Saddam also has been able to earn money by smuggling oil while the general economy and quality of life in Iraq deteriorates. The United States says he has been robbing his people of food, medical and other aid provided by other countries.
When Powell accepted the nomination as secretary of state, he expressed new confidence in the potential effectiveness of sanctions.
“I think it is possible to re-energize those sanctions, and to continue to contain him, and then confront him should that become necessary again,” he said. “And I will make the case in every opportunity I get that we”re not doing this to hurt the Iraqi people,” he said.
As chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the Gulf War, Powell played a key role in orchestrating the U.S. operations to drive the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait and compel them to surrender.
Bush has said he would not ease sanctions or negotiate, would aid opposition groups, and would support military action to combat a threat of weapons of mass destruction.
Keeping Peace in the Balkans
The Bush administration will likely face the question: At what point should American troops come home from Bosnia and Kosovo?
During the campaign, Bush criticized the Clinton administration’s use of troops for “peacekeeping” and “nation-building” missions and said he favored pulling U.S. troops out of the Balkans.
In his second debate with Vice President Al Gore in October, Bush said he would “very much like to get our troops out” of the Balkans and would work with the European allies “to convince them to put troops on the ground.”
The idea of Americans pulling out of the Balkans has alarmed the European allies who, in fact, shoulder most of the burden in the region and rely on the Americans for symbolic importance, as well as their significant material contribution.
Powell has said he would talk with the allies before any such move was made. “We’re not cutting and running,” he told a reporter. “We’re going to make a careful assessment of it in consultation with our allies, and then make some judgments after that assessment is completed.”
Powell is known as an opponent of the use of American military force, except in limited circumstances. When force is used, Powell, a veteran of the protracted Vietnam conflict, thinks it should be overwhelming and quick.
The Middle East
Will the retired general try to play the strong, often-frustrating peacemaking role between the Israelis and Palestinians attempted by the Clinton administration?
Right after Bush takes office, Israel will be holding special elections. The violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators shows no sign of abating and the man who has been the main negotiator for the United States, Dennis Ross, is leaving.
From the outset, Powell will be in crisis mode on this issue. If the peace talks cannot be revived under Bush, U.S. relations with a number of Arab governments sympathetic to the Palestinians could sour.
The administration may also consider whether to continue to contain Iran or to reach out to it. President Mohammad Khatami appears open to some kind of rapprochement with the United States. But he struggles for power with hard-line Islamists and the government is believed to be developing both weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.
What to Do With China?
Republicans for years have criticized the Clinton administration policy of “engaging” China, arguing too many carrots and not enough sticks were used.