The Inevitability of the War Against Iraq, and the Gospel of George W.

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Bush
is planning to launch a major invasion of Iraq – despite the fact
that almost all of the European and Arab countries have expressed
disapproval of this action and that his Administration’s vigorous
efforts to recruit allies in Europe – in an effort to create at
least the appearance of a “coalition” – has failed; only England
has agreed to participate in the war. For the Bush Administration
the attack on Iraq represents an opportunity to implement for the
first time Bush’s new doctrine of preemptive war – “preemptively”
attacking countries the President has identified as “threats” to
American security. Preemptive strikes are the foundation of the
new national security strategy as outlined by Bush and Senior Administration
officials.

The
determination of the Bush and Company to oust Saddam has not been
attenuated by their lack of support – in fact opposition seems
only to make them more insistent. In Europe, French and German officials
have expressed fears that an attack on Iraq would de-stabilize the
entire Middle East. (New York Times, July 22, 2002) The European
Union’s top security official, Javier Solana, warned in an interview
that it would be “very very difficult” to sustain allied support
for an assault on Iraq unless progress is first made towards creating
a Palestinian state. Germany foreign minister Joschka Fischer expressed
disappointment at the Bush Administration’s abandonment of a “multilateral”
approach to foreign affairs, and stated that the greatest threat
to European security was not Hussein but “a new war in the region
that might further inflame the passions of Arabs” who want to see
an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. However
Bush undoubtedly realizes that, “[t]he panicked incredulity of a
few months ago is turning into nervous resignation. Europeans increasingly
consider an American invasion all but inevitable, whether they like
it or not. And if the United States stubbornly insists on going
forward, European officials privately acknowledge, their governments
probably won’t protest much.” (Washington Post, July 21)

In
the Arab world the opposition to the war is intense – probably
because many of the Arab governments realize a war may jeopardize
their survival. When Vice President Dick Cheney visited the Middle
East in March, the Arab leaders all expressed their desire to see
a settlement with Iraq. At the Beirut summit of the Arab League
at the end of the month, all of the 22 Arab nations unanimously
endorsed a resolution opposing an attack against Iraq. This is a
very different situation from 1991, when most of the region supported
– or contributed to – the US-led war effort, or were
at least neutral. Mustapha Alani, a Middle East specialist with
the Royal United Services Institute in London noted that “This is
a very sensitive issue for them. Liberating Kuwait is a legitimate
objective, but toppling regimes is completely different.” Saudi
Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on his arrival in Tehran
on Saturday, August 3 for a day of talks, “We have a common position
with Iran. We oppose any military attack against Islamic and regional
countries and we are both opposed to any American military attack
against Iraq.” (Reuters, August 3, 2002) Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah
has warned that the US “should not strike Iraq, because such an
attack would only raise animosity in the region against the United
States.” “Just open a map,” said a member of the Kuwaiti royal family
in close consultation with Washington. “Afghanistan is in turmoil,
the Middle East is in flames, and you want to open a third front
in the region? That would truly turn into a war of civilizations,”
he added. (New York Times, July 30)

Saudi
Arabia has served notice that the Sultan air base near Riyadh will
not be available for a new US offensive against Iraq. Under severe
US pressure, Qatar has agreed to permit the transfer of logistics
from Saudi Arabia to its territory. A combination of the economic
carrot and the stick may convince a couple countries – who are not
too threatened by popular revolts – to allow the US to use their
countries for launching strikes. A political crisis had been looming
in Jordan as a result of US demands to use Jordan as a possible
staging area in a war against Iraq. On July 29, the government finally
said, “Jordan will not be used as a launching pad.” The Bush Administration
will face similar obstacles with the Turkish government once the
prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, decides to relinquish his post and
fresh elections are scheduled.

”America
has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge, thereby
making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and
limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace,” Bush declared
in a an important recent address at the US Military Academy at West
Point. In other words, American power will make it invulnerable
to the risks of attack by other countries or forces – an assertion
that is surreal after the events of September 11. This is a strategy
for international anarchy, for global self destruction, based on
a complete repudiation of all the principles that have been the
foundation for international order since the conclusion of WW2.

There
are virtually no restraints that the US is willing to accept – a
fact that must give other countries cause for consternation. As
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (curiously this Islamic fundamentalist
displays a better understanding of international law than the leader
of the free world) said, “If such dangerous phenomena (use of force)
become an ordinary occurrence, then no government and nation will
feel safe from powerful countries.”

