p>Proponents of an American military assault on Iraq, from President Bush all the way down to Joe Sixpack armchair warriors, typically state their case in a manner somewhat resembling the following: Saddam Hussein is not supposed to have “weapons of mass destruction”. Saddam has not indicated that he has fully disarmed. He has defied inspectors. He has ignored UN resolutions. He is not a nice guy. He might give some of his weapons to Osama bin Laden, or some similar figure, thereby creating the possibility of more September 11-style disasters for this country. And by the way, Saddam oppresses the Iraqi people. An American invasion and occupation of Iraq will be quick and easy. This occupation will allow the Iraqi people to experience the glories of parliamentary democracy which will in turn enrich their lives, fatten their wallets and inspire their Arab and Muslim brethren throughout the world to love America and all the good she does in her selfless efforts to improve the human condition.
Virtually every presumption behind this line of argumentation is false. However, it would be helpful if war critics did a better job of exposing the depth of the fallacies behind the administration’s rhetoric. Typically, critics will argue that war with Iraq should not be pursued, at least not yet anyway, because Saddam has already been effectively disarmed (the Scott Ritter argument), or because the inspections have not been given enough time to “work” (the typical argument offered by limosine liberals like Susan Sarandon), or because the US is not militarily prepared (as Norman Schwarzkopf claims), or because such a war “is not in the national interest” (Pat Buchanan’s perspective). All of these arguments ignore one basic question: Who exactly is the US government to insist that another nation disarm itself and initiate military force against that nation when its fails to comply with Washington’s demands?
I am willing to concede, for the sake of argument, that Saddam is still doing everything within his power to obtain formidable weaponry. I am willing to concede that Saddam is attempting to evade UN inspectors at every step of the way. It is also theoretically possible, though I think unlikely, that Iraq may be a source of weaponry for free lance terrorists at some point in the future. I am even willing to concede that if clear, unmistakable proof were received that Iraq was indeed planning a serious, specific attack on the US at some specific future point, then a case for a “preemptive strike” could indeed be made. I also aknowledge that Saddam Hussein is a despotic head of state. None of this resolves the central issues behind the dispute.
The fact is Iraq has a legitimate defensive interest in obtaining the forbidden weapons. Iraq has in the past been attacked by three nuclear-armed nations (Israel, England and America) and threatened by a fourth (Iran) that is believed to be seeking, and might already possess, such weapons. As for Iraq’s failure to comply with UN orders to disarm, the entire disarmament program is a farce. The program was imposed on Iraq in a Versailles-like arrangement by an international quasi-governmental body that is, by all reasonable standards, illegitimate, even if one believes in government. The United Nations is simply a front for First World imperialism and has been ever since it was created by the victorious Allied powers of World War Two, who proceeded to grant themselves permanent seating on the Security Council, for the purpose of managing the affairs of the world on their own behalf.
If at some point in the future Iraq were to sponsor a terrorist assault on the United States, this would only be in retaliation for ongoing American terrorism against Iraq. There is no reason whatsoever for the US to even be in conflict with Iraq. I remember watching television network news coverage of the Iraq-Iran war twenty years ago where Saddam Hussein was depicted as a faithful American ally and a benevolent friend of peace, democracy and freedom. Saddam has never practiced imperialism outside of his own backyard. Iraq invaded its border state of Iran in 1980 only after Iran threatened to export its Shiah fundamentalist revolution to secular Iraq. Iraq invaded its border state of Kuwait in 1990 only after Kuwait was found to be stealing oil from Iraqi oil fields and only after having been given an implicit go-ahead by the US. This is not to say that Iraq’s aggression against its neighbors has been justifiable. However, this aggression has been no more comprehensive than aggression by the American state against border nations (Mexico and the Indian nations) early in its history. Certainly, the US has had no legitimate defensive interest in inserting itself into conflicts between Iraq and its neighbors. The effective way for the US to reduce the risk of potential future terrorist threats from Iraq would be a unilateral cessation of hostilities with Iraq and the undertaking of a peace intiative towards that nation.
