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[casi] Regime Change Update

Regime Change Update

The Bush administration has defined a war on Iraq as its second phase of the
war on terrorism. It pledges a campaign far beyond the British and US air war
institutionalized in the Clinton presidency.  In May, for example US planes
bombed Iraq four times. This new plan also goes beyond the twelve-year
economic siege of Iraq maintained by US dominance over a cooperative United
Nations Security Council. The sanctions have claimed the lives of hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis. With its "Regime Change" strategy Bush administration
officials have expressed a willingness to commit as many as 200,000 US troops
for a full-scale invasion of Iraq. After several months of commitment to this
course, how goes the planning for the new war on Iraq?

Both parties within the US support the Bush war policy. The Philadelphia
Inquirer June 6, 2002 reports, "In Washington yesterday Majority Leader Tom
Daschle of South Dakota said Democrats supported a push against Hussein."
Another Democratic Party congressional leader Richard Gephardt: "I share
President Bush's resolve to confront this menace head-on." Congress has voted
for an extra $48 billion war chest available for use against Iraq. The US
press also solidly supports the war effort on Iraq. In the liberal
Philadelphia Inquirer for example both foreign policy editorialists, Mark
Bowden and Trudy Rubin, are strong proponents of a war on Iraq.

Despite the apparent unanimity for war within the US ruling circles, severe
political problems have plagued the "second phase" of the war terrorism since
its inception. As of today the only "Ally" in this war remains a former
colonial ruler of Iraq, Britain. To win more allies for the new campaign
against Iraq, Vice President Cheney was dispatched from the US shadow
government for a Middle East tour in March of this year. It ended in an
unqualified foreign policy disaster for the Bush administration.  Not a
single US ally in the region would stand publicly with the US regime change
perspective. The subsequent endorsement by the US of the Israeli war in
occupied Palestine has made Arab support for a US attack against Iraq out of
the question for the immediate future. Both Saudi Arabia and Oman have stated
they will not allow attacks on Iraq launched from US bases on their soil. The
Iranians fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq in the 80's, but they
certainly don't want a US invasion force on their border. The Arab League has
repeatedly insisted that they do not support the US-led "war on terror" as a
springboard to an expanded war on Iraq. At this point the lack of diplomatic
support has stymied the immediate plans for a major offensive against Iraq.

What has been lacking so far is a pretext. In the Gulf War, the United
Nations war coalition against Iraq was formed under the banner of defending
Kuwait's national sovereignty. What since 1991 has Iraq done that warrants a
full-scale US invasion and occupation? Iraq's accusers generally attempt to
project a frightening, but always vague, picture of a military power that can
no longer be tolerated by the peace-loving world. Given this perspective, the
leaders of the US will be judged irresponsible if they do not launch a
pre-emptive strike on Iraq. A steady stream of unsubstantiated allegations of
Iraq possessing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons fuels this campaign.
Within the war hysteria of mainstream US politics, these appear a sufficient
justification for war.

But in the real world the US charges of a looming Iraqi threat don't add up.
Listen to the British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon at US Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld's recent London press conference as he "described the Iraqi
military threat as increasing. ...Asked later to elaborate, he said Iraq's
air defenses were more aggressively trying to shoot down US and British
pilots who regularly fly combat patrols over northern and southern Iraq."
Here the prime example of the increasing Iraqi threat is its air-defense
system over its own territory! With classic Orwellian newspeak Iraq's use of
air-defenses is characterized as an "aggression." With similar reasoning, the
US administration is attempting to popularize its attack on Iraq as a
"preemptive defensive intervention."

Why so many troops?

In the months since its announcement few have ventured to ask why the US
'regime change' strategy requires so many troops to overthrow the unpopular
Saddam Hussein? US military strategists all raved about the "success" in
Afghanistan with relatively few troops backed by high-tech ordinance. Why are
they now projecting such high numbers of US combat forces in Iraq?

The Bush administration is planning the biggest heist of the young 21st
century. They will take over a country with the whole world watching, and
steal its enormous oil resources outright. The military occupation will
decisively eliminate French, Russian and other competitors from future access
to Iraq's oil. But there is a catch. For the plan to succeed the US has to
forcibly control Iraq for the foreseeable future. For this they need a
military government over Iraq and a massive foreign occupation force. As the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Joseph Biden, (Democrat)
says "he cautioned Bush that a major attack would require a US presence for
two to five years, to keep the battling factions from fighting each other."
The Bush war plans for Iraq involve a commitment to an extensive and
protracted military intervention in Iraq.

