Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Iraq, Day 2, Panel 2
SEN. BIDEN: The hearing will come to order.
I'm told that we are going to have one vote, around 2:30, I think.
STAFF/SEN. : At 2:45 --
SEN. BIDEN: Is it 2:45?
STAFF/SEN. : I think it's been pushed back to 3:00. That's my understanding.
SEN. BIDEN: Back to 3:00. Good. Good. I hope that's true.
This will be the last panel we have today, and the most distinguished panel that we've had, two men with a considerable amount of service to the country.
The first is former secretary of Defense, among other things. I served here when you were running the Office of Management and Budget. I've -- I won't ask you ask you which was more difficult. But at any rate, Caspar Weinberger was secretary of Defense from '81 to '97. Secretary Weinberger has served in a number of public positions, including chairman of the Federal Trade Commission in '70; deputy director and then director of the Office of Management and Budget from '70 to '73; and secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, which is what it was called then, from 1973 to 1975. And since 1993, he's been chairman of Forbes Magazine.
It's an honor to have you back here, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for taking the time to be with us.
And we also have with us Mr. Samuel Berger. Mr. Berger served as national security adviser to the president -- President of the United States Clinton from '97 to 2000. Mr. Berger served as the deputy national security adviser from '93 to '96, and deputy director of the State Department Policy and Planning staff from '77 to '80.
Mr. Berger is currently chairman of Stonebridge International and International Strategy firm, and also a good friend. And I am pleased to have you here as well, Mr. Berger.
We are in the midst of the last -- I know you both know this drill incredibly well. This is the second-to-last day before we recess to go home and campaign and be with our constituents for a month. And it is always the busiest time. But quite frankly, we concluded, Senator Hagel, myself and others, that there is no -- we could not defer these hearings any longer. And so I apologize. You're the only two I probably need not apologize to because you're so experienced. But senators are going to be in and out today because there's a number of major issues on the floor as we speak. But there is no lack of interest.
Mr. Secretary, with your permission, why don't you begin, and then we'll go to Mr. Berger, and then we'll go to questions. Thank you.
MR. WEINBERGER: All right. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your very kind words, and it's always an honor to testify for a committee of the United States Senate, and I am grateful for that.
The question, of course, really is should the United States depose Saddam Hussein. And my answer is clearly yes. We could do it, and we must do it quickly and decisively and with a firm commitment to a just and democratic future for Iraq and the Iraqi people.
I've heard several reasons articulated as to why we should not remove Saddam Hussein from power. If you will let me engage in a little of what we used to call in the law "anticipatory pleading", I'm going to try to refute some of these arguments for inaction.
One is quite frequently made, and that is that there's no proof that Saddam Hussein continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. I think this is plain wrong. I should begin by noting that the Rumsfeld report submitted in July of '98 made clear that the ability of American intelligence agencies to predict timeliness and time lines for weapon development to rogue states has eroded both because of gaps in our human intelligence-gathering capabilities and the whole nature of security these days, and the security environment in this world. In other words, Mr. Chairman, I think we should not assume that we could be comfortable simply because someone has told us we have 10 or 12 years before we have to worry.
On the question of whether Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction, just from open sources alone I can tell you that he has been diverting trucks from the United Nations Oil for Food program to use as small missile -- mobile missile launchers. He's acquired new surface-to-air batteries and is using them to target allied flights over the no-flight zones in the north and south that he agreed to. And just last week it was reported that he was attempting to import the stainless steel tubing that is used uniquely for gas centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. According to the Times of London, Iraq used the cover of a recent disaster in Syria to ferry so-called flow-forming machines into that country -- those are used, again, in the centrifuge -- and components for uranium enrichment. And a mass of other reports indicates that he is re- constituting his chemical and biological weapons programs and has been working steadily since 1998, which is when the last of the U.N. inspectors was thrown out by him, to re-build chemical weapons plants.
And I would like to quote to you the words of Rolf Ekeus, who was the first director of the United Nations weapons programs inspection teams. He said, quote, "The systematic pursuit of the proscribed weapons and the funds going to their development points to a singular mind and extraordinary insistence. The present leader of Iraq," he said, "has demonstrated that he has ambitions for his country reaching far outside the borders of Iraq and these grand designs of extended influence presupposes access to weapons of mass destruction and the means for their delivery."
Well, then another reason for inaction, it is said that he has -- Saddam Hussein has given us no real reason to depose him. Well, he's in violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions. He has been for almost four years. And there must come a point in cases such as this when the international community recognizes a rogue who will break every promise he's made in his surrender at the end of the Gulf War and who refuses to accept the standards of the civilized world. More importantly perhaps, we must recognize that, if unchecked, there's every possibility that he will again use these weapons of mass destruction on his own people, as he did in the Kurdish North a few years ago, or against his neighbors, or provide them to terrorist organizations, with which he has ever deepening ties.
And that brings me to the third point as to why we shouldn't do anything. It is said that unless he can be tied directly to the events of September 11th, the United States has no reason to depose him. Well, the idea that he must be tied to the attacks on the United States is a straw man, I think, that's constructed solely in order to be torn down. The United States doesn't need to sacrifice and didn't need to sacrifice 3,000 of our innocent citizens in order to justify defending our national security and that of our allies against a proven purveyor of evil such as Saddam Hussein. And I hope that we have not forgotten the brutal invasion of Kuwait and all the suffering that caused, for which there has been very little recompense.
Saddam Hussein is developing significant links with terrorist groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, their General Committee, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Abu Nidal. We know he's cultivating operational ties with each of these groups, and he's doing much more than simply supplying them with cash for the families of the so-called martyrs.
In addition, there have been persistent reports of a growing al Qaeda presence being inside Iraq. We know that Iraq permits known al Qaeda members to live and move freely about in Iraq. And again, I understand this is a lot more than just the limited tales that we heard awhile back of small cells attacking Kurdish groups up in the mountainous border regions near Iran. Al Qaeda members move freely around Baghdad, and they use their Saddam-granted liberty to coordinate their operations worldwide. And Secretary Rumsfeld, of course, has confirmed this as well as their presence in Iran.
Well, I think no one should assume that this situation poses acceptable risks. We cannot risk the possibility that Saddam Hussein will share weapons of mass destruction with terrorists. I don't know what the measures of proof we're going to require nor what degree of certainty that we would insist upon. Are we actually to wait until we're attacked by these most lethal weapons before we agree to respond?
If people are looking for an excuse for inaction, they can say, "We must have positive proof that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons or even nuclear weapons." But the only real proof that we can really accept under this terminology is if we are attacked. It's -- somewhat reminds me of some medical diagnoses; you only get the proof that they were correct in the post-mortem examinations. I think it's the (present/president ?), actually, and it's the essence of the Bush Doctrine of preemption that we should not wait for that.
Finally, there is an assertion that I read regularly in the papers that is a tribute to all manner of reliable sources, and that is that Saddam is contained now; containment works; he will die of old age eventually, so no action is needed. We use to say of the Ayatollah Khomenei that -- not "when he dies," but "if he dies," and that might well be applied here. It's the kind of vision, I think, of -- visionless foreign policy that's called "Let them attack first."
I must note that these rumors and leaks about war games and war plans and the like are basically a disgrace to whoever's perpetrating them, and I certainly commend Don Rumsfeld for going after them. It also strikes me as the height of irresponsibility for The New York Times and others to publish these rumors. Anyone who has been charged with the care and safety of the United States' troops, as I was for seven years, would, I'm sure, feel the same way. I'm glad that no one published the location of Omaha Beach before our landings in World War II, despite a mass of rumors as to where we would land circulating at that time.
Well, then, taking perhaps a little of that back, the suggestion has also been made that all of these leaks are a deliberate disinformation and deception campaign. If that is the case, then I would say it's very good of The New York Times and others to cooperate so fully with this campaign of deception. So I would say in all seriousness that at best, disinformation campaigns are a very risky business.
And then this assertion about Saddam being contained is basically palpably untrue. Containment is not working. He's exporting upwards of $3 billion in illegal oil and using the profits for whatever he wishes to; we don't know. He has a reason to keep out the arms inspectors that he promised to let in, and it's not hard to guess that reason. In this day and age, containment means more than preempting the expansionism of a weird dictator; it means containing the dangers that they pose in hunting their access to weapons and instruments and persons who assist them in carrying out their threats.
Mr. Chairman, Saddam is not contained, and he cannot be contained. He's violated all of the promises which we accepted when we crushed his military in the Cold War (sic). He cannot be believed, and he's an implacable and a permanent foe of the United States. And that's why I think he must be removed. We can have no peace in that most volatile of regions until he is gone.
In conclusion, I'd like quickly just to address two other important issues. The first is the role of the United Nations. It seems odd to me, as it must to many around the world, that some in the United States persist in supporting renewed negotiations for weapons inspections inside Iraq. Kofi Annan has come to the end of his rope after three failed rounds of negotiations with Baghdad. President of the United States has said that he will see Saddam Hussein removed. And yet notwithstanding, we shouldn't continue this odd charade in New York of seeking to secure more worthless promises from Iraq that we could grant inspectors the right to come in.
I note that President Chirac of France a couple of days ago said that he will not support us unless the United Nations does. Well, given the rules of unanimity in the United Nations, this makes it a quite safe harbor in which to shelter France's potential inaction.
The rules of weapons inspectors have also become looser and looser over the years. There's no point in sending in some team to rubber-stamp Saddam's cooperation. Those who advocate that we persist in seeking a solution to the problem of Iraq through the United Nations, I believe, are basically simply advocates of inaction.
