Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Expert Outlines U.S. Diplomatic Problems in Dealing With Iraq

The U.S. has several options in dealing with Iraq, and there is no clear dominant foreign policy strategy, said Dr. Judith Yaphe, expert on Iraq-U.S. relations, at the Center for Contemporary Arab studies Jan. 17.

Yaphe spoke on the 11th anniversary of the Gulf War about the history of America’s relations with Iraq and the stance the U.S. should take toward Iraq in the future.

The event was part of a series of political briefings that began shortly after Sept. 11.

According to Samer Shehata, a professor from the Center of Contemporary Arab studies, the underlying goal of this conference was to discuss and debate past actions of both the United States and Iraq in an attempt to assess the present and future relations between the two countries.

Yaphe works as a Senior Research Fellow and Middle East Project Director in the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington. She has also served for 20 years as the senior advisor in the Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf Office of Near East and South Asian Analysis for the CIA.

Yaphe said Iraq is a country “burdened by anger, vindictiveness and polarization.” In the wake of Sept. 11, Yahpe said, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is once again under scrutiny, but as to what steps the U.S. could take, she said, “there are no clear cut simple answers.”

One suggested policy is a regime change that could be made possible only by eliminating not only Hussein, but also his entire clan, family and party. Yaphe said supporters of this policy feel that the U.S. has a right to institute democracy in Iraq simply because “We’re a super power, we just do it.”

“If we act decisively, they’ll follow us, it doesn’t matter what the neighbors think,” she said.

In regards to a regime change, Yaphe said, “We’d all love to see a new Iraq … it is not a society that has ever been able to flourish completely.” However, Yaphe said even if a regime change is possible, it will not necessarily be democratic or accepted by Iraq’s neighboring countries. Yaphe explained that if the U.S. wants stability, which is its primary goal, the problem remains that even if Hussein is eliminated, anyone who has survived in Iraq and is capable of leading is going to have blood on their hands.

Therefore, she said, the answer to the question “should the US attack?” remains elusive. Furthermore, Yaphe said an attack on Iraq would be difficult. Since 1998 Hussein has been researching and building weapons and has possibly acquired nuclear capability.

Iraq is a country with 23 million people and an army that is still intact. Consequently, attacking Iraq is “not going to be like Kuwait and Afghanistan, who knows what it would take?”

Whether or not the U.S. will and should attack Hussein, Yaphe said, remains unclear because of indecision on the part of the U.S. She said she suspects Hussein will be attacked, but added that at what point that will occur is difficult to determine.

“The United States has not made a decision and is not ready to do anything,” Yaphe said.

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