War Machine: Locked on Target

As UN inspectors scour Iraq, Bush won't take "yes" for an answer

Revolutionary Worker #1179, December 15, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org

"Literally, it's like a pistol, and the hammer is cocked."

Col. David Perkins,
U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor on the Kuwait-Iraq border

"What they are doing is not primarily or essentially in response to September 11 but is part of a whole program they have--what we call their wild ambitions for recasting the whole world and taking down the Iraqi regime as one part of that."

Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party
interviewed by Carl Dix
Part 1: The New Situation and the "War on Terrorism"

Events are quickening. U.S. forces are rapidly moving into place. The northern quarter of Kuwait, more than 1,600 square miles, has been transformed into a vast staging area for invasion. Waves of U.S. and British warplanes have already been pounding Iraqi air defenses in preparation. Several aircraft carrier groups are converging on the Persian Gulf to join the 5th Fleet already there and to serve as launch platforms for a massive bombing campaign. New and expanded bases have been readied throughout the region -- including in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Diego Garcia and southern Turkey. Tens of thousands of troops are being readied around the world for a final massive airlift into the war zones, and meetings are taking place weekly at the White House to select the best possible moment to call up the National Guard and various military reserves.

The war machine is locked on target: Iraq. The U.S. government is determined to take over this highly strategic country. They are hoping for a coup; they are building for a war.

One thing is still missing: A pretext for launching this long-planned attack. This is a war still waiting for its public justification, its final official casus belli (excuse for war).

And the U.S. warmakers have a plan for that too: They bullied the UN Security Council into passing Resolution 1441. The resolution is a list of harsh and belligerent war demands on Iraq. It demanded that Iraq's government produce an inventory of everything and everyone in its country that could produce or launch nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. In a world where great powers (especially the U.S.) repeatedly threaten others with massive military machines--and where about a dozen countries already have nukes--Iraq is told it must submit to a campaign of inspection and national humiliation because it might be seeking to develop such weapons.

Resolution 1441 was designed to be impossible to meet. It was intended to be a machinery that would justify war.

The U.S. is going to war with Iraq in a massive power grab. They are seeking to recast the structure of world relations. And they think this approaching war will serve that purpose in many ways: to give the U.S. a much tighter and more direct control over the Persian Gulf and its highly strategic oil resources; and to forge, through war alliance and any potential victory, a new pecking order among the major powers-- where the U.S. rulers hope to force an unchallengeable supremacy over the emerging world order.

Mention of the real goals for war are forbidden in the U.S. media--even while they are refined within the government councils and reactionary think tanks.

But you can watch as the U.S. government picks up this or that public justification--how they try out one, then another. And you can see how phony they all are.

First, the White House tried to claim their attack on Iraq is about September 11. But Iraq was not involved in September 11. Then they claimed that Iraq threatens the U.S.--but Iraq has no weapons that can reach the U.S. The British just released a report claiming "unique" human rights violations in Iraq, but the world knows that people are badly abused across the planet, often with full U.S. and British support.

Now, a mind-numbing focus on "weapons of mass destruction" has taken center stage-- obviously because the White House thinks this is their best hope for a casus belli .

This situation makes it even more important to grab onto a basic question here:

Even if it was now revealed--as the result of shameless spying, forced confessions, or outrageous UN intrusions into every corner of Iraq--that Iraq has some stockpiles of anthrax or nerve gas, how would that give the bloody empire-builders of the U.S. and Britain any right to invade and occupy this small country?

The U.S. has its own huge nuclear, biological and chemical stockpiles. The U.S. was the first to develop and use nuclear weapons--blowing away two civilian cities in Japan. U.S. allies (from France to Britain to Israel to Pakistan) have nukes-- and use them to threaten opponents. The U.S. has active biowarfare research and stockpiles--which were wrapped in official lies until their own anthrax spores showed up in post offices and Congress and media offices. The U.S. government has still not explained these illegal biowarfare activities or who in their operations used these weapons inside U.S. borders.

By what logic or morality can the U.S. now claim that primitive weapons facilities and stockpiles in a besieged and threatened third world country are grounds for bombing, invasion, government takeover and occupation?

The War of Words Over Inspections

"While we know America wants to attack us no matter what, we hope that our attitude toward the inspections will convince the world that war is the wrong option."

Prof. Mohammed Muthafar Adhami, Iraqi parliament member

"We've received full cooperation."

Demetrius Perricos, U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission.

As we go to press, the UN inspectors are on the ground. And the U.S. government is scrambling to turn these inspections into a cause for war.

In the first week of inspections, the UN team poked through over 20 major research installations. As the U.S. demanded, the inspectors deliberately and specifically chose to first visit some of the most provocative and sensitive military and political sites--including two presidential palaces that had previously been off limits to inspectors. And they made surprise visits to other sites that had never been inspected before--including three alcohol distilleries where liquor is made from dates.

