The Impending War on Iraq: An Attack on Peace, Democracy and Security
by John W. Lawrence

Why of course the people don¬t want war ... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of
the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
Hermann Goering, the second man in the Third Reich,” Nuremberg, 1946.

From San Francisco to Washington, D.C., from Paris to Tokyo, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the world¬s streets Saturday to protest potential military action against Iraq by the Bush administration and its allies.” (The San Francisco Chronicle, 1/19/03)

The impending war on Iraq and the nominal war on terrorism” are a frontal assault on democracy, international law, national and international security. Consequently, progressive grassroots activists around the world have mobilized against the planned invasion. Worker co-op activists must participate in this struggle to promote humanitarian alternatives to war, to protect the democratic space in the USA and, as always, to point to a viable  democratic alternative for organizing a peaceful political economy.

The Pretext for War

The Bush administration has put forth a variety of reasons for attacking Iraq. First, they attempted to link Saddam Hussein with the 9/11 terrorism. However, they failed to provide any credible evidence for the connection. In an interview with the New York Times (1/31/2003) Hans Blix, the chief chemical and biological weapons inspector, stated he had seen no persuasive indications of Iraqi ties to Al Queda.” In another New York Times article (2/2/2003) CIA and FBI analysts refuted the Bush administration¬s assertion of a solid link between Iraq and Osama bin Laden¬s network.” FBI investigators are quoted, We¬ve been looking at this hard for more than a year and you know what, we just don¬t think it¬s there.” In fact, the same article states some analysts at the CIA have complained that senior administration officials have exaggerated the significance of some intelligence reports about Iraq, particularly about its possible links to terrorism, in order to strengthen their political argument for war.” 

The Bush administration also claims the right to a preemptive war to prevent Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction. Again, they present no evidence of an imminent threat. Scott Ridder, former marine and weapon¬s inspector in Iraq, has repeatedly pointed out that in order for Iraq to be a credible threat it would need the necessary industrial and technical infrastructure to produce weapons of mass destruction. Those facilities were destroyed in the Gulf War and during subsequent weapon¬s inspections. In their January 27, 2003 report, United Nations inspection chiefs Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei reported they have found no evidence of an ongoing weapons of mass destruction program in Iraq. Moreover, Saddam Hussein did not use weapons of mass destruction in the Gulf War (or for the last 12 years) likely fearing massive retaliation from the US. In October 2002, CIA Director George Tenet stated that Saddam Hussein was unlikely to use weapons of mass destruction unless Iraq was attacked.

Further undermining the plausibility of the US government¬s concern about weapons of mass destruction is the fact that US and European corporations were providing the materials for the weapons of mass destruction when Saddam actually used chemical weapons in the Iraq-Iran war and against the Kurds during the 1980¬s. In fact, until the Gulf War, the Reagan/Bush Senior administrations viewed Saddam as an ally and actively ignored and even tried to deflect criticism of these mass killings. Many of the same people active in these previous administrations are in the current Bush administration. For example, US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld met with Saddam Hussein and Tariq Aziz, Iraqi Foreign Minister, several times during 1983 and 1984 but did not raise objection to Iraq¬s use of chemical weapons when it could have saved lives.

A Humanitarian Intervention?

Others have argued that the US should invade Iraq to liberate Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein and establish democracy in Iraq. There are a variety of problems with this justification for war. First, a war will risk a high level of casualties and lives. A recently leaked UN document entitled Likely Humanitarian Scenarios” projects up to a half-a-million casualties and millions at risk for hunger and disease. Second, as the Center for Constitutional Rights has correctly asserted, a preemptive war” violates Article 2(4) and Article 51 of the UN Charter prohibiting one nation from attacking another except in self-defense or with the authority of the U.N.” The precedence of a US preemptive war will likely undermine any legal restraint against future war. Third, the US has no credibility as a liberator promoting democracy in the Middle East, and its recent record in Iraq is anything but humanitarian. In fact, the US has historically aligned itself with dictators, such as Saddam Hussein, throughout the region to guarantee access to the oil. In addition, according to declassified documents, the US deliberately undermined the infrastructure for water purification in Iraq with sanctions. According to UNICEF, the Gulf War and the draconian postwar sanctions have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, mostly children. Moreover, at the end of the Gulf War, Bush Senior encouraged the Shiite and Kurdish people to revolt and overthrow Hussein. When they did, the Bush administration had second thoughts about supporting a a regime change” that it did not control and failed to provide needed air support to the freedom fighters.” The rebels were slaughtered by Saddam Hussein¬s troops.

The REAL Reason: Power and Oil

Having dispensed with the pretext, the real motive for the Bush administration¬s push for war is to ensure the US¬s dominance over the global, in particular, the oil market. As the primary fuel of our industrial society, oil continues to be the most important resource in the world. The US oil reserves are depleting. Seventy percent of all known oil reserves are in the Middle East. The Bush administration believes that controlling oil is the cornerstone for continued US domination of the global political economy through the 21st century. Perhaps, even more ominously, a war in Iraq signifies the Bush administrations intention to dominate the global political economy with violence. The message to lesser states is do not cross the US or risk destruction.

The Likely Outcome: A More Totalitarian and Dangerous World

This imperialist, militaristic policy both undermines democracy at home and abroad and makes the world a more dangerous place by replacing the rule of international law and diplomacy with the rule of violence. Cloaked in the rhetoric of antiterrorism, the Bush administration has systematically attacked civil rights. These attacks include such actions as secret trials and deportations, holding at least two American citizens without charges, the total information project˜an attempt to monitor all electronic interactions (credit cards, phone calls e-mails, etc.) of everyone, and, as Amnesty International has repeatedly pointed out, a total disregard for the human rights for the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. The US¬s blatant contempt for civil rights and international law sets a dangerous precedent.

Furthermore, authors from all points of the political spectrum have warned that a war to occupy Iraq can potentially destabilize the Middle East and/or Pakistan. Moreover, it will realize Osama Bin Laden¬s dream of a polarizing war that will provide fertile ground for new recruits for his terrorist war against the West. A predictable outcome is the common cycle of violence begetting violence, which we see today in Palestine.

Last a war in Iraq will likely also spark a new arms race around the world. The current lesson other states might draw from the different ways the US is reacting to conflicts with Iraq and North Korea is that the only way to deter a US attack is have weapons of mass destruction. Thus, the Bush administration¬s politics of violence and fear mongering undermine democracy, peace and security.

Let¬s stop this war! There were massive protests in cities throughout the world on February 15, 2003 (and additional protests are being organized). A good place to find out how you can get involved is the United for Peace and Justice (UPJ) website ( UPJ is a coalition of peace activist groups and the website has an up-to-date listing of antiwar organizing around the nation. Save lives, work for peace˜organize. 

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