The U.S. at War -- A History of Shame
The First Iraq War 1991:
Mass Murder From A Safe Distance
Revolution #021, November 6, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On January 16, 1991, the U.S. launched "Operation Desert Storm" against Iraq and its people. The military might of the most powerful imperialist power on the planet, and its allies, was unleashed on a poor, strategic, oil-rich, third world country.
The U.S. got its troops and war machine into the Persian Gulf, attacked Iraq, and destroyed much of its military--using the justification that all this was just for "liberating Kuwait" and "restoring peace and democracy."
In fact, the U.S. landed its troops to restore the Sabah family, a despotic and decadent monarchy ruling a country. Kuwait was an oil-rich country where under 4% of the population had any political rights. The majority of people in Kuwait were considered "foreigners"--and were subject to expulsion, firing, and even jail for any dissent. Women in Kuwait had no rights at all--no right to choose a husband, get divorced, or even testify as the equal to men in court.
Re-establishing this reactionary order was not "liberating Kuwait"--and it was certainly not liberating its people! This invasion restored an oppressive society that was set up by foreign imperialist powers to efficiently extract oil from the Middle East.
Great deception was used to justify the war: After Iraq’s army invaded and occupied Kuwait in August 1990, the U.S. government hid the fact that Saddam Hussein had been their close military ally through the 1980s, and that U.S. ambassador April Glaspie had given Iraq the green light for the takeover of Kuwait.
In a notorious lie, a young woman told a congressional committee that Iraqi soldiers had taken Kuwaiti newborns out of incubators and left them to die on a cold floor. This inflammatory story was fabricated by a U.S. public relations firm and the young woman was the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S.
Mass Murder from a Safe Distance
The attack on Iraq was waged with the brutal and murderous attacks that characterize "the American Way of War." The war started with a month of massive bombing--followed by a four-day ground war. The U.S. coalition dropped 88,000 tons of bombs, equivalent to over seven Hiroshimas. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, civilians as well as soldiers, were killed or injured.
The U.S. government claimed that they had new "precision weapons" that only hit selected targets. This was a lie. In one incident among many: two U.S. cruise missiles scored a direct hit on the Amariya air raid shelter on February 13, 1991 and killed 408 civilians hiding there.
Bombing destroyed much of Iraq’s infrastructure--including bridges, electrical plants and water treatment plants. Without sewage treatment a large number of civilians died of disease after the war. Air Force strategists admit this was a deliberate strategy--to give the U.S. leverage over Iraq by destroying facilities that could only be repaired with foreign assistance.
Defeated Iraqi troops fled on the highway from Kuwait City to Basra--together with many civilians. Top U.S. General Colin Powell declared, "We shall cut them off and then kill them." For 48 hours U.S. jets attacked this clogged highway with incendiary bombs--turning it into a firestorm. Over 25,000 civilians and fleeing soldiers were killed on this "Highway of Death"--an atrocity almost completely ignored by the U.S. media.
"New World Order"
Before President Bush 1 unleashed this war, he declared a "New World Order." The Soviet Union, the long-time global rival of the U.S., was collapsing. And the U.S. ruling class saw a moment to forcefully establish themselves as the world’s sole superpower-- particularly in strategic areas, like the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Bush moved to do this--wading in the blood of over 100,000 dead Iraqi people.
After this first Gulf war, the U.S. established permanent Army and Air Force bases in Persian Gulf region for the first time. They reimposed the vicious Sabah monarchy on Kuwait. Their nuclear Navy now permanently patrolled the Persian Gulf--threatening countries like Iraq and Iran along its shores. The U.S. and United Nations imposed a set of sanctions on Iraq that caused the deaths of many Iraqis--including half a million children.
This first aggressive U.S. war on Iraq had nothing to do with "peace," or with "liberating" the people of this region. It was about establishing the U.S. as a sole overlord of a strategic region. And it was done ruthlessly, through lies, followed by the murderous bombing and defeat of a poor third world country.