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Why you should oppose Bush's war on Iraq

January 10, 2003 | Pages 6 and 7

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The human toll of a U.S. war on Iraq will be enormous.

The massive bombing campaign that Washington is planning will kill tens of thousands of Iraqis--whether they be soldiers or civilians.

During the 1991 Gulf War, more tons of bombs were dropped on Iraq faster than at any time in the history of war. The air war deliberately targeted Iraq's civilian infrastructure, knocking out the country's power grid in the first raids, for example.

While CNN beamed images of "smart bombs" surgically hitting their targets, on the ground, civilians and Iraqi army conscripts bore the brunt of the assault. One U.S. "smart bomb" attack on February 13, for example, targeted the Amiriya bomb shelter in Baghdad. Two missiles destroyed the shelter and incinerated some 400 civilian victims.

This time, no one can even guess how many Iraqis will die in a ground war if rumors of a planned U.S. assault on Baghdad--complete with block-by-block urban warfare--are true. And of course, the Bush administration is ready to put the lives of tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers at risk.

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The Texas oil men who run the White House want to get their hands on Iraq's oil.

The Bush administration may talk about weapons of mass destruction, but it has another aim in mind--gaining control of Iraq's vast oil resources.

Apologists for Washington's war-makers ridicule this idea. Oil "has barely been on the administration's horizon in considering Iraq policy," Patrick Clawson, an oil and policy analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, claimed late last year. "U.S. foreign policy is not driven by concern for promoting the interests of specific U.S. firms."

Actually, in 1999, Clawson--whose think tank has a cozy relationship with the Bush administration--was singing a very different tune at a Capitol Hill forum on a post-Saddam Iraq.

"U.S. oil companies would have an opportunity to make significant profits," he said. "We should not be embarrassed about the commercial advantages that would come from a reintegration of Iraq into the world economy."

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The U.S. government, not Iraq, is the biggest threat in the world.

Late last year, the Bush administration issued its National Security Strategy document. This so-called "Bush Doctrine" justifies launching "pre-emptive wars" and plotting "regime change" to make sure that no other power emerges to challenge the U.S. "position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence."

Imagine the uproar if Saddam Hussein had said anything like this. As the best-armed nuclear power on Earth--and the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons--the U.S. government remains serious about using its weapons of mass destruction.

The administration's Nuclear Posture Review document--leaked last year to the New York Times--calls for "developing new nuclear weapons that would be better suited for striking targets in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya," "improving the intelligence and targeting systems needed for nuclear strikes" and "resuming nuclear testing."

What hypocrisy for the U.S. government to threaten war over Iraq's supposed nuclear weapons program--even as the White House issues documents saying that it may target Iraq with nuclear weapons!

Throughout December and January, the White House loudly proclaimed the right of United Nations weapons inspectors to go anywhere they wanted in Iraq and inspect any facility on a moment's notice.

But this is the same administration that last year killed an international treaty to enforce a ban on biological weapons, because the draft agreement would have allowed international inspectors into the factories of U.S. drug and chemical companies.

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Bush doesn't care about democracy, but about dominating the Middle East.

The U.S. government claims that its war will remove a dictator from Iraq and bring democracy to the country. But look who's on the U.S. short list to replace Saddam Hussein (at least until he was arrested by Danish authorities on charges of committing war crimes): Gen. Nizar Khazraji.

Khazraji was the top commander of the Iraqi military during the 1980s Iran-Iraq War. Khazraji gave the orders to use poison gas against Iranian troops and Iraqi Kurds--the accusation that administration officials make so often to justify plotting Saddam's downfall.

The U.S. government has supported dictatorships throughout the Middle East and the world--including Saddam Hussein's regime before 1990. In 1983, none other than Donald Rumsfeld met with Saddam in Baghdad--as an envoy from the Reagan administration to assure the Iraqi government that it had U.S. support. The truth is that the U.S. government has no problems with weapons of mass destruction--as long as they belong to a U.S. ally.

While there is no evidence at all of an Iraqi nuclear weapons arsenal, it's a well-known fact that Israel possesses some 200 nuclear weapons. But Washington isn't threatening to rain down bombs on its staunchest ally in the Middle East.

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A war against Iraq will only stoke violence and hatred.

Since the September 11 attacks in the U.S., the Bush administration has claimed that its "war on terror" is about bringing those responsible to justice. But the U.S. war drive against Iraq has exposed this as a sham.

No one seriously believes that the Iraqi government had anything to do with September 11. The "war on terror" is about something else entirely--making sure that the U.S. is the world's top cop.

In Afghanistan--after U.S. bombs killed thousands of people with no connection whatsoever to Osama bin Laden--the Taliban government has been replaced by the warlords of the Northern Alliance, who have only added to the violence and oppression that Afghans, especially Afghan women, suffer.

Since then, the U.S. has stepped up its collaboration with state-sponsored terrorism carried out by a host of murderous regimes around the world--from Russia to the Philippines to Colombia.

Bush's "war on terrorism" has only increased the suffering and desperation of people across the globe--and only stoked more violence and hatred.

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Bush's war drive has been accompanied by a witch-hunt against Arabs and Muslims.

Guilty until proven innocent. That's the U.S. government's assumption about Arabs and Muslims across the U.S. since September 11.

As many as 2,000 people were detained in the investigation into hijackings--and subjected to harassment and racist violence--for no other "crime" than having the wrong skin color. Many were deported for minor visa violations, even when investigations proved that they had no connection at all to "terrorism."

Now the Immigration and Naturalization Service is requiring men from various Middle Eastern, Asian and African countries to register. In December, when men from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria showed up to register in Los Angeles, up to one-quarter of them were detained.

Not a single person rounded up by John Ashcroft's witch-hunters has been accused of having a direct connection to the September 11 attacks. They are scapegoats--the victims at home of the Bush administration's wars abroad.

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The war drive against Iraq has strengthened Bush's hand to push his right-wing agenda at home.

At every turn, the Bush administration has used vague threats of "terrorism" and its war drive abroad to silence critics at home.

The "foreign threat" has been used to justify massive increases in military spending--even though the U.S. spends more on its military than Russia, China, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Brazil, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Iran, Israel, Taiwan, Canada and many more combined. That's money that could be helping the many victims of the economic crisis. Instead, it's being thrown down the Pentagon rathole.

The White House is using the "war on terrorism" against our unions. When West Coast dockworkers faced a battle with their employers last year, Bush invoked the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act in the name of "national security," giving the shipping bosses the upper hand in negotiations.

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats in Congress joined together to pass the USA PATRIOT Act, which shreds fundamental civil liberties. This law has given John Ashcroft the power, among other things, to classify normal acts of political protest as "domestic terrorism."

"Under the definition, groups such as the World Trade Organization protesters who engage in minor vandalism…or protesters at Vieques, Puerto Rico, who damage a fence would be deemed terrorist organizations," according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

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