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02/08/2003 Entry: "The Goblin Queen, Iraq and I"

I am answering this post over at The Goblin Queen. I think I hit the high spots, but I recommend you read the whole thing before you read my response, which was also sent to Katie privately. Ginger.

My email to the Goblin Queen

Dear Katie,

I am 100% against any military action in Iraq. If I may, I'd like to try to address the concerns in your post on the war with Iraq as well as I am able. I'm not a Middle East expert, but I have lived in Central Asia and Central Europe and read a lot. I also wish I had more links for you, but I wanted to get this to you sooner than later. I've also posted it to my site.

"Itís very disturbing to me when I read about the coming Turkish occupation of Kurdish territory in Iraq, or I look forward to the probable U.S. control of oil production in Iraq. I realize that even if the U.S. is initially welcomed as a liberator, years and years of foreign occupation and profit from Iraqi resources could easily sour that welcome."

Why would the US military be welcomed as liberators of people who are living in their own country? Not even the Germans in Germany welcomed us after WWII because, well, they'd lost and we'd won. Don't forget, Katie, the victors write the history and don't always get it right. Oh, and by the way, the word "fraulein" has fallen out of use in Germany because their liberators made it synonymous with prostitute.

Our military might be popular in Bagdad for five minutes and then the cultural and religious differences will surface, become an issue and there will be killing on both sides. The entire occupation can't be anything but that as long as our soldiers are what they are, which is predominately non-Muslim. It will be worse in the countryside, where the bonds of tribe and religion really do hold things together. How welcome are the Marines going to be in their fatigues, humvees (sp), and their guns?

I'm afraid the Kurds are in trouble no matter what happens. If this war does go on, the Turks will use it as an excuse to get rid of them, not unlike the way they did the Armenians during the lead up to the First World War. If there is no war, they will continue to languish in statelessness and probably embrace jihad even more than they do now. I would like to see the Kurds have their own Kurdistan because they have certainly suffered enough for it. If the US were going to war to liberate ancient Kurdistan, well, I might be for that. However, that's not even ostensibly why we're making war on Iraq this time.

"Are we to decide that we just wonít believe a word that comes out of Colin Powellís mouth?"

At this point, yes, and you can back date that back to when bush and co disenfranchised black voters in Florida and Powell still took the Sec of St position. That goes for Condi Rice, too. As far as I'm concerned, those two have lost whatever integrity and believability they ever had. Remember Condi trying to tell us that flying planes into the WTC was so incredible, no one would ever think it could happen? Rilly? I guess she never saw Escape From New York then, or, unlike Ashcroft, was told by the FBI not to fly commercial over the summer of 2001 because the hijack threat was, um, high. Also, Powell is still thinking like a General trying to cover his flank and not what's best for the world at large, including the US. Rice's thinking resembles an imperialistic oil man's, which is probably the next logical step for the former Chevron (I think) employee she is. Like the rest of the current admin, neither of them seems to care about much other than their own personal power and God help us all now that Powell has lost the will or honor or just plain decency to resign from the bush junta. Powell was the voice of reason until it became more advantageous for him to become a hawk. This will cut both ways if/when he challenges bush for the nomination in 2004, but who knows?

"I think a lot of the evidence presented in his speech was credible, and that Iraq is almost certainly in material breach of Resolution 1441. So what is our answer to that?"

Isn't it that if Iraq is in material breach of Resolution 1441, they have to cough up what they have in the way of weapons of mass destruction and be heavily supervised and monitored by civilian inspectors like the last time we beat them up? Is that really the license to bomb their cities and invade their country? Once you get the military, any military, involved, there's no other way out but lots and lots of shooting, death and destruction.

"It seems to me that it would take a heavily armed massive inspection team to make sure Iraq had surrendered all of its prohibited weapons, a team basically akin to an occupying force. I think the presence of such a team and the inevitable conflicts that would arise would eventually lead to a war anyway. And even if they didnít, how long would the inspectors stay there, making sure that Saddam didnít rearm? The rest of Saddamís natural life? The will on the part of the international community wouldnít last that long. The only reason itís there now is because Bush pushed the issue so hard."

Um, this is news to me, Katie, I understood that bush wanted to invade last October but Blair and Powell persuaded him to go through the UN.

