Dan Quayle - 44th Vice President of the United States, 1989 - 1993


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Address to Faculty and Students at Seton Hall University

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The United States opposes Saddam Hussein's bid for regional hegemony for the same reasons that we have opposed other bids. We do not think any government has the right to impose its political will on other countries through subversion or conquest. We do not think Israel's existence, or the, existence of other friendly regional states, should be threatened. And, of course, the prospect of Saddam Hussein strutting across the world stage at the head of a malevolent global power, armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction, and controlling a large portion of the world's energy supplies, is something no sane person would welcome. That is why we are working to contain Saddam Hussein's bid for hegemony today - just as we worked to contain other bids for hegemony yesterday.

Of course, no discussion of America's strategic objectives in the region is complete without mention of oil, so let me turn to that issue now. A key strategic goal of U.S. Middle East policy has been to assure the uninterrupted flow of oil at reasonable prices. This does not mean, as some cynics, have suggested, that we are risking war to prevent the price of oil from going up a few cents a gallon. During the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74, and during the 1979 oil price shock that came in the wake of the Iranian revolution, the price of oil went up much more than that. But we never thought of going to war because the price of oil was too high. We were confident that market forces would eventually bring the price of oil down - and we were right.

We did prepare for all contingencies, however, when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, coupled with instability in Iran, brought Soviet forces within striking distance of the Persian Gulf - hence the Carter Doctrine. For if "any outside force," as the Carter Doctrine put it, could control the ,flow of Persian Gulf oil it would, as President Bush 'said, place our independence and way of life at risk. No nation should be willing to tolerate such a state of affairs, just as no individual should be willing to allow anyone to hold a gun to his or her head.

That is why President Carter was willing to commit the United States to preventing a single power - the Soviet Union - from controlling the Gulf. And that is why President Bush has dispatched American troops to Saudi Arabia to prevent another power - Iraq this time- from doing likewise. Neither President was prepared to jeopardize American security by permitting, in President Bush's words, "a resource so vital to be dominated by one so ruthless" - either Leonid Brezhnev of Moscow, or Saddam Hussein of Baghdad.

So far, I have talked about traditional U.S. strategic objectives in the ' Middle East. But there is another strategic American objective in the cur,rent crisis that. is not traditional-that has only emerged, in fact, as a result of the end of the Cold War.' This objective might be described as strengthening the foundations of world order. Let me explain what I mean.

When the Cold War was still raging, any regional crisis in the Third World contained within it the seeds of a possible Soviet-American confrontation. That is why, in the Middle East and elsewhere, both the United States and the Soviet Union often made significant efforts to restrain the clients from rash behavior. These efforts were part of the unwritten "rules of the game" that prevented Soviet-American competition from getting out of hand during the Cold War.

With the end of the Cold War, the chances of a Soviet-American clash in any Third World conflict, including the Middle East, have greatly diminished. Unfortunately, so have the traditional restraints that the superpowers used to impose on their regional clients. As a result, unless the U.N. Charter's rules about using force are not reaffirmed and defended fairly quickly, we face the dangerous prospect of a new, post Cold War world that is actually more anarchic, and more violence-prone, than the world which preceded it.

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait is the first crisis of the post-Cold War world. One way or another, it is bound to set a precedent - either on behalf of greater world order or on behalf of greater chaos. If Saddam Hussein succeeds in his aggression, it is likely that his success will embolden other dictators to emulate his example. But if he fails - and believe me, he will fail - others will draw the lesson that might does not make right and that aggression will not be allowed to succeed.

This is why President Bush has sought to rally the international community against Iraq's aggression. This is why the U.N. Security Council has passed ten resolutions condemning Iraq, and is considering yet another resolution today. This is why scores of nations have agreed to contribute economically or militarily to the joint effort against Saddam Hussein. And this is why twenty-seven nations have sent troops or military materiel to the Persian Gulf. Everyone recognizes that this is a test case. Everyone can see that, beyond America's traditional objectives in the region, what is at stake is nothing less than the shape of tomorrow.

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