by Sadu Nanjundiah
March 8, 2003
As the Bush/Blair/Sharon Project (BBSP) enters its final phase, there is only one of two possibilities of stopping the U.S–led war on Iraq: either through the concerted power of world public opinion (and significantly in the U.S and U.K) or a natural disaster that hits the U.S. The Bush administration has made it clear that it will embark on this war with a “coalition of the willing” or alone if necessary. From the President’s press conference (March 6), it is all a matter of protecting American lives and property and his constitutional responsibility as president to do everything necessary to guard them from harm. The leaders of countries that have jumped on his bandwagon include Australia, Japan, Spain and Italy, besides some others in Eastern Europe. None of the countries (leaders and overwhelming majorities of the people) in Asia (except Japan), Africa or Latin America has expressed support for the Bush doctrine. In the Middle East, other than Israel (which is a hard-core planner of the project), the people in Arab countries are overwhelmingly opposed to the impending invasion of Iraq even as some of their leaders have bemoaned the inevitability of war because of Saddam Hussein’s “intransigence”. They are reluctant to alienate the U.S. leadership for a variety of selfish reasons. Interestingly, some of the largest, broad-based demonstrations against the war have taken place in the very nations whose leaders support war on Iraq (as also the U.S and U.K). A majority of the people polled in these countries is opposed to any war on Iraq. In the United States also, polls indicate that most people would not support a unilateral U.S. campaign against Iraq without widespread international support and an unequivocal United Nations mandate. Which brings up the question, what sort of “democracies” are these countries that support the Bush doctrine of “regime change” in Iraq, replacing it’s dictator with a “democracy” that will serve as a template for the other countries (save Israel) in the region?
The arguments for war on Iraq have shifted as quickly as the sands of the Middle East – from Iraqi defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions to Iraqi links with al-Qaeda to possible Iraq - or Iraqi-supported terrorist groups - attacking U.S/allies with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to the Iraqi government’s repression of its own people (who need to be "liberated" from their everyday suffering at the hands of the most tyrannical regime on earth). It cannot escape even a cursory examination that several other countries are “guilty” of violating U.N. resolutions similar to those Iraq is charged with flouting but escape any scrutiny or sanction from the U.S – most notably Israel. Israel has stocked large quantities of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and has not signed any of the conventions regulating their inspection or prohibiting their use. Incredibly Israel routinely denies even possessing them. The first country to have used nuclear weapons in war was the U.S. It has used bombs plated with radioactive depleted Uranium in the Gulf War of 1991 and in Yugoslavia a few years ago. The Pentagon has not forsworn the use of low-yield nuclear weapons Iraq as “bunker busters” in the war on Iraq.
U.N weapons inspectors who operated in Iraq until 1998, before being withdrawn by the U.N preceding the Clinton bombing spree, certified that 95% of Iraq’s WMD was destroyed. Iraq has been subjected to the most severe sanctions in history imposed on any country with every item it imports screened by a special committee that included American representatives (with veto power). As Iraqi leaders have said many times, the U.S./British alliance is asking their country to prove a negative. If Iraqi does not display its stocks of "unaccounted" WMD or provide the detailed chronology of when and how it destroyed them, it means it must be “hiding” them. If it somehow produces them for inspection, it proves what the Bush administration has been saying all along. No credible evidence has been produced to demonstrate that Iraq is in possession of WMD and is hiding them and continuing to produce them. Also, the matter of Iraq’s ability to manufacture nuclear weapons within a matter of “months” as asserted by the Bush/Blair administrations has been shown to be a concoction by none other than Dr. ElBaradei of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. The U.S. media, acting as shills to the administration’s plans, peddled this lie to a gullible public. In the meantime, whatever Iraq does by way of disarmament, such as destroying the al-Samoud missiles and providing its scientists for personal interviews, is dismissed as “diversionary tactics” and totally insufficient to warrant halting the U.S. military juggernaut massed on Iraq’s borders.
There is no legitimacy under international law for a pre-emptive war against a country that poses no demonstrable threat to its neighbors or to the U.S. and its allies. So it all comes down to cooking-up an excuse for the bombing to start. In 1991, there were the cut & paste satellite pictures provided by the Pentagon to the mass media that “showed” Iraqi troops massed on the Saudi Arabian border, ready to " invade" that country. This was proved to be a shameless fabrication by an intrepid reporter from Florida newspaper after the war was over using commercial satellite pictures of the same area taken at the same time as the Pentagon ostensibly obtained its images. And of course, there was the inflammatory allegation made by the Kuwaiti ambassador’s daughter to the U.S. Congress, alleging that she “witnessed” Iraqi occupation troops throwing babies out of incubators in a Kuwait City hospital (from the comforts of her Washington mansion no less), that helped sway Congress to providing a bare majority support for Bush pere's war.
Come March 17, the Bush administration will embark on an aerial slaughter of Iraqi people like never before, dropping thousands of bombs and missiles daily on a beleaguered, hapless people. The U.S. military will be doing again in Iraq what it did in Vietnam, following its mission of “killing people to save people”, portraying itself as “liberator” of Iraq from the evil clutches of Saddam Hussein. The coming war has all the inevitability and appearance of an armed gang, short of cash, addicted to looting and committing mayhem, desperately looking to satiate its craving for a “hit” after waiting so long, going in for the kill into the neighborhood store. It is being presented by Bush as a combination (or pick one from the smorgasbord ) of “war against terror”, “elimination of WMD”, “removal of a cruel regime”, “liberation of a repressed people”, and “prevention of a future attack on the U.S/its allies”. The U.S. blitzkrieg will be presented as a reality TV show ("improving" upon Gulf War I which was "war as entertainment" ). The devastating “smart” bombs that will hit the people of Iraq will be like nothing else in the history of war. Already, TV news shows have adopted the crusading, cowboy jargon of the fundamentalist President, with captions proclaiming the coming “Showdown with Saddam”. People who question the need for war, its justification or morality, are branded “traitors” or “anti Americans”. Even wearing a Peace shirt in public will get one arrested. The entire ruling class kleptocracy and its corporate/media supporters have been afflicted with the mad cowboy disease. Saddam Hussein dancing naked on the streets of Baghdad will not get Bush to call of his high-testosterone troops, poised and salivating for the kill.
The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington of September 11, 2001 were godsends to the Reagan retreads that infest the Bush White House. Attorney General Ashcroft and Homeland Security Chief Ridge are periodically trotted out to trumpet the capture of yet another “terrorist” or the break-up of another “al-Qaeda cell”, raising the anxiety levels of Americans even higher on the ridiculous color code scale, especially around Islamic religious days. The continued ethnic stereotyping and harassment of Arabs and Muslims could not be done more blatantly and viciously. They come-up with recommendations (duct tape and plastic sheet) that are tailor made for comedy shows and the profit margins of companies contributing to the Bush war chest. The climate of uncertainty and fear that is constantly created by the right-wing media distorts and hides reality from the public, lending the latter to offer some sort of qualified, if confused, support for the administration’s agenda abroad and at home, even if it means violating accepted norms of international law and morality as defined by all the United Nations, various religions and the U.S. constitution itself. Perpetual war and "regrettable" restrictions on civil liberties are promoted as necessary “evils” in fighting “terrorism”.
The U.S. plutocracy has cobbled together an exploitative socio-economic system together with a concomitant set of beliefs and ideas to undergird it. People have been made to accept, even to internalize, it. This rapacious class has honed a self-sustaining system of political leadership that is largely interchangeable between the two parties permitted to operate the machinery of capitalism. It has consolidated the instruments of control – institutions of production, commerce, service, social relations and culture. The broad masses of people are made to think of the entire enterprise as just, fair, democratic, rational, moral and entirely commonsensical. J. Sevan states (in Michael Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish”), “A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains but a true politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of their own ideas…this link is all the stronger in that we do not know of what it is made and we believe it to be our own work; despair and time eat away the bonds of iron …and on the soft fibers of the brain is founded the unshakable base of the soundest Empires.”
We might heed the warning of three notorious figures from the past before Bush embarks on his imperial crusade (with Blair as equerry),
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the American flag” (Huey Long, Louisiana, 1893-1935)
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” (Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering, 1946, Nuremberg trials).
"Let them hate, as long as they fear" (Roman emperor Caligula, as quoted recently by U.S career foreign service officer, John Brady Kiesling, who resigned in disgust at the Bush administration's war plans on Iraq)
Sadu Nanjundiah teaches physics at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, and works with the Coalition for Social Justice, a group of faculty and students at CCSU that discusses and acts on issues of peace and justice, locally and internationally. Email: email@example.com