Richard Perle: U.S. will invade Iraq without UN okay

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sat Jan 11 19:28:39 MST 2003

Daily Telegraph UK
January 10, 2003

US Will Attack Iraq 'Without UN Backing'

By Toby Harnden

America will not delay a war with Iraq until the autumn
and is prepared to launch military action against
Saddam Hussein without further United Nations
authorisation, a senior Bush administration adviser
said yesterday.

Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's Defence
Policy Board and a hawk whose views carry considerable
weight, rejected suggestions from British ministers and
senior Foreign Office officials that plans for an early
war should be put on hold.

Mr Perle, who is close to Donald Rumsfeld, the US
defence secretary, said he did not expect the UN
Security Council to reach agreement on the use of force
but had little doubt that George W Bush, the US
president, would press ahead regardless and lead a
coalition to victory.

"I'm assuming that we will not get a consensus on the
Security Council but it may be possible to get it," he
said. "It would be a great mistake to become dependent
on it and take the view that we can't act separately.

"That would be an abrogation of the president's

Mr Perle stressed that as an outside adviser he could
not speak for the Bush administration. But with Mr
Rumsfeld and his ally Vice-President Dick Cheney, now
the driving force behind US foreign policy, his
pronouncements have taken on increasing importance.

Mr Perle said inspectors would not find actual weapons
in the face of Iraqi concealment. "If that's the test,
we're never going to find a smoking gun," said Mr

He criticised Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons
inspector, for his handling of the inspections. He said
inspectors had mainly visited previously known sites.

"They are the last place you would expect Saddam to put
something," Mr Perle said. "You would have to be a
complete idiot to do that. The inspectors returning to
known sites makes Blix look foolish."

The Swede "has a history from when he was head of the
International Atomic Energy Agency and Saddam built a
nuclear capability right under his nose", he added.

Mr Perle suggested that American patience with the UN
inspections process was limited and closely linked to
the military timetable that makes it very difficult to
fight a war after March because of the searing heat.

He said: "If there's no change in Saddam's attitude I
think there'll be a reluctance to continue this without
a clear indication that our patience will be rewarded
by a UN Security Council consensus.

"A consensus would be a useful thing and I think we'd
be willing to wait a little longer to get it but not a
long time."

Mr Perle said America had been right to go to the UN to
seek Resolution 1441, passed unanimously in November,
because it "produced a consensus in support of
significant demands" but the UN had only a limited role
in dealing with Saddam.

"The question now of course is whether the UN having
done that [passed 1441] will insist that its demands be
met or revert to its previous posture which was to pass
resolutions but not take the actions necessary to
ensure compliance with them."

He expressed doubt that Tony Blair had asked or would
ask Mr Bush to delay war until the autumn and accused
those who sought such a delay of being opposed to
ousting Saddam in any event.

Although Mr Perle did not mention them, a number of US
State Department diplomats are implacably opposed to

They were encouraged by the views of the ministers and
the Foreign Office, reported in The Telegraph
yesterday, as well as recent comments by Jack Straw,
the Foreign Secretary, that the chances of war were
"60:40 against".

Mr Perle said: "There are nations on the UN Security
Council against taking military action so they will try
to slow any movement towards military action."

America and its allies, he insisted, already had the
legal and moral justification for war. "We might be
acting without a resolution from the UN authorising it
but I think the administration can make a strong case
that Saddam's defiance of a variety of resolutions
passed previously could be understood to justify
military action."

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