Hans Blix Considers US Troop Surge Unwise
Interview with Dr. Hans Blix, former chief U.N. weapons inspector for Iraq and present head of
As publsihed in the Sun Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Feb. 27, 2007.
By Alberto Carosa & Lois Lindstrom
Four years ago, Hans Blix, the then chief U.N. weapons inspector for
Iraq, told the Spanish daily El Pais “the war was a very high price to
in terms of lives and the destruction of a country when the threat
of weapons proliferation could have been contained by UN inspectors.”
Q. Do you believe Bush's troop surge request in Iraq would end the war more quickly? And, is the troop surge necessary to win the peace?
A. No. After Saddam’s tyrannical rule and the long Sunni domination of Iraq, a new social contract will need to be worked out between major groups – religious, ethnic and clans. This is a gruelling process in which each group will try to mobilize all the strength it can. So long as there is a huge US presence in the country and its politics, these groups will not feel that they themselves are fully responsible for the fate of the country. I therefore think that the US should make clear that there will be a phased withdrawal of all US troops, and that there will be no bases left. No Iraqi government that agreed to continued American bases would be seen by the Iraqi people as genuinely independent.
Q. But isn't it true that no WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) were found in Iraq?
A. Exactly. After 700 inspections, we did not find any WMDs there, because there weren’t any. Others believe they saw weapons where there were none. We know that the inspectors that I commanded gave a description of the reality that was much nearer the truth than the descriptions the CIA and British intelligence gave us. In other words, we, as U.N. inspectors, came very close to the truth in Iraq, whereas national intelligence did not do so. The result was a war, which meant tens of thousands of people were killed and a wave of terrorism began in Iraq. And what was given as a main reason for the war—the elimination of the weapons of mass destruction—could politely be called a misunderstanding, although many believe that it was an outright lie.
Q. What is your brief assessment of the situation in Iraq?
A. It is really bad, miserable. I can only hope that the Iraqi government will gradually be able to have more control. I think that, for the Iraqi government to have more control, they must show they are not so dependent on the United States, because public opinion there is very much against a continued U.S. presence. I think the United States could help by saying that we will only be here to try to help you stabilize, but we are determined that we will leave, and we do not want to have any bases in Iraq. The only positive result was that Saddam, a cruel dictator and butcher, disappeared, but in all other things the result was truly bad.
Q. Can you confirm that car bombings are the result of arms caches that were not secured after the US invasion?
A. No. Our inspectors performed some 700 inspections in Iraq but they looked for weapons of mass destruction. However, it is well known that there were enormous quantities of conventional weapons in stores, and that much was not secured. There is also little doubt in my mind that more weapons may be coming in from the outside which add to the anarchy and bloodbath. I have never heard of civil wars ending for the lack of weapons.
Q. And What about Iran?
A. I think that there is, above all, time. There is no rush in the case of Iran, no reason to say that you must answer within two weeks. The CIA has estimated that Iran could have nuclear weapons in five or ten years, so there is no reason to issue ultimatums; they should talk.
Q. Do you have any final appeal for a more peaceful world?
A. We hope now that governments, think tanks, media, and NGO's will study the proposals the independent Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC) has spent several years putting together. To that end, the report proposes a U.N. world summit on disarmament, non-proliferation and curbing the use of weapons of mass destruction.