Finally, and to my mind, most importantly, I've heard it said by influential people that an a priori commitment of tens of thousands of troops for many years is a required prerequisite for removing Saddam Hussein from power. This seems to me to be an attempt to set the bar so high that any operation in Iraq will be deemed to be (a president's failure ?).
We must remove Saddam, yes. Then there needs to be a determination and a democratic transition committed to a united and decent future for the Iraqi people.
There are many ways to accomplish this. Not all of them require thousands of U.S. troops. As Secretary Rumsfeld pointed out, if the Iraqi military could be persuaded to rise against the regime, we would have very little to do. The Iraqi people are perfectly capable of governing themselves, if they are allowed the chance.
Representative leadership in Iraq must have the full faith and credit of the United States and our commitment to help them secure democracy, but we don't need a GI on every street corner for the foreseeable future, nor is the predicted chaos in Iraq if Saddam is removed a real argument. After all, what was needed was a strong leader in Iraq, these people say, and if that's what we did need, we shouldn't have bothered to fight the Gulf War. We had a strong leader in Iraq. Now those who oppose a regime change in Iraq say that we must keep that strong leader to avoid chaos. Well, regime changes in most of the wars that we have fought did not produce chaos, and in turn, then, it need not be so in Iraq. We changed several regimes after World War II, and in each case the result was a vast and a major improvement.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for holding these hearings. I think this debate is a vital part of our democracy. I just hope that in discussing how to remove Saddam Hussein, we will recognize and realize that the boundary between the people's right to know and the enemy's right to know is a very thin one, and we would ignore it at the peril of our troops.
Thank you very much, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
MR. BERGER: Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I welcome this opportunity to participate in the beginning of an important national discussion on how we deal with the threat to peace posed by the regime of Saddam Hussein.
That it is a threat is the essential starting point. Saddam Hussein is a menace to his own people, to the stability of a combustible and critical region, and a potential threat to the United States. He has demonstrated his intent to seek hegemony in the Gulf. He's demonstrated his intent to develop weapons of mass destruction and his willingness to use them. He has demonstrated his contempt for the international community and his implacable hostility to the United States.
A nuclear-armed Saddam sometime in this decade is a risk we cannot choose to ignore. But let's be clear, all these things were true before September 11th.
While the president is right to underscore the potential nexus between hostile regimes, weapons of mass destruction and terrorists, viewing the Iraqi threat primarily through the prism of the war on terrorism distorts both. Is it conceivable that Saddam will link up with extremist Islamic terrorists? Yes. But that has not been his history. And removing Saddam Hussein does not eliminate the danger that terrorists will obtain chemical or biological weapons from any of the more than a dozen states that have the capacity to produce them, or acquire dangerous nuclear material from inadequately safeguarded storage facilities in the former Soviet Union.
This is not to minimize the threat, Mr. Chairman, but to clarify it. Saddam Hussein and the fight against terrorism may one day intersect, but we lose our focus and our credibility on both fronts if we reflexively lump them together.
What, then, is the right policy? Containment in fact has stopped Saddam from attacking his neighbors since 1991. But when he expelled U.N. inspectors in 1998, he substantially undermined the ability of the international community to track his weapons of mass destruction programs. Simply keeping him in the box carries higher risks when his WMD programs are unchecked and he can break out with such lethality. But concluding that regime change is the necessary goal is to begin the discussion, not to end it. It is just as foolhardy to underestimate the challenges involved in ousting Saddam Hussein as it is to underestimate the threat he poses.
There are different approaches to regime change. One is to provide tangible support to those around Saddam who can take matters into their own hands. We have learned that achieving success in this manner is easier said than done, but it is not an avenue we should abandon. We can enhance those possibilities to some degree by increasing international efforts that de-legitimize Saddam, and defining more clearly what a new Iraqi government can expect from the international community if it accepts international norms.
Another option is the so-called Afghan model -- arming the Iraqi opposition to march on Baghdad, supported by U.S. power, but limited manpower. Clearly, there is an important role for the opposition both internal and external. But I am deeply skeptical of a surrogate strategy in Iraq. The Iraqi opposition is weaker than the Northern Alliance and fractured by internal rivalry. At the same time, the Iraqi armed forces are significantly stronger than the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein's grip is tighter. We should be very wary of turning the U.S. military into an emergency rescue squad if Saddam Hussein moves his tanks against insurgents we are backing. America does not need a Bay of Pigs in the Persian Gulf.
That leaves a U.S.-led military invasion, which ultimately may become our only option. But we must define the necessary objective more broadly than simply eliminating Saddam's regime. Our objective must be removing that regime in a way that enhances, not diminishes our overall security. Our strategy should bring greater stability to the region not less. It should contribute to ending Israel's isolation not compounding it. It should not come at the expense of the support we need in the fight against al Qaeda or the stability of friends in the region.
It would be a Pyrrhic victory, for example, if we get rid of Saddam Hussein only to face a radical Pakistani government with a ready-made nuclear arsenal.
We must approach this challenge with sharp focus, but also with peripheral vision. That is why we need to do more than simply plan a military invasion. We need to put in place the building blocks that can make long-term success possible. And we need to proceed on a timetable dictated not by elections or emotions, but by hard-nosed intelligence assessment of the trajectory of Iraq's capabilities, especially its nuclear program. What are those building blocks?
First, the United States must be engaged consistently in trying to reduce the violence and tension in the Middle East. If there is not progress on the ground in ending the violence and improving people's lives, or we are not seen at least working energetically to change the dynamic, I believe support from the region for action in Iraq will be scarce, and an invasion very well may break along an already precarious Arab-Israeli fault line.
Second, we need a sustained strategy to make evident to others the legitimacy of our actions. They, even many of our closest allies, do not share our sense of the threat. Some in the United States say that doesn't matter in the end, that our allies are weak militarily and soft strategically. As for those in the region, others say, in effect, if we do it, they will come. But the fact that America can do it alone does not mean it is wise to do it alone. We don't need to re-create the Gulf War coalition. We acted essentially unilaterally in Afghanistan. But the world saw our actions as a legitimate response to a terrible provocation. Power by itself does not confer legitimacy. It is the widely perceived purpose to which that power is applied and the manner in which it is used. If we are right about the threat Iraq poses, we ought to be able to build a solid case for the world and take the time we have to do it.
Third and crucially, we need to have an honest discussion with the American people about what's involved, consistent with the secretary's very important admonition about operational surprise and secrecy. From the Gulf War to Kosovo and Afghanistan, our men and women in uniform have performed superbly, securing impressive victories at impressively low costs. But our pride in them should not blind us to the very real challenges of war in Iraq. Our objective here is not to drive Saddam Hussein back to his own country; it is to drive him out of power. And the American people must be prepared for a more challenging mission: urban combat, chemical weapons attacks, Saddam's use of human and civilian shields, and American military presence in Iraq measured in years when we succeed.
It is time to start asking and answering, as you have been doing in this committee for the past two days, tough questions before we launch our country down the path to war.
What impact will our actions have on key governments in the region, such as Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey? What allies do we need from both a military and political standpoint? What kind of successor do we see for Saddam Hussein? How do we keep the country together and avoid a Balkanized outcome? What kind of assistance, economic, political and military, can a new Iraqi government expect from the United States? Do we see this as Korea, where we helped build a thriving democracy from the debris of war, but maintain a military presence there a generation later, or Bosnia, where we seem impatient to leave even before the conditions warrant? And who will pay for Iraq's recovery, with current estimates of the cost of rebuilding its economy ranging from 50 to 150 billion dollars?
Mr. Chairman, there is no question that the world will be a better place without Saddam Hussein's regime. As you've stated in the past, if he is around five years from now, it means we haven't done something right. But if we don't do this operation right, we could end up with something worse. We need to be clear and open about the stakes, the risks and the costs that genuine success, meaning a more secure America and a more secure world, will require.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.
Before we begin or as we begin, one of the statements that you made, Mr. Secretary, maybe in a different context or in a closed hearing or closed circumstance you can tell us, but the line says, "I understand there's more than initial tales of small cells acting -- Kurdish groups operating in the mountain borders, Iran. Apparently, al Qaeda members are moving freely around Baghdad, using their Saddam- granted liberty to coordinate operations worldwide." I have not heard that from any source in the United States government that I've kept close tabs on, but maybe at some point in another context you can share with us the source of that.
But in the interests of just general fairness, Senator Rockefeller has been patient and at the end of the line here. I get to stay throughout the whole hearing. I can ask my questions at the end. Why don't we begin with you, Senator Rockefeller, and then we'll go in order and I'll question last?
SEN. JOHN ROCKEFELLER, IV (D-WV): I have a Confucian temperament, Mr. Chairman, sir.
A couple of things come to mind. In the days of these hearings, there's been just an enormous array of thoughts and suggestions. And yesterday, I sort of concentrated on the uncertainty factor. And, you know, Mr. Berger, you talked about removing Saddam does not do it all.
And that brings up -- it brings up a question which I've actually sort of wanted to ask.
We've been talking a lot about nation-building here, and you say, well, that could be 100 to 150 billion dollars for Iraq alone. Americans tend to be kind of episodic, you know, crisis-oriented when we -- if it's -- obviously, 9/11 is a little bit more than episodic, and what we're in is profoundly dangerous. But we jump from country to country, and then we'll take Iraq, we'll sort of isolate Iraq and say, "Well, what are going to be the repercussions of this?"
Are we talking about, in fact, removing Saddam Hussein because he's Saddam Hussein alone, or because of the weapons of mass destruction? And is not really what we're talking about removing the threat to this country of weapons of mass destruction, of which he is the dictatorial keeper and decision-maker? So if it's the removal of weapons of mass destruction, and if you accept that al Qaeda's in 60 other countries -- that South America has not yet bubbled up, Africa in many ways hasn't bubbled up, well, Southeast Asia's all yet before us, perhaps, or probably, and many other places in the Middle East, Iran, who knows -- you can't do it all.
