Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem - Once and for All
by Scott Ritter
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. 240 pp. $21.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
At UNSCOM, the United Nations group tasked with defanging Iraq, Ritter led the U.N.'s Concealment Investigation Unit to unearth Iraqi efforts to build weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He resigned in a blaze of glory in August 1998. Ritter makes his quite specific purpose clear right at the start in this well-organized and well-written account: to establish the correct policy for stopping Saddam Husayn. He builds toward this goal with three steps.
First, he tells the story of what he calls the one Iraqi constant since 1988—the ceaseless quest to build weapons of mass destruction. In the process, Ritter reliably presents a history of Iraqi high politics over the past decade. Second, Endgame recounts Ritter's personal experiences and memories during his many years on the UNSCOM team. He reveals a good deal of insider information—headline stuff like the CIA infiltration of UNSCOM as well as details about Russian-Iraqi collusion and what Iraqi defectors revealed to UNSCOM. Third, he critiques the Clinton administration for its "appalling lack of leadership" and a "shallow understanding" of the obstacles to disarming Iraq. He faults the administration for its "uninspired no-endgame strategy of containment through economic sanctions of indefinite duration."
These preliminaries done, Ritter offers his own ideas for "solving the Iraq problem—once and for all," as his subtitle puts it. He sketches out two alternatives to the present policy of containment, one military and the other diplomatic. The military option revives the "Road to Baghdad" plan of 1991: send 250,000 American soldiers to the Persian Gulf, overthrow the Saddam regime, and rebuild Iraq in America's image. But he pushes this option aside and instead endorses a U.S.-Iraqi deal: Saddam recognizes Kuwait, forswears weapons of mass destruction, gives the Kurds autonomy, ends the state of war with Israel, and works things out with the Iraqi opposition forces. In return, the U.S. government ends economic sanctions, funds the reconstruction of Iraq, rebuilds the Iraqi military, and permits peaceful nuclear research.
In other words, Ritter is prepared to take Saddam at his word—something the historical record suggests is completely unwarranted—and to make this the basis of U.S. policy toward Iraq. Ritter advocates a course of appeasement and defeatism; give Saddam what he wants and hope for the best. This totally appalling policy recommendation suggests the author should be back to dismantling weapons, not opining on foreign policy.
Related Topics: Iraq | Daniel Pipes | September 1999 MEQ
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