Why Bush is targeting Iraq

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It’s no secret. The U.S. is gunning for Iraq. A New York Times story at the end of April detailed a plan for a major air campaign and ground invasion involving up to 250,000 U.S. troops beginning early in 2003, although government officials called that report “premature.”

Still, as Vice President Dick Cheney told a group of Republican senators in March, the question is not if the U.S. will attack Iraq, but when.

To worldwide dismay and mounting anger, George W. Bush and his clique are engaged in a terrifying countdown to what could become World War III — nuclear weapons, biological warfare and all.

Taking a wild card out of play.In the eyes of U.S. policymakers and the corporations they front for, the crime that has damned Saddam Hussein is ambition.

Of all the resources it must import, the U.S. is most dependent on oil. That makes maintaining control over the oil-saturated Middle East a top foreign policy priority.

With his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Saddam made a bid for independent power in the region that could not be ignored. In combination with his fondness for striking poses as an anti-imperialist hero of the Arab people, this sealed his eventual downfall.

Iraq itself has the second-largest proven supply of oil reserves in the world. Only Saudi Arabia has more. And, despite the UN/U.S. economic sanctions that have been in place for 12 years, Iraq still exports more than two million barrels of oil every day.

Astonishingly, the USA remains its biggest customer. The sale of oil from Iraq is supposed to be illegal, but U.S. firms import it through middlemen, under the “humanitarian” oil-for-food program.

A few officials and commentators are candid enough to admit that the U.S. needs no other reason to invade Iraq than the normal requirements of maintaining the world’s preeminent modern-day empire (please see letters to the editor on page seven). Most, however, are not that brazen.

One of the excuses for targeting Iraq is the “war against terrorism.” But even the government acknowledges that no evidence connects Iraq to the September 11 attacks.

Another justification is the military threat supposedly represented by Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.” A 1998 report of the International Atomic Energy Agency, however, indicated that Iraq no longer has nuclear capability. Former U.N. weapons inspectors believe that Baghdad could not have rebuilt a serious arsenal of other weapons in the time since inspections stopped. And Britain has admitted that publication of its promised dossier about Iraqi weapons is being delayed because the “evidence was not sufficiently convincing…. It’s non-specific.”

Bitter fruits of sanctions and war. Iraq, however, is certainly on the receiving end of U.S. and British weapons of mass destruction.

Between 100,000 and 250,000 Iraqis perished during the 1991 Gulf War. The war also destroyed water purification and sewage systems and the production, processing, storage, and distribution of food. More than a decade of economic sanctions and intermittent bombing since then have made it impossible for Iraq to restore its infrastructure.

The sanctions, which block food and medicine from getting into Iraq, have caused nearly a million children to die from hunger and illness.

Rude awakening in store for warmakers? War against Iraq is also a reaction to the faltering economy. When economies sour, military adventures can provide a short-term boost.

And, over the long range, armaments production and expenditures have become indispensable to keeping the economy afloat and growing. Eventually, all that hardware has to be put to use, or there’s no rationale for the next big hike in the Pentagon’s budget.

With all these good reasons for attacking Iraq, one would think more people would be enthusiastic about it. But U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East, and even some members of Bush’s team, are worried that U.S. war against Iraq would send every country in the area up in flames of rage.

They’re already halfway there. The recent devastating assaults by U.S.-backed Israel in the occupied territories has provoked massive denunciation of both countries in the streets everywhere in the Middle East: from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Bahrain to Iraq, Iran, and Libya.

Some of those protesting are demanding that an oil embargo be imposed on the U.S. Many have met with serious violence from police, especially in Jordan.

The White House apparently believes, however, that war against Iraq will be easy to sell at home, where people have been inundated for months with war-on-terrorism propaganda.

But support for Palestine is increasing here, too, and consciousness is rising about the toll the war drive is taking on funding for basic services.

The crippling of schools, libraries, public transportation, healthcare, and Social Security is a price the White House is certainly ready to pay. And Congress has demonstrated that it will go along with just about anything Bush proposes as he gathers more and more governmental power into the Oval Office. But will U.S. workers stand for it?

Millions of people abroad have already lifted their voices. U.S. workers are in a position to add their decisive opposition — here, where the bombs are launched.

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