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Fidel Castro's eve of battle message to Saddam + article on Bush's new Iraq policy

[these two articles are from the current issue (26 March 01) of the Militant, published weekly in the USA, downloaded from]

Fidel Castro, in 1990 message, explains U.S. aims in Iraq

[ Printed below is an excerpt from U.S. Hands Off the Mideast! Cuba Speaks Out at the United Nations . The piece quoted is from a message sent to Arab heads of state on Aug. 7, 1990, by Cuban president Fidel Castro. At the time, Washington was preparing, under cover of the United Nations, for military action against Iraq. Copyright 1990 © by Pathfinder Press, reprinted by permission. Subheadings are by the Militant.]

I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned about the events that are now threatening the Arab world and humanity.
I firmly believe that at this crucial time it is still possible for the leaders of the Arab nation to prevent the conflict that broke out between Iraq and Kuwait from leading to an adverse situation for the independence of many Arab states, to an economic catastrophe, and to a holocaust affecting a large portion of their peoples. Such is the threat, as we see it, caused by the growing and accelerated preparations for a direct military intervention by the United States and its allies. No less alarming is the evidence pointing to steps aimed at the creation, for the same interventionist purpose, of a multinational force whose composition reveals a new relationship of forces on a world scale against the interests of the Arab peoples.
In its current capacity as nonpermanent member of the Security Council, Cuba did not hesitate to cast its vote in favor of Resolution 660, adopted by the Council August 2. Not without pain and bitterness did we take that necessary and just step in line with our principled policy concerning the inadmissibility of resorting to force and military superiority to solve differences among countries, more so when what is involved here is a fratricidal confrontation between Third World peoples. With both Iraq and Kuwait we maintain bonds of respect and friendship, nurtured by the solidarity of Cuba with the Arab nation and the Palestinian people in the face of Israeli aggression and colonial expansion. Additionally, our historical cooperation in several fields with a number of Arab countries is well known.
‘A pretext for the United States’
These principles, as you no doubt understand, are very dear to Cuba, which is permanently threatened with aggression. At the same time, it is our conviction that if there is one thing we should do now, it is to refrain from adding fuel to the fire of war. And it is this conviction that determined our recent abstention in the case of a new Security Council draft resolution sponsored and zealously promoted by the United States [Resolution 661]. They want to impose, among other measures, a total economic embargo on Iraq—a step that in our opinion lessens the possibility of finding a peaceful solution. The United States and its closest allies are congratulating themselves on this new resolution, which creates ideal conditions for an escalation of the conflict and for the probable use of the most powerful war machinery on the planet. The unmistakable aim is to entrench their domination in the region.
To punish Iraq for its regrettable and unacceptable action in Kuwait is just a pretext for the United States. They are looking for an opening to invoke Article 42 of the UN Charter to legitimize armed intervention in the name of the international community.(1) This is the disaster we now face. And there is no one it can be more offensive to than the leaders of the Arab nation. For it is the same Security Council, acting unanimously with the exception of Yemen and Cuba, that by virtue of the U.S. veto proved incapable of condemning, much less establishing sanctions against, Israel for its forty-year occupation of Palestine and other Arab states. Thanks also to this anachronistic, unfair, and undemocratic veto privilege and its immoral use by the United States, it has not been possible for the Security Council to condemn Israeli genocide against the heroic intifada,(2) or the actions of the Zionist army that have caused the deaths of members of the UN forces themselves in Lebanon.
It would be naive and, above all, extremely dangerous to give even a minimum of credibility to the motivations the United States claims for playing a leading role in the crisis. With its customary experience in manipulating things, the varied and repeated use of pressure, the military capacity for rapid deployment, and its proven vocation for political opportunism, the U.S. mass media, diplomatic corps, and Pentagon have joined with their Western counterparts to take advantage of the just indignation that Iraq’s action against Kuwait instilled in the international community. They are questioning, disqualifying, and blocking any alternative for a negotiated political solution that is not subordinated to their geopolitical interests, and are wasting no time in deriving as much advantage as they can from the current situation.
What won’t the United States be capable of doing in a vital region such as this one unless they are stopped in time? On other occasions they showed no scruples and slapped the face of the international community by converting a tiny state like Grenada(3) and a country they had already practically occupied like Panama, into a shooting range for their most sophisticated weapons.
How can anyone fail to see the danger of the United States launching an adventure of this nature when it was capable of planning and launching an air raid against the home of the Libyan president after assuming, without its current backing, the role of international executioner?(4) Can any other conclusions be drawn in view of the landing of U.S. marines in Liberia just a few hours ago?...
It is impossible to overlook, Your Excellency, the tragic irony involved if the United States and its allies in this inglorious crusade fulfill their goals—among them the consolidation of Zionist domination—with a minimum loss of life for the West. Their plans, all worked out and tested over time, call for high-technology warfare, based on the supremacy of their weapons and know-how. The casualties will be mostly sustained by Arab armies and the population involved in the operation....
With all due respect and consideration, I exhort you to act with the speed that the risks involved demand and within the shortest time possible, overlooking the differences that must now necessarily occupy a second place. I regard this unity of opinion and action as an urgent necessity.Do not doubt even for a second that in this just and noble endeavor you can count on the support of the overwhelming majority of the international community and, naturally, on the modest cooperation of Cuba.

