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[casi] What War Against Iraq Is Not About

Published on Friday, January 3, 2002 by the Globe & Mail (Canada)
What This War Is Not About
by Rick Salutin

Four things the coming war against Iraq is not about:

It is not about terror. Proof A: No connection has ever been shown
between Iraq and al-Qaeda; in fact, there is long enmity between their
leaders. Proof B: U.S. leaders have clearly used Sept. 11 as a pretext
to attack Iraq. Bob Woodward says in his new book that Donald Rumsfeld
was already calling for Iraq's inclusion in the war on terror on "the
day after"; national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told The New
Yorker she asked her staff "to think seriously about 'how do you
capitalize on these opportunities [my emphasis].' " This is the way
that power thinks. Proof C (a deduction, but I find it the most
persuasive argument): Attacking Iraq will increase the danger of
terror attacks in the future. The misery of Iraqi civilians,
especially kids, due to sanctions is already closely watched in the
Arab and Muslim world. Casualties from bombing in the "no fly" zones
are widely reported, though scarcely noted here. New, far greater
death and destruction will raise further anger, and lead to more
recruits for terror; it's elementary. Besides, even the CIA says
Saddam Hussein is most likely to use biological or chemical weapons
once he is attacked and cornered. You don't eradicate terror by
creating more of it. Surely the American leadership knows this.

It is not about weapons of mass destruction. Proof A: North Korea,
whose nuclear program is far more advanced than Iraq's, and which has
the crucial delivery systems. Yet the U.S. has declared it will not
attack North Korea. Evidently, having a real and credible WMD program
exempts you from American attack. Proof B: Israel, which has had a
large nuclear arsenal for 40 years that scares hell out of its
neighbors. Security Council Resolution 687, paragraph 14, calls for
removing all WMDs from the Mideast. The U.S. has never volunteered to
enforce that clause.

It is not about democracy. Proof A: Saddam Hussein, whose tyranny the
U.S. supported with military aid, including WMDs, as detailed in
Iraq's report to the UN, up to the time at which he defied not his own
people but the U.S. Former UN relief co-ordinator Dennis Halliday says
that, even after the Persian Gulf war, U.S.-backed sanctions continued
to prop up the regime and "weakened the very people who think about
democracy" there. Proof B, C, D: Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, where
the U.S. has far greater political and economic clout to press for
democratic reform but has never done so. Proof E: Iran, which has
limited but real democratic processes, and which made the "axis of
evil" list nonetheless. Proof F, G: Turkey and Indonesia, Muslim
countries with some level of democracy that got there on their own or,
in Indonesia's case, despite U.S. support for its dictator. One could
go on but one would run out of letters. The general point? Democracy
is not something likely to be imposed by an invasion. Isn't that kind
of obvious?

It is not about preventing damage to the U.S. economy, as George W.
Bush suggested this week. This one defies rebuttal. He posits a
nuclear, chemical or biological attack by unproven weapons through
non-existent delivery systems, then worries about the effects on the
economy rather than on human beings. (People lying in the wreckage
screaming, Omigod, I lost my job!) It's the same sensibility he showed
in cheerily approving 152 executions during six years as Texas governor.

So what is it about? Hard to choose: oil, domination, revenge,
punishing an insubordinate client? Whew. At least we know what it isn't.

 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc.

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