Frequently Asked Questions About War on Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Terrorism, and Democracy

This pamphlet addresses many questions and concerns that Central New Yorkers have voiced in recent months. As citizens of a democracy we are faced with tremendous difficulties at home and abroad. It is our responsibility to understand the issues before us and to act in an informed, compassionate manner.
Please contact the Syracuse Peace Council, 472-5478, for more information or copies to give your neighbors.

With many Iraqis welcoming US troops, doesn’t that mean the war was the right thing to do?

In spite of initial reports that some Iraqis were welcoming US troops, the cheering, smiling, flag-waving crowds that the Bush Administration predicted have not materialized. Of course Iraqis are glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein. However, it is becoming clear that this doesn’t mean that the US government and military are welcomed as “liberators.”
Instead, the US army is seen as an occupying force, and as the days without water, electricity, humanitarian aid, security, and legitimate government continue to go by, the occupying forces are increasingly becoming the target of protest and outrage. In Nasiriyah and Najaf, 20,000 Iraqis protested the US’s first attempt at putting together a government. So far, US troops have been unwilling or unable to police the streets of Baghdad and other cities to prevent looting and provide security.
Further, the US seems to have no candidates for a new Iraqi government that are overwhelmingly approved by the Iraqi people. All of this serves to highlight why an illegal and immoral war on Iraq, in which thousands of Iraqis lost their lives, is not an effective strategy for liberation of the Iraqi people. Nor was Iraqi liberation a real reason for going to war. It was a justification cooked up by the Bush Administration after it realized that it had not effectively convinced the American public that Iraq posed a clear and present danger to the US.

Isn’t the anti-war movement unpatriotic for not supporting our troops?

On the contrary, the anti-war movement supports our troops by urging that they be brought home immediately and that the US occupation end.
But think about how the Bush administration has treated the men and women who have served in the military. The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee voted to cut $25 billion in veterans benefits over the next 10 years. The Bush administration has proposed cutting $172 million in educational funding for children of military personnel. Bush has also ordered the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to stop publicizing health benefits available to veterans.

Didn’t Iraq start this mess? The US was only responding.

Iraq did invade Kuwait in 1991. The Gulf War expelled Iraq from Kuwait while slaughtering thousands of retreating Iraqi soldiers. The UN then instituted a disarmament campaign and economic sanctions against Iraq. Included were no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, where Iraqi planes were forbidden to fly. US and British war planes bombed targets in these zones on at least a weekly basis for the last 12 years. According to the UN, over 1,000,000 Iraqis, including 500,000 children, died as a result of the sanctions and bombings. Iraq has been a defeated, impoverished, fifth-rate military power that has not even controlled its own air space for 12 years. It hasn’t started anything since 1991.
Sanctions didn’t work so what should the US have done?

Virtually all 188 UN members, with the exception of Britain, Israel and the US believed that the inspections for weapons of mass destruction and the sanctions against Iraq had worked. In fact, many UN members believed the sanctions should have ended because of the devastating effect on the Iraqi people.
By 1998, the United Nations inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Agency both stated that Iraq’s chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs were virtually destroyed. The CIA and top US generals agreed. The US should have abided by the decisions of the UN.

Didn’t Iraq have weapons of mass destruction that put us in imminent danger?

No. Scott Ritter, chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq until 1998, stated repeatedly that since 1998 Iraq has not had viable weapons of mass destruction and poses no threat to us. Top US generals, State Department and CIA officials agree. In 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iraq no longer had a viable nuclear weapons program.
In any case, the mere existence of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons programs would not automatically constitute a clear and present danger requiring war. France, Israel, England, Egypt, Russia and Taiwan as well as the US now have or recently had chemical or biological weapons programs, yet Bush has not threatened these countries with war. The Bush Administration has responded to accusations that North Korea has a nuclear weapons program by announcing that diplomatic pressure, not military force, could persuade North Korea to end its nuclear efforts.
Why did the US continue to insist that Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” were a threat?

No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and clearly the Iraqis did not use such weapons in defending their nation from the US invasion. The threat of weapons of mass destruction was used by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld to convince the American people that war on Iraq was justified. Fear was used to control American public opinion, in the absence of facts. The same tactic is being directed toward Syria. A major reason people outside the US opposed the US war on Iraq in such massive numbers was that they were getting more honest news.

Didn’t a large majority of Americans support the war before it began?

Absolutely not! Prior to the March 19, 2003 start of the war only 45% of Central New Yorkers supported a war without United Nations approval, according to a Post-Standard poll (March 16, 2003). 39% opposed the war! The Post-Standard goes on to say that the local poll’s results were quite similar to national Zogby polls taken earlier in March. Even with threats, massive bribes made using taxpayers’ money, and smear tactics (most notably against France) the US could not get the UN Security Council to support the war. The UN General Assembly (representing all nations of the world) would have, if given the chance, voted overwhelmingly against the war. This would have been the voice of world democracy.

Did the US need to invade Iraq to prevent more terrorist attacks like 9/11?

Absolutely not. There is no evidence that Iraq aided the September 11 attackers or Al Qaeda. None of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi, no major Al Qaeda leader is Iraqi, and no proof exists of a meeting between Iraqi and Al Qaeda officials. Vincent Cannistraro, former director of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism office, has said, “Is there any confirmed evidence of Iraq’s links to terrorism? No.”
The unprovoked war on Iraq will make terrorist attacks against the US more likely, not less. With the US invasion of Iraq killing innocent civilians and devastating cities, resentment against US policies has increased across the Middle East and around the world. Bin Laden couldn’t have designed a better recruitment plan.

