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Department Seal Thomas R. Pickering, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Remarks on Iraq, Pakistan and India
Foreign Policy Forum, George Washington University
Washington, DC, December 6, 1999


Thank you, Steve, for inviting me to join you today. You have had a tremendous impact on American foreign policy during your distinguished career, and I am honored to be with you.

I'd like to focus on U.S. policy toward three countries: Iraq, Pakistan and India. That may belie my intention of speaking for just 20 minutes!

While one would be hard pressed to draw parallels among these three countries, I would note one interesting fact. In significant ways, U.S. policy toward each has evolved since the end of the Cold War.

To name the obvious but perhaps forgotten point, the international coalition that forced Saddam's retreat from Kuwait was possible because of the end of the Cold War. We would have faced down Saddam in any case, but international unanimity would have been unlikely prior to 1990.

In South Asia, relations between the United States and India have the potential to deepen now that the end of the Cold War eliminates some of the tensions that once interfered in that set of relations. Problems still exist, but I think it is fair to say that these two great democracies are poised to build a relationship good for both countries and potentially stabilizing for the region.

Relations with Pakistan also have been affected by the end of the Cold War, but in more complex and sometimes contradictory ways. The end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan held out great hope for increased stability in the region - but instead, Afghanistan has dissolved into an intractable civil war, placing obvious pressures on Pakistan.

Meanwhile, one of our newest and greatest issues with Pakistan is that democracy be restored promptly.

Another thread linking these three countries is, unfortunately, their common interest in acquiring nuclear capability.

Turning to Iraq, my concern here is that the modern mind has both a short memory and a short attention span. To wit, some people in the United States and abroad forget what we are trying to do and at times lose their desire to persevere.

One could be cynical and say that economic goals alone motivate those now tired of sanctions, but there are other reasons, too, including an erroneous view that the sanctions, not Saddam, are to blame for the suffering among Iraqis.

Our policy towards Iraq rests on three pillars: containment, humanitarian relief and regime change.

On the first issue, containment, we have been quite successful. Saddam has not been able to threaten his neighbors in a very long time. But he clearly has not buried the sword. Whether one looks at his indiscriminate aggression against his own people, or at the weapons of mass destruction he still has the will to pursue, Saddam has not yet had a change of heart--and will not, barring a transplant.

Desert Storm reversed Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. Containing him now requires a multifaceted strategy.

--First and foremost, sanctions are in place because Saddam has not complied with the UN resolutions--all members of the Security Council agree he has not fulfilled them. He has not disarmed, accounted for prisoners of war, returned stolen Kuwaiti property, or ceased repressing Iraq's people.

His aggressive intentions are clear and the sanctions help to contain the threat he poses, most importantly by denying him control of oil revenues he would otherwise use to re-arm.

--Another containment measure are the coalition patrols of the no-fly zones, which prevent Saddam from using air power to attack his own people in the north and south.

The southern no-fly zone also provides a deterrent against troop movements that would threaten Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. For eight years we peacefully patrolled the zones. However, since last December, Iraq has been firing anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles at coalition aircraft, illuminating them with radar, and violating no-fly zones by sending in fighter jets.

Coalition aircrews are responding to these threats in self-defense. If Iraq's challenges ceased so would our strikes, as we have made clear.

--We also contain Iraq by maintaining a military presence in the region that is ready to act if Iraq once again threatens its neighbors, moves against the Kurds in the north, or rebuilds his weapons of mass destruction or missile delivery systems for them.

--The United States is working intensively with other members of the Security Council to develop an omnibus resolution that would reestablish a disarmament and verification regime in Iraq, as well as offer further humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and address Iraq's other outstanding obligations.

--Despite Saddam's best attempts to foil them, UNSCOM and the IAEA were very effective in unmasking the extent of Saddam's WMD program. They uncovered significant and in come cases massive chemical, biological and nuclear weapons development programs, and disarmed those that they discovered.

--Resuming a disarmament and verification regime is an important element in containing Saddam and diminishing the threat he poses to the region.

Turning now to our desire to provide humanitarian relief, Saddam's actions against his own people--from murder and ethnic cleansing to depriving them of food and medicine--are of deep concern to all of us.

You know the facts: for a considerable amount of time, Saddam did not avail himself of the oil-for-food program. Even now, he does not spend the funds on the goods Iraqis need the most.