You can't go in and say, "Well, here's Afghanistan, and that's kind of more of a feudal warlord thing and that history, but Baghdad is much more of a stabilized middle class and perhaps we can make a democracy out of that, and so let's nation-build." "And oh, by the way, that may cost 100 to 150 billion dollars." Then you go down to the Indonesian Archipelago, and you're talking about thousands of islands and, who knows, the largest Muslim country in the world -- which is not to tie Islam into this in any greater sense than is appropriate.
But you start stockpiling an inventory, which becomes absolutely out of the question for this country. You talk about educating -- I'm not questioning you, Mr. Berger, I'm just questioning the proposition. We talk about educating the American people to what we're doing, leveling with the American people. If we're going to level with the American people, we better tell them that we're talking about, you know, and 8 or 10 trillion dollar project here worldwide, in all probability, unless we think that 9/11 was isolated. And it surely was not, and nobody even pretends to think that.
So isn't it really our security that we're talking about? And if it's really our security, isn't it keeping ourselves safe from weapons of mass destruction from wherever they might come? And you see, that doesn't have to just be a nuclear bomb. That can be a suicide bomber, that can be a plane into the World Trade Tower, that can be, you know, something else into a chemical plant, a power grid, whatever it is.
But it's the combination of the intelligence -- the preemptive intelligence, as opposed to the -- as well as the tactical, but particularly the preemptive -- and keeping ourselves safe and therefore, as much as possible, the world, because we're the largest target, and if we're keeping ourselves safe -- we've gotten into this enormous discussion on nation-building. And I would just like to sort of get both of your thoughts on that.
If you're suggesting -- and I don't disagree -- that it stay the course -- and we had some witnesses this morning that said, "No, you don't. We'd have to have about 5,000 troops in Iraq for three or four or five years" -- or less -- a couple of years, I think one of them suggested. That doesn't seem very probable to me if they're talking about nation building.
And what seems to me that you start off with is making America secure; removing the means of destruction of us and other parts of the world from different terrorist groups, of whom Saddam Hussein obviously is a classic definition. But I'd like your response to that, because it just seems to me we've kind of run away, let the wagon get out of control here, in terms of what it is that our responsibilities are as a nation and what we can possibly afford to do without having our people rise up on us because we won't -- if we tried to do all of it, we would do a lot of it unsuccessfully, because there's not any tradition for democracy in a lot of these places.
MR. BERGER: Senator, let me respond in a few ways to what I think are very important comments you've made.
In no small measure, what I'm saying is that, as we look at how we deal with a real threat, Saddam Hussein -- Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction -- I'll come back to that -- we have to it within the constellation of our overall security. We can't simply pull this out and look at this divorced from the consequences of acting and the consequences of not acting, the risks of acting and the costs -- the opportunity costs that may have elsewhere. So yes, I do believe Saddam with weapons of mass destruction is a threat. We can't deny that.
To me, it's the combination of both; it's the capability and the intent together. To me, the greatest threat is Saddam with nuclear- weapons capability, believing that that capability is essentially deterrence against us acting if he then seeks once again to take aggressive action against his neighbor. I think that's the single most dangerous threat of this threat.
But I think the importance of this dialogue that you've begun here is to look at this in the context of American security: Can we do this in a way that, in the end of the day, not only is Saddam gone, but we're more secure, we're not isolated -- less isolated, he's out of the picture? And I think that's -- you know, that is a risk calculation which begins with these hearings and which I think is very important for the administration to join with.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Sandy Berger, do you include nation-building as part of our obligation? Because the question I would pose to you, isn't there a point at which there is an inverse correlation between our determination to nation-build after we remove the bad guys, and our ability to remove both weapons of mass destruction wherever they exist in the world, and the whole threat of terrorism as it surely does exist in the world? I mean, at some point, if you do one, you can't do the other. And our first obligation, it seems to me, is to make sure that there is a security factor for our country.
MR. BERGER: I think, Senator, that if we engage in a military action against Saddam and it's successful, that it requires us to be prepared to stay there for a considerable period of time. That's part of the calculation I think we need to make at the outset. The centrifugal forces in Iraq are substantial -- the Kurds in the north, the Shi'a in the South, Turkey, Iran. And simply extracting Saddam Hussein and all the rest of his Ba'athist colleagues and leaving a situation which could unravel, in which the Kurds, for example, could declare some kind of independence; the Turks, feeling threatened by that would move in against the Kurds. You could imagine a number of scenarios here. I think it's unrealistic to think that we can go in, somehow parachute in, grab the bad guys, leave a couple of AID people behind, and that America will be more secure as a result of that.
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, that certainly is not my idea of what we would do if we changed regimes, Senator. I think if we change regimes, you get rid of Saddam Hussein, of course. You also, if it's done properly, as we would hope to do it, would remove a substantial amount of the threat of development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, because presumably the changed regime, the new regime would be a regime that would be installed in power and would not have that as part of its agenda.
I think that it is -- I think the very precision of Mr. Berger's estimates of between $50 billion and $150 billion indicates a lack of clarity as to precisely what it is we're going to be doing. I don't think we have to rebuild the nation of Iraq. I think we have to set up a framework so that the people themselves can govern themselves. And there is no doubt that there will be some assistance needed, perhaps, for that regime. There's no reason for us to bear it alone. I would think that the ideal arrangement would be to have a number of the modern Arab countries, and anyone else who wishes to join, become part of an army of occupation that would stay while the regime was being changed.
We had considerable experience with this after World War II. We changed regimes in every single country that we fought against, very much to the improvement and with the result that we ended up with some very warm, close allies who formerly had been bitter enemies. And I don't see any reason why that can't be done.
We didn't have to rebuild those countries. We had the Marshall Plan, which has been correctly described as the most altruistic act in history. And it helped a lot, but it helped us, too.
So, I think that a lot of this is a sort of set of straw men that are set up as a basis for arguing for inaction. We all agree that the regime is terrible, that Saddam Hussein is a beast of the worst kind and must go, but then everybody starts pointing out the enormous difficulties afterwards. The departure of Saddam Hussein doesn't guarantee chaos of the region, and I would think that a victorious group of armies or group of nations that participated in his being eliminated and the regime changed would also want to participate in whatever is necessary to keep the situation basically stable and secure.
And so, I don't think that any of these bogeymen that we're hearing about are necessarily anything that is going to happen. Certainly not some of these wild estimates of how much it's going to cost. That's a good way to frighten off the American people, but I don't think it has very much accuracy to it.
SEN. LUGAR: Senator Biden has asked me to preside temporarily.
I recognize Senator Hagel.
SEN. CHARLES HAGEL (R-NE): Senator Lugar, thank you.
I add my welcome to our distinguished witnesses, and also thank you each for your many contributions to our country. And this is in line with your continued contributions, so thank you. We value each of your wise counsel, and we will probably be talking with you often in the days ahead.
Mr. Berger, you in your testimony ended by laying out a number of, as you state, tough questions. And yesterday, we heard from many distinguished witnesses who, as a matter of fact, dwelt in some detail on your questions, your first one being, "What impact will our action have on key governments in the region, such as Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey?"
I would ask each of you if you would respond to that question, your question, Mr. Berger, in this way. Is it the opinion of -- or what is your opinion as to if the United States would find itself, as it essentially does today, alone and if we would move in a military action to destroy Saddam Hussein unilaterally, or essentially unilaterally? Is that wise? Would there be consequences? Would you foresee consequences? What, in fact, consequence might there be for the governments of Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey? You mention, Mr. Berger, Iran and the Middle East. I'd be interested in getting your thoughts on whether you think there is any connection between the Middle East situation today and Iraq. If we would unilaterally take action against Saddam Hussein, would that have any effect on our other interests?
And I might add, included in that interest, which we passed this morning a bill out of this committee, framing up a focus for economic, diplomatic, democratic institution building in Afghanistan.
We seemed to kind of glide by that, and it was referenced this morning by one witness. I think a "hit-and-run" is what she said -- a hit- and-run effort in Afghanistan, and that witness acknowledged that this might be a more difficult undertaking and that we would not want to model, in fact, our efforts in Iraq, if we went into Iraq, after Afghanistan.
Now I've thrown a lot of pieces out there, but I would welcome your thoughts on any of those or all of them. And Mr. Secretary, thank you again for coming today.
MR. WEINBERGER: Senator, I think if we go in alone and remove Saddam Hussein, we'll find that success has many allies.
I think one of the reasons that you're hearing a lot of warnings and complaints and criticisms of the possibility are from countries who fear that we would not stay the course, who -- they live in the neighborhood. They know what this man is like, and they don't want to be put out on a limb by a false start by us, so to speak, or a rapid winding-up. If they are sure that we're going to stay the course and finish the job and eliminate Saddam Hussein, I think you'll find a great many people swarming around and wanting to join the team. And I think that would be a very good thing.
I think we need help. We will need all the help we can get. It will not be an easy task. But I think that the important thing is to do it and is to have it as our clear objective that it is going to be done.
I do wish that there would be less discussion of the how and when and where of the actual operation, because I think that imperils the troops. And that's my primary concern.
I think that when it happens is not nearly as important as to the fact that it winds up successfully. And if it's a few months off or if it's a very short time off, or if it's a little longer than that, I don't think it's nearly as important as our resolve to do it and our building steadily the preparations necessary to do it.
After he's gone, I would hope and believe that the nations in the region, the neighbors who have been sort of terrorized by Saddam Hussein and who fear him as well as hating him, would, after a brief period of dancing in the streets, be very glad to join in any kind of a regime or to assist a regime that would provide a Saddamless Iraq.
