It is the policy of the United States to support a transition to democracy in Iraq. These are the precise words of the Iraq Liberation Act, which established that policy in law. Or, as Vice President Gore stated this policy in early July, "Saddam Hussein must go." But I underline the word support. The United States will not unilaterally liberate Iraq. Iraq's liberation will come from internal forces that we wish to support through the Iraqi opposition. We cannot and do not seek to lead or to replace the Iraqi forces of change. We cannot and will not impose or select the new leadership of Iraq. The Iraqis who successfully lead the internal process of change will certainly have the greatest claim to lead the country. It is the exclusive right and responsibility of the Iraqi people themselves to decide who should lead them.
Before outlining our support for the Iraqi opposition, let me posit three propositions, then five questions, that I believe lead us to conclude that our approach is the right one for us and the one that the Iraqi people themselves support.
1. Iraq has no future with Saddam, in terms of domestic or international progress, or of the Iraqi people's aspirations. This is not a new proposition of U.S. policy. We have said since 1990 that "Saddam cannot be redeemed."
- Iraq has a potentially bright future without Saddam: The United States does not subscribe to Baghdad's "Big Lie" claiming that "after Saddam, the deluge." Or, more precisely, that "Iraqis - or at least Iraqi national unity and territorial integrity require a dictator." We have come to know Iraqis much better in the past decade as a people of immense talent, proud traditions and national potential limited only by their decades-long oppression.
- Iraq's future is coming, and Saddam is going. Regardless of whether others agree with our first two propositions, profound change is coming to Iraq. The United States believes that we and all countries who share compassion for the Iraqi people and national interests in the recovery of Iraq should do all we reasonably can, both to bring about that change sooner and to improve the odds that it will turn out well.
Let us turn to five questions that flow from these propositions:
- Do Iraq, and its future, matter to the rest of the world? Yes, unquestionably. Three dozen scholars, diplomats and experts are gathered here today because this is true. More important, four dozen or more U.N. resolutions regarding Iraq, and the space devoted to Iraq in the Arab media, demonstrate the world community's intense interest in Iraq. Iraq is pivotal for priority, longstanding U.S. foreign policy interests in regional stability, in secure world access to energy supplies, and in human rights.
- Can outside countries influence Iraq's future? Yes. This is an article of faith to the Iraqi people and to Saddam Hussein himself, who takes extraordinary precautions and constantly warns against "foreign plots." His intense foreign propaganda and desperate diplomatic activity also testify to this conviction.
- Do foreign countries have a right to try to influence the future of Iraq? Again, yes. International law and practice regarding the right of intervention in the affairs of "sovereign" states under dire humanitarian circumstances is rapidly evolving. But we can look to precedents going back decades or even centuries.
Our country memorializes our gratitude for the "intervention" of France in what then might have been considered "internal" British affairs by naming streets, squares, high schools, and even towns after a Count Lafayette - and we sought to repay France for that intervention when the "Lafayette Escadrille" rushed to France's aid over a century later under the slogan "Lafayette, we are here!" We gave no more than sympathy and encouragement to the Hungarian uprising of 1956 and the Prague Spring of 1968, but the free world acted differently later: Our country and many others overtly supported Poland's Solidarity movement and the African National Congress (ANC) against their legitimate but oppressive governments. Indeed, in the case of the ANC and the opposition then in Rhodesia, the world supported harsh economic sanctions over many years.
- Should outsiders attempt to influence the future of Iraq? Given positive answers to the three foregoing questions, the answer again can only be ''yes." If Iraq matters to the world, if we have the right and the power to intervene, then failure to intervene itself bears consequences and confers some responsibility for those consequences, especially for the suffering of the Iraqi people under oppression.
- Finally: how, and how best, can friends of the Iraqi people influence Iraq's future? This is of course the hardest question and the least amenable to simple or certain answers. I will describe the course the United States has chosen, recognizing that even those who may share our answers to the foregoing questions may take strong issue with our approach. There are no easy answers, and no cheap or guaranteed solutions. There are no "silver bullets."
SUPPORTING THE IRAQI OPPOSITION
The United States still stands alone in overtly advocating and materially supporting the Iraqi people's near-universal aspirations for a change of regime in Baghdad. We have chosen to provide modest but meaningful support in three forms-funding, materiel and training - to the free Iraqi opposition through the Iraqi National Congress (INC). In so doing, we cooperate with the INC as an umbrella movement that is still in the process of developing and that has great potential both as a voice for the Iraqi people on the world stage and as a channel of support to the forces of change inside Iraq. Again, the precedents of the Solidarity movement and the ANC come to mind, even if the Iraqi movement necessarily will not exactly fit those successful examples in all respects. In particular, we do not view the INC at this time as a provisional government or government-in-exile. And, at least at this time, we are not supplying weaponry or "lethal assistance." We do not rule out the Nicaraguan "Contra" model upheld by some in the INC as a long-range goal, but neither we nor they find that a realistic model with which to start. Nonetheless, we will continue to support the INC up to its capacity to absorb our support accountably and effectively.
We understand the INC will apply these three forms of American support in four broad areas of work:
Organization: This includes leasing, equipping, staffing and securing offices and other facilities, and developing their outreach and internal communications.
Information: The INC seeks to break the regime's monopoly on communications in both directions, to relieve the isolation of the Iraqi people. It will broadcast, publish and otherwise disseminate the truth inside Iraq, while bringing timely, accurate and relevant information out to the world from inside Iraq. Information development and use is vitally important to support the third objective.
Advocacy: The Iraqi people need their own advocates, not just foreign governments like ours, for their aspirations. It is a travesty that they are represented exclusively by their oppressors at the United Nations, at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and in bilateral business with foreign governments. A particular focus of the Opposition's advocacy work has been to bring the inner circle of the regime to justice through international legal action.
Humanitarian relief: The INC seeks to provide services and goods, such as food and medicine, to needy Iraqis inside the country and on the periphery.
I acknowledged that the United States stands alone in providing such overt support to the Iraqi opposition. Of course, we and the INC would welcome other international support for the cause of the Iraqi people, but we are prepared to stand alone if necessary. Still, we would urge particular international support for the effort to bring the inner circle of the Saddam Hussein regime to justice. Here we are unquestionably working within the rapidly evolving ambit of international law.
Finally, I will address a question I have heard from many at this conference and beyond: What will happen in U.S.-Iraq policy after the U.S. elections? I will hazard to predict only that the broad strategic course will remain exactly the same, no matter which party wins the presidency and the majority in the houses of Congress: We will continue to support the Iraqi people's aspirations for a change of regime.