With hindsight, everyone criticizes the insanity and stupidity of the Iraq wars. With foresight I predicted many, if not all, of the consequences in articles I submitted to many of the leading newspapers and magazines in the U.S whose dismissive silent collaboration with the prevailing madness of invading Iraq rejected my writings in whole and in segments. They wrote their columns with blood then just as their hindsight punditry is deafening us now. What the pen inked was trumped by the saber-rattling of ‘experts’ in the Pentagonian brass. This writing never saw the light of day before the war. Some ten years later, we unveil the revelations.
The Case Against Iraq
October 3, 2002
By Zaman Stanizai, Ph.D.
The American leadership reacted to September 11 without having the vision to learn from the paradigmatic shift it represents. Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare. The nightmarish campaign for a regime change in Iraq is based on three claims:
- Iraq has weapons of mass destruction
- Iraq is a threat to the U.S
- Iraq is a threat to its neighbors
1 - The scientific community does not believe that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Asirak was bombed by Israel in 1981, it doesn’t have sufficient quantities of plutonium or highly enriched uranium in its chemical stockpiles. These are highly detectable, if they have not already been destroyed by U.N. inspectors, they are no danger as they lose their effectiveness after five years. These claims are based on testimonies by Scott Ritter, a U.S. marine and former senior U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq to the European Parliament and to the U.S. Congress.
More importantly, the U.S. government knows for certain that Iraq has no WMD or it would not have risked the lives of thousands of American troops now deployed on the Iraq border where they would be vulnerable to an annahilating Iraqi WMD. Such an act would be suicidal militarily and politically unless they know something we don’t. You bet they do.
The argument against the weapons of mass destruction is in their use and not necessarily in their possession. Iraq is alleged to possess weapons of mass destruction, but we have already used our weapons of mass destruction, i.e. the sanctions that have killed 800,000 – 1.2 million Iraqi children (the equivalent of one 9/11 tragedy every two weeks) for the past eleven years. That is a real mass destruction.
These casualties are in addiction to an estimated 450,000 Iraqis killed by U.S. bombing during the 1991 Gulf war and the elimination of over 200,000 Kurd and She’ia resisters who were lead by the CIA to rebel and then left defenseless in the face of Iraqi army attacks. The U.S. was not only an accomplice in these crimes, but has been responsible for the death of nearly 2.5 million people in Iran-Iraq war as it fueld the fire of war on both sides.
2 - Our heavy handed “either with us or against us” attitude along with our military supremacy does not allow for any opposition on the world stage. Under such circumstances no government can afford to be against the U.S. for fear of being ostracized and blacklisted. Iraq, a country with diminished military capabilities that is hardly in control of one third of its territory and a starving population, is not a threat even to its small neighbors let alone the U.S. Iraq knows that threatening the U.S. would be suicidal and thus would not threaten the U.S. even if it wanted to.
3 - The record of Iraq’s aggression against its neighbors has been distorted for political expediency. Iraq has not transgressed against its neighbors, but has responded to its neighbors’ transgression and with the U.S. as an accomplice.
Iran was arming the Iraqi Kurd insurgency throughout the 1960s and 1970s and in the border dispute when Iran took over the Shat-al-Arab as well as the Thomb islands in the Persian Gulf. In 1980s it was threatening to “export” its revolution to Iraq and beyond.
It was due to this last threat that the U.S. supported Iraq against Iran, financially, politically, and militarily, and encouraged Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to finance Iraq’s war. When Iran overwhelmed the Iraqis with massive teenage armies, the U.S. provided Iraq the very chemical weapons we now dread; and intervened militarily by attacking Iranian positions. The shooting down of a civilian IranAir plane by the USS Vincennes with some 300 passengers was part of the “collateral” damage. The U.S. ensured the perpetuity of the war by supplying Iran through the Iran-Contra connection at the same time. While the war claimed the lives of a million, our Nobel Peace laureate Henry Kissinger’s great regret was that, “It’s a pity that both sides can’t lose.”
