and I just want to repeat it.
The other matter was equally serious. The all too visible contempt for the United Nations and even some of our closest friends was a major impediment to the very sort of collective action that's most likely to succeed. The president's well-crafted and well- delivered speech to the General Assembly in New York, followed by Secretary Powell's intense negotiations with Security Council members has significantly improved the situation.
I know that some members of this body have strong views on the proper sequencing of these two tracks, specifically that congressional action should follow a new Security Council resolution, as was the case in 1990-91. My own view on this is that it would be better in this case if the Congress did act first. This would help Secretary Powell in obtaining the best possible resolution at the Security Council by sending a signal of national unity to the Security Council's members, especially those countries most critical to Security Council resolution. Russia and France, of course, come to mind.
However, I would add that sequencing is not an absolutely critical issue. It can work in either direction. The exact wording of your resolution that is before you today, which I will turn to in a moment, is, however, extremely important. While it is absolutely necessary for the United States to make a clear, good faith effort to achieve a new Security Council resolution, I do not believe it is absolutely essential to achieve it. Highly desirable? Yes. Absolutely essential? No.
Saddam's clear violation of existing Security Council resolutions does provide an existing legal basis for action. But as former Secretary of State James Baker has written, from a political and practical point of view, it would greatly enhance America's position, if we received another clear renewed mandate and that is what Secretary Powell is currently seeking. In fact, twice in the last decade, in Bosnia in 1995 and specially in Kosovo in 1999, the Clinton administration took military action without Security Council approval and that was because the Russians had indicated to us that they would veto. To be sure, we did have unanimous NATO support in both cases, something that is far less likely today, especially in light of recent events in Germany.
The Clinton administration's actions in Bosnia, which were supported by many members of this committee, most notably Chairman Biden, who had urged action years before it took place, did not even receive support from the House. Yet President Clinton acted in accordance with his constitutional authority. As you proceed, I hope we should keep in mind and not ignore such recent history.
Having said that, I wish to make clear that, in my view, the dismissive attitude shown by some members of the administration towards the U.N. in the last 20 months was not only unnecessary but that it weakened us internationally for no reason at all, specially when we belatedly sought international support. I speak of this issue before a committee because leadership on this issue is unparalleled and before a chairman who, along with his predecessor, Senator Helms, wrote an important page in the history of the United States-United Nations relations. I will always be deeply grateful for the support, advice and encouragement that I received from every member of the committee who was here today and many others as we face the effort to reform the financial structure of the U.N. in accordance with the Helms-Biden legislation.
With regular visits for most of this committee, including a decisive one by Senator Biden in December of 2000, we were able to persuade all of 190 nations of the United Nations to approve the most fundamental overhaul in the U.N. financial structure in almost 30 years, a reform that included a 15 percent reduction of U.S. dues to the U.N. Yet, despite the best efforts of Senator Biden, Senator Helms and many of you, all of you on this committee in fact, the Congress has still failed to release the remaining 244 million (dollars) due in the third round of the Helms-Biden effort to pay down the arrears.
I mention this issue which may seem diversionary to why we're here today for a reason. In order to lead, in order to assemble international coalitions of the willing for action, as President George Herbert Walker Bush did in 1991, groundwork must be laid internationally through efforts like the collaborative Helms-Biden reform effort at the U.N. Without the success of that effort, the administration would be facing today arrears of such magnitude that Secretary Powell's effort in the national interest in gaining Security Council approval would be severely weakened. Yet some people still do not see that the U.N. with all its flaws is still indispensable and that it serves our national interests far more often than it weakens them. This is specially true of the U.S. Instead of ignoring or undermining the U.N., works to strengthen it through strong leadership.
Let me now turn to the question of America's national security goals in this unfolding drama. The last administration of which I was part supported regime change as a legitimate policy goal. This was a change from the position of the first Bush administration and one I fully supported. I would point out that, after Kosovo and the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic by the International War Crimes Tribunal, we adopted a similar goal regarding Milosevic in carrying out a policy of isolation, covert assistance, overt assistance to his opponents and with the decisive involvement of the Serbian people, ultimately succeeded.
Now, in my view, Saddam is even more dangerous than Milosevic, given his continuing quest for weapons of mass destruction. Left alone, he will only seek to become stronger. Senator Biden said in his opening remarks if Saddam is around five years from now, we have a serious problem. I certainly agree with that and I think we would all agree that we already have a problem. It just gets more serious if we delay dealing with them. Hence, I accept the argument that once the goal of regime change is established, the United States should work to achieve it.
Having agreed that regime change is desirable, even necessary, does not however go to the question of means. If events take a fortunate turn, the people themselves might rise up and remove a dictator after massive international pressure and isolation.
Although this has happened in the last 17 years, in one form or another, in such diverse places as the Philippines, Rumania and Yugoslavia, we all understand it as virtually inconceivable in Iraq. There is perhaps a somewhat higher chance that an individual acting alone or small group of people with direct access to Saddam might take action to eliminate a tyrant whose behavior threatens their own survival.
This is, in fact, the situation today in Iraq. The entire Iraqi military surely must recognize that it will be destroyed, and probably quickly, if events follow their present course to its logical conclusion. Yet even as we hope for such an outcome, we cannot base policy on it. That would be substituting prayer for policy and that's not a good approach to a serious foreign policy issue like the one before you today. Still, it's tempting to entertain the hope before we move on to more realistic and more difficult scenarios.
This brings us back to the use of force to achieve our goals. If all else fails, collective action against Saddam is, in my view, justified by the situation and the record of the last decade. While we talk of airtight inspection, weapons inspection, no notice, anywhere, anytime, and disarmament, we must recognize that once launched on a course for either o those goals, the chances for a military conflict go up dramatically because Saddam is unlikely to fully comply.
So we shouldn't deceive ourselves on this point, Mr. Chairman. We are talking here today about a very possible war. And once started, that war will have as its objective, whether stated or not, a change of regime in Baghdad. It is highly unfortunately that some advocates of regime change have talked in terms of, quote, "going it alone" unquote, or the need to, quote, "act unilaterally" unquote or proclaimed an alleged new doctrine of preemptive war.
In fact, the United States will not be alone in such a campaign as Secretary Rumsfeld has stated in the last week. In addition to the British, whose prime minister, Tony Blair, deserves enormous praise for his staunch and eloquent support of the United States and especially for his extraordinary presentation yesterday in the House of Commons which goes much further than anything issued here in this country so far in justifying the stand that both of us have taken. I believe that Turkey, the indispensable NATO ally will be supportive as well as several other key nations that will find ways to assist the campaign without compromising their own domestic situation.
I also believe that the odds favor a successful outcome against Iraq and, as Senator John Kerry has written recently, probably rather quickly. The deterioration of the Iraqi military since 1991 and the vast improvement in the American military, which I've seen first-hand over the last four decades, suggests that success should be readily achievable. However, in the fog of war terrible things can happen. There is a real danger that we should not ignore, which we cannot ignore: that what starts as a war against Iraq, especially if protracted, could metastasize into wider conflict between Arabs and Israel.
It is, in my view, irresponsible for people, some of them closely allied to the administration in purporting to speak for it. To talk of the war as a, quote, "cakewalk", unquote, or a quick trip to Baghdad. They may be right. And like all Americans I hope this will be the case if war comes. But such language, Mr. Chairman, such language demeans and insults the risks that brave young American men and women will face and are already facing in Afghanistan and the Balkans and the casualties that will inevitably take place, even under the best of circumstances.
I defer, of course, to several members of this committee whose courage under fire in Vietnam is a matter of record. But as a veteran of three and a-half years as a State Department civilian working alongside the American military in Mekong Delta and in Saigon, as an eye witness to war and its horrors on two other continents, I must stress the obvious. War is truly hell. There is nothing noble or heroic about its consequences, even though it can bring out the best in people, it can also bring out the worst. If war comes, let us go forward with a sober appreciation of its horrors, its wastes, it costs.
Let me turn now finally to the draft resolution itself. I note that in transmitting it to the Congress, the White House invited a full and frank discussion over the draft wording. As Chairman Biden already noted earlier this week, it's just a draft. The last time such a draft came up right after September 11, changes were made in a bipartisan spirit. I believe the current draft proposal from the administration would, indeed needs, to benefit from the same action by you and your colleagues, although I hope that it will be as rapid as possible.
Let me offer four initial specific suggestions for improvement of the draft before you. And I think there may be many others but I would like to offer you four. First, and most important, I believe the authority requested in the final sentence, section 2, is too broad specifically in regard to the third phrase which would authorize the president to use all means to, quote, "Restore international peace and security in the region." Unquote. This phrase, which I believe is taken out context from paragraph 34 of U.N. Security Council resolution 687 of 1991 has a different meaning in the draft resolution before you than it had in Security Council resolution 687.
It is far too broad. It amounts to virtual blank check authority. Six eighty-seven clearly referred only to the preceding paragraphs of that specific Security Council resolution. The region referred to in Security Council 687 meant Kuwait and Iraq and, Mr. Chairman, I checked this with Ambassador Pickering when he realized he couldn't be here today. He was the ambassador in New York at the time it was passed. He was absolutely clear that that phrase in 687 meant only Iraq and Kuwait. And I would like to offer that to you as you deliberate.
In the draft before you however the phrase could mean anything at all. And I strongly endorse the concerns expressed by Senator Feingold and some of his colleagues. The phrase should simply be removed. Refining it, which is an option, is simply too cumbersome and unnecessary. The final resolution should, in my view, focus clearly on Iraq, nothing else. My second suggestion, Mr. Chairman, is that the resolution contain a statement of strong support for the efforts of the president, the secretary of State and their colleagues to seek and achieve a satisfactory Security Council resolution.
For some reason the draft does not emphasize the effort at the Security Council which I know is of great concern to all of us. This would emphasize the importance of the Security Council and show our unity to those nations now wavering over this issue. Third, I would suggest that you add a reporting clause requiring the administration to inform and consult Congress on a very timely basis, perhaps as frequently as every month in writing and even more frequently in closed and highly confidential meetings as they proceed.
The administration should not be left with the ability to say that, if this resolution passes, they've discharged their obligation to consult and inform Congress as President Johnson did after the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in August 1964. I remember this vividly because I was in Vietnam when that passed and quite frankly, and it's critical to your deliberations, none of us in Vietnam understood what the Gulf of Tonkin resolution meant. It was used for a purpose not intended by the people who voted for it and it's very important that that not happen here.
Fourth: I would strongly urge you to add a section concerning the importance of post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq as part of a broad new policy towards the region. Since the story of Afghanistan is not entirely satisfactory on this point, to put it mildly, and since some people are already suggesting that reconstruction can be done either by other countries or simply by the Iraqis using their own oil revenues, it is important to make clear that you do not consider the job over simply if Saddam's replaced by somebody else. A successor might be almost as bad, or bad in a different way. Chaos could follow.
The material for weapons of mass destruction could fall into the wrong hands. We do not want to see Iraq become a safe haven for other forms of terrorists as happened in Afghanistan after the United States so unfortunately turned its back on that country in 1989. That mistake in Afghanistan, second only in my opinion, to letting Saddam survive in 1991, created the conditions that led to Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network setting up shop in Afghanistan. I would recommend, Mr. Chairman, therefore that you add to this resolution language making clear that the past-Saddam structure in Iraq is of continuing concern to the United States, not only what happens in Baghdad but also in the south and in the Kurdish north. These groups must not be betrayed and slaughtered again. The time to make that clear is now before anything begins on the battlefield.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my opening statement. I thank you for the opportunity to be here and look forward to entering into a dialogue with you and your colleagues on this momentous occasion.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much for being here and as usual for a concise and cogent statement.
Mr. McFarlane, welcome. Nice to have you back before the committee.
MR. ROBERT C. McFARLANE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am deeply honored to be invited to participate in your deliberations on the decision to go or not to go to war. Deeply honored always to be part to the deliberations of this great body. My father served in the other body and I have the honor of serving on the Armed Services Committee under the leadership of Chairman Stennis, Senator Goldwater, Senator Jackson, Tower, giants of this body.
I come today as one who was deployed in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 and shortly thereafter commanded a unit in the first landing of American forces in Vietnam. That landing occurred under presidential authority, endorsed by the United States Senate. The events leading up to our engagement there, specifically the fraud that was perpetrated on this body and on the American people, profoundly affected American attitudes towards launching war and since that day and in the ensuing decades the mistrust stemming from our ill- conceived entry into that conflict has resulted in sustained, serious introspection concerning why and how we decide to go to war.
