With accumulating war clouds ominously looming over the world’s most ancient civilization, and the planet’s leaders demanding that the Iraqi president hand over his weapons of mass destruction leaving his nation naked and vulnerable, nobody is asking this question: why on earth should he?
Imagine that America or Britain had been the object of United Nations sanctions for 12 years leading to the deaths of more than half a million children and babies. Imagine that Western countries had to put up with international weapons inspectors crawling all over them for years, including enemy spies. How would you feel if the Iraqis had been regularly dropping bombs on Alaska and Florida, or Inverness and Cornwall for a decade while the world pretends not to notice?
Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and Iraqis and their allies were surrounding the US or Britain with hundreds of thousands of service personnel wielding state-of-the-art weapons, and refusing to rule out the use of nukes. You can’t can you? It could only happen to poor, weak third world countries not to ‘proud’ nations like ours.
Ask yourselves these questions: Would the US, Britain or Israel lead UN and IAEA inspectors to their stocks of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons? Would Britain let Iraqi spy planes crisscross over its skies? Would the White House or Downing Street submit to their very own scientists flying off to a third country to be interrogated or to allow inspectors to rummage under the beds of their sick wives? The answer is of course not.
“Ah, but that’s different”, I hear you muttering. “Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds and has used chemical weapons on his Iranian foes”. You are right, he did. But is he any worse than a succession of American leaders who were responsible for crimes against humanity and horrendous death tolls in Japan and South East Asia? Is he worse than those stalwarts of Britain’s upper crust who rudely carved up the Middle East and brutally subjugated hundreds of millions on the Indian subcontinent? Is he so very far apart from Ariel Sharon who was found by an Israeli commission to have been responsible for the murder of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and who is even today slaughtering them in their thousands on the West Bank and Gaza?
What is clear is that there is one rule for the Superpower, its satellite Tony Blair’s Britain, and its protectorate Israel but there is quite another for everyone else. There is no moral high ground in their aggressive stance. There is no justice. Just a hotchpotch of propaganda, and paranoia-inducing rhetoric designed to elicit fear in the populace. Bush, Blair and Sharon are the ultimate conmen and we are their victims. All three are presently engaged in the theft of oil and/or land under cover of protecting us from the ubiquitous enemy.
Dancing a diplomatic minuet
The Bush-Blair combo is determined to go to war with or without a credible pretext. They would, of course, prefer to do this with the blessing of the world community and they are currently dancing a diplomatic minuet in the UN, but at the end of the day they will simply say ‘Screw the lot of you’ and go ahead anyway. Those countries they cannot bribe or bamboozle that is. Sharon is rubbing his plump hands together eagerly awaiting a pretext to inflict even more pain and suffering on the Palestinians people.
The UN itself has been the object of the American president’s derision and it constantly been put under threat of being deemed irrelevant. American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has described Jacques Chirac and Gerhardt Schroeder as being of ‘Old Europe’ while the Potentate of Poodlestan has labeled his detractors as treasonous.
George Bush has called the opposition among the Democrats as unpatriotic and going by all the statements emanating from the Oval Office and Downing Street, there is no doubt that Bush and Blair are on the same page when it comes to Iraq.
What page is that exactly? There are various interpretations of this. According to the stammering Texan, Saddam Hussein with his deadly arsenal is a danger to the entire world, while Britain’s own smooth talking Prince of Spin concurs.
This motley pair, however, appear little bothered by the real threat looming over the planet, which is Kim Jong-Il of North Korea. Kim is a peculiar pipsqueak who actually does have nuclear weapons, the missiles with which to deliver them to Alaska, Hawaii and London, and has threatened the US with their use.
If you call me ‘evil’ again I’ll make you eat your words is Kim’s reaction to being included in the evil Axis. In Bush’s State of the Union address last Tuesday he stopped short of re-labeling the Korean leader as ‘evil’ but his personal attacks on Kim Jong-Il were just as venomous. Incredibly they come just when Japan, South Korea and China are trying to diplomatically resolve the crisis.
Saddam Hussein, the dictator who Bush accuses of representing an imminent threat to the entire world, has opened his doors to weapons inspectors. However, they’ve failed to produce anything other than a dozen rusting warheads, and an out-of-date document on laser technology. The Iraqi leader has made it clear that he doesn’t want to attack anyone and his neighbors believe him. The weapons inspectors have asked for more time. So, why not let sleeping Saddams lie?
The answer is clear. This planned invasion of Iraq has nothing at all to do with threats that Iraq will radiate the planet or spread smallpox in downtown Seattle. The inspectors have found no evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei said as much last Monday in front of the UN Security Council, although you would hardly realize that the way that their words have been twisted, turned and taken out of context by Powell, Negroponte and Straw.