The UN continues to urge Iraq to order greater quantities of nutritional supplements for the population's most vulnerable groups. His own minister of health recently turned down an unconditional offer of 3 million Pounds Sterling for food and medicine from NGO founder and Member of the European Parliament, British Baroness Emma Nicholson--telling her in exactly these words: "The Iraqi people have all the food and medicine they need."

Indeed, while we are concerned about how Baghdad would exploit a papal trip to Iraq, the one saving grace would be in the stark contrast between His Holiness and Saddam Hussein, between the righteous and the depraved.

The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote of the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, while classical Islam divides the world into the House of Peace and the House of War.

To name Saddam a child of darkness and war is to call him by his proper title. He is a man who denies food and medicine to Iraq's children and who has gassed his own citizens.

In the last 6 months alone, Iraq sold over $7 billion dollars worth of oil. That figure is a clear counterpoint to those who make the argument that the sanctions are responsible for the humanitarian conditions in Iraq.

It is Saddam who inflicts suffering by using food and medicine as a political tool rather than distributing it to the Iraqi people.

What you may not know is that he has not stopped pumping oil illicitly. In November alone, illegal oil exports through the Persian Gulf averaged about 70,000 barrels per day, earning Baghdad about $21 million. That revenue is used to prop up and pamper regime elements that keep Saddam in power while the rest of Iraq suffers.

To underscore the point, in areas of northern Iraq where the UN directly administers the Oil-for-Food program, child mortality has fallen to levels below those prior to the Gulf War.

In areas where Saddam is in control, child mortality has risen.

As a policy maker, relieving human suffering in Iraq is a great source of motivation as well as frustration. The United States, in partnership with the United Nations, can take steps to help the Iraqis, but we cannot ensure that Saddam will do his part.

Sanctions never prohibited the import of food and medicine. We were an original sponsor of the Oil-for-Food program because despite the lack of prohibitions, Saddam was not providing food and medicine to his people. It is the largest humanitarian aid program the United Nations has ever run.

Finally, I'd like to say a few words about regime change. For the very same reasons we turned back his aggression in Kuwait, are containing him now and seeking to alleviate suffering, we also are supporting Iraqis who want to change their government.

I met with the opposition in New York last month, where we worked with them as they develop a vision for Iraq's future and strengthen their unity--so they can contribute directly to changing the regime and realizing that future all the sooner.

We are providing non-lethal assistance under the Iraq Liberation Act, including training members of the opposition in civil-military relations and providing equipment.

While we do not rule out providing lethal assistance, as allowed in the Iraq Liberation Act, we do not want to put lives at risk needlessly, as would be the case at this early stage of our efforts.

We also have established Radio Free Iraq so that Iraq's isolation is broken, and we are helping to finance NGO's and others who are collecting evidence of Saddam's war crimes.

Ironically, while no one can doubt Saddam's culpability, we have not yet reached consensus on establishing a war crimes tribunal to try him and his henchmen.

The evidence NGO's are compiling will certainly help the cause and may be helpful in still another way. A clear lesson of the last decade is that the truth not only sets people free, it also is the medicine that helps a country heal after years of tumult, torture, and injustice.

When Iraq is free of Saddam, an historically accurate picture of those years will help mend that ancient society, that has known glorious centuries and will again, once Iraq is free of Saddam.

I would like to change focus now and discuss South Asia, in particular India and Pakistan. Long before the Cold War ended, Steve Solarz saw the importance of this region and its potential. He was a major force in ensuring that South Asian issues did not get lost among the pressing issues of its neighbors, particularly in the Middle East and Asia.

Today, we have four broad and interlinked policy interests in the region:

--Regional stability and conflict resolution

--Non-proliferation

--Promoting democracy and human rights

--Promoting economic development in the region and finding opportunities for trade and investment.

Economic interests can be an engine for improvement on the security and political fronts. As even protesters in Seattle recognize, globalization is here to stay--and it is here to stay in large part because it is in every country's economic and human interest.

While there are valid concerns with such problems as child labor and trafficking of women and children in South Asia, the very fact of globalization gives us a better chance of helping to alleviate these problems.

In the information age, there is no place to hide iniquity and in a globalized economy, there is much incentive for making political changes that would have been unlikely in the past.