We live in a world, not to say a community, of nation states that coexist, compete, covet and conspire to survive and prosper. Through centuries of struggle we have conceived doctrines, defenses, dogmas designed to settle disputes among states peacefully. Concepts like mediation, arbitration, arms control, collective security, they've all been tried and have often succeeded in reducing tensions and settling disagreements. To be fair, even the failures of one or another of these frameworks have been useful for they've added to our knowledge of what works, what doesn't work, and thus they give us -- move us closer to building an international system that can be effective in settling disputes peacefully. But we are not there yet.
Disputes and violence among nation states seem to be inevitable for as long as the lust of power and hubris remain unchecked by institutions and popular governance. And that is what brings us here today. Today and for the past generation we have faced a threat from Saddam Hussein that has proven resistant to all of the bodies, the systems, the frameworks, the creations of architecture of statecraft that we have devised. The threat is posed by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a monomaniacal despot fed upon regional domination with all that such domination would imply for nations throughout the world.
Today in Iraq there are chemical and biological weapons and systems to deliver them on the shelf and it could be used to kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of people in the region and beyond. History tells us that Saddam Hussein also has the will to use these weapons and has done so. In short, we face a man with the means and the willingness to attack his neighbors and us.
Through the years of trial and error and the use of these several efforts that dispute resolution, that I've described, we've begun to distill a few rules about going to war, and we've begun to establish a few of them in custom and practice, although not in law. The one that is most shared among nations is the notion that force ought not to be used except as a last resort, and before resorting to it, states should exhaust all of the non-violent alternatives. For the past six weeks, that is what President Bush has been doing.
Together with allies, he has presented the factual record on Saddam Hussein's successful drive to obtain chemical and biological weapons and the means to deliver them. He has made the case for action to deal with this clear and present threat to the peace, as called for in the United Nations Charter. Within weeks, the coming weeks, he will have made the case at the U.N., made the case with the U.S. allies, before the U.S. Congress, and I believe before the American people, of taking action to constrain once and for all the ruthless ambitions of Saddam Hussein.
I agree with Ambassador Holbrooke that to move forward in this action does not require a new U.N. resolution. Indeed, to insist on yet another one, the face of the violations and persistent abuse that we've seen in the past 10 years is to devalue the importance of a U.N. resolution.
In calling for action, I recognize that some have called launching a war today against Iraq pre-emption. I disagree. Pre- emption implies precipitous action taken without warning against an evident threat without affording the threatening country an opportunity to cure the grievance. This is surely not the case with Saddam Hussein. For 20 years he's been afforded the opportunity to demonstrate a change in the aggressive behavior expressed in his invasion of Iran and of Kuwait, his repressive brutality against his own people and his obvious ambition for regional hegemony.
Clearly, however, our launching of a war in Iraq will establish a precedent that we cannot want to see emulated by others without fulfillment of accepted principles. I'm confident that the president, his administration are focused on that very issue and that the relevant criteria to justify a preemptive attack will be annunciated in the days ahead. They will include, in my judgment, among others, transgressions such as we have seen in Iraq in recent history, a history of aggression against neighbors, unchecked power within Iraq, and the possession and the will, the military means to inflict mass casualties, the ability and readiness to use them on short notice.
It is a measure of moral strength in our society that we place a very heavy burden of proof on our government, before it launches a war. But this forbearance does come at a price, a price measured in the growing risk of attack by Iraq, as we continue to explore alternative means. It's never easy to judge how much lost time and risk is prudent. Our modern tendency to hold out hope beyond all reasonable expectations was born in an era when the threat and action would not have been catastrophic. Today, however, the price of error is much, much higher, measured in horrendous loss.
Mr. Chairman, in light of this history of aggression and brutality, of willful violation of United Nations resolutions and obstruction of its inspectors, with evidence of an extant and growing arsenal of mass destruction systems and the willingness to use them, and having used all alternative means at hand to avoid conflict, we must now act. To do so is not to preempt. Far from it. It is to do our duty. It is to vindicate the trust of a generation, the generations before us, to act with prudence and deliberation.
To defend our values, our people and our way of life, what specifically should we do? The president should surely complete the deliberate process of consultation with the Senate, the Congress. He should complete his consultations and efforts to engender support and cooperation among allies, and he should continue to work with the United Nations to engender its support and understanding. We should then stage our forces in the countries that Ambassador Holbrooke has mentioned, and Gulf states that I believe will be ready to provide all the staging we need, and then we should move deliberately to seize and hold Baghdad, and as necessary, to neutralize Republican guards and organized Iraqi forces.
Destroy the systems of mass destruction and to be prepared to undertake the long building process to establish the institutions of government worthy of the name and the renewal of the Iraqi economy. I join with Ambassador Holbrooke in lamenting the betrayal the United States inflicted on Afghanistan 12 years ago, and of the awful price that we paid for that betrayal to a country that achieved historic victory for us in the Cold War. To have left it in ruins with 1,000 dead, three million refugees, infrastructure destroyed, and not to have even cared enough to leave people on the ground to determine if someday we might become threatened once again ourselves represents a betrayal of historic proportion and ignorance begging credulity.
I appreciate the opportunity, Mr. Chairman, to join you today. I look forward to your questions.
SEN. BIDEN: I thank you very much, Mr. McFarlane.
After consulting with Senator Helms, we have a pretty full house. We'll go in the first round for seven minutes, if that's okay with my colleagues. And let me thank you, Mr. McFarlane, for your statement.
Particularly I was impressed with your opening comments which I think mirrored all of our concerns, that is if we go to war now we'd better, unlike in 1964, know what we're about to do. Senator Lugar and I hope you will not mind we made the letter public -- wrote to the president of the United States on September 10th, the day before he made his historic speech to the United Nations suggesting a number of things. We weren't being presumptuous. We were being hopefully helpful here.
And one of the things we suggested in that two page letter was that, quote, "The American people must know the military, financial and human capital the United States would be prepared to commit to help realize this vision. The Iraqi people and their neighbors must be confident that chaos will not follow Saddam Hussein. Moreover you would help assuage international concerns that the current unsettled situation in Afghanistan may be replicated in Iraq with far greater strategic consequences." The reason I mention that is the mention of Afghanistan. And I'm going to move to you, if I may in my short time here, Ambassador Holbrooke, and ask you two questions. And, as usual, we're old friends and we both are fairly direct.
It's a pointed question. Would you, were you sitting here, vote for the resolution as submitted to the United States Senate in draft form by the administration if that were the only option you had? Vote for that resolution, or vote no on that resolution?
MR. HOLBROOKE: You mean no chance to --
SEN. BIDEN: No chance.
MR. HOLBROOKE: -- implement these --
SEN. BIDEN: Because, quite frankly --
MR. HOLBROOKE: Do I have to answer that question, Mr. Chairman?
SEN. BIDEN: I'm not telling tales out of school, although I'm not in a negotiation that appears to be where we are at this moment.
MR. MCFARLANE (?): The thing is you can answer it without electoral consequences.
MR. HOLBROOKE: I appreciate that. First of all I had understood from your remarks on television and the fact that it was a draft resolution that it was not an up or down vote --
SEN. BIDEN: It was not intended to be as I understood it. But things sometimes have unintended consequences, the way things flow. And I understand it, I may be mistaken although I've not been in the room, there is a relatively good chance that there will be no change in the amendment although that is not a settled point yet. But, regardless of whether it is or not, we may be faced, possibly, we may be faced with having to vote on that resolution -- that draft resolution -- unchanged. Do you think, were you sitting here, would you support that resolution versus -- that's your only vote. You vote yes for it or your vote no on it.
MR. HOLBROOKE: I understand your question. I was not prepared for it because I'm not aware that that procedure is justified by the circumstances. I have come here today as you know in an effort to support the administration and recommend a show of unity at a very difficult moment. I think that the politicization of the issue and the denial to the Congress of the chance to put its own point of view forward in the normal manner would be extraordinary and it would be very ill-considered for this reason.
It would divide the Congress when what the administration and the president need most is a show of unity. And I am not sure how I would vote at this point if that was the only choice because I think it would a choice so deleterious to the national interest.
SEN. BIDEN: I happen to agree with you. I think that it would be a gigantic mistake. As I indicated to the president when he asked, the last thing the president needs is like that old joke -- the board voted five to four for your speedy recovery. That is not what is needed here. Let me ask you a second question then. What do you believe -- you indicated that it's in the national interest to get Security Council approval for the use of force. Why is it in the national interest? It seems self-evident that it is. Why do you say it's so clearly in the national interest?
MR. HOLBROOKE: It's in the interest but it's not -- it's important but not essential. I want to underscore that. President Clinton in the previous administration took military action in the Balkans twice without Security Council resolution and, unlike the current situation where there are at least a dozen resolution already on the books being violated, so you do have a basis for action without a new resolution. There were none in regard to Milosevic.
Now why, therefore, do I think it would be important? And here Secretary Baker has written about this quite eloquently in the New York Times because the circumstances we're now contemplating are somewhat new. It's a new situation. We're on the edge of war and when you go into an undertaking as serious as this, it is very important to have support.
Now in that regard, Mr. Chairman, let me make a point which I know no committee and the Congress is more familiar with than yours because around this very table a rather historic photo was taken two years which I have on my wall and I know you do. Where you and Senator Helms accompanied by Senator Warner and Senator Levin and many of the people here today posed with all 15 members of the Security Council. A photograph never taken before and not replicated since.
The fact is that the United Nations Security Council, while it is not the only -- while it is not in a position to declare itself the only authority that can legitimize the use of force, and here I agree with Senator Helms' opening comment, is nonetheless the body in the world, the only body in the world, that has the stature and authority that makes a difference. Let's take two specific examples: Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Both countries would love to see Saddam removed. Both countries for different reasons would be in a much stronger position to assist the United States if the venture must begin. If there's Security Council approval.
That's true for Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, France and all our other allies in --
SEN. BIDEN: My time's about up. How long are we going to have stay if we go?
MR. HOLBROOKE: I cannot answer that question.
SEN. BIDEN: Give me your estimate.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, Mr. Chairman, we've discussed this in regard to other areas. I don't believe in exit strategies. I believe in defining the mission, not setting deadlines and then getting the job done. And what Bob McFarlane and I are both saying is that if you undertake a venture and you're the world's leading country, you just have to damn well see it through. We have troops in Korea. Forty- nine years. We have troops in Korea 49 years later. We have troops in Bosnia seven years later. We've had troops in the Sinai for a quarter century. We can afford this if it's in our national interests and I would never guess a question like because I don't think we should put a time limit on it.
SEN. BIDEN: My time is up. Is it fair to say you're saying we would have to stay, whether it's a day or 20 years. We would have to stay as long as it took to secure and stabilize that nation.
MR. HOLBROOKE: I think that's fair to say. If we undertake this venture, we can't walk away from it like we did from Afghanistan or Iraq in '91.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Helms.
SEN. HELMS: Mr. Ambassador, the United Nations has passed I believe 16 resolutions pertaining to Iraqi conduct. Is that about right?
MR. HOLBROOKE: Yes, sir.
SEN. HELMS: With the exception of very limited air and cruise missile strikes as well as increasingly loosened sanctions, there's been no serious effort to compel Iraqi compliance has there?
MR. HOLBROOKE: The Iraqis have defied the resolutions and the inspectors withdrew three years ago and since then it's been stalemate.
There have, however, been very strong efforts to enforce the sanctions and the economic limits. The Iraqis cheat but there isn't any question that these have had an effect.
SEN. HELMS: What do you think is a threshold beyond which a failure to enforce these resolutions undermines the United Nations' credibility and at the same time endangers U.S. national security?
MR. HOLBROOKE: I think that if Iraq defies the resolutions they've weakened the importance of the Security Council and they have defied them in the past. Now not all the 16 resolutions involve weapons of mass destruction. Some involve prisoners of war from Kuwait and so on. So those are the second tier. No one should think we should go to war with Iraq because they're still withholding information of Kuwaiti POWs. But the core resolutions, and there are probably at least 10 of those, are quite serious and fundamental.