Instead
of relying upon treaties, diplomacy, conflict negotiations and adherence
to international law in order to maintain international stability,
Bush thinks he can achieve both American dominion and national security
through the power and ingenuity of American military technology.
This is the new Bush doctrine (present in nascent forms in previous
Administrations). To put it more precisely this is the George W.
Bush Gospel – forget that Jesus stuff – that allows his Administration
to completely disregard the views and positions of other countries,
as well as the potential threat others pose to the US.

Since
he has been in office Bush has repudiated the Kyoto Protocol on
global warming, the International Criminal Court, the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), an international convention to regulate
the trade in small arms, the treaty banning land mines, a verification
Protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention, an international
convention to regulate and reduce smoking, the World Conference
Against Racism, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems Treaty, inter
alia. As international lawyer Francis Boyle puts it, “To date the
Bush Jr Leaguers have not found an international convention that
they like.”

The
Bush Gospel relies upon force not law, and as we will see, it is
based on a religious faith in American military power that is not
even shared by most of the top generals in the military establishment,
including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are opposed to a war with
Iraq on the grounds that it entails unacceptable risks and costs
to the lives of Americans and others. The Bush Gospel explains his
“unilateralism,” his insistence that America constitutes a law unto
itself. It explains his willingness to plunge Americans into a war
that will result in the death of hundreds, if not thousands of American
soldiers, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and, as Pat Buchanan
has pointed out, may very well bring about the very war between
the West and Islam that Bin Laden was praying for when he sent those
airliners into the World Trade Center.

Bush’s
belief in security through superiority of brute force not only explains
his refusal to ratify or his decision to withdraw from virtually
all of the significant weapons control treaties that had been negotiated
within the last 30 years but it also explains his threat to resort
to the first use of nuclear weapons (even upon non-nuclear countries),
and his substitution of threats and preemptive wars for the decades
old strategy of deterrence.

The
revelations of the classified US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which
was first released in partially unclassified form in January 2002,
indicated contingency plans for the potential use of nuclear weapons
against at least seven named states. These revelations are sure
to have alarmed these governments, and created an atmosphere of
mounting risk. The Bush Administration’s policy toward nuclear weapons
use, combined with its plans to develop and deploy missile defenses
– the weaponization of space – is almost certain to encourage
the expansion of nuclear weapons programs by Russia and China as
well as the development of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction
by other countries. It is also likely to give rise to destructive
new arms races. But according to the Gospel of Bush, America’s military
strengths are “beyond challenge” – thus presumably we are invulnerable,
as if protected from nuclear attacks by the grace of God, or the
NMD. (Is there a difference in Bush’s mind?)

The
Bush Gospel explains his “unilateralism” – his insistence that America
will determine its own policies without consultations with other
countries or without regard to the decisions of the United Nations.
This unilateralism is antithetical to the principle of multilateralism
upon which the United Nations was founded, and which has prevented
the outbreak of a major world since the end of World War 2. Albert
Einstein, the great 20th century scientist and humanitarian, described
well the costs and the invaluable rewards of the multilateral approach,
“Anybody who really wants to abolish war must resolutely declare
himself in favor of his own country’s resigning a portion of its
sovereignty in favor of international institutions: he must be ready
to make his own country amenable, in case of a dispute, to the award
of an international court. He must in the most uncompromising fashion
support disarmament all around….” Einstein and Bush – the two men
stand at opposite poles in their approach to peace and world order.

Bush’s
Gospel did not spring into his mind by divine revelation after September
11. It is based upon planning that began in the early 1990s by many
of the men now in Bush Jr’s Cabinet, or close advisers – Cheney;
Rumsfeld; Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense; Richard
N. Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory
group, among others (see New Yorker, The Next World Order
by Nicholas Lemann, April 1, 2002). A defense strategy was incorporated
into a report signed in January, 1993 by Dick Cheney. The primary
premise of this strategy is that the United States can attain and
maintain permanent global dominance. The power of the men who have
been developing these ideas and Bush (who has embraced their strategy)
has been enhanced by the events of September 11. (Colin Powell’s
moderate position has been marginalized.)

As
Nicholas Lemann put it, “It is only now, six months after the attacks,
that we are truly entering the realm of Presidential choice, and
all indications are that Bush is going to use September 11th as
the occasion to launch a new, aggressive American foreign policy
that would represent a broad change in direction rather than a specific
war on terrorism. All his rhetoric, especially in the two addresses
he has given to joint sessions of Congress since September 11th,
and all the information about his state of mind which his aides
have leaked, indicate that he sees this as the nation’s moment of
destiny – a perception that the people around him seem to be encouraging,
because it enhances Bush’s stature and opens the way to more assertive
policymaking.”

