The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Articles: Saddam still strong, and the war

*       Saddam still strong (Associated Press): Former CIA Director
says: "Perhaps the administration, in order to stay focused, needs to
post a sign on the wall of the White House Situation Room that says,
'It's the regime, stupid!'"
*       Text of TV article: Bombing Iraq (Voice of America)
*       US columnist on views of war, and morality of war on Iraq
(Boston Globe)
*       Meeting of Arab foreign ministers next week: Iraqi items on the
agenda (Arabic News)

Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, promised Nigeria's president-elect
yesterday that Britain would do its utmost to ensure European Union
sanctions against his country would be ended when he takes power on 29
May (Independent). President Clinton has expressed deep regret to the
people of Guatemala for the United States' support for right-wing
military regimes during the Cold War, saying that the US must not repeat
the mistake of backing repressive forces (BBC). 

Saddam Still Strong After Attacks 
By Laura Myers, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, March 10, 1999; 3:27
p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Almost daily Western attacks on Iraqi military
targets haven't hurt President Saddam Hussein, critics of the Clinton
administration contended at a congressional hearing Wednesday.  U.S. and
British warplane strikes that began hitting Iraq's air defense system in
December offer only temporary military victories and are doing nothing
to weaken Saddam's dictatorial regime, said the critics, including
former CIA Director James Woolsey. ``Perhaps the administration, in
order to stay focused, needs to post a sign on the wall of the White
House Situation Room that says, `It's the regime, stupid,''' Woolsey
told the House Armed Services Committee. 

John Hillen, a political-military expert with the Center for Strategic
and International Studies who served in the 1991 Gulf War, said the
``low-grade war against Iraq'' adds up to only short-term success.
``The daily military actions, in and of themselves, are important
tactical victories, but do they add up to a comprehensive policy?'' he
asked. ``American and British pilots are busy in the skies over Iraq,
but little work has been done in the White House. For his part, Saddam
appears to be counting on the fact that an administration with only 22
months left in office will be mostly interested in running out the

Defense Secretary William Cohen, who on Wednesday ended a tour of the
Gulf region, has defended President Clinton's containment policy, a
continuation of President Bush's strategy at the end of the war.
``Saddam has been contained since the end of the Gulf War,'' Cohen said
during a visit to Qatar on Tuesday. He also pledged to keep striking
Iraqi military targets if Saddam's forces keep violating no-fly zones
over southern and northern parts of Iraq and keep trying to shoot down
Western patrol planes.  ``We will continue to target Iraq's air-attack
network as long as it continues to threaten our planes,'' Cohen said. 

Still, of the more than one dozen senior officials Cohen visited over
five days in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar
and Kuwait, none publicly expressed support for U.S. strikes on Iraq.
And Qatar Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani criticized
the attacks, saying, ``We do not wish to see Iraq being bombed daily.'' 

Iraqi planes have violated the no-fly zones more than 100 times since
the four-day, mid-December U.S. and British attack against Iraq to
punish Saddam for not cooperating with U.N. weapons inspections. In
response, U.S. and British forces have hit some 200 Iraqi targets with
precision-guided bombs and missiles, mostly anti-aircraft and radar
sites.  Rep. Floyd Spence, R-S.C., chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, said he called two days of hearings on Iraq because of what
he sees as ``the lack of a clear and consistent Iraq policy.'' ``Many of
us are deeply troubled by the course of U.S. policy and the pattern of
U.S. military operations in the Persian Gulf,'' he said. 

Woolsey, CIA director from 1993 to 1995 at the start of the Clinton
administration, suggested the president needs to be more aggressive in
carrying out his stated policy of working to see a new Iraqi regime.
Woolsey suggested that no-fly zones be extended across Iraq, that the
United States recognize an Iraqi government in exile to oppose Saddam
and that U.S. airstrikes be used to hit not just air defense sites but
also Saddam's power sources such as his Republican Guard and security
and intelligence facilities.

Two Iraqi proposals on the agenda of Arab foreign ministers
Aranic News, Regional, Politics, 3/10/99

Two Iraqi items be on the agenda of the meetings of the Arab foreign
ministers in their 111st session that starts on March 17 under the
chairmanship of Somalia.

