Monday, 11 May 2009

Iraq War Myth No.2

"The second Gulf war of 2003 followed the first Gulf war of 1991 which resulted directly from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait..."*

Indeed, the second Gulf war of 2003 followed the first Gulf war of 1990-1991 just as 1 p.m. follows midday, or age follows beauty; there was no basis whatsoever for the two events to have been linked (No Kuwait; No Kurds; No Tanks) had not the US administration, bloated with colonial bravado, decided to find some pretext upon which to wage war against a nation stripped down by 12 years of crippling sanctions, bombings and the first Gulf war. "Toppling Saddam remains the unfinished business of the first Bush administration. His defiant hold on power infuriates the Bushies", noted the Guardian in 2001. But this jingoistic claim does not reflect the whole story; that there was an ever-growing, authentic and powerfully persuasive grass-roots resistance to Saddam Hussein's authority that could genuinely have challenged both it and US attempts to open Iraq to Western markets. This resistance continues today, though it is amalgamated with the brutal partisan attempts to gain control over areas of destabilised Iraq: to those who wanted to finish what Bush No. 1 started, such resistance was a red rag to a bull.
If Saddam Hussein wanted to create and use chemical weapons in a war against the West, he would have found the pretext to do so as a response to the hellish sanctions imposed on his increasingly desperate population. In 1998, Denis Halliday, the UN Assistant Secretary-General, resigned after 34 years with the UN, "declaring the US and British sanctions regime imposed on Iraq 'genocidal'. Halliday, who ran the UN's 'oil for food' programme in Iraq, continues to openly place blame for the excess deaths of 600,000 Iraqi children under five, as reported by the United Nations Children's Fund, squarely on the shoulders of the US and British governments. In February 2000, Halliday's successor as UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, also resigned after 30 years with the UN, asking,
'How long should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?'I've been using the word genocide, because this is a deliberate policy to destroy the people of Iraq. I'm afraid I have no other view at this late stage.'
In 1993 Madeleine Albright, head of the same group responsible for 'educating' Iraqis about democracy and orchestrating US-sympathetic campaigns prior to the 2005 election said, in response to the question "I have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And - you know, is the price worth it?"

Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

These sanctions had been imposed after George Dubya Senior played a game of cat-and-mouse with Iraq following the 1990-1991 bust-up between Iraq and the UK, USA and Saudi Arabia (tho' forces from 31 other countries were involved); a bust-up which bore absolutely no relation to the second Gulf War which began some 12 years later. And no weapons were found.
However, the news of the time would have it otherwise: every newspaper's leaders on Iraq - not to mention their editorials - gave a detailed play-by-play of the emotions and opinions of those entrenched in Afghanistan or observing the conflict from a soi-distant armchair. Forget logic: Condi Rice, and Donald Rumsfeldt (the supreme architect of disaster capitalism who was already rebuilding Iraq before it had been decimated), and unnamed sources in the Pentagon, were all commenting knowledgeably upon the motivations of the Bush team. The general consensus seemed to be that Dubya Jnr insisted on finishing what Daddy had started, regardless of lack of provocation.
Had Bush Snr et al been in office in 1998 and able to chase after Saddam Hussein in the exhaustive way in which today's US administration has systematically obliterated Iraq, he would have been able to cite a breach of UN sanctions; Iraqi officials prevented US inspectors from inspecting suspected weapons sites. Even then, UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter says, "as of December 1998 we had no evidence Iraq had retained biological weapons, nor that they were working on any. In fact, we had a lot of evidence to suggest Iraq was in compliance." By 2001, over 95% of the weaponry - that which posed a real, tangible and immediate threat - was gone. Ritter changed his 1998 perspective, stating that the threat from Iraq was 'zero'. Zero. That doesn't present the merest possibility of viable chemical or biological weapons capable of causing localised or global terror being found or fabricated in Iraq. It means that the empty mustard gas shells found in a warehouse were the sum total of Iraq's supposedly devastating cache of WMDs. But as Ritter, who was so conveniently swept out of the limelight after a police sting operation in 2003, put it so eloquently:

The United States needed to find a vehicle to continue to contain Saddam because the CIA said all we have to do is wait six months and Saddam is going to collapse on his own volition. That vehicle is sanctions. They needed a justification; the justification was disarmament. They drafted a Chapter 7 resolution of the United Nations Security Council calling for the disarmament of Iraq and saying in Paragraph 14 that if Iraq complies, sanctions will be lifted. Within months of this resolution being passed--and the United States drafted and voted in favor of this resolution--within months, the President, George Herbert Walker Bush, and his Secretary of State, James Baker, are saying publicly, not privately, publicly that even if Iraq complies with its obligation to disarm, economic sanctions will be maintained until which time Saddam Hussein is removed from power.