So I think the important thing is for us to decide what we have to do, and that is regime changing, and to do it, and to do it well, and to stay with the groups that are there and not feel we have to lead it or be the only one there. If we're alone in the actual removal operation, so be it. But I would be very certain that a successful operation by us alone would produce a very substantial number of allies very, very quickly.
SEN. BIDEN: If the senator will yield for just a moment in a housekeeping matter, there are two roll-call votes, back to back. And so I'd suggest we stay till toward the end of this and then, with the permission of my friend from Florida, I'll go to the senator from California. We'll kind of do reverse this time. Okay?
I'm sorry. Go ahead, Senator.
SEN. HAGEL: Mr. Secretary, thank you.
MR. BERGER: Senator, all hard decisions in terms of America's role in the world are balancing of risks. And that's ultimately the job the president, with the Congress, is going to have to do.
I would not rule out, under any circumstances, the fact that we might have to act unilaterally if we believed that there was an imminent direct to the United States. But I think doing so would greatly increase the risks of such action.
I think that it is possible that we could militarily do this by ourselves, although we do need to base somewhere, we do need overflight rights.
But the reason I talked earlier in my remarks about building blocks -- it seems to me how we do this is very important.
And I think that, number one, to address your point in terms of the Middle East, I think if we are not seen as engaged in an energetic, pro-active, consistent way in trying to end the violence and create a better dynamic in the Middle East, we will go into this by ourselves, and many of the Arab countries will simply hunker down. They may not try to -- they may not be able to stop us, but they will not support us.
Second of all, I think we have to make our case to the world. We see a threat. We see a threat to the United States. We see a threat out at some time frame. The secretary's certainly right: there's no precision about being able to estimate those timetables. You have to take the best intelligence, the best information we have. I don't think it's measured in months, I think it's measured in years. And I think we have the time to make our case to the world. And to make one -- simply one point, I agree with the secretary that the victorious coalition would want to help us participate in anything that needs to be done in Iraq. But if it's a coalition of one, it's a bill-payer of one. So I think we need to take the time we have here to try to build, as I said, not necessarily the Gulf War coalition, but a common sense of threat, a more broadly shared sense of threat internationally so we're not acting alone.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you.
Rather than begin -- senator, you want to begin now?
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): So quick, I have one question --
SEN. BIDEN: Okay. Well, fire -- go fire away.
SEN. BOXER: I have one question, prefaced this way. This has been so fascinating I want to thank, Mr. Chairman, you, Senator Lugar, and our people here.
I want to say that under George Bush the first, the decision was made not to get rid of Saddam because, as I understood it -- and I was in the Congress then -- the fear as to what would come after. If Secretary Weinberger reflects the new thinking of that -- those days, apparently the new thinking is go ahead and do it and don't worry. I think that leads to what Senator Rockefeller said is, Are we committed to doing what it takes afterwards? And frankly, I don't know the answer because I haven't heard it from this administration. I know I'm feeling a little troubled that we're not doing enough in Afghanistan, as much as this committee would like us to do. So that's one point.
Now, the question I have is this. I am very afraid of the weapons of mass destruction, combined with the new world that we face, of people who don't care about this world and this life and are willing to give up their own life for some cause. I'm very worried about that. So, here's my question. We have a U.N. resolution that is very clear -- 687 -- that says that Iraq must -- must -- allow in the inspectors. Why don't we start from that point? If we going to build any credibility in the world, I don't think we start from the point that, you know, we think Saddam is terrible -- yes, we do -- and then just say therefore we should go in, whatever it takes, and do what it takes, I think we need to start at the beginning, which is to build support for our feeling that this is a dangerous situation. And I don't know why we don't hear more from this administration -- and maybe I've missed it. Maybe I have -- about how we ought to go about building support for a regime of inspection that is foolproof, that can be designed.
And one of your witnesses, Mr. Chairman, did lay out, I think, a terrific outline of what that should be.
So could I ask you, Mr. Berger, particularly on that point of the U.N. resolution, if you feel we have enough there to build our case and to demand an inspection as a first step to building worldwide support?
MR. BERGER: Senator, I think that -- I see the process of going back to the U.N. in tactical as well as strategic terms. Is it possible to construct a inspection regime that can give us absolute certainty? Probably not. Is it likely that Saddam Hussein would agree to a totally intrusive regime? Probably not. Is it useful, in my judgment, to use the forum of the U.N. to say why won't Saddam Hussein let us back in? The problem I have with the "axis of evil" speech is that it has focused the world on us not on Saddam. We're talking about what do we mean by the axis of evil, what has that got to do with terrorism, are we becoming unilateralists? I want to get the subject back on Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction.
It seems to me that if we went to the U.N., we stood as firm as possible, 100 percent firm for a totally invasive, intrusive inspection -- you're talking, I think, about Mr. Gallucci's testimony -- maybe even with some capability, do I think we'll get that? Probably not. Do I think the exercise of having Saddam and his surrogates and others in the U.N. have to explain why he will not let the world come into Iraq to see what's there is helpful in building the sense of legitimacy that I'm talking about? Yes, I do.
So I think that -- I know there is concern that that will become -- deflect us. And we certainly know that Saddam can manipulate an inspection regime. But if we are not tough enough to hang firm in the U.N. for 100 percent invasive, intrusive inspection regime, then I'm not sure we're tough enough to go through with an invasion and everything that entails. So it seems to me it is a useful vehicle for building legitimacy and explaining to the world why, even if we don't act pursuant to a U.N. resolution, we are acting with legitimacy.
SEN. BOXER: Well, I thank you for that because I really -- in my mind, that was a tough resolution, they agreed to it. And I don't know how -- he can do whatever he wants about it, but common sense -- the average American is going to look at that and say, "You're hiding something, Buddy." And so is the world. And I think the world fears those weapons of mass destruction. And I'd say that's a first step and I would like to see us get behind something very strong and do it soon.
I thank you.
Mr. Chairman, are you chairing? Senator, are you chairing?
SEN. HAGEL: Anything you want me to do, Senator. I'm here -- (laughter) --
SEN. BOXER: Well, you're up there.
SEN. HAGEL: Do you want to go vote?
SEN. BOXER: I think so.
SEN. HAGEL: Well, let's recess and go vote and we'll come back. In the absence of the chairman, I'll take control. There's a revolution here, Mr. Secretary. (Sounds gavel.) (Laughter.)
SEN. BOXER: Yeah, and I let you do it -- the Boxer Rebellion! (Laughter.)
SEN. BIDEN: (Strikes gavel.) The hearing will resume, please.
Gentlemen, the leadership said there may be a third vote immediately. But I've been here 30 years, and I know that that's likely to take probably another 30 minutes for the third vote. So I'm come back and I'll ask my questions now. The reason others aren't back yet is because, I think, they believe there may be a vote. But I don't believe it. So we'll start, and if I turn out to be wrong, we'll have to interrupt again. And I do apologize to both of you for the interruptions.
Let me ask the question that we spent a good deal of time dwelling on in the three panels yesterday. And in the -- in both the classified briefings we have sought and gotten, as well as the so- called -- the outside experts we have all here privately consulted with, the question is constantly raised. And that is that -- is the circumstance different this time from Desert Storm, '91, in that since the avowed purpose of using force against Saddam would be to change the regime, meaning go to Baghdad, unless we saw him on a, you know, helicopter heading to someplace; that in light of that, most of the people -- well, I won't say what they've said.
We've asked -- I've asked the question: Is Saddam more likely to use chemical or biological weapons? And I limit it to that because I've not heard a single voice suggest that at this moment they believe he has nuclear. Is it more or less likely he would use chemical or biological weapons in one of three circumstances: one, against the invading U.S. forces moving on Baghdad or wherever; two, against the Israelis, to widen the war into a regional war, as one of his hopes for salvation; or three, against his own people, in a scorch-the-earth policy, not unlike he did with not chemical or biological weapons, but with conventional weapons, setting the oil fields of Kuwait on fire as he left?
So what probability do each of you assign to the likelihood of him using whatever weapons of mass destruction he has available to him this time? And if so, when and how do you think that would most likely occur?
Either one of you, and in whatever order.
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, Senator, it's pure guesswork, of course, as you know. Not only that, but I'm long out of office, so I would be guessing.
First of all, you ask if conditions are different. One thing is different, and that is he has a lot fewer troops. He has a lot fewer tanks and a lot fewer infantry and a lot fewer artillery pieces than he had at that time. Sadly, we didn't destroy the whole thing, but he's left with a fair amount, but it's a very much smaller amount, roughly -- I've seen 30 percent now of what he had at the start of the Gulf War. So that's one significant difference.
I don't think there's any predicting what a person like Saddam Hussein would do. I think that he -- I think we'd have to assume he's not going to engage in useless acts. I think he would, undoubtedly, perhaps feel that if he's being invaded and there's any kind of realistic sense of what's going to happen, he would know that he probably couldn't win. Whether or not he would use chemical or biological weapons, I, frankly, don't know. I think we have to assume that he's not going to be held back by any of the normal restraints that a civilized person would be under. He's used gas against his own people up in the Kurdish North, about four or five years ago; didn't hesitate for a moment because he felt they were in revolt against him, and they can't tolerate any kind of revolt.
Whether or not he would try to do what he did in Kuwait is hard to say. He -- on his way out of Kuwait, he set fire to all the remaining oil wells. I happened to be over there; I did go over there somewhere within about five, six days after that war ended, and it was a -- just looked like every picture of purgatory you've ever seen painted, and it was all completely useless as far as military was concerned. And he's never made any effective compensation for it.
