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Just say STOP! is what Keith Locke urged the Prime Minister to do on 16 April, referring to the Bush administration’s threats to compound its illegal invasion of Iraq by moving on to Syria. The Greens want PM Clark to add New Zealand’s voice to other nations in criticising the Bush administration for wanting to broaden the Iraq conflict to Syria. Why this would be a very bad idea is explained in
NATIONAL PEACE WORKSHOPS, Christchurch, May 9-11, 2003. The programme and registration details are here:
or available by ringing Peace Movement Aotearoa on (04) 382 8129.
DROP THE IRAQI DEBT – Jubilee Iraq is trying to salvage something good out of the war situation by leading a campaign to get the $400 billion in debt Iraq owes due to the actions of Saddam Hussein dropped. Details on the debt and the campaign at
. More on the global economic ramifications of war below in the Analysis section.
Critical Canadian comment on the extent, size and variety of the lies behind the war and its aftermath.
Rout Proves Anti-War Point
Sunday 13 April 2003
Sometimes The United States And Its Allies Are Wrong, And The Rest Of The World Is Right.
The opponents of war in Iraq – France, Germany, Russia, China, Canada, Mexico, the Arab nations and the many others – were vindicated last week when Baghdad fell just 21 days after the U.S.-led invasion began.
The anti-war argument had always been that Saddam Hussein posed no significant threat to the U.S. or its neighbours because Iraq’s military power was vastly degraded after Saddam’s humiliation in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the subsequent dozen years of punitive United Nations-imposed sanctions. And that any nuclear, chemical and biological weapons Iraq might still possess could be destroyed through the U.N. inspection process without resorting to a war that has cost the lives of thousands of Iraqis. With an invasion force the U.S. itself now boasts was of relatively minimal strength, Saddam’s regime was easily toppled. On that point, the neo-con war hawks were correct. Iraq was poised to fall like a house of cards.
By the second week of the conflict, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was saying he felt embarrassed by the Iraqis’ poor fighting skills – or unwillingness to fight at all. As the enormity of the rout was clear early last week, the Pentagon was dismissing the Iraqi forces as “a paper army.” Pushed to the wall, the Iraqi regime did not try to blunt the enemy advance by dipping into its vaunted stockpile of “weapons of mass destruction” – or perhaps that, too, was a paper inventory.
Of course, the outcome of this dubious contest between the world’s lone superpower and a puny, impoverished adversary with no allies was never in doubt. The U.S. and its British ally were taking on an enemy that had not been able to obtain spare parts for its tanks for the past decade and proved unable to get its fighter jets airborne. Still, Americans need to know they got their money’s worth from this unprecedented adventure, which will cost U.S. taxpayers already suffering from a weak economy at least $200 billion (all figures U.S.) in war expenses and anticipated spending on Iraqi reconstruction. And both Americans and future “rogue states” targeted by the Bush administration for discipline also need to know that the United States can effortlessly project its power across the globe. Hence last week’s triumphalism by Bush officials.
“Saddam Hussein is now taking his place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed brutal dictators,” said Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. defence secretary. Equating the regional bully Saddam with the savage imperialism of Hitler, who brought about the death of more than 40 million people, is dime-store sophistry. But it’s essential in the bid to approximate Rumsfeld’s genius as a military strategist with that of William Tecumseh Sherman or Dwight Eisenhower.
It’s not that Rumsfeld’s ego needs the boost. In exaggerating both the monstrosity of Saddam and the sagacity of his conqueror, Rumsfeld’s civilian defence planners seek to justify regime change and validate their Iraq strategy of rapid, lightly armed strikes at an enemy. Since the spectre of serial regime change is new, it is imperative, too, that Americans be comforted in knowing that “Rummy” has devised a new method of warfare for achieving it. Never mind that blitzkrieg wasn’t new even when Hitler used it. And that hubris from their early success with it led both Hitler and Douglas MacArthur to disaster in Russia and Korea, respectively.
Dick Cheney, the U.S. vice-president, also heaped praise on the new Rumsfeld doctrine last week, approvingly quoting historian Victor Davis Hanson’s gushing tribute to the early phases of the Iraq campaign:
“By any standard of even the most dazzling charges in military history, the Germans in the Ardennes in the spring of 1940 or Patton’s romp in July of 1944, the present race to Baghdad is unprecedented in its speed and daring and in the lightness of casualties.”
That is pure bunk.
We’ll never know how “light” the casualties were. For, as the New York Times reported last week, “powerful munitions used by American and British forces probably left hundreds or thousands of battlefield victims pulverized, burned or buried in rubble.” The Bush administration wants it known that it has achieved battlefield wizardry that can be safely deployed in future. But what the U.S. forces did in Iraq against a poorly trained, poorly motivated enemy on favourable terrain does not begin to compare with the 38 days it took the Wehrmacht to bring the Low Countries and France, one of the world’s great military powers, under Nazi subjugation in the spring of 1940. Against fierce resistance in 1944, U.S. Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army swept roughly 900 kilometres across northern France in two weeks – more than twice the distance traversed by U.S. forces between Kuwait and Baghdad. By war’s end, Patton had inflicted 1.4 million casualties on the enemy.
But bold nonsense is to be expected of a Bush administration whose foreign policy has been marked by deception. This dates from its success in winning congressional approval for war in Iraq by grossly inflating the threat posed by Saddam and later its failure to win pro-war votes on the U.N. Security Council with documents about alleged Iraqi nuclear plans that were revealed as forgeries. Not since Vietnam has mendacity so thoroughly characterized both the goals and methods of U.S. foreign policy.