In India, we remain concerned with child labor in industries ranging from bricks and cigarettes to matches and fireworks, as well as with restrictions on union activity in export processing zones.

India also remains a primary destination for women and children trafficked into the sex trade from Nepal and Bangladesh.

The United States is supporting an NGO in India whose work includes fostering greater police cooperation in detecting trafficked people and enforcing India's own laws, as well as creating a database to track women and children rescued from brothels.

Based on the success of this program, the U.S. will develop relationships with NGO's in other parts of the country.

In Pakistan, the International Labor Organization has spearheaded innovative programs to rehabilitate children in the soccer ball industry, but child labor remains widespread in the production of carpets.

At the top of our agenda is the political crisis that erupted in Pakistan in October. While many Pakistanis favor fundamental change, and the move by the military has substantial public support, they do not appear to want the military to stay in power for a protracted period.

Sadly enough, failures by both the Sharif and Bhutto governments have colored perceptions of what democracy can accomplish in Pakistan.

For our part, we are pressing General Musharraf to make good on his pledge of restoring democracy.

A first step that would help restore confidence is to announce milestones and a clear timetable for a return to constitutional, civilian and democratic governance.

You will remember that an earlier Army Chief, General Zia, anticipated a brief period of military control when he took power and ended up ruling for 11 years.

As a matter of principle--one that we believe applies throughout the world--the remedy for flawed democracy is not a military coup, suspension of a democratically elected legislature, and the detention of the elected government.

Pakistan can and should become a beacon of democracy in the Muslim world. Until we see a restoration of democracy in Pakistan, we have made it clear we would not be in a position to carry on business as usual with Pakistani authorities.

Section 508 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act contains a prohibition against a broad range of assistance for a country whose democratically elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree. We have applied those sanctions with regard to Pakistan.

As a practical matter, most forms of assistance are already prohibited for Pakistan under the Glenn Amendment and other statutory restrictions relating to non-proliferation. Nonetheless, the fact that we took the decision and the fact of having the law on the books, have had an impact.

The challenge for us now lies in matching goals with the means available. The tools we have to persuade Musharraf are either limited or excessively blunt. We see no advantage in taking measures in the international financial institutions that would increase the chances of an economic crisis, and indeed ensure economic collapse.

Nor can we neglect to engage Pakistan on core issues of international concern, such as non-proliferation, terrorism and narcotics.

Anti-narcotics cooperation has been a bright spot on the U.S.-Pakistan bilateral agenda. For the first time Pakistan has extended its drug control laws into the autonomous tribal areas along the Afghan border, signaling an end to their status as sanctuaries for drug traffickers and heroin labs.

Opium poppy cultivation has declined from over 8000 hectares in 1992 to about 1500 hectares in 1999 thanks to high-level political support for aggressive eradication efforts and the success of U.S. alternative crop projects.

Opium production has declined from 175 tons to less than 40 tons in this period, while opium and heroin seizures have increased exponentially. Pakistan's efforts to attack narcotics problems are more constrained by a severe economic crisis than by lack of political will. High-level political support for anti-narcotics is continuing in the new regime.

Turning to security issues, resuming a dialogue with India is crucial to regional stability. General Musharraf has made encouraging statements to this end and ordered a unilateral withdrawal of troops from the international border, although not from the line of control in Kashmir.

We hope to see further confidence building measures and ultimately, a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Kashmir that takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Our agenda with Pakistan is thus both broad and delicate as we seek the restoration of democracy while remaining engaged with a country whose course of action has tremendous effect on the security of the region and with whom we share long ties.

Finally, let's consider India. Throughout the Cold War, relations with India were difficult. Although a democracy, India was very close to the Soviet Union and emerged as a leader of the Non-aligned Movement, viewing international relations through a North-South prism.

Which is to say, it was often at odds with the U.S., despite the great American popular sentiment supportive of independence, democracy, and the alleviation of hunger in India, and fascinated with its culture.

The end of the Cold War presented an opportunity to forge the ties that our common commitment to democracy suggests are possible.

As we gauge what type of partner India might make, it is useful to consider first India's self-image. India sees itself as one of the world's great civilizations, with over 5,000 years of culture. It has just passed the 1 billion mark in population, and its population is projected to be greater than China's by about 2020.