So we're dealing with a person who's not bound by any normal restraints, and that's why it's hard to estimate what he would do. He has far fewer resources. And it is at least possible that a campaign against him would go well enough so that he would not have very much time to engage in any nastiness. He's got a lot of very, very unpleasant weapons, the VX explosives, chemical and various other things are very -- very nasty pieces of equipment.
I don't think I could help you by guessing, but I would guess that if we are successful, he wouldn't have time to do very much damage. I doubt if he would use these weapons to widen the war because I think he knows he would find very little support for that. I think the support that he thinks he's amassing now is very chimerical and is based upon simply a feeling that if his neighbors, who uniformly hate him, speak loudly enough against our doing any invasion, that we may be discouraged from doing it. But whether he would try to widen the war or not, I don't know. There'd be no particular gain to him for doing it, but that might not necessarily stop him.
I think you're dealing with a very unpredictable person who has no civilized restraints. And that argues even more strongly for getting rid of him as quickly as possible, (which, frankly ?), I wish we'd done at the end of the Gulf War.
MR. BERGER: Mr. Chairman, I agree with Secretary Weinberger that Saddam is not likely to be bound by normal restraints and circumstances, such as this, which he would see as essentially existential to his regime. So I think in devising a war plan -- and I also agree with Secretary Weinberger; there's been entirely too much babble in the press about various war scenarios -- I think we would certainly have to anticipate this potential. It would obviously take you in the direction of trying to disrupt command and control as quickly as possible, as swiftly as possible.
The dilemma here, of course, is, how do you maintain even tactical surprise if you have to have a substantial buildup in order to accomplish your mission? But I think any war planning here would have to anticipate the potential or the possibility that he would use or threaten to use biological, chemical weapons against American forces; potentially against Israel, in order turn this into a Israeli- Arab war; perhaps against his own people. I think that would have to be very much part of our calculation in developing a war plan here.
SEN. BIDEN: One of the things that the first President Bush did -- it was learned after the fact -- is spent a lot of time with his top people talking with the Israelis and getting the commitment that if they were attacked, they would not respond -- they, the Israelis, would not respond. And I assume the reason for that was their concern that, even though we had even stronger case in the region -- that he had invaded a country, occupied a country, violated every norm of international law -- that if, in fact, Israel did respond in its own self-interest, that there was a risk that it would turn from Saddam versus the coalition forces liberating an innocent country to the Israelis and the Arabs -- or at least complicating matters.
And so I hope -- as a matter of fact, I'm sure we must be considering -- (chuckles) -- that possibility. I can tell you without any -- revealing any war plans or anything -- I don't have any -- is that the Israelis have spoken to me about that. Former prime minister spent 3 1/2 hours with me, talking about that. And that is, what happens if Israel is attacked with chemical or biological weapons?
And so, I guess my question is this: Is it an important part of the planning process for a national security advisor or a secretary of Defense to be recommending to the president, if he's going to move, what the president should or should not be saying to the Israelis or should or should not be planning relative to the use of these weapons -- the potential use of these weapons?
MR. WEINBERGER: Mr. Chairman, ordinarily I don't think the secretary of Defense would get into that field. I was always accused of practicing foreign policy when I was secretary of Defense, but we didn't get --
SEN. BIDEN: I remember that.
MR. WEINBERGER: -- to the basic point of telling the -- suggesting to the president how he would --
SEN. BIDEN: That's a legacy I don't think you've left. (Laughter.)
MR. WEINBERGER: -- how he would respond to things of that kind. The military's job would be -- and I assume that's what's going on now, but I don't know -- would be to plan for number of -- for an operation with a number of different contingencies. And they would plan to do essentially what would be quite normal, and that would be to assume that all kinds of options would be chosen against us, and to make sure we had the materiel and the troops and the plans ready to deal with that, as well as the intelligence.
But whether or not that would include a guess as to what Saddam Hussein would do with whatever weapons he's got, as far as recommendations to the president is concerned, I would think that would not be done. I think that what would be done would be that any war plans that might be developed would certainly include the ways to respond to whatever it was Saddam Hussein might decide to do. That would be part of the normal planning. I don't think it would go beyond that, but in the course of doing that, if the president wanted to know what would happen if they use certain weapons or if they threaten to use certain weapons, I assume the military would tell him the basis on which they were planning to deal with a contingency like that. But I doubt if they would advocate a course of action.
MR. BERGER: Mr. Chairman, any war carries with it the potential of unexpected contingencies. You're talking about an expected contingency, one that we can foresee, not as a certainty, but certainly as a possibility. And it would seem to me that it would be incumbent upon us to engage in very serious discussions with the government of Israel, quietly, in advance of any such action.
I know there is a debate in Israel that took place after 1991 about whether Israel made the right decision in not retaliating against SCUD attacks which were not associated with chemical weapons. And I can imagine it would be a very difficult decision for any elected prime minister of any country to not respond to a weapon -- to a chemical weapons attack on his own country. So, certainly not -- if that were to happen, not out of the realm of possibility that Israel would respond.
And I think that again this suggests the complexity of this operation. It doesn't necessarily dictate whether we should or shouldn't do it. But I think it would be surprising if we did not have a serious discussion with the Israelis about how that contingency would unfold.
SEN. BIDEN: I think one of the responsibilities I have as chairman of this committee is -- and the reason why the administration is not here now, we did not they demand they be here now -- is that we not discuss operational plans here. And that has not occurred, and as long as I'm chairman it will not occur, although I don't think I'm going to have to admonish any member of this committee. They all agree, both sides of the aisle, on that.
But one of the things that it seems to me is our responsibility, because it is my sense -- I could be wrong -- it is my sense that this president and his administration understand, whether or not they understand the constitutional responsibility, they understand the political value of having a Congress with them as they take off on an effort. And from my discussions -- although I want to make it clear I've gotten no firm commitment from anybody in this administration, but I have, at the White House, discussed the issue of whether or not authorization would be required in the absence of an al Qaeda connection, related to 9/11, in the absence of evidence of an imminent attack by Iraq, of the need for our participation, the Congress's participation and authorization. And so it's my distinct sense -- I could be making a fool of myself here if it turns out wrong -- my distinct sense that there will be no significant movement against Iraq absent consultation with the Congress and, like his father, a request for authorization. I might note parenthetically, if the right case is made, I think he'd get overwhelming response, positive, to it if he demonstrated that there were certain things put in motion that would answer some questions for members.
The reason I bother to say that is this: It seems to me that part of our function as a committee, and the reason why we're seeking your advice and help, is that we should be laying out the nature of the threat and the range of opinion relative to the nature of the threat, but not only the nature of the threat, the timing of the threat, the time frame in which we have to respond to the worst case, and then lay out for the American people what not the certain costs are but what the probable costs are in terms of everything from our treasure at it relates to life as well as it does to property and cost.
And so that's why I'm about to pursue a couple more questions with you; again, not -- understanding that none of us know for certain what will happen once this is undertaken or even prior to being undertaken, if it is undertaken.
The last Gulf War, as a coalition -- which went extremely well, significant coalition, significant participation in the military undertaking as well as the aftermath -- cost in today's dollars about $76 billion, I'm told.
(To staff.) Am I giving the right figure? Is that about right?
I think it was sixty-some billion in Desert Storm. And in today's dollars, I'm told it's in the $75 billion-$80 billion range out. And of that, 80 percent of it was paid by the Japanese, the Europeans and others.
Now, I want to make it clear for me, at least, that if I am convinced that Saddam has and is likely to use weapons of mass destruction, including the nuclear capability, I think we have to be prepared to pay any price -- 70 billion, a hundred billion, 150 billion, whatever it would take -- to protect our interests. But, if we have to go this alone, do either of you think -- that is, when I say "go it alone", the military action -- do any of you think it is -- there is a likelihood that the cost in just dollar terms would be significantly less than what it cost in Desert Storm?
Now, Mr. Secretary, you indicated that they have, and it's -- I think it's a fairly wide consensus -- considerably less conventional military capability than they had before. Does that translate into if we pursue this as successfully alone as we did in conjunction with our allies last time, if we get basing rights, overflight rights, et cetera, that it could cost us considerably less?
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, it -- I think it's a function largely, senator, as to how long it lasts. The sunk costs of the military are there. The increased operational tempo that is required by a war is a very substantial exponential increase. And -- so that it depends entirely on how long it lasts. Desert Storm lasted less than a hundred hours. And it was an expensive operation, of course, because we had to move troops so far and so many and -- but, as you pointed out, a very substantial portion of that cost was picked up by grateful allies, and very helpful allies. So it obviously is to our interest in every way to try to assemble, if not the same coalition, at least as many as we can. And I suggested earlier before the recess that we would have less trouble doing that once it's a -- once those nations are assured that we are there to stay the course and that we intend to see it through. I would suspect that just on the basis of ordinary planning aided by some guess work, of course, that an operation of the kind we may be talking about -- and we don't know the extent of it, of course. I certainly don't -- would be considerably less cost. But you're dealing with a reduced military on his part, you're dealing with assets that we have, and they are dealing really on -- basically it's going to depend on just how long it lasts, how long you have to keep this enormously increased operational tempo.
MR. BERGER: Mr. Chairman, I don't know how to estimate at this point the cost of the operation itself. But I do think that being able to convince particularly the neighbors that we're prepared to stay the course is extremely important.
But I think staying the course in this case is not pushing the Iraqis back into Iraq, in a very successful and -- operation that all Americans were proud of, that lasted, as the secretary said, a hundred hours. We're going to need to reassure the Turks and others in the region that staying the course means that they're not going to find the Kurds declaring independence or moving to get oil assets, that staying the course means that Iran is not tempted to take advantage of a weak American-imposed government.
