BUSH GANG SEEKS PRETEXT FOR WAR
By Brian Becker
posted September 14, 2002
The Bush administration is confronted with a problem as it prepares to attack Iraq. At the moment, the U.S. government appears to the world in a distinctly "American" image from a scene repeated in countless stereotypical Hollywood movies: the frightful rampage of drunken gunslingers who shoot up the town in a Saturday night frenzy--just because they can.
That their sneering, swaggering and threatening foreign policy actually mirrors the physical pose struck by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld when they appear on television or in front of crowds only reinforces the conclusion of the rest of the world-that this is indeed a dangerous regime. A rogue state, if you will.
Now, as they make the case that a U.S. war against Iraq is only a "pre-emptive defense" rather than an unprovoked and thus lawless aggression, no one around the world believes them.
With a straight face they tell the world that Iraq is the major threat to world peace and that its government must be destroyed by military action. Because the administration lacks even the slimmest credible pretext for attacking Iraq, it has launched a media hype about Saddam Hussein's supposed stepped-up efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
The rulers of the largest nuclear power in the world, along with their pliant sidekick from Britain, appear every day now before the world media to howl about Iraq's nuclear threat. It is all lies--incredible lies. The truth is a casualty in the publicity war that precedes the actual war.
On Sept. 6 and 7, the major U.S. dailies put "new evidence of Iraq's nuclear threat" on their front pages. It started with a prominent New York Times story reporting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had released satellite photos showing new, significant activity at "nuclear sites" in Iraq. "UN Spy Photos Show New Building at Iraqi Nuclear Sites," said the headline.
Pundits on CNN and the Fox network then talked for the next 48 hours about this new, "clear proof" that the Bush team had been right about Iraq's nuclear intentions. "We can't wait for the 'smoking gun' to be a mushroom cloud," stated Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security advisor, in a dramatic interview on CNN on Sept. 8. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld spoke virtually the same words in this calibrated media offensive. "Waiting [to attack Iraq] is not an option," Cheney somberly concluded, and called on listeners to imagine that "they" had used nuclear weapons on Sept. 11: "It wouldn't be 3,000 dead but tens of thousands dead."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair used the report to justify his pro-Bush position before a dubious public. He told the British press on Sept. 7, "We need only look at the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency this morning, showing what has been going on at a former nuclear site," to justify British support for Bush's war. "A policy of inaction is not something we can responsibly subscribe to," he warned.
IAEA SAYS 'THERE WAS NO REPORT'
But the whole story-like most others of its kind--was false. It provided three consecutive days of propaganda against Iraq to prepare the population for war, but it was based on hype.
The IAEA stated on Sept. 8 that the satellite imagery did not prove anything. There was no report and "no new information about Iraqi nuclear activity," according to Mark Gwozdecky, a spokesperson for the agency. Gwozdecky told the Washington Post that the "confusion" was caused by a quote from a single nuclear inspector, which had been used as the basis for the New York Times story two days earlier.
While Iraq has never possessed nuclear weapons, the Pentagon currently has about 6,000 nuclear warheads. It has spent more than $6 trillion on nuclear weapons since 1942 and is the only country to have used atomic bombs, which it did against the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945.
While Japan's other cities had been massively bombed with conventional weapons before those dates, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been spared by the U.S. Air Force so that the later impact of nuclear weapons could be cleanly evaluated. More than 200,000 civilians were incinerated or died from radiation poisoning.
While ranting against an Iraqi "nuclear threat," Bush and company would actually like to overcome what they consider an ill-advised taboo against the use of nuclear weapons. The "why build 'em if we can't use 'em" nuclear mentality has finally been codified with a new military doctrine that takes the U.S. a giant step forward toward the use of nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon, under the Bush administration, has developed a new military doctrine under the title Nuclear Policy Review. Released in early 2002, it allows for the first use of nuclear weapons against several countries, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, China, Russia and others. (Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2002)
WEAPONS INSPECTORS: THE PRETEXT FOR WAR TAKES SHAPE
The Bush strategy to get support, or more likely the acquiescence, of other governments for the planned U.S. aggression will likely revolve around the issue of Iraq's willingness or lack of willingness to allow UN weapons inspectors to hunt for "weapons of mass destruction."
