October Surprise? Iraq?
Jude Wanniski
July 6, 1998


Memo: To Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich
From Jude Wanniski
Re:   Iraq Sanctions

Did you happen to catch "FoxNewsSunday" yesterday? Moderator Tony Snow had UN Ambassador Bill Richardson on as a guest, asking him about what’s going on in Iraq these days. Richardson essentially said what I have been saying for a long time, that it does not matter what Iraq does or does not do about the UN Security Council resolutions, the United States will not permit the sanctions to be lifted. What this means, fellows, is that sometime between now and October a renewed crisis over Iraq will be upon us, as the administration seems determined to remove any incentive for Baghdad to keep up its cooperation with the UN. How will this play out in the November elections? You better start thinking about an October surprise. This is just how the calendar falls, as October is the time Iraq expects to be rewarded for its total cooperation with the UN over the past several months.

I think there may have been a time when both of you believed our government was acting in good faith. By that I mean you believed we seriously intended to lift the economic embargo on Iraq once we were satisfied that Iraq had destroyed the “weapons of mass destruction” which it developed prior to the 1990 Gulf War when it was engaged in its long war with Iran. It should now be obvious to you, as it surely is to most of the world, that Iraq is in compliance with the original UN resolutions and that the embargo should be lifted. Why? According to its own reports, the UNSCOM inspectors have not found a trace of hidden weapons of mass destruction since November 1991, and that the enormous tonnage destroyed prior to that time was accomplished with Iraqi cooperation. All the “inspections” since 1991 have been aimed at keeping the sanctions on long enough so the Iraqi people would overthrow Saddam Hussein. This has been the hidden agenda, no longer hidden, as it is now clear we continue to look for ways to overthrow his government as if a state of war existed between us.

Remember when the Clinton administration insisted that Saddam Hussein was hiding biowarfare materials in his presidential compounds? Our Defense Secretary, Bill Cohen, went from one TV show to the next with a two-pound sack of sugar, to show how little anthrax was needed to kill us all. We were being asked to support the massive use of force back then to remove Saddam Hussein from power, without the slightest thought presented on how this would affect our relations with the rest of the world. Or how it would completely destabilize the Middle East and put Israel in jeopardy. This is because the GOP seems to be satisfied to have our old Cold Warriors make foreign policy. It was UN General Secretary Kofi Annan who provided the leadership that Republicans should have provided at the time, persuading Baghdad to open the entire country to inspection, including all the presidential sites, with the clear inference that if nothing was found, the sanctions would be lifted.

Also remember that Jack Kemp six months ago rejected the idea that the sanctions should remain on Baghdad no matter what. He stated -- on the Tony Snow, as a matter of fact -- that the administration should be satisfied if Saddam agrees to allow it total access to any sites it suspects, and when it finds nothing the sanctions should be lifted. Even President Clinton made this statement, until his staff subsequently reminded him we had a hidden agenda to keep the embargo on, no matter what. You be can sure that Jack will support Kofi Annan on this matter when the issue arises. The UN already estimates that 1.4 million Iraqi civilians have perished because of the sanctions, which have now lasted longer the the US occupation of Japan after World War II.

Bill Richardson now says openly that the sanctions will remain in effect as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power in Baghdad, in order to prevent him from “reconstituting” his weapons of mass destruction. Hey, fellows, if we were going to be as certain with Japan, we would still have troops in occupation there. The responsible Republican position should be to lift the embargo on Iraqi sale of oil and purchase of all goods and services that are not clearly meant to “reconstitute” weapons of mass destruction. That means we should permit them to import the chemicals they need to rebuild their water and sewage treatment facilities -- as disease has been the biggest killer of Iraqi children.

If Clinton digs in his heels, he will do so only knowing the GOP position will be to drop even bigger bombs on Baghdad. I advise you push in the other direction, and ask for persuasive evidence that Iraq is out of compliance. As it is, the Cold Warriors are able to get away with saying the sanctions should remain in place until Iraq shows us all the stuff we know they have hidden, but which we cannot find. It is time to call off the charade.