Is Iraq to blame for the New Gulf War?

A month after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the News Corporation's Weekly Standard published an article entitled The Case for the American Empire. The article put forward the idea that it was necessary to invade and occupy Afghanistan not to capture Osama bin Laden, but as a first step toward establishing a new American Empire. The next step, the article stated, was to invade and occupy Iraq, "finishing the job" started by the first President Bush, who did not follow through on his earlier plan to establish a New World Order. The Weekly Standard argued as follows:

The debate about whether Saddam Hussein was implicated in the September 11 attacks misses the point. Who cares if Saddam was involved in this particular barbarity? He has been involved in so many barbarities over the years—from gassing the Kurds to raping the Kuwaitis—that he has already earned himself a death sentence a thousand times over. But it is not just a matter of justice to depose Saddam. It is a matter of self defense: He is currently working to acquire weapons of mass destruction that he or his confederates will unleash against America and our allies if given the chance.

Once Afghanistan has been dealt with, America should turn its attention to Iraq. It will probably not be possible to remove Saddam quickly without a U.S. invasion and occupation—though it will hardly require half a million men, since Saddam's army is much diminished since the Gulf War, and we will probably have plenty of help from Iraqis, once they trust that we intend to finish the job this time. Once we have deposed Saddam, we can impose an American-led, international regency in Baghdad, to go along with the one in Kabul. With American seriousness and credibility thus restored, we will enjoy fruitful cooperation from the region's many opportunists, who will show a newfound eagerness to be helpful in our larger task of rolling up the international terror network that threatens us.

Vice President Cheney, Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld and his assistant secretary Paul Wolfowitz signed the 1997 Statement of Principles of Weekly Standard editor William Kristol's Project for the New American Century. Along with Richard Perle, who recently resigned as chair of the Defense Policy Board for corporate influence peddling (although he remains a member), they have made Weekly Standard policy the official policy of the United States government. Their National Security Strategy for the United States, which includes the preemptive use of nuclear weapons, elaborated on the earlier National Energy Strategy, in which Cheney and his colleagues called for drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

U.S. foreign policy did not fundamentally change on September 11, 2001; it simply became more openly hostile to the rest of the world. Prior to 2001, the world associated September 11 with another regime change, the CIA's overthrow of the democratically elected government of Chile on September 11, 1973. An earlier example of the long-established imperialist policy (a term proudly used at the time) of the United States is the Spanish-American War.

In 1898 the Hearst Corporation, comparable in its day to modern media conglomerates such as the News Corporation and AOL Time Warner, campaigned for an invasion of Cuba under the slogan "Remember the Maine!" The slogan (in its more complete and more nationalist version, "Remember the Maine—to Hell with Spain!") referred to the U.S.S. Maine, which had exploded in Havana harbor. Hearst blamed the explosion on an attack by Spain, which controlled the island of Cuba at the time, although there was no evidence of Spanish responsibility. Modern historians believe that the explosion was not caused by an attack of any kind.

Following Hearst's lead, Congress supported a war on Spain. The U.S. quickly won the war, "liberating" Cuba, which became an American colony, along with Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. Cuba was soon granted nominal independence (the other colonies were not so fortunate), on condition that it cede Guantánamo Bay, the site of Hearst's vacation home, to the U.S. for a naval base.

The U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo is now used to hold prisoners of war from the Afghanistan war for military tribunals, in violation of the Geneva convention. Meanwhile, President Bush sanctimoniously accuses Iraq of violating the Geneva convention by televising pictures of U.S. prisoners of war.

The war propaganda of modern corporate news media follows the example set by Hearst. The News Corporation's Fox network, instead of broadcasting its Weekly Standard's call for a new American Empire, has revived Hearst's sensationalism as the standard to be followed by other networks such as AOL Time Warner's CNN and GE's MSNBC. All the corporate media dutifully report the latest Pentagon propaganda.

After failing to make the case that Iraq was tied to the Sept 11 attacks or that Iraq poses a nuclear threat, the Pentagon has launched a new policy of blaming Iraq for so-called collateral damage to noncombatants, both human and non-human. If Iraq does not evacuate its major population centers, the resulting civilian casualties will be described as "human shields," ordered by Saddam Hussein to put themselves in the path of bombs.

The U.S. Congress, in its nearly unanimous vote on March 21, 2003, expressing support for "the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the on-going Global War on Terrorism" reconfirmed its overwhelming support during the Clinton Administration for the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338), which declared: "It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq."

The 1991 Gulf War, seen mainly on video, supposedly used targeted "smart bombs." Now the Pentagon admits that few of these were as "smart" as previously reported, but this time around, the bombs are supposed to be smarter. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is readying its new 18,000-ton "Massive Ordnance Air Blast" or MOAB. It is hard to see how an 18,000-ton bomb can be targeted to avoid civilian deaths and other "collateral damage." Yet the corporate media describe MOAB as a "conventional weapon" because it is not a biological, chemical, or nuclear weapon. Depleted uranium, used extensively in the last Gulf War and likely to be used again, is a radiological weapon, though it, too, is commonly described as a "conventional" weapon.

The Pentagon is also accusing Saddam Hussein of planning to set fire to Iraq's oilfields. Although Hussein denies such charges, the Pentagon is so certain that this will happen that it has paid Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root to "plan for dealing, on short notice, with oil well fires that might occur in Iraq. Brown & Root Services a division of Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc., Houston developed the plan, which also addresses assessing damage to oil facilities, for the government.&

The Guardian reported on March 12: "Halliburton, the Texas company which has been awarded the Pentagon's contract to put out potential oil-field fires in Iraq and which is bidding for postwar construction contracts, is still making annual payments to its former chief executive, the vice-president Dick Cheney." The Center for Responsive Politics reported: "Halliburton also gave more to Bush's presidential campaign—$17,677—than any of the other bidders combined."

The Iraqi people do not see the U.S. flag as a symbol of democracy, and neither should the peace movement. It is time once again to "remember the Maine," to remember that what the corporate media presents as news is often merely propaganda to promote their agenda. While President Bush, who was not elected, portrays Saddam Hussein as a dictator reminiscent of Hitler, we should heed the warning of Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Goering, one of the chief architects of Nazi Germany. At the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal Goering stated:

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.

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