One
of the senior officials Lehmann met with told him that the main
reason September 11 represents such an opportunity is because it
drastically reduced the public’s usual resistance to American military
involvement overseas. In other words it represents an opportunity
to finally overcome the “Vietnam Syndrome.” A “preemptive” war on
Hussein represents the prize for the Bush Administration – the opportunity
to implement a strategic and epochal shift in foreign policy and
to impose their new strategy upon America and the world. This official
approvingly mentioned to Lehmann a 1999 study by the Triangle Institute
for Security Studies, which claimed that the public would tolerate
30,000 American deaths in an effort to prevent Iraq from acquiring
weapons of mass destruction. On the basis of his research Lemann
concluded in March of 2002 (when the New Yorker went to press)
that the Bush Administration was wholly committed to a war to topple
Hussein, and he predicted it would take place sometime in early
2003 and require the deployment of a hundred to three hundred thousand
American ground troops .

Lemann
made this prediction several weeks before the New York Times
revealed on April 28 that the Bush Administration had a blueprint
for an air campaign and an invasion of Iraq involving the use of
70,000 to 250,000 troops. Several months later on July 5 the Times
reported that the military had prepared a document containing a
“highly evolved” plan of attacking Iraq from land, sea and air involving
as many as 250,000 troops. According to this grandiose plan, which
was based on the highly improbable assumption that eight Arab countries
will cooperate with them, “tens of thousands of marines and soldiers
[will invade Iraq] from Kuwait. Hundreds of warplanes based in as
many as eight countries, possibly including Turkey and Qatar, would
unleash a huge air assault against thousands of targets, including
airfields, roadways and fiber-optics communications sites. Special
operations forces or covert CIA operatives would strike at depots
or laboratories storing or manufacturing Iraq’s suspected weapons
of mass destruction and the missiles to launch them.”

In
an interview with Richard Haas, Director of Policy Planning for
the State Department (a more “moderate” Bush appointee), Haas dismissed
doubts about the American public’s readiness to tolerate a war of
this scope and expressed faith in the power of propaganda to convince
them that this is preemptive war fought for the purpose of protecting
them from an attack by Hussein. “I don’t think the American public
needs a lot of persuading about the evil that is Saddam Hussein,”
he said. “Also, I’d fully expect the President and his chief lieutenants
to make the case. Public opinion can be changed. We’d be able to
make the case that this isn’t a discretionary action but one done
in self-defense.”

Indeed
the US and the international public are being inundated daily with
propaganda from every medium about the threat Iraq poses to America
in 2002. In the forefront of those advocating war against Iraq has
been the US deputy secretary of defence, Paul Wolfowitz, who sees
a military solution as the only option. On July 14 he stated in
Istanbul: “President Bush has made it clear how dangerous the current
Iraqi regime is to the United States and that it represents a danger
we cannot live with indefinitely.”

One
person who is not persuaded is Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector
in Iraq, and a conservative Republican. (See July 26 Znet for summary
of Ritter’s recent speech.) According to Scott Ritter, who spent
seven years in Iraq with the UNSCOM weapons inspection teams performing
“acidly detailed” investigations into Iraq’s weapons program, no
such capability exists. Fearing military retaliation if they hid
anything, the Iraqis instituted a policy of full disclosure. Still,
Ritter believed nothing they said and tracked everything down. By
the time he was finished, Ritter says, he was sure that he and his
UNSCOM investigators had stripped Iraq of 90–95% of all their
weapons of mass destruction, leaving them with not enough to constitute
a significant threat to the US. Therefore, no rationale for a war
against Iraq exists. Considering the lives of American soldiers
and Iraqi civilians that would be lost in such an endeavor, not
to mention the deadly regional destabilization that will ensue,
Ritter argues that such a baseless war must be avoided at all costs.

However
Ritter also strongly believes that it is imperative to prevent Hussein
from reconstituting his capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction.
This requires a reinstitution of a UN led regime of weapons inspections.
Ritter said, “Diplomatically, politically, Saddam’s a little bit
of a threat. In terms of a real national security threat to the
United States, no, none … We should be trying to get weapons inspectors
back into Iraq, so that we can ascertain exactly what’s transpiring
in Iraq today instead of guessing about it.” But the problem is
that Bush is dead set against that prospect. The Bush Administration
has done everything possible to make sure that Hussein will NOT
let weapons inspectors back in.

