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by RIP RENSE

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IRAQ AND A HARD PEACE

11/6/02

       Now we are invading Iraq to "liberate" the Iraqi people.
      This is the President's latest excuse---a lie as flagrant as a chocolate-smeared little kid telling Mommy he didn't eat any candy.
      How nave does Bush think the American public is? Does anyone believe this? This bespeaks a cynicism, condescension, and sheer contempt for the citizenry. Would you tell such a grotesque fib?
      Well, lesseee here. . .uh, the stuff about Iraq causing terrorism didn't convince 'em. . .uh. . .the stuff about Saddam building weapons of mass destruction didn't work. . .the remark about Saddam tryin' to kill mah daddy didn't do it. . .uh, I know! Tell 'em that we're liberatin' an oppressed people!
      It pains me to say it, but that's the level of sophistication we're dealing with here. Yes, all administrations manipulate public opinion, but none as fearlessly and crassly as this one.
      "Liberating" the Iraqi people? What happened to the Republican refrain, "we can't be the world's policeman?" What happened to the American people---or listening to them, that is? Polls show U.S. citizens oppose invading Iraq---without allied support, and U.N. approval. Europe is opposed to invading Iraq, except for Tony Blair, which sees an alliance with Uncle Sam as Britain's last "check" in EU chess. Russia and China oppose invading Iraq.
      The world, in other words, opposes invading Iraq.
      But that doesn't deter the Bush Administration.
      Consider further:
      There is no evidence supporting direct links between Iraq and Al-Qaida. It simply has never been presented. Saddam is hated by Al-Qaida, for murdering the Islamic Kurds. Saudi Arabia fertilizes and waters Al-Qaida and Islamic extremism---not Iraq---and still does.
      But that doesn't deter the Bush administration.
      There is no evidence that Iraq is any more a threat than it was ten years ago---and plenty of evidence that it is less of threat. Scott Ritter---a Bush supporter, conservative Republican, and a Marine---spent ten years destroying weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and he opposes an invasion.
      But that doesn't deter the Bush administration.
      The CIA and FBI reported to Congress that Iraq does not pose any great threat to the U.S.---despite arm-twisting by the administration to say otherwise. . .The Saudis refuse to allow the U.S. or the U.N. to use bases in its terroritory, or access to its airspace. . .Kuwait has no more interest in seeing U.S. troops. than it does in a visit from Saddam. . .
      But none of this deters the Bush administration.
      So now comes the claim that "we" (read: the government) want to free the poor Iraqi people. A question: if "we" were so interested in the welfare of the Iraqi people, why did "we" allow sanctions prohibiting food and medicine to kill, by some estimates, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children?
      See what I mean about cynicism?
      Here is another recent Bush statement: we are not a nation that conquers---we are a nation that liberates.
      Of course we are a nation that conquers. Japan and Germany spring quickly to mind. Then, not to get too P.C. about it, there is the sorry near-extermination of Native Americans. Conquest isn't necessarily an evil, but to say that an invasion of Iraq is not a conquest is, well, a canard. What else do you call it when you overwhelm a country---without provocation---replace its government, and claim its oils---er, spoils? Surely not. . .liberation.
      But let's take a look at "liberating" the "Iraqi people." Does this mean that "we" roll in there, capture Saddam, declare democracy, and roll out? Not quite. Iraq contains three basic populations: the Kurds in the north, who have strong allegiance to other Kurds in Iran, Turkey, and Syria; the Sunnis, who control the army and government despite comprising a mere 20 percent of the population; and the majority Shiite Muslims.
      These three groups have about as much in common as Madonna has with the Madonna. Even if the country didn't break up, this would not be one big happy Iraqi family. Uncle Sam would be obliged to play legal guardian with an occupying force for years, or decades. "Regime change" means the de facto 51st state speaks Arabic.
      Which brings up the actual agenda of the administration: permanently occupying the Middle East, and controlling its oil. Don't believe it? Look no further than "Global Pax Americana," the central theme of a report created by the neo-conservative think-tank, Project for the New American Century. It calls for permanent occupation of the Middle East and "global leadership" by the U.S.
      "Global leadership." Is it me, or does that sound like "taking over the world"?
      And guess who ordered the report, which is entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century." If you said Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld deputy Paul Wolfowitz, Bush's brother Jeb, and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby---you're right. And if you say that the president's "National Security Strategy" reads like a euphemistic version of this report, you'd also be right.
      In other words, conquering Iraq was in the cards long before the terrorists showed their hand on 9/11. Which means, in essence, that every justification Bush has espoused for invading Iraq has been a lie. Every time the President cruelly played upon the fears of an already frightened nation, in the interests of promoting war on Iraq, it was a lie.
      Should Saddam be ousted? Sure. And so should the Elvis impersonator running North Korea, and every other tyrant on the planet. But to get back to the cards analogy, we are living in one big house of them these days. An invasion of Iraq would, at minimum, galvanize the entire world of Islam, uniting anti-U.S. extremists with the majority of moderates. It would guarantee a future of terrorism, and exponentially increase resolve to carry out plots unthinkably worse than hijacking airliners with box- cutters. Never mind what it would do to destabilize international relations, and inspire other nations to similar aggression (China and Taiwan come to mind.) Finally, it would would cost between $100 and $200 billion, kill an estimated 30,000 people (on both sides), wreak untold environmental havoc, and prompt Saddam to release every nasty microbe and death-gas in his arsenal.
     I don't think Walter Cronkite is our reigning sage, but he was right on target when he said that invading Iraq would likely trigger World War III. Which brings to mind Bush's chilling statement that all would do well to remember: many more lives will be lost at home in the war on terrorism than abroad.
      So Mr. President, please stop telling the American people that "we" are out to "liberate" the Iraqi people.
      They're too smart for that. Or are they?

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