President Bush spoke to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, September 12 about the supposedly urgent need to attack Iraq. The following is a list of statements made by him that are either illogical, half-truths, or outright falsehoods, with responses to each.
1. “Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation.”
Kuwait had been slant-drilling the Iraqi oil field of Rumallah as well as driving down the price of oil at a time when Iraq was in desperate need of funds to rebuild its infrastructure after the Iran-Iraq War (in which Iraq was the favored state of the US). While it is arguable whether this was justification for an invasion, this provocation is significantly less specious than that cited for, say, the American invasion of Panama seven months earlier.
2. “And the regime’s forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources.”
Satellite imagery showed no Iraqi military buildup in the border regions with Saudi Arabia in either Iraq or occupied Kuwait in September 1990, as revealed in a series of articles in the (FL) Times in January 1991. Yet the elder President Bush fabricated this “aggression” to justify Operation Desert Shield.
3. “Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.”
Hussein was appeased by coalition forces. After the cease-fire of March 1991, Hussein asked for permission to fly air strikes against rebels in both the northern and southern no-fly zones of Iraq. The elder Bush granted Hussein’s wish, even though the American President had publicly encouraged the Kurdish population of Iraq to rise up. Hussein brutally suppressed the rebellion.
4. “In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities, which the council said threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.”
Of course it goes ignored, considering Bush’s father gave Hussein the green light to continue his brutal suppression of Iraq’s minorities.
5. “Last year, the UN Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights and that the regime’s repression is all-pervasive.”
Yes, and UN organizations have also repeatedly stated the devastating effects of US-led sanctions on the people of Iraq. Should Iraq then call on the international community to attack the US?
6. “Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation and rape.”
Unfortunately, this is quite the norm in many places in the Middle East, including close American allies Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Pakistan.
7. “In 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American president.”
In retaliation for this attempted assassination, evidence of which was dubious at best, the Clinton Administration launched 24 cruise missiles against Baghdad, killing six civilians, including artist Laila al-Attar. By this standard, Iraq could launch cruise missiles at Washington, as their leader has been the object of several assassination attempts by the US. (They would, of course, have to get in line behind Cuba, whose leader has been the target of American assassination attempts for much longer.)
8. “United Nations’ inspections also reviewed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.”
The technology for such chemical and biological weapons was, of course, first given to Hussein by the US. The “Butcher of Baghdad” joyfully used this capacity against Iran (the intended targets of the American “largesse”) as well as against Iraq’s Kurdish minority (a nice ancillary benefit). The details of this American support for Hussein’s chemical weapons program were detailed in an August 18, 2002 front-page article in The New York Times.
9. “We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.”
Making it only the second nation in the region to be so armed (third if we count Pakistan). Israel, of course, sought to maintain its neighborhood nuclear monopoly by bombing an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, an action condemned by the US so as to show support for its new ally, Saddam Hussein.
10. “Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence?”
From Israel’s 35-year-old refusal to abide by Security Council Resolution 242, which calls for an immediate end to the US client’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and citing “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” (the same rationale which compelled the Security Council to condemn the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait), “cast aside without consequence” seems to reflect the position of the American government.
11. “We want the resolutions of the world’s most important multilateral body to be enforced.”
Read the above as, “We want those resolutions–and only those resolutions–aimed at America’s official enemies to be enforced.”
12. “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it–as all states are required to do by UN Security Council resolutions.”
Strange words from the leader of the only nation to be condemned by the World Court for terrorism, namely the United States terrorist war against Nicaragua.
13. “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkemens and others–again, as required by Security Council resolutions.”
And again, standards to which US allies are not only not held but are actively supported in violating (Indonesia murdering the Timorese, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Turkey brutally oppressing its Kurdish minority). Never mind that, as stated above, Hussein’s suppression of his domestic population was encouraged and supported by the US–both before and after the Gulf War.
14. “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown.”
Assuming they were even so inclined, it is unlikely that the Iraqi infrastructure–destroyed by over a decade of sanctions and bombing–is capable of making any accounting for missing coalition military personnel. Accounting for the more than 200,000 civilians killed by those coalition forces is itself an impossible task.
15. “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the Oil-for-Food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.”
Demanding that Iraq “accept U.N. administration of funds from” Oil-for-Food makes as much sense as demanding that a prisoner serving a life-sentence “accept” that he is incarcerated. All money from the Oil-for-Food program is kept in a UN-administered account at the Bank of Paris in New York. Roughly thirty percent of that goes to pay the UN administration costs and reparations to Kuwait. The remainder is not spent on palaces, weapons, or anything else Hussein might desire, for he never sees or controls the money.
16. “The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. They’ve suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it.”
Indeed, but liberty from whom? From the former American client, Saddam Hussein, who falls in and out of grace of the US, or Anglo-American-led sanctions that intentionally seek to deprive the Iraqi people of the most basic necessities of life? What is it exactly that the people of Iraqi deserve? Apparently, not even the means to repair their water filtration systems to prevent children from dying by the hundreds from diarrhea.
17. “Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest. And open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder.”
Except, of course, the United States, which threatened the entire world with destruction for forty years, thinking billions of people better dead than Red.
Bush’s thesis seems to be simple: Iraq cannot have nuclear weapons. This seems reasonable only for the two seconds that it takes to realize that Bush is the leader of the only country ever to use nuclear weapons in anger. Hussein is not allowed even to contemplate a horrible act for which the United States remains not only unapologetic, but even proud.
Who is the madman here?
Tom Gorman lives in Pasadena, CA. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.