Saddam Hussein is a despotic ruler but no more so than many, if not most, other heads of state. Until their nation was reduced to a pre-industrial state by the US/UN military assault of 1991 and twelve subsequent years of tyrannical sanctions, the Iraqis maintained the highest standard of living of any Arab nation. Christians and other religious minorities continue to enjoy greater freedom of worship and higher social standing in Iraq than in virtually any other Muslim country. From what I understand, firearms are sold retail and over the counter in Iraq. This is certainly not the case in allegedly “free” or “pro-American” nations such as England, Australia or Japan. The conservative journalist Taki Theodoracopulos observed during his many visits to Iraq that ordinary citizens are typically left alone so long as they do not threaten or publicly attack the government. Such is the case in most Third World nations. Among America’s formal or tacit allies in the Middle East and South Asia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia prohibit public worship by any non-Islamic religious community, India is ruled by a Hindu-fascist party that sanctions private mob violence against its Muslim and Christian minorities, Egypt allows the police torture of criminal suspects, Pakistan is a one-man military dictatorship, Indonesia has engaged in Pol Pot-like genocide against the Timorese people and, of course, there is Israel’s ongoing brutalization of the Palestinians.
Last year, Saddam granted amnesty to virtually all prisoners in Iraq, foreign spies excepted. Thieves were pardoned on the condition that they repay victims. Even murderers were given clemency provided the victim’s mother agreed. This is far more magnanimous a gesture than Dubya would ever agree to. Mr. Bush presides over a federal prison system where thousands languish. More than three quarters of these people are imprisoned under byzantine federal tax, firearms, drug or environmental laws or became snared in the legal maze that typically accompanies federal regulatory schemes. Bush has the power of executive pardon and could, with a word, order the release of all of these people. Of course, Mr. Hussein’s granting of near universal amnesty was not done out of his own innate goodness. Saddam likely needs his prison guards, and probably the prisoners as well, for his regular army and civilian militias that are currently being mobilized to resist a US invasion.
Whenever the state begins to beat the drums of war, real or imaginary atrocities perpetrated by the official enemy begin to be played up and blown out of proportion, usually with a good deal of hypocrisy on the part of the war propagandists. Thus far, I have heard, from var
sources, tales of Saddam publicly beheading his political rivals. Saddam rules his regime the way mob bosses run their respective crime “families”-merciless to enemies but generally ignoring everyone else. I suspected most of these decapitatees were simply rival political thugs seeking to replace Hussein’s state with a tyrannical regime of their own so I see no reason to be concerned about their fate. Recently, I heard a story about how Saddam allegedly had his operatives shoot schoolchildren who failed to cheer loudly enough at a state-sponsored rally. While it would not surprise me a bit if this were indeed true, it should be remembered that even the UN has aknowledged that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children have died needlessly from malnutrition or preventable diseases as a direct result of Western sanctions targeting Iraq’s civilian population, an acceptable cost according to former US Secretary of State Madeleine Half-Wit.
War propaganda often takes on absurd characteristics. The current war is no exception. Recently, White House Secretary of Lies Ari Fleischer, an Israeli citizen (hey, no conflict of interest there), insisted that the President “knows things” that we ignorant commoners do not and therefore we should simply follow the Maximum Leader blindly into war. I was immediately reminded of a television interview with Richard Nixon I watched years ago where the interviewer (Mike Wallace, if I remember correctly) pointed out that Mr. Nixon had campaigned for the Presidency in 1968 on a promise that he possessed a “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam. When asked if there had indeed been such a plan, Nixon matter-of-factly shook his head to indicate a “no” answer and stated that the alleged plan was simply a “figment of the imagination”. Bush continues to insist that this a war for “freedom”, as if he had any conception of the idea, and as if Saddam is going to invade the US and declare the Bill of Rights null and void, something that George’s buddy John Ashcroft is doing quite well on his own.
The proposed invasion of Iraq is also presented as an effort to “liberate” the Iraqi people which will doubtlessly be met with unceasing gratitude on their part. Perhaps this is why gun shops in Iraq are selling out their inventory to private Iraqi citizens preparing for the invasion and civilian militias, some created by the state but others organized privately by tribal and clan leaders, are beginning to form. Few people welcome a foreign invasion of their country, no matter how much they may hate their own government. Even Soviet citizens living under the arch-tyrant Stalin rallied to the defense of “mother Russia” when the German invaders came. Speaking of Germany, the Hitler analogy is once again being invoked to justify an assault on Iraq. Saddam must be stopped lest the mistake of failing to curb Hitler’s ambitions in time to prevent World War Two and the Holocaust be repeated. Aside from the fact that Hitler commanded one of the most powerful states in history while Saddam controls a militarily and economically crippled Third World country, there are some other problems with this argument. Hitler was actually moving eastward toward the Soviet Union and away from the Western democracies when militarily unprepared England and France initiated a declaration of war against Germany. Subsequently, France was militarily defeated after six weeks and the Germans almost made it across the English channel into England itself before being turned back at the Battle of Britain. The Western nations could have slowed down the escalation of the Holocaust considerably by simply bombing and disrupting European railroad lines and allowing Jewish refugees into their respective nations and colonies, both of which they failed to do, although England and America both engaged in large scale terror bombings of civilian targets at Dresden and elsewhere while the Holocaust was in progress.
