Assessing the “Threat”
by Margie Burns
June 10, 2003
The notion that Iraq posed a threat to the US should now be exposed as transparent pretense.
Probability always ran against the idea. Iraq is less than one-twentieth the size of America in land area, and less than one-tenth the size of America in population. In fact, Iraq is smaller than Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, both Koreas, and Poland. It has less than one-third the population of Vietnam. [These figures are derived from the World Almanac and Book of Facts.] The Iraqis have already been wasted by two wars in the past twenty years which depleted their male population. Despite their vast oil resources, industry and agriculture are debilitated. Without allies, or Kuwait, they hardly have a port. Even the CIA’s World Fact Book (www.cia.gov) details the miseries of Iraq’s economy.
Against this backdrop – let’s call it, for want of a better word, reality – the Bush White House pushed a mysterious campaign that Saddam’s Iraq posed a threat to the largest military power the world has ever seen, a hemisphere away, because of secret weapons so terrible that they have yet to be named.
Now might be a good time to point out that they also have yet to be found.
US forces have found nothing on a scale to justify invading and remaking another country, the White House has deputized relatively few inspectors to search Iraq, and it has resisted offers of help from other nations and the UN. Quite an information gap. The White House is being equally blank. Tom Brokaw asked President Bush directly (Friday, April 25), “Why not pull in UN inspectors?” No answer. The interview slid right past it. Instead, when asked whether the threat was “overestimated,” Bush shifted his emphasis from “weapons” to a “program.” His exact, and final, words on the topic were “I’m pretty confident we will” [find something].
This indifference fits in with the fact that the administration placed thousands of troops within Saddam’s reach, several thousand at a time, from last fall. Military families knew that reservists were on beepers before Christmas. If you are a rational observer of high-level politics, you have to ask yourself, “Okay, if Saddam’s Iraq was really powered up like another Reich, then why did Bush’s people move thousands of American troops within sitting-duck range for weeks and months on end, placing all those precious lives in jeopardy from some of the most fiendish weapons ever devised by etc?”
The answer, of course, is that they didn’t. The big-talking, big-oil Iraqi regime was not an apparatus on the scale of the government, the military, or even one cabinet agency, of the United States of America. Of course it was not. The endlessly televised image of grotesque Saddam Hussein shooting off a rifle aimlessly upward, at the empty air, is the perfect metaphor for the Iraq regime. It endangered people down below -- especially with help from the sanctions -- but was very little threat above.
Now Iraq’s governing clique has collapsed like a puffball, with Saddam mysteriously MIA. Let’s hope that the public interest prevails and that he is captured, as a valuable intelligence source, rather than killed.
Meanwhile, this White House is trying to move America into the Middle East.
It’s not a popular idea, so they’re not mentioning it publicly. Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter reported that people now in the administration had this game plan in the drawer during the nineties, yet not a word was said about it during the 2000 election. Had Al Gore accused George W. Bush of it, GOP activists would have called up rightwing radio hosts asking for his blood.
Smothering public information is the means to every end. The administration is covering up and drowning out investigation into 9-11, while using 9-11 as a pretext for invading Iraq. Contracts for invading and rebuilding Iraq offer megabucks in profiteering, with the president’s own relatives among those profiting, but the White House freezes out any reporter who tries to ask about them. The CIA and the Reagan and previous Bush administrations beefed up Saddam in the first place, and some of the same contractors profited from the beefing-up, but tacit and explicit pressure is applied against those who bring up these matters.
Margie Burns teaches college English and writes freelance. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the DC-area Journal newspapers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.