In
June 2002 it was leaked that the CIA had been directed to capture
or kill Saddam Hussein. Ritter remarked at the time, ‘Now that Bush
has specifically authorized American covert-operations forces to
remove Hussein, however, the Iraqis will never trust an inspection
regime that has already shown itself susceptible to infiltration
and manipulation by intelligence services hostile to Iraq, regardless
of any assurances the UN secretary-general might give.’ (Los
Angeles Times, 19 June, 2002) (In the past US weapons inspectors
illegally used their positions as a cover for gathering intelligence
information about Iraq – a fact widely reported at the time.)
As Ritter put it, ‘The leaked CIA covert operations plan effectively
kills any chance of inspectors returning to Iraq’. It closes ‘the
last opportunity for shedding light on the true state of affairs
regarding any threat in the form of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.’
(Los Angeles Times, 19 June, 2002) However Hussein DID attempt
to give the US several more chances. These efforts at conciliation
began in late June. According to reports in the Financial Times:
‘Iraqi officials have sought assurances that the US would call off
its planned military campaign if Baghdad co-operated on weapons
inspectors.’ (FT, July 6, 2002, p. 1) The US refused to respond.

Other
sources corroborate that the concern of the Bush Administration
is NOT preventing the development of weapons of mass destruction
(WMD). According to the London Times, “Key figures in the White
House believe that demands on Saddam to re-admit United Nations
weapons inspectors should be set so high that he would fail to meet
them unless he provided officials with total freedom.” (Times,
16 February 2002, p. 19) A US intelligence official has said the
White House ‘will not take yes for an answer’ (Guardian,
14 February 2002, p. 1). Seymour Hersh, the noted US investigative
reporter wrote in December 2001: “Inside the Administration, there
is general consensus on one issue, officials told me: There will
be no further effort to revive the UN inspection regime withdrawn
in late 1998.” (New Yorker, 24 December 2001, p. 63) Even
“moderate” US Secretary of State Colin Powell has made it clear
that the US is intent on war, whatever happens with the inspectors:
“US policy is that, regardless of what the inspectors do, the people
of Iraq and the people of the region would be better off with a
different regime in Baghdad. The United States reserves its option
to do whatever it believes might be appropriate to see if there
can be a regime change.”

Even
more definitive proof that the war on Iraq has nothing to do with
its possession of WMD was provided on August 3. Bush contemptuously
dismissed on August 3 Iraq’s offer to begin talks with UN weapons
inspectors with the goal of permitting them to return, and refused
to even negotiate. As Reuters reported on August 3, President George
W. Bush said that “nothing’s changed” regarding the US determination
to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Bush made this statement
hours after Baghdad said its invitation for talks with UN inspectors
was genuine (contrary to allegations a few days earlier by Bush
spokesmen). Bush added, “I can assure you I understand history has
called us into action and this country will defend freedom no matter
what the cost.” Needless to say, the cost he is willing to pay will
not be borne by him, but by the thousands of less privileged Americans
and Iraqis who will die in his crusade to “defend freedom,” in his
attempt to leave his mark on history.

Although
the Bush Administration has revived, from time to time over the
last few months, the idea that Hussein could be overthrown without
a large invasion, it is likely that this prospect is invoked only
to appease international critics. Thus plans continue to be implemented
for a large scale invasion. Aware of the need to manage PR in an
international climate hostile to an all out war, Rumsfeld speaks
out of both sides of his mouth depending on the audience. Thus on
July 30 he said the Administration was considering all options,
including diplomatic pressure to force Hussein to allow UN inspectors
to return. (New York Times, July 31). But as the Times
noted, Rumsfeld and his deputy Wolfowitz have “repeatedly scorned”
the idea of resuming international inspections. Rumsfeld also invoked
on July 30 the idea of overthrowing Hussein with special operations
and an air war alone (New York Times, July 31). But on July
29 he said to a reporter who asked whether bombs and missiles alone
could do the job that only a ground war would enable the US to be
effective. “So the idea that it’s easy to simply go do what you
suggest ought to be done from the air – the implication being
from the air – is a misunderstanding of the situation,” (USA
Today, July 29, 2002).