When Iran unilaterally ended that war, the U.S provoked Iraq by encouraging Kuwait to undersell Iraqi oil, so it could not repay its war debt to Kuwait. Kuwait also began slanted drilling into Iraqi oil reserves and when Saddam Hussein complained to the U.S. Ambassador, April Gallespie, she told Saddam Hussein that the U.S. would not intervene in Iraq’s dealings with its neighbors—thus virutally inviting him into Kuwait.
When Iraq expectedly invaded Kuwait and found itself trapped in the U.S. trap, the gleeful George Bush drew the line in the sand, passed the hat around to collect the cost of war that was borne primarily by the corrupt Arab sheikhs whose thrones we saved. But the $150 billion windfall came to the coffers of American weapon manufacturing companies as Defense Secretary Cheney launched his arms sale trip to the Gulf region immediately after the war. The oil and construction companies benefited equally as they rebuilt the marble palaces and what the U.S. had destroyed. Regardless of the anti-Saddam chatter, there is credence to the argument that the CIA intentionally kept Saddam Hussein in power and made sure he remains their to provide a pretext for future U.S. incursions, like the pending one. While the U.S., as a victor of the Gulf war, could have completely disarmed Saddam Hussein’s army, it decided to disarm only the weapons that posed a threat to Israel, leaving all other weapons at Saddam Hussein’s disposal that he could use against his own people as he did.
Does the U.S. government have a high moral ground to stand on and face the world community or perhaps the International Criminal Court whose membership it has consistently rejected? Is the United States in a position to call for “regime change” in Iraq without being implicated in the crimes against humanity for which it accuses Saddam Hussein? While the answer to these questions may not be easy, it is more certain that sooner or later the Cheney-Rumsfeld team would be asking the U.S. Congress for money to launch another “war on terrorism” without showing any progress from its “war on terrorism” in Afghanistan. The U.S. Congress, considering the interests of its main constituency, the domestic and foreign corporate lobby and oil-igarchies will most likely consent and send Americans to war exposing them to our own biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (if there are any) and exposing them to the depleted uranium radiation a.k.a. the “Gulf War Syndrome.”
In the current situation, attacking a state in the volatile Middle East is counter-productive as it increases instability without addressing the grievances that cause the threat in the first place. Furthermore, by continuously shifting justification for the attack, the U.S. loses credibility in the international community as it threatens to attack regardless of the world opinion or Iraq’s compliance with or violation of U.N. resolutions
It’s ironic that we trust weapons of mass destruction in the hands of states with whom we have a parity of mutual destruction, yet we feel threatened by the mere suspicion of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of states that would face an assured annihilation if they attack us.
In the post 9/11 world, any serious threat to U.S. is more likely to come from individual groups rather than states. The greatest danger in American unilateral pre-emptive strike is that it undermines the U.N. by threatening to violate its charter that guarantees the sovereignty of its member states. This also makes the threatened governments irrelevant in the eyes of the people so the U.S. becomes their de-facto imperial government. Because of the inability of states to challenge the U.S., individuals and groups understandably direct their frustrations and anger against the U.S. instead of the regional governments that used to serve as buffers. This state of affairs not only undermines the principle of democratic dissension, it also runs contrary to the objectives of preventing 9/11s. The resulting increased regional instability creates more enemies for the U.S., making America and Americans less secure.
Iraq is no threat to the U.S., but if attacked, people’s resentment against the U.S. will increase along with the probability of other 9/11s. This is why an attack on Iraq would contribute to greater instability in the world and more insecurity for Americans
The Need for the Reassessment of U.S. Foreign Policy:It seems like our government is constantly in search of enemies. It spends billions on bombing, destroying, and invading, other countries pouring misery on millions through direct military action, imposition of economic embargos and blockades, it installs despots who would sell us their people’s wealth cheap so we can sustain our wasteful life style, it then spends billions more on supporting these despotic regimes that create resentment among the people. Eventually it ends up spending billions more to polish America’s image abroad, and when people in frustration turn to “terrorism,” we spend billions more to prevent the inevitable. It would be less costly if we treat the people justly and trade with them fairly without fighting them. Ours is, after all, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people that should not make friends with despots and dictators, but with the people of the world because it rules in the good name of the people of America.
