Commentary Articles
In The News
News Releases

Media Inquiries

Kim Cloidt
Director of Marketing & Communications
(510) 632-1366 x116
(202) 725-7722 (cell)
Send Email

Robert Ade
Communications Manager
(510) 632-1366 x114
Send Email


Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

Your participation will advance liberty. Join us as an Independent Institute member.

Contact Us
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428

510-632-1366 Phone
510-568-6040 Fax
Send us email

Interested in working with us?  Click here for more information.


The Clinton Administration’s Tough Rhetoric


The Clinton administration’s tough rhetoric concerning the U.N.’s search for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction belied its behind-the-scenes attempts to avoid another crisis by quashing the inspectors’ efforts to challenge the Iraqis. Such dissembling occurred because the administration had painted itself into a corner.

Some months ago, in the last crisis with Iraq, the administration originally claimed that air strikes would “thwart” Iraq’s ability to use or pursue weapons of mass destruction. It then reduced this claim to merely delaying or “substantially” reducing Iraq‘s ability to produce such weapons. Then leaks from the Pentagon indicated that destroying any weapons or production facilities would be difficult because their locations were unknown. This “would you believe” game began to resemble an episode of “Get Smart.”

In addition, U.S. allies had little stomach for military action against Iraq. To keep up appearances after it wisely called off the military strike, the administration had to take a rhetorical hard line on inspections.

Yet if the administration had been more honest initially about the efficacy of air strikes--and even the inspections--in eradicating Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, it would not have been caught with a public “stand tall” policy that was bound to come up short. Seven years of the most intrusive inspections in history have failed to uncover all of Iraq’s weapons. General Henry Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted that ordinary hospitals, clinics, or fertilizer plants could be converted into labs for making biological or chemical weapons and then reconverted rapidly. Thus, the essentially portable weapons labs are difficult to find through intelligence or inspections.

Even if all of Iraq’s weapons could be found and destroyed, new ones could be made with commercially available ingredients. In short, any get-tough policy--inspections or military action--towards Iraq or any of the other rogue states in the Middle East with such weapons programs will not stop them from possessing those arsenals. The United States must resign itself to managing proliferation rather than preventing it. Moreover, the United States should stop being a jailer to a war--and sanctions--exhausted Iraq that is now much less of a threat to its neighbors. Other wealthy powers--inside and outside the region--can better balance Iraq.
Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute. Dr. Eland is a graduate of Iowa State University and received an M.B.A. in applied economics and Ph.D. in national security policy from George Washington University. He has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and he spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, including stints as an investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. He is author of the books Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, and Recarving Rushmore.

  New from Ivan Eland!
RECARVING RUSHMORE (UPDATED EDITION): Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty
Taking a distinctly new approach, Ivan Eland profiles each U.S. president from Washington to Obama on the merits of his policies and whether those strategies contributed to peace, prosperity, and liberty. This ranking system is based on how effective each president was in fulfilling his oath to uphold the Constitution.

Home | About Us | Blogs | Issues | Newsroom | Multimedia | Events | Publications | Centers | Students | Store | Donate

Product Catalog | RSS | Jobs | Course Adoption | Links | Privacy Policy | Site Map
Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook
Copyright 2015 The Independent Institute