SEN. HELMS: I had a friend who called me from Raleigh the other day, and he said, "How many resolutions has the United Nations already done?" And I said, "I think it's 16 but I stand to be corrected."
MR. HOLBROOKE: No, no, it is 16 but you notice that in the resolution the administration sent to you they only listed 11. So they clearly -- they dropped five resolutions as being below the threshold that rises to this seriousness.
SEN. HELMS: Well, back to my question. Why do we even need an additional resolution?
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, as I've said, Mr. Chairman -- excuse me, Senator Helms, but I'll always think of you as the chairman. As I said in my opening statement, it is highly desirable but not essential, because the basis for collective action exists already. I know that's a very difficult answer for some of my friends in this committee but it is my deepest considered opinion. And I want to put it in four words, desirable but not necessary.
SEN. HELMS: I think maybe it ought to be mentioned here sometime, I know the chairman knows it and other senators probably do, that it's my understanding that negotiations are indeed going on between House and Senate bipartisan leadership with the White House. And I think that's of some interest in connection with the questions we're asking and you're answering. Do you agree, Mr. Ambassador, that the United States' national security interests are better protected through the U.S. of these so-called coalitions of the willing?
MR. HOLBROOKE: Yes. You know, in practical terms, and my colleague who's served in the military on the witness stand with me can attest to this. In practical terms, the going alone option is rhetoric. The military can't get there without the support of some of countries in the area, and coalitions of the willing are always better than so-called unilateralism. And no matter how good our logistical lift, our intelligence, our communications, we're always better off and probably more than better off -- it's essential to have the support of, at a minimum, the Turks for logistical reasons, somebody in the Gulf for the same in intelligence, going in to who is up to the secretaries of State and Defense, it's very sensitive. And the British political support has been extraordinarily valuable.
So I think the answer to your question is clearly yes and that's why we shouldn't even think about so-called unilateralism. It's a kind of a macho phrase that may sound good in a talk radio show, but it's not a meaningful phrase to military planners.
SEN. HELMS: I agree.
Let me turn to Colonel McFarlane. By the way, I join Joe in welcoming you to the committee. It's good to see you again.
McFarlane, Mr. McFarlane, Saddam Hussein has a track record of manipulating the United Nations' inspection demands as a way of buying time. Even now, he's repeating his antics of 1998, claiming to accept inspectors while he is throwing out roadblocks to their success and dispersing his weapons programs. Now, assuming that many of the permanent members of the Security Council believe that we need to go through this charade with Saddam, do you think we out to put a date on the U.N. resolution as an ultimatum?
MR. McFARLANE: Senator Helms, I believe that we should not seek another resolution, for the reasons that you've enumerated already. If 16 of them in past have been violated and rejected, what promise is there, what prospect that yet another one is going to result in any different behavior? But I think we need to reset that record to stress that renewed inspections hold little promise of better result, to point out that the existing ones authorize inspectors to go back, but not to delude ourselves and to engage in the delaying tactics that are inevitable if we go down this road.
SEN. HELMS: By the way, before I use all my time, for the information of the committee, and I believe most of us know this, the conference report of the State Authorization Bill that releases the final $244 million should pass the Senate, and by the way, this afternoon or tomorrow without any glitches, this will fully implement the Helms-Biden U.N. Reform Bill. I think that ought to be made a matter of record.
MR. McFARLANE: That's very good news, Senator.
SEN. HELMS: Good. I yield back the balance of my time.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Feingold.
SEN. RUSSELL FEINGOLD (D-WI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me also add how good it is to see the ranking member back here again at the hearing.
I'd like to thank the chairman and the ranking member for convening these hearings on Iraq which promise to be excellent follow- ons to the hearing this committee held in July. I attended all or part of the five panels of that hearing in July and I'm glad I did. In August I then traveled around my home state of Wisconsin, listening extensively to my constituents views in Iraq. We actually held 21 town meetings. And for the first time ever in addition to healthcare, concerns of foreign policy, and in particular Iraq, led the list of concerns.
I've attended numerous briefings and read countless reports from a variety of sources, tried to listen carefully to the administration, and I've read quite closely the proposed resolution authorizing the use of force that the administration sent to Congress last week.
Mr. Chairman, after all of this I still do not have answers to some fundamental questions. I remain extremely troubled by the administration's shifting justifications for going to war in Iraq. I remain skeptical of the need to take unilateral action now and to accept all of the associated costs of that decision.
I remain unconvinced that the administration has thought through the potential costs and challenges of post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq, or even thought through how to address the issue of weapons of mass destruction once an engagement begins. And I am surprised and disappointed that after months of heated rhetoric, the administration could not yet manage a more thoughtful and focused proposal than the language we received last week.
Mr. Chairman, I'm also remaining deeply concerned about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. I reject the assertion that disagreeing with the administration means resigning ourselves to doing nothing. I'd like to work with my colleagues and with the administration to address this threat in a focused and serious way that serves our national interests, including our interest in continuing to work with other countries around the world to fight terrorism. In the end, the use of force may well be required. But to date what the administration is proposing does not made the grade. The message is confused, the vision hazy, the assurances facile.
We are making decisions that could send young Americans to war, decisions that could have far-reaching consequences for the global campaign against terrorism and for America's role in the world in the 21st century. I think it is reasonable to demand policy that makes sense. Perhaps this hearing can help point the way towards such policy. Our witnesses today are distinguished and thoughtful and committed to working in the best interests of the country and it has always been a great pleasure for me to work with my friend Ambassador Holbrooke and of course to see him here today.
Mr. Chairman, in terms of questions, let me begin by asking Ambassador Holbrooke, what would you say are the historical precedents for a major U.S. military operation in response to this type of threat?
MR. HOLBROOKE: By that you mean an action before a military action was taken against us?
SEN. FEINGOLD: And on the type of concern with regard to the type of threats that Iraq raises.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Immediately off the top of my head I cannot think of any, Senator Feingold. On the question of preemptive war, there are plenty of preemptive wars in history, the Six Day War in 1967, the Israeli attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, widely condemned at the time, in retrospect it looks like a visionary action. We all know the lessons of history that Hitler should have been taken on in 1936 preemptively. Hitler himself admits -- admitted he would have been doomed if he'd done it. You could argue that the Spanish- American war was a preemptive war without any provocation at all, since the Maine was not blown up by the Spanish, according to the Hyman Rickover reinvestigation of it in 1975.
Having said that, I feel intensely uncomfortable with the assertion of a new doctrine for preventive war or preemptive war. I just don't see the necessity of it. And with the greatest respect for the people who did it and in the effort to support their goal in Iraq, I believe that by asserting a universal right instead of focusing on Iraq, the administration has weakened the dialogue we're having here today. And I would urge you to discuss this tomorrow with your most senior witness because no president ever would have renounced the right to strike first if we're in danger.
This was a long doctrinal battle during the Cold War which Senator Biden, Senator Hagel, Senator Lugar and others participated in. No president would have denied it, but to assert it as a universal right at a moment when we're trying to build a specific alliance against a specific threat actually worked against its goal.
SEN. FEINGOLD: I appreciate that answer and I was interested in the examples you cited. Some of them certainly --
MR. HOLBROOKE: Particularly the Spanish-American War, right?
SEN. FEINGOLD: I was very intrigued by that.
But the more recent ones seem to be cases that involve actual prevention and having read what the administration is talking about in terms of their doctrine of pre-emption, to me in some ways it sounds more like prevention which of course has to be a core element of any foreign policy and every day we should use a range of foreign policy tools to prevent threats from emerging. But announcing that we will unilaterally use our military might to eliminate those who may threaten us in the future, announcing that we basically just are going to play by own rules, which it almost appears we make up as we go along, may not be conducive to building a strong global coalition against terrorism or to combating the anti-American propaganda that passes for new in so much of the world. I'm wondering what you would say about the distinction between prevention and pre-emption?
MR. HOLBROOKE: By the way I forgot in the list of preemptive actions, I forget to add the moment when we wrestled mighty Granada to its knees. I think that the issue you raise is incredibly important and to assert a new doctrine and to get mixed up here on this issue is not to my mind valuable in the debate we're having. And I'm sorry to see that it was introduced earlier this year in a speech at a time when we should have been focused on the specific threat. And I don't know why it was done. It doesn't help us internationally and I think it confuses Americans.
We will respond to any threat and any president will act preventively or preemptively when he or she has to. But why declare a doctrine which is unnecessary. It always was there as those of you who participated in the debate over no first use. Well, this committee held many hearings on the issue. The funny thing, Senator Feingold, is there really -- if you take away the rhetoric and the controversy, I don't think it amounted to much but it was presented in such a dramatic way that it's muddied the discussion which we're having here today.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you very much, Ambassador Holbrooke.
SEN. BIDEN: I could not agree with that statement more.
SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Mr. Chairman, I wanted to use a portion of my time to just discuss two or three issues. The first one is one that you raised and I think is very important and that is how the resolution going to be formulated, who will debate it and what have you? Let me respectfully make a suggestion that the chairman work with the leadership of the Senate, Senator Daschle and others to gain jurisdiction for this committee for one week with regard to this resolution. This will not delay, as I understand the work of the Senate in terms of the bills that are now on the floor, but would firmly establish the jurisdiction of the committee and give members an opportunity to participate.
And I will support that with Senator Lott. Let me just say to the chairman there was a small meeting this morning involving Senator Lott. I attended the meeting. Senator McCain was there and Senator Santorum and, in essence, I made some suggestions to him. He did not indicate that he would accept them but he was going to discuss them with members of the administration.
SEN. BIDEN: Without taking out of your time. Let me respond because this is so important. I share the senator's view. I did not formally make the request. I raised that as the appropriate way to proceed. I was informed that either a combination of the administration or the administration and joint leadership concluded that no one should be in on the negotiations other than the speaker, the minority leader in the House and the majority/minority Leader in the Senate and their staffs. I think that is a mistake. I suspect it's a growing sentiment in my caucus, I may be wrong, that it should go through this procedure. It would not be unduly delayed. I happen to agree with you. I cannot guarantee you the outcome.
SEN. LUGAR: The second suggestion follows from the letter that you read that the two of us wrote to the president and I want to spell out again the importance, I think, not only of the president speaking to this to the American people but of all of this that kind of think through the cost of the war and the peace. Now people are making tries at this. Larry Lindsay, the Council of Economic Advisors, suggested $100 billion as a round figure. Some have upped that figure. The implications of this, with regard to all of our budgeting, all of our priorities, for several years are very substantial. This does not deny the need to go to war, if that is required but it does require -- the American people have some idea in advance -- of priorities that have been set. And I think this really has to be spelt out.
Secondly, there is a pledge generally to avert chaos in Iraq in a post-war situation. That is implied at least in the draft of the resolution in that last clause which is very wide open. However, I've been trying to query administration persons as to whether in the planning there is an idea of how many troops are going to be involved and for how long. I'm informed that there has been some discussion of that and I'm informed that there has been some discussion of that and I'm glad that that is the case but I think probably, publicly, that needs to be a point.
Afghanistan has been mentioned by our witnesses today. This is not a good example of averting chaos after a war. In the case of the Iraq, we know that we have a 17 percent Sunni minority that is in control and a 60 percent Shi'ite majority that could very well commit atrocities against the oppressors, leaving our situation aside. Are we going to take the responsibility of policing Iraq? And the answer probably is yes, if there was not to be total chaos. But that is something that really has to be discussed.
The third thing it seems to me that comes from that is some plan for finally getting our hands on the weapons of mass destruction in the midst of all this police activity, expenditure and war. That is not clear at all. Where these dual purpose sheds are that deal with chemical and biological. Some thoughts have been that perhaps when we get there, we may be able to interrogate scientists who have been involved in this and have circulated about from time to time and might lead us to the situation. But, in fact, one of the major objectives of the war is to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction.
How ironic, having fought a war and trying to maintain chaos that we still do not know where they are and have not destroyed them. So there really has to be some statement by our military, by the president, by somebody as to how we do this.
Now finally, Mr. President (sic), you have been most tolerant of my editorializing about weapons of mass destruction in Russia, but it's relevant.
SEN. BIDEN: Extremely relevant.
SEN. LUGAR: We are asked how do we know whether Saddam might in fact develop something in the next year? The answer always is he might get this arms material from somewhere else. Where? Someone has suggested recently, Africa. Well a better bet is Russia. Now we have been talking about this in the committee with some productive results. The chairman and I visited with the president, Dr. Rice, the vice president what have you in June about this specific issue.
