http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1113-03.htm

Published on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 by the lndependent/UK
Saddam's Merry Dance Cannot Hide the Sad Inevitability of Events
by Robert Fisk

How seriously they took the Baghdad theatricals. "A resounding 'no' from the
Iraqi parliament,'' was the headline on NBC's local affiliate here in North
Carolina. "Assembly in Baghdad shows its outrage,'' was the headline in USA
Today. As if the Iraqi parliament was really a parliament, as if Saddam
Hussein's recent 100 per cent vote was not a fiction.

"US officials'' - those all-purpose sources for lazy journalists - were
quickly on hand to suggest that this was "posturing''. I really needed a "US
official" to tell me that. But I began to wonder, given the po-faced
reporting and the presentation of Iraqi news here, if the naive world of
Saddam and the naive world of America don't sometimes connect. It's as if
Saddam knows this nonsense is taken seriously. Hitler was a tyrant and
Saddam is a tyrant. But Hitler wasn't a clown.

Of course, the Iraqi parliament's vote doesn't mean a thing. Two hundred and
fifty senators rejecting UN arms inspections and then allowing the "wise
leadership'' of Saddam to make the final decision is about as serious as an
Egyptian television serial (Egyptian serials are all about families in
crisis and Saddam is addicted to them). Mr Salim al-Kubaisi's remark - he is
the head of the "Iraqi parliament's Arab and International Relations
Committee" took the biscuit. Parliament, he announced, had full confidence
in Saddam's "great ability to assess the situation'' and commended the
Leader's "deep vision''. This was the vision, remember, that gave us the
Iran-Iraq war (one million dead) and the invasion of Kuwait.

Then we have the leader's beloved son Uday - still bearing the scars of his
assassination attempt - who intervened on the side of inspections. He
thought the UN inspectors should be accepted into Iraq (which means Saddam
agrees) but there should be some Arabs among the inspectorate.

This is not the first time we have heard that. Several Arab states have
suggested the same thing though I don't think Hans Blix, the chief weapons
inspector, is going to be adding Saudi scientists to his team. The real
Iraqi fear is that the CIA will use the UN inspectors - just as they did
before - and that the inspectors, far from searching for weapons of mass
destruction, will be fingering sites for bombardment if/when America decides
to invade.

But it's back to the old story. Saddam is going to run this one up to the
wire on Friday at which point his "wisdom" and "vision" will prevail and the
UN inspectors will be welcome and the American media will say - just a
guess - "Back from the brink''. Oh, yes Saddam understands how to play the
clown. And with each circus act, he makes the Americans look just that
little bit more silly. A dangerous trick to play right now.

A US Marines officer came up to me after I gave a lecture at the University
of North Carolina last night to tell me he was departing from his young wife
and child in three days' time to go to Central Command in Tampa for the
start of a longer journey. It's the same all over America. Just down from
here at Fort Bragg, elements of the 82nd Airborne are said to be on the
move.

A vast American armada is slowly taking shape - huge quantities of armour
and ordnance are being moved around the world right now from the United
States - and most of America doesn't even know it. "See you there,'' I said
to the marine last night as we parted company. "Oh, are you coming to
Central Command?'' he asked innocently. "No," I told him, "You're going to
Iraq."

2002 lndependent Digital (UK) Ltd


http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1113-01.htm

Published on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 by the Washington Post
A Call to Arms By an Enemy of War Against Iraq
by Courtland Milloy

Scott Ritter, the ex-Marine and former U.N. arms inspector, peppered his
Veterans Day talk at the University of Maryland with the kinds of questions
and challenges that are known to fire up an audience.

"The average age of a lance corporal is 20," Ritter said. "The average age
of a college student is 20." Calling the students in the audience "just
kids," he asked who among them could wake up the next morning, look in the
mirror and honestly say that "what's going on in Iraq is worthy of my life."

At the same time, did the students really know enough about Iraq to sit back
silently while others go off to die for them? And did they really understand
that war is not the Nintendo game that we see on television, that it is, in
fact, about "terminating life" and nothing more?

Hundreds of people had filled a ballroom inside the Stamp Student Union to
hear Ritter, a military man turned anti-war advocate who has been denounced
by hawks as unpatriotic for his views. He was invited to speak by a campus
organization, and his appearance drew a wide range of students from dozens
of countries.

Ritter contended that it was ridiculous for an uninformed Congress to give
President Bush sole power to wage war: "It's like going to a doctor who says
you have a brain tumor and that he needs to chop off your head so he can dig
it out. You say, 'Wait, that's kind of extreme. May I see the X-rays?' And
the doctor says, 'Don't worry about X-rays. Just trust me on this.' "

The students laughed, but Ritter cut them off, saying: "Don't blame Congress
or Bush. You are the government. They just represent you. What they are
doing is happening in your name."

