by Milan Rai, author of War Plan Iraq:
Ten Reasons Against War and member of the anti-war group
ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War)
President Bush is intent on war against Iraq, not on disarmament.
A top US Senate foreign policy aide observed in May 2002 that,
"The White House's biggest fear is that UN weapons inspectors
will be allowed to go in." (Time magazine, 13 May,
p. 38) The presence of weapons inspectors in Iraq could delay
and perhaps derail the US drive to war, therefore they are part
of the problem, not part of the solution, so far as the US is
When he addressed the UN General Assembly on 12 September 2002,
President Bush demanded the elimination of "all weapons of
mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material"
in Iraq, "if the Iraqi regime wishes peace." He also
demanded an end to Iraqi "support for terrorism", an
end to Iraq's "persecution of its civilian population",
and an end to the oil smuggling which is the lifeblood of the
regime. Nowhere did the President demand or even mention the return
of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq.
The message seemed to be that even if weapons inspectors were
re-admitted, the US could find another justification for a war
against Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in May 2002,
"US policy is that regardless of what the inspectors do,
the people of Iraq and the people of the region would be better
off with a different regime in Baghdad. The United States reserves
its option to do whatever it believes might be appropriate to
see if there can be a regime change." The issue of inspections
is a "separate and distinct and different" matter from
the US position on Saddam Hussein's leadership of Iraq, said the
Administration's 'dove'. (Guardian, 6 May 2002)
A 'senior Pentagon official', speaking in November 2002, was blunt:
"The inspections cannot work. Period. Military power works.
Period. All this is a side-show which, the longer it drags on,
the greater the need to break the cycle becomes and the need to
get involved militarily." (Observer, 17 November 2002,
Inspections are a 'side-show' to the real task of bringing down
Saddam Hussein. Thus the pressure on UN weapons inspectors to
instigate a confrontation that can be used to justify war, perhaps
over the US demand that inspectors take weapons scientists and
their families out of Iraq for questioning (where they will be
offered asylum by the US). Iraq is expected to refuse to permit
this, creating a 'justification' for war. Chief weapons inspector
Hans Blix is reluctant, having said, "We are not going to
abduct anyone. The UN is not a defection agency." (Observer,
8 Dec., p. 20)
The abduction of scientists is not necessary for to verify whether
or not Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, but disarmament is
not the goal. The US goal is to bring about the replacement of
Saddam Hussein. Thomas Friedman, Diplomatic Correspondent of the
New York Times, said in July 1991 that economic sanctions
would continue until there was a military coup which would create
"the best of all worlds": "an iron-fisted Iraqi
junta without Saddam Hussein". A return to the days when
Saddam's 'iron first' held Iraq together, "much to the satisfaction
of the American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia". (New
York Times, July 1991) This is not 'regime change'; this is
'regime stabilisation/leadership change.'
In October 2002, Ari Fleischer, White House spokesperon, tried
to deflect a question about the multi-billion-dollar cost of a
US invasion by observing that the expense of a war on Iraq could
be saved by the 'cost of a bullet'. Asked if he was calling for
President Saddam to be assassinated, in contravention of US law,
Fleischer said, "Regime change is welcome in whatever form
it takes." (Guardian, 2 October, 2002)
This clarifies the meaning of 'regime change' beautifully: delete
the Supreme Leader, and slot in another Iraqi general in his stead.
Daniel Neep of the Royal United Services Institute comments that,
in the event of war, "The ideal scenario is someone within
Iraq, preferably within the army, killing Saddam and taking control.
That would mean that entering Baghdad would not be necessary and
would also solve the problem of who will govern once he has gone."
(Observer, 17 November 2002, p. 20)
The search for a replacement Supreme Leader has not gone well.
The exiled general possessing the most 'credibility' with the
Iraqi military, General Nizar al-Khazraji, is being investigated
in Denmark for the war crime of gassing 5000 Kurds in 1988. Another
US favourite is Brigadier General Najib al-Salhi, who has called
for multi-party democracy in Iraq. The general rather gave the
game away, however, when he stressed the need to encourage Iraqi
military leaders to switch sides by promising that no more than
twenty of Saddam's closest henchmen would be treated as criminals
by a new Iraqi government. (Sunday Telegraph, 17 March
2002, p. 15)
The United States is not committed to the weapons inspection process,
has never called for the return of weapons inspectors, and is
interested in the inspectors only insofar as they can be manipulated
into creating a war crisis. That war has as its immediate goal
the assassination and replacement of Saddam Hussein and his immediate
entourage, and a continuation of the same regime (with minor modifications).
'Regime stabilisation with leadership change' will reinforce the
stability of Washington's clients in the region, Turkey and Saudi
Arabia, and re-establish US dominance of Iraq's huge oil wealth.
This is a deeply cynical exercise, as well as being illegal and
War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Why We
Shouldnt Launch Another War Against Iraq by Milan Rai
'An excellent weapon for all those opposed to Bush's war'.
'Excellent'. Alice Mahon MP
'Required reading for anyone concerned
about the risk of war'. Professor Paul Rogers, Bradford
School of Peace Studies
'Timely and important'. Hilary
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