Unknown to the president various regulations drawn up by the Congress that were not waived by the administration this year had led to a stoppage of the Nunn-Lugar work in many areas of Russia. The president was startled by this. Instructed Dr. Rice to move ahead. She has. She's written a very good letter which I used on the Senate floor to get an amendment that will give the president waiver authority so we might even start destroying the first pound of the 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons at Shchuchye. That is now in the defense appropriations conference. I has not yet happened. Nothing is happening at Shchuchye. The 40,000 metric tons are all being preserved, hopefully not for the Iraqis or for somebody else, but nevertheless they are all still there.
So I plead in public for the House conferees to let it go, let the president have the waiver authority. Ditto in the Defense Authorization Committee. The Senate after we talked about this in this committee and we talked about it on the floor, asked for the president to have permanent waiver authority in the national interest to destroy weapons of mass destruction. The House conferees have not acceded to that wish. It is tied up as of this moment.
First the president asked and we offered legislation from this committee to let the so-called Nunn-Lugar act operate elsewhere, with all sorts of reporting requirements to the relevant committees. Like Pakistan or Afghanistan or wherever fissile material, wherever weapons show up. The House conferees have said no, we don't want it outside of Russia. This is incomprehensible, given the debate we're having today about Iraq, and this is why I take the time of the committee in this very public way, please with the House conferees in these two situations, defense authorization, defense appropriation, to give the president of the United States at this crisis time, waiver authority so he can proceed to destroy the weapons of mass destruction, or even find them, wherever they may be outside of Russia. And I think this is relevant to the hearing.
I thank the witnesses for offering suggestions on the resolution and I would say with regard to the final sentence that you mentioned, Ambassador Holbrooke, I made that point this morning. I think it is not the language and I've assured that with Senator Biden's staff. And so perhaps we can make some improvement there. I thought the reporting requirement was an interesting idea and I'm not sure how that works in, but I'm sure craftsmen could probably find some way. And likewise, the post-conflict construction of Iraq, I've made already quite a to do about. I think that's important, otherwise a chaotic business.
I just appreciate both of you coming. Your testimony has been very, very thoughtful, some great experience to friends of the committee and friends of us. I thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: With the indulgence of the committee, I think it's appropriate to make two points at this point, in terms of questions. I think part of what's going on here as it relates to Iraq is that there is a desire to demonstrate, and I am prepared to demonstrate it, support for the president's initiative at the United Nations and support for separating Saddam from his weapons or from power or both. And that is going simultaneously with an effort yet to be articulated to me to exactly what the administration is seeking at the U.N. Now, maybe my colleagues know. No one has told me, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, specifically what is being sought by Secretary Powell at the United Nations.
Thirdly, to make the point of Mr. McFarlane, he said there needs to be a criteria annunciated in the days ahead as a basis for our action. The irony is we're being asked to vote on a declaration of war before that criteria's set. For make no mistake, although I am only an adjunct professor of constitutional law, this area I know. A resolution authorizing the use of force has the same exact force as a declaration of war. And so in a sense there's some confusion. As my grandpop might say -- might have said, I'm not sure the horse can carry the sleigh, or we are putting the horse before the cart, to keep this stupid metaphor going.
The notion here is I'm convinced the president is well intended here. Dick may -- Senator Lugar may recall in the necessary absence of Senator Helms, at a White House congressional leadership meeting just two weeks ago, the president turned to me, as he did others, and he said, "Mr. Chairman, what do you think?" And I said, "Mr. President, I will be with you as long as," and I laid out two things. And the ending thing was, "And, Mr. President, you tell the people of America forthrightly that we will have to stay, that American forces will be in place for some period of time and that the cost will be significant." And he looked at me and with all president said, "I will."
So I am confident he'll do it. I am just uneasy about the way we're going about this now, because we may end up right where Bud McFarlane doesn't want us to end up, and anybody from the Gulf of Tonkin days on in the Vietnam generation doesn't want us to end up, and that is with a mixed message to the American people about what we're committing. I'm sorry for that editorial interjection but I in part am trying to explain to people who may be listening to this why there is some confusion. There is not here an unwillingness to cooperate with the president. There is a desire to cooperate. But I think we have to get the lines a little clearer.
I yield to my friend from California, Senator Boxer.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): Thank you, Senator Biden, Senator Helms, thank you for this hearing. I just want to say, Senator Lugar, there is no more important time for Nunn-Lugar than now, and anything that I can do to help you I stand ready to do that.
Mr. Chairman, as a member of the Congress for 20 years, I want to put my questions into some perspective and put my values out there as a United States senator and as a mother and a grandmother. Mr. Chairman, I voted to go to war twice -- Mr. Chairman, I voted to go to war twice in recent years. Once, and you had tremendous leadership on this to stop a genocide under Milosevic and under or with a democratic president and once after 9/11 to give this president the power to respond in any way necessary to conduct a war against these terrorists.
Having said that, I want to say two things about how I view war. One, I view war as a last resort, not as a first resort. And secondly, I believe that any president who is asking us to go to war lay out a path for peace, a way to avoid war. And I have to say in this particular circumstance, at this point, I do not sense that this president views this war as a last resort because he hasn't really laid out a path for peace. And I've served with four presidents now and I've not seen this before, but I do see it now. And with that I want to ask some questions and make a couple more comments.
Mr. Ambassador, when you opened up your testimony you said the reluctance, the prolonged reluctance of this administration to consult adequately with either the Congress or the United Nations Security Council was a costly, self-inflicted mistake during a long and confused summer and an impression of disarray was left with the world. Well, I want to say something here that is not easy to say. But I don't think that was a mistake. I think that was a plan. And all you have to do is see the comments of Andrew Card who said, quote, "We don't roll out a new product during the summer." And I ask unanimous consent to place into the record the exact words of Andrew Card on that point.
SEN. BIDEN: So ordered.
SEN. BOXER: So I don't think it was any kind of mistake. I think it was a plan to make this political. That is very distressing. These issues are too important. A man like Saddam Hussein having these weapons of mass destruction, too important to politicize.
Chairman Biden opened up the hearing and he said, "If Saddam is around in five years we've got a serious problem." Now, I would like to ask both of you this question. Chairman Biden is saying that today. Why didn't the first Bush administration feel that if Saddam was around five years later, from 1991, it would be a severe problem? Why did they not move toward regime change?
MR. HOLBROOKE: I would -- I think you should address that to the secretary of State, who was chairman of the joint chiefs at the time but may have some insight. I would simply say that whatever their rationale at the time -- they say they couldn't do it because it was not in the Security Council resolution -- I find that a very strange explanation for the specific manner in which the war was terminated after the nice round 100 hour mark. They argued that you had to go Baghdad to do it. I don't believe that was necessarily so. But you have to ask them that question, Senator Boxer. I've said before and I must say it today, I believe it was the single greatest mistake in American foreign policy since the end of the Vietnam War and that is why we're here today.
There's one last point. The entire intelligence community told the president that -- President Bush Senior -- that Saddam would not survive anyway and that was, of course, historically wrong.
SEN. BOXER: Yeah, he's been around since 1968.
MR. HOLBROOKE: I know, yeah.
SEN. BOXER: As the strong man of that country.
MR. HOLBROOKE: And that goes to the Baathist structure of the country. But I would have to deter to people who were there in the administration 11 years ago at this time.
SEN. BOXER: Mr. McFarlane, would you care to try that answer? In other words, the chairman said here if Saddam's around in five years, his exact words were, "We have a serious problem." Why didn't President Bush's dad feel the same at that time?
MR. McFARLANE: Senator Boxer, I think that being in the other body at the time, you were witness to the very, very intense arguments in the Senate about the resolution of support, we're going to war in '91. It was a very, very intense argument in which the Senate very narrowly, by one vote, endorsed the president's action. I think the Senate was acting in its traditional mode of care, perhaps looking back to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in which an open ended authority was abused and consequently endorsed the limited action of rejecting or expelling from Kuwait and restoring the territorial integrity of Kuwait as the extent of authority.
SEN. BOXER: Okay. I get your point. You're saying the resolution was limited. I would just make the point that the big debate in the Senate actually, and in the House where I was, was whether there ought to be 60 more days of sanctions before force. But I don't have time to get into it and I appreciate your answer. Let me get into a couple of other questions. I see the yellow light is on. Mr. Ambassador Holbrooke, in your editorial that you wrote which I thought was very strong on August 27th, you said, "A campaign against Saddam Hussein cannot be waged without allies." And in the resolution that was sent up, there's no reference to doing this with allies whatsoever. And I want to ask you two questions and then I'll yield.
My understanding is that Tony Blair's cabinet backed the use of force for England to be involved if there was another U.N. resolution and through that resolution, the use of force. That's my understanding of what Britain did. Am I accurate on that point?
MR. HOLBROOKE: I did not know.
SEN. BOXER: Okay. And then secondly, do you think we could strengthen the resolution if we talked about working with our allies because the one thing I know from my people back home, they don't want us to do this alone? The blood, the treasure, it all and I think they want to see us have allies with us. And yet there's no mention of it and you didn't mention it as you picked over the resolution.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, I share you point. I suggested four changes in the resolution: one deletion, three additions. What you're essentially proposing is a fifth. An addition which stresses the importance of allies. There's a very revealing poll in yesterday's USA Today whereby an overwhelming majority of the American public would be willing to see U.S. troops in an effort to deal with Saddam if we had allies, if the Congress approved and if the Security Council supported it.
The more amazing thing was that, given the same option: U.S. troops in Iraq, absent congressional support, absent allies and absent Security Council, there was swing of 30 to 40 points. I have never such a swing on an issue and this would reinforce your point, Senator Boxer.
SEN. BIDEN: Would you say that again? I'm sorry. My staff didn't --
MR. HOLBROOKE: Yesterday's USA Today has a very revealing poll in which, by margins of something like 68 to 30 -- don't hold me to the exact numbers, Mr. Chairman -- the American public said they would support an attack on Iraq with American ground troops if there was congressional support. Second question, if there's U.N. Security Council action, same margin. If there are allies, same margin. Slight differences. Then the poll asked would you support it without the Congress? 35 to 60: No. Would you support it without the U.N. approval, same margin: No. Without allies, same margin: No.
In other words, what Senator Boxer's saying is reinforced by I think the good common sense of the American public. They want to get rid of Saddam, as everyone on this committee does. They don't want to go it alone. The only nuanced difference between us, senator, which you and I have discussed privately, is whether a new Security Council resolution is required or not. And I am bound by my previous comments on that and by my experience, but I think we can't go it alone. And that's why I wrote that article and if you and your colleagues add an additional therefore clause concerning the need for allies, I think it would help the administration. But I can't speak for them.
SEN. BOXER: Mr. Chairman, can I indulge you for 30 seconds more?
SEN. BIDEN: Sure.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you. In you first op-ed piece you said existing Security Council resolutions will not be enough. In your second one you changed. But I agree with your first one. And let me just close by saying this. I agree with where the American people are today. Now they may change. I agree with where the American people are today and the difference between us I say, Mr. Ambassador, is this: I would want to put working with our allies, working with the United Nations, not in a whereas clause but in the actual resolve clause, because sticking something in a whereas clause doesn't mean anything but if it's in the resolve clause that we will do this through the U.N., we will do this with our allies, we will not do it alone, is a strong difference between where I'm coming from, where the American people are coming from, which is right there, and where this administration is coming from with a blank check which I could never support. And I appreciate the comments of both of you here today.
SEN. BIDEN: For the record, since it was referenced, indulgence of my colleague from Nebraska, the question in USA Today poll some people say they would support invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops only if certain conditions were true. For each of the following conditions, please say if you favor oppose invading. How about if the United Nations supported invading? Seventy-nine percent would favor. How about if the United States opposed invading? Only 37 percent would favor.
SEN. BOXER: The United Nations. You said United States.
SEN. BIDEN: Sorry. Would you oppose or favor if the United Nations supported invading Iraq? Seventy-nine percent said we would support invading if the U.N. supported invading. When asked if the U.N. opposed invading, only 37 percent said they favor it. And so it's overwhelmingly clear, at least from my --
MR. HOLBROOKE: And then, Mr. Chairman, you might add, because I was trying to remember the same question on Congress and allies --
SEN. BIDEN: Congress says if Congress supports, 69 percent favor. If Congress opposes, only 37 percent favor. Other countries' participating in Iraq, 79 percent would favor. United States invading alone, only 38 percent would favor.
