Contrary to President Bush, it is clear that Saddam
Hussein posed no "grave and gathering threat" to the U.S. However much a monster
he may have been, he possessed no weapons of mass destruction. Due to the severe
regime of UN sanctions and weapons investigations, he had long since been effectively
One year after the US invasion, antiwar critics are gaining in the political
arena. "There was no reason for us to become involved in Iraq recently," stated
former president Jimmy Carter in an astonishingly sharp rebuke. "That was a
war based on lies and misinterpretations from London and Washington, claiming
falsely that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, claiming falsely
that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."
Hit by defections from insiders like former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill,
and the highly vocal admissions of weapons inspector David Kay, the
administration began to reel. Appearing on "Face the Nation" (March 14), Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, stating he had never claimed Iraq posed an "imminent"
nuclear threat, was confronted with one of his clear statements to the contrary.
His retort was not reassuring: "Mm-hmm. It – my view of – of the situation was
that he – he had – we – we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other
countries had and that – that we believed and we still do not know – we will
Then came the frontal assault by Richard Clarke, former counter-terrorism
chief. He hammered away at three main points: that the president ignored dire
warnings of the Sept. 11 attack, that he used it as a ruse for invading Iraq,
and that the invasion undermined the war on terrorism. Clarke's charges could be
confirmed or refuted, in part, by two important developments: (1) making public
the contents of the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief, and (2)
investigating the role played in the run up to war by the Defense Department's
ad hoc "Office of Special Plans" (OSP). The August 6 Brief is said to contain
direct intelligence of an imminent terrorist attack. The OSP, dubbed "the lie
factory" by investigative reporter Robert Dreyfus, is said to be the decisive
source of misinformation to the president, his advisors and the public. Though
it remains far from clear whether such matters will see the light of day, Clarke
might just force them out.
Not all supporters of the war believed it was wise for the administration to
rest its case on the premise that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass
destruction. Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor), a well-connected private intelligence firm, was an interesting case
in point. Although Stratfor had no problems with what it openly acknowledged
was "deception," it worried that the deception might backfire (January 2003).
It saw Iraq as a "strategic prize" well worth the risk of manipulating America
and its allies into a "pre-emptive" war. As far as Stratfor was concerned (June
2003), "WMD was always a side issue." It saw Washington's goal as "the occupation
of Iraq." "US domination of the Middle East," so greatly to be wished, would
then result. Democracy was as much a "side issue" in Iraq as WMD. For Stratfor,
occupation and domination were the goals.
When one considers how the US now plans to establish permanent military bases
in Iraq, Stratfor's view of the invasion does not seem far-fetched. Fourteen
new "enduring bases," as they are called, are now in the works. A senior British
source conceded recently (March 10) that even after the occupation ends, all
military forces in Iraq will remain under the US control. According to neoconservative
strategist Robert Kagan, the US will maintain "a major concentration of forces
. . . over a long period of time." "If we have a force in Iraq," he explained,
"there will be no disruption of oil supplies."
Speaking in a television interview long before the invasion (August 3, 2002),
syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer took much the same line. "If we win the
war," he noted, "we are in control of Iraq, it is the single largest source of
oil in the world, it's got huge reserves, which have been suppressed because of
Iraq's actions, and Saddam's. We will have a bonanza, a financial one, at the
other end, if the war is successful." "We don't speak about exit strategies," he
continued. "This is not Bosnia, or Haiti, or the Balkans. This is very
important, everybody understands it, we are not going to run away."
Neoconservative authorities like Stratfor, Kagan, and Krauthammer thus confirm
what has long been suspected by critics. "Controlling Iraq is about oil as power,
rather than oil as fuel," contends dissident military expert, Michael T. Klare.
"Control over the Persian Gulf translates into control over Europe, Japan, and
China. It's having our hand on the spigot." Such thoughts may not yet be acceptable
to the US mainstream. But throughout the rest of the world, they are widespread.
Meanwhile time is running out. The interim constitution does nothing to stop
the rising ethnic and religious tensions. The Kurds want autonomy, the Shi'ites
want domination, the Sunnis want security, and they are all reaching for their
guns. The Bush administration shows no sign of handing Iraq over to the UN, with
a resolution that would end the occupation and establish a truly multinational
peacekeeping force. Nor is it prepared to bring pressure to bear on Israel for a
just settlement with the Palestinians, absolutely the most important move it
could make toward regional peace. Instead it enrages the Arab world yet again by
vetoing the UN condemnation of Israel's assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh
Ahmed. The black hole of an Iraqi civil war looms large on the horizon. The
immense hazards of the occupation go unacknowledged, as the world slips ever
closer to the flash point than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Adequate words are lacking to describe the mendacity of the current administration
and the folly of its "preemptive" war. Judged by just-war standards, it has
waged war on Iraq without just cause, without legitimate authority, without
right intention, without due regard for civilians, and without reasonable chance
of success. It is hubris that will come to grief, one that threatens to engulf
the entire world.