US Adviser Warns Of Armageddon In Middle East
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US ADVISER WARNS OF ARMAGEDDON
By Julian Borger in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday, August 16, 2002
One of the Republican party's most respected foreign policy gurus yesterday
appealed for President Bush to halt his plans to invade Iraq, warning of "an
Armageddon in the Middle East".
The outspoken remarks from Brent Scowcroft, who advised a string of
Republican presidents, including Mr Bush's father, represented an
embarrassment for the administration on a day it was attempting to rally
British public support for an eventual war.
The US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, yesterday spelled out
what she called the "very powerful moral case" for toppling Saddam Hussein.
"We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing," she told BBC Radio
4's Today programme. She said the Iraqi leader was "an evil man who, left to
his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his
neighbours and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to
deliver them, all of us".
But while Ms Rice was making the case for a pre-emptive strike, the rumble
of anxiety in the US was growing louder. A string of leading Republicans
have expressed unease at the administration's determination to take on
President Saddam, but the most damning critique of Mr Bush's plans to date
came yesterday from Mr Scowcroft.
The retired general, who also advised Presidents Nixon and Ford, predicted
that an attack on Iraq could lead to catastrophe.
"Israel would have to expect to be the first casualty, as in 1991 when
Saddam sought to bring Israel into the Gulf conflict. This time, using
weapons of mass destruction, he might succeed, provoking Israel to respond,
perhaps with nuclear weapons, unleashing an Armageddon in the Middle East,"
Mr Scowcroft wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
The Israeli government has vowed it would not stand by in the face of
attacks as it did in 1991, when Iraqi Scud missiles landed on Israeli
cities. It claims it has Washington's backing for retaliation.
Mr Scowcroft is the elder statesman of the Republican foreign policy
establishment, and his views are widely regarded as reflecting those of the
first President Bush. The fierceness of his attack on current administration
policy illustrates the gulf between the elder Bush and his son, who has
surrounded himself with far more radical ideologues on domestic and foreign
In yesterday's article, Mr Scowcroft argued that by alienating much of the
Arab world, an assault on Baghdad, would halt much of the cooperation
Washington is receiving in its current battle against the al-Qaida
"An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardise, if not destroy,
the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken," Mr Scowcroft
Both the American and British governments are expected to time a public
relations effort to rebuff the critics and build public support in the
immediate run-up to an invasion.
Senior Whitehall figures say that crucial in that effort will be evidence
that President Saddam is building up Iraq's chemical biological warfare
capability and planning to develop nuclear weapons.
The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, confirmed yesterday that the
Pentagon was considering a change in the status of a navy pilot shot down
over Iraq 11 years ago. He is currently classified as "missing in action".
There have been reports that Lieutenant-Commander Michael Speicher was still
being held by Iraq.
If he was reclassified as a prisoner of war, it would represent an
additional source of conflict between Washington and Baghdad.
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