MR. HOLBROOKE: That's a very sophisticated set of answers, Senator Boxer, and I think it reinforces your point.
SEN. BIDEN: I'd ask unanimous consent that the answers be --
MR. HOLBROOKE: The 30 to 40 point swing against unilateralism is the way I would interpret those answers.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator.
SEN. HAGEL: Mr. Chairman, thank you.
And, gentlemen, thank you for coming before us today because your experience and talent and insight is very important to this debate and you each have presented I think important points and I'd like to delve into a couple in a moment. But before I do I want to go on record, Mr. Chairman, in support of every utterance of my wise, learned colleague from Indiana statement. I think Senator Lugar makes, as he always does, makes eminent good sense. I would strongly support his suggestion to you that we -- whatever is the appropriate responsible approach asked that this committee be part of this deliberation.
I haven't been around very long, Mr. Chairman, but I am a bit astounded when I read in one of the publications this morning that the chairman of the House International Relations Committee when asked what his role has been in working with the administration on this resolution to maybe take this nation to war, his comment was something to the effect that Tom Lantos, the, of course, Democrat ranking member of that committee, Tom and I are pressing our nose up against the window, looking in. There's something that doesn't quite fit with that kind of response. I don't know if your nose is up against the window, you and Senator Helms.
SEN. BIDEN: I haven't found a window.
SEN. HAGEL: But the fact is this is about as serious as issue as a Congress will ever debate. My question to you, Mr. Chairman, and maybe you could give us some sense of this, what was the procedure in 1991 when that resolution was passed? Did this committee have a role or was it bypassed like this committee is being bypassed today?
SEN. BIDEN: Again, not against the senator's time for questions. In the interest of accuracy, I would like to be able to submit for the record, when I go back and refresh my recollection, exactly what the sequence was. But there were three important points. One initially, if Iraq was -- I mean Kuwait was invaded in August, the president asserted he did not need congressional authority, and his attorney general, who is actually a good friend and has helped me teach a couple of my classes, asserted that the war clause only was put there for the Congress to be able to declare war if the president didn't. And that was literally asserted by -- to remember by the White House.
And then I, along with several others, probably Senator Lugar, I don't recall, insisted that that issue be litigated before the committee of the requirement. And we had constitutional scholar after scholar come and testify in opening hearings saying the president must submit a resolution seeking approval. We solicited that resolution and then President Bush did what I thought quite frankly was a very wise thing, and that is he said, "I do not want you to vote on this in the midst of congressional elections." He said, "This should be put over until the congressional elections are over," even though it was more urgent then in that there was a country invaded and occupied and we had 250,000 troops amassing on the ground. He still said, I guess because of his experiences in combat, he still said, "We should not vote now."
And then we came back. We came back in January and voted -- I think it was January, and voted, but after the election. And I cannot say to my friend with certainty whether or not the resolution the president ultimately submitted in that interim period was once again before the committee or not. I don't recall. Maybe my friend from Indiana does. But the point is there was considerable debate because we did not vote in a highly charged electoral circumstance. But I will get it for the record for my friend -- for the record and for my friend in great detail. But that was the sequencing of how it went.
SEN. HAGEL: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that. And it may well be that we go back and examine that record as to how it was done in 1990 and '91, especially in light of the fact that we are a few weeks away from an election and this deserves the kind of thoughtful time and debate that I think the American public deserve, and quite frankly the world deserves. I am also astounded that those who know most about these issues, the ranking members of the Armed Services Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Intelligence Committee, some are with us today, are not part of the process in writing or drafting or amending a resolution. And I would hope that whenever that resolution is taken up in the House and the Senate that it will be the senior members of this committee that will lead that floor debate that will manage that bill.
Now, with that said, Mr. Chairman, I want to ask a question of Ambassador Holbrooke. In his testimony he cites, I believe on page 3, 4, and I will read this so I have it exactly right, "However, in the fog of war, terrible things can happen." But I am particularly interested in your next point, Mr. Ambassador, and I would appreciate if you could talk in more detail about what you mean. This point. You say, "There is a real danger which we should not ignore that what starts as a war against Iraq, especially if protracted, could metastasize into a wider conflict between Arabs and Israel." Would you please expand on that? Thank you.
MR. HOLBROOKE: I don't want to be Cassandra and I don't want to make a worst-case scenario, but prudent policy planning for civilians and military alike requires that you consider worst-case scenarios. And people who don't, who thought, for example, in the summer of 1914 that it would be a short war, live with consequences incalculable for the rest of history. I share the view expressed by some members of this committee, Senator Kerry among others, that the odds significantly favor a rapid military success. But as you well know, from your own experience in Indochina, military plans are scrapped and rewritten on a daily basis.
And the key to this war, and here I speak as a civilian, the key to this war will be whether the degradation and destruction of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, and to me that is an unknown, will precede his ability to put something against Israel. In 1991 he put 35 scud missiles into Tel Aviv. The Israelis did not respond. According to current newspaper accounts, the Israelis will not be so self-contained this time. And given the other issues raging to the west of Iraq between the Palestinians and the Israelis, we cannot preclude the worst-case scenarios.
Again, Senator, you and I share a Vietnam experience, as does Bud McFarlane, and we all know that things don't always work out according to plan in wars. And as we go forward, if we go forward, we should do it without predicting cakewalks but with a readiness to deal with this. And it would obviously be for the military chiefs in closed session to discuss with you what they have in mind to prevent this. I can assure you of one thing, the U.S. military planners are well aware of the risk, probably far more aware than I am. And anyone who dismisses as out of hand, as I've seen from some rather casual television so-called experts, is being very irresponsible. We can't just sit here and say it's going to be a cakewalk because we don't know what will happen.
SEN. HAGEL: Thank you.
Mr. McFarlane, would you care to respond to that?
MR. McFARLANE: Senator Hagel, it seems clear that Saddam's behavior is not predictable but that there's a very strong animus toward Israel there and that in the last war he's use of weapons against them had beyond it explosive purpose to perhaps engender that very thing, a wider war. But indeed that is a scenario that is not implausible at all that the use of scuds against Israel and their reaction, which has been confirmed as likely would bring in other Arab parties to the conflict with very unpredictable consequences but a far greater commitment required by us to deal with it.
SEN. HAGEL: Thank you both. Mr. Chairman, thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Nelson.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): I'm going to defer to my colleague from West Virginia.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Rockefeller.
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV): And if he was here before I was, I'll defer to Senator Chafee.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Chafee.
SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R-RI): Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Anybody else in the audience?
All right. Senator Chafee.
I have a lot of questions to the audience but thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, gentlemen. I'd just like to have you discuss the relative threats to the United States from firstly terrorism and then secondly from Iraq, especially in the light of how they're hemmed in by our international coalition enforcing the no-fly zones. How do you weigh the threats against the United States from those two, in some way might be mixed, but by and large separate dangers, Iraq, as we're discussing here, but also international terrorism? I'll start with Mr. McFarlane. Thank you.
MR. McFARLANE: Senator Chafee the scale and capability of the Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist threat hasn't been fully defined, I think, by our government and yet it has asserted that beyond Afghanistan, affiliates in more than 50 cities and countries throughout the world have the training, funding capability to carry out major violence against the United States. The evidence of the past 10 years of the half dozen attacks from '93 in New York to the embassies in Africa, to the Cole, the Khobar Towers and so forth are evidence that this is a very potent force and will remain so for a long time in my judgment. One thing that's been underreported is the level of funding that this sustaining this work, which is not trivial. It's in, my judgment, more than a billion dollars annually. Global terrorism, oriented primarily against the United States, is going to be with us for a long time.
Saddam Hussein, as someone who is unchecked by a Congress or other institutions, has made clear that he has ambitions to dominate this region. His invasion of two neighboring countries, the force that he maintains in being which gives him the capability to do it again. His determination to achieve weapons of mass destruction, beg the question for what purpose if not to expand his influence and to coerce the behavior of neighboring states.
One also has to ask whether or not, given his history of supporting of terrorist, the most notable recently deceased Abu Nidal, Black June, Black September and others, underscore that his support for terrorists and terrorism is on the record and therefore to suggest the plausibility of his providing terrorists with weapons of mass destruction in the perhaps hope of achieving anonymity through this third party use with his sponsorship, I certainly cannot assert that that's a high or low probability, but given his history it's a plausible scenario.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Nothing to add, Senator.
SEN. CHAFEE: I'll follow that with, in light of the potential to fan the flames of anti-Americanism not only in the region but apparently in Europe also, is our intervention in Iraq counterproductive to our War on Terrorism?
MR. HOLBROOKE: That I will take a shot at, Senator Chafee. And my answer is simple: It depends. What does it depend on, and this goes back to Senator Hagel's question, it depends on the war itself. If it is quickly successful in its objectives I would share Fuad Ajami's well known statement that there would be dancing in the streets in Baghdad and no mourning in any of the other Arab capitals.
If the war does not go quickly, if it has consequences, and that's why I made the allusion to 1914 where everyone thought it would be a short war. It wasn't and the world changed. Then you're in a different situation. Has anyone in this room who's served in the military knows, military plans start getting rewritten and strafed on day one. Our whole bombing campaign in Serbia for example was initially miscalculated. And the NATO command in Brussels, General Clark and company, had to redo it. So you've asked a fair question but the outcome of the military determines the political situation that follows.
That was true in 1914. It was true in 1945. It was true with the Six Day War in the Mid-East. It's true in Vietnam. It's the core fact. People think there's war and then there's diplomacy. It's not true. If war is an extension of diplomacy by other means, then diplomacy is an extension of war as a result of it. And so that's why what we're talking about has such enormous consequences.
SEN. CHAFEE: I couldn't agree with you more. I think it was in your written statement you did say Senator Hagel quoted from one of your statements but also war is truly hell and went on to talk about the horrors and the waste and its cost. So in light of that, just to follow up on the same question, how do we justify -- and I guess I'm going back to Senator Feingold -- how do we justify without concrete evidence of a threat in answering Mr. McFarlane's testimony that the threat is just no different from several years ago? How do we justify this action?
MR. HOLBROOKE: Senator, most of us in this room, unless we have access to current intelligence information which I do not, cannot answer the question precisely. It is my view, however, that Saddam Hussein has spent 12 years doing whatever he can to rebuild himself. He couldn't rebuild his ground forces which are about one-third the size of '91 but since inspectors left Iraq three years ago he has, without question, done what he could. I would urge --
SEN. CHAFEE: I'll just interrupt. Even with our overflights, our satellite reconnaissance our no-fly zones, he's hemmed in.
MR. HOLBROOKE: I'll answer that sub-question on two levels. Number one: even if we had cameras that could see through concrete bunkers and lead, all they would be was cameras. So we wouldn't actually know what we don't know. And secondly, you can only do this with on the ground -- and Hans Blix himself said last week -- the excellent Swedish head of the U.N. inspection mission which is preparing to go back in under certain circumstances that nothing will be foolproof.
But this goes to a very fundamental question. If Saddam is a problem today, as Senator Biden has said, he'll be a much worse problem if he's left untouched for three or five years. And that's why all of us as individuals and you especially as senators are going to have to decided whether to support a policy which has a very high probability of leading to war. Why would anyone even consider it under these circumstances? And I hate war. I've been in refugee camps everywhere. I've been shot hot at. The whole works.
The reason we have to contemplate it in my view, although I agree with Senator Boxer, as a last resort, is that he will be more dangerous in the future. In three or five years he'll be more powerful and I do not agree that nothing has happened to bring it to a crisis. Why it's happening at exactly now, September 200, is a separate issue. But he's had 12 years in which he has done everything he can -- he's made himself an international outlaw essentially. If there is a state in defiance of the world system, the U.N. Security Council which everyone in this room has talked positively about, it is Saddam and the Iraqis.
SEN. CHAFEE: Okay. My time has expired.
SEN. BIDEN: Go ahead, Senator. No. Please, go ahead.
SEN. CHAFEE: But I just have one comment. I do take exception to the definitive aspect that he will be more of a threat in five years. That's debatable. Fidel Castro, you might have said, he will be more of a threat if left untouched. And here, years later, he's not more of a threat. So that is a debatable point. I don't take that as an absolute.