Prior to any invasion, the US will certainly hit Iraq with another murderous
air offensive comparable or even greater than that of the Gulf War. US troops
will then enter and attempt to install a compliant military government. At
this point the rhetoric surrounding George W. Bush's crusade to eliminate
Saddam Hussein can lead to serious misunderstandings of US intentions. A
similar problem plagued his father in the aftermath of Desert Storm in 1991.
US policy will be mistaken by many in the US, abroad and even within Iraq, as
possessing a democratic content or even idealistic humanitarian motives. To
avoid this inclination, regime strategists have already set the course of
post-invasion Iraq. Their plan calls for a military government, led
preferably by a Sunni Arab military officer, to rule Iraq. A protracted
foreign domination over Iraq requires a military regime capable of heading
off any democratic aspirations arising from the Iraqi people themselves.
Projecting the deployment of a massive occupation force is an acknowledgement
of Washington's reactionary political agenda for Iraq.

This agenda will pit US occupation forces against the broadest layers of the
population of Iraq. A US invasion force will face the remnants of the Iraqi
army. There is a likelihood of a protracted irregular armed resistance from a
hostile civilian population. US troops may also be needed to prevent the
Kurds in the north from declaring independence. A defacto Kurdish state
already exists in northern Iraq, but its independence from Iraq is strongly
opposed by the US and its ally Turkey. Turkey, another former colonial ruler
of Iraq, and Washington will have to work together to suppress Kurdish
political aspirations for self-determination. This opposition to Kurdish
power in Iraq is the reason the Northern Alliance model of the anti-Taliban
campaign in Afghanistan has been rejected for Iraq. Using the armed forces of
the two Kurdish parties (by far the largest armed groups in Iraq outside of
the government) against the government of Iraq would, if successful, gain
them a prominent role in Iraq's future. (As Northern Alliance military power
exists today in Afghanistan beneath the surface of the Karzai government.)
This is unacceptable to Turkey and the US, so the Kurds have been left out of
the regime change strategy. And don't forget the occupation's mission in the
south of Iraq. The US expects trouble there too. US interests require the
Shia, who comprise the majority of Iraqis, also be kept away from political
power in post-invasion Iraq. Washington strategists think the Shia of Iraq
are dangerously sympathetic to Iran. State Department theologians fear
boosting Iran's evil powers. In the end, the politics of the "regime change"
perspective succeeds in putting US occupation forces in conflict with every
significant social force in contemporary Iraq!

These political factors have produced some ambivalence within the highest
levels of the US military. Theirs is the task of actually putting forces in
the field against this murky array of potential opponents. The May 24, 2002
Washington Post cites "In a series of meetings this spring, the six members
of the Joint Chiefs -- the chairman, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers; the
vice chairman, Marine Gen. Peter Pace; and the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air
Force and Marine Corps -- hammered out a position that emphasizes the
difficulties of any Iraq campaign while also quietly questioning the wisdom
of a military confrontation with Hussein." While the generals acknowledge
that Iraq's armed forces have not rearmed or refitted since its defeat in
1991, they concurred with earlier projections requiring hundreds of thousands
of US troops for the Iraq operation. While the military leadership is wary of
the political complexities of the war, they are conversely enthusiastic about
the prospects of a large-scale war.

Proponents of this war see a timely opportunity in the regime change. As in
the Gulf War it provides both civilian and military targets for the latest
high-tech bombs and missiles. They can utilize an entire generation of US
military pilots that have been trained in combat over Iraq in the last twelve
years. It also provides an opportunity for the US to use its new generation
of nuclear weapons. In January of this year the Bush administration presented
its Nuclear Posture Review to Congress. It advocated using "nuclear bunker
busters" against "enemy facilities that are otherwise difficult to attack."
It also proposed the use of nuclear weapons for the "radiological
neutralization" of alleged chemical and biological weapons sites. US
intentions to nuke Iraq are clearly outlined in these proposals.

Through all of these various policies runs a consistent thread. Whether US
aggression is channeled through the strangulation of an economic siege, the
ongoing bombings, or the future schemes for invasion, occupation, or nuclear
attack, there is in each case a clear intent to violate the most fundamental
human rights of the Iraqi people. Bringing this war to an end is the most
important moral and political issue of our time.
- June 18 02

Bob Allen
Campaign to End the Sanctions
Philadelphia PA

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