For the past three months President Bush and his close-knit home team of Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Blair (yes, the British) have been holding the world hostage to their own made-in-America war game against Iraq. In their groupthink conviction that brute force is the only way to get at Saddam, Bush and his supporters must be assuming that the rest of the planet is populated by admiring morons who actually believe their arguments.
Take, for example, the recent vague pronouncements of U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who had accused Iraq of helping the al-Qaeda organization develop chemical weapons.
“We know… that several of the detainees, in particular some high- ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al- Qaeda in chemical-weapons development,” she told PBS news with a straight face. Really, Condoleeza? And how “high-ranking” were they? And what does “some training” mean?
But why bother linking Iraq with al-Qaeda in the first place? Isn’t Tony Blair’s recent dossier enough? Didn’t George Bush already brand Saddam Hussein as our “enemy until proven otherwise?” Isn’t it enough that Saddam is apparently developing “weapons of mass destruction?” Or, have they lately realized that if all countries developing weapons of mass destruction were to be invaded, who would be left to do the invading?
Is not the argument that Saddam is “a danger to his neighbours” sufficient? Isn’t the argument that Iraq is a charter member of the “axis of evil” good enough? And what about the sinister North Korean connection, which will reportedly supply Saddam with enough rockets to bomb New York and London? Isn’t that sufficient?
It seems not, for Bush is now telling us that Saddam is “a tyrant who gasses his own people.” Thank you for the insight, Mr. President. How nice to hear all this, a mere 20 years after the event, from the same country that supported him against his own people and in his war against Iran. Such genocidal atrocities did not seem to bother the U.S. back then, nor at any time over the past two decades.
Hasn’t Bush made up his mind already? So why wait to execute the grand plan? Haven’t Americans endured enough anxiety over the chaotic stock market, the disappearing of pension funds, the rampant accounting corruption in U.S. mega-companies, etc.?
Perhaps it’s time once again to enforce the American Way by using the Afghan model — heavy air strikes, backing up special commando missions and covert operations, co-ordinated with Iraqi opposition groups. After all, this awesome plan will almost certainly kill thousands of Iraqis, but only a few Americans. And it will achieve full American control of Iraq’s oil fields, courtesy of the new puppet regime that Bush and his cronies will install to replace Hussein. The Iraqi people will live happily ever after, as the world economy once again feeds off the economic stimulation of cheap oil, heavy military spending, and the victor’s price tag for “rebuilding” Iraq.
The same method overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan, killing a mere 3,000 Afghan civilians and a few Americans. It also “liberated” burqua-clad Afghani women and increased the world-wide traffic in opium-based hard drugs by ten fold.
So how could anyone think of opposing the planned presence of American ground forces to protect the new government in Baghdad after Saddam’s downfall? Imagine them, playing soccer with Iraqi teens and giving the kids candy during Ramadan! Iraqis will love their American liberators, just like the Afghani people do — go ahead, ask them.
But what about Saddam’s hidden chemical or biological arsenal? Would he use it? Maybe. After all, he did warn that “those who will perpetrate an aggression against Iraq will be buried with their sick dreams, arrogance and greed.” But Saddam would likely be killing thousands of his own people as well, for unlike the well-equipped American troops, mere civilians will be totally unprepared for such attacks. The leaders of the American war-machine seem unlikely to care whether unleashed biological weapons could have long-term effects on either military or civilian victims. So what? Isn’t the protection of American interests worth any human or collateral risk?
The war against Iraq also will be won at reasonable cost to the American taxpayer — a modest $20 billion or so, shared among Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The war against Iraq may well plunge all these countries deeper into debt, but they will gladly mortgage their oil to the Americans for years to come, won’t they?
Now after having ousted Saddam, the United States would then face the prospect of occupying a desperately deprived country of 23 million people as a new government consolidates its power. In the meantime, civil war could erupt at any moment among a variety of dissident local factions who are sharply divided on religious, sectarian, ethnic and political grounds. But as long as it’s only a case of natives-killing- natives, as is happening now in Afghanistan, the war on Iraq will also be declared “won.”
And what about the ominous prospect of a demoralized Iraqi population producing its own crop of bin Laden-styled terrorists? Unlikely, say the war-mongers in Washington and London. But if it does, America’s ongoing war on terrorism will surely get them where it hurts.
Yes, there’s nothing like a custom-made war to help rally the citizens around their leader. Thatcher did it, Milosevic did it, Sharon is doing it, so why not good ol’ George W. Bush? So far, he’s smoothly explained all the “good” reasons for invading Iraq. However, some of us “morons” are beginning to suspect that Bush does not have the guts to tell it like it is; to acknowledge that the selfish imposition of power and control, at any cost, by the mightiest empire in the modern world could actually be a bad thing. But you never know. History is full of surprises and George W. may yet surprise us all by pulling back, just in time, from the yawning precipice of open conflict.
Now that’s something we “morons” could understand… and celebrate.
Prof. Mohamed Elmasry is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo and national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.