Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|12/20/01 at 00:17:23|
|As Salaam Alaikum,|
It is so apparent why Iraq is on the wanted list.
Larry Everest Friday, December 14, 2001
THE BUSH administration may be preparing to expand the "war on terrorism" to Iraq. But little evidence supports U.S. allegations of Saddam Hussein's involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks, anthrax mailings or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
A plan has been circulating in Washington for the past three years to overthrow the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, through a combination of U.S. air power and proxy armies. According to the London Guardian, U.S. attacks are possible within months, triggered by an Iraqi refusal to allow arms inspectors.
U.S. successes against the Taliban have emboldened many in the Bush administration. But Iraq is no Afghanistan.
The Taliban neither consolidated its hold nor built regular armed forces.
Iraq, on the other hand, has a strong state apparatus and a sizeable professional military. In Afghanistan, the United States had well-armed and battle-hardened allies; in Iraq, the United States would have to organize a Shia army from scratch in the south, and may not be able to count on the Kurds in the north.
An air war in Iraq would mean bombing densely populated urban areas -- resulting in heavy civilian casualties -- not small towns, mountains and caves as in Afghanistan.
Waging war on Iraq would also have far more explosive political repercussions than the campaign in Afghanistan -- both in the region and globally. U.S. bombings and sanctions against Iraq have become widely condemned in the Arab world, and another assault could set off far more unrest than attacks on the Taliban.
More to the point, a war on Iraq would call into question the administration's stated justification for its "war on terrorism" -- punishing those responsible for Sept. 11 and preventing such attacks in the future.
In fact, powerful individuals in the Pentagon and its Defense Policy Board seek to advance long-held regional and global objectives that have more to do with oil and geopolitics than with protecting America from terrorist attacks.
The cries for overthrowing Saddam Hussein began a decade ago, following the Persian Gulf War.
Since then, the drumbeat to act decisively has mounted as support for the U. S. policy of "containment" through sanctions and military strikes has eroded. This past July, the Wall Street Journal reported that "senior officials have held almost weekly meetings on the issue to discuss whether to push for the (Hussein) government's ouster."
Sept. 11 gave this push new momentum. A week later, the Defense Policy Board, a group of high-level Pentagon officials and defense experts, met behind closed doors to evaluate the regional and global ramifications of the attacks. According to the New York Times, the group agreed "on the need to turn on Iraq as soon as the initial phase of the war against Afghanistan was over," and dispatched former CIA Director James Woolsey to London "on a mission . . . to gather evidence linking Mr. Hussein to the Sept. 11 attacks."
While in London, Woolsey floated various charges against Iraq: that in 1998,
al Qaeda members traveled to Baghdad for Saddam Hussein's birthday; that Iraq trained al Qaeda personnel; that Iraqi agents met with alleged hijacker Mohammed Atta; that Iraq supplied fake passports for all 19 hijackers; and that Iraq was behind the anthrax mailings.
No solid proof has been produced for any of these charges. There was a flurry of news coverage raising the possibility of Iraqi involvement in the anthrax mailings. But anthrax spores mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle turned out to be the "Ames" strain -- developed in the United States --
not the Vollum strain that Iraq had been working with (after buying it from a Maryland firm).
Though the Ames strain was sent to labs around the world and could conceivably have been obtained by Iraq, the discovery makes Iraq a less likely suspect.
Lacking a firm link to Sept. 11 or anthrax, the "attack Iraq" campaigners have increasingly turned to charges that Iraq is building "weapons of mass destruction" and is therefore a threat. On Nov. 26, President Bush demanded that Iraq submit to new weapons inspections, expanding his definition of "terrorists" to those who threaten others with weapons of mass destruction.
The New York Times reported that "the debate inside the administration is no longer over whether to go after Mr. Hussein, but how."
Let's leave aside for the moment the hypocrisy of U.S. demands to inspect Iraqi military installations; Washington's own refusal of on-site inspections torpedoed the Geneva talks on the Biological Weapons Convention.
Let's also leave aside that, according to renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersch and others, U.N. arms inspectors collaborated with the CIA to gather intelligence and coordinate coup and assassination attempts against Saddam Hussein.
The "weapons of mass destruction" charges against Iraq ignore the impact of years of U.N. inspections and weapons destruction programs, as well as the degree to which sanctions have crippled Iraq's industrial and technical base.
Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter wrote in October in the London Guardian that "Iraq's biological weapons programs were dismantled, destroyed or rendered harmless during the course of hundreds of no-notice inspections." In an interview with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Ritter said, "Iraq today possesses no meaningful weapons of mass destruction capability."
Hans von Sponeck, former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, states, "Iraq today is no longer a military threat to anyone. Intelligence agencies know this. All the conjectures about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq lack evidence."
Indeed, the campaign against Iraq illustrates more about U.S. objectives than Iraqi capabilities. For some, the response to Sept. 11 is guided by long- standing and overarching objectives: strengthening the U.S. grip on the oil- rich Middle East and Central Asian regions and U.S. status as the world's sole superpower. They see overthrowing Hussein as netting a "significant strategic benefit."
But as a former Jordanian official warns, "If America moves to Iraq . . . People would start to question the motivation even for striking Afghanistan. People will begin to suspect that terrorism is just a pretext."
Lost in the accusations against Iraq is the devastating impact U.S. actions are already having. Five thousand Iraqi children die each mojth due to U.S. sanctions, according to some estimates -- a Sept. 11-sized horror every 30 days, with threats of more to come.
Larry Everest is a contributing writer for Pacific News Service. He traveled to Iraq in 1991 to shoot the video "Iraq: War Against the People."
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle Page A - 31
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