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imperialism & war

STOP Painting Iraq as a Tortured Saint

It seems like everyone on IMC seems to deny the possibility that Iraq could ever pose a threat to anyone. Why is that, you think?
What would happen if we woke up one day to find that a nuclear bomb had destroyed the heart of Washington, D.C.? Over 100,000 would be dead. The White House, Congress, the offices of the Cabinet, museums, and precious and irreplaceable historic monuments, would all be gone, and our capital rendered uninhabitable for years. Our legislators would have died in numbers sufficient to precipitate a constitutional crisis. If the president were killed, the vice president might still be alive in his secure location, along with bureaucrats sufficient to keep the wheels of government turning (barely) in a crisis-ridden and grieving nation.

But what action would the vice president, now president, take in retaliation? Would he launch a nuclear strike at Baghdad? On what evidence? How would we know if the bomb had come from Saddam Hussein? Would the new president send the FBI to the radioactive wasteland of Washington to find Saddam's fingerprints, or evidence of whoever else might have devised the bomb? (How many FBI agents would remain, by the way?) How long would the investigation take? What would the world be saying in the meantime about the advisability of wiping out the city and people of Baghdad on the hunch that Saddam might have had something to do with the destruction of Washington, D.C.?

I ask these questions because there are those who oppose this war with the argument that we can deter Saddam Hussein. There are those who claim that Saddam would not dare supply al Qaeda with a nuclear device, for fear that we would find "his fingerprints" and subsequently wipe Baghdad off the face of the earth. I do not believe that we can rely on traditional principles of deterrence in the matter of a nuclear bomb supplied to al Qaeda by Saddam Hussein. I would like to see opponents of the war explain in more detail how we would determine Saddam's guilt after a nuclear terrorist attack, and how and when we would retaliate.

Was Saddam behind the terrorism already launched against us? We still don't know. Could Saddam's anthrax have been the anthrax in the envelopes sent to Congress? We don't know. Could Saddam's agents have met with Mohammad Atta? We're not sure. Might Saddam have had a hand in the first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center? Some say yes, but we still don't know. Would we know more after a nuclear explosion in the heart of our capital?


By the way, the attempt to topple the World Trade Center in 1993 was intended to kill 200,000 people, roughly the combined death toll of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Had the truck bomb been just a bit stronger and positioned just a few feet over, one tower (of 50,000 people) would have toppled into the second tower (of 50,000 people), and both towers would have fallen onto the surrounding offices (containing another 100,000 people), before anyone could have escaped. So we have already been subject to an attack intended to be equivalent to nuclear in scale.

In 1993, the same year as the first attack on the World Trade Center, Saddam's intelligence agents attempted to assassinate the first president Bush. Let's stop and think about that for a moment. That attempt to assassinate the former president has become a bit of a cliché, frequently recited as part of a list of Saddam's depredations, but not really considered.

It is often said by those who believe that the principle of deterrence will suffice to contain Saddam that he is rational enough not to do anything that could bring down the might of the United States upon his head. But why then did he attempt to assassinate former President Bush? Revenge, of course. But why would Saddam have risked bringing on his own destruction, as a successful assassination attempt against even a former president well might have? In this case, after all, we could, and did, trace the source of the plot. And in response to even an unsuccessful assassination attempt on a former president, President Clinton did in fact launch a cruise-missile strike against Iraq's intelligence headquarters. What might we have done had the attempt on the former president's life succeeded?

So the importance of Saddam's attempt to assassinate the first president Bush (just after his presidency had ended) is not simply that it shows his wickedness, but that it suggests that deterrence will not, and has not, worked in Saddam Hussein's case. Saddam has already risked his life and his power on an act that had no real benefit but revenge and "glory." Arguably, the traditional logic of deterrence has already failed with Saddam.

