Misinformation & an appetite for war
By Sue Potvin

Many believe the U.S. will attack Iraq. Period. If Saddam Hussein were to commit suicide today, the Bush Administration would find a reason to drop bombs tomorrow. From Day One, President Bush's attitude has been, not if, but when? And it can't be soon enough.

As each excuse for war weakens, amazing new "evidence" comes to light. But when two or more statements are proven to be fabrications -- as has been the case in speeches made by Bush, Powell and associates -- then nothing can be taken at face value.

Is war on Iraq justified? The facts speak for themselves.

Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves in the world. Iraq has the second largest. Venezuela has oil reserves too and they are an important U.S. import.

Iraq and Venezuela both refuse to privatize their oil. This means American oil interests cannot control them.

Last year, the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was toppled in a power move supported by the U.S. He regained power in two days. This year, a mammoth campaign, supported by mega dollars, has his country in turmoil once again, trying to force Chavez out. (See story "The truth about Venezuela unrest:" in this issue, article 23.)

The American focus on Iraq is much less subtle.

Iraq has had chemical and biological weapons since the early 1980s, thanks largely to the U.S. and its technology.

The U.S. government had no problem with the Iraqi use of gas warfare against Iran. Iran retaliated in kind. Much of this fighting occurred along their common border. The Kurds in northern Iraq were too often the victims.

In 1988, 5,000 Kurds died in the town of Halabja, not as main targets but victims of "collateral damage". A U.S. study following that war said that the condition of the bodies showed that cyanide-based gas used by the Iranians had killed them, not the mustard gas used by Iraq. All cases where gas is reported to have killed people in Iraq were said to be tragedies of war.1

This information refutes one lie that is constantly being repeated by Bush, by Powell and by the U.S. news media.

The U.S. provided extensive military, economic and technological support to Saddam Hussein's regime, sending tons of chemicals to Iraq, even when it was apparent that they were being used as weapons against Iran. Apparently the U.S. did not consider Saddam Hussein any kind of threat at that time. Nor did any other western country condemn Iraq's actions at that time.

In taking the moral high ground against the use of weapons of mass destruction today, Bush must remember that the U.S. used an incredible 17 million gallons of Agent Orange against the people of Vietnam.

At what point did Saddam become an evil enemy, a threat to the U.S. and to the world? Was it when he attacked Kuwait? Some claim it was when Saddam refused to privatize Iraqi oil so that American oil interests could get control of it.

The Gulf War saw 35,000 civilian casualties, while not one U.S. or Allied soldier was killed by Iraq. Six thousand retreating Iraqi soldiers were buried alive by U.S. tanks with ploughs mounted on the front.2

As much as 40 tons of depleted uranium were left in Iraq and Kuwait after the Gulf War.

According to the United Nations, there was a 700 per cent increase in cancer rates in Iraq between 1991 and 1994. Cancer is still a major problem there. (See story about depleted uranium in this issue, article22.)

Following the Gulf War, the U.S. said it had destroyed 80 to 95 per cent of Iraq's entire military capacity. Since then it has enforced strict sanctions on Iraq's imports and exports and bombarded Iraq with air strikes.

Between December 1998 and September 1999, even though the U.S. and Britain were not at war with them, they dropped 20 million pounds of explosives on Iraq -- a country two-thirds the size of Saskatchewan.

By October 1999, 1.5 million Iraqis -- 750,000 children since 1997 -- are estimated to have died as a result of U.N. sanctions The death rate of children in 1989 was 38 per 1,000 births. The death rate of children in 1999 was 131 per 1,000 -- a 345 per cent increase.

Three hundred inspections were carried out in Iraq during November and December 1998. A mere five of these had any problems. Weapons inspectors said that 90 per cent of Iraq's post-1991 capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction were discovered and dismantled. By December 1998, Iraq had been disarmed to a level unprecedented in modern history.3

Another oft-repeated lie (by Bush, Powell, the U.S. media and others) is the claim that Iraq kicked out the U.N. weapons inspection team in 1998. This is disputed by several sources. In fact, UNSCOM withdrew from Iraq when some of its members were discovered to be collecting intelligence information for the U.S. Immediately following their withdrawal, the U.S. dropped bombs on Iraq.4

With so many of their excuses for war not standing up to scrutiny, the U.S. has been continually trying to link Saddam Hussein with al Qaida and/or Osama bin Laden in order to justify an attack on Iraq as part of their continuing attack on terrorism.

It just doesn't fly. The two are like oil and water; religiously they are at odds; they simply do not get along with each other. The claim that Iraq was hosting an al Qaida camp was a total misrepresentation of the truth. A militant group, which may or may not be connected to al Qaida, is being sheltered in a Kurdish village in a corner of Iraq that is not under Iraqi control. Period.

The world was shown many pictures of "proof" of Saddam's perfidy, by Secretary Colin Powell. But after hearing him repeat the lies already described here, after learning that several pages of his testimony turned out to be material that was the years-old work of a California student that had been plagiarized, what proof do we have that his "before" pictures weren't taken before the Gulf War? That the dates on the photos were not altered to suit the need? That the overheard phone conversations were not just a creation? That even the current -- and highly convenient -- bin Laden tape is not a product of modern technology?

Trust is a precious thing. The Bush Administration is fast losing any credibility in the eyes of the world.

There are a great many double standards operating today.

Between 1972 and 1990, the U.S.vetoed more than 30 U.N. resolutions against Israel. By 1992, Israel had violated more than 65 U.N. resolutions. The U.S. funds Israel to the tune of $5 billion each year.

But it wages a vendetta against Iraq for far less.

Eight countries are known to have nuclear weapons. The U.S. has 10,000 of them and is the only country to have ever used them. Israel has more than 400 nuclear warheads (in an area of the world where they are outlawed) and will not permit U.N. weapons inspections. North Korea has admitted to having nuclear power and "diplomacy" is the weapon being used on them. Iraq has none.

But Iraq is the country Bush on which Bush wants to drop his bombs.

Forty-two per cent of the Palestinian territories are controlled by Israeli settlements. Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land. The U.S. makes no move to force them to obey the law.

Bush holds himself above having to abide by U.N. resolutions. He belittles and disparages the weapons inspection team. He says he will attack Iraq despite what the inspectors or the U.N. has to say. Yet he holds in high infamy any reluctance on Iraq's part to co-operate with the inspection team or the U.N.

It is not surprising that Saddam Hussein has difficulty treating the weapons inspections team with trust and respect, given his history with the last team.

It is not surprising that Saddam Hussein would want to have weapons of some kind on hand to defend his country, given the imminent threat presented by the U.S. and Britain.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a wicked man who is not deserving of trust. There are many other wicked dictators in similar positions -- some with worse records.

But there has never been even a hint of evidence that Iraq is a threat to the U.S. or Britain.

The pundits are warning that the kind of attack that Bush wants to make on Iraq may indeed bring the kinds of dangers to North American shores that are now only baseless fears.

1. Former CIA political analyst and Army War College professor Stephen C. Pelletiere, writing in the New York Times, Jan. 31.
2. Oregon Centre for Public Policy and www.PrisonDharmaNetwork.org .
3. Former UNSCOM Chief Inspector Scott Ritter.
4. Sam Husseini, communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, quoted in Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You by Norman Solomon/Reese Erlich.