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December 12, 2001
Will Washington Warhawks Get Their Way, Again?

By Ramzi Baroud


Washingtons right wing politicians who are persistently pushing for war against Iraq, citing the US war machine's success in toppling the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan, might have forgotten that the Afghani war model has already been used against Iraq, and has already failed.

For ten years, Washington pledged tens of millions of dollars to the so-called Iraqi opposition. They harbored Iraqi militants in the US best hotels, ceaselessly tried to shake the stability of the country from within, funding and plotting assassinations and more.

Unlike Afghanistan, all such attempts, not only lead to dire failure, but strengthened Iraqis in the face of the US-led UN sanctions and united them in their heroic survival of a 10-year campaign of bombardment and economic siege.

Backfiring has been the theme best depicting the US foreign policy in Iraq; instead of "containing" and isolating the Iraqi leadership, the one who stood isolated as Iraq was embraced by more nations worldwide, is the United States.

But since past experiences have proven that the US carries out its policies, often disregarding what the international community thinks or believes, even Iraq returning to become a viable member in its region and in the world will not protect it from the US quest for war.

True, but also true is the fact that if the United States fails to chain its desire for war and attacks Iraq, it will enter the war, without legitimacy, without allies and most importantly without a cause.

Not to say that the United States did posses a cause when it crippled the country's economy through a siege that killed over a million Iraqis, mostly children in the last 10 years. But to many nations, the US-led UN sanctions appeared as if they had some moral guidance. Now there is none.

Washington's pro-war campaigners have struggled to prove Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks. Once such claims failed to attain any validity, they shifted their strategy, connecting Iraq to the Anthrax scare. But even such allegations didn't stand for long, pushing for the need for new allegations, any allegations that is, to capitalize on the US search for revenge.

The US administration's position in regard to attacking Iraq maintained a level of reluctance and lack of certainty. In President George Bush's address to the Congress on September 20, the man spoke of a war against terrorism with a "global reach". The terminology used did not only leave room for doubt and interpretation, but it also indicated a lack of precision.

In his November 26 speech however, Bush said that countries that "terrorize" other nations and secretly pursue the manufacturing of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons will be included on the target list. Considering the US foreign policy rhetoric for the last decade, everyone knew that Bush was referring to Iraq.

When asked what the US reaction will be if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein doesn't permit the return of UN inspectors, he termed his answer in three words, "he'll find out." Despite the bullying language in Bush's answer, it's likely that even Bush is not clear regarding what President Hussein will find out.

The reason behind the confusion is not the lack of desire to attack another nation, but the prior knowledge that any new violent initiative against Iraq might hinder the US "crusade" and destabilize the backing of its allies.

Moreover, the US has mingled and has used many war options against Iraq already, from air bombardment, to ground troops, to sanctions, to isolation, intimidation and pressure, and has failed to achieve much in regards to its objectives of toppling the Iraqi government.

The US attempt to make such a decision became even more difficult when Arab, Muslim and European countries openly rejected any aggression against Iraq in what the US dubbed the "second phase" of its war against terrorism. Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who has been very soft on the US violations of international law opposed any attack on Iraq in an early December news conference.

Unfortunately, Annan didn't oppose to the potential US war against Iraq for its lack of legitimacy and accordance with UN resolutions, but because such a war has to be fought collectively, for "we win the fight by cooperation among nations or we don't win it at all."

Yet Bush, emerging the victor in Afghanistan, regardless of the value or the nature of such a victory, is still pressured by many factors. Aside from the pressure he imposed on himself when he decalred an ambiguous global war, there is the Washington warhawks, aided by the war monger media who are directing some of their rhetoric at the US's second phase, taking unnecessary polls of how many Americans support a war against Iraq, and opening their air time to pro-war experts, journalists and politicians.

In early December, pro-war American politicians, who are intimately attached to the Zionist lobby in Washington, and who are well known for their anti-Arab, anti-Muslim political tendencies, called on Bush to attack Iraq.

"As we work to clean Afghanistan up and destroy al Qaida, it's imperative that we plan to eliminate the threat from Iraq," a letter sent to Bush read. The signatories of the letter composed of 10 key members of Congress, including Sens. John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Jesse Helms, Henry Hyde and others.

The internal pressure culminates to cut any doubt that the US is planning to include Iraq in its next phase agenda. Yet the real danger lies in how far will the US goes and how long will it be before it pulls itself out of this stage of political chaos into a more sensible foreign policy.

It is common knowledge that the US' foreign policy in Iraq has already led to disaster, a true genocide that disqualifies the US from being the right entity in solving the Iraqi dilemma. Complicating the situation further shall contribute to greatening the catastrophe and enlarging the genocide.

Many in Washington however, are now keenly interested in another "sweet victory" in Iraq, similar to the one in Afghanistan, where the so-called opposition carries out the US's dirty war, and courageous US pilots dump hundreds of tons of legal and illegal weapons on towns and villages in the "enemy territories."

But Iraq is not Afghanistan, and the now widely accepted Iraqi government is not the isolated Taliban, which enjoyed recognition of only three countries when the US initiated its war, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The expected chaos in Afghanistan is unlikely to harm the US interests greatly, after all the war-torn country was already in chaos before the US worsened the human tragedy. Iraq is too close to US interests in the region, the oil fields and Israel, and a chaos there is simply too risky.

Iraqi opposition inside Iraq, the ones that enjoy the popular backing in the southern and northern areas are vehemently opposed to any cooperation with Washington.

Those interested in Washington, its money and politics are discredited outside opposition, known as the "oppostion of hotels" for their association with lavish lifestyles and lack of association with the people.

In addition, the Iraqi central government is too strong and well supported to simply leave the cities and escape to the mountains.

The United States will commit a grievous and costly mistake if it thought of attacking Iraq, instead of allowing peacemakers to search for a reasonable solution to the already developing crisis, a crisis whose main contributor is the US.

Washington warhawks are now claiming that Iraq deserves to be attacked if it doesn't allow the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors back to the country to destroy its alleged wealth of nuclear weapons. The claim by itself reflects the lack of legitimacy the US enjoys at the moment, for the IAEA inspectors were in fact in Iraq in January of 2001 and assured everyone that Iraq is fully compliant with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

More intestinally, one of very a few countries who failed to sign the treaty, needless to say comply with its provision is Israel; Mr. Lieberman, McCain, Hyde and others however, are too busy warmongering to check their facts before launching wars against harmless nations.

The writer is the managing editor of Middle East News Service and editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com. His writing covers various subjects and conflicts around the world, mainly in the Middle East and Africa.