November 1, 1999


While tens of thousands of Iraqis, mostly children and the aged, were being starved to death by the U.S./Allied embargo, a few hundred of their countrymen were meeting in a fancy New York City hotel, feasting on canapés and listening to Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) bloviate about how he wanted to turn most of Iraq into a "no drive zone." Playing to his audience, which consisted mostly of Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims, Brownback asked "if we are unwilling to tolerate an attack on the Kurds" by Saddam's Republican Guards, then "why should [an attack] on Shi'ites or Sunni be more acceptable? We should provide the same protection in the south as we do in the north." Thus opened what was described by the organizers as "the largest and most inclusive" meeting of the Iraqi opposition in exile since 1992 – in effect, a proposal to make all of Iraq a "no live" zone. The assembled Iraqi "patriots" thunderously applauded the destruction of their own people, while sipping coffee and digging into dessert – courtesy of the US taxpayers, of course.


Brownback was followed by "War Crimes Ambassador" David Scheffer, who set a world record for condensing a maximum amount of hypocrisy into a minimum number of words, declaring: "You and the Iraqi people you represent often have firsthand information of what Saddam is doing. It is important for the world to hear accurate and reliable reports of ongoing crimes Saddam is continuing to commit against the Iraqi people. The truth is our ally, and Saddam's enemy." What about the accurate and reliable reports of the UN, and private humanitarian organizations, which document the humanitarian catastrophe inflicted on the Iraqi people by draconian US sanctions? These inhuman sanctions forbid the importation of baby food – no doubt classified as a "weapon of mass destruction" by Mad Madeleine Albright and the pinstriped crowd. The truth is that the US and its allies are systematically annihilating two generations of Iraqis: the very young and the very old. And that truth is the mortal enemy of the US and its Iraqi proxies, no matter how much they try to shift the blame to Saddam.


BTW – What's up with the "War Crimes Ambassador" stuff? Now there is a truly Orwellian title for a government bureaucrat to put on his office door. For a nation that has committed so many war crimes of late – in Yugoslavia, where thousands of civilians were wantonly bombed from high altitudes; in Iraq; and in the Sudan – the sheer arrogance of this office and its occupant is nothing less than demonic.


Whatever crimes Saddam has committed against his people will be for them alone to judge. As Iraqi children drop like flies in winter, starved to death or felled by easily preventable diseases, Scheffer should be investigating his own government – the real war criminals in this case. In an important sense, the chief function of the "War Crimes Ambassador" is not to merely denounce the alleged "war crimes" of others, it is to divert attention away from our own. This can never work inside Iraq, of course, but then it is not intended to: this conference was put on for public consumption in the US, as part of an ongoing effort to build a political consensus for renewed military action in the Gulf. And it may be coming sooner than you think, but we'll get to that in a minute. Meanwhile . . .


Will someone please write and tell me where oh where in the Constitution is the President empowered to appoint a "War Crimes Ambassador"? Good God, the whole world already knows that the American government's hypocrisy knows no bounds – do we have to flaunt it so brazenly? With all this brouhaha about the allegedly massive numbers of "isolationists" in Congress, one would think that at least a few of them could be rounded up to rid us of this insufferably pretentious and inherently imperial office. But that, I suppose, is asking too much.


The conference was sponsored by the Iraqi National Congress, an organization entirely funded by the US taxpayers and with no known support inside Iraq. Although all Iraqi opposition groups were invited, 11 boycotted the event, including the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, with offices in London, Kurdistan – and Teheran. With less than 10,000 guerrillas based in Iran, the Islamic Resistance claims to represent millions of Shi'ite Muslims in southern Iraq, and has received not only sanctuary but also weapons and other assistance by the Iranian government. In extending this invitation, the US government was letting it be known, through its proxies, that it was up for a de facto U.S.-Iranian alliance against Saddam – a move with important geopolitical implications for the region.


The much-heralded U.S.-Iranian rapprochement – which started with secret arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims facilitated by the US, and culminated in the Islamization of Kosovo by the KLA and its American-piloted air force – is proceeding apace. Although Iranian "moderates" can only go so far in openly allying with the hated Americans, simple geography may win out over ideology: for the US is also targeting the Taliban, in nearby Afghanistan, which is contesting with the mullahs of Teheran for the loyalties of Islamic radicals around the world.


The fiery radicals of the Taliban, originally a student movement born in the religious schools of Pakistan, look with disdain at the Iranian satellite dishes that allow Western decadence to flow into the country unchecked: if you remember, one of the first acts of the Taliban, upon taking power, was to organize a mass smashing of the nation's television sets, a kind of electronic Kristallnacht (or "Night of Broken Glass"), in which Afghanistan was purged of the pernicious influence of CNN, Baywatch, and the coming out of Ellen.