David Brooks has pointed out that those who oppose an invasion of Iraq never bother to balance the risks of an attack against the dangers of inaction. That is right. But it's important to emphasize that the problem extends well beyond Noam Chomsky and his ilk. I find it extraordinary that even so serious and distinguished an observer as Stanley Hoffman could have written a lengthy attack on President Bush's Iraq policy without giving a moment's serious consideration to the danger of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction in the new terrorist environment.

Despite September 11, I do not believe that most of the Americans who openly or privately oppose this war have given sufficient thought to the true nature of the danger we now face in a world of terrorism and proliferating weapons of mass destruction. Many opponents of the war are honestly at a loss to understand the reasons that are driving us toward invasion.

Is it not extraordinary that the Israelis would like to see us attack Iraq, knowing that it will almost surely prompt an attack on Tel Aviv by Saddam's chemical and biological weapons? Why do the Israelis willingly risk this? It is because they know that once Saddam Hussein has a nuclear bomb, he will find a way to give it to terrorists for use against Israel. Clearly, Israel does not believe that the logic of deterrence will work with Saddam. Although they have nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them to Baghdad, the Israelis know that they face the very real possibility of waking up one morning to find that the heart of Tel Aviv has been wiped off the face of the earth. The Israelis take this danger so seriously that they are willing to subject themselves to chemical and biological attack to protect against it.

Do we not understand that we are now, and have been for some time, every bit as much a target for Saddam Hussein as the Israelis? The Europeans and the Canadians know that they will not be hit, at least so long as they continue to make the right noises. Gerhard Schroeder was clever to play to the fears of his people. His pledge to refrain from aiding our invasion must have reassured many frightened Germans that America and Israel would remain the sole targets. And make no mistake about it. We are targeted.
Go away lame! 25.Sep.2002 14:30

StevetheGreen

Your arrogant and condescending posts are very insulting!

There are many very intelligent and educated people who visit this site as well as post here. They do not need your "mainstream media" insights to inform them of your jaded brand of truth.
We have heard your views before.

They are nothing more than parroting the Bush administrations lies of ommision and half truths.
If we want your viewpoint, we can turn on the corporate media or listen to conservative dominated radio.

People come here to get independent perspectives, not to listen to jingoistic rhetoric from psuedo intellectual conservatives.

Is your life so pathetic that your only source of entertainment is to post your nazi propaganda on an independent media site?

Get a life loser.

wow 25.Sep.2002 14:32

twilight youth

You are a real steward to independent and underreported media! With the major news media painting the image of Iraq and Islamic peoples as tourtured saints I never really gave it a second thought!

in ADDITION to this enduring piece of original and uncomprimising journalism I must also applaud your gallant efforts in defending those without voice in the name of basic human rights for all. how do you sleep at night knowing that your almost messianic crusade for the war torn goes unnoticed by others on IMC? You are a real agent of peace and justice for ALL. Something must be done for your efforts, like maybe a burning effigy?

naw, you aren't that important.

if you don't like the atmosphere............. 25.Sep.2002 15:01

reredredterri

go to the moon, darlin'!
(as my grandfather used to say)

The real terrorists - USA 25.Sep.2002 15:02

xul

Tony Blair's "dossier" on Iraq is a shocking document. Reading it can only fill a decent human being with shame and outrage. Its pages are final proof - if the contents are true - that a massive crime against humanity has been committed in Iraq. For if the details of Saddam's building of weapons of mass destruction are correct - and I will come to the "ifs" and "buts" and "coulds" later - it means that our massive, obstructive, brutal policy of UN sanctions has totally failed. In other words, half a million Iraqi children were killed by us - for nothing.

hardly worth it but... 25.Sep.2002 16:17

someone

Since Lamet seems to never read the responses to his posts (of the ones I've bothered to read) - which would seem to indicate he/she does not care to engage in a meaningful discussion or dialog. However, I felt it important to point out that:

1) 100,000 dead in dc, whicle tragic is hardly worse than 1.5 million dead in Iraq (a conservative estimate of how many civilians have been killed by the sanctions). Not that this endorses retaliation, just to point out that resistance to genocide is human nature.

