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united states of hypocrisy

Reader comment on item: "Death to America"

Submitted by Simon (Australia), Apr 1, 2003 at 10:20

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1. Iraq is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. This is true; Iraq is currently, for example, violating Resolution 687 (03/04/91), establishing UNSCOM; and Resolution 1060 (12/06/96), which was a condemnation of Iraqi refusal to grant inspection access. But these facts do not constitute a believable pretext for war, because Iraq is far from being unique in its violation of UN resolutions. Turkey and Morocco are currently in violation as well. And still another nation in the region, Israel, has refused to comply with literally dozens of UN resolutions, some dating back nearly 50 years. Why single out Iraq?

2. Iraq has refused UN-mandated arms inspections. This, of course, is the essence of the particular UN resolutions that Iraq has violated. Arms inspections were mandated by the terms ending the Gulf War of 1991, and inspectors have been absent from Iraq for the past four years. But again, this makes no sense as a pretext for a renewed war. Iraq did comply with inspections up to a point, and evidence suggests that those inspections were working: according to some estimates, 90% to 95% of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons were eliminated, and its nuclear program was almost completely dismantled.

When the UN withdrew inspectors in 1998, independent investigations confirmed Iraqi claims that members of the inspection team were "spies" reporting directly to the CIA and the Israeli Mossad. One inspector even left behind a homing device to provide guidance for US bombers, which attacked Iraq in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox (which, because it played out during the scandal surrounding President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, was often described as a "wag-the-dog" ruse).

In mid-September, 2002, Iraq agreed unconditionally to the return of weapons inspectors; however, the US responded discouragingly. American Secretary of State Powell said that, if UN inspectors attempt to return to Iraq, the US would "move into thwart mode."

Before inspectors would be allowed back in, the Bush administration demanded the passage of a new UN resolution that called for the US to have representatives on any inspection team, for the inspection teams to set up militarily protected bases and travel corridors in any part of the country they choose, for Iraq to permit unrestricted landing of all aircraft, including unmanned spy planes, and for the US to be able to remove any Iraqi citizen from the country for questioning – all of this effectively dissolving Iraqi sovereignty and amounting to a de facto military occupation; if Iraq were to balk at implementing even the smallest detail of the resolution, member states would automatically be entitled to use "all necessary means" to enforce it. The resolution appeared designed not to make inspections more effective, but to ensure that war would ensue.

On November 8, following weeks of intensive behind-the-scenes political maneuvering, the US Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441. The Iraqi leader, caught in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't conundrum, accepted the terms of the resolution.

3. Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator who killed his own people. True enough. But again, as a pretext for war this doesn't make sense. Saddam was just as evil in the 1980s, when he was using poison gas on the Kurds in his northern territories. But then the US approved of him, offering logistical support as well as aid in establishing chemical and biological weapons programs. The US has supported many evil dictators over the years; why attack this particular one now? Is there a sudden crisis of evilness that must be addressed militarily and immediately, even to the point of killing perhaps thousands or tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the process?

4. Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that pose a threat to his neighbours and to the American people. But, as documented by the UN and the CIA, Iraq has far less capability in that regard now than in 1990. As noted above, many of Iraq's WMDs were covertly supplied by the US. The US itself has vast stores of nuclear weapons, and is the only nation to have used such weapons against a civilian population. Of the countries in the Middle East, Israel has by far the largest inventory of WMDs; yet the US has not proposed that Israel be attacked for that reason.

Oddly enough, Iraq's neighbours do not appear concerned about the threat posed to them; indeed, most of them are pleading with the US not to attack. And no credible analyst has suggested that, even if Iraq does possess remnant WMDs, its leaders have either the ability or the intent to use them against US citizens, absent a large-scale attack.

5. Saddam Hussein provides aid to the terrorists who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks on the US. According to polls, nearly 70% of the American people believe that this is the case, and administration officials have made claims to this effect on several occasions. However, no one has supplied credible evidence for the assertion. Moreover, any such link would be counterintuitive. Osama Bin Laden and other radical Islamists detest secular Arab states, of which Iraq is one of the foremost. And secular Arab leaders, in turn, fear and despise the radical Islamists. It was Libya's Muammar Qadhafi – not George Bush or Bill Clinton – who was the first world leader to call for the arrest of Bin Laden, in 1994, following terrorist attacks on his nation. Why would Saddam aid his own sworn enemies? Two other nations in the region have been shown to have far more credible links with al Qaeda – Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Why is Bush not demanding attacks on these countries?
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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