Mon Feb 5, 2007 18:46

In 1913, Britain (with oil strategies in mind for the whole area) drew the lines in the sand which bound together incompatible tribes, and separated off tiny, oil rich Kuwait. REGIME CHANGE ONE.
In 1920, Britain used poison gas on the populace of Iraq to suppress a revolt, demoralising its populace long before Saddam (so we’re told) completed the process.
In 1939 the monarch of Iraq, King Ghazi, who was much loved by his people, was eliminated by the Brits, in a secretive manner. REGIME CHANGE TWO.
In 1963 Iraq's president Abdul Kassem was bumped off in a CIA coup. REGIME CHANGE THREE.

Thus, what were probably the two most popular 20th-century rulers of Iraq were done in by the UK and US. No surprise, but one could take the view that a more caring attitude is called for from Britain, as having created this modern nation.


Q. 1: Did Saddam Hussein really gas the Kurds?
He is regularly accused of doing so, but the story may not be true. An Army War College study, written by Stephen Pelletiere and Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Johnson, came to the conclusion that he did not. Throughout the Iran-Iraq war, Pelletiere served as the CIA's senior political analyst on Iraq, and Johnson has taught at the U.S. Military Academy. Their study investigated what happened at Halabja, where gas was used by both sides.

Saddam, the authors concluded, did not use poison gas against his people. While hundreds of civilians died in the crossfire, what felled them was the kind of gas used by Iranians. The Iranians, however, insisted that the gas came from the Iraqis and, for some reason, their version prevailed in the U.S.
Jeffrey Goldberg wrote damningly in the New Yorker about Iraq's role at Halabja, but, when asked by the Village Voice why he’d ignored the War College study, explained that he “trusted other sources”. Hmm. But why ignore significant evidence to the contrary?
The New York Times has recently disclosed that the Reagan administration, which supported Iraq against Iran, acquiesced in the use of gas (August 17). According to retired Colonel Walter P. Lang, senior defence intelligence officer at the time, "Iraqi use of gas on the battlefield was not a matter of deep strategic concern."

Dilip Hiro says that while Saddam may have gassed civilians, conclusive proof was lacking at the time. "That is where the matter rested for 14 years - until 'gassing his own people' became a catchy slogan to demonise Saddam in the popular American imagination" (Nation, August 28).

Q 2: Why did the UN arms inspectors leave Iraq?
From 1991-1998 UNSCOM arms inspectors worked throughout Iraq. Did they leave, as we’re constantly told, because they were kicked out by a ruthless tyrant who still, after 7 years!, had something left to hide!?

The Washington Post reported that the "United Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in American efforts to undermine the Iraqi regime" (JAN 8, 1999).

According to Swedish diplomat Rolf Ekeus, who ran the UNSCOM operation, the inspections were "manipulated." The U.S., he said, had spies posing as inspectors who were keen, for example, on tracking Saddam's movements - "of interest if one were planning to target him personally."
>>> and helping to explain Saddam’s insistence on keeping SOME hiding places in his “many palaces”.

The U.S. took punitive measures against alleged Iraqi arms violations. Illegal bombing forays in 1993 and 1996, a heavy four-day U.S. bombing campaign in 1998, unauthorized air strikes since early 1999 on an almost weekly basis. UNSCOM arms inspectors withdrew in 1998 to avoid being bombed by U.S. and British aircraft as much as anything else!
"In terms of large-scale weapons of mass destruction programs, these had been fundamentally destroyed or dismantled by the weapons inspectors as early as 1996, so by 1998 we had the situation on the ground under control." Scott Ritter, former UNSCOM inspector.
In briefing the incoming Bush administration, former Secretary of Defence William Cohen said: "Iraq poses no threat to its neighbours."

Q. 3: Who’s responsible for the devastation wrought in Iraq by economic sanctions?
"History's biggest concentration camp" is what Jim Jennings, president of Conscience International, a relief organization, has called Iraq under the sanctions. The sanctions regime, he pleads, is "punishing the people of Iraq in a way that I think most American people, if they could see and understand what is really going on there, would find totally unacceptable in a moral sense. It's cruel, inhumane, it's unconscionable."

Whose fault is it that half a million children have died in Iraq since the economic blockade was imposed? Whose fault that the water is contaminated, the hospitals are desperate, the agriculture is ruined and the transportation a shambles? Could Saddam help his people, if he cared, instead of using his money to buy weapons (if that’s what he’s doing)?

The U.S. has blocked billions of dollars of imports needed for relief and rehabilitation. According to Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck, both of whom resigned in protest from the UN humanitarian program in Iraq: "The death of 5,000 to 6,000 children a month is mostly due to contaminated water, lack of medicines and malnutrition. The U.S. and the UK governments' delayed clearance of equipment and materials is responsible for this tragedy, not Baghdad."

While not easy to sort out the sanctions issue, it seems clear that Saddam alone is not to blame. As Princeton University's Richard Falk has stated: the U.S. and the UK "bear a particularly heavy political, legal, and moral responsibility for the harm inflicted on the people of Iraq."

Q. 4: How important is oil as a motive for this war?
It is one thing for the U.S. to target Iraq because Saddam supposedly harbours weapons of mass destruction (though according to just war principles and international law that is by no means sufficient). It is quite another if the goal is to seize control of Iraq's oil.

At least one cautious administration supporter, Anthony H. Cordesman, senior analyst at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, is quite candid: "Regardless of whether we say so publicly," he admits, "we will go to war, because Saddam sits at the center of a region with more than 60% of all the world's oil reserves."

Would Americans back this war if they believed it was really about oil? Would they agree that the appalling military, diplomatic and human costs are worth it?

For the oil industry, "regime change" in Baghdad will not be meaningful unless it is followed by political stability. To develop the oil reserves, according to one analyst, "you need 2-3 billion dollars, and you don't invest that kind of money without stability." Even if Saddam can be toppled easily (which is by no means certain), "stability" would almost certainly require a puppet military regime and a prolonged, costly armed occupation - not democracy for the Iraqi people as is being trailed. Again, is that really what Americans want?

Q. 5: Why the outrage at Iraq now?
Perhaps unwittingly, Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz has recently conceded that any plausible threat from Iraq is perhaps a decade away. "It's too dangerous to wait ten years for them to hit us," he said. "September 11 was nothing compared to what an attack with chemical and biological weapons would be. We have a problem. We're not going to wait forever to solve it."

But, without waiting forever, it might be better to solve other problems first. The "regime change" engineered in Afghanistan, for example, is already coming back to haunt us. As former Canadian diplomat Peter Dale Scott has pointed out, Afghan drugs, virtually eliminated under the Taliban, are not only back, but will be used to fund worldwide terrorism and spread misery around the globe. "Thanks to the U.S. intervention," he writes, "Afghanistan will again supply up to 70% of the world's heroin this year. . . . The 2002 crop will be about 85% of the record-breaking 4,500 metric tons harvested in 1999."

Wayne Morse (D., Ore.) was one of only two senators who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which essentially instigated the war in Vietnam saw what was coming when few did. Three years later he said: "We're going to become guilty, in my judgment, of being the greatest threat to the peace of the world. It's an ugly reality, and we Americans don't like to face up to it. I hate to think of the chapter of American history that's going to be written in the future in connection with our outlawry in Southeast Asia."
Top secret army cell breaks terroristsSunday Telegraph, Sun Feb 4 23:54

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