From that moment on, the American media began to zero in on the Taliban as the number one enemy of human rights in the world: their religious beliefs regarding the role of women were particularly held up to critical scrutiny, and various feminist groups called for "humanitarian intervention" and even UN-sponsored economic sanctions. And there you have the ultimate trans-national trans-ideological coalition: the heirs of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the heiresses of Betty Friedan.


If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then the Iranians may have yet another reason to throw in their lot with the Americans. Their reward: a piece of Iraq, probably in the south, where a Shi'ite "Islamic Republic" could be declared as soon as the invasion starts. That the Islamic Resistance refused the invitation to the conference is the equivalent of saying to the Americans: we can do it without you. For what is to stop the Iranians from moving in just as soon as the Gulf War begins anew?


Also in attendance at this propaganda gabfest was Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Nebraska), who pledged to the delegates that the US remains "fully committed to providing the opposition both inside and outside of Iraq the tools needed to bring democracy to the Iraqi people." Kerrey is the author of the "Iraq Liberation Act," which shovels millions of your tax dollars into the rathole inhabited by the perpetually squabbling and far-from-democratic Iraqi opposition. The following few lines of Senator Kerrey's speech ought to make the hairs on the back of your head stand at attention: "I believe that this historic gathering of Iraqi leaders can take place in Baghdad next year," the Senator said. "I will pray for that to happen."


Senator Kerrey is praying for war with Iraq, perhaps before the year is out – and there is every reason to believe that his prayers may very well be answered. The low-level escalation of the bombing raids over Iraqi cities has been so continuous that the news media have practically ceased reporting it, and it wouldn't take much to ratchet it up. The US is building a new base in Qatar, right on the Gulf, and expanding existing facilities, although not without complaints from the Arab sheiks who maintain their shaky rule against growing fundamentalist opposition. The capability to wage another war in the Gulf is being openly assembled, and this gathering of the Iraqi Fifth Column in New York, combined with the vagaries of the American political calendar, is an ominous portent.


As I write this, we have exactly 1 year, 81 days, 14 hours and 43 minutes until William Jefferson Clinton is safely out of the White House: the closer we get to Zero Hour, the closer, I believe, we get to war. Will his legacy be a sperm-stained dress, or the "liberation" of Iraq? This is the question Clinton faces as the countdown to the end of his term continues. The question is, where will the most warlike President of modern times strike next? But we are already striking at Iraq, practically every week, and this proposed alliance with Iranian-trained fundamentalist warriors – as in Bosnia – could well be the prelude to a new regional war.


The militant Islamic groups, as well as the Iraqi government, were contemptuous of the INC's pretensions: "The Americans deal with the Iraqi issue according to their goals," he said. "They called for the meeting because they could not do anything on the ground," sniffed Bayan Jabr, the Syria representative of the Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. "Real opposition should be in the field. Overthrowing Saddam cannot be done miles away." Oh, but it can – miles above the ground, that is, in the skies over Iraq, as American bombers drop their "payloads" on the heads of a martyred people. As a warrior, Bayan Jabr assumes that the New York convocation was the gathering of an army, meant to fight and overthrow Saddam. But this was an army of administrators, the functionaries of a government that has not yet taken power. If they ever do make it to Baghdad, it will be on the backs of US Army tanks, and not as the result of a popular uprising.


As I argued in a recent column reporting on a similar conference involving the Serbian opposition, the US uses its bought-and-paid-for "opposition" groups much as the old Soviet Union treated the member parties of the Communist International – as potential fifth columnists rather than aspiring revolutionaries, more akin to East Germany's Walter Ulbright and Poland's General Jaruzelski (or, if you prefer, the Nazi analogy, Vidkung Quisling and Field Marshall Petain) than George Washington and the Founding Fathers.


Once US troops occupy Baghdad, Washington is going to need native satraps to carry out its orders – under the guise of "democracy," what else? Thus, although the Iraqis are due to receive some military training, eventually, the bulk of the money is going to give the Iraqis lessons in "democracy." According to news reports, "beginning Monday, four Iraqi opposition leaders are expected to begin classes on democracy in Florida, with more to follow." While the future leaders of Iraq loll about on the beach, listening to audiotapes of Madeleine Albright's speeches, reading the complete works of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and undergoing what Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon described as "non-lethal training," sanctions squeeze the very life out of the Iraqi people, and the noose around their nation's neck draws ever tighter.

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, “China and the New Cold War”

“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.

Archived Columns

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

Sign up for our Mailing List


Please Support

A contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration and its allies in Congress. And now, for a limited time, donors of $40 or more receive a copy of Ronald Radosh's classic study of the Old Right conservatives, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism. Send contributions to
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form

Your Contributions are now Tax-Deductible

Back to Home Page | Contact Us