Experts try to justify threats to bomb Iraq
March 1998

On February 23 it was reported that the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, had been successful in brokering a deal with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein regarding weapons inspections. Under the agreement Iraq will give UN inspectors unrestricted and unconditional access to all suspected weapons sites including Saddam's palaces, which were at the core of the dispute. The terms of the agreement are almost identical to the compromise presented by the Arab League in collaboration with France and Russia in early February. At that time, Washington rejected it out of hand, and blocked moves in the Security Council to allow Annan to travel to Baghdad to negotiate. The agreement specifically mentions the lifting of sanctions as being "of paramount importance" and binds Annan to "bring this matter to the full attention of the members of the Security Council." France and Russia in particular support an early lifting of the sanctions so they can begin oil and reconstruction projects and so that Baghdad can repay huge sums owed from before the 1991 Gulf War. The deal has also eased fears among the normally pro-US regimes of the Middle East--Jordan, Egypt, Saudia Arabia and the Gulf Sheikdoms--who frantically warned Washington that they might not be able to contain their people's anger if the US went ahead with a unilateral assault. France, Russia, and China, permanent members of the Security Council, all continue to refuse endorsing any US military action.

So why does Washington appear to be continuing its preparations for a massive air strike? Thirty thousand US troops and 400 warplanes remain in the region. President Bill Clinton and senior US officials have made it plain that a unilateral attack will be launched at the slightest excuse.

Let's look at some mainstream media coverage that has come out since the agreement was brokered. Perhaps by using my trusty double speak dictionary I can decipher what our government is up to. I'll be placing special emphasis on an Associated Press article entitled "Lawmakers: Hussein Removal Key to Iraq Peace" which appeared in the March 2 Alligator.

"Members of congress from both parties agreed Sunday the UN-brokered agreement on weapons inspections is unlikely to work" (AP 3/2). Throughout the article we hear from the usual parade of experts: "Washington," "lawmakers," "members of congress," "both parties" and "critics" arguing that "Saddam will never live up to his word." What this article fails to report is why these groups believe what they do. What are they basing their prognosis for failure on? Hussein's inherent character flaws? Am I to believe that in the entire United States nobody disagrees with this assessment? How do other countries view the agreement? The hope is that we'll blindly accept the opinions of the cited experts "because it's patently obvious to all observers" that "inspection regimes are unlikely to work as long as Saddam is in power."

"...The Iraqi president should be tried as an international war criminal to show the US is right to bring about his downfall." (AP 3/2)

I support trying Hussein as an international war criminal. But why stop with Hussein? Let's put on trial all the US corporations which sold Hussein's regime the so called "dual-use" technology during the 80's which, with the assistance of US technicians, was used to build weapons of mass destruction. These companies were Hewlett Packard, Honeywell, Tech-Tronic, and Rockwell. Let's put on trial the entire Reagan and Bush administrations for allowing this material to be bought from US companies and for making available to Saddam's government low interest and no-interest loans to the tune of 1.5 billion dollars with which to pay for it. Let's especially put on trial George Bush, who acted as a personal conduit for strategic military advice to Saddam.

"Sandy Berger, President Clinton's National security advisor, agreed Sunday in a Washington Post opinion piece that the United States should support Iraqi opposition groups (AP 3/2). Is Sandy suggesting that we should work with democratic opposition groups? I don't think so. To understand what Sandy Berger means it's important to understand the impact of the economic sanctions on the Iraqi people and a little history about the nature of US support to Kurdish dissidents. As a direct result of the sanctions 1.5 million people have died, more than 500,000 of them children. In May 1996 Madeline Albright was asked by Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes if the price was worth it. Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but yes the price--we think the price is worth it."

The US fervor for the sanctions continues.