If Iraq posed no immediate threat to the US, why was Bush so dead set on invading Iraq?

The war had much more to do with expanding US control over the Middle East’s oil supplies, and increasing the US oil corporations’ profits. The US economy is dependent on oil, and that dependency is growing.
In 2000, the US imported one half of the oil it used; by 2020, it will import two-thirds. The US has the technical know-how to reduce our oil dependency by converting to clean fuels; the US auto industry doesn’t want to have to re-tool, and the oil companies and banks financing them want to continue making huge profits on oil.

The Bush and Cheney families, as well as some Democrats, have strong financial ties to the oil industry. Control over Iraqi oil also gives the US more political leverage over countries like Japan and Germany that need to import oil.

Would a US president really lie to get us to back a war?

As a matter of fact, many US presidents have knowingly told half-truths and lies to create support for their wars. In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson rallied support for sending US troops to Viet Nam by falsely claiming North Viet Nam had attacked US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. To win congressional support for the 1991 Gulf War, Bush Sr. said that he had top-secret, Pentagon satellite images of 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks amassed on Saudi Arabia’s border. Yet commercial satellite images showed there were no troops at the Saudi Arabia border. Bush Jr. clearly lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, since they have not been found and were not used defensively by Saddam Hussein against the US invasion.

Is it only about getting control over Iraq’s oil?

No. Long before September 11, 2001, during George Bush Sr.’s Presidency, Paul Wolfowitz (now assistant secretary of defense under Rumsfeld) and other advisors wrote a Defense Department report advocating that the US expand its military presence to achieve permanent domination of every region of the globe. The plan didn’t get much support at the time so it was quickly shelved. But under the banner of the “war on terrorism,” these same people, who now serve George Bush Jr., are seizing the opportunity to put their plan into effect. They view installing a pro-US government in Baghdad as a critical step.

What about the situation here at home?

The Bush administration also needs to distract us, the US people, from the growing problems at home that could make us angry at our own government and corporations. Remember how Bush was going to hunt down Osama bin Laden, overthrow the Taliban, and set up a new democratic government in Afghanistan? Well, many months later, Bush still hasn’t found bin Laden, and much of Afghanistan is still run by warlords.
Here at home, there are more unemployed people, and more heads of corporations have been exposed for their corruption. The stock market is sagging. More working people and low-income people lack health insurance and other benefits, and people of color are often still worse off. Unfortunately, national unity against a foreign enemy has been used to take our minds off these domestic problems and get us to support the president and the Republican party.
Does the PATRIOT Act, passed shortly after 9/11/01, help maintain freedom in the USA?

No, it greatly reduces our freedom guaranteed under the Constitution. Our cherished right to exercise freedom of speech through words or peaceful actions is contradicted by the PATRIOT Act. Now, a US citizen can be arrested as a domestic terrorist for any act that “appears to be intended to influence the policy of a government.” The government can now spy on religious and political groups in the US without making any criminal justification. Police may now demand your personal records from your doctor, employer, accountant or librarian by claiming that the need is related to “terrorism.” No proof or indication of just cause are required, and the record keepers are prohibited from telling you about it. Many cities have passed resolutions stating that the PATRIOT Act will not be enforced in their municipality.

*Note: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is leading the fight against the PATRIOT Act. They can be contacted locally at 315.471.2821, email: cnynyclu@aol.com.
Doesn’t Bush want to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East?

The United States subverted some of the few democratic governments in the Middle East (Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953) and has backed undemocratic regimes in the region ever since. The UN is the voice of world democracy, yet Bush waged war against the democratic decision of the UN Security Council. Bush’s “allies” in the war, Britain and Spain, had less democratic justification for supporting war than Bush, as polls showed a mere 7% of Spaniards and 19% of the British supported a unilateral war against Iraq. A US poll by the Pew Center showed that only 26% of Americans supported a unilateral war. Bush’s decision to wage unilateral war clearly did not represent the democratic wishes of Americans or people around the world.

Who stands to profit from the US war and occupation of Iraq?

Individuals like Vice-President Dick Cheney will certainly profit. He receives $100,000-$1,000,000 a year from Halliburton, the multibillion dollar company which is already lining up for major contracts in postwar Iraq. This is also true for Richard Perle, who served as head of the Defense Intelligence Board while at the same time meeting with Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi on behalf of Trireme, a company of which he is a managing partner. Trireme is involved in the security and military technology business.

What would an Iraqi government that truly represented the majority of Iraqi citizens do?

Almost certainly, such a government would not want the US controlling or privatizing (through US corporations) its oil. For this reason Bush/Cheney will want to maintain US occupation of post-war Iraq until they are certain that US control of its oil is assured.

Why is it okay for the USA to have weapons of mass destruction, but not other nations?

It isn’t, unless you believe that the US has the right to police and control the rest of the world, unopposed. The US would never agree to this, if we were the nation looking down the barrel of a nuclear arsenal, being pointed at us by a bully bigger, stronger, and richer than ourselves. The rest of the world does not accept the right of the US to dominate, based on power created by military threat.