Revolutionary Worker #1185, February 2, 2003, posted at rwor.org
"They're calling it `A-Day'--A as in airstrikes so devastating they would leave Saddam's soldiers unable or unwilling to fight. If the Pentagon sticks to its current war plan, one day...the Air Force and Navy will launch between 300 and 400 cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. As CBS News correspondent David Martin reports, this is more than the number that were launched during the entire 40 days of the first Gulf War. On the second day, the plan calls for launching another 300 to 400 cruise missiles. `There will not be a safe place in Baghdad,' said one Pentagon official who has been briefed on the plan."
CBS News , January 24
"As the Pentagon continues a highly visible buildup of troops and weapons in the Persian Gulf, it is also quietly preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons in a war against Iraq... Military planners have been actively studying lists of potential targets and considering options, including the possible use of so-called bunker-buster nuclear weapons against deeply buried military targets...."
Los Angeles Times , January 25
This month, nine weeks into the UN inspections of Iraq, the team led by Hans Blix documented 16 empty, forgotten warheads from short-range rockets. The White House spokesman tried to claim this military scrap was a "smoking gun"--a cause for war--but the rest of the world did not agree.
As January 27 approached, the UN inspection teams prepared their formal reports to the United Nations. And ruling class "wisemen" complained that this administration isn't doing a good enough job "selling" its explanations for war. So voila, here comes the White House inviting the world to "jump down the rabbit hole" into Alice's Wonderland.
In a major PR offensive, spokespeople for the Bush administration argue that if inspectors find nothing in Iraq then that too is a cause for war!
Here is how the argument goes: The U.S. insists Iraq has weapons of mass destruction-- lots of them. They say that it is not the job of inspectors to find such weapons, but it is Iraq's job to produce them.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said on TV: "The idea was not that inspectors would look for a needle in a haystack, but that Saddam Hussein would show them where the needle was in the haystack."
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice wrote ( New York Times, Jan. 23): "Has Saddam Hussein finally decided to voluntarily disarm? Unfortunately, the answer is a clear and resounding no. Countries that decide to disarm lead inspectors to weapons and production sites, answer questions before they are asked, state publicly and often the intention to disarm and urge their citizens to cooperate."
So, this government argument goes, if inspectors have found no banned weapons, no secret stockpiles or labs--this only shows Iraq is being dishonest and hiding them.
Let's review the twisted logic here: U.S. officials argue that if UN inspectors find anything (no matter how small), that is proof that the U.S. should go ahead soon and conquer Iraq. And if inspectors don't find anything, it is also proof that the U.S. should go ahead and conquer Iraq. It would not be surprising to hear Rumsfeld quip at his next press conference: "Heads the U.S. invades, tails you get invaded."
Such is the sick logic of empire...a mix of Kafka's surreal trials, George Orwell's doublethink, and Catch-22. This has no connection with reality--other than the reality of empire-building.
Key to this whole argument is the claim that the U.S. government knows there are massive hidden stockpiles in Iraq. When asked to provide evidence, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Decem- ber 5, "The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it."
In other words: "The president must know something, trust him." This is a particularly risky argument when it comes to this particular president. But millions of people are profoundly disturbed that the government is pressing ahead to war on such a flimsy and unbelievable basis. And in the face of widespread mistrust and opposition--when hundreds of thousands are taking the streets--the government is more and more resorting to the argument that "war is inevitable, so get with it."
The Logic of "Inevitability"
They insist they are going to war and no one can stop them. Their president has been coached to strut and swagger, wag his finger in the face of doubters and nay-sayers--all to make it clear that his war machine is headed for war and will drag the world along.
The U.S. government will have 150,000 troops and four aircraft carrier battle groups in place by mid-February. And these troops are scheduled for war before the scorching desert summer.
The U.S. government says they will do this--whether or not their allies agree, whether or not the UN approves, whether or not the inspectors "find" anything.
That "sense of inevitability" is supposed to bulldoze obstacles from their path.
Here is more of their twisted logic: If war is inevitable, their allies "may as well" get on board--to share in the post-war decision-making. If war is inevitable, the UN "may as well" approve it, to retain some influence and to avoid later "irrelevancy." If war is inevitable, then the Iraqi military "may as well" overthrow Saddam without a war (and "save" Iraqi lives). If war is coming, then the masses of people "may as well" support the war, and just hope it is quick and decisive--so that the "inevitable" new U.S.-picked regime gets installed with a minimum of bloodshed and destruction.
"When conquest is inevitable, just roll over and accept it." Rapist logic, gangster logic--announced on a world stage.
There is, in fact, nothing inevitable about these warmakers getting away with their ugly plans. And there is every reason for all of us to make sure that these schemes don't come true.
Who Is Threatening Who?
One of the reasons that the warmakers have such self-contradictory arguments is because they dare not, must not, publicly state their real reasons. And this makes it all the more important to dig into the truth--the real motives and goals--of this war.
The U.S. is not making anyone safe-- the U.S. government is making a massive global power grab that affects everyone and their future.
This is an imperialist war-in-the-making--and that is becoming clearer as the discussion in the mainstream media now (more and more openly) uses colonial language about "ruling the world," a "new Rome," empire, and even the word "imperialism" itself.
Massive U.S. armies have gathered in the Persian Gulf--to do open heart surgery on the economic and political lifelines of the world. And they threaten to flatten Iraqi cities, kill countless thousands of people, gut that country's infrastructure, and create a flood of refugees.
None of this is about safety for the people. It will not "liberate" Iraq. It will not reduce the chance of new war. It will not mean the people of the Persian Gulf (or New York City, London, or Peoria, or Delhi) can sleep easier.
When the bombs fall, the purpose of the U.S. armed forces will be to impose conditions through force of arms--and reshape international relations in the interests of the power structure who sent them there to fight . This is about controlling the labor and wealth of large stretches of the world--pinning down strategic resources to pin down potential adversaries. It is about preventing the Iraqi and Arab people from controlling their destinies and resources--not "liberating" the people.
All this will be no better if the U.S. imperialists "win without war."
If they impose their will easily (through an Iraqi coup, or through sanctions), such "cheap victory" would only inflame their ambitions for some new military gamble. This war will be no better whether the U.S. goes in with allies or without allies, unilaterally or multilaterally, blessed by the UN or not.
The U.S. attack on Iraq means a superpower is seeking to strengthen itself through conquest of a country halfway around the world. And there is nothing that can make it just.
The Middle East is on the eve of a new war, and these warmakers must face powerful resistance. The more widely their twisted logic is revealed, the more clearly they are exposed and opposed--the better conditions we all will have for driving them back, loosening their hold on humanity, and forging a future world worth living in.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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