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Rumsfeld urged Clinton to attack Iraq


DONALD Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz wrote to President Bill Clinton in 1998 urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a 'hazard' to 'a significant portion of the world's supply of oil'.

In the letter, Rumsfeld also calls for America to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations and says the US should not be 'crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council'.

Those who signed the letter, dated January 26, 1998, include Bush's current Pentagon adviser, Richard Perle; Richard Armitage, the number two at the State Department; John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, under-secretaries of state; Elliott Abrams, the presidential adviser for the Middle East and a member of the National Security Council; and Peter W Rodman, assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs.

It reads: ' We urge you to seize [the] opportunity and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the US and our friends and allies around the world.

'That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power.'

' We can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf war coalition to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades the UN inspections.

'If Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil, will all be put at hazard.'

Bush's current advisers spell out their solution to the Iraqi problem: 'The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

'We believe the US has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the Security Council.'

The letter -- also signed by Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's special envoy to the Iraqi opposition; ex-director James Woolsey and Robert B Zoelick, the US trade representative -- was written by the signatories on behalf of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a right-wing think-tank, to which they all belong.

Other founding members of PNAC include Dick Cheney, the vice-president.

16 March 2003

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