IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE
Bush Persistently Hawkish as Republicans,
U.S. Allies Criticize Plans for Iraqi Invasion
by Greta Knutzen, FTW Staff Writer
[Copyright 2002, From The
Wilderness Publications, www.copvcia.com. All Rights Reserved.
May be copied, distributed, or posted on the Internet for
non-profit purposes only.]
Aug. 27, 2002, 12:00 PDT (FTW) -- The Bush Administration's
unilateral, illegal commitment to an Iraqi invasion has
little to do with the prosecution of the "War on Terror,"
critics say, and everything to do with politics and a looming
global oil shortage.
"[Bush's insistence on the ouster of Saddam]
is not about the security of the United States…This
is about domestic American politics," former UNSCOM
weapons inspector Scott Ritter was quoted as saying in a
July 24 report from Truthout.com. "The national security
of the United States of America has been hijacked by a handful
of neo-conservatives who are using their position of authority
to pursue their own ideologically-driven political ambitions.
The day we go to war for that reason is the day we have
failed collectively as a nation…It is a war that's
going to destroy the credibility of the United States of
Despite significant domestic and immense international opposition
to an U.S. invastion of Iraq, the Bush camp has not altered
its course or tempered its rhetoric toward war. Instead,
the U.S. has committed massive resources and deployed more
than 100,000 troops to the Middle East theatre.
"The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in California is
preparing to have 20,000 Marines deployed in the [Iraq]
region for ground combat operations by mid-October,"
Ritter told William Pitt Rivers of Truthout.com."…When
you deploy that much military power forward -- disrupting
their training cycles, disrupting their operational cycles,
disrupting everything, spending a lot of money -- it is
very difficult to pull them back without using them. You
got 20,000 Marines forward deployed in October, you better
expect war in October."
The August newsletter from the Association of Former Intelligence
Officers, as well as FTW's research [see story this
issue], reiterates Ritter's position: "The U.S.
al-Udeid airbase in Qatar is one of a handful of bases in
the Persian Gulf region where extensive work is being done
in advance of military operations against Iraq… [T]he
intelligence and clandestine operations war against Iraq
is already ongoing. Information war is part of that package.
Statements about U.S. war plans, attack schedules, or methods
must be seen in the context of the necessary propaganda,
cover, and deception operations. Barring an act of God,
the war's result -- the overthrow of Saddam, at the
very minimum -- are foregone conclusions."
The Bush Administration represents a small, but powerful
Republican clique populated by military hawks and oilmen.
Their commitment to overthrowing the Iraqi regime has little
to do with terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. Rather,
the current Iraqi government is an obstacle to the imposition
of American interests in the world's main oil-producing
region. The only outstanding issue on the agenda is how
best to justify such a patently illegal invasion.
This is evidenced by the administration's unwillingness
or incapability to answer sensible and reasonable questions
on the subject, much to the consternation and frustration
of potential international allies. In recent months, the
Bush Administration has employed many strategies in an effort
to drum up support for a war in Iraq. But none have achieved
the magic formula of generating support for the administration's
war, agitating many potential allies.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld argued America cannot afford to wait for proof
that Saddam Hussein is building weapons of mass destruction,
comparing this present prelude to war to the "prelude
to World War II," when the Allies appeased Hitler
instead of standing up to him.
"The people who argue [against invading Iraq] have
to ask themselves how they're going to feel at that point
where another event occurs and it's not a conventional event,
but it's an unconventional event," said Rumsfeld.
"And ask themselves the question, was it right to
have wanted additional evidence or additional time, or another
U.N. resolution? I mean, these things are hard to judge.
And I'm not the one to answer them. They're to be answered
by society. They're to be answered by time and history.
They're to be answered by presidents. I can only help elevate
the discussion so it's looked at in a rational way."
But as Saddam appeared willing to renegotiate for the return
of weapons inspectors, the administration upped the ante
and demanded a regime change on moral grounds. This approach
made the search for allies quite difficult. It negated the
option of arriving at a peaceful solution through diplomacy
and ruled out the prospect of reinstating weapons inspectors
-- the favored strategy of most potential allies. Increasingly,
the consensus among critics of the pending invasion is that
Saddam is only a threat if the U.S. attacks him.