That is proof positive that disarmament was only useful insofar as it contained through the maintenance of sanctions and facilitated regime change. It was never about disarmament, it was never about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. It started with George Herbert Walker Bush, and it was a policy continued through eight years of the Clinton presidency, and then brought us to this current disastrous course of action under the current Bush Administration." (Pitt, William R. War On Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know)

To the West, Saddam Hussein had become an untenable nuisance: unstable, yet resistant to outside attempts to squeeze him out of power. Based upon his psychological profile, it is likely that had he had chemical weapons, he would have used them as retribution for the sufferings of Iraq in such a way as to precipitate a large-scale confrontation. In fact, Hussein's Iraq was in the same state of dire and worsening economic poverty that prompted him to invade Kuwait in the 1990s. But Hussein did not precipitate a confrontation. His country was already in a perilous state of decay; he had virtually no friends or allies, and had not forged the kinds of links with Iran that would have created a powerful United Eastern Islamic state. He followed to the letter 'those who would prepare for war, seek war': he had not prepared for it, nor had he sought it.

*An indepth discussion of WMDs, including UNSCOM, the ISC and Rockingham's role, to follow.



  2. I'm writing piece number 3 - what constitutes an 'occupied' territory and whether anything that goes on it can be termed as democratic or not tomorrow; hopefully there will be a response...

  3. Stan Rosenthal14 May 2009 at 13:57

    Here I am Scunnert. I've explained on the other thread what took me so long.

    Having now gone through Mara's tome, my immediate reaction is, crikey, that first point of mine was only a scene setter!

    I thought it was worth making to remind everyone that the Second Gulf War was directly related to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, in that the casus belli of the second war was, as I went on to say, a breach of the cease-fire conditions relating to the first.

    You seem to be arguing in part of your post that there were other motivations for the war and I woudn't disagree with that. In my opinion many of these were not ignoble in the circumstances, especially the removal a brutal tyrant. Unfortunately Saddam could not be brought down on that basis (due to sqeamish international objections to wars of liberation) and it was therefore fortunate that Saddam gave us the pretext to remove him in a more internationally acceptable way.

    However this is a seperate point as are other points in your post and for the sake of a reasonably coherent debate I suggest we stick to one point at a time (as you sensibly suggested yourself) - preferably sequentially as I explained in my comment on the other thread.

    And it would also be helpful if you could make your answers rather more succinct and to the point; otherwise this could be a 24/7 job, stretching on indefinitely. I'm sure we both have other things to do.

  4. More succinct and to the point? It is evident that I am wasting my time in attempting to rebut your feeble arguments, all of which are to be examined in great depth before House of Commons select committees following ardent campaigning by Conservative, Lib Dem and independent MPs. I am sure that you will be interested to read the exhaustive reports produced by said committees. As it stands, I am much too chronically ill to spend any more time writing and researching responses.

  5. Stan Rosenthal19 May 2009 at 19:28

    Mara, I'm sure the House will clear the government of the crimes alleged by the anti-war movement, as they have been every time this matter has been independently investigated (assuming, of course, that no political axes will be ground).

    The case against them just doesn't stand up to analysis. as I've shown here.

    Nevertheless I was genuinely sorry to hear about your condition and hope you will get well soon.

    As you will see from my comment on your Happiness post I do think that we have some things in common.

  6. OT I know, but I think you might want to publicize this.

    Richard Dale is trying to help the Iranians crash government websites.

    I hope you and your readers will take a look and maybe spread the word.

    This is one in the server for Amahdidinnerjacket and his girl-hurting swine.

    Pardon my Spartan.


Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison