Why Israel is So Relevant Vis-à-Vis Iraq
The hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.
-- Hannah Arendt
It seems that the world stands posed at the edge of the precipice of a re-intensification of the Persian Gulf War. The US and its UK lapdog are seeking an escalation in the Persian Gulf War. The UK government, despite much dissension among the members of the ruling Labour party and overwhelming public opposition, is so far standing steadfastly with its cross-Atlantic partner. Incredibly these two nations have the least moral standing to engage in such slipshod imperial adventurism.
Iraq held itself in diplomatic isolation for several years because of the tendentious US policy to Israel. Comparisons of US policy of Arab Middle Eastern countries and Israel have been largely marginalized in the mainstream media. Whether or not there is a fair and balanced US diplomacy between Israel and Iraq is therefore an issue worthy of critical examination.
A fair track record is requisite to lay claim to the moral authority necessary to impose a solution in Iraq, let alone to wage war. This moral paucity is compellingly evinced when the actions of the two Anglo nations are examined in comparison to Israel and Iraq. An analysis of the histories, use of force, and observance of international law is rather telling.
In the aftermath of WWI, the Ottoman Empire was defeated and was eventually consecrated to the archives of history. The Ottoman Empire in 1918 had extended over a wide swath of the Middle East and elsewhere. The Arabs were the allies of the British in WWI and had been promised independence following hostilities. In a display of imperialist treachery, the British reneged on an earlier promise of Arab independence and divided up the Middle East according to the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Sykes-Picot agreement gave Britain control over a large region of the Middle East. Israel, Iraq, and Kuwait were among those nations that emerged from this morass.
A British Mandate was established in Palestine for which Britain had a wider plan. Lord Balfour, in his eponymous declaration envisioned a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. British records from this period showed the population to be preponderantly Arab with a small Jewish minority. The transfer of Jews to Palestine was underway and land was needed. Arab resistance to the expropriation of their land was keenly felt. Armed confrontation was the outcome.
Jews formed terrorist groups and began fighting for their dream of a Zionist homeland. In a classic case of biting-the-hand-that-feeds, the Jews turned on the British. Lord Moyne was assassinated in Cairo and the King David Hotel was blown up with British troops inside. This was despite the fact Britain was fighting the Nazis.
By 1947 Britain had had enough and called on the United Nations to settle the question of Palestine. Both democracy and the Arabs suffered as the indigenous Palestinians were denied the right to a referendum on the partitioning of their land. The Arabs, now comprising 70 % of the population and owning 92 % of the land, were ceded 47% of Palestine in the east while the Jews wound up with the Mediterranean coast. Jerusalem was to be an international city.
Not surprisingly the Arabs were displeased and sought a different result. Similar to the ethnic cleansing the Europeans carried out in the so-called terra nullis of North America, the Jews ruthlessly expelled the inhabitants from the so-called empty lands of Palestine. Jewish aggression put to death and flight hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. War worsened the Arab plight; they did not fare well against the Jews and lost more land. The Six Day War saw the loss of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai, and the Golan Heights.
Iraq was immensely valuable to British imperial interests geo-strategically, being situated near the British colonial jewel of India, and economically. Exploitation of Iraqi oil resources fuelled British corporate interests.
However, Britain did little to curry favor with the Iraqis. Britain occupied Iraq in 1917 and, in a prelude to Guernica, conducted an air bombardment campaign to subdue the rebellious north. In 1921 Kuwait was created purposefully impeding Iraq access to the Gulf. An outsider was brought in as a monarch to rule the Iraqis. Iraq’s military toppled the monarchy in 1958. The new government of General Quassim sought a greater share of the oil profits and was opposed by the US and the UK. Backed by the CIA, a coup saw the Ba’ath Party installed as the new government. After a brief ouster, the Ba’ath Party begins uninterrupted rule in 1968.
In 1975 Iraq ceded control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, an area of longstanding contention between the two countries, to the Shah in Iran to bring about a cessation in CIA-backed operations destabilizing northern Iraq. Later President Saddam Hussein thought he had the military strength to take back the waterway following the Iraqi revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power.