Drawing on his experience as an intelligence officer during the Persian Gulf
War and on his seven years as a U.N weapons inspector in Iraq, Ritter
painted a disturbing picture of what has been happening in that country
since the Gulf War and the imposition of economic sanctions.

He talked about babies drinking water contaminated by sewage because
purification plants have been bombed. Mothers carry them to doctors and are
told that nothing can be done. Medicines have gone bad because refrigerators
don't work; bombs have knocked out electric power plants as well.

"Keep this in the back of your head: About 3,000 Iraqi children are starving
to death each month -- outside the view of American heartstrings," Ritter
said. "Suppose every month 3,000 Iraqi children were lined up and we
threatened to shoot them if Saddam Hussein didn't do what we wanted. Suppose
we gave orders for the Marines to shoot them. Well, nothing would happen
because Marines don't shoot kids. But that doesn't mean America doesn't kill
children. We just starve them to death.

"But we're only talking about dead brown people," Ritter added
sarcastically. "Don't let that little fact get in the way. If 250,000 white
babies were going to starve to death, this sanctions policy wouldn't last
long at all. But somehow a child's death doesn't hurt brown mothers as much
as it hurts white mothers."

Ritter made the case that America is hellbent on war with Iraq no matter
what U.N. arms inspectors find if readmitted to that country. Why? We want
to control Mideast oil.

"We see the world as one big grocery store," he said. When the United States
needs another country's natural resource, he said, we will make friends with
oppressive regimes to get it, steal it or take it by force.

Ritter said we obtain copper "by propping up African dictators who send
their people into copper mines where they die by the thousands just so our
lives can be made more comfortable."

Instead of hunting down terrorists with Predator drones, only to see them
replaced by more terrorists, better to ask why and how people become
terrorists in the first place, Ritter said.

"The anti-American sentiment is out there, and it's not because people are
jealous of us," he said. "People don't like us because we're a bunch of
obnoxious, ignorant bullies."

He closed by asking the students whether they really wanted such oppressive,
undemocratic practices carried out in their names.

"Hell no!" came the response.

"Then it's not too late to send a message that this is not a war that we
will stand for," he said, bringing many students to their feet in applause.

2002 The Washington Post Company

http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1113-08.htm

Published on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Axis of Oil and Iraq
by Maria Elena Martinez and Joshua Karliner

There are connections between Iraq and Enron that should not be overlooked:
The pounding of war drums drowns out the sound of handcuffs as they lock
around American business leaders' wrists. And the heady rush of patriotism
helps mask the hangover of a bubble economy gone bust.

We're not saying that President Bush's call to attack Iraq is strictly a
sleight of hand to distract the American public from the domestic problems
plaguing his presidency. Many complex historical and political layers have
brought us to where we are today. But at a minimum, the looming war with
Iraq presents the opportunity for Bush to duck the corporate scandals and
reframe the national debate.

At today's political crossroads, we should be discussing key issues: greater
corporate accountability; how to build a more just global economic order;
and, for national security, how to kick the oil habit while fostering
environmentally sound renewable energy.

Instead, we seem to be at the edge of a downward spiral of war, terrorism
and the evisceration of our democratic rights. Why are we taking such risks?
One thing is patently obvious, a little three-letter word: oil.

Invading Iraq and taking over its oil fields is the logical yet insane
extension of the Bush administration's foreign policy. For instance, Bush's
attempted unilateralism with regard to attacking Iraq (he has only
begrudgingly included the U.N. Security Council) is thoroughly consistent
with the unilateralism he exhibited when he pulled out of the Kyoto treaty
on global warming.

By bailing on Kyoto, Bush, at the behest of the oil industry, dropped out of
a treaty designed to save us from the mass destruction of climate change by
moving the world away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. And if he
invades Iraq, Bush further entrenches the deadly connection between U.S.
interests and oil interests.

Sitting at the apex of world power, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney form an
axis of oil with the industry. President Bush comes from a family with long
and deep connections to petroleum companies. Prior to becoming vice
president, Cheney headed Halliburton Co., which describes itself as "one of
the world's largest providers of products and services to the petroleum and
energy industries."

Time and again, be it in Alaska or Indonesia, Bush and Cheney have
demonstrated their proclivity to prioritize oil interests over human rights
and the environment. Indeed, Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force,
after consulting with many CEOs in the energy industry, defined national
security as access to oil.

A U.S. victory in Iraq could, according to the Washington Post, "open a
bonanza for American oil companies long banished" from that country. This
would provide more direct U.S. access to the largest oil reserves in the
world next to Saudi Arabia's; that, in turn, could break the back of OPEC,
while providing a coveted prize for Bush and Cheney's American and British
oil company friends.

But such "success" in Iraq -- in addition to the huge toll in immediate
human casualties -- will also seriously undermine national and global
security.

One of the ways it will do so will be to lock the world further into energy
consumption patterns that broad scientific consensus has determined will
deepen global warming and all its impacts. These include a rise in sea
levels, which will displace hundreds of millions of people; more extreme
storms, droughts, famines and floods; and spreading disease.