In
fact most military experts agree with this assessment – although
many are opposed to the war for precisely that reason. In a hearing
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 31 (New
York Times, August 1) there was “a broad consensus” among varied
experts, including senior military officers, that if President Bush
decided to use military force to remove Mr. Hussein – as many in
Congress expect – “the Pentagon could not assume that the Iraqi military
would collapse without a fight or that Iraqi opposition forces could
carry on the fight alone….Rather, the experts said, the military
would need to deploy tens of thousands of ground troops as well
as many aircraft, ships and armored vehicles to ensure victory.
And the administration should plan on keeping forces in Iraq for
many years to help rebuild it, the experts added.”

Common
sense alone – not to mention international law – would lead most
statesmen to refuse to initiate a war against Iraq since by almost
all reckonings it would result in ten of thousands of casualties
(on both sides) – unless all other options for containing Iraq had
been tried and exhausted. Common sense would lead most people to
avoid a war that – following upon the war on Afghanistan, and the
Bush’s evident partiality towards Israel – will inevitably be seen
“on the streets” in the Islamic countries as a war on the Islamic
world itself. This common sense view was expressed by the numerous
experts who testified at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
hearing. As the New York Times journalist James Dao put it,
“an array of experts warned a Senate committee today that an invasion
of Iraq would carry significant risks ranging from more terrorist
attacks against American targets to higher oil prices.” Morton H.
Halperin, a senior fellow with the conservative Council on Foreign
Relations, told the Committee, “Especially if there is no progress
on the Palestinian issue, it is likely that an American military
conquest of Iraq will lead many more people in the Arab and Muslim
world to choose the path of terror.” (New York Times, August
1, 2002)

In
other words thousands, if not millions, of Muslims will be recruited
to the ranks of Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups, courtesy
of George W. Bush. But Bush and the members of his Administration
seem untroubled by the predictions of the experts and indifferent
to the counsel of common sense and thus they are prepared to take
all Americans on a walk through the valley of the shadow of death –
and THEY will fear no evil because our unchallengeable military
strengths will protect and comfort them.

Of
course it is also quite possible that the prospect of a firm stranglehold
over the bountiful oil reserves of Iraq has led Bush and Company
(particularly considering their oil industry associations and backgrounds)
to overlook or drastically underestimate, in the mania of their
lust for oil and profits, the risks involved in a war on Iraq. (The
inability to realistically assess danger is a characteristic feature
of mania.) Iraq has oil reserves of 112 billion barrels, second
only to Saudi Arabia, which has some 265 billion barrels. Industry
experts say that provided the US can assure stability in a post-
Saddam Iraq, oil fields could be developed and production could
be raised from 3 million barrels a day to 8 million a day within
a mere five years. Gerald Butt, Gulf editor of the Middle East
Economic Survey, said: “The removal of Saddam is, in effect,
the removal of the last threat to the free flow of oil from the
Gulf as a whole.” Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic
and International Studies in Washington, said that the issue for
the US was as much the security of the Gulf as access to particular
oil fields, “You are looking down the line to a world in 2020 when
reliance on Gulf oil will have more than doubled. The security of
the Gulf is an absolutely critical issue.” (Quoted in The Times,
London, July 20, 2002) The “security of the Gulf” is obviously a
coded phrase for the political subordination of this region to US
corporate interests, which also fits serendipitously into Rumsfeld’s
grand vision of the global political dominance of the United States.

One
would have expected that powerful elements within the Democratic
Party would have challenged the Stranglovian policies of Bush and
Co. But evidently our elected representatives – those who are not
themselves true believers in the Bush Gospel – are more disturbed
by the prospect of being accused of being unAmerican (as
Tom Daschle was by Bush when he made a tepid criticism of his foreign
policy) – or losing office – than they are of actually being
unAmerican: of supporting actively or by their silence a war that
will almost certainly lead to the death of thousands of American
soldiers and increase the frequency of terrorist acts upon American
citizens. Except for comments made by a few mavericks without much
influence (like Ron Paul and Cynthia McKinney) the only salient
complaint of our legislators is that they have been snubbed by our
Commander in Chief and deprived of the opportunity to contribute
to the war effort. Thus the New York Times reported on July
18 that “Democrats and Republicans said there was broad bipartisan
support for ousting Mr. Hussein, even if that requires a military
invasion if other options fail. But many said they were concerned
that the administration was moving toward a major commitment of
American troops under a veil of secrecy, with too little consultation
with Congress. Members complain that much of what they know comes
from news leaks.”


