In a 27-minute long nationally televised address to the nation on February 26, ’03, President Bush shared his vision of a post-war Iraq without Saddam Hussein. He mentioned of the danger posed by Saddam and why the latter had to be confronted. To him, it was both a moral responsibility to liberate Iraq and U.S.’s self-interest. He said, “America’s interests in security and America’s belief in liberty both lead in the same direction é to a free and peaceful Iraq.” He assured that the occupying army will not remain in Iraq a single day more than is necessary. He promised that the ouster of Saddam would lead to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Bush’s speech is a new low point in political juggling and moral double standards. Iraq is not a threat to any of its neighbors and definitely not to Israel or any of the countries in Europe and the Americas. Its army is only a fraction of what it used to be during the first Gulf War. Its weapons are obsolete and mostly destroyed. IAEA has concluded that Iraq has no nuclear bombs. More than 90% of its chemical and biological weapons were destroyed earlier, with the remainder soon to be destroyed by the UN inspection team. Its al-Samud missiles, when properly loaded, cannot lop to a distance of 150 km. So, like most American citizens, I am not convinced that Iraq poses a threat to any of its neighbors, let alone the USA. North Korea has reactivated its nuclear facility, fired a missile into the Japan Sea, and is known to have nuclear bombs. However, Secretary Powell does not consider the threat from North Korea to be a serious one and wants to resolve the matter peacefully. Why a double-standard when it comes to Iraq?
The case has been made that Saddam is an evil man. There can be no disagreement there. Forget about how the US government, including (now) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, was a partner in crime during the Iran-Iraq war. What is so hypocritical about Bush’s speech is that his administration befriends a regime that has been committing everything despicable that he accuses the Ba’athists in Iraq. Truly, if Bush is looking for a villain, he has it in Ariel Sharon, who is a loose cannon, a mass murderer, who is a habitual ethnic cleanser (of Palestinians). Sharon has killed more human beings and destroyed the lives of many in the last few months than anyone we care to remember in recent months. But this mass-murderer is a good friend and frequent guest to the White House, as if to spit on oppressed humanity. Our world is full of megalomaniac despots who terrorize civilian lives. Yet, we don’t see a similar initiative from the White House to ouster them. Why single out Saddam then?
If Bush is interested in punishing a country that is in defiance of the UN Resolutions, then Israel has done so 69 times (compared to only 16 that were passed against Iraq – while the latter has complied with most of these). Israel has refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and bars IAEA inspection of is facilities. It is the single country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons, let alone chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. It poses a threat to all its Arab neighbors. It has violated sovereignty of other nations. It murdered UN diplomats. It refused entry of UN team to investigate mass killings last year in Jenin. So, if the US needs to bomb a country for violation of the UN Resolutions, or for posing a threat to humanity, both within and outside its borders, then we have it in Israel. If the Bush Administration or the UN cannot punish Israel for its crime against humanity, then it has no moral ground now to punish Iraq.
Let us not forget the fact that it is the Israeli acts of oppression – assaults against civilians with missiles, planes and helicopters (paid for by US), torture, illegal detention, political assassination, forced deportation, demolition of houses, shops and factories, confiscation of lands, expropriation of water, destruction of schools, colleges, universities and hospitals, attack on ambulances, and mass killings – that make America look bad in the eyes of the world. (The Carter Center in Atlanta recently disclosed that no time in the history of this nation, US is so much despised around the world as it is now.) Everyday in the refugee camps in the Occupied Territories, it is a 9/11 for the helpless Palestinians. For the last half a century, the US has been Israel’s partner in crime. Rather than reprimanding the pariah state, she has chosen to reward it.
The Occupied Territories has already been dissected to such an extent, for Israel’s ‘never-ending ‘ security reasons, that a viable state for the Palestinians is not even a beautiful dream, it is simply impossible. But the Jewish state cannot have the Palestinian population in its midst, if it were to portray itself as a democratic state with the Palestinian population time-bomb clicking. If these second-class citizens are let live, then within two decades they will surpass the Jewish population, a fact known to pro-Israeli hawks, both inside and outside Israel. This is offensive and unacceptable to the Jewish character of the state. As such, the solution, something that the chicken hawks in Bush Administration supports, is ethnic cleansing of Palestinians through a mixed process of economic strangulation, further land confiscation and mass deportation. With Sharon’s reelection this process found its best executor. Palestinians would be forced to settle in Arab countries, especially, in Jordan.
Truly, Bush’s unconditional support for Israeli brutality and savagery has unmasked his own evilness and opened a new chapter in bigotry and hypocrisy. The current activities clearly show that his Administration is trying to redraw the map of the region, with a special attention given to the future of Israel. For the latter to act as her gendarme and a rampart for regional hegemony, states like Iraq, a potential threat to Israel, must be eliminated, if necessary, through preemptive strikes, with or without UN sanctions. Then process would be repeated with other states like Iran, Pakistan and Syria and so one and so forth until the US hegemony is guaranteed and Israel secure. This ties up with the agenda of the right-wing Christian fundamentalists and evangelists, on whose backing Bush was elected to the office. That is also the strategy of the neo-cons inside the White House, drawn mostly from pro-Israeli, pro-Zionist think tanks (like the Enterprise Institute where Bush spoke). What is so grotesque about this whole matter is that in one side, Iraq is vilified for not seeming to comply with the Resolution 1441, while the US wants to go on its own to punish Saddam, if UN does not support her cause to go to war against Iraq. While an unprovoked, preemptive strike on any nation is considered a crime in the jargon of ‘civilized’ human being, to the upstart Bushies, it is kosher. So much so for crying out for civility and nobility! It is, therefore, not surprising that in a recent poll in the UK, Bush was found more a threat to world peace than Saddam!
The civilized world cannot let US dictate its terms of engagement and fight a proxy war on behalf of the pariah state of Israel at the behest of neo-cons and born-again Christians in the White House, and the “Amen corners” in the Capitol Hill, and disingenuous think-tanks, who epitomize bigotry and hypocrisy. The war, if allowed, would be a human cataclysm, killing at least half a million innocent people, totally devastating the birthplace of civilization and tearing up our world into violent camps, something that we have never seen before.
We, as peace-loving citizens of the world, cannot simply let that happen. We ought to tell the Bushies and Blairs that if a single civilian is killed in the Iraq, their action calls for being tried as perpetrators and planners of war crime according to the Nuremburg Laws that the US and UK were crucial in formulating. The civilized world needs to wake up to the reality of Bush’s master plan and stop him from committing war crimes.