In essence, the Bush administration's definition of national security serves
U.S. corporate interests, allowing some to profit and others to hide. But
beyond this, it is not at all clear who else, if anyone, might benefit.

The United States and the rest of the world would be much better off if we
cracked down on corporate criminals, while taking the billions of dollars
we're set to spend on war and investing them in kicking the oil habit and
transforming our energy systems into environmentally sound alternatives.

Maria Elena Martinez is executive director of and Joshua Karliner is senior
adviser to CorpWatch, a San Francisco-based organization that works on
corporate accountability issues.

2002 San Francisco Chronicle



http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1113-05.htm

Published on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 by the Guardian/UK
Tricked and Bamboozled Into War
The West's Warlords Will Get Their Invasion, In Spite of Global Opinion

by Simon Tisdall

Casualty lists are usually compiled after the battle. But since the coming
war in Iraq has been so heavily trailed, it is possible to identify its
victims in advance - or pre-emptively, to use one of George Bush's favorite
words.

The casualties of Desert Storm II, physical and figurative, will include
Iraqi civilians and combatants on both sides; the people of Israel and of
sidelined Palestine; Kurdish hopes of self-rule; Iran's pro-western civil
reform movement; the entire region's security, living standards and
environment if chemical or biological weapons are used; the Arab and Muslim
world's already strained relationship with "Christendom"; state sovereignty
as defined in international law; and democracy.

Of these, the more lasting damage may be to democracy for it is in that
cause, and under that supposedly liberating banner, that this war of
"disarmament" will ultimately be fought. Yet it is dysfunctional democracy
of the bowdlerized variety currently practiced in the US, Britain, the UN
and elsewhere that has brought the world to the brink.

The war's protagonists will claim a mandate that in truth they have not
secured by either vote or argument. They will say their policy, debated and
discussed, has moral and constitutional force. In fact they have manipulated
the democratic machinery and simply rejected opposing views.

They talk of reaching out for greater global understanding but their actions
will widen the gulf. They warn vaguely of terror attacks somehow linked to
Iraq while the "real" freelance terrorists of al-Qaida wait to pounce. In
this maze of suspicion and half-truth, the only certainty is the west's
vulnerability at home as it chases dragons abroad.

Conflating paranoia, propaganda and patriotism, they will demand ever more
unquestioning public support as the self-made crisis deepens. But this
travesty of consultation is both trap and trick, an ostensibly rational,
reasonable but predestined process that by stages and by stealth will be
used to justify the infinitely irrational. Thus by sleight of hand, not show
of hands, are we relentlessly led to the slaughter.

How did this happen? In the US, democracy's bamboozlement came in three
installments. The key Bush decision was to merge the elusive Osama and
international terrorism with the familiar Saddam and the more easily
targeted "evil axis" states. Then came Bush's demand for congressional
authority and the mid-term elections. To get his way in both, Bush played on
post-September 11 fear and insecurity, thumped his bully pulpit as it has
rarely been thumped, and implicitly accused opponents of disloyalty or
worse. The result? Bush 3, Democracy 0.

At the UN, the US and Britain sidestepped a massive general assembly
anti-war majority, piling pressure on other security council permanent
members. Since the perpetually unreformed council is more oligarchic than
democratic, the outcome was never really in doubt. The result?
Anglo-American XI 15, Rest of the World 0 (Syria, 1 og).

Now, according to the US and Britain at least, the UN can be ignored for all
practical purposes while they (and not Hans Blix) decide whether Iraq has
tripped on one of their many, exquisitely adaptable war-triggering hurdles.
And when Saddam stumbles? Gotcha! they will cry.

In Britain, despite parliament's September recall, there is no evidence that
the subsequent Iraq debate tempered Blair's thinking. The next commons
setpiece, on the UN resolution and its "severe consequences", is likely to
be every bit as inconsequential in policy terms, however much backbenchers
shout and pout.

The decision to start a war using British troops, it transpires, rests not
with the people, or parliament, or armed forces chiefs, or even the cabinet.
It is Blair's alone. Just as his basic view has not changed in recent
months, nor has the absurdity of pretending that this is a level playing
field, a democratic process whose outcome can be contested. The probable
result? Match abandoned due to full-pitch invasion.

Whether the contrary view comes from the Arab League or from protesters in
Florence or London, it has made no difference.

The die, they say, is not cast - and yet, it surely is. Constantly,
patronizingly and without shame, the west's warlords sing the same,
deceptive siren song: we are listening, we have made no decisions, we will
consult. With every twist in the downward descent, it becomes ever plainer
that this is a mere charade or worse, a gradual, insidious process of
conditioning, coercing, co-opting and entrapping the public. One day soon,
this undemocratic war will start. Don't be surprised to hear that it is
fought in your name.

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002