Even after the military and other experts argued in leaked statements
(see below) and before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that
a war on Iraq would be a disastrous mistake, our representatives
continued to assure the Bush Administration that they only want
to help it prepare the American people for the slaughter. Thus,
after hearing powerful testimony about the dangers and costs of
a war from various experts, Senate majority leader Thomas Daschle
promised Bush (to quote James Dao’s paraphrase) that “Congressional
support for an invasion would help the administration build broader
support for its Iraqi policies.” (New York Times, August
1) There is a glaring disparity between the excoriating criticisms
of an Iraqi war presented by the US military, experts on Iraq, leaders
of European and Arab countries on the one hand, and the support
(occasionally mildly qualified) for the Bush Administration expressed
by almost the entire legislative branch of our government.

A
closer analysis reveals a whole host of doomsday scenarios that
might very well unfold as a result of a war upon Iraq. For example
many of US allies in the Arab or Islamic world are totalitarian
regimes that are unpopular and unsteady and could easily be toppled
by Islamic fundamentalists exploiting the anti-American imperialist
sentiment of the masses. An Iranian style Islamic revolution could
take place in any number of countries. The military and the ISI
(intelligence) in Pakistan, as is well known, is filled with Islamic
fundamentalists and Al Qaeda sympathizers. A war against Iraq could
shift popular opinion in their favor and they might overthrow General
Musharaff, thus becoming the first nuclear power ruled by Islamic
fundamentalists. As Pat Buchanan has pointed out (World Net Daily,
July 22, 2002) a war against Iraq could trigger coups in Turkey,
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt and create new enemies for the US
and new allies to help Iraq fight the Western infidels.

According
to Lev Grinberg, Senior Lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, Bush’s
postponement of the creation of a Palestinian state – against
the advice and urgings of all the Arab leaders – is intended
to buy Sharon’s full cooperation in the war against Iraq. Bush wants
a strong determined Israel, first because Saddam might bomb Tel-Aviv,
as he did in 1991, and then Sharon will join the war. But more importantly
the Bush Administration realizes that “US’s enemies throughout the
Arab world might awaken during such a war. Israel’s job would then
be to deter, and eventually fight, the US’s enemies within its “area
of influence”: the Occupied Territories, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.”
(Lev Grinberg, Counterpunch) Considering all the warnings that the
Bush team has heard – particularly from Arab leaders –
it is not likely that they have not considered and planned for a
war of this scope. Obviously this doomsday scenario does not frighten
Bush and Co. because America’s military strengths are “beyond challenge”
– and besides surely God and Jesus are on our side in our crusade
against the evildoers.

There
are many who believe that Bush is just bluffing and that he really
has no intention of going to war. But how then does one explain
the preparations (see below) that are already being made? How does
one explain the intransigent statements of the policymakers in the
Bush Administration, including the Boss himself? How does one explain
the fact that they have been planning for such a war for over ten
years? And above all – given their adamantine will to power and
their sense of invulnerability – what is there to restrain them?
Certainly not the pusillanimous representatives of the American
people.

If
there is one single factor that one would expect to give Bush and
Company pause about attacking Iraq, it is the fact that – as
noted above – top generals among the Joint Chiefs of Staff
have argued that the war would be a colossal military debacle, according
to an article in the Washington Post on July 27. However
even this has left Bush and his apostles undaunted. More than one
officer interviewed questioned the president’s motivation for repeatedly
calling for the ouster of Hussein. “I’m not aware of any linkage
to al Qaeda or terrorism,” one general involved in the Afghanistan
war said, “so I have to wonder if this has something to do with
his father being targeted by Saddam.”

They
present a number of arguments for opposing a war. First, while Iraq
possesses chemical and biological weapons “the current US intelligence
assessment is that it has few, if any, operational long-range missiles
that could be used to deliver those weapons to attack Israel or
other US allies in the region.” Retired Col. Richard Dunn III,
a former Army strategist said, “I’d argue that containment is certainly
a better approach than either marching on Baghdad or destabilizing
the Iraqi government by killing Saddam.” Opponents of the war among
the military point to the danger – the likelihood – that Hussein,
with nothing to lose since the US is attempting to destroy him,
would unleash his chemical weapons upon American troops. They also
believe that in order to topple Hussein, urban warfare in Bagdad
would be necessary – this would result in large numbers of civilian
and military casualties. Furthermore, they estimate the costs of
a post-victory occupation, would be high. Tens of thousands of US
troops would be required to keep the peace and to prevent Iraq from
breaking up into warring factions. Finally, officials worry, a large
US presence might antagonize Arab public opinion as well as impose
heavy financial and human costs on the US military, which already
feels stretched by the war on terrorism and peacekeeping commitments
in the Balkans.

