A highly distinguished and carefully selected team of American scientists just concluded a thorough and consequential mission in Iraq. The declared objective was finding Iraq’s arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. But hidden within such a declaration, was the hope of unearthing a pretext for a calamitous war on Iraq that cost billions of dollars and the irreplaceable lives of thousands.
Shortly after David Kay, who headed the scientific crusade to Baghdad, briefed the US Senate and House of Representatives of his findings, or lack thereof, a declassified version of his report was released. Not only were no weapons found in Iraq, but the disposed Iraqi government, according to Kay, had no capacity to produce chemical warfare agents before the war. So much for the British government scare campaign alleging Iraq’s readiness to launch a global attack using its supposed weapons within 45 minutes upon order.
But as if the war party’s lack of sense was not enough, the response to Kay’s report has displayed a greater lack of shame. Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, responded by saying he had no regrets. “You make judgments on the basis of the information available at the time you are required to make those judgments, and the judgment was valid,” he said, arrogantly and in startling defiance of the facts, and with no remorse for thousands of Iraqis who perished by the war allies’ weapons, which, ironically were the closest in nature to the alleged weapons of mass destruction that Iraq did not even possess.
British Foreign Minister, Jack Straw’s statement appeared as if the man was referring to a completely different report than that of Kay, saying that the American group’s report “confirms how dangerous and deceitful the (Iraqi) regime was, and how the military action was indeed both justified and essential to remove the danger.”
US President George Bush, who was struck by the nightmarish, although imperative findings that most Americans – 53 percent according to a new CBS News-New York Times poll – are now doubtful of his Iraq war, too, continued to defy common sense. “This administration will deal with gathering dangers where we find them.” Although the ambiguity, albeit arrogance of Bush’s words compels no comment, they certainly raise an important subject. If what genuinely concerns Bush is “gathering dangers” then why not go after the big guns, who, in fact do possess such weapons, for example, Israel. Of course, most readers, whether opponents or proponents of US foreign policy in the Middle East understand the irony, needless to say, the impossibility of such a demand. And that is because deep within, most of us are convinced that the US foreign policy doesn’t follow a moral code, rather an immoral, imperial and self-sustaining ideology only aimed at rewarding its followers and crudely punishing its antagonists.
Those living outside this immoral dogma understand that well. One is Nelson Mandela. In an interview with the American Newsweek magazine back in September, Mandela raised a seemingly simple concern. He introduced that concern by stating that Bush’s objectives behind the war were motivated by the President’s desire to “please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America.” Then, he added, “but what we know is that Israel has weapons of mass destruction. Nobody mentions that.”
At the time of Mandela’s statement, some were still functioning based on the premise that Iraq did indeed have such weapons. Kay just told us in his report that no weapons were found. But Kay’s report, or any other for that matter, leaves intact the solid and palpable fact that Israel has weapons of mass destruction.
Israel’s possession of such weapons is so well known a fact, it’s dubbed: “the world’s most well-known secret.” In a BBC report that was aired twice, first in March and then again on June, 2003, the show host begins his communiqué by asking fear-provoking questions: “Which country in the Middle East has undeclared Nuclear weaponry? .. Which country in the Middle East has no outside inspections? .. Which country jailed its nuclear whistleblower for 18 years? ..” The dramatic introduction was followed by an enlarged title page: “ISRAEL’S SECRET WEAPON.”
Israel’s refusal to approve the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in addition to strong speculations that Israel owns up to 300 nuclear warheads and the Arab League’s most recent assertion to the International Atomic Energy Agency that Israel now has the capability of producing a hydrogen bomb, are all not enough to convince the United States and its war ‘coalition’ that Iran and Iraq aren’t the real ‘imminent’ danger.
The present hierarchy of power in the West, the neo-imperialism, of which Israel is an essential part, seems little concerned with logic and rationale when one of its members is the wrongdoer. Aside from that, it makes perfect since for Bush, Blair and Howard to chase after the phantoms of Iraq’s alleged weapons, not leaving an orchard near Baghdad thoroughly excavated, while Israel amasses a wealth of banned weapons, unscathed.
While the rational response to Israel’s heedlessness is as stern a demand to allow unhindered access to weapons inspectors and unconditional signing of the NPT, the exact opposite is taking place. The IAEA is ambushing Iran, who is a potential war target for the US, demanding “full disclosure” of its nuclear program. The agency has set October 31 as the “decisive” and “non-negotiable” deadline.
In the United States, in a mid-September press conference, White House spokesman Scott McClellan sounded the drums of war once more when he threatened to hold Syria “accountable” if it doesn’t cease harboring terrorists (or simply giving a safe haven for anti-Israeli Palestinian factions, who merely operate politically in Damascus). McClellan’s threat ‘coincided’ with a more blatant threat by John Bolton, the US under-secretary of State for Arms and Control and International Security, when he briefed a Congress Committee regarding Syria, saying, “In short, if the language of persuasion fails, these states (starting with Syria) must see and feel the logic of adverse consequences.” Of course, Israel is not one of “these states.”
Israel, whose level of comfort in the United States and its war allies’ unconditional patronage is at an all time high, too, had its own, time-honored method of responding to nit-picking media reports, like that of the occasionally, yet not always honest, BBC. Israel officially declared boycotting the British Broadcasting Company.
The production or use of weapons of mass destruction should be vehemently rejected, regardless of any rationalization, no matter how merited they might appear. When a nuclear bomb is dropped, or when nerve gas is discharge, neither the identity of the attacker nor the victim should be of essence. Equally, we should lend no sympathy to whether the pilot dropping the bomb is a citizen of a democratically elected government or assigned by a religious cleric. Not one should be allowed to produce or attain such massive killing agents, not Iran, not India and certainly not Israel.
One can strongly make the case that if one or more Middle Eastern countries are indeed pondering the probabilities of attaining weapons of mass destruction, it is, in part, because of the fear that its lack of such weapons can place it on the list of most vulnerable countries. It is not easy to scold or kick around a country with a fully functioning nuclear weapons system. The Pakistani response to India’s weaponry, and the North Korean admission to the possession of such weapons are all cases in point. By granting Israel the right to produce weapons that can be used for one purpose only, mass killing, then demanding Iran to cease the mere desire to produce them is the ultimate hypocrisy.
In the past, much of Israel’s actions were justified on the basis of the racist premise of Israel’s progressiveness and the Arab’s backwardness. The right to mass killing should not be equally justified according to the same premise, not by any stretch of the imagination, no matter how racist such an imagination may be.
RAMZY BAROUD is a Palestinian-American journalist and editor-in-chief of The Palestine Chronicle online newspaper. He is the editor of the anthology: “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion.”