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Iraq - from The Independent
Source Greg Dropkin
Date 99/05/01/22:36

/* Written 9:03 AM Dec 18, 1998 by jdoug@ix.netcom.com in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "Iraq - from The Independent" ---------- */
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 14:23:42 GMT
From: gregd@gn.apc.org (Greg Dropkin)

from The Independent (18 Dec)

Robert Fisk - Deadly cost of a degrading act

WE ARE now in the endgame, the final
bankruptcy of Western policy towards Iraq, the
very last throw of the dice. We fire 200 cruise
missiles into Iraq and what do we expect? Is a
chastened Saddam Hussein going to emerge from
his bunker to explain to us how sorry he is? Will
he tell us how much he wants those nice UN
inspectors to return to Baghdad to find his
"weapons of mass destruction"? Is that what we
think? Is that what the Anglo-American
bombardment is all about? And if so, what
happens afterwards? What happens when the
missile attacks end - just before the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan, because, of course, we really
are very sensitive about Iraqi religious feelings -
and Saddam Hussein tells us that the UN
inspectors will never be allowed to return?

As the cruise missiles were launched, President
Clinton announced that Saddam had "disarmed
the [UN] inspectors", and Tony Blair - agonising
about the lives of the "British forces" involved (all
14 pilots) - told us that "we act because we
must". In so infantile a manner did we go to war
on Wednesday night. No policies. No
perspective. Not the slightest hint as to what
happens after the bombardment ends. With no
UN inspectors back in Iraq, what are we going to
do? Declare eternal war against Iraq?

We are "punishing" Saddam - or so Mr Blair
would have us believe. And all the old cliches are
being trundled out. In 1985, just before he
bombed them, Ronald Reagan told the Libyans
that the United States had "no quarrel with the
Libyan people". In 1991, just before he bombed
them, George Bush told the Iraqis that he had "no
quarrel with the Iraqi people". And now we have
Tony Blair - as he bombs them - telling Iraqis
that, yes, he has "no quarrel with the Iraqi
people".

Is there a computer that churns out this stuff? Is
there a cliche department at Downing Street
which also provides Robin Cook with the tired
phrase of the American Secretary of State,
Madeleine Albright, about how Saddam used gas
"against his own people"?

For little did we care when he did use that gas
against the Kurds of Halabja - because, at the
time, those Kurds were allied to Iran and we, the
West, were supporting Saddam's invasion of Iran.

The lack of any sane long-term policy towards
Iraq is the giveaway. Our patience - according to
Clinton and Blair - is exhausted. Saddam cannot
be trusted to keep his word (they've just
realised). And so Saddam's ability to "threaten his
neighbours" - neighbours who don't in fact want
us to bomb Iraq - has to be "degraded". That
word "degraded" is a military term, first used by
General Schwarzkopf and his boys in the 1991
Gulf war, and it is now part of the vocabulary of
the weak. Saddam's weapons of mass destruction
have to be "degraded". Our own dear Mr Cook
was at it again yesterday, informing us of the need
to "degrade" Saddam's military capability.

How? The UN weapons inspectors - led for most
of the time by Scott Ritter (the man who has
admitted he kept flying to Israel to liaise with
Israeli military intelligence), could not find out
where Saddam's nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons were hidden. They had been harassed
by Iraq's intelligence thugs, and prevented from
doing their work. Now we are bombing the
weapons facilities which the inspectors could not
find. Or are we? For there is a very serious
question that is not being asked: if the inspectors
couldn't find the weapons, how come we know
where to fire the cruise missiles?

And all the while, we continue to impose
genocidal sanctions on Iraq, sanctions that are
killing innocent Iraqis and - by the admission of
Mr Cook and Mrs Albright - not harming
Saddam at all. Mrs Albright rages at Saddam's
ability to go on building palaces, and Mr Cook is
obsessed with a report of the regime's purchase
of liposuction equipment which, if true, merely
proves that sanctions are a total failure.

Mr Cook prattles on about how Iraq can sell
more than $10bn (6bn) of oil a year to pay for
food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. But
since more than 30 per cent of these oil revenues
are diverted to the UN compensation fund and
UN expenses in Iraq, his statement is totally
untrue.

Dennis Halliday, the man who ran the UN
oil-for-food programme in Baghdad, until he
realised that thousands of Iraqi children were
dying every month because of sanctions, resigned
his post with the declaration that "we are in the
process of destroying an entire society. it is illegal
and immoral." So either Mr Halliday is a
pathological liar - which I do not believe - or Mr
Cook has a serious problem with the truth -
which I do believe.

Now we are bombing the people who are
suffering under our sanctions. Not to mention the
small matter of the explosion of child cancer in
southern Iraq, most probably as a result of the
Allied use of depleted uranium shells during the
1991 war. Gulf war veterans may be afflicted
with the same sickness, although the British
Government refuses to contemplate the
possibility. And what, in this latest strike, are
some of our warheads made of? Depleted
uranium, of course.

Maybe there really is a plan afoot for a coup
d'etat, though hopefully more ambitious than our
call to the Iraqi people to rise up against their
dictator in 1991, when they were abandoned by
the Allies they thought would speed to their
rescue. Mr Clinton says he wants a democracy in
Iraq - as fanciful a suggestion as any made
recently. He is demanding an Iraqi government
that "represents its people" and "respects" its
citizens. Not a single Arab regime - especially not
Washington's friends in Saudi Arabia - offers such
luxuries to its people. We are supposed to
believe, it seems, that Washington and London
are terribly keen to favour the Iraqi people with a
fully fledged democracy. In reality, what we want
in Iraq is another bullying dictator - but one who
will do as he is told, invade the countries we wish
to see invaded (Iran), and respect the integrity of
those countries we do not wish to see invaded
(Kuwait).

Yet no questions are being asked, no lies
uncovered. Ritter, the Marine Corps inspector
who worked with Israeli intelligence, claimed that
Richard Butler - the man whose report triggered
this week's new war - was aware of his visits to
Israel. Is that true? Has anyone asked Mr Butler?
He may well have avoided such contacts - but it
would be nice to have an answer.

So what to do with Saddam? Well, first, we
could abandon the wicked sanctions regime
against Iraq. We have taken enough innocent
lives. We have killed enough children. Then we
could back the real supporters of democracy in
Iraq - not the ghouls and spooks who make up
the so-called Iraqi National Congress, but the
genuine dissidents who gathered in Beirut in 1991
to demand freedom for their country, but were
swiftly ignored by the Americans once it became
clear that they didn't want a pro-Western
strongman to lead them.

And we could stop believing in Washington.
Vice-President Al Gore told Americans yesterday
that it was a time for "national resolve and unity".
You might have thought that the Japanese had just
bombed Pearl Harbor, or that General
MacArthur had just abandoned Bataan. When
President Clinton faced the worst of the Monica
Lewinsky scandal, he bombed Afghanistan and
Sudan. Faced with impeachment, he now bombs
Iraq. How far can a coincidence go?

This week, two Christian armies - America's and
Britain's - went to war with a Muslim nation, Iraq.
With no goals, but with an army of platitudes,
they have abandoned the UN's weapons control
system, closed the door on arms inspections, and
opened the door to an unlimited military offensive
against Iraq. And nobody has asked the obvious
question: what happens next?

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