Modern India sees itself as a country with high tech prowess; as the world's most populous democracy; as a state that has moved from starvation and hand-outs to being an exporter of food; as a country that produces more films than Hollywood; as a nation that believes it merits a seat on the UN Security Council and is due more respect and attention than it gets from the international community and the United States.

This helps explain why "getting the bomb" was considered by Indian decision-makers to be a good thing. The bomb, in many Indians' view, says to the world, "Look at us, we are a country to contend with."

In contrast, India's political leaders rarely see their country in terms of Mother Theresa's suffering masses or as a country with one of the largest numbers of HIV infected people in the world, or a country where the bulk of the population remains poor and illiterate. In contrast, U.S. perceptions are too often limited to seeing only the weak sides of Indian society.

The U.S. interest in India spans strategic, economic, political and U.S. domestic arenas.

Strategically, India and Pakistan's nuclear testing is injurious to the United States not because either country poses any immediate and direct threat to the United States but because the tests upend the international non-proliferation regime, and set a terrible example for other countries.

India's and Pakistan's nuclear programs destabilize the region and could trigger an arms race that none can afford, politically, economically or socially.

Finally, the nuclear program raises the chances of a mistake of the use of such weapons--either in conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir or by accident or miscalculation.

U.S. officials have been very frank in explaining to both governments how very important--and incredibly expensive--nuclear safety and surety are.

Strobe Talbott has taken the lead in our dialogue with India on security issues. We have set four non-proliferation benchmarks for putting bilateral relations back on track.

--Signing and ratifying the comprehensive test ban treaty

--Putting in place a moratorium on further production of fissile material, pending conclusion of an international Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty

--Improving export controls on sensitive technologies

--Strategic restraint, that is, reducing the risk that a nuclear capability will lead to a destabilized strategic environment in South Asia.

Now that India's elections have occurred and the BJP-led government has been returned to power, Secretary Talbott was able to resume the strategic dialogue in November.

The elections brought an end to a long hiatus in our forward movement with India, and seemed to have galvanized the Indian government to consider non-proliferation issues in greater earnest.

In a November 29 interview, Indian Foreign Minister Singh effectively launched his campaign to secure a national consensus on signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. A key incentive seems to be the recognition that India's broader economic and international interests can not be advanced until India resolves its differences on these issues with the international community.

Economically, India is becoming important to the United States in a way many do not realize. Indian immigrants, and off-shore on-line operations in India, are increasingly important to the software industry. It is one of the countries whose educated people are helping to fill the gaps in our own workforce.

The population of Indian Americans is growing rapidly, as is their political clout. The Indian caucus on Capitol Hill now has over 100 members, while the Congressional Study Group on Germany has about 70.

India's high tech prowess, steady economic growth, and huge population suggest the potential for a growing trade relationship between us.

In fact, the U.S. is India's top trade and investment partner. Trade between the two grew 127 percent between 1991 and 1998.

That relationship could develop far more, if and when India succeeds in moving further away from a command and control economy, the license raj, and parastatals, and rids itself of the massive red tape that makes it a difficult place in which to do business.

There are some positive signs in this regard, including steps to open up the insurance and telecommunications industries to foreigners.

A comparison may help put the economic potential in perspective. Total U.S. trade with Singapore currently is greater than that with India, even though Singapore has just 3 million people to India's billion.

Clearly, there is tremendous economic potential.

India is responding positively in its increased dialogue with the United States, and we need to take advantage of that not just for traditional security and economic interests, but also to counter the human rights and environmental concerns that matter so justifiably to the American people.

Change in India on these questions could spur change elsewhere in the region. India is the engine that moves South Asia.

Recognizing the potential for closer ties with India, and the increasing importance of India on the world stage in the next century, President Clinton has expressed a desire to travel there in 2000. That would be the first visit of a U.S. president in over 20 years.

Given India's size and power, it is remarkable that we have stayed on separate paths for so long. For both countries, our size and sense of special and unique cultural roles has produced a tendency to appear to be lecturing or hectoring each other.

In our new dialogue with India, we discuss issues cooperatively and try to avoid raising hackles gratuitously as part of the process of building better ties. The end of the Cold War and the natural expansion of mutual interests gives us a new opportunity.

I hope this introduction to U.S. goals in each of these countries is elucidating and that you can now enlighten me.

[end of document]


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