Le Monde diplomatique on Tue, 11 Mar 2003 18:47:46 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> [IRAQ] The US war on Iraq

                    Le Monde diplomatique

                        A special focus


                      The US war on Iraq


    Nothing seems capable of halting the American juggernaut. Now
    in March 250,000 US soldiers, along with a few British
    units, are gathered in the Gulf ready for the assault on
    Baghdad. Soon after 11 September 2001 the Bush
    administration decided that one component of their strategy
    would be to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Men as high-placed as
    Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or Paul Wolfowitz had long
    advocated such action, but George W Bush's questionable
    election made it difficult to realise that objective. With
    11 September it became feasible. From then on Washington's
    ruling view of the world was stark: "Anyone who is not with
    us is with the terrorists" Bush proclaimed. The September
    2002 document entitled The National Security Strategy of the
    United States, which for the first time included the notion
    of preventive war, confirmed the new orientation of the
    hyperpower, which was convinced that its own interests were
    henceforth synonymous with justice. (see documents in Part One:
    United States strategy).

    This strategy was not a response to 11 September. It was
    formulated in a document dating from September 2000, signed
    by influential members of the current administration before
    they took office, which claimed that terrorism had replaced
    Nazism and communism as the new enemy of the United States.
    But terrorism is not an ideology, nor is it a strategic
    threat, since it does not originate from any state. It is a
    useful bogeyman, adaptable to many situations and used to
    discredit one's enemies. Especially when it can be
    associated, in a triangle of evil, with weapons of mass
    destruction and so-called "rogue states" (see documents in Part
    Two: The threat of terrorism).

    President Bush has warned that the "war on terrorism" will
    be a long one. It began with the Afghan campaign and the
    overthrow of the Taliban. It continued with the outlawing of
    hundreds of organisations and individuals, on criteria that
    are vague at best, corresponding more to American fantasies
    than to any serious definition of the terrorist phenomenon -
    if such a definition were possible. This war has also helped
    a number of governments to justify their own repressive
    policies: Russia in Chechnya, Israel in Palestine, India in
    Kashmir, etc. In the countries of the North, an offensive is
    mounting against an "enemy within", often identified with
    Muslim immigrants, or radical protestors (see documents in
    Third Part: The war against terrorism).

    The United States decided on its attack on Saddam Hussein'
    regime in order to destroy the weapons of mass destruction
    held by Iraq. And yet, on this question, no evidence has
    been offered, and certainly no proof that Iraq is such a
    threat to world peace and security that war is unavoidable.
    Washington's duplicity is obvious when we compare the US
    attitude towards North Korea. The proliferation of weapons
    of mass destruction is a very real problem, but it requires
    a multilateral solution, through the enforcement of existing
    treaties and stricter rules, especially on exports of
    sensitive material. The United States, France, Great Britain
    and Germany have much to answer for regarding Saddam's
    armaments programme in the 1980s (See documents in Part Four:
    Weapons of Mass Destruction).

    The first victim of the war will be the Iraqi people,
    already suffering from a bloodthirsty dictatorship and
    criminal sanctions. Responsible for two wars - against Iran,
    then against Kuwait - the Baghdad regime has been subject to
    strict controls since 1991. The United Nations inspectors
    were able greatly to reduce its capacity to inflict harm,
    but this was accompanied by an embargo of unprecedented
    severity. United Nations experts predict that another war
    inflicted on a country whose population has reached the
    limits of its endurance will bring about hundreds of
    thousands of deaths. And the vision of a pacified and
    democratic Iraq arising from the ruins of Saddam's
    dictatorship, is a pipedream - or rather a piece of
    propaganda - without any relation to reality (see documents
    in Part Five: Toppling Saddam).

    There are questions, too, about the broader consequences of
    a new war on the situation in the Middle East, especially
    the confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians (see
    documents in Part Six: War in the heart of the Middle East)

    This focus feature was prepared by Alain Gresh, Maria
    Ierardi, Olivier Pironet and Philippe Rivière

    We welcome your questions and comments, which should be
    adressed to

    >  US strategy

    >  The threat of terrorism

        / United Nations documents on terrorism / "Rogue

    >  The war against terrorism

        / The US intervention in Afghanistan / Al-Qaida /
        The "anti-terrorist" offensive against civil liberties

    >  Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

    >  Toppling Saddam

        / A computerised war / Military intervention and
        oil-related issues / UN Inspections: a painstaking
        mission / War and post-war scenarios / Iraq in the
        run-up to a military strike

    >  War in the heart of the Middle East

               See the French version:

               L'empire contre l'Irak

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