And the will of the international community will last at least until we have a legally elected, sane and responsible government. You're looking at this from inside the rogue state the US has become, try looking at it from outside. US military actions could possibly and quite probably destabilize the entire Middle East and in that kind of scenario, there will be no oil for anyone at any price if you can't get it out of the warzone that the region could or probably will become.

And Tony Blair, I have no idea what happened to him, he's just gone right over the edge and is spoiling for a vote of no confidence or whatever happens when parliamentary democracies decide they need a change. (Does anyone else remember longing for a parliamentary system in the US during Watergate? Whatever happened to that idea? I could go for that now in a big way.)

"But when you compare the situation in Iraq to the situation in North Korea, one is led to ask, why canít we do anything about North Koreaís nuclear posturing?"

But the Clinton administration and our Laureate, Jimmy Carter, were making massive progress there in 2000, if I recall correctly. A combination of admitting there was a problem, addressing it, and finding a workable solution comprised of sanctions (nuclear) and support in areas of food and non-military infrastructure. That's how adults do it, but the adults are no longer in charge of the US. North Korea has rightly surmised that the only way the US, in it's current rogue state state, will take you seriously is if you have nuclear weapons. And I read somewhere (again I apologize for no link) that Pakistan helped NK get nuclear weapons.

And while I'm on the subject, Pakistan is the one to watch, because how long before there is a religious coup, not unlike Iran in the late 70s? And unlike Iran, Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Lots of them. Don't forget that the main supporter of the Taliban up to September 10, 2001, was Pakistan and most of the Taliban went to Saudi supported religious schools in Pakistan. The bush administration isn't even looking at the right squirrel, let alone aiming true.

The other reason the bush admin is not engaging NK is because NK actually has weapons of mass destruction and Iraq does not. NK would be hard to fight, Iraq, as we know from GWI, will fold in the first round. An occupation is different, but battleground fighting up to the suburbs of Baghdad will more or less be a cakewalk. Saddam keeps his best fighters close to him for protection; he sends the starved, sick and poorly trained conscripts into battle. There was a story recently online and I can't find a link for you, sorry, about the first engagement of US and Iraqi troops. Of course it was a rout, but our soldiers watched in horror as our jets bombed retreating Iraqi soldiers. War is dressed up with gallantry, honor, sacrifice, and duty but killing is killing wherever you find it and it's always ugly.

And it should be. Wars are to be avoided at all costs, not embraced and that is the most horrible part of all this; the bush admin, most of whom are chickenhawks, are embracing the greatest horror on earth. Technology doesn't change what happens on the ground, it just gets fewer of our guys and gals killed. But it kills our souls and nobody seems to care about that anymore.

"I just donít know that I oppose the war. Believe me, I donít feel great about it either."

Katie, if you need one reason to oppose the war, look at it as Pandora's Box, but without any hope at the bottom of it. I don't believe Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and UN inspectors, yes, if necessary a permanent occupation of UN inspectors, and good old fashioned carrot and stick diplomacy can keep him from ever getting weapons of mass destruction. I do have a link to a report that was recently touted as "let's go to war next week!" justifying definitive proof that Saddam already had WMD. Turns out that this report was from 1991 or thereabouts. Sorry, but those occupying our gov are not telling us the truth in this matter, but thank goodness they're lies are being exposed.

I also seriously doubt that Iraq has the resources or opportunity to get WMDs because haven't the weapons inspectors been all over them like a cheap suit, inspecting since GWI and hasn't there been an embargo on that WMD stuff? Although suitcases of weapons grade plutonium were turning up in the Prague train station when I lived in that city from 1993-95, I recall the couriers were always heading west, not east. And it's not like they can smuggle plutonium in on a camel, even if they brought it in from Kazakhstan, the nuclear-armed Central Asian republic. Hm, Kazakhstan also has lots of oil, but the task of getting it out of the ground and to market has defeated some of the biggest names in the oil business. This, I predict, will also be the fate of the Afghanistan pipeline pipe dream. I sure liked all the Kazaks I knew in Almaty, but doing business with people who were primarily caravan raiders as little as 150 years ago is, um, challenging to say the least. Anyway, I digress.

"I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear my trousers rolled," and don't you just hate us elderly Eliot quoting broads, but I can remember when bush I was elected to provide us a "kinder gentler" nation and then turned out to be as mean as ever, and suddenly! our ambassador to Iraq, Aprille Gilespsie, is having this conversation with Saddam and he basically says: "I'm having this little problem with Iraq'a border with Kuwait, like, it's too close to Baghdad and we need to push it back a bit." and she says: "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait." and this sure sounds like the green light from D.C., and voilŗ! bush I has his war to rule through fear because he couldn't govern though consent either because, even though he was actually elected, everyone with an ounce of sense hated his guts by Feb 1, 1989. Gasp. Exhale.