So staying the course here, I think, is more than the buildup and the hundred-hour war. I think staying the course -- and these are arbitrary figures when you try to say what that will mean -- means convincing the region that our objective is to remove Saddam Hussein in a way that maximizes the prospects of stability in the region. And that's going to be important to their being willing partners or at least --
SEN. BIDEN: Acquiesce --
MR. BERGER: -- acquiescing partners in this coalition and ultimately being wiling to help pay the costs that it will take.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, that's sort of what I'm getting at here. If -- granted, it is possible that instead of us having -- assembling and being responsible for assembling almost a half a million men, not all American, pre-positioning them over a long period of time, and then conducting what was a very successful hundred-hour war, and then in relatively short order beginning to draw down those forces, this is premised upon, in the best case -- I call -- I would call the best- case scenario, articulated by Secretary Weinberger, that it would be better to go with others and not alone, but if we go alone, we go alone. And if we do it as successfully as we did Desert Storm -- that is, we meet the objective, the objective -- a different objective this time, not just merely pushing Iraq out of Kuwait, but taking down a regime, which means somebody's got to go to Baghdad, in all probability, another 400 miles and a few other small problems -- that then -- then, if we did it successfully, we would find willing allies and assistance in helping maintain the cost after the fact -- after the fact -- which could be -- we've heard testimony today from serious people -- and yesterday -- that the cost could -- and I'm not suggesting either of you agree -- but the testimony we've heard from serious people including -- (to staff or colleague) -- who was the guy who --
MR. : Feil.
SEN. BIDEN: Who?
MR. : Feil.
SEN. BIDEN: Colonel Feil, but yesterday, on the end. The guy was so good --
MR. : Gallucci.
SEN. BIDEN: Not Gallucci. No, the guy who sat on the very end here, the military guy.
My mind's blank here.
MR. : It's Cordesman you're trying --
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much. (Chuckles.) I can rely upon the reporter. The Senate reporter points out Cordesman -- (chuckles) -- was the one who was a very serious guy, as well as today Colonel Feil, with less experience, but still very, very knowledgeable. They're talking about, you know, 75,000 troops staying and -- you know, and so on and so forth.
Even if you don't get into those numbers, if you expect other forces -- everybody -- does anybody believe that it's possible to go in, take down Saddam and not have some foreign military presence, whether it's ours or not, in Iraq for at least the near term, meaning months, not a hundred hours, not a hundred days, but -- well, that's a hundred days in months -- but months?
I mean, aren't we at least signed on to that, just to literally physically assemble and order the forces from our allies who might after the fact be willing to come in? I mean, is that not -- just logistically?
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, again, it's a guess, Senator. But certainly some time would be required of us to demonstrate our consistency and our resolve. I don't know how long it would be and I don't know how many people would be involved. It would depend entirely on how well the military aspect --
SEN. BIDEN: How well it went in the first -- the reason --
MR. BERGER: Mr. Chairman, if I could add --
SEN. BIDEN: I'm not trying to pin you guys down, I'm just trying to get --
MR. BERGER: If I could just add one dimension to that. The task of forging some sort of government going forward, which has the support of Iraqis, strikes me as doable but difficult. You have a wide variety of external opposition groups, a wide variety of internal opposition groups, all of whom I would think you'd want to draw upon in an exercise as part of at least the Iraqi piece of the coalition. They have not had a great record of staying together, even the two Kurdish groups, let alone all the others.
So there's going to be a period, it seems to me, when there is a vacuum of power, even though we may have installed some other general, in the absence of some stabilizing presence. And that, it seems to me, has to come from --
SEN. BIDEN: The only reason I pursue this is, again, in terms of sort of a full disclosure to the American people here, we are talking about more than several billion dollars in terms of the costs of such an operation, and we are talking about tens of billions of dollars. I mean, granted, there's probably less of a -- assuming chemical and biological weapons aren't used, which could greatly escalate the cost in terms of human life and other ways. But there is also the requirement this time to stay longer, whatever that means. It could be weeks, it could be months, it could be, in some people's minds years. But it's longer.
MR. WEINBERGER: Senator?
SEN. BIDEN: Yes?
MR. WEINBERGER: I think a great deal depends on our intentions. And I want to call your attention to a much smaller scale -- not a replicate of this operation, but Grenada. We went into Grenada with more troops than everybody thought we needed, and we had a very successful operation and prevented the kidnapping and detention of American students, and we got out. And we got out in something under a month. And a couple of months after that, there was a free election and we have not been back.
Now, that is obviously a much smaller scale and it had different kinds of aspects to it. But the intention was very important because the intention was to do just that -- to get in and get out. And I think that given that kind of same sort of intention, we could, depending on how successful the military aspects are, we could not have to remain as long as some people are talking about.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, that may be a good jump-off point. If Grenada had sunk into the bottom of the Caribbean, the events of the world would not have changed. God love the Grenadians, if that's the correct way to pronounce it. If Grenada had signed a security pact with the Soviet Union, it would not have made a whole lot of difference. Iraq is so fundamentally different in terms of what --
MR. WEINBERGER: Well --
SEN. BIDEN: -- in this regard. You said, Mr. Secretary, I thought, that we have to demonstrate we have the staying power not only to take Saddam down, I assume you meant, but to not walk away with the region more destabilized than when we arrived.
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, that certainly is true. And I don't know how long that would take, but a lot would depend on how many allies we had and how successful the military operation had been and what kind of conditions were left. And if you start from -- if you have a complete military victory, then I would suggest that the rebuilding phase and the length of time for us to stay would be lessened.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, I -- by the way, I'm not disagreeing that if we did it right, it could be -- I'm just trying to get broad parameters here. I would -- I mean, look how long -- I mean, some have compared the need here to be the kind of commitment after the fact we made to Japan and Germany. That's one extreme. The other extreme is Grenada. And in between are experiences we had like Kosovo and Bosnia, where we had broad coalition support, where we had significant success, where we routed the opposition, and where we still have 7,000 forces.
MR. BERGER: Mr. Chairman, we learned the hard way in Bosnia that artificial deadlines are a mistake in a situation like that. We said we would be out in a year. I think that was an honest judgment at the time. It was wrong. And basically, we have to be prepared to stay as long as it takes till the conditions are such that a stable Iraq that is not threatening to its neighbors can exist. And I don't think we're ever going to be able to be able to put a finer point on it than that except as long as it takes.
SEN. BIDEN: Again, I'm not -- I'm not looking for a very fine point, but we do in just broad macro terms to have even the minimum number of forces that anyone has suggested in anything that's been leaked or discussed that I've heard, we're talking about tens of thousands of forces going in. We may not be talking about a quarter of a million. We may be talking about 75,000. We're talking a lot of forces. We're talking about it taking more than 100 hours, not the victory, but before we can leave. And so, again, to give some sense of proportion to the American people, when we ask them -- when we ask them for their permission through their Congress to go in, if we ask them that, I think we have an obligation to tell them this is going to cost a lot of money. I'm not suggesting we shouldn't pay it, but it may cost a lot of money.
MR. WEINBERGER: I think that's true, but I also think we should be pointing out the benefits --
SEN. BIDEN: Oh, I agree.
MR. WEINBERGER: -- (inaudible) -- free world. And I think that they have to be ground into the equation, and I think that's a very major factor.
SEN. BIDEN: I agree. I'm sorry. I thought I said at the outset -- as I said at the outset, if we can make the case, which I think -- well, I won't say what I think yet. The hearings aren't finished. But if we can make the case that the threat is real and dire, that a free and democratic Iraq, if it could be accomplished, could have a cleansing impact on that part of the world and make our life easier significantly down the road, which I think could be made in an ideal circumstance -- not even an ideal, in a -- if we do things right -- that it is worth the price.
So I'm assuming we wouldn't vote to give the president the authority to do this unless we thought that the price or potential damage to us was so significant and the price of victory was worth it.
But we then ultimately have to tell them what the price is. And I don't mean in literal dollar terms; I mean in terms of what reasonable things we could anticipate. But I can anticipate, since my staff just said there's one minute left in the vote, that my colleagues were more correct than I was about how certain the next vote was going to be.
They're probably literally on their way back. First one in, please authorize them to begin the hearing. We're not going to trespass on your time much longer, but I am going to have to go vote. So we will recess until the first senator, Democrat or Republican, returns, and we'll begin the questioning with them, okay?
Thank you. (Sounds gavel.)
SEN. BILL NELSON: (Sounds gavel.) The committee will resume. Chairman Biden is just finishing up voting on the floor and will be here momentarily, and asked me to go on. And we apologize to our witnesses, but when they call the votes -- when the roll is called up yonder, one has to respond.
I wanted to ask both of you about your opinion with regard to the influence of radical fundamentalist groups operating in Northern Iraq.
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, without certain knowledge, Senator, and I would disclaim that at the beginning, I think it is common knowledge that there are a great many of these groups in Iraq. I don't know if they're specially limited to the North. But the climate that is encouraged by Saddam Hussein is one that encourages them to gather.
Many of the Arab countries, particularly the moderate Arab countries, like Egypt, for example, are very worried about these people and they take every step they can to make sure that they don't have undue influence on either policy or presence in the country. I think Iraq, is quite the contrary; I think they welcome them because I think they do -- as far as I know, they used to do a substantial amount of training of these people and preparing to unleash them on the world.
So I would think that there is a substantial infestation of radical Muslim groups, and knowing that they are -- that the country is hospitable to them and that they can operate with more freedom than they can in countries that are opposed to them.
MR. BERGER: Senator, I, obviously, don't have access to the same -- the same degree of access to intelligence as I had a little more than a year ago. So ultimately, this obviously is a question that has to be posed to the intelligence community.