Feigning diplomacy, the U.S. built up its forces in the Persian Gulf. Declaring itself committed first to the objective of Mideast security, then of destruction of Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction,” then of Saddam’s ouster and finally of “liberating” a long-oppressed people, the Bush administration is only now revealed to be in apparent pursuit of something it dares not formally promulgate – the imposition of democracy, Western-style capitalism and a benign regard for Israel throughout the region. Having come this far by prevarication, administration officials cannot now extricate themselves from their deceptions, indeed, self-deceptions.
Wedded of necessity to the concept of ad hoc coalitions as an alternative to the constraints of the U.N. and NATO, the Pentagon has come to believe what it says about its latest “coalition of the willing” – that it is one of the largest, if not the largest, such coalition in history.
Former U.S. allies can react only with disbelief at such revisionism.
How soon the U.S. forgets the significant military contributions by Europe, Pakistan, Egypt, Canada and others to the Persian Gulf War, and the more genuine multinationalism of the coalition to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban only a year and a half ago.
The prime minister of the Solomon Islands, one of many Pacific microdots hastily recruited into the coalition of the willing by the U.S. State Department, was asked about his role in the Iraqi conflict. He could only express surprise. He was, he said, “completely unaware” of his country’s involvement in Iraq.
Even the once-dovish Colin Powell, the U.S. secretary of state, now in penance after U.S. failure to achieve the Security Council’s blessing for war in Iraq, has begun to lose his grip on the truth. Irritated by a German TV interviewer, Powell snapped that the U.S. would not, as many expect, abandon post-war Iraq to its own devices.
“And guess who will be the major contributor, who will pay the most money to help the Iraqi people to get back on their feet?” Powell said. “It will be the United States, as always.”
As always? As chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the Gulf War, Powell would very well know that America’s allies paid $53 billion of the $63 billion cost of that war. That about two-thirds of humanitarian and reconstruction work in the developing world is paid for by Europeans. That European and Canadian forces, among others, cleaned up after the Americans in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Of the U.S. record in post-war Afghanistan, already in chaos as insurgent Taliban gangs terrorize civilians and aid workers, Powell said: “We are helping them to rebuild and reconstruct their society. That pattern is the American pattern. We’re very proud of it. It’s been repeated many times over, and it will be repeated again and again.”
That claim is preposterous. After the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. returned Kuwait to its despotic emirs and left Saddam to murder thousands of dissidents. In the aftermath of 1990s U.S. interventions in Somalia, Haiti and Afghanistan, local autocrats and warlords lost no time re-imposing their violent rule.
In a must-read analysis of Bush war strategy in the current Washington Monthly, Joshua Micah Marshall writes that the administration’s “preferred method has been to use deceit to create faits accomplis, facts on the ground that then make the administration’s broader agenda impossible not to pursue …. Strip away the presidential seal and the fancy titles, and it’s just a straight-up con.” [The article referred to is
Practice to Deceive
On the economic front, the audacious Bush’s tax cuts for the rich have swollen the deficit, which becomes the justification for slashing social programs – including a Bush-endorsed cut in veterans-affairs spending by $15 billion over the next decade. (Yes, at a time like this.) On the war front, it means explaining that a buildup of military force in the Gulf is the only means of pressuring Saddam to comply with U.N. sanctions.
It means letting unofficial spokesmen like Henry Kissinger suggest that those forces must be unleashed for combat in Iraq because “if the United States marches 200,000 troops into the region and then marches them back out … the credibility of American power … will be gravely, perhaps irreparably impaired.” And it means orchestrating dire warnings from unnamed Pentagon sources that if an Iraqi assault didn’t commence soon, it would bog down in seasonal sandstorms. (It was darkly amusing to watch one U.S. commander after another on CNN these past three weeks insisting that weather conditions had not, after all – and never would – stall the progress of an Abrams tank column for more than an afternoon.)
It is that cumulative duplicity, much of it almost comically transparent, that baffled and finally alienated so many world leaders over the past months. These included Jacques Chirac, the most pro-American French president of modern times, who once operated a forklift at a Budweiser plant in St. Louis and was the first head of state to pay an official visit to the Bush White House. That France had commercial interests in Saddam’s Iraq might have had less to do with Chirac’s war skepticism than his experience as a combat veteran in the Algerian desert.
For Chirac and his peers, so little of what came out of the Bush administration made any sense. And they hardly grasp it now.
The neo-con theory behind the Iraq campaign is that a democratized Middle East will be a safer place, because democracies don’t make unprovoked attacks on other countries.
It’s an attractive idea. But when the world’s most powerful democracy launched its invasion of Iraq last month, that theory failed its first test.
The following is a very short extract from a very interesting and lengthy article from Salon. Salon is a paid subscriber only web magazine, but there is provision for getting free access to the site for 18 hours by viewing a 15 second ad (see information at the bottom of the webpage linked to below).
The last place we liberated
The White House calls Afghanistan a success story. But the failure to commit needed resources has left it a chaotic, increasingly dangerous country where violent warlords run amok. Are we going to repeat our mistake in Iraq?
By Jake Tapper
April 10, 2003 President George W. Bush signed the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act into law last Dec. 4, authorizing $3.3 billion in economic, political, humanitarian and security assistance for Afghanistan over the next four years. The next month, Bush submitted the 2003 budget authorization to Congress but requested slightly less than that.
As in: $0.00.
“The administration anticipated that Congress would put it in,” explains a sympathetic congressional source. “So they low-balled it.”
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