Richard
Perle disparaged the scruples of the military, and said that, ultimately,
US policy on Iraq will be set by civilians, and that it will be
based on a different set of assumptions than those of the uniformed
armed services. “Whether he is contained or not, that’s a political
question,” Perle said. “What to do about Iraq essentially boils
down to how much risk the US government is willing to take,"
he said, and “that’s a political judgment that these guys aren’t
competent to make.” (Evidently Perle, like Bush, does not think
the American people, including those who will lose their lives or
loved ones in the war, should have the right to make this judgment
– that belongs to our Emperor.) He added, “I assume that if
the president decides this is going to happen, they’ll go along
with it.” King Abdullah II of Jordan said on July 29 (New York
Times, July 30) that he had despaired of trying to talk Administration
hawks out of attacking Iraq. They are “fixated,” he said. “You can
talk until your blue in the face and they’re not going to get it.”

Thus the preparations for war continue. The New York Times
reported on July 5, “Thousands of marines from the First Marine
Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif., the marine unit designated
for the Gulf, have stepped up their mock assault drills,” and the
“Air Force is stockpiling weapons, ammunition and spare parts, like
airplane engines, at depots in the United States and in the Middle
East. Troops are reportedly arriving in Turkey, and military aid
to Jordan is being increased.”

On
July 21 it was reported in the Guardian, “President George
Bush has told US troops to be ready for ‘pre-emptive military action’
against Iraq, as security sources warned that a massive assault
against President Saddam Hussein could be likely at ‘short notice.’…
‘President Bush has already made up his mind. This is going to happen.
It is a given,’ said one Whitehall source. ‘What we are waiting
for is to be told the details of how and when and where.’ Although
Britain has not decided on its level of commitment, defense sources
say planners have been told to expect to send 20,000–30,000
British troops. The sources added that British Challenger II main
battle tanks and other key armoured fighting vehicles were being
pushed through a crash servicing and refit programme. The Ministry
of Defense has explained the crash repairs programme by saying it
is for a military exercise planned for Scotland. Jonathan Powers
wrote for the Transnational Institute on July 29, “The juggernaught
appears unstoppable. Last week there were reports that the British
were withdrawing their troops from Bosnia so that they can be readied
for re-deployment in an Iraqi war.”

There
is another variable contributing to the likelihood of a war against
Iraq: the credibility factor. James R. Schlesinger, a member of
the Defense Policy Board that advises the Pentagon who held senior
cabinet posts in Republican and Democratic administrations told
the New York Times (July 30, 2002) that he believed that
the president, after taking into account the risks and costs would
opt for a significant ground presence in Iraq. “My view is that
given all we have said as a leading world power about the necessity
of regime change in Iraq,” Mr.Schlesinger said, “means that our
credibility would be badly damaged if that regime change did not
take place.” Credibility is one the primary motives for US foreign
policy as analyzed by Noam Chomsky, who frequently explains, “If
you want to know what credibility means, ask any Mafia Don.” In
Gabriel Kolko’s book Century
of War
, he wrote, “Perhaps the single most recurrent justification
that leaders of major powers have evoked for risking wars evolved
from their belief that their credibility, which allegedly created
fear among potential enemies and thereby constrained their actions,
depended on their readiness to use force even when the short-term
rationality for violence was very much in doubt,” he writes. This
led to disastrous results for Austria in World War I, Japan in World
War II, and the United States in Vietnam, he noted.

The
threat America and the world faces now is similar but greater than
that faced in 1981 after Reagan first assumed office as President
and began repeatedly denouncing the Soviet Union as “the evil empire.”
Reagan was convinced that we must be prepared to fight and win a
“limited” nuclear war. Reagan and his policy advisers were secretly
seeking to achieve “superiority” over the Soviet Union in nuclear
capability and to jettison the policy of mutually assured destruction
(known as MAD) that had been the basis of US defense policy since
the end of World War 2. MAD was actually a saner policy than the
alternative because it was based on two fundamental common sense
premises: One, that a nuclear war must be avoided at all costs.
And two, neither great power was mad enough to launch a first strike
nuclear attack as long as the other side had sufficient nuclear
capacity to retaliate. But the policy of preparing to fight a limited
nuclear war – a strategy first designed by Herman Kahn, author
of Thinking
the Unthinkable
– was based on a denial of these two
premises. Thus within its framework, seeking to attain superiority
in nuclear capacity was the only rational course of action.