Iraq, historically, has supported terrorist organizations, primarily PKK, directed towards Turkey; the MEK, directed toward Iran.
I know that there is some evidence of support of late for groups involved in support of the Palestinians, against Israel.
Historically, there has not been a close relationship between Saddam Hussein and his regime and Islamic jihadist fundamentalists. They see Saddam -- have seen Saddam as a secularist. He's killed more Islamic clerics than he's killed Americans. They have, of course, at this point a common enemy, and that's why this is something we have to be very attentive to and certainly be very vigilant about. But historically there has not been close relationship between the Saddam Hussein regime and the al Qaeda/bin Laden/Islamic jihadist movement.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Mr. Secretary, you had stated, I think in your actual remarks, that you thought that there was a connection with al Qaeda.
MR. WEINBERGER: Yes.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Would you elucidate and expand on that?
MR. WEINBERGER: Yes. Well, the initial reports were that there were some small groups of al Qaeda wandering around up in the northern area, in the mountain area, working across the border with Iran, and so on.
There is a lot more than that now. They have been welcomed to the country officially. Some of them are being paid as martyrs by Saddam Hussein, and the information about al Qaeda in Baghdad, as I've been told when I inquired, is -- from senior intelligence officials who did not wish to be otherwise identified but of course would testify at that closed hearing -- I am told it's reliable by people in whom I have confidence. And I think that it might well be a good idea to have a closed hearing on the subject. I would not be able to contribute more than I already have, but I am told that that is the case, that the al Qaeda groups are welcome and that they're being supported, their families are being supported, on the theory that they -- some of them are martyrs from Palestine and Afghanistan, and that they will be -- continue to be found useful by Saddam Hussein for the people with whom he deals.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Do you think that Saddam Hussein would share weapons of mass destruction with such groups?
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, I don't know if he's shared them or not. I think he would not be above allowing them to help in the delivery of them or in the construction of them or as part of his general plan. I know there's a theory around that he wouldn't share them, because he wants to have them all to himself. But I -- my belief is that he would utilize anybody that he could find, and he doesn't have very many outside allies, and he has quite a few inside enemies.
But I think he'd share the use of them and allow them to participate in his -- whatever plans he has. I don't think he'd hand them the weapons and turn away, no, but I don't think that -- I think that's a technical distinction that isn't very relevant.
SEN. BILL NELSON: I'm quite interested in exploring this question of connection with al Qaeda, because we haven't seen a lot of commentary about that.
MR. BERGER: Senator, first of all, in terms of connection to al Qaeda: I can't speak to that directly. I know that the intelligence community has been looking rigorously at the issue of whether there is a connection over the last 10 months. And obviously, it would be important to hear from them as to what they've established.
With respect -- to me the greatest threat Saddam poses -- and you can't rule out, obviously, the possibility of his sharing weapons of mass destruction with terrorist organizations. He has had chemical weapons for over a decade and has not taken that course. To me the greater threat is his own use of weapons of mass destruction as a deterrent or directly. And specifically, what I worry about most is his obtaining nuclear capability and believing that the possession of that capability would dissuade the United States, therefore, from responding to an aggression by Saddam Hussein in the Gulf to seek to extend his influence, hegemony in the Gulf.
So there obviously is the potential of his sharing weapons of mass destruction with terrorist groups. That has not been his pattern to date. I think we should -- I suspect the intelligence community is looking under every rock for a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and I encourage that. But I can't speak to it directly.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Is it your understanding that his threat of chemical and biological warfare was one of the reasons that we did not move on Baghdad 11 years ago, in the Gulf War?
MR. BERGER: Well, Secretary Weinberger can speak to this. You know, I accept President Bush -- first President Bush's explanation at face value on that, whether in hindsight we agree or not, which is that he had a coalition. He'd constructed a coalition around a purpose, which was to expel -- to defeat the aggression of Iraq into Kuwait. Having accomplished that, President Bush has said he felt that, in a sense, the mandate of that coalition no longer existed. I think, obviously, with hindsight, had we continued on for several more days and at least eliminated the Revolutionary Guard units, he might -- we might not be facing this problem at this point.
But I don't know that I've ever heard this articulated in terms of fear of use of chemical weapons. In fact, as you know, of course, there was a very explicit warning issued to Saddam Hussein with respect to use of chemical weapons against third countries -- Israel, Saudi Arabia -- which obviously had a deterrent effect in that context.
SEN. BIDEN: Will the Senator yield on that point for just a moment?
SEN. BILL NELSON: To the chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: We heard testimony yesterday from one of the witnesses saying that they thought that the reason -- they thought in their discussions with Iraqis that Iraqis believed and Saddam's cadre believed that the reason we stopped is because they had chemical and biological weapons. I have not heard anyone assert that the reason President Bush decided to stop was his fear of, concern about, or thought that chemical weapons would be used against American forces. And so -- but I've not heard anybody make the assertion that President Bush One stopped because of concern about chemical or biological weapons.
MR. WEINBERGER: I was not in office at that time, Senator, but I agree with you, I have not heard that. And I don't think -- I think if you look at the timeframe, it's not at all credible, because the war was over in such a short time. And there was a -- there were a number of people who felt that the televised pictures of the road into the southern part of Iraq had been littered with all of the equipment and tanks and everything that we'd destroyed and that this might look a little too bloodthirsty, and we would have a chance to get an acceptable peace. I think the fatal error was in believing you could trust Saddam Hussein. And you can't, you couldn't, and you can't in the future. But I don't think that it had any connection between the chemical warfare capability, whatever it was at that time.
SEN. BIDEN: To beg the indulgence of my colleague just a minute more, the context in which this discussion took place yesterday was whether or not deterrence worked. And it was argued by one of the witnesses that deterrence worked, the threat of annihilation, essentially issued by Bush One to Saddam, was the reason why Saddam did not use his chemical or biological weapons. Another witness responded and said, "Well, in Iraq, they say the reason we didn't keep going was the threat that Saddam would use them." Deterrence doesn't work. Deterrence does. If we believe that, threatening him and his very existence of his regime with massive retaliation were he to use them, then obviously it alters the occasion of whether or not there is a requirement to move, whether containment works, and so on. That was the context of the discussion.
MR. BERGER: I think there is some evidence that deterrence worked in the context of the '91 Gulf War with respect to Israel. Obviously, the equation is different in a situation where the purpose of the exercise is the removal of Saddam. And I think that we have to do -- would have to do our planning and calculations based upon less than certainty that under those circumstances, deterrence will work, or at least to find some device by which deterrence is consistent with the removal of Saddam Hussein.
MR. WEINBERGER: He was not above a lot of those things. If you look at what he did on the way out of Kuwait, all of that had no military value whatever. But it was pure beastliness and resulted in a very, very large amount of damage long after there had been an agreement that the war would end.
SEN. BILL NELSON: We've asked the following question of other witnesses, and I'd like to get your opinions. Do you think that weapons inspections would satisfy the concerns that we have about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs?
MR. WEINBERGER: I'm sorry, I didn't get the first part.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Would weapons inspections --
MR. WEINBERGER: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
SEN. BILL NELSON: -- satisfy our concerns about their WD -- WMD program?
MR. WEINBERGER: No, I -- I don't think so, because I don't think we ever would be allowed any kind of intrusive inspection of the kind that's necessary. And that's why I think it's so silly to keep talking about relying on the United Nations. We've been there four years ago. We got all the fine resolutions that we wanted, but nobody pays any attention to them. And you have to bear in mind that a great deal of what they do is underground. And we have splendid satellites and all kinds of good equipment, but they can't look underground. And in the absence of being allowed to go wherever we want based upon whatever intelligence reports or rumors or anything else we pick up, in the absence of that, no inspection is going to be in any sense adequate. And any inspection is subject to having the actual things that he wants hidden. And four years have gone by. So I -- without any inspection. So I would imagine that anything that was at all useful or interesting is long -- long since been hidden or moved to what they consider to be a secure location.
No, I think U.N. inspections is an idea that is tried and doesn't work, and we shouldn't feel that it would give us any kind of security whatever.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Mr. Berger?
MR. BERGER: I think there's one other dimension, however, to this issue. I am skeptical that we could achieve a weapons inspection regime, let's say the one outlined by Ambassador Gallucci yesterday, that was robust and actually had some military pop behind it, unfettered, that would alleviate our concerns about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. However, I do think that the process of seeking that kind of robust, unfettered regime is a useful device in focusing the world back on Saddam Hussein and away from us. You have to explain why he doesn't want the world in, why he won't accept this. And the moral balance here shifts from whether we're acting unilaterally, whether we're acting legitimately, to, What does he have to hide? Why won't he let the world in?
So, as a tactical matter, I do believe that we can use a absolutist position in the U.N., an uncompromising, absolutist position to serve our purpose of gaining some greater support in the world for an action we may have to take.
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, I would have to disagree, Mr. Chairman. You're never going to get an absolutist position out of the United Nations to --
MR. BERGER: No, I'm talking about absolutist position by the United States.
MR. WEINBERGER: Yes, I know, and --
MR. BERGER: I believe --
MR. WEINBERGER: We've got to be very insistent, and they will do what they've always done. If he knows that that's what we want, he'll say yes, and then when we go in, he'll say, "Oh, yes, but." And you haven't focused world opinion any more than you have now. He's had four years in which he has succeeded in throwing out an absolute U.N. resolution. And asking for it again is asking for more useless promises from him. That's essentially what you're doing. He may give a useless promise, and all you've done is given him more time to develop these weapons.
MR. BERGER: Well, I assume that we have the control of our own vote. And I assume that if we have the tenacity to go to war in Iraq, we have the tenacity to stand our ground in New York. And therefore, if we say we will only accept a regime which is -- which we define as being an absolutist, what I would call, regime, one of two things will happen. He will say no, in which case I believe we're in a stronger position internationally; he will say yes, in which case inspectors will go in and he will play games with them, and a very clear "casus belli" will have been established.