SEN. BIDEN: Did you want to respond, Mr. McFarlane?
MR. McFARLANE: Please, Mr. Chairman. I don't think any of us can give you certainties of almost anything regarding Saddam Hussein. I'd like to recall, however, Senator Lugar's comment about the plausible risks and the stated ambitions that we have heard from Saddam Hussein.
Nuclear materials are poorly guarded in much of the former Soviet Union. Thanks to Senator Lugar and Senator Nunn, the program that was so well begun and is continuing has to be sustained. And unless it is, the plausibility of nuclear materials being misdirected, stolen, purchased or whatever cannot be denied. And the existence of a nuclear program in Iraq, which is a matter of fact in the United Kingdom's report issued yesterday, give us just cause for guarding against the growth of that program.
SEN. BIDEN: Let me, before I yield to Senator Rockefeller, make a point that I think is a distinction with a difference. I think we missed the boat when talking about Iraq. Iraq violated international norms, invaded another country, essentially sued for peace, essentially signed an armistice, the conditions of which were contained in the U.N. resolutions, and has clearly violated those resolutions. Whether or not they're a threat or not, they violated those resolutions. I hope we stop talking about pre-emption. This is not pre-emption.
We may -- maybe we should or shouldn't go to Iraq, and I have an open mind about that. But it is fundamentally different than invading a similar country in terms of seeking weapons of mass destruction acted against their own people, not to the same extent, like Iran or North Korea. They are not in the same situation. Iraq signed essentially a peace agreement with conditions. The conditions are contained in the U.N. resolution. They have violated them on their face. That is a fundamentally different thing. I wish the president and everyone else would stop talking about pre-emption and give people around the world the sense that we are acting like cowboys and/or they have a right to act preemptively. This is a different deal.
Senator, from what you --
MR. HOLBROOKE: Mr. Chairman, I pray that what you've just said is understood as -- because many of your colleagues have talked about the fact that they don't feel the rationale's been adequately explained. If we would just focus on what you just said, then we could have a clear discussion of whether it's appropriate to move towards war. But when we get into these theories about preemptive war, we bring in all these extra factors. So I hardly support what you've just said.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Rockefeller.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Mr. Chairman, I thank you. What you say let me use as a segue because I was in an Intelligence Committee yesterday and it was fascinating because there was a -- well, he was behind a screen so he wasn't visible I guess, but he was a Minneapolis FBI agent. And he had reviewed Moussaoui and Moussaoui's French visa had run out. Now, FBI agents are lawyers and they're trained to enforce the law. So he had two choices. And one was that he act upon the act of wrongdoing on the part of Moussaoui, which was he had a visa which had run out which was French, and he said this cannot stand and so he want to do something about that.
And I asked him -- well, you know there's been some -- and substantiated more in the press this morning, there's been some talk that he had quite a lot to do with terrorism too and wouldn't that call for surveillance? And he said, "No, my job was to make sure that he didn't" -- I'm a little bit, with all do respect, reminded of that kind of comparison. Something changed after 9/11 is my general impression. I sure did, and I think everything has changed. So I'm happy to talk about how it took Wendell Wilkie to come and testify before I presume this committee, or maybe it was the House committee, to get Lend-Lease passed at Roosevelt's request, because Roosevelt couldn't get it done himself so we could -- the British wouldn't sink so that we could go ahead.
And precedents are incredibly important. My question is, are precedents of a different nature now? And I want to put that in the form of a question of a different nature to both of our witnesses. We use the word pre-emption and I'm also uncomfortable with the word pre- emption. I think it's an unfortunate word, it talks about unilateralism and people get very -- I've got lots of emails on that subject. And on the other hand, supposing we change the Security Council resolution in ways which have been suggested, others have suggested, and it was done, and in fact it was done prior to the point that we voted, which probably won't happen, but if that were the case that would be a neater, cleaner way of doing it.
The question then arises, what is it that the -- that our allies, having let's say voted with us, would then proceed to do about it? And at some point it seems to me that if -- and I agree with the chairman that don't let Saddam Hussein hang around from three to five years, because I'll guarantee you he's a lot worse. He doesn't want to be a martyr, I think he wants to leave a legacy and I don't really want to think a whole lot about what kind of legacy that might be. And it could very well be at our expense and it was not all wrong when Dick Cheney raised the question, what if the risk is that we get attacked, what would we say then? What would we say then? What would we say to our grandchildren then.
Everything is what will we say to our grandchildren? Well, what happens if we get attacked and he picks us over Israel. I don't think he would. I think he'd take Israel over us. Is there a difference between that, in fact, because wouldn't we then come to the defense of Israel? So my question is, given a new world order which is going to last for a very, very long time under the domination called non-state terrorism, which is cellular in function, which has absolutely nothing to do in many ways with things like Security Council resolutions. It's when I want, when I choose and how I choose, and you'll never know when I'll do it, because I don't like you and that's what I've been trained to do. I've been trained to kill you. Al-Qaeda.
Now, Saddam might not be thinking that way. They say he might not be thinking that way. I think he probably is. Is he more prepared? He surely is. Is he a greater threat than he was in 1991? He surely is. There's different ways of launching scuds and all kinds that go faster, farther. There is no question on that. So my question is, what do -- if we do the unilateral -- if we don't do the unilateral but do the Security Council and then they say, okay, we're with you on this and maybe they give us fly zones or landing zones or they give us this or that, but with the exception of one or two, are they going to be there for us? And if they're not there for us, does that mean in this debate, precedent-based, historically-based, that we sort of sit and take it or are we going to end up basically being unilateral anyway because we cannot have our children smallpoxed.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Your question is if no one was with us, would we go it alone anyway?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: And more refined than that is if people were with us, in what measurable way would they in fact be with us which would count for us in terms of dealing with that crisis?
MR. HOLBROOKE: Senator, I'll fill in the first part of your question. We won't be alone. The British have already made clear they'll be with us --
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I understand the British.
MR. HOLBROOKE: -- and I would put a great deal of confidence in the fact that the Turks will be with us and to some degree we'll have support, logistics, basing and so on. Let's take Germany, for example. The Germans have said they won't be with us but the bases will still be available for us to deploy out of.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: But that's my point. That's my point. I brought in the bases, I said, yes, let's allow for those to fly over all of that. But at some point it's either troops on the ground or it's missiles or it's the things which cause people to retaliate, or which, as Senator Chafee said when we was here, counterproductive. I mean, I think that's going to happen anyway, that that dynamic is it works with something called poverty. So what really is the point on this? Both of you.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, I think we have to defer to the military planners on the actual --
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I don't want to defer. I want to defer to you two.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, Bud, why don't you go first, because you're a military man. I have a view on this but you should speak first.
MR. McFARLANE: This is an issue that ought to be much more front and center in this debate that's unfolding, Senator Rockefeller.
This will not be a cakewalk at all. It is possible that the brutality of Saddam will lead his organized army and Republican guards to fall away. And yet I cannot imagine that he won't maintain some capability and indeed a capability to use these awful weapons against us or against Israel or both. Your question is, will anybody be there with us?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: In a significant way.
MR. McFARLANE: I don't believe that there will. And that is an issue that I and I'm sure you have focused on for a long time, and that is if we're alone, is it still nonetheless imperative that we do this? Is the alternative of allowing this awful threat to grow and some day be launched against anybody too big a risk to take? And I think it is, even if we have to do this alone.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Senator, let me just try. I think I now understand the question. If you're talking about material support -- airplanes, pilots, combat troops -- it's very unlikely that non- American assets, including the British, would account for more than 10 percent. I'm making up that number. That was the case in the Balkans, especially in Bosnia. That's the case in Afghanistan where, in fact, the Pentagon rather interestingly rejected a lot of the offered help initially. According to today's Times, they're beginning to look back on that as a mistake.
So the material assistance will be marginal. The United States military strength is greater than all the other NATO countries combined. You know the statistics on this. The logistics however is indispensable and the political support is far more important in my view than some of the spokesmen for the administration who have been sort of contemptuous of it. It is very important in my mind that Prime Minister did what he did yesterday in the House of Commons. I believe in the end, the French will come around. Maybe I'm being over-optimistic but I've worked a long time with the French in situations like this and, in the end, they don't want to be left behind but they always want to be the last ones to come on board. They therefore get a better seat on the train.
The Germans are a special problem because of the recent election, which I consider very unfortunate but in the long run it's not going to damage U.S./German relations. The Arab states in the Gulf are all trying to maneuver to find ways to help us without compromising themselves or create domestic disturbances. And I do not know the state of play in Riyadh, Qatar and Bahrain and Kuwait but they're going to find ways to help us within the limits they can. American troops are ready basing in the East African Horn now to prepare for extingencies with the permission of the local countries.
So if you're meaning symbolic, logistical, political, we won't be long. If you're meaning a really material addition to our fire power, I would say, again as a civilian, it'll be marginal. I hope that's responsive to your question, Senator.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I think the political is tremendously important. It has psychological meaning. The question is how long does that psychological meaning last? How long does it help us? If it's our boots on the ground, if it's our guns that are shooting, if it's our missiles that are killing their people? And I agree with what you both said, all three of you have said, and that is the probability of our being at war is very likely and we can do all kinds of things to make that stay as far away as possible. Give him a chance to back off as much as possible. Who knows? This thing could change his mind. He could play some kind of a game with us that might not be a game. I doubt it, but he might.
But in the end, I think that that threat is real and I just can't with Woodrow Wilson and Wendell Wilkie in trying to set my mind to contemplate the scenario that plays out before us.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you.
SEN. NELSON: Mr. Chairman, I find that I agree quite a bit with my colleague from West Virginia. It is my intention at this point to support a resolution. I hope that that resolution does in fact incorporate the ambassador's suggestions, which I think are excellent. The vagueness of this resolution that has been sent to us as a draft, begs for specificity and the four points that you raise in your testimony I certainly hope are going to be included.
Now I was quite intrigued to hear your comments that says the constitution would confer upon the president as commander-in-chief, the right to act to protect the interests of the United States by him then coming out and enunciating this preemptive war doctrine, it's actually weakened his position. Would you elucidate further?
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, you've put in much more succinct and pointed phrase what I think both Chairman Biden and I were saying about preemptive war, why was it necessary to do it when every president from Washington has been able to do it? When history shows that presidents have used force 234 times, according to yesterday's papers and as for declarations of war, only five times. Or 11 times if you count each Axis country individually. So that is my strong view. That we've muddied the discussion.
SEN. NELSON: Seems somewhere in American history I've heard of a president that says, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." And that people respected the United States and, of course, that leads me as to why a lot of this conversation has been going on. And then, you know, sadly I read on the front page of the Washington Post today the quote that Senator Daschle felt compelled to take the floor this morning and, quote, and I read from the Washington Post, "Four times in the past two days, Bush" referring to the president, "has suggested that Democrats do not care about national security." Saying on Monday that the democratic control Senate is, quote, "Not interested in the security of the American people." End of quote. And that is a sad commentary coming out of the mouth of the president of what is to be the United States when, in fact, it's very divisive.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, I have read this article as you had, senator, and I very much note Senator Biden's earlier chronology of 1990/91 that President Bush Senior waited until after the mid-term elections in order to have this discussion. However, it is the president's prerogative to send up a proposed piece of legislation whenever he wants to and he has chosen to do it at this time and that's why we're here today instead of having this discussion in December/January.
So whatever the background, whatever the reasons, this is where we are and it would be easier to have this discussion absent the overtones of the final days of a very critical mid-term election. But it's happened before in history. Woodrow Wilson in 1918 did this. Took the war/peace issues to the nation and lost both houses of Congress. So there are precedents. In any case, we are where we are.
SEN. NELSON: Did Woodrow Wilson in your recollection of history make statements like this?
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, I don't want to give history lessons, but he did something even more extraordinary. Senator Biden's predecessor at the time was Henry Cabot Lodge Senior as chairman of this committee and was also Senate majority leader, and Woodrow Wilson chose to launch the attack on the Senate in Faneuil Hall in Boston and from that point on, Senator Lodge never forgave him. And the personal animosity turned into an all out war and that's why the League of Nations died. So President Wilson's political judgment on these things left something to be desired.
