Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why They Wouldn’t Wait

by TOM JACKSON

Going back all the way to the Bush administration’s build-up for invading Iraq, there has been much written and said about the reasons for the invasion. Now Paul O’Neill’s revelations that the Bush administration planned to invade Iraq long before September 11, 2001 have been widely publicized.

Many believed right along that the major motivator for the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq is all the oil that sits beneath Iraq. That has been my belief as well. However, understanding the reason for the Bush administration’s anxiousness to invade may benefit from a trip back in recent history, before it is forever rewritten by the neo-cons.

Starting in late Summer 2000, there was a significant break down of support for the economic sanctions against Iraq. In August 2000, Baghdad Airport reopened. Lots of international flights started to come in from many different countries, including Iraq’s former archenemy, Iran. An annual trade fair was held in Baghdad, and the response was astonishing- over 1500 companies from 45 countries took part. France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Turkey and most Arab nations were well represented. On the UN Security Council, three of the five permanent members voiced opposition to the economic sanctions.

The outgoing Clinton administration, though faithful for eight years in continuing the sanctions policy that many called “genocidal”, was not prepared to invade Iraq as a last act of the administration. Both Clinton and Madeline Albright stated toward the end of their days in office that the sanctions would remain in place until Saddam Hussein was gone, or until the end of time, which ever came first. Not so surprising from an administration that said “the price is worth it” when asked about UNICEF figures of over a half million children dying from effects of the sanctions.

As soon as Bush and company took over the White House, Mr. Bush sent Colin Powell off on a mission to shore up support for the sanctions. Bush complained that the sanctions were “like Swiss cheese. That meant that they weren’t very effective.” Despite leeway made by anti-economic sanctions activists in bringing a clear picture of the sanctions’ effects on innocent civilians in Iraq, Mr. Bush’s “revised” policy would clearly not be focused on helping the Iraqi people.

Powell traveled to several Arab nations and came back by way of Europe. Though countries continued to speak out against sanctions, they stopped the huge influx of flights to Baghdad, and attempts at cutting business deals were disrupted or even stalled.

Still, mainstream media in the United States assisted in putting a humanitarian spin on the situation. On February 27, 2001, CNN reported that “[f]ollowing three days of talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, Powell said the United States was in the process of shaping new sanctions, which would target Iraq’s military exclusively and not the Iraqi people.”

Meanwhile Mr. Bush accidentally clarified that the sanctions would remain a US-centric policy: “Sanctions that work are sanctions that when a — the collective will of the region supports the policy; that we have a coalition of countries that agree with the policy set out by the United States. To me, that’s the most effective form of sanctions.”

Powell stated the objective of his trip more frankly: “So this wasn’t an effort to ease the sanctions; this was an effort to rescue the sanctions policy that was collapsing. We discovered that we were in an airplane that was heading to a crash, and what we have done and what we are trying to do is to pull it out of that dive and put it on an altitude that’s sustainable, bring the coalition back together.”

I have to wonder how diplomatic these ‘talks’ really were. Perhaps as diplomatic as the United States’ UN representative during the lead-up to the first Gulf War, when Yemen voted `no’ on a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. The US representative told the Yemeni representative, `That’s the most expensive vote you’ll ever cast.’ Shortly thereafter, all US aid to Yemen was stopped.

Following Powell’s trip, the US and Britain then began talking about “smart sanctions”, which was yet another cynical policy with a friendly sounding name. The revision that was allegedly designed to ease the effects of economic sanctions on Iraqis actually produced a voluminous list of products that would not be allowed into the country.

Ultimately, support for the sanctions was gone. The United States and Britain stood alone in the UN, demanding that the policy be strengthened. Around the world companies in other countries were negotiating business deals with Iraq, including oil deals. The US stood to miss out on a very big piece of a very big pie if it did not do something quickly.

Then came 9/11. After bombing Afghanistan, the Bush administration ushered in an intensive campaign, with much assistance from an unquestioning mainstream media, to gain support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. As this campaign raged in 2002, Iraq’s trade fair drew numbers similar to those drawn in 2001.

Control over the second largest oil reserve in the world and massive rebuilding contracts were very nearly grabbed up by companies from other countries before the Bush administration took power. That, I believe, was a major factor in why they wouldn’t wait to attack Iraq. Today huge contracts are handed uncontested to Halliburton, Bechtel and other friends of the administration.

The Bush administration has made every attempt to revise history with regard to their belligerent worldview. The attacks of September 11, 2001 are cynically used to justify hostility on any front, “at a time and a date of our choosing”. Speaking the truth about events that took place in Iraq during autumn 2000 may help to dispel the ongoing myth that Bush & company became hostile toward Iraq and much of the rest of the world as a response to 9/11.

TOM JACKSON produced “Greetings From Missile Street“, a documentary video that shows Voices in the Wilderness delegates living with families in Basra, Iraq in the summer of 2000. He can be reached at: coffeeanon@yahoo.com

 

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]