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interesting questions on iraq

  1. Quiz: Answers to the Hawk/Dove Quiz.

    To Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
    From: Jude Wanniski
    Re: Answers to Yesterday’s Quiz

    We posted the quiz yesterday, the day the United Nations weapons inspectors made their first report to the United Nations Security Council on their progress to date. Today we post the correct answers, correct at least according to our best sources and analysis. If you got all the answers correct, you are a certified dove. And vice versa. There is, though, some room for quibbling.

    1. Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. True or False.

    False. The U.S. Armed Forces only consider a nuclear weapon a weapon of mass destruction. Iraq has neither nuclear weapons nor chemical or biological weapons, although it may possess some of the ingredients that would enable it to develop a chemical or biological weapon.

    2. Saddam Hussein has had weapons of mass destruction in the past. True or False.

    False. Iraq had a program to develop a nuclear weapon and acquired a design for one that would use highly-enriched uranium (HEU), but was unable to produce more than a few grams of HEU when it would take several hundred pounds to make one nuke.

    3. White House officials assert that Iraq has been training terrorists. True or False.

    False. Iraq did support a terrorist network prior to 1983, but in that year the U.S. offered to provide support for Baghdad in its war against Iran on condition that it withdraw support from the network. There is no evidence it has resumed.

    4. Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda’s terrorist forces have been operating inside Iraq. True or False.

    True. Al Qaeda is known to have operatives inside Iraq, but in Kurdistan, outside the reach of the Baghdad government.

    5. In March 1988, Saddam Hussein committed genocide, killing several thousand Iraqi Kurds at Halabja with poison gas. True or False.

    False. According to the CIA, “hundreds” of Iraqi Kurds died at Halabja when caught between the Iraqi and Iranian armies, both of whom used gas. The U.S. government in 1990 concluded the Kurds who died were victims of a cyanide-based gas, which the Iranians possessed, but not the Iraqi army, which used mustard gas.

    6. In August 1988, Saddam Hussein committed genocide, killing 100,000 Iraqi Kurds with machine guns, then burying them in mass graves. True or False.

    False. This is an assertion of Human Rights Watch, which originally reported in 1988 that 100,000 Kurds had been killed by poison gas. When U.S. intelligence services uniformly dismissed this as a possibility and that there was no evidence of mass graves in Kurdistan, Human Rights Watch altered its story to say the Kurds were put in trucks, driven south, machine gunned outside of Kurdistan, and buried in mass graves. No such mass graves have been found and the U.S. Army War College says none exist, that the story was a “non-event.”

    7. In June 1990, Saddam Hussein asked permission of the United States to settle his border dispute with Kuwait, with force if diplomacy failed. True or False.

    True. Iraq argued that Kuwait was cheating on its OPEC agreement to produce only a certain amount of oil per day, and was driving down the international price of oil. Saddam said his country would be bankrupt unless Kuwait relented and compensated Iraq from what it had stolen from Iraq, by overproducing and by slant-drilling into the Iraqi oilfields on the other side of the Kuwait border.

    8. In 1990, the United States advised Saddam Hussein that his issues with Kuwait were a local matter, and that the U.S. had no diplomatic obligation to defend Kuwait if attacked by Iraq. True or False.

    True. The U.S. State Department testified before congressional committees to that effect: at the time Saddam Hussein was weighing his options with Kuwait.

    9. Saddam Hussein personally assured the United States Ambassador to Baghdad that he would take no military action against Kuwait if the emir of Kuwait -- in a meeting scheduled to take place in July 1990 -- agreed to end its “economic warfare”” against Iraq. True or False.

    True. The Ambassador, April Glaspie, was assured and left on vacation. The emir of Kuwait decided not to show up at the meeting in Baghdad, with assurances from the Pentagon that it would defend Kuwait without an agreement to do so. Saddam invaded.

    10. After quickly occupying Kuwait, the Iraqi army positioned itself on the border of Saudi Arabia and threatened an invasion. True or False.

    False. The U.S. government advised King Fahd that Iraq was poised to invade Saudi Arabia. King Fahd sent scouts to check and they could find no sign of the Iraqi army. But when the Pentagon showed aerial photographs of the army, King Fahd agreed to join the coalition. Commercial aerial photographs of the region subsequently showed no signs of any Iraqi army movement at the border area. The details are still Pentagon classified.

    11. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in August 1990, Iraq immediately offered to negotiate a withdrawal in response to the UN demand that it do so. True or False.

    True.

    12. Before President Bush gave the go-ahead for Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Saddam Hussein agreed to unconditional surrender, and began moving his troops out of Kuwait. True or False.

    False. There was no “surrender,” but two days before Desert Storm, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev informed President Bush that Saddam had agreed to leave Kuwait without conditions, and in fact Radio Baghdad reported its troops would be returning. As U.S. ground troops moved into Kuwait from Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi Republican Guard was already moving back into Iraq. When Colin Powell said the plan was to encircle the Republican Guard and “kill it,” he did not know the elite troops were already gone.

    13. The reason the United States and its coalition allies only lost 143 troops in the Gulf War is that the Iraqi army was ill-equipped, demoralized, and did not put up a fight. True or False.

    False. The Iraqi army had been ordered to withdraw and it only provided a cover for retreat. Its conscripts suffered heavy casualties as the coalition forces fired upon the retreating army in what became known as “the turkey shoot.”

    14. The Iraqi army committed atrocities during the brief occupation of Kuwait, including the killings of Kuwaiti newborn infants by taking them out of their incubators. True or False.

    False. The Kuwait government hired a NY public relations firm to drum up support for U.S. military action to oust Iraq. The firm came up with the atrocity story, which was subsequently exposed when it was revealed the source was the daughter of the Kuwait information minister, who claimed to be in the hospital.

    15. When the Gulf War ended in 1991, the United Nations resolved that the economic embargo on Iraq would be lifted if Iraq destroyed its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs within six months. Iraq refused to do so. True or False.

    False. Iraq did not refuse to do so, but spent the next six months destroying all the nuclear, chemical and biological programs that it had been working on in the 1980's. When the UN inspectors arrived, they complained that Iraq should not have destroyed the weapons, but should have waited for the inspectors to verify their existence and supervise their destruction. Several of the “gaps” in the inspection process that UNMOVIC says are still open involve this early snafu.

    16. White House officials now insist U.S. policy toward Iraq changed from disarmament to “regime change” in the Clinton administration. True or False.

    False. “Regime change” was the policy of the first Bush administration, which never intended to lift the sanctions on Iraq until Saddam Hussein had been deposed. It was, though, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who was the first official to say publicly in 1997 that the U.S. would oppose the lifting of sanctions as long as Saddam was in power, no matter what the inspectors found. But President Bush had said as much in 1991. Former President Nixon also urged his followers to oppose lifting of the sanctions as long as Saddam remained in power.

    17. In early 1993, Saddam Hussein ordered the assassination of former President Bush while he was visiting Kuwait City, the assassin confessing he had been given a bomb by the Iraqi secret service. True or False.

    False. At the time, the CIA reported the Iraqi secret service must have been involved, as the bomb found by the Kuwaiti police had the wiring “signature” of the Iraqis. In his December 5, 1993 investigative report in The New Yorker, “A Case Not Closed,” Seymour Hersh found the wiring was of the most common sort. It was more likely Kuwait was alarmed at the statements of the new President, Bill Clinton, who said he was open to negotiations with Baghdad and the lifting of the sanctions. The “assassination” report ended all possibility Clinton could do so, and left him with the “regime change” policy.

    18. The “No-Flight” zones in Northern and Southern Iraq that have been since 1992 by the U.S. and British air forces were authorized by the United Nations to protect the Iraqi Kurds in the north and the Iraqi Shi’ites in the South. True or False.

    False. There has been no UN authorization for “No-Flight” zones, which are the creations of the U.S. government on the rationale that they are needed to protect the Kurds and the southern Shi’ites. The policy was created when the U.S. encouraged the Kurds and Shi’ites to revolt against Baghdad after the Gulf War.

    19. Saddam Hussein drove all the Jews out of Iraq after the 1967 Israeli war against Egypt. True or False.

    False. It was the previous government of Abdul Karim Kassim that encouraged the some 200,000 Jews of Iraq to leave, given the hostile reaction to the ‘67 war among Iraqi Muslims. The Ba’ath Party government that followed did hang some Jews as Israeli spies, but there never has been persecution of Iraqi Jews by the Ba’ath government and there are still two functioning synagogues in Iraq. Seven percent of the population is Catholic.

    20. In 1998, Saddam Hussein refused to permit the UN inspectors to come onto presidential palace sites and when they insisted, he kicked them out of Iraq. True or False.

    False. The original 1991 UN resolutions the created the first inspection regime allowed Iraq to keep the palace grounds off limits. In 1998, though, faced with threats of bombing by the Clinton administration, Iraq opened all “sensitive sites” including the palaces to UNSCOM inspectors as long as certain modalities were followed. It was when the inspectors asked to inspect the Ba’ath Party headquarters in Baghdad for evidence of WMD without regard to the agreed-upon modalities that Iraq refused entry. This led the U.S. State Department to instruct the inspectors to leave Iraq as the incident was deemed sufficient for the U.S. to bomb Iraq. The fallout from the incident led the United Nations to dissolve UNSCOM and create UNMOVIC, which takes the inspectors out of control of the U.S. or any other government.

    21. Even if Iraq now has no nuclear weapons program, it could start one up as soon as the UN inspectors leave and have a nuclear weapon within six months or a year. True or False.

    False. Iraq had a clandestine nuclear program in the 1980s in violation of its agreement not seek nuclear weapons under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It could do so because it could import the materials needed to build a nuke and assemble them in places unknown to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA in 1998 closed this loophole, which means that all materials that could conceivably be used to build a nuke or make fissile material have to be cleared through a Nuclear Suppliers Group. And even after the IAEA inspection team completes its work under UNSC 1441, it will retain the right to repeat inspections of Iraq under new protocols developed by the agency to make the process airtight.

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