The two items are the no-fly zones imposed by the United States and
Britain on northern and southern Iraq and Iraqi demands and Arab
initiatives to oppose the US and British policy toward Iraq and consider
its enforcement illegal and contradictory to United Nations and Security
Council resolutions. It will call for the two countries to pay
compensation as result of the continuous shelling of southern and
northern Iraq.

The second item includes Iraq's call for the Arab states to exert
efforts to agree on practical humanitarian formulas to solve the problem
of the missing Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Saudi people and demand to discuss the
files of the missing Iraqis. Iraq and Kuwait make claims and counter
claims regarding missing citizens as a result of Iraq's occupation of
Kuwait and the ensuing Gulf war. Iraq said that Kuwait is always talking
about the issue of the Kuwaiti missing and captives on all political
occasions in a subjective way that does not allow for a real dialog and
finding a solution.

Bombing Iraq
Voice of America, Background Report by Ed Warner
9 March 1999, Title: Bombing Iraq

Intro: US jets are attacking Iraqi air defenses on a near daily basis
and have destroyed an estimated one-fifth of the country's anti-aircraft
missiles. The object is to weaken Saddam Hussein enough to lead to his
overthrow. But the attacks are also killing civilians and adding to the
destruction already caused by several years of economic sanctions. VOA's
Ed Warner provides divergent views on current US policy.

Text: This is a war that should be declared, says Ted Carpenter,
Director of Foreign Policy Studies at Washington's CATO Institute. In
his opinion, the US Congress is shirking its constitutional duty by not
demanding a vote on the airstrikes.

This is not a war, says Steve Yetiv, Professor of Political Science at
Old Dominion University (in Virginia) and author of "The Persian Gulf
Crisis". He calls ita low-key set of military strikes that constitutes a
pattern of conflict between the United States and Iraq.


What the United States is now trying to do is hit Saddam where it really
counts - in the image; that is to say, if the United States can hurt
Saddam's image, as an individual who is strong and in command, then it
can create a situation where some of his generals may try to overthrow
him. That is the big goal.


No coups against Saddam Hussein have succeeded to date, says Mr.
Carpenter. Perhaps one will:

But that does not mean that we would necessarily get a ruler who is much
better than Saddam. And there certainly is the danger that this kind of
constant bombardment could cause Iraq, which is a very fragile political
entity to begin with, to come apart entirely, and that would have very,
very serious implications for the entire region.

The region reacts to the US pressure on Iraq in various ways, says
Professor Yetiv. When he was in the Gulf last summer, Kuwaitis expressed
surprise that the United States had not been able to remove the Iraqi
ruler by now. Saudis were more sceptical of US policy but did not offer
any serious objections:


I do not think anyone has any love for Saddam in the region except maybe
in the Arab streets of some countries. Probably overall, it is an
ambivalent approach. They are not excited about the United States
bombing an Arab country. But at the same time, they realise that Saddam
is the problem, and the sooner he leaves the better.


Do not underestimate that Arab street reaction, cautions Ted Carpenter.
He believes there is growing resentment of the United States that could
explode in terrorist acts against Americans. He says the Arab Nations
went along with the United States when Saddam invaded Kuwait, launching
the Gulf War:


But since then, it looks more and more like the United States is a bully
that is beating up on a helpless country simply to try to dislodge a
leader that we do not like. And there are more direct ways of
accomplishing that - if that is really our goal - without making the
Iraqi people suffer month after month year after year.

// END ACT //

Increasingly, that suffering seems to be questioned even by supporters
on US policy. "The (London) Economist" (Magazine) notes that the bombing
is reducing Iraq's oil exports which areused to pay for food and
medicine. "Mr Hussein can survive without this," says The Economist.
"His long-suffering citizens cannot."