The ‘Great Leader of the Universe’, on the other hand, didn’t even bother to twist and turn, preferring outright lies. In his Tuesday address, he said that Iraq had imported large quantities of aluminum rods for the purpose of building nuclear weapons. Yet on the very day before, Monday, ElBaradei of the IAEA had told the UN Security Council and the world that whereas those aluminum rods could indeed be utilized for dual purposes, in this particular case they had been employed in a commercial capacity. He said that his team had checked this out carefully and was wholly satisfied.
Who are we supposed to believe? The American president in his ivory tower surrounded by warmongering sycophants, or nuclear experts on the ground who have seen how those aluminum rods are being used with their very own eyes? It is now patently clear that Bush will distort the truth to back up his self-serving agenda.
Let’s face it. In the event that Britain and America knew that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and wished to launch them on an unsuspecting world, would they be treating that country with so much disrespect? No, they would not.
The glaring truth is that the Bush administration, backed by Whitehall, is on an oil grab. They know it, we know it and the Iraqis certainly know it. Non-Opec oil is dwindling fast, a fact, which lends far more importance to the rich deposits of black gold under the soil of Iraq, the second largest in the world. Lending credence to this argument is the President’s own words on Tuesday. He stressed that he wanted America to be less reliant on foreign energy sources and wants to devote 1.2 billion dollars to fund research on hydrogen-powered automobiles.
Now that there is such a large allied force in the Gulf, the world’s richest energy resources are under Washington’s control. The Rand presentation to a Pentagon committee last year, which nominated Egypt as ‘the Prize’ could well have been referring to the Suez Canal, gateway to Arabia and the key to its rich underground deposits.
This strangulation of the region not only insures that gas-guzzling America can continue enjoying cheap petrol but could only mean that the expansion of ‘strategic competitors’ (to use a Bushism) like China could be curtailed at the whim of the White House.
Showdown at the Crawford Corale
Another spin-off from an invasion would be the ‘display of power and might’ factor. Experts say that the Pentagon’s war plan includes bombarding Iraq with more missiles in one day than the total expended during the entire duration of the Gulf War. If the Iraqis aren’t cowering in their boots after that then they can expect more of the same until they discard their footwear and run for the dunes.
Iraq would serve as the perfect testing ground for new weapons too. There are plans to test new microwave technology, designed to render the enemy’s electronic weapons as useless. Experts have suggested that bunker busting nuclear warheads could be part of the Pentagon’s armory too. If the campaign goes as planned by the hawks in the form of a short Blitzkrieg, like the fastest gun in the Old West, the US would reign supreme over all of us.
Anyone who sashayed into the Crawford Corale wanting a showdown at dawn would be terminated before he could utter ‘Skull and Crossbones’. ‘Naturally, though, Britain’s Blair, the trusty sidekick, would be allowed to flex his puny muscles and bask in the ensuing, Bush-approved, benefits, including, perhaps, a place on the board of Carlyle like his Prime Ministerial predecessor John Major.
But like in the Old West, there is always somebody out there who is even more ruthless, someone who will not shirk from shooting his enemy in the back or someone with an even faster draw. George Bush and his cohorts are creating the soil in which contenders for top gun will flourish. He is virtually saying to America’s foes: ‘Come and get us. We are invincible’.
Sadly, Mr. Bush, no individual and no nation is invincible forever. Unless you stop creating enemies where none exist, and fuelling the flames of anti-Americanism around the world, then the day will come when you too will be challenged by a merciless opponent… and another… and another.
Defenders of truth and justice
My heroes in this murky mess are those who boarded a London bus en route for Baghdad, led by Kenneth Nicholls O’Keefe, a former marine, where they will willingly serve as human shields. Keefe said on BBC World’s Hard Talk that he wanted to look an Iraqi in the eye and tell him that there are Westerners who care and he’s one of them.
The incredibly honest and authentic O’Keefe reminds me of Lawrence of Arabia who in the movie attempts to explain how he is very different from the ‘fat’ people in England. Lawrence succeeded and garnered the trust of the Arab tribes only to be stabbed in the back by the British establishment. O’Keefe will, no doubt, share a similar fate.
In the same way that Lawrence turned his back on his own and went into obscurity, the former marine already has. He took the step of relinquishing his American citizenship because, as he says, he could no longer swear allegiance or pay taxes to the country of his birth.
The Greenpeace guys and girls on the Rainbow Warrior, presently anchored in the Solent blocking Britain’s warships from sailing off get my vote, along with those protestors who marched to Fairford RAF base in Gloucestershire demanding inspection of Britain’s weapons of mass destruction. I wish I had half their courage and commitment. I can only glue my fingers to the keys and hope that someone out there is listening.
Come on Americans and Britons. Let’s see your mettle. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who swallowed mud in the World War I trenches have been designated ‘the finest generation’. Let’s show the world that we are just as fine and we will not allow egomaniacal greedy leaders to endanger the very existence of humanity in our name.
LINDA HEARD is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org