The inspectors snooped everywhere--in labs, refrigerators, warehouses, storage yards--and found nothing that violated UN resolutions. Many of the research plants were filled with rubble and destruction from U.S. bombing. Very little had changed since the last inspectors were there four years ago.

When the inspectors found that some distilling machinery had been moved, the Iraqi officials took them to its new location and showed how it was now being used. When the Iraqis were asked to show inspectors some old mustard gas shells from the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, they opened up a dusty old warehouse. When they were asked about aluminum piping that Iraq had supposedly tried to purchase for nuclear research, they acknowledge the purchase attempts--but explained how the pipes were to be used in conventional military activity.

Clearly, the Iraqi government bent over backwards to comply with UN Resolution 1441. UN head Kofi Annan said that he thought Iraqi cooperation with inspectors "seems to be good."

Everything about this made the U.S. government furious. The Bush White House pointedly said that Kofi Annan was mistaken.

Iraq is an industrialized country with a huge petrochemical industry--it has over 1,000 facilities that have various operations (like distillation) that could potentially have military uses (so-called "dual- use facilities"). At the moment the inspections are in the very early stages--there are only 17 inspectors on the ground, and the numbers will increase so that there is expected to be a hundred by the end of December. The UN inspectors say inspecting throughout Iraq might take as long as six months or a year. But the U.S. insists there isn't time or reason for all that. Secretary of State Colin Powell told CNN, "We're not going to wait until February to see whether Iraq is cooperating or not."

After Iraq complied with the early inspections, the U.S. government demanded that the inspectors step up their provocations. The New York Times reported (Dec. 6): "Some American officials want the UN team to be aggressive in identifying scientists and demanding that they leave the country, perhaps without their permission." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked if the White House had held private meetings with the inspection leaders to demand that they carry out involuntary removal of Iraqi scientists. Fleischer answered, "I can't speak to all scenarios. Obviously, if somebody is willing to leave the country, it's a much easier matter."

Since September 11, U.S. agents have been seizing people from all over the world and holding them in secret locations for extensive and harsh interrogations. The most elementary rights of people--including to legal representation, the public airing of the charges, or revealing their location to relatives or home governments--have been disregarded in the name of this "war on terrorism." There are indications that mistreatment and torture has been a significant component of such U.S. interrogation.

Now, in the case of Iraq, the U.S. is arguing for the kidnapping and interrogation of scientists (with their families) under conditions that deny them any access to representatives of their government. It is intended to provoke the Iraqi government to reject a UN demand. It is an outrageous affront to national sovereignty and the basic rights of these scientists. And clearly, nothing said (or "confessed") under such conditions would have any credibility.

The U.S. does not want these UN inspectors to inspect--it wants them to produce an excuse for war.

The Catch-22 Inventory

"Inspectors do not have the duty or the ability to uncover terrible weapons hidden in a vast country. ... It is Saddam Hussein who has the responsibility to provide that evidence as directed and in full."

George W. Bush in recent Pentagon speech

If inspectors don't find any banned weapons, it doesn't mean the U.S. can't launch the war. We can always just claim Iraq is lying in its weapons inventory.

Same Bush statement translated into human-speak

If the inspections don't produce a trigger for war, the U.S. is ready to use something else as a trigger. That is why the demand for an Iraqi inventory was put in UN resolution 1441.

On December 7, Iraq released over 13,000 pages of documentation on their various military and industrial facilities. They met the difficult UN deadline of 30 days.

The Iraqi report apparently describes exhaustive details of military research and dual-use facilities-- no country in history has revealed their military and commercial secrets in this way. The report repeats (and claims to document) the official Iraqi position that their military does not have functioning weapons of mass destruction. And it includes answers to some of the specific charges the U.S. has made about specific facilities.

All along, this inventory has been designed by the U.S. as a classic "catch-22": No matter what Iraq said or did, the U.S. was prepared to claim it has a right to launch war--and then declare that it was Saddam Hussein that "chose" war over a "peaceful solution," that the U.S. was "forced" to go to war by Iraqi "defiance" of the world.

If Iraq had now admitted in the report that it has weapons of mass destruction, then the U.S. would have said that Iraq had been lying to the UN earlier and is in "material breach" of UN resolutions--and that would have been portrayed as a reason to launch war.

Since Iraq has continued to deny they have weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. is expected to charge that Iraq is now lying to the UN--and use the inventory to ratchet up the drumbeat for war.

President Bush, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Powell all insisted in the last week that the U.S. government knows that Iraq has secret stockpiles--no matter what the Iraqis or the inspectors say. When asked for evidence or proof of these claims on December 5, Bush spokesman Ari Fleisher said, "The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it." In other words: trust us.

Such claims produce widespread skepticism: If the U.S. intelligence agencies have such evidence, why haven't they already directed the inspectors to go there? If they already have proof, why are they pressing for the kidnapping of Iraqi scientists? And if they have withheld this spy evidence for just this moment, what is it but a calculated attempt to prepare a justification for war when it suits their timetable?

No matter what their inspections and spying produce, none of these mind games justify the preplanned U.S. move to pound Iraq and forcibly recast world relations.

Power Grabs and Flimsy Pretexts

"It is important to understand that it is not just a matter of U.S. corporations being `oil-hungry,' or simply that the U.S. economy is `dependent on fossil fuels.' The more fundamental truth is that the monopoly capitalists who rule the U.S. must control huge supplies of oil and other fuels, worldwide, in order to keep production costs for U.S.-based corporations as low as possible (particularly through super-exploitation of labor in many oil-producing countries), to strengthen their competitive position vis--vis other imperialist corporations and countries, and overall to control vital lifelines of the global economy. And these monopoly capitalists use the government apparatus--in particular the military--of the U.S. to enforce this control. This is an expression of the essential nature of the imperialist system we are confronting."

Bob Avakian
"The New Situation and the Great Challenges"

The Bush White House is angrily pounding their bully pulpit, demanding that somehow , in all of this, someone had better quickly give them some pretext to launch their war-- however forced, transparent or manufactured it might be.

There is a cold, deliberate cynicism about this U.S. search for an excuse. The U.S. government is obviously not picky.

The war itself is on track. In many ways, the bombing phase of that war has already kicked in. And the world can see that, for the White House, the specific excuse is an afterthought.

All the current squirming by the U.S. is about picking some fig leaf, so that the European allies and Arab governments don't stand totally exposed as collaborators in shameful and naked aggression.

Officially, the new White House strategic doctrine announces that the U.S. does not believe it needs any specific cause or excuse to attack a country. They have created a doctrine of "pre- emptive war"--in complete violation of international law--which claims they can attack countries without having specific provocation or reasons in the present, merely based on the charge that someone may potentially and hypothetically be harmful to U.S. interests in the future. Clearly the U.S. government is acting on these principles.

Every detail of this situation is marked by profound injustice. And it is no accident that the word "imperialism" is jumping back into the world's vocabulary.

The inspections themselves are an outrage. Why should this weakened and isolated third world country be subjected to cavity searches--while great powers wave their nukes and other weapons and casually threaten others daily? Obviously third world countries are not considered to have national sovereignty, a right to national defense, or any right to seek primitive means of deterrence against powerful enemies.

The UN mascarades as the voice of "the world community"--when it is a gathering of the world's governments who oppress their own people and scramble over each other for a place in the New World Order. After watching the shameful and corrupt maneuvering in the UN Security Council--where big powers bickered over how to carve up the third world, and where smaller countries were bullied and bought--why should anyone respect or uphold Resolution 1441, which the U.S. wrote and rammed through?

Why should Iraq be considered "a threat" to others--when they haven't bothered their neighbors in a decade and have instead been bombed constantly by the U.S. and Britain?

It is a moment worthy of Big Brother. Simple facts are turned inside out and upside down. Lies parade as facts. Aggressive provocation masquerades as peace-making inspections. Unprovoked attacks are prepared in the name of keeping people safe. A superpower grabs for world domination in the name of defense and revenge. And a small, battered third world country is their victim of the moment.

In a way, the flimsiness of U.S. claims and justifications is part of their point.

The U.S. government insists their armed forces and commandos can attack anyone, and they expect the world to accept it. They insist other powers--Europe, Russia, Japan, China--must join in or get locked out of future divisions of the world. They insist that Saudi Arabia provide military bases, that Syria vote for UN Resolution 1441, that Turkey help threaten northern Iraq, and that Iran keep its mouth shut and not make trouble--or else face punishment, threats and destabilization of their own.

The frat rat American President babbles that Saddam Hussein is a "bad guy who can't be trusted." And everyone is supposed to swallow his cartoon-like logic as reason enough for bombing a people and occupying a whole country.

These warmakers have said "With us or against us"--and they clearly mean "might makes right."

It remains unclear exactly what comes next. Many forces are in play. Many options sit in front of the leading players. But this much is clear--great crimes are being prepared in our name. People and governments are expected to swallow lies and endorse shameful aggression. Everyone is told to accept the supremacy of the U.S. government and military and pretend there is a righteousness to anything it does.

Millions sense that the excuses are rotten, that sinister motives are in command, and that bloody unjust war is about to be unleashed. This moment demands consciousness, creativity, courage, solidarity, and energetic action.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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