War Against Iraq?

Cynthia Banas

Since 9/11, media have speculated as to if and when the US will invade Iraq to terminate Saddam Hussein. The reality is that the Gulf War never ended. In 1991, the US destroyed Iraq's water and electricity infrastructure. Since that time economic sanctions, which prohibit Iraq from rebuilding its infrastructure and whose impact is like that of weapons of mass destruction, have caused the death of a million people. For example, Iraqis die each day from preventable water-borne diseases (The Progressive, 9/2001).

September 11 presented an opportunity for the US to blame Iraq for the World Trade Center attacks, and planning has accelerated for a giant escalation of our war efforts against Iraq. Confounding our wishes and notions of blame, thirteen of the twenty September 11 terrorists were Saudis. Bush's "war on terrorism" logic should have resulted in bombing Saudi Arabia, which certainly has not happened.

Until quite recently, a number of significant deterrents have prevented a more comprehensive military intervention. These include: more Saudis than Iraqis identified as 9/11 terrorists; no evidence of Iraqi involvement in the anthrax attacks; the ongoing violence in Israel and the occupied areas; lack of interest of many Arab and European nations in re-creating a 1990-like coalition against Iraq; and concerns about possible eruptions of anarchy in the Arab and Islamic world.

Nevertheless, because of the US obsession with eliminating Saddam Hussein, plans for war continue. In February, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Myers said the US is ready to act militarily when Bush gives the order. According to an April 28 New York Times story, this order may come sooner than later, since the government does not believe that a coup or uprising within Iraq could succeed in removing Saddam.

Scott Ritter, former Chief UNSCOM Inspector, opposes invading Iraq. He believes that the US doesn't care about renewing inspections, only about getting rid of Saddam. He thinks that when (not if) the US invades Iraq, the 75,000 troops advisors say will do the job will not be enough. He thinks it will take a ground war of 200,000 troops fighting "village to village to village all the way to Baghdad, killing millions before Saddam is finally eliminated…Americans won't care until body bags start returning home, but then it will be too late. In the process, we'll lose the war on terrorism, and will end up being seen as the evil-doer in the eyes of the world."

Alternatives to war are possible. The CNY Committee to Let Iraqi Children Live meets June 2 from 2-4 at SPC. Also, under the auspices of EPIC ( Education for Peace in Iraq Center), lobby days are planned for June 15-18 in Washington DC. For info contact EPIC at (202) 543-6176, or EPICenter@igc.org

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Cynthia, member of Voices in the Wilderness, spent 2 months in Iraq living in solidarity with Iraqi victims of the economic sanctions. Call 315-829-2543 if your group is interested in hearing about her experiences and work.