So far, Israel is the only nation that has come out in support
of a war in Iraq. Traditionally steadfast U.S. allies such
as Britain have registered strong opposition. Britain's
Prime Minister Tony Blair has faced immense opposition from
within his government and from the population to the idea
of Britain's involvement in an invasion. Recent efforts
to drum up support from allies reveal the extent of the
ignorance and arrogance of present U.S. foreign policy.
U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was recently
despatched to Britain to present the "powerful moral
case" for deposing Saddam Hussein. Echoing Rumsfeld,
Rice's brief was to draw an analogy between Saddam
and Hitler. "History is littered with cases of inaction
that led to very grave consequences for the world,"
Rice informed listeners on BBC radio. "We just have
to look back and ask how many dictators who end up being
a tremendous global threat and killing thousands, and indeed
millions of people, should we have stopped in their tracks?
We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing."
Rice's statements did not go over well and met with
near unanimous objections from the British listening audience.
The Times of India reported the British response. Tony Lloyd,
Blair's former junior foreign office minister, condemned
Rice's comments as "very much like the kind
of rhetoric we sometimes do hear from fairly tin pot regimes
around the world where the agenda isn't to convince
the outside world but to make sure the public at home believes
Gerald Kaufman, another former minister and senior member
of Blair's governing Labor Party, warned of "substantial
resistance" in England's parliament if Blair
follows into war "the most intellectually backward
American president of my lifetime."
In the U.S. in recent weeks, Republican heavyweights have
entered the debate urging restraint. Henry Kissinger, Lawrence
Eagleburger, Brent Scowcroft and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf
have come out against the present administration's
approach, and for good reason. They seem to recognize that
an invasion will characterize the U.S. as an imperialist
occupying force, thus alienating and isolating the U.S.
within the international community.
Eagleburger, secretary of state under President Bush's
father, told ABC News on Aug. 15 that action against Iraq
would not be "legitimate policy at this stage, unless
the president demonstrates to all of us that Saddam has
his finger on a nuclear, biological and chemical trigger,
and he's about to use it."
Schwarzkopf warned that the U.S. should not "go it
alone" and said the success of Operation Desert Storm
was based almost entirely on the existence of a broad international
On Aug. 15 Brent Scowcroft, who has advised many Republican
presidents including the current president's father,
appealed to President Bush to halt his plans to invade Iraq
and warned of the consequences of an attack on Iraq in the
Wall Street Journal. He wrote, "Israel would have
to expect to be the first casualty, as in 1991 when Saddam
sought to bring Israel into the Gulf conflict. This time,
using weapons of mass destruction, he might succeed, provoking
Israel to respond, perhaps with nuclear weapons, unleashing
Armageddon in the Middle East."
Scowcroft also argued an attack on Baghdad would alienate
the Arab world and would end much of the cooperation Washington
has received in its current battle against Al Qaeda. "An
attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize,
if not destroy, the global terrorist campaign we have undertaken,"
Henry Kissinger waded into the debate, urging caution and
reminding the administration that there is no legal precedent
for its war. "America's special responsibility,
as the most powerful nation in the world, is to work toward
an international system that rests on more than military
power -- indeed, that strives to translate power into cooperation,"
Kissinger wrote in the Washington Post. Any other attitude
will gradually isolate and exhaust America."
This isn't to say that we can trust Kissinger's
comments. After all, this is a man who has had his fingers
in every stinky pie created in recent history. Indeed, judging
from a statement he made at a 1991 Bilderberger conference
in Evians, France, an isolated and exhausted America might
be precisely what Kissinger desires.
"Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered
Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful,"
Kissinger told the Bilderbergers, an international group
made up of political and financial elites. "This is
especially true if they were told that there were an outside
threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened
our very existence…The one thing every man fears is
the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual
rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee
of their well-being granted to them by the World government."
In many ways Bush has achieved a fait accompli, as he is
in a position to start this war before anyone can remove
him from office. If he plays his hand, the world will have
little choice but to follow his lead off the cliff.