1.    Article 42 of the UN Charter provides that when other measures prove inadequate, the Security Council may utilize armed force to “maintain or restore international peace and security.”
2.    The intifada is the uprising sustained since December 1987 by Palestinians and their supporters against Israeli rule of the occupied territories.
3.    In October 1983, the U.S. government invaded and occupied Grenada and set about to forcibly reverse the gains of the country’s 1979 revolution. Two weeks before the U.S. attack, the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada, headed by Maurice Bishop, had been overthrown by a counterrevolutionary coup led by Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard.
4.    On April 14, 1986, U.S. warplanes bombed Libyan population centers, targeting particular the home of Libyan head of state Muammar Qaddafi. One of Qaddafi’s children was killed in the raid.

Bush administration plans more military assaults against Iraq

Officials in the Bush administration and other Republican Party politicians have begun laying out the framework for stepping up Washington’s aggression against Iraq. This includes expanding the pretexts for military attacks by U.S. warplanes and installing armed “opposition groups” inside Iraqi territory that would be backed by U.S. military might. The new “rules of engagement” would allow air strikes against alleged weapons production facilities and troop movements.
Speaking before the House International Relations Committee March 7, Secretary of State Colin Powell outlined an “emerging policy” to authorize air strikes against targets in Iraq that Washington deems are a violation of United Nations resolutions established after the 1990–91 Gulf War. In the past, White House officials claimed U.S. military forces were acting in “self-defense” as their reason for launching bombing assaults.
“If and when we find facilities or other activities going on in Iraq that we believe are inconsistent with our [UN ] obligations, we reserve the right to take military action against such facilities and will do so,” Powell said. In February, U.S. warplanes dropped 28 antipersonnel cluster bombs, guided missiles, and laser-guided bombs on Iraqi radar installations near Baghdad. Washington said its aim was to “degrade” Iraq’s radar system, which had been modernized enough to start targeting U.S. and British warplanes patrolling “no-fly zones” imposed after the Gulf War.
At the Senate hearing Powell outlined “three baskets” of Washington’s policy on Iraq: the U.S.-led sanctions, enforcing the “no-fly zones,” and building support for so-called opposition groups. In exchange for an agreement on more effective sanctions, the U.S. government said it would consider revising the list of products the United Nations restricts or prohibits for sale to Iraq. Some 1,600 contracts worth an estimated $3 billion are currently being held up because of objections by Washington.
The secretary of state said recent moves by the U.S. government on sanctions did not reflect an easing of the embargo against Iraq. Instead, he explained, “We are trying to fix a collapsing situation with respect to the sanctions.” He asserted the Bush administration aimed to “revive international support” for the sanctions, and defuse growing criticism that they are punishing Iraqi civilians, the Washington Post reported March 8.
Several administration officials downplayed the sanctions, stating the embargo was the first part of an “evolving policy” toward ousting the Iraqi government. “Sanctions aren’t a policy,” declared U.S. deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “They’re at best, a part of a policy.”
Two years ago Wolfowitz; now-Defense-Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Richard Armitage, the nominee for deputy secretary of state; and John Bolton, nominee for under secretary of state, signed a public letter urging the Clinton administration to adopt a “more muscular Iraq policy.” The letter asserted that “the only acceptable strategy” for Washington would be one geared at overthrowing the Iraqi government.
Richard Perle, who was a foreign policy adviser for the election campaign of George Bush, appeared before a subcommittee panel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in late February urging support to the Iraqi National Congress. He called for transporting figures connected with the bogus group into the “no-fly zones” of Iraqi territory. Then if Baghdad organized a “military response” in defense of its sovereignty, Washington would have its “assets in the air to protect” the imperialist-created grouping.
Sen. Samuel Brownback said the Bush administration should provide more money for arms and training to the group. “There is only one answer to solving this problem, and the answer is Saddam Hussein and getting him out of power,” he stated.
Powell had announced to the House International Relations Committee that he had approved the release of more U.S. funds to the grouping. His statements coincided with stepped-up propaganda in the bourgeois media about kickbacks demanded by Iraqi government officials who are allegedly cheating on the “oil for food” program imposed on Baghdad four years ago by Washington and other imperialist powers. “Iraq Is Running Payoff Racket, U.N. Aides Say; Kickbacks Are Cited in ‘Oil for Food’ Plan,” read a headline in the March 7 New York Times.
Washington’s ongoing efforts to strangle the Iraqi people through sanctions has sharpened frictions among its imperialist rivals, in particular Paris, which hopes to rake in handsome profits from any oil deals, construction contracts, and other trade with Baghdad. According to a March 9 report from Radio France Internationale, “The two countries openly clashed at yesterday’s meeting of the UN Security Council.” The report cited Washington’s blocking of vaccines for measles, tetanus, and tuberculosis for children, “putting the lives of 4.7 million Iraqi children under the age of five at risk.”
French foreign minister Hubert Védrine said Paris would not budge on its demand to end the sanctions against Iraq, which he described as “more and more cruel and less and less effective,” the Financial Times reported March 2.
Meanwhile, the Russian-Belarusian oil company Slavneft signed an agreement with the Iraqi oil ministry March 6 to develop the Subba oil deposit in Iraq. Oil experts estimate that there are more than 105 million tons of oil reserves in the Subba deposit.

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