In a Pacifica News Network interview Xani Klam, a Kurdish dissident, stated: "Our relation...with the US is not a very good one....In 1975, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger left us to the tender mercies of Saddam Hussein, and thousands of Kurds died, perished, and the whole Kurdish revolution collapsed. In 1991, the Voice of America editorials urged the Kurds to rise up against Saddam, and again the Kurds did rise up, but again they were left alone. Saddam was allowed to fly his helicopters, the only means with which he could subdue the rebellion. Today there is talk again of using the Kurds, or supporting the Kurds, to oust Saddam. They seem to believe that if Saddam goes, everything will be nice. It won't be nice. There have to be institutions that support democracy, institutions that accept the rule of law, institutions that give the middle class a voice in the government...If the Kurds' democratic aspirations had been supported in 1975, in 1991 Saddam could have been kept in check. What he does today would not have happened."

With this information the true intent of US policy becomes clear. Keep the Iraqi people weak through sanctions, thereby minimizing the likelihood of a geniune popular insurgency. In the meantime, continue the search for a military/ruling class faction that will act as a loyal puppet to be propped up in the wake of a devastating US military assault.

"US insists it retains right to punish Iraq." (NYT Headline 3/4)

"We've got to change the objective in Iraq and say we're going to try to replace this dictatorship with a democracy." (Bob Kerrey, D Neb.)

"...the CIA is continuing to draw up a blueprint for covert action, including a major program of sabotage and subversion against Saddam." (NYT 3/2)

Clinton has said the US reserves "the unilateral right to respond" if Baghdad "does not keep its word this time." US secretary of state Madeline Albright has said the US "will act firmly and forcefully, without delay" if the agreement is breached. Sometimes I wonder if anyone in the US government, if asked, could explain the meaning of such basic democratic concepts as Self Determination and National Sovereignty. Because we have the military prowess to overthrow governments we no longer approve of, does that mean it is right for us to do so? Who granted the US the right to decide what constitutes the Democratic Alternative in another country? Recent US and British moves to have the UN pass a resolution endorsing "the most severe consequences" against Iraq are being blocked by France, Russia and China. On whose authority, then, will the US unilaterally act?

Finally, the whole CIA covert action talk is unbelievable to me. The CIA's track record consists of "overthrowing" democratically elected governments in Latin America (Chile and Guatemala) and playing crucial roles in supporting and maintaining dictatorships in Central America (El Salvador and Nicaragua) despite the will of the vast majority of the people. CIA covert action is synonymous with illegal military aggression.

"There is nothing inherently wrong with being an arrogant superpower. That is after all the usual definition of a hegemony." (NYT 3/1)

The US cannot allow a democratic United Nations because its foreign policy is one of imperialism, which tramples on the rights of people everywhere it goes and has historically backed the most atrocious dictators on the planet, for the sole purpose of protecting its corporate interests. UN voting records show that the US virtually always stands alone on how to resolve international crises. The US is the nation that most often uses its Security Council veto, and the nation that most often resorts to illegal aggression.

What is the justification? The US is Number One! Superpowers don't play by the rules, they merely make them and insist that others comply with them. The correct US/UN relation is: applaud the UN when it suits our needs, "go it alone" when it does not. The US must demonstrate to the world that it reserves the right, at all times, to act unilaterally. The ongoing Gulf crisis has nothing to do with the question of replacing a dictatorship with a democracy in order to protect the rights of Iraqis and ensure the safety of the world from a madman. The ongoing Gulf crisis is pure power politics. The nation which controls Gulf oil controls the world. And that is why the US will continue in its attempts to discredit the UN deal while putting forth the military solution as the only one.

Parting Thought
The US has a whole new line of smart bombs out. It should come as no surprise that they are anxious to try out their new toys and impress upon other nations the need to own their own smart bombs, for "national security purposes" of course. A Gulf War 2 may serve as a sort of free commercial for US weapons manufacturers. Never underestimate an "arrogant superpower" whose economy is dependent on continued weapons proliferation. We must remain active in speaking out against our government's policy towards Iraq. War threats must be met with demonstrations in the streets. But we can not stop there. Five percent of the Iraqi population has died as a direct result of the sanctions. US policy on Iraq is a policy of genocide. We must demand an immediate end to the sanctions. Join a local political organization such as the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice or Veterans For Peace, and lend your voice to the growing opposition to continued US aggression against Iraq.

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