Glimmers of Hope
by Carl Doerner
March 20, 2003
(March 19) Concern that the Bush Administration's headlong rush to war will weaken the UN is being expressed everywhere. Adopting pre-emptive measures, that is, maneuvering 200,000 troops into position to do battle with a another merely suspect state, the critics say, violates basic principles of the world organization. The preliminary assaults have already begun and the barrage is only hours away.
White House hawks pay only lip service to the inspections process, their war plans driven by ideology, desire to maintain political power and even, in the case of Dick Cheney, personal financial gain. Cheney, a former CEO, continues to receive payments from Halliburton: Kellogg Brown and Root Services, the corporation designated to restore Iraq's oil fields, the firm that cleaned up the torched Kuwait fields in 1991, and one of the contenders for the a massive contract to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure after war.
This is as if the Truman Administration had contracted General Motors to repair Germany after World War II. But such a contract to Halliburton would not simply be government-to-corporation largesse; it would be a pay back. The Federal Election Commission reports that during the past two elections Halliburton contributed $709, 320 - 95% of this going to George Bush and other Republican candidates.
While designs for a peaceful world are indeed being wantonly violated, we are also witnessing a historic phenomenon. In a process the Bush administration never contemplated, people in great numbers, in every country of the world, have taken to the streets to demand these mad plans be stopped. And they have moved close to achieving that goal. Legislatures everywhere (except in the United States) are debating this issue.
Bush sought to assemble the grand alliance his father employed against Iraq in 1991, hoped for NATO and some Arab-nation support, and finally settled for what he termed a "coalition of the willing." As weeks have passed, the administration's propaganda campaign against Iraq has failed and the "evidence" presented by Secretary Powell to the UN has proven to be fabricated. The few would-be allies proved hesitant. Offered $30-billion to participate, Turkey wavers. Considering the threats, promises, and leveraging with dollars, what remains could better be deemed a "coalition of the unwilling."
So what is at work here, and just how is the UN effected?
It is now widely known that this war to depose Saddam Hussein and control the Mideast was planned years ago, largely by a then out-of-office group now running the Defense Department: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle. Cheney was also a part of this group. They have all been selected and Congress has yielded it authority, so we will have a war few want and for which there is no need.
The opening barrage - 3000 bombs and missiles in 48 hours - will be trumpeted as a success, and with "few civilian casualties" no matter what the carnage. Corporate media have long been patriotically complicit in these matters. And if, in the rush to Baghdad, no caches of banned weapons are found, their presence may be described, even planted, to justify the war.
Then the trouble will begin. Saddam Hussein has concentrated six Republican Guard divisions in Baghdad. The choice Bush may face is whether to annihilate the 5-million civilians in a city the size of Boston or conduct an action as devastating as the Battle of Stalingrad. There, in the winter of 1942-3, the attacking Germans alone suffered 300,000 casualties. In urban warfare in Baghdad, former Senator Gary Hart suggests, 50,000 American soldiers may perish.
Rumsfeld has not ruled out US use of disabling gas or nuclear weapons. Kurds fear Turkey will seize this opportunity to take possession of part of Iraq, and Israel may seek to drive millions of Palestinians into Jordan. Destabilization of regional regimes could easily occur. In short, this war is as chancy as a roll of the dice.
Our days are darkened now with war clouds comparable to those of 1939, the ponderous difference being that it is an Anglo-American alliance launching the blitzkrieg. They will have their war and also, its foreign and domestic outcome, a petard upon which this administration is likely to perish.
"Peace cannot be kept by force," wrote Albert Einstein. "It can only be achieved by understanding." People everywhere are increasingly aware and, though it may require yet another catastrophe to secure the lesson, out of that knowledge can come more peaceful and generous approaches to problems.
What does provide hope in this dark time is that an international organization charged with maintaining order upholds still the rule of law, and members challenge other members not to violate established principles. While the Bush Administration threatens aggression as leaders did in earlier times, people by the millions are marching to a different drum.
Carl Doerner writes news analysis to New England media and is the author of
Ashes and Embers, a work of fiction.