What is the issue regarding Iraq?
By SAM MACLEAN*
If so, the rhetoric goes, then Iraq is in violation of resolutions passed by the United Nations, is a danger to the rest of the world, and should be militarily attacked by the United States and whoever else wishes to participate. One hoped-for consequence of such an attack is the overthrow or even death of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Strangely, all the reasons that the United States trots out as justifications for attacking Iraq could be used as justification for attacking the United States itsef.
This suggests that none of them is the real issue, but that they are being disseminated mainly for purposes of disinformation and diversion for self-serving ends.
Is the issue possession of weapons of mass destruction? No, it is not. It is well-known that the U.S. is the country with the most weapons of mass destruction. It possesses huge amounts of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. For decades, the U.S. has also been instructing foreign specialists, including Iraqi, in chemical and biological warfare at the U.S. Army’s chemical school in Fort McClelllan, Alabama.
Is the issue using weapons of mass destruction against others? No, it is not. The U.S. has used nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to wage war against others, resulting in millions of casualties. To give a few examples, it dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan, sprayed tons of herbicides over Vietnam and detonated depleted uranium weapons in Yugoslavia.
Is the issue the danger posed to Iraqi citizens at home? No, the U.S. has exploded nuclear weapons on its own soil and conducted open air tests of chemical and biological weapons within the United States. From 6 June to 10 June 1966, trillions of bacteria were released into the New York subway system during rush hour. This is only one of many documented incidents.
Is the issue that Saddam Hussein is a dictator who was not “democratically elected”? No, the U.S. has a long history of supporting and helping dictatorial regimes come to power all over the world, including South Africa, Indonesia, Guatemala, Chile, and Nicaragua, to name only a few. It is well-known that U.S. financiers, including Bush’s grandfather, Senator Prescott Bush, collaborated with German Nazi regime during the 1930s and into the 1940s.
Is the issue Iraqi aggression or potential aggression against other countries? No, the U.S. has committed aggression against countless countries. Just since 1945, the list includes Korea, Iran, Guatemala, Haiti, and Grenada. In addition, the U.S. has planned, instigated, and aided violent coups in many other countries, including Iraq in 1963.
Is the issue “combating terrorism”? No, the U.S. has always supported terrorism. Osama Bin Laden was trained by the CIA. Nazi war criminal Werner von Braun rained V-2 rockets on London, then headed up the U.S. space program. There are thousands of known terrorists living in the U.S. today, including numerous Cuban exiles, former El Salvador General Jose Guillermo Garcia, Haitian Colonel Carl Dorelian, Chilean secret police agent Armando Lorios, and many others.
Is the issue Iraq not allowing inspections? No, in 1997 the U.S. passed an act to implement the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, known as the “Chemical Convention”. This treaty was ratified by over 100 nations. The U.S. Senate added an amendment, Section 307, stating that
“The President may deny any request to inspect any facility in the United States in cases where the President determines that the inspection may pose a threat to the national security of the United States.”
Is the issue Iraq’s defiance of the United Nations? No, the U.S. has long defied the UN and other world bodies any time it suits their interests. The U.S. simply ignored the United Nation resolutions condemning its bombing of Libya, and its invasions of Panama and Grenada. In UN voting, the U.S. has been noteworthy for often standing alone or with one or two other countries such as Israel against UN resolutions aimed at furthering human rights, nuclear disarmament, economic justice, Israeli lawlessness, and other progressive causes. In 1983, when the World Court ruled against the U.S.’s mining of Nicaraguan harbours in support of the Contras, President Reagan refused to recognize its authority. The U.S. has not ratified a single UN Convention against terrorism.
If none of the above is the issue, then what is the issue? The issue is very straightforward.
It is adherence to the rule of law. All countries, including the United States and Iraq, must adhere to the rule of law and the principles it is based on. This adherence includes opposition to the use of force to sort out conflicts within and between nations.
From this perspective, Bush has no right to attack Iraq for any excuse or under any guise. The discussion of excuses to attack is thus irrelevant. What should be discussed is how matters can be sorted out peacefully and, in particular, what Canada and Canadians can do to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The other issue is that the U.S. disinformation campaign regarding Iraq is part of an ongoing attempt to block people from discussing together the actual problems we collectively face and to try to marginalize them from participating in politics.
Part and parcel of this campaign is the attempt to criminalize dissent, to use force against those who speak out against what the U.S. is doing. In spite of all this, people will not be diverted from our goals. That is why such initiatives as the forthcoming weekly public forums in Halifax are vital.
* This article first appeared in the 17 January 2003 edition of Halifax People's Voice, Newsbulletin of the People’s Front / Halifax
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