2) It's not a question of would Saddam dare to supply al Qaeda with a nuclear weapon for fear of the US finding out. It's a question of why would he dare give nuclear weapons to a group that would be content to use them on Iraq. Hussein is a moderate Muslim and as such has fought the Islamic fundamentalists throughout his career. That doesn't mean he's a nice guy; it means he's a moderate muslim and, at best, not friendly with al Qaeda or bin Laden and at worst, as has been reported, actually enemies with bin Laden and the Taliban.

3) There's no evidence linking Saddam with 9/11. You can conjecture all you want but conjecture is not a solid foundation for going to war in many peoples' opinion. Many conjecture that with the close ties between the Bush's and bin Laden's, the many meetings between the Taliban and oil executives in Texas throughout the nineties, the many unanswered questions about the attact imply that the Administration was behind the attacks. But that doesn't mean we should go to war. It means we should try to find out more information.

4) Bush attempts to assassinate Hussein; Hussein attempts to assinate Bush; Bush attempts to assinate Hussein...

5) If you want to live in a world of fear, please do. But don't tell the rest of us how to feel. I am not afraid of foreign terrorism. And I grieve for the millions who have been victims of US imperialism and the many more who still may become victims. They have a right to resist, a right to fight for their way of life, just as we do. But personally, I'd like to see no more killing. So let's not go to war and give them another reason to fight back.

Basic physics 25.Sep.2002 16:25

nasruddin

Lamet,

Not even Bush and Blair have claimed that Iraq has anywhere near the capability of delivering any type of missile beyond 200 or so miles. They haven't even claimed that he has nuclear weapons or even the materials to build them. They've merely proclaimed that he has an interest in acquiring that capability. Maybe he did have that interest in the 80s and early 90s, but it's awful hard to prove or disprove what someone is thinking. Now that he no longer has the U.S. supplying him with weapons of mass destruction (how do you feel, by the way, about recent reports that we also gave him his biological and chemical weapons?) I personally don't think he's focused on much more than survival for him and his cronies.

If a missile were to land anywhere on American soil (or anywhere at all for that matter) it's basic physics to calculate exactly where it came from. You need some pretty big equipment to launch a nuclear missile and it would show up on satellite imagery. Terrorists are not going to be launcing intercontinental ballistic missiles without some serious state support which would be noticed. Anyway, the scenarios for him attacking us anytime soon are generally pretty absurd and emotional. Are you open to the possibility that Bush and his PR people could be attempting to manipulate your emotions in order to pursue their agendas? A clue that this is so - the proposed policy remains the same, while the rationale for doing it continually shifts depending on what reasons seem to sell best. He did it with the tax cuts - needed because of the surplus, needed because of the recession, needed out of whatever ... And now with Iraq - we must attack because he's a threat to us, no, he's allied with the terrorists, no, he abuses human rights, no, he defies the U.N., and so on.

How about - I wanna distract from the economy and corporate scandals, I want to distract from my environmental record, I wanna distract from my cozy ties with corporate lobbyists, I want to avenge my father, I want to one up my father, I want to prove that we're the biggest baddest boys on the block, I want to open up control of Iraqi oil to American corporations who happen to by my friends and campaign contributors, all my conservative friends have decided this is a good idea and I'm hypnotized ...

The funny thing is, it would be a good thing for the Iraqi people if Saddam was overthrown and a legitimate democratic government put in place. And the Kurds given their own state. And sanctions ended. And the country rebuilt. But the imagination and passions of Bush and his henchmen do not appear to be moved by human rights and aspirations. Else why would they (many of these same people were in the Executive Branch in the 80s and 90s) have given him his weapons of mass destruction in the first place and assisted him after he attacked Iran? So why do you trust him?

caw caw 25.Sep.2002 16:37

raven

The U.S. is by far the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.

The U.S.'s own inspectors say that Iraq poses no significant threat and will not for years to come.

Your post is mere propaganda, with no basis in fact