It is necessary to define ‘terrorism’ to avoid the trap of confusing one person’s freedom fighter with another person’s terrorist. The FBI has an appropriate and succinct definition: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Israel is a spawn of terrorism. This claim is not hard to substantiate, the Israelis speak rather openly about it. Noam Chomsky’s book, Western State Terrorism, quotes Yitzhak Shamir, a Zionist terrorist and later Israeli leader as having said: “Neither Jewish morality nor Jewish tradition can be used to disallow terror as a means of war... We are very far from any moral hesitations when concerned with the national struggle. First and foremost, terror is for us a part of the political war appropriate for the circumstances of today...” (1) The retail terrorism of the early Jewish groups fighting to establish a Jewish state has since given way to the more lethal state terrorism.
The US is undoubtedly, and by far, the leading practitioner of state terrorism. The carnage inflicted through US state terrorism or state-sponsored terrorism is a long list ranging from Cuba to Greece, and Korea to Vietnam. (2) Indeed, the US is the only nation to be found guilty by the World Court for terrorism. In 1986, the International Court of Justice found that the US had engaged in the “unlawful use of force” against tiny Nicaragua. The US was called upon to pay reparations and cease funding of the Contras.
Despite repeated mendacious attempts by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair to link Iraq with al-Qaeda, the U.S. Department of State admits the last terrorist action of Iraq is its “known” involvement with the attempted assassination of former President Bush in 1993. (3) This is supported by Mr. Bush Sr.’s former advisor, US Gen. Scowcroft who said, “[Iraq’s] not a terrorist state.” (4)
Aggression is a concept which the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg opined: “To initiate a war of aggression … is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." In 1974 the General Assembly Resolution 3314 stated: "Aggression is the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations, as set out in this definition." Clearly the US, UK, Iraq, and Israel are all guilty of aggression. No country, however, approaches the level of the US in launching aggression against other states, especially the weaker states.
Israel was founded in the bowels of war. Certainly war has served the Zionists well as Israel has expanded to its present size through military conquest. Israel has been in occupation of the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip since its outright victory in the 1967 Six Day War. Many Zionists envision an Israel that extends beyond its current international borders, thus the strategy to construct “facts on the ground.” War has not been unkind territorially to Israel but it has not addressed its security concerns.
Iraq under President Saddam Hussein has also been very belligerent to neighboring countries. It engaged in an eight-year war with Iran and invaded tiny Kuwait. War has left Iraq in tatters. Mr. Saddam with his Republican Guard and security apparatus intact has kept control inside the country. Internally Iraq is divided along ethnic, religious, and tribal lines. The Sunni minority has managed to put down and control any uprising of the Shiites, based in the south, and the Kurds, based in the north.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
Iraq’s first experience with chemical weapons was on the receiving end from British RAF bombers. Winston Churchill approved the attack with unconcealed racism:
I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas... I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes... It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses; gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected. (5)
Iraq has pursued the development of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. It has only demonstrated achievement in the development of chemical weapons. While able to culture biological agents it has not been shown that Iraq was able to weaponize biological agents. There was an active nuclear program but it never reached the stage where a bomb could be produced. Also Iraq has not been shown to have acquired enriched uranium.
Iraq has used chemical weapons. It used poison gas against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war, and sinisterly against its own Kurds in the north. This was done with full US knowledge and without censure at that time. In fact, Defence Minister, Donald Rumsfeld, was meeting with Mr.Saddam Hussein, on the coattails of the Halabja massacre.
Moreover, US companies and other western companies were complicit in the development of WMD technology by Iraq. This explains a recent deletion from the 1200-page Iraqi disclosure to UNMOVIC. The US presented a sanitized version to other Security Council members sans reference to the involvement of western firms.
Israel, on the other hand does have the full range of WMD. It is said by most analysts to have a nuclear armada of at least 200 missiles. Israel was aided by the US, and especially France, in developing its nuclear capability. Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and probably never will be as Israel will not accept consignment to “vassal state” status. (6)
The London Sunday Times reported that Israel has produced both chemical and biological weapons with a “sophisticated delivery system.” A senior Israeli intelligence official acknowledged: "There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon... which is not manufactured at the Nes Tziyona Biological Institute.'' (7)
Even though the US assisted the Israeli nuclear program, the US contradictorily provided intelligence to help Israel launch a pre-emptive strike on the Iraqi Osirak reactor. It seems there is hardly any semblance of disinterest on behalf of the US.
US insincerity is axiomatic with regard to WMD. It possesses the full spectrum of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. It has used them all in war, including the only two nuclear bombs detonated on civilian populations: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The US seeks to entrench the status quo of ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ states under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty albeit Mr. Bush refuses to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The US also blocks meaningful verification of the Biological Weapons Convention.