"Fearing for his future, Saddam looked to stave off anger at home through a popular diversionary foreign adventure, invading Kuwait in August 1990. This allowed Iraq to cancel its debts and seize control of 20% of the world's known oil reserves.
"Shortly before the invasion, Saddam called a meeting with then US ambassador April Gillespie, who told Saddam: 'We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.' She went on to say: 'James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.' (San Francisco Examiner, 11/18/02)
"The US was prepared to turn a blind eye to Iraq seizing disputed oilfields on the Iraq-Kuwait border. However, Saddam overplayed his hand, occupying all of Kuwait. American big business was totally unwilling to allow Saddam to have such control over global capitalism's oil supply or the ability to push up the price of oil. The US also feared that Iraq could now attack Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer. With the collapse of Stalinist block in 1989 Washington saw an opportunity to assert its new global dominance and establish a 'new world order.' "On January 16, 1991 the US launched "Desert Storm," killing 100-200,000 Iraqis in the most intensive bombing campaign in history." Committee for a workers' international, February 3, 2003. (Yes, it's those pesky commies or socialists, I guess, once again, but, hey, this is how I remember it, too, and I'm just a registered Democrat.)

And, if you don't like that one, here's another one:

"Which is why Saddam thought nothing of informing April Gillespie, the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad, of his intention of recapturing the 18th wilaya, or province, of Iraq. Gillespie too shrugged her shoulders. No one from Washington remonstrated with Saddam that the 18th wilaya was now the sovereign state of Kuwait. Saddam went ahead on August 2, 1990. He brought the world upon his head. He is still wondering why it is OK to invade Khomeini's Iran but not the Emir's Kuwait." Long-distance murder, Frontline, publishers of Hindu (a little strange, but some good history near the end)

And one more from the Cairo Times:

"Yet relatively low oil prices meant that oil revenue, Iraq's main source of income, could not generate the necessary funds to fuel economic recovery. The ensuing argument between Iraq and Kuwait, which favored keeping prices low, and a dubious decision by the then US ambassador in Baghdad, April Gillespie, to give Hussein "carte blanche" regarding the dispute, led to Iraq's invasion of its neighbor on 2 August 1990." The Waiting Game, Cairo Times, 2000;4:24-30. (Hm, August 2000; this article is very informative and not shrill at all.) (Curiously enough, low oil prices, not ideology, pulled down the USSR when they could no longer afford to support their near abroad, which is also mainly Muslim.)

So you see, it worked once, it could work again. In fact it seems to be working quite well. Again. Same dog, still hunts unfortunately. Ah, if only the past would stay in the past. But it's not even the past. Sorry for some much ancient history, but I feel it's important to our present dilemma.

And just toss in a little simplified economics, war and occupation require deficit spending to finance, ŗ la Viet Nam. According to Dr. Sawicky, who is usually right about these things, we are already looking at a $300 billion deficit in this year and the next. War and occupation in Iraq could skyrocket that number. I'm old, so I won't have to pay for it, but how much deficit can the US really handle before it really runs out of money? And, because we've been stocking up since GWI, war materiel production isn't going to pull our economy out of the doldrums either. War and occupation of Iraq is not just morally wrong, it's financially imprudent. Oil sales, you say? Well, as I understand it, the whole point of this war and occupation is to keep oil prices down and since most of the big US oil producers paid little or no taxes last year and all the jobs will be in Iraq, I don't think having the northern Iraq oilfields is going to do our economy or our looming deficit much good.

I won't insult your intelligence by telling you that this war and occupation is only about oil. It's also about keeping your fellow citizens in a state of fear because it's easier to rule through fear and bush certainly can't govern through consent. Look at how fear is being used in an attempt to keep us docile: We're on an orange alert and I've no idea why except there might be a huge peace march in NYC next week, IF they can get the permits. Am I wrong? Maybe, but even paranoids have enemies. And if I take that paranoia one step further, wouldn't an urban assault on Baghdad be the most practical training for martial law here at home in a year or so?

Yours in the struggle,

Ginger Mayerson




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