I don't whether there are any historical analogies or not. Senator Rockefeller talked about Wendell Wilkie. I think that's a particularly interesting incident. But the bottom line here, senator, is we are where we are. We're discussing a momentous issue today -- war and peace -- in the context of the political calendar and we cannot avoid it even if we may wish otherwise.
SEN. NELSON: What do you think, both of you, look into your crystal ball. If we're ready to go to war, how are we going to handle Germany, given the position that they've painted themselves into in a corner.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Well, I was ambassador to Germany and I know Chancellor Schroeder quite well and Foreign Minister Fischer. I believe the ties between the United States and Germany are unbreakable based on culture, commerce, common heritage and the legacy of the Cold War. And I believe that we're going to get through this. There are permanent interests of countries, and the permanent interests of Germany are to be close to the U.S. In fact, Chancellor Schroeder flew to London this morning specifically to ask Prime Minister Blair to intervene with the White House.
But there's also personal relationships. Clinton and Yeltsin had a good relationship that helped policy. Gorbachev and Reagan, when Bud was working on this, had a good relationship and it helped world history. President Bush and President Putin have a good relationship, it helps. In this particular case, the personal relationships are working the other way. It's not going to be a core issue and I note that Germany has now offered to lead the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. And Fischer, the Foreign Minister is reaching out to his American counterpart, Colin Powell, as we speak.
But on Iraq, it would appear to me that Chancellor Schroeder dug himself much deeper in than he probably now thinks is wise. On the other hand, he won the narrowest election in post-war German history. But I don't consider this a long-term crisis. But going back to Senator Rockefeller's question, it's a -- it will definitely affect that issue.
One last point. The Bundestag, your counterpart body, would have to approve any German deployments. When Schroeder went to the Bundestag for approval on Afghanistan, he won by only two votes. So my German friends have told me that he couldn't win a vote to send forces directly into Iraq anyway. On the other hand, it didn't have to become this intense and this personal.
SEN. NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: I wonder what recent history would have been, had we accepted the offer after he risked his career to send troops to Afghanistan --
MR. HOLBROOKE: It would have been better.
SEN. BIDEN: -- had we accepted the offer. I wonder what it would have been if we had not unceremoniously pulled out of Kyoto as he walked into the president's office. And so these personal things do matter, but I happen to agree, for what it's worth, with the ambassador that the core relationship is so deep, so strong, that we'll overcome these personalities.
But let me speak to Afghanistan for a minute, because like Cooperative Threat Reduction, Nunn-Lugar, I do think it relates but not to the same extent. And that is that it seems pretty clear now, I emphasize appears fairly clear now that the defense department has rethought a position that Senators Lugar, myself, I believe the senator from Florida and the senator from Nebraska all pushed for, which was that we expand the international security force in Afghanistan, that we engage NATO. As a matter of fact, Senator Lugar and I once again importuned the president to take NATO up on its offer for participation in Afghanistan, arguing that failure to do so was counterintuitive and counterproductive in terms of U.S.-NATO relations.
And it seems as though now -- and that was rejected over the strong objection on the part of the Defense Department (a) to expand, (b) to include NATO, (c) to take advantage of the French and/or German offers for deployment. Now if what we read is correct -- and we had, by the way, several hearings specifically on this issue calling the administration up, asking them to reconsider this position, specifically asking them to reconsider this position. And now it looks like they may be reconsidering the position.
I ask you both, starting with you, Mr. McFarlane, if during this somewhat tumultuous period, the administration is able to reconfigure an international security force with some muscle, some NATO signature, if you will, to it, and is able to put it in place, will that have any positive or negative impact on our ability to get support and/or succeed in Iraq, or is it not relevant? I mean, how will it play? How do you -- I know you know so many foreign leaders. How do you think that would play in terms of the objective we all seek, which is a more cooperative effort to deal with Saddam? Saddam's not only our problem, he's the world's problem. We may have to be the only solution but he may be -- he's the world's problem.
Is there any correlation between how we handle from this point out, Afghanistan and its stability, and are demonstrating to the world we've kind of learned -- what we intend in Iraq? And I'll close this question. It sounds more and more a dialogue than -- I mean a diatribe than a question. But I have met with the foreign ministers of most of the European countries, beginning this February, and Iraq is always a subject at some point or another. Or heads of state from our European allies that we've hosted here. And in almost every instance, I've been asked the question, what is our intention relative to an Iraq without Saddam? They have no doubt we can take out Saddam. They wonder what after.
So that's the reason I ask this question, because there seems to be an inordinate amount of unease. Well, maybe inordinate is not right. There's an incredible amount of unease among our European and Arab friends of what happens to a destabilized Iraq, even without Saddam. Does the question make any sense? Do you understand what I'm trying -- just if you talk to me a little bit about that.
MR. McFARLANE: Mr. Chairman, I think first that your suggestion of the need for an expansion in ISAF and Afghanistan is right on the mark. If you think back 20 years to Lebanon where our intention was to establish a truly Lebanese army, Shia, Sunni, Jews, Christian, Greek Orthodox, so forth. That was a sound idea. And essentially, we're trying to do that in Afghanistan today, but it isn't here and it won't be here for a long, long time. And until we have that kind of force plus a separate constabulary worthy of the name, it's going to be a very unstable place.
Today all the guns are in the hands of the Northern Alliance and it's a very unstable situation that can only be relieved by an expanded ISAF, in my judgment. Whether the additional units of volunteers from European countries should be individual or under NATO auspices, I don't have an opinion on. Clearly we do need and would benefit from greater European participation.
Second point I think is that to the extent our advocacy for a larger ISAF and our welcoming of a greater role for ourselves in it would relieve part of the angst, I think, that is real in Europe, and Asia, for that matter, about unilateralism on our part. And so it would be a positive good in relieving some of those concerns.
I think finally, however, what would do the most good of all is to do both of those things but them pledge very emphatically that we're going to -- if we go into Iraq, not only change the regime but restore or build institutions that can promise greater stability in the future. And that will take years and years, but it has to be done.
SEN. BIDEN: I thank you.
MR. HOLBROOKE: With your permission I would like this to be my final answer because I'm running very late on -- I was supposed to host a dinner tonight for President Gusmao of East Timor in New York and Nick Platt's (ph) going to handle it but I'd like to get there before it's over.
You and I have discussed this many times. I wrote an article on this in early November already, and you and I shared the same view. What you said about Germany I agree with completely. It was unnecessary when Schroeder put his whole career on the line to treat it that way. I'm very struck by today's New York Times article from the NATO summit saying the Americans are beginning to regret they didn't give NATO a role out there. It goes back to Senator Lugar's famous phrase which is now become part of the language, out of area or out of business. I believe you initiated that phrase for NATO and you and I have been allies on that. ISAF should have been outside of Kabul and the fundamental mistake that was made in Afghanistan was that while we claimed support for Karzai, we strengthened the warlords, who are also druglords and whose strength is incompatible with any kind of effective central government, even a loose on in a loose federation.
And you talked to Karzai when he was here about this. He minimizes the problem when he talks to us because he doesn't want to play into the hands of the critics of the administration that's supporting him. But he knows it's a problem and you and I have both talked to him privately. And I agree with what Bud McFarlane said. And if they're beginning to realize that they should have done it differently in Afghanistan, if they're beginning to realize that Bosnia isn't the place that they should pull out of, as they wanted to a year and a half ago, then I hope those lessons will be applied to Iraq, if and when the time comes.
SEN. BIDEN: Nation building ain't a dirty word. But that's what we're talking about, nation building. I understand you have to go, Senator Lugar.
SEN. LUGAR: I just thank the ambassador. But I wish that he would leave if he needs to at this point and I'll raise my questions later.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Senator Lugar. And just before I leave, I didn't express my own views on Nunn-Lugar because it would only be repetitive, but we need it more than ever and your leadership has been extraordinary on that. Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Any more questions? Senator Lugar.
SEN. LUGAR: Mr. Chairman, let me just say for the record that the quote, out of area, out of business came from somewhere else. I did not originate it, although I've utilized it. I think it was accurate and I appreciate the fact that NATO is moving that way. I would just underline what you and Ambassador Holbrooke have pointed out, that we did try to emphasize NATO in Afghanistan because it offered a structure. Lord Robertson was able to sign countries so that it's not a pick up game every three months as to who might volunteer. And they've been prepared to do that. Robertson came here to the United States, made those comments. Now, hopefully that may offer some structure, but something is needed there.
Likewise, I just want to make a point once again for the record that following the election that preceded our vote on Desert Storm last time, in November at a meeting in the White House at which I was present with some other people from the Congress, I continue to reiterate a thought that I thought the Congress ought to move to have a resolution prior to our end of hostilities or beginning of hostilities, January the 15th. President Bush has been commended for recommending it be postponed after the election. He did that, but the argument at that meeting was that there would be new members seated in the new Congress, so as a result the old members ought not to be voting in late November or December.
Those hearings were held, as the chairman has pointed out in his memo, in this committee in December, as in Armed Services. But still there was resistance all the way through by the administration having the vote. And I can recall going to the White House with people who were arguing ingenuously. I think disingenuously that you ought to just simply use the war powers resolution, Mr. President, telling President Bush that he probably should proceed. And then after the requisite 30 or 90 days or so, if it hadn't worked out, come back and ask for something at that point.
Now, fortunately by the time we got to January the 15th, we had to vote on January the 11th, which is four days to go. And as the chairman has pointed out, with already 250,000 people or more on the ground and literally in combat four days later. So I'm hopeful that we can reconstruct all that history. I think it's relevant for this situation because ideally I think we still ought to take jurisdiction to the committee if we can do so for a period of time that's reasonable, fashion a resolution.
It may or may not be the one that's debated but ultimately there were two resolutions that were offered to the Senate and they were the rival resolutions from the Armed Services Committee, one authored by my friend Sam Nunn and another authored by Senator Warner. And these went together with Majority Leader Mitchell and Mr. Dole, minority leader, and those were the two offerings that we had at that point.
I just want to ask you and Mr. McFarlane, in your judgment, would the Security Council be more likely to fashion a resolution that dealt with Iraq if the Senate held a vote before the Security Council acted? In other words, some have argued that Security Council members, quite apart from Saddam, who is not a Security Council member, may finally doubt the resolve of this country, feel that once again we are bluffing, that for the last 11 years or so people have huffed and puffed about violations of these Security Council resolutions as well as incursions in the no-fly zones, but not a whole lot has occurred, and as a matter of fact, we've been gone for four years.
If he was a better man then he would guess we might be gone for four more. But would it be helpful for us to vote, just playing the devil's advocate for a moment, sooner rather than later to indicate some resolve of the administration and the Congress working together?
MR. McFARLANE: Senator Lugar, I think it would have a very positive impact, and the demonstration, our resolve and support, commitment that you suggest, and that that impact would be felt by members of the Security Council. This is not a direct analogy at all, but I recall very well the run up to the first summit with President Gorbachev in '85 in Geneva. And the impact that the Senate -- the joint resolution actually had upon Gorbachev, separately the action of all members of the -- the permanent members of the Security Council in joining in the support of President Reagan as he left for Geneva.
And this very vivid public solidarity expressed in New York from Thatcher, Kohl, Mitterand, Craxi, I believe, and Nakasone echoed -- not echoed, but in parallel with that of the Senate, a joint resolution, and then of course the American people were at 70 percent supporting the president's positions going to Geneva were more than Gorbachev could ignore. And it had a profound effect, it's in his memoirs, in influencing his position of change and of evolution that gradually led to successes in arms control and elsewhere. I think it has a very positive impact.
SEN. LUGAR: Let me ask you a second question. What should be the proper call with regard to the tactics of fighting a war in Iraq if we have one? For example, some have argued I think privately rather than publicly that the type of tactics that the United States ought to adopt in Iraq that would minimize the loss of American lives, minimize civilian losses and what have you, are extraordinarily new and different, involving smart weapons, special forces people that are not in a convention line of attack or an invasion that is obvious and so forth, but that this requires of course not only an element of surprise but a coordination which only our country might be able to bring this off successfully.
To invite others into these intricate tactics is to risk failure. That at least was the argument made with regard to many of the tactics adopted in Afghanistan, that one reason why allies were not invited in was they didn't have lift capacity but secondly, they were not really compatible with the particular training and tactics that we were going to use with the Northern Alliance and so forth. From your own experience in this, and it's been extensive, what do you think of that argument?
