Politics & Policy

Outside Criminals

Facing consequences.

As the inevitable process of Iraqi liberation unfolds, we are slowing beginning to open up and examine Saddam’s arsenals, military factories, storage sites, and WMD assets. In some of these we will find equipment and technology, and collateral evidence that will show how outside countries helped Saddam. It is very important that the United States go after the “outside criminals” responsible for supplying Saddam, just as we will go after the henchmen of Saddam’s regime — the “inside criminals.”

After the Gulf War, the U.N. buried the evidence of foreign companies and foreign governments providing WMD help to the Iraqi regime. As a result, the companies involved in these transactions were, for the most part, not prosecuted. For example, hundreds of German companies got away with major crimes and were able to continue their unblemished record of supplying WMD technology and WMD delivery systems to foreign customers. Starting in the 1960s, when the Germans supplied Libya with WMD technology, through the ’70s and ’80s — when they gave Pakistan the technology for nuclear weapons, as well as Iraq and North Korea — and into the present, Germany has made an industrial enterprise of creating misery for the world. In fact, the Germans have been so successful that Russia, China, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslavia rushed into the same business, with considerable success, even helping the Taliban in Afghanistan.

When we dig through Saddam’s records and interrogate factory managers and former government officials, the full extent of the cooperation of outside criminals will become clear.

Whatever we find, one fact is plain: The United States cannot, and should not, walk away from the evidence and the consequences.

Supplying Saddam was a big business, and none of the conventional techniques of stopping illegal transactions to Iraq appears to have worked. Indeed, it is already clear that vast quantities of military weapons and ammunition poured into Iraq after the end of the first Gulf War. The former Yugoslavia alone sold nearly $2 billion worth of arms. Can it be that no one noticed? Arab trading companies, raking in huge profits, were happy to deliver the goods to Iraq. There are thousands of people in Europe, Russia, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East who became rich on arms and WMD-linked technology transactions.

We can’t consider the war finished until we roll up the suppliers. To do this, we need to demand that supplier countries act vigorously to close up these networks and prosecute the outside criminals. Instead of high-level meetings with Russia’s political leadership to “smooth things over,” we should deliver an uncompromising message to them: Arrest the outside criminals and clean out those inside your own governments who facilitated this illegal trade.

America has skirted very close to disaster because of the global spread of WMD and the success of the outside criminals. We won’t always be so lucky.

— Stephen Bryen served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the Reagan administration and as a staff director of Near East Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is currently a managing director at Aurora Defense.


The Latest