June 11, 1993 | Executive Memorandum on National Security and Defense
national security interests to be undermined by peripheral political considerations. President Bill Clinton needs to respond to Saddam, not to public perceptions of the Kuwaiti trial. The Administration has failed to implement a firm and consistent policy toward Iraq. Although American warplanes patrolling the No Fly Zone in northern Iraq retaliated for hostile Iraqi actions on two occasions in April, in mid-May the U.S. turned a blind eye to three attacks by Iraqi ground-based anti-aircraft guns on American warplanes patrolling southern Iraq. Preoccupied with the Bosnia crisis, Washington failed to respond to these attacks, which an anonymous senior U.S. official dismissed as "nothing more than business as usual." The U.S. cannot afford to accept Saddam's terrorism as business as usual. In formulating the U.S. res p onse to mounting evidence that Iraq was behind-the assassination attempt on Bush, President Clinton should: of Consider the attack as a national security threat, not merely as a criminal matter. The status of an ex-Presi- dent as a national symbol makes a state-sponsored assassination attempt a gravie matter of national security. A narrow legal approach focused on extraditing and prosecuting the terrorist suspects does not punish or deter Sad- dam Hussein, who long has violated international laws with impu n ity. Treating state-supported terrorism as a criminal matter in which evidence must meet strict legal standards also raises the threshold for action so high that a military response could be rendered moot. This undermines U.S. security by eroding deterren c e against state-sponsored terrorism. The Administration should focus on Iraq's actions, not on the legal details surrounding the case. Washington need not be concerned about developing an air-tight legal case against Saddam. Even if former President Bush w as not targeted by the conspirators, the resumption of Iraqi terrorism against Kuwait would itself be grounds for a U.S. military reprisal. Any Iraqi terrorist attack, regardless of its target, is a violation of the cease-fire terms set forth by United Na t ions Security Council Resolution 687 at the end of the Gulf War. w/ Be prepared to use military force against Iraq in a decisive manner. Clinton must drive home to Saddam that he will pay a heavy price for his terrorism. Given Saddam's stubborn resistance to almost three years of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, Clinton must resort to military force to punish Saddam and deter future terrorist attacks. Rather than undertake incremental pinprick attacks on symbolic targets, the U.S. should system a tically launch air strikes and cruise missile strikes at the assets that Saddam values most-his security forces, the Republican Guard, and Iraq's military industries. The U.S. goal should be to punish Saddam and his closest supporters while undermining hi s ability to maintain himself in power,! repress the opposition, and threaten Iraq's neighbors. */, Increase support for the Iraq! opposition. To its credit, the Clinton Administration has improved relations with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the oppo s ition umbrella group. A delegation of INC leaders met with Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Vice President Al Gore in late April. The Administration now should follow up its increased diplomatic support for the opposition with economic and milita r y aid, including anti- tank weapons for the Kurdish resistance forces currently under the threat of an Iraqi military attack. In recent weeks Saddain has moved long-range artillery and tanks to reinforce the 100,000 troops that ring the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq. If Saddam does invade the Kurdish enclave, the U.S.'and its allies should launch air at- tacks against the invading forces and redouble economic and military support for the embattled Kurds. The U.S. must maintain relentless pressure on Sad d am Hussein to curb his aggression against his own people, neighboring states, and American citizens and military personnel. Saddam's attempt on former President Bush's life is a heinous act that threatens to undem-fine U.S. efforts to contain Iraq. It sho uld not be relegated to the status of a criminal matter to be adjudicated by Kuwaiti or American courts. The U.S. must respond with a strong military retaliation, which is the most effective way of punishing and deteming Saddam.
James A. Phillips Senior Policy Analyst}}