Reported by Mary-Lea Cox

At a Director's Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center on September 29, Senator Bob Kerrey said that, while he understood very well the grounds for pessimism regarding the American situation with Iraq, he himself feels optimistic that Iraq will soon be liberated from Saddam Hussein's leadership, and he expects the U.S. to be the driving force in achieving this outcome.

Kerrey commended President Clinton for his courage in signing the Iraqi Liberation Act (ILA). But, while the ILA has "brought together a previously disunited opposition," the U.S. needs to go further and "do whatever it takes to get the job done," Kerrey said. Containment of Saddam must give way to a "replacement strategy."

To justify his viewpoint, Kerrey pointed to moral grounds -- the fact that many Iraqis are suffering without food and medicine -- but also to the sheer expense of containing Saddam. The U.S. is now spending approximately two billion dollars per year to enforce containment, Kerrey explained. This is in addition to the risk to American lives such a policy entails.

Kerrey said that he favors a multilateral offensive against Iraq, as occurred in 1991. When questioned as to whether any of America's allies support renewed military action to overthrow Saddam, Kerrey said he felt hopeful that if the U.S. were to come up with a "definitive plan" to defeat Saddam, its allies would at least consider it. He also felt that the American people would support the offensive if American policy makers were to stress this country's history of liberating oppressed peoples, the current level of American financial and military commitment to the Iraqi crisis, and the moral imperative to help the people being brutalized by Saddam's policies. We "would have to go back to Stalinist Russia to find a government so completely based on terror," Kerrey said.