Who's Lying to Who in the Gulf?
By James Petras, Z Magazine, 01/1999
The Clinton-orchestrated worldwide military campaign to bomb Iraq has created one of the broadest coalitions in recent history. European Social Democrats and Middle Eastern Sheikdoms; Chinese and Russian ex-Communists join with free marketeers in Latin America to echo Washington's rhetoric. The list is long and the military threats are real--echoed in the United Nations by the U.S. messenger, Kofi Annam. The world's most august institutions seem to have lent their authority as well as the prestige of most of the world's leaders to President Clinton's campaign to end "the threat" of Saddam Hussein.
But what is the reality of the threat? After seven years of United Nations inspections and inspectors, including CIA operatives, nothing has been discovered. Since the end of the Gulf War, Washington has charged that Hussein possesses the capacity to launch weapons of massive destruction. First, the U.S. surveillance airplanes covered Iraqi airspace taking detailed aerial photographs. Nothing turned up. But Washington then claimed the secret weapons were hidden...someplace. The U.S. insisted on UN inspectors on the ground with unlimited rights to inspect every crevice and cage, building and laboratory. The inspection team included U.S. intelligence agent Scott Ritter and Butler, a pro-U.S. cold warrior from Australia. Every building, basement, toilet, and outhouse was inspected for secret weapons for seven years. Nothing was turned up. Washington insisted that the presidential palace be inspected--including the shelter where Hussein fled to avoid U.S. bombing attempts. After initial resistance to revealing the areas of presidential security, the Iraqis consented. Nothing was found: no deadly weapons, no germs, no poison gases. Washington then lined up some pseudo scientists to testify that traces of anthrax were found. Objective studies in Switzerland disproved Washington's claim.
Not finding any evidence of lethal weapons of mass destruction did not lead Clinton to reject the hypothesis, instead he insisted that not finding anything was proof that Hussein was cleverly hiding the weapons. The inspection had to continue, along with the embargo and the punishing of the Iraqi people. The charges were no longer that hidden weapons were discovered. Instead the new charges were the capability to produce weapons. Any scientist became suspect, every laboratory a "potential" center of germ warfare--even if there was no evidence that any deadly weapons were produced in the past or the present.
The failure to demonstrate a clear and present danger led Clinton to introduce the ambiguous language of "potential threat" and military "capability." In other words, any pharmaceutical firm producing antibiotics could be a "potential" source of dangerous weaponry and the "inspections" could continue. Washington invented the concept of "dual capability"--civilian scientists or laboratories which were engaged in research were a "potential source of germ warfare." So as evidence failed to materialize, the net was thrown wider, the inspections became more intensive and never ending. Clinton's threat to bomb is not directed against any threat or even any weapon. It is directed against Iraqi weapon-making capacity.
The U.S. representative Ritter, distrusting the UN inspectors, launched unannounced "surprise visits," forcing his way into strategic defense areas. Nothing was found.
To follow the logic of the U.S. argument, any educated Iraqi, any scientific laboratory and military installation is suspect, and reason to continue the search for the missing secret deadly weapons. This charade would be laughable if it were not so tragic: hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children have died from malnutrition due to the embargo. Washington has already effectively destroyed not just Iraq's military capabilities but its economy and capacity to feed its people. Clinton's war threats and demands for inspection can never be satisfied because they do not deal with tangible military realities but with political power. Washington needs to invent the Hussein threat to justify its massive military presence in the Gulf and the need to be the undisputed owner and boss of the Gulf's energy resources as well as those in the ex-USSR "republics." Washington invents the threat of Hussein to justify "inspections" that provide information that could be used to assassinate and overthrow his regime and replace him with a pliant U.S. client.
The Iraqis accepted in good faith the United Nations inspection with the idea of getting a clean bill of good behavior and an end of the economic embargo. The inspections have continued now for seven years.
Whenever the Iraqis open laboratories for inspection, Clinton claims that there are "hidden laboratories." Whenever inspectors visit factories, Washington insists there are underground factories. Whenever the inspectors visit desert military bases, the inspectors claim there are "other hidden bases." Only the more they look, the more they confirm the Iraqi position; what you see is what you got.
It is time for public opinion to put an end to this outrageous farce before more innocent Iraqis are killed because Clinton, Berger, Cohen, and Albright do not want to admit that their policy was based on deception and false accusations in defense of imperial power. Washington's "final solution" is to return Iraq to a traditional society of merchants and nomads--thus eliminating any "military capability" of its "dual purpose" modern economy and scientific establishment.
While Washington claims to seek to "deter" the aggression of Saddam, the U.S. Congress has allocated $100 million to finance his opposition and the U.S. politicians openly call for his assassination--a policy pursued by the CIA for over a decade.
Ground inspection and military violations of air space are clearly gross violations of Iraqi national sovereignty. The primacy of U.S. control over Iraqi defense, economic systems, and scientific research are a flagrant return to colonial rule. The U.S. support of Israeli nuclear and biological weaponry is in flagrant contrast with its attempt to brand Iraq a "potential biological weapons producer."
Washington's success in dictating the policies of Iraq encourages it to intervene with impunity in the rest of the world. Vice president Gore and Albright's gross partisan intervention in Malaysian politics during the ASEAN conference is only the latest example. Yesterday it was Iraq, today it is Malaysia, tomorrow it could be Europe. What is at stake with inspections in Iraq is nothing less than the very existence of national sovereignty.