So I don't see inspections as a very probable way of solving the WMD problem. I do see it as a useful mechanism for focusing the world back on Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction and the threat that he poses.
MR. WEINBERGER: If I disagreed again, I'd simply be repeating myself, so I won't take your time for that.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Well, I'll ask you this final question; then I'm going to turn it over to Senator Feingold.
Give us your opinion if the president should consult with Congress before taking military action in Iraq.
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, I think it's always desirable to have congressional support. And I think there certainly would be and should be consultation. I think that we have to have in mind the executive capabilities, the executive prerogatives under the Constitution. And while I realize that doesn't involve declaring war, it does have the idea of giving the president very substantial freedom to do the things that he considers necessary in foreign policy. I think Madison perhaps said it best in the Federalist; in foreign policy, the president is all. But I think there should be consultation. I think there would be. I think it's very desirable to have a full discussion of it.
I think these hearings are very useful. And I congratulate the chairman and you on holding them. I think that -- I said some time ago, in setting out some criteria as to when we should use our forces, that it is desirable to have as much support, certainly including congressional support, as you can, because I don't think you can fight a war against an enemy and against public opinion or congressional opinion. I don't think you should try to do it in a democracy. So, yes, I think, there should e consultation. I think there would be.
MR. BERGER: I've discovered, Senator, that your view -- one's view of this subject depends upon which end of Pennsylvania Avenue you happen to be sitting on at the time. But I do think that this is a major undertaking. The United States, in a sense, would be initiating a war, not without provocation, not without -- necessarily without justification. But that has not generally been the way we've fought wars. It's not unique.
I do believe this is a major undertaking, and I believe it's important for the American people to be supportive. You know, when I speak, I often ask people, "Should we get Saddam Hussein?" Seventy- five, 80, 90 percent of the hands go up. But I think that that question ought to be asked after people have had a lively and informed consent in the sense that they understand this is not easy, this is a risky proposition, but the threat is also a serious one.
So I think Congress becomes, as always, the vehicle for expressing American public support. And we've learned in the past that without sustained American public support, we can get ourselves in trouble.
SEN. BILL NELSON: Senator Feingold?
SEN. RUSSELL FEINGOLD (D-WI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thanks for the courtesy of Senator Lugar as well.
I've had a chance to attend each of the five sessions here, and I'm really glad I had a chance to hear some of this. Particularly appreciated the last exchange. I certainly come down on the side of Mr. Berger with regard to the issue of whether or not the executive can simply go forward with this. In fact, I -- to me, it's not just a question of whether it's advisable for Congress to do this, I think it's -- all the arguments about how airing this with the American people and through Congress is very important, but I also believe it is constitutionally required that the United States Congress pass a resolution under these circumstances, given the kind of operation that's being discussed.
There is, in my view, no authority or evidence to this point, that's been presented to me as a member of Congress, that under Senate Joint Resolution 23 that we can against Iraq without actual proof that Iraq was involved with September 11th. I also believe that the 1991 authorization simply cannot be used as a justification for the kind of operation that Mr. Berger was just referring to.
But I do appreciate your being here. And let me just ask a couple of questions.
What would be the cost to the multilateral coalition against terrorism if the United States were to begin a major military operation in Iraq tomorrow? Sort of in concrete terms, what diplomatic work would need to be done to reduce the costs? Would our allies, or even states that are not allies, need certain commitments from us? And is it possible to significantly reduce those costs?
For either one of you.
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, Senator, I would say that you certainly should expend a great deal of time and effort in trying to rebuild major coalitions. I think that this involves a considerable degree of consultation ahead of time. I think that it's important for those nations to be with us. And I think those consultations can continue what has actually been started, as I understand it, and that is to the persuasion that we are serious, that we do plan to make a major commitment and we plan to win. And I think that that needs to be done and emphasized in whatever way it can be done, consistent with security of the operation, with all of our potential allies, including the existing ones. And obviously, some of the moderate Arab nations should be brought in, as they were last time.
We had -- I think we had 31 nations in the Gulf War coalition, and I think that it worked extremely well, and I think we should certainly try to reconstitute as much of that as we can.
SEN. FEINGOLD: How much success do you think we will have? How many of those countries do you think we can get --
MR. WEINBERGER: Well, I think, as I said earlier, I think, before you were here, that success has many allies. And I think that if it's quite clear we're going in with the resources that we have and the resources necessary to win, that we'll pick up quite a few.
And I think we have to realize the hatred that is felt for Saddam Hussein in the region. And his neighbors know him, and what they're afraid of is being caught out on a limb in which we have started down a road and turned back. They live there. They're there all the time. We're not. And so I think that's a real fear that they have, and I think that has to be overcome, and I think it can be done best by consultations, by discussions ahead of time and by major efforts made to reconstitute as much of the coalition as we can. I don't have any idea how many we would get, probably not 31 at the beginning, but as things went on and if the military showed signs of success, I would dare to venture that we'd pick up quite a few.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Mr. Weinberger.
MR. BERGER: Senator, let me first make a distinction I made in my earlier remarks. I think the fight against terrorism and the threat of Saddam Hussein, while they are related, are not identical. We had a -- Saddam was a threat before 9/11, and he's a threat whether or not he links up with terrorists.
Therefore, it seems to me, one way to look at your question is, what is the cost, in terms of the fight, of the clearest and present terrorist threat -- that is, al Qaeda, the Islamic jihadist militants? We're now in a phase of that -- which I believe is a continuing threat, and I believe the president is right that we will be struck again, and I think he's right to say that and to press that to the fullest.
We are now at a phase where military action is only one dimension and maybe a dimension of diminishing returns, in terms of the fight against -- we'll call it al Qaeda, the militant Islamic jihadist extremists. This now requires cooperation, it requires intelligence cooperation, it requires law enforcement cooperation, it requires political cooperation to take down al Qaeda cells, as we did with Singapore, as we're doing in the Philippines and Indonesia and elsewhere.
So how do we preserve that support as we go into Iraq? And it seems to me a few things are important.
Number one, as I've said before, I do believe that it is important that the international community see us engaged in trying to end the violence and bring a new dynamic to the Middle East, because at least with respect to potential support from the Arab countries that neighbor on Iraq, it will be more difficult if we are seen as not deeply engaged, not actively, energetically, consistently trying to stop the strategy of terror on the part of the Palestinians and to end the violence in the region.
Second of all, I think we have to make our case. I do not believe that the exercise of power in and of itself -- I agree with the secretary, that power does have a magnetic pull. And the exercise of power is in some ways self-reinforcing. But it is not, in my judgment, sufficient. It is important, I believe, that the world see what we're doing as a legitimate act. It doesn't mean we're not going to get a U.N. resolution passed to do this, but I don't believe that we can be seen as acting on old business. And therefore we have to make our case to the world. And it seems to me if we can make the case to the Senate, the Congress, and we can make the case to the American people, we ought to be able to make the case to our friends and allies. And if we can't make that case, then, you know, we're -- acting alone is going to be, you know, perhaps under extreme circumstances necessary, but much more difficult.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thanks to both of you.
Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Bill, you done?
SEN. BILL NELSON: Yeah.
SEN. BIDEN: You sure?
SEN. BILL NELSON: Mm-hmm.
SEN. BIDEN: Gentlemen, we've taken you longer than usual, but as I said, you're pros, you're not surprised, I guess. I want to make it clear, which I hope it's clear -- I know it's clear to both of you -- that we've completed two hearings. There's much more to explore. And as I said, and Secretary Weinberger implied, I fully expect the administration will consult with this committee and with the Congress as a whole. And this is just the beginning of the process here. The debate, discussion, decision making goes on at the White House now. And it will continue to occur here.
Both the Congress and the president have some difficult decisions to take here. Ultimately, whatever course of action is taken will be proposed by the president, and we will respond. And it is my hope and expectation that we have at least shed some light on the complexity of the problem but did not -- I do not leave after two days concluding that it is not a soluble problem, that it is not a problem -- that is, Saddam Hussein -- that we can succeed in our objective, which I said at the outset: either we separate him from his weapons or him from Iraq. And I think the latter is the more likely thing to happen. But I think it does matter how we do it, when we do it, and that the American people are fully informed and we have their fully informed consent.
So you've been, as usual, both very good. And I cannot promise you I will not ask you back again. My expectation is I will be asking you again. I hope you will be as accommodating with your time as you have been in the past. We will resume these hearings.
I want to congratulate the staff: Tony Blinkin (sp), the new staff director, as well as the Republican director of the Republican staff, and all the staffs for putting together what I hope everyone understands was a truly bipartisan and thoroughly balanced discussion of the problems that we face and the opportunities we have.
And so, we will -- I leaned back to them a moment ago and indicated that I hope they will -- not hope. I have asked them -- so I do hope, since I've asked them -- that they will summarize what we have learned here for us and put together a proposal for Senator Lugar and me, and hopefully by then Senator Helms and me, to consider as we proceed in the fall with further discussion of the issues relating to Iraq.
With that, gentlemen, unless you have a closing comment --
MR. WEINBERGER: Senator, I would like to thank you and thank you, the committee. And thank you first of all, for having the debate and -- think it was a very fair and decent manner in which it's been conducted and in which we all had not only an opportunity but a very ample opportunity -- (isolated laugh) -- to explain all of our views. So I congratulate you. I'm glad you had the hearings. And I will look forward to whatever comes out of it.
MR. BERGER: And I certainly share that view, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, thank you all very much. We are adjourned. (Sounds gavel.)