America’s attack on Iraq, which is illegal under international law, claimed more civilian lives today when US missiles struck a busy residential trading market in northern Baghdad, killing fifteen people and injuring many others. Buildings and television stations in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have been destroyed by cruise missiles and air strikes in consecutive daily raids.
The United Nations has warned of a potential humanitarian crisis in Basra alone, which is home to about 1.5 million people. “Some 100,000 children are at risk of disease as intense fighting there has continued for four days, disrupting supplies of drinking water.” (BBC News, 26/03/03)
It has been said by the US administration that post- war Iraq would be one of humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and destruction of weapons. Professor Sandy Tolan of UC Berkeley, in LA Times December 1, 2002 provides a hint at what America really has in mind for Iraq: “It has less to do with weapons of mass destruction than with implementing an ambitious US vision to redraw the map of the Middle East. The new map would be drawn with an eye to two main objectives: controlling the flow of oil and ensuring Israel’s continued regional military superiority.”
Patrick Clawson, a policy analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was blunt during a Capitol Hill forum on a post-Hussein Iraq in 1999: “US oil companies would have an opportunity to make significant profits. We should not be embarrassed about the commercial advantages that would come from a re-integration of Iraq into the world economy.”
But taking over Iraq and remaking the global oil market is not necessarily the endgame. The next steps, favoured by hard-liners determined to elevate Israeli security above all other US foreign policy goals, would be to destroy any remaining perceived threat to the Jewish state: namely the regimes in Syria and Iran.
In 1998, David Wurmser, now in the State Department, told the Jewish newspaper ‘Forward’ that if Iraqi opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi were in power, and extended a no-fly, no-drive zone in Northern Iraq, it would provide the crucial piece for an anti-Syria, anti-Iran bloc: “It puts Scuds out of the range of Israel and provides the geographic beachhead between Turkey, Jordan and Israel. This should anchor the Middle East pro-Western coalition.”
Richard Perle, in a 1998 interview with ‘Forward’, said that “a coalition of pro-Israeli groups is at the forefront of the legislation regarding Iran.” Ariel Sharon has since argued , in a November 2002 interview with The Times of London, that the US should shift its focus to Iran “the day after” the Iraq war ends.
The hard liners in and around the American administration are fully aware that the battle to carve up the Middle East would not be without spilling blood of many Americans and their allies. Their mission in the ‘war on terror’ is to turn the region into a cauldron.
Bush’s real goal is not about weapons of mass destruction, which UN inspectors said Iraq does not possess, but achieving regime change, despite the fact that America’s invasion would result in large-scale destruction of Iraqi infrastructure and thousands of civilian casualties. By any standard this war is genocidal, immoral and unconscionable.