'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Thin Red Line': two opposing views of war 
By James Carroll, 03/09/99 

(Boston Globe) In the Terrence Malick film ''The Thin Red Line,'' an
aging colonel obsessed with having been repeatedly passed over channels
his frustration and rage at the army into an impossible assault on an
enemy stronghold. This character is played by Nick Nolte. His borderline
madness meshes perfectly with the extremity of the military situation.
Irrationally, he pushes his men beyond what should be their breaking
point. A more reasonable and humane junior officer protests, which only
makes the colonel even more adamant. Just as we see that he is crazy,
his men achieve the breakthrough, and the enemy position is overrun. The
mad colonel prevails, and his very madness was the key to the
battalion's success. The junior officer, an embodiment of reason,
morality, and authentic concern for the men, is banished. But the hill
is taken. Guadalcanal will be secured for the Americans, and the war
will be won.

This conflict defines the moral center of ''The Thin Red Line,'' a movie
that dares to look squarely into the abyss of war. The horror of the
clash of armies is usually reduced to elements of physical destruction,
which in war movies are rendered in the severing of body parts and the
spilling of guts, in the torching of hooches and the bombing of cities.
Most often, moviegoers are invited to feel the pain of war by being
coaxed into loving two or three GIs - a gum-snapping wiseacre, a
spectacle-wearing egghead, a Brooklyn tough - who announce the story's
denouement by being killed. The horror is the loss of life, the shedding
of blood, the medic's use of morphine not to dull suffering but to end

''Saving Private Ryan'' defines the horror of war in purely physical
terms like this. The movie's opening sequence is regarded as a
masterpiece of such perception. As for the moral realm, however,
''Saving Private Ryan'' promulgates the antiquated, and now dangerous,
position that war is ennobling. The way to victory is through virtue,
and the way to prove one's virtue is by winning. Thus the portrait of
the large-hearted officer played by Tom Hanks is the moral opposite of
the self-obsessed officer played by Nick Nolte - and that is a large
part of Hanks's and his movie's appeal at Oscar time.

Those few critics who fault ''Saving Private Ryan'' dismiss it for
adhering to the melodramatic conventions of the war movie genre, but its
failure is more ethical than aesthetic. For all of its gruesomeness,
Spielberg's vision of war assumes that order, meaning, and even love -
what the captain finally feels for the private - can all be affirmed by
acts of savage violence.

In Malick's vision, by contrast, such violence exposes the absence of
order, meaning, and anything like love. There are in this film, as there
surely were at the battle of Guadalcanal, which the film recounts,
instances of breathtaking heroism and self-sacrifice, but they only
highlight the evil that requires them. The beautiful surfaces of nature,
so exquisitely photographed, cloak a brutal Darwinian chaos. The
soldiers are left only with questions, which are rendered through
painfully wrought, voice-over acts of introspection. Instead of the
camaraderie that, in Hollywood fantasy, epitomizes the high virtue of
war, there is only the anomie of radical isolation; instead of buddies,
lost souls, with each one cut off from those around him. When the
Americans take possession of the Japanese redoubt, the division is not
between ''sides'' anymore, with good guys and bad guys clearly defined.
The differences between the enemies have ceased to matter. At the top of
the hill the only division is between the living and the dead.

The dichotomy between the views represented by these two films is a
matter of far more than the Oscar for best picture. Conventionally
romantic assumptions about war undergird America's undeclared but
increasingly brutal war against Iraq. Our nation's unchallenged use of
violence has become its own justification. With supreme
self-exoneration, we have defined good and evil in Manichaean terms,
conveniently exempting ourselves from the introspection - or even
political debate - required by moral complexity. The emphasis on
physical destruction of targets and on the technology that achieves it
leaves completely aside the far more important questions of
proportionality and purpose - not to mention the question of civilian

Two basic questions cry out to be addressed: What is the American air
campaign doing to Iraq? What is it doing to America?

We imagine ourselves as Tom Hanks and the world as Private Ryan. But in
fact we are the Nick Nolte character in ''The Thin Red Line.'' Our
irrational obsession and our military strategy have become the same
thing. Those who question what we are doing are left behind as ''soft.''
Now the only way to prove that we are right is to win. Even if some kind
of victory over Saddam Hussein is the result of this rogue American war,
what we have already accomplished is our own moral defeat.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 03/09/99. 
 Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company. 


This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To be removed/added, email, NOT the
whole list. Archived at

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]