Mr. Dan Plesch in The Guardian listed two “arguments in support of US policy” on WMD:
The first is: "We are democracies so our weapons are OK and we do not need further control." This is no more than saying that because we are good we cannot be bad. The second is that only western nations believe in ethics and law, so they are no good in the real world. This is as self-contradictory as the first, and insidiously racist. (8)
The US and Israel are major violators of international law. Therefore it is not surprising that the US vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution calling upon all member states to uphold international law. The US along with Israel voted against a General Assembly Resolution to the same effect.
UN Security Council Resolutions
President Bush has repeatedly said that UN Security Council Resolutions must be enforced otherwise the UN risks irrelevancy. Clearly this principle must apply to all UN security Council Resolutions. According to the US department of state: “Saddam Hussein [sic] has repeatedly violated sixteen” UN Security Council Resolutions. US client state, Israel, stands in contravention of a plethora of UN Security Council Resolutions. The US has on numerous occasions used its veto to shield Israel.
None of the principal actors in this paper can escape culpability for war crimes.
The Jews were victims of the Nazi genocide as were Communists, Romany, and homosexuals. For a people who are taught ‘Never to forget,’ well, memory seems a bit short for many Israelis. A systematic destruction of Palestinian society is ongoing. Mr. Edward Herman has made a convincing case for the Sharonian genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2. (9)
The regime of Mr. Hussein is guilty of many abuses and massacres, particularly against the Shiites in the south and the Kurds in the north, but his death campaigns have not reached the level of a genocide. Nevertheless an indiscriminate campaign of death is being waged against the Iraqi people.
Three high-ranking UN officials, serving in Iraq, have resigned in disgust at what they termed the “genocidal” UN sanctions against Iraq. Water purification equipment, medicine, and medical equipment are blocked or their entry into Iraq is seriously hindered. Infant mortality has spiked obscenely. Former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, in reference to the then half a million dead children, quipped that it was a price “worth it.”
Israel has been censured on numerous occasions for its flagrant violations of Geneva Conventions to which it is a signatory. Collective punishment, crop destruction, school closures, land confiscation, building of settlements, home demolitions, institutionalized torture, use of human shields, impeding or preventing the passage of ambulances and medical personnel are all contraventions of international law. Israel as an occupying power has a special responsibility in upholding the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The US as a signatory also has obligations regarding Israel’s transgressions but has blatantly sided with the transgressor. The US, itself, is in breach of several Geneva Conventions, among them its arrogant disregard for the treatment of POWs from Afghanistan. The US defiantly maintains that they are not POWS but rather “enemy combatants.” The International Red Cross is the agency charged with determining the status of such prisoners and has ruled that they must be treated as POWS under the Geneva Conventions.
Israel is always held up as a beacon of democracy in a sea of authoritarian Arab regimes. There is a lot of truth to this. Israel does have a parliamentary system whose members are appointed from a party slate according to that party’s proportion of the popular vote. For the Arab minority, however, democratic virtues have proven illusory. (10)
Iraq has never tasted democracy. This is true, but colonial administration was replaced by a dictatorship imposed by the UK. When direct British control in Iraq proved too wrought with hazard a Hashemite outsider, King Faisal, was installed as a monarch. The Hashemite monarchy sought to mollify the British overlords and was unloved by Iraqi public. Following the Suez Crisis, Britain was too weak to prevent the overthrow of the Hashemite ruler.
Into the ruling role entered the Ba’ath party, which later consolidated its hold on power. Eventually Saddam Hussein grabbed the leadership and has since inflicted his merciless reign over Iraq.
Despite US calls for regime removal and democracy in Iraq, paradoxically the Persian Gulf War reinstalled the authoritarian Emir of Kuwait. The Orwellian-titled Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan saw the puppet-regime of Hamid Karzai installed while the countryside became the fiefdoms of warlords.
Former US attorney General Ramsey Clark said of the US: “But we’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy: a government by the wealthy.” Noam Chomsky stated:
Remember, the United States is not a democracy - and has never been intended to be a democracy. It is what is called in the political science literature a polyarchy. A polyarchy is one in which a small sector of the population is in control of essential decision-making for the economy, the political system, the cultural system and so on.
United Nations Security Council
Insofar as the UN Security Council is esteemed to be the highest level of international lawmaking, the democratic credentials of this body are highly relevant. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council represent the victors of WWII. There is nothing democratic about this arrangement and there is nothing democratic about their veto-wielding power. This same UN body is directly responsible for the sanctions of genocide in Iraq, in stark contradiction to UN Charter principles.
