FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Weapons of Mass Distraction

by BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

If Iraq is lying (and it is difficult to imagine Mr Saddam Hussein telling the truth about the time of day) then let it be proved. Saying over and over again that Mr Hussein tells lies and therefore must have NBC weapons is not good enough

Let us be realistic about repeated US assertions that Iraq has nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons. (President George Bush calls them “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, which is a dreary propaganda phrase.) If America has evidence of these weapons it could produce it without compromising intelligence sources. Mr Bush and his staff keep announcing that Iraq possesses these things, yet refuse to give us proof.

Take Condoleeza Rice whose piece “Why we know Iraq is lying” appeared in the papers last week. She wrote that “Richard Butler, the former chief UN arms inspector, estimates that if a larger type of warhead that Iraq has made and used in the past were filled with VX (an even deadlier nerve agent) and launched at a major city, it could kill up to one million people.” It is a classic ploy of the propagandist to link a respected figure with undeniable facts to produce an unverifiable but convincing shock-horror headline-grabber. We all know what could happen “if” a warhead “were” filled with VX and landed in a city. But nobody has shown us that there are operational warheads (as distinct from the dozen rusty 122mm carriers found two weeks ago), or that there is any VX to put in them, or any launchers to deliver them to “a city”. These claims are made without evidence and used deliberately to mislead the American people.

Make no mistake: if it is determined by the UN that Iraq has one single nuclear weapon, or an operational long-range rocket, or a store of biological agents, or a stock of chemicals assessed by inspectors as being specifically for use as weapons, there will then be no doubt that Iraq will have violated Security Council Resolution 1441 and will have to take the consequences as decided by the Council. Under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter the Council can “take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security”. There is, of course, one major proviso that has been ignored and will continue to be ignored by the United States, and that is Article 46, which states that “Plans for the application of armed force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff committee”. Fat chance of that happening. Nevertheless, if Iraq is proved to have any of these ghastly weapons (of which America has the largest stocks in the world), then it must pay the price.

But Ms Rice says, “Many questions remain” about Iraq’s alleged NBC programmes, and “it is Iraq’s obligation to provide answers”. The question posed to Iraq was “Do you possess NBC weapons?” Iraq’s answer is “No”. If Iraq is lying (and it is difficult to imagine Mr Saddam Hussein telling the truth about the time of day) then let it be proved. Saying over and over again that Mr Hussein tells lies and therefore must have NBC weapons is not good enough. Ari Fleischer, the spokesman for Mr Bush, said on January 9, “We know for a fact that there are weapons there.” OK: where are they? If it is known “for a fact” that there are weapons, then it must be known where they are. You can’t identify something you can’t see, unless you’re getting decidedly metaphysical about worldly affairs. Just show us one nuclear device “” not even a bomb, just a thingy that is nuclear. Just show us one picture taken yesterday of a missile with an NBC warhead. Let us see evidence that there is a missile launcher ready to shoot off a missile that could “kill up to one million people”. All right: we’ll settle for a missile that could kill a thousand people. Produce evidence that Iraq has one vial of VX agent. Then we will say you were right, and watch you reduce Iraq to rubble.

The United States of America, whose taxpayers pay forty BILLION dollars a year for information gathering and intelligence processing, is verging on the omniscient. OK, so it can’t find Osama bin Laden, which, it is said, is the Number One National Priority (although one wonders about this, given the obsession of Mr Bush with Mr Saddam Hussein whom he damns in every speech, while he never refers to Mr bin Laden), but US agencies (and their colleagues in Israel, the UK and Australia) can listen to every telephone and radio conversation in the world. They can examine every fax and email, assess Airbus production facilities and similar anti-American activities (the French found out about this economic spying but can’t do anything about it), analyse the defences of friend and foe alike, and are in general an Olympic-class nosy parker.

The US has had Iraq under the closest possible surveillance for 12 years. There are satellites galore, silently imaging the entire country by photography and electronic means at all times of day and night. There are devices that “see” through roofs and into the ground. There are satellites scooping up every conversation by radio, telephone and computer. Additionally, US and British aircraft operate daily over two thirds of Iraq in their illegally-imposed “no-fly zones”. Intelligence gathering aircraft fly in these zones and along the Iraq border. They complement the satellites in gathering vast quantities of information about Iraqi defences (and civilian commercial enterprises, in preparation for the US takeover of the country) and practice guiding strike aircraft to a multitude of targets, not only in the “no-fly” areas but also in the third of Iraq that they permit to be under central government control. Iraq is quite a large country (six tenths the size of Texas) but there is not an inch that has not been closely examined. (The US proposal to send U-2 reconnaissance aircraft to “help” the UN was an absurd afterthought, and intended solely to confuse matters in order that Washington could claim non-cooperation by Baghdad.)

It is fatuous for the Bush administration to say that information cannot be provided to the UN, or evidence to the world, about Iraq’s alleged NBC arsenal because “we don’t want to betray our sources”, as if these were Mr Saddam Hussein’s valet, PA or ADC. (Sorry, guys.) Show us the pictures of the nuclear weapons plants, and the rockets and the canisters of chemical weapons. Or provide transcripts of intercepted communications indicating existence of these things. The methods themselves aren’t secret. It is quite possible Iraq has some very nasty weapons. OK: where are they? And if you produce evidence now, why did you take so long?

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY is a former military officer who writes on international affairs. His website is www.briancloughley.com

 

More articles by:

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail