Piggybacking _
The "War on Terrorism" Moves on to Iraq

Jennifer Nader

Despite any shred of support from around the world, George W. Bush continues to assert his right to wage war on Iraq. "Regime Change" is his preferred euphemism when talking about the forcible overthrow of Iraq's government. His administration cites three main reasons for such a war: 1) Iraq is linked to al Qaeda, 2) Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, and 3) Saddam Hussein is evil.

Ever since Bush's 2002 State of the Union address, in which he labeled Iraq a member of the "axis of evil," the administration has taken every opportunity to suggest that there is a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. The implication is that establishing such a link would enable the President to bypass Congress and send forces to Iraq thanks to Public Law 107-40. This law states that:

the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such organizations or persons in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

It has not been successfully proven that Bush can determine the capital of Lithuania, so it is intriguing that Congress thinks him capable of investigating and examining complex and difficult intelligence documents.

The Bush administration, believing that they are in fact up to the challenge, has been examining "secret" documents for the last few months, hunting desperately for links between Iraq and al Qaeda. It has been a complete failure. According to CNN, US intelligence sources have reported that al Qaeda operatives have recently been in northern Iraq in an area under the control of radical Kurdish groups. The two groups have been working together on a chemical weapons test facility ("US Considered Hitting al Qaeda Site in Iraq").

CNN has also reported that while Bush had considered attacking the site, he decided against such action. This decision is in stark contrast to Bush's usual aggressive "anywhere, anytime, anyone" mentality. This inaction leads to the conclusion that regarding Iraq, the intention is not to root out terrorism, but instead to affect "Regime Change" through military means.

Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction is the other justification frequently cited for war. Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter has repeatedly stated that there is no credible evidence that Iraq has maintained these weapons programs. Morever, these programs were supported by the US military in the 1980s, when Iraq was our ally and preferred victor in its war with Iran.

As people committed to peace encourage the return of UN weapons inspectors, we must challenge the arrogant belief that such weapons are acceptable in the hands of some governments, but cause for attack when others have them. We must support the complete elimination of such weapons, a prospect which has been consistently blocked by successive administrations in Washington.

The "evil" leader argument is perhaps the most outrageous. Saddam Hussein has certainly carried out "evil" acts, as have George W. Bush and a long list of US leaders. The US has no right to dictate the governments of other nations. Moreover, both Vice-President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfield have had signficant roles in supporting Saddam over the years.

So, if the reasons cited by the US government for war ring so hollow, what is the real purpose of war with Iraq? Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world. (Saudi Arabia is first.) Eliminating Saddam, particularly through a US invasion, would mean that a "friendly" government would come to power, guaranteeing that the US oil companies would reap the riches. "There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. It's the big prize," writes Gerald Butt, Gulf editor of the Middle East Economic Survey.

In addition to the international opposition to a US attack on Iraq, dissent is increasing on the home front. We have a responsibility to escalate that resistance, making every effort to prevent such a war and raising the political costs of such action. It is our duty to let our representatives know that it is unconscionable and unconstitutional to allow the rhetoric of the Bush administration to trigger the deaths of (conservatively) hundreds of US Soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians and soldiers.

Jennifer Nader is a staffperson with the Education for Peace in Iraq Center in Washington, DC, www.epic-usa.org.