Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo
Will they never leave Iraq in peace? From Operation Desert Storm, unleashed against Iraq by President George Bush, up to the present moment, the attack on Iraq has been relentless. As I write these words, a report of a U.S. sortie over Iraqi skies and a clash with Iraqi antiaircraft guns is hitting the wires, yet another skirmish in the continuous low-level warfare that has plagued this unfortunate people for nearly a decade. The other day, they bombed the Al-Zanaziq elementary school, in Mosul, in the northern region of the country. Three children Heba Khalid Mahmoud, 3, mena Omar Zuhair, 4, and Ahmed Mahmoud Jameel, 4 were among eight Iraqis injured. According to the Associated Press, "a U.S. military spokesman at Incirlik base in southern Turkey, "refused to discuss what was hit or where."
Such is the wanton criminality of our rulers that they do not even bother to deny the monstrousness of their crimes. Without shame or regret, but with implacable indifference to human life, they have wreaked their vengeance on the Iraqi people with special attention paid to the children of Iraq. These little ones have borne the brunt of the Draconian sanctions imposed on Iraq: the San Jose Mercury News recently reported that the embargo on basic food items and medical supplies kills 4,000 children every week. If the Serbs were doing this to the Bosnians, or the Kosovars, we would have Christiane Amanpour on the spot, weeping and wailing and lecturing us with all her might. As it is, the silence is deafening: oh, there have been a few voices raised, on the editorial pages of a few newspapers, notably the Orange County Register, some members of Congress have raised their voices, including Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) and Ron Paul (R-TX). But both parties, as well as our brain-dead party-lining media, are implicated in the ongoing genocide being carried out against the Iraqi people.
A pause, here, to reflect on a word choice: genocide. A very strong word, very much overused, and so far from its original meaning that it now seems to include the 4,500 total dead uncovered in Kosovo's alleged "mass graves" (and that number includes both Albanians and Serbs). I deliberately avoid using certain words, on these grounds alone, and genocide is among them but what else can we call a policy that seeks to starve an entire generation to death?
So far, according to the UN the initiators and enforcers of this barbaric policy over a million Iraqis, mostly children and the elderly, have perished as a result of the sanctions. The moral posturing at the heart of the so-called Clinton Doctrine, declared a US "right" to intervene anywhere in the world, if and when people were being killed on account of their ethnicity. Well, then, it is time for the US to intervene, once again, on humanitarian grounds against itself. For why else are 4,000 children dying a week if they were not Iraqis, they would be alive today.
The December 7 air attacks were supposedly in "retaliation" for an earlier incident in which Iraqi antiaircraft opened fire on US and British planes patrolling "no fly zone." When state department official Strobe Talbott declares that the concept of national sovereignty is "obsolescent," this is pooh-poohed on the grounds that it is just hifalutin' talk. But is it? Just look at the former Yugoslavia and at the unilateral annexation of a third of Iraqi airspace under the "legal" authority of the United Nations.
The low-level military campaign has been quietly ratcheted up, and the administration is busy organizing those few and fractious Iraqi opposition groups that will cooperate with the hated Americans. This is happening as the storm clouds of yet another crisis loom on the horizon, and the UN Security Council once again take up the debate over Iraqi sanctions. The US and Britain, using the compliant Dutch as their attorneys, are pressing the issue of renewed weapons inspections. A resolution written by Western diplomats and pushed by the US and Britain stipulates that the Iraqis undergo yet another long series of trials and delays before sanctions are lifted and, even then, only on the condition that Iraq allow in yet another team of "observers" in the endless hunt for alleged "weapons of mass destruction."
After years of rooting around in Iraq, inspecting presidential palaces and poking their noses into the offices of the ruling Batth Party, you would have thought they would have found something. But these much-touted inspectors have come up with little more than rumor and innuendo. After examining every square inch of Iraqi territory by satellite and other means, what are they really hoping to find?
One imagines a brace of nuclear missiles, hidden somewhere amid the the bombed-out rubble, and no doubt aimed directly at the offices of the New York Post. With John Podhoretz kicked out on his neocon butt, however, perhaps Baghdad will consider other targets: God knows there are plenty of other candidates.
Russia, China, and France all agree that the sanctions must be lifted, but Yeltsin has taken the standout position, demanding a total lifting of the sanctions prior to Iraq agreeing to arms inspections. But the US, Britain, the Netherlands, and Canada have been putting tremendous pressure on the recalcitrant Security Council members to get