To the world community, it seems that we throw stones at people’s homes shattering not just windows, but their dreams and lives and inflict upon them pain, but then hide in our homes expecting them not to react and break our windows.
We are creating terrorism through our injustice as we underestimate the human will to resist. Resentment of the United States is stronger outside the Muslim world where there is a little more opportunity for political expression as, for instance, on September 11 Nicaraguans hugged in silence and in Porto Alegre, Brazil when an American artist wanted to sing ‘God Bless America,’ the audience responded by shouting Osama! Osama!
The best way to eliminate terrorism is to eliminate its root causes—economic exploitation, military humiliation, and political frustration. Otherwise every unjustified action by the powerful will produce an unjustified threat or potential for a reaction from the less powerful; and once in a while they might succeed.
The people of the third world don’t have to suffer invsions and attacks so that our leader can prove their patritism. As citizens of the only superpower in the world, Americans bear a heavy responsibility to prevent the manipulation of their patriotism that undermines peace and freedom around the world. The symptomatic absence of coherence in the U.S. foreign policy is reflective of an identity crisis that has been a liability to the integrity of a leadership that shifts gears from “the crusade,” to “Infinite Justice” (by George), to “Enduring Freedom” which the Afghans have endured for much too long.
When the U.S. calls for “democracy” in a Muslim country, it doesn’t call for elections to reflect the will of the people, instead it wants a “regime change,” a government to accommodate U.S. corporate interests. The United States likes this kind of democracy by far any other in order to “elect” their leaders for them—calling for the “overthrow” of the Taliban in Afghanistan, “regime change” in Iraq, “leadership change” in Palestine, election “nullification” in Algeria, declaring a popularly elected government “unconstitutional” in Turkey. This is the kind of democracy of which Muslims are intolerant; a democracy that is indeed incompatible with Islam This is why there is need for a thorough reassessment of American foreign policy toward the Muslim world.
The U.S. should leave Iraq at peace if it is genuinely interested in peace and freedom the region. We won’t find peace if we are looking for enemies. The claim that “Saddam Hussein is an enemy (of the United States) until proven otherwise” is not only un-American since we believe in the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ but it also suffers from logical inconsistency. The U.S. has attacked Iraq not the other way around. Iraq has attacked its neighbors, but only with the American support, encouragement, and consent Furthermore, this is a projection on the part of George Bush who has inherited his father’s vendetta against Saddam Hussein Why must the people of the United States pay the price when our economy faces uncertainties and the world opinion is against us in this regard, and why must the people of Iraq be subjected to torturous slow death that they have endured for decades already?
The best policy in Iraq is to empower the people by lifting the embargo. Our military, diplomatic, and economic wars weaken the people of Iraq more than its government In the absence of foreign threat Saddam Hussein will be vulnerable to an empowered Iraqi populace. They will not rally behind him, but against him. Whether this policy is out of malice or ignorance, it must be changed. If for no other reason, it must be changed for the sake of the Iraqi children who die at the rate of ‘one 9/11 tragedy every other weak.’ To some “the price might be worth it,” but others have conscience.
Many of today’s world crisis can be resolved through a paradigmatic shift in the U.S. foreign policy from a warrior culture to global peace activism in which a leadership with integrity and vision shifts the paradigm from crusader, colonial, and cold war mentalities to character, charisma, and courage. As the greatest Republican President Abraham Lincoln once said: “The only lasting way to get rid of your enemy is to make them friends.”