President Bush has characterized Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, as a “man of peace.” The Knesset’s Kahan Commission found this “man of peace” responsible for the massacre of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila. This is one of many great crimes that stain Mr. Sharon’s hands crimson. Mr. Sharon would be more aptly characterized as a terrorist (a term he routinely smears on the Palestinians) and a war criminal. Mr. Sharon is notorious for having uttered: "Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches." This was a thinly veiled reference to Israel’s arsenal of WMD.
Nothing further needs be said about Mr. Saddam. He is an open-and-shut case. The world knows him for the cruel tyrant that he is. He is despot truly worthy of Mr. Sharon.
Analysing the US and UK role vis-à-vis Iraq and Israel exposes an extreme hypocrisy. Both have a history of plundering Iraq and subsidizing Israel. On the Middle East stage a systemic bias against Arabs states as well as the pro-Israeli stance has been delineated. This is evident from the historical record, and the record of terrorism, aggression, and adherence to international law. Former long-time CIA analyst Bill Christison has theorized that, in addition to Iraqi oil, an equally major “real reason for war” is the collusion between Israeli and Washington hawks who plan “a new era of colonialism for the entire Middle East--a colonialism dominated by the U.S. and Israel.” (11) When attempting to make the case for war, the US, UK, and their colluding media ignore the hypocrisy.
The criteria for launching a pre-emptive strike (an action of dubious legal validity) have featured shifting goal posts and twisted rationale. Mr. Bush called on Mr. Saddam to let the inspectors in. If the Iraqis were then found to be concealing WMD then they would be in breach of UNSCR 1441. Then in a supreme feat of logical contortion the Mr. Bush declares that if the UNMOVIC inspectors don’t uncover WMD then Iraq is in material breach because Washington knows that Iraq has WMD. Alexandros Pagidas exposes convincingly the vacuous logic behind Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush’s drive to war. (12)
So far the intelligence provided by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair hasn’t enabled the UNMOVIC inspectors to find any “smoking gun.” Rather the intelligence presented has been misrepresented (plagiarized), unsubstantiated, based on unreliable informants, and flat-out deceitful. Possibly it has also been conjured up. Why should we believe satellite photos or audio evidence presented by the US? We know now that the satellite photos showing Iraqi tanks poised to attack Saudi Arabia were a hoax.
The US record for aggressing another state has been based on such lies as Tonkin Bay, the imperilled US students in Grenada, and the babies ripped from their Kuwaiti incubators. Surely the correct moral choice would be for the US and UK to step aside and relinquish the leading role to a less morally-challenged nation.
The UN warns of a looming humanitarian disaster if a massive bombardment campaign is launched. The world cannot support a war based on such hypocrisy and lies.
Kim Petersen is an English teacher living in China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Noam Chomsky, “International Terrorism: Image and Reality,” in Alexander George (ed.), Western State Terrorism (Routledge, 1991), Chapter 2.
(3) Ben Snowden and Laura Hayes, “State-Sponsored Terrorism: Rogue governments that support international terrorism,” http://www.infoplease.com/spot/terrorism4.html#iran
(4) Toby Harnden, “War of Bush's Ear rages over Iraq,” The Telegraph (UK) on-line, 4 January 2002, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/01/04/war04.xml
(7) Uzi Mahnaimi quoted in John Steinbach, “Nuke Nation: Israel's weapons of mass destruction,” CovertAction Quarterly, April / June 2001. Available on the Third World Traveller website: http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Israel/Nuke_Nation.html
(8) Dan Plesch, “Iraq first, Iran and China next,” The Guardian (UK), 13 September 2002: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4500228,00.html
(9) Edward S. Herman, “Ariel Sharon, From Sabra / Shatila to Jenin: Another U.S.-approved ‘good genocidist’ free to kill,” Z Magazine, June 2002. Available on the Third World Traveler website: http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Israel/Ariel_Sharon_Herman.html
(10) William A. Cook, “Israeli Democracy: Fact or Fiction?”, 25 January 2003, CounterPunch, http://www.ccmep.org/2003_articles/Palestine/counterpunch.htm
(11) Bill Christison, “Categories of war: The US Gameplan for Iraq,” CounterPunch, 8 February 2003: http://www.counterpunch.org/christison02082003.html
(12) Alexandros Pagidas, “The Blair Witch Project,” 13 February 2003, Dissident Voice: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles2/Pagidas_BlairWitch.htm