No doubt there are many reasons why the Bush administration wishes to conquer Iraq. After months of denying that oil was in any way a factor in the formulation of Iraq policy, administration sources have now indicated that they might be interested in Iraq’s oil deposits (the second largest in the world) after all, but only for the purpose of “rebuilding” an Iraq that the US has spent a dozen years trying to destroy and “sharing the wealth” allegedly denied to Iraqis by Saddam Hussein, but not by US/UN sanctions, of course. The picture becomes more complete when we recognize the ties of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to the Haliburton oil corporation, which rushed to do business in Iraq following a partial lifting of sanctions in 1998. Israel has predictably been a leading cheerleader for a US war with Iraq, and with the Israeli lobby being one of the strongest of all US lobbies and prominent Israeli partisans like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz holding high-level positions in the administration, the Israelis are likely to get their way. There is also the matter of the fanatically pro-Israel dispensationalist Christian elements among Bush’s grassroots support base, the influence of neoconservative ideology on the administration, the ongoing family feud between the Bushes and the Husseins, the President’s concern for his own legacy, possibly Iraq’s outstanding international debts and, of course, the US government’s desire to consolidate the New World Order under its own rule and to eliminate NWO-resistant nations like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, et.al. The biggest gang in town wishes to eliminate its smaller, less powerful rivals. Consequences of a US attack on Iraq are potentially catastrophic.
The best possible scenario that has any chance of actually transpiring would be a short and quick war, with few civilian or military casualties on either side, followed by the replacement of Saddam with a regime that is at least tolerable to the average Iraqi with a US military withdrawal following soon afterward and the avoidance of both internal ethnic or religious skirmishes in Iraq or terrorist retaliation against America. Of course, this is the least likely scenario. It is quite possible that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians or conscripts will be killed in the invasion along with thousands of American soldiers who have been seduced into military service under largely fraudulent pretenses. The invasion could escalate into ethnic cleansing or civil war within Iraq or even a large scale regional war in the Middle East. Reportedly, the Pentagon has been ordered to draw up plans for a potential invasion of Iran or Syria as well. If such a plan is carried out, the US would likely find itself immersed in World War Three with the entire Muslim world and facing ongoing terrorist assaults of the 9-11 variety. Neoconservative ideologues and Zionist fanatics, such as the repulsive Norman Podhoretz, have expressed hopes for precisely such a scenario. With nothing left to lose, Saddam may well unload his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons on American troops, Israel, surrounding nations or even his own people, or maybe he will secretly ship these weapons to whatever bands of terrorists express an interest in them. Even those arch-doves at the CIA have argued that this is the main danger posed by Saddam Hussein, in direct contradiction of the Bush administration’s rhetoric.
From an anarchist perspective, on
the most intriguing aspects of the US-Iraq conflict is the magnificent way in which the true nature of the state is being exposed. The great sociologist Franz Oppenheimer argued that the state is fundamentally rooted in conquest and slavery and exists for no real purpose other than the maintenance of its own power. Rothbard, echoing Augustine, insisted that the state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large. One of the most important aspects of libertarian theory is the idea that ordinary rules of civilization ought to apply to states as well as private individuals. It is just as unacceptable for the state to engage in murder, robbery and slavery as it is for an ordinary citizen to do so. With this in mind, the solution I might favor to the US-Iraq conflict is the one suggested at one point by the Iraqi Vice-President. Namely, an old fashioned duel between Bush and his cronies and Saddam and his cronies. These two teams of degenerates, leaders of criminal gangs that they are, should simply meet at some neutral location, like the Swiss Alps, and “have it out” in the same manner as the Clantons and the Earps at the OK Corral. Whichever side came out the loser, it would not exactly be a tremendous loss to mankind.
The most cheerful aspect of Bush’s drive to war is that so many people are already on to him. Most other nations have refused to endorse his agenda and much of the US public is skeptical as well. An antiwar movement, the largest to date to form prior to the commencement of an actual war, is already beginning to grow and develop. Even the likes of General Schwarzkopf have expressed doubts about the administrations motives and competence and called for granting the inspectors more time. Inspections or no inspections, a US military assault on Iraq would be an act of naked aggression with all of the usual, predictable consequences of aggression for both victim and perpetrator alike. And this is the best argument against invading Iraq.