Is it the prudent thing, once we've decided to do this, even if we have a Security Council resolution and so forth, for us to counsel with our allies and say, now, let us handle this in our way because we believe we can do so with the minimum loss of lives and minimum amount of time and so forth, as opposed to taking time to involve several nations so that there is a show of their ability to participate.
MR. McFARLANE: Well, I believe it is a little disingenuous to discount and disparage the role of allies because of incompatibility or not having common tactics and so forth, given that that's what we've been working on for more than 50 years in NATO for example and that commonality impact exists. I would credit to an extent the argument specific to Afghanistan that we were going into something where we were very much blind.
This deserves in itself a lot of focus because the intelligence of the United States before the conflict about the situation in Afghanistan was appallingly bad. The idea that the CIA, for 10 years, had to read in the newspapers that we had a drug problem there and not put anybody on the ground, that we had a growing cell of terrorist activity there and not put anybody on the ground, with the result that we finally go to war with nobody on the ground, led us to have to rely on the resourcefulness of our special operations people and they did a remarkably good job. How much better it would have been if they knew who the good guys and who the bad guys were.
And we ended up hiring bad guys who called air strikes on good guys. Well, that's another story. But your point is well taken. It is surely feasible to carry out the kind of tactics we're going to need to use in Iraq with allied units. We've operated in this kind of area. We've trained for it together and we ought to be encouraging it. This doesn't even include the enormous political gain that comes from the political support that we also enjoy.
SEN. LUGAR: Mr. Chairman, let me just make a point that is prompted by that testimony.
I am hopeful, and I don't draw any conclusion, but am hopeful that our intelligence with regard to Iraq is substantially better than Mr. McFarlane is pointing out was prior to our war in Afghanistan. And I mention that not with regard to the questions we've been raising of intelligence, because we've participated in a good meeting with the CIA director and others.
But on these questions on which there do not seem to be many answers in terms of political leadership inside of Iraq. We have the exiles and some identification with these persons who purport to be a potential government or coalition but without -- granted that Saddam has suppressed most people and they probably would not be showing their heads, but at the same time we're about to get into a situation we're discussing today of potential instability involving a good number of people and I'm not comfortable that we know very much about these people and how they're going to handle things.
I am hopeful we know more about the military predicament but I'm not confident we know where the weapons of mass destruction are. And that is a very large question in all of this. So, you know, I suppose one value of these hearings is that you sound these alarms and sort of send signals. Ask somebody to look and watch because it appears to me that we're on the threshold of having to make some tough judgments in a military way quite apart from the post-Saddam situation -- we'll come to that -- in a political way. But these are just thoughts that are prompted by the experience and testimony that's been given. I appreciate it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: I might point out that there's 600,000 to 700,000, as Mr. McFarlane has indirectly referenced in earlier answers, 600,000 to 700,000 Shia Iraqi refugees in Iran. 600,000 to 700,000 in Iran. What happens then? We're talking about (16 ?) percent of the population.
SEN. LUGAR: They become very interested in Iraq.
SEN. BIDEN. Yes. They become very interested. Absolutely. But they're Iraqis in Iran, let alone Shias that are Iranians. The senator from Florida.
SEN. NELSON: Well that begs the question as we look to the post- Saddam Hussein Iraq. How do you keep Iraq together with all of those forces pulling at it? The Kurds in the north, the Shi'ites in the south and how in the world do we protect the interests of the United States and what is the plan for that? Can we discuss that? We don't hear that discussion coming out of the administration but that is a very important element for the future protection of the interests of the United States.
SEN. BIDEN: But, if the senator would yield, part of the value hopefully of these hearings to, in a sense, parrot the point that Senator Lugar was making is hopefully we send out these sort of cries for assistance here. We held testimony as you well know on so-called the day after and former Secretary Weinberger and Secretary Rumsfeld -- Weinberger last month and Rumsfeld last week -- suggested the U.S. wouldn't need to stay very long in Iraq. They argued that Iraq has a talented population, considerable resources to pay for its own reconstruction, will quickly be able to organize itself, politically, economically and militarily into a peaceful unified nation free of weapons of mass destruction.
But then we also had testimony here before this committee -- four considerably talented military experts, one whose sole job was post- war planning, I mean post-victory planning, who indicated that 75,000 troops are required at a cost of $16 billion for the first year to maintain order, to preserve Iraq's integrity, secure weapons of mass destruction sites. Other experts we had predicted the United States will have to engage substantial resources for years and among the more significant challenges that Iraq will not be able to handle on its own from a plethora of witnesses was one: cleaning up after effects of a battle and malicious destruction by Saddam with chemical and biological weapons, providing basic humanitarian needs. We saw what happened in just Afghanistan, a smaller country.
Dealing with refugees, displaced persons. Catching Saddam if he flees. Providing police protection and preventING reprisal killings. Denazification of the Baathist officials and security services. Aiding in the formation of a new government. Ensuring Iraq territorial integrity in dealing with possible Iranian and Turkish intervention. Rebuilding the oil sector while ensuring the smooth re- entry of Iraqi oil into the world market and promoting the legitimacy of a new government in Iraq in the Arab world.
I met as we all have, and I assume, with the Iraqi National Congress. I admit this is now five months old. They came to me and said, hey, we're not getting any responsive administration. We're asking them to help train us on how to run an infrastructure. They said, well we'll talk to you later. Who's going to run these things? And so it's not suggesting this is able to be done in my view. This is able to be done but it sure requires some significant thought process a little bit ahead of time.
And, as I said, I believe -- I'm not just hopeful -- I believe the president before -- no matter under what circumstances he arrives at the use of force, if he arrives at that. I'm convinced he will come to us and the nation with answers to some of these questions. But I don't think it's an exaggeration to suggest that the speech to the United Nations, although an incredibly important speech, was not designed to answer these questions. It was not designed these questions. And these questions if not answered have to at least be spoken to.
Again I'll end where I began. I really -- it is not hyperbole to suggest that the American people will not sustain the action we undertake if they are not informed front end what we're asking of them. I believe if we ask of them, they will respond if we make our case. But I think we've got a little ways to go here and I'm hopeful that we can, in a bipartisan way, arrive at these conclusions. I regret the statements that I read in the paper. I suspect those statements related to the homeland security resolution and not to Iraq. They were ill-advised no matter what they related to but they're probably not as bad as they appear.
I just hope we kind of get beyond this. I wish everybody would sort of calm down a little bit. We'll all just take this a piece at a time. Work our way through this and we'll arrive at the right conclusion. I have confidence in that. But I respectfully suggest we're not quite there yet. And your testimony, Mr. McFarlane, as been insightful and helpful and it reflects a joint position even though we may start from different places. You are of the school, like many other very bright people who say going to the U.N. to seek this permission is not necessary and probably counterproductive. And others say it's essential to go the U.N. first.
Notwithstanding the fact there may be disagreement on that point. There is agreement on the point it is better to go with others if we can. It's better to have others in on the deal for paying the bill, if we can. And it's better to have at least a patina of the support and/or the acquiescence of the rest of the world, if we can. But if we can't get any of that, and our national interests are still at stake, we must respond. And so the question is to me, how do we get to the point where we limit the down side as much as we can and increase the possible up side as much as we can. And that's what this is about right now.
I hope no one listening to this in a foreign government or overseas thinks this reflects any fundamental disagreement about Saddam, but it does reflect the natural and necessary impulses of a democracy to be able to determine what we're about to do and make sure all signing on the same deal. My dad, who just passed away, used to say I like to know who's responsible so I know who to hold accountable. Well, I think American people have the right to know what we have in mind before we ask them to sign on.
And I thank you, Bud, Mr. McFarlane, for being here. You have great experience. I thank Ambassador Holbrooke. Tomorrow, again we've unfortunately former secretary of State, Eagleburger, who was to testify is ill. Not seriously ill but he's unable to here. There's no alarm bells. He just has the flu or something to that fact. Is not able to be here. Tomorrow our witness list will be made up of Secretary Albright, former Secretary Albright and former Secretary Kissinger as well as the present secretary of State, Colin Powell.
I do not intend these, with the permission of my Republican colleagues as well, these to be the last hearings we're going to have on this. But I do think it's important to have the three secretaries of State tomorrow. And I will pursue with Senator Lugar his suggestion that this committee at least have an opportunity to debate, not debate, to have hearings on whatever resolution we are going to be considering.
And I'm not suggesting that we should not be able to be discharged if we're unable to reach any conclusion.
It's not meant to be in any way an attempt to hold anything up and I further would suggest that the purpose of committees is to allow all of our colleagues the benefit of having done some serious spade work before we vote on important subjects. It seems to me to be the responsibility of this committee to do that. I will attempt with my colleagues to do that.
SEN. LUGAR: Mr. Chairman, may I make one more diplomatic comment and that is, essentially, all of this today whatever we have thought of past administrations or this one, are really trying to ask questions in which we hope that there planning going on in our administration now and there may be. We may not have been informed of it. But on these questions of the numbers of people required in Iraq or the thoughtfulness about the Sunnis and Shi'ites and the implications of Iran and other countries, there are a lot of very bright people in America. A good number of them, I'm sure, in the administration. The question is has there been a focus? And, if so, I think we would appreciate in this committee some sharing of that.
Now some of that may be highly classified or even the fact that people are thinking about it is classified. But, at some point, historically, American people are going to ask of us where were you when all this went on?
SEN. BIDEN: That's exactly right.
SEN. LUGAR: Did you raise these questions? And all kinds of problems. Maybe breaking loose and we just say well, we didn't think of that. We're busing passing on something else. I think the committee hearing today aided by our two witnesses did think of a number of things. And we, both of us and others, have indicated we're using this forum almost to send messages and please to do things.
Then I would just like to say, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the spirit with which you have approached this hearing as well as others. Clamoring outside the committee are many who want comments as to whether the whole Iraq issue has become viciously partisan and so forth. The fact is that it could be but it should not. The chairman is a candidate for re-election this year. Fortunately I am not. So I, from the comfort zone at least of that situation, say that I understand. People who are involved in election campaigns, reading the analysis every day -- does Iraq supplant every other issue or something of this variety, maybe tempted to get into some other analysis. But, thank goodness, that was not the case here. So I thank the chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Why, thank you, Senator.
SEN. LUGAR: And I think the bipartisanship and the non- partisanship really with regard to this issue has been very important and that was true of our first two hearings. It was true of this one. And it's important in terms of our own credibility because we're raising these questions with our administration as well as the rest of the world. If we do so with a degree of unity why, obviously, it is much more effective. And so I thank the chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: We often kid about this, but it probably hurts us both, at least you and I -- not least -- you an I have been almost completely unified in this endeavor as has Senator Hagel and I might add, if you notice way down the other end there in terms of seniority is the senator from Florida who has, to the best of my knowledge, stayed for every last drop of every hearing. So we're not attempting to be self-congratulatory. We're trying to send a simple message. This committee, this Congress, the people who have primary responsibility in this Congress for at least presenting this debate, are unified and are trying to help. Not be obstructionist. We're trying to help the president in resolving a very difficult situation.
We all know -- I've been here almost 30 years, the senator's been here 28 years, if I'm not mistaken.
SEN. LUGAR: Twenty-six.
SEN. BIDEN: Twenty-six years. We've been around for a long time. My friend from Florida served in the Congress, the House before he served here. We understand that no president is ever in a position where he has 100 percent of the information he needs to make a decision. We understand that. The only thing we want to know is that he's thought through, the administration's thought through, even if the answers are not available, has raised all the pertinent issues because I keep saying how the American public has to be informed. I want to be informed. I want to be informed before I vote on these things.
Again, I thank you all. Bud, thank you for sitting through our little dialogue here. Our conversation among ourselves. You're very gracious to do that. But, again, this is not a divided committee. This is a united committee on our effort to do what's right for this country and I have not a single doubt in my mind that three senators here and the rest of the members of this committee will do what we think is right, regardless of what we think the political pressures are relative to each of our political parties and I think that is how everyone's going to act. This is too important. There are some things worth losing elections over. There are some things worth loosing elections over. This is one of those things. It's so big that, even if it was going to be politically costly, it's the right -- we have no choice but to do it in a thorough and deliberate way.
Again, I thank everyone. Thank you for your indulgence we are adjourned. Thank you, Bud.