Bush doesn't really give a hoot about weapons inspectors, because neither he nor any of the U.S. officials is actually worried about Iraq's military capability.
The Bush team will craft a new "coercive inspections" proposal that will be such a flagrant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and so militarily dangerous that Iraq will not be able to accept it. Then Iraq can be labeled intransigent, obstructionist and unwilling to "cooperate with the United Nations"--so that the Pentagon can begin the air war and invasion.
Bush and the media will thus assert that the U.S. went the extra mile to prevent war. It went to the UN first to seek one last chance at resolution. When the war comes it will be presented as Iraq's failure to comply with the UN, rather than as a unilateral act of aggression by imperialism against a small, oil-rich Third World nation.
The war will be to "protect American people from nuclear terror" rather than the re-conquest of a country that had earlier dared to nationalize Western oil installations. Iraq possesses 10 percent of the world's oil supply and was first placed on the "terrorist nations" list in 1972 when it took over the Western oil monopolies which had gotten rich from the plunder of its natural resources.
COERCIVE INSPECTIONS: WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING
Making Iraq an offer that it would have to refuse was laid out in a document circulated recently by the so-called Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It is a prescription for war rather than peace.
The plan, which is referred to in the media as "muscular inspections," amounts to demanding that Iraq voluntarily allow the U.S. invasion force into the country under the name of an Inspections Implementation Force (IIF), or some similar name.
"The IIF must be highly mobile, composed principally of air and armored cavalry units. It might include an armored cavalry regiment or equivalent on the Jordan-Iraq border, an air-mobile brigade in eastern Turkey, and two or more brigades and corps-sized infrastructure based in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Air support including fighter and fighter- bomber aircraft and continuous air and ground surveillance, provided by AWACS and JSTARS, will be required," writes Jessica Matthews, president of the Carnegie Endowment.
That this is a prescription for war rather than negotiations is evident. It has the advantage, though, of making Iraq appear to be in non-compliance and therefore subject to all- out war at any moment.
"The inspection teams would return to Iraq accompanied by a military arm strong enough to force immediate entry into any site at any time with complete security for the inspection team. No terms would be negotiated regarding the dates, duration, or modalities of inspection. If Iraq chose not to accept, or established a record of noncompliance, the U.S. regime-change option or, better, a UN authorization of 'use of all necessary means' would come into play."
Bush knows that Iraq's acceptance of this inspections model or a variant of the model is unlikely if not impossible. If Iraq allows weapons inspections like this, it would signify that the country from then on would be under the control of the military forces of a foreign power that seeks its destruction.
Between 1991 and 1998, Iraq was subjected to more than 9,000 weapons inspections. According to Scott Ritter, the former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, the country has been largely disarmed for many years.
Iraq is in a hobbled state as a result of economic sanctions that have been imposed on it for more than a decade. Its economy was wrecked, its industrial infrastructure degraded. Where clean drinking water was guaranteed before 1991, people today get sick and die from drinking contaminated water. The destruction of water plants and aqueducts by aerial bombing and the refusal to allow Iraq to import spare parts and decontaminants was part of an intentional and integrated U.S. strategy to destroy the water system. (Thomas Nagy, The Progressive, September 2001)
The people of the United States must take action now to prevent the next war on Iraq. It is part and parcel of the long-standing struggle between imperialist domination and all those-the majority of the world's people-who seek to be free from colonialism and neocolonialism so that they can determine their own destiny.
The writer is a co-director of the International Action Center and a spokesperson for the ANSWER coalition. He was on a five-member delegation, including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, that just visited Iraq.
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