Immediately
after Reagan’s election a number of anti-war activists gathered
together and launched a popular campaign to demand a bilateral “freeze”
on the development of nuclear weapons. The popular appeal of this
strategy consisted in its acceptance of the conservative bi-partisan
strategy of deterrence. It rejected both the radical Reaganite policy
and the left pacifist policy. Thus unlike other left-wing organizations
the Nuclear Freeze Campaign did not insist upon unilateral
disarmament on the part of the US – it called upon both the
US and the Soviet Union to freeze the development of nuclear weapons
(a prospect that the SU probably favored anyway). Thus the Freeze
Campaign surprisingly rapidly gained popular appeal among an electorate
who was scared to death by Reagan’s rhetoric and nuclear policy.
It was supported by many Republicans, including Reagan supporters.
All over the country Nuclear Freeze chapters sprang up and succeeded
in getting weapons freeze initiatives on the ballot in many states.
By Reagan’s second year in office, in the fall of 1982, 30% of the
electorate voted on a bilateral nuclear freeze – it won by
a 60 to 40 margin. The initiative shifted the drift of Reagan’s
policies.

The
stakes are greater today. After all the Soviet Union was far more
predictable than the Islamic fundamentalists whom Bush seems intent
upon antagonizing. And the obstacles we face are greater. During
the early 1980s there were many Congresspersons and Senators who
backed the Nuclear Freeze. Today the left stands alone with only
the American public to appeal to for assistance in its effort to
stop the Bush drive to war. Furthermore unlike the Nuclear Freeze
activists, the anti-war movement today is mired in a identifiably
left “peace and justice” rhetoric that however noble only insulates
it from the American population. Popular sentiment is against a
war on Iraq because most people realize that Bush’s policies threaten
our survival – even people who voted for Bush and otherwise
support him.

According
to interviews the New York Times conducted in Scottsdale,
Arizona, a upscale Phoenix suburb and Bush stronghold, “Democrats
and political independents interviewed were nearly unanimous in
their opposition to an invasion, and most Republicans felt the same
way. “These are the people in whose name the Emperor claims to be
acting when he says “this country will defend freedom no matter
what the cost.” It turns out they don’t want to pay with their lives
or that of their children to defend Bush’s concept of freedom. Cindy
Morrow, manager of a shoe store here and a Republican, expressed
a common fear among the interviewees that a war with Iraq could
widen anti-American sentiment and incite further attacks against
the United States. “To me, it’s really scary,” said Ms. Morrow.
“War really opens up a can of worms for us. You don’t know where
it will go next, whether it could lead to a third world war or what.
My son is 13, my daughter is 8. It worries me to think about what’s
ahead for them. I don’t know how you solve these things, but there
have to be other ways than war, fighting and all this craziness.”

Many
questioned whether Bush’s motives really had to do with eradicating
terrorism. Tom Meaker, a lifelong Republican, supporter of George
W. Bush, and former Marine officer in Vietnam said, “I’ve got to
believe that George [W.] Bush, like everybody else, is the sum of
a lot of parts. He is his father’s son, and like any son, he wants
to make his dad proud. Sept. 11 gave him the excuse to focus on
something….How many dictators are there? How many terrible places
are there? There are so many places to go, so why are we going to
commit ourselves to this one?” Patricia Giordano, an elementary
school teacher and a Republican, who recently moved to Scottsdale
from Rutherford, NJ, agreed. “We have a million other things to
think about,” Ms. Giordano said. “Why stir this up again? Besides,
no matter what we do, nothing is going to change. I don’t know what
the solution is, but we can’t just bomb places and think that’s
going to take care of everything.”

The
antiwar forces must put aside for special occasions for the next
few months their favorite anti-imperialist anti-racist slogans and
appeal directly to Americans’ instinct for survival. The anti-war
coalitions that exist at present are too self-consciously “leftist,”
whereas they need to become survivalist – just like the Nuclear
Freeze Movement was in its day. It is probably too late to stop
a war on Iraq given the absence of any significant legislative opposition
– and the absence of a mass movement prepared to take to the
streets. But if we begin building now on the basis of survivalist
slogans we should be able to mobilize enough people to get several
millions to demonstrate in Washington, DC, by the time the bombs
start dropping, we should be able to get anti-war candidates elected
to the legislature this November, and we should be able to get Bush
out of office and an anti-war candidate elected as President by
2004 – hopefully in time to prevent a third world war.

August
9, 2002

Seth
Farber, PhD
[send him mail], a
psychologist, is author of several books, including Madness,
Heresy and the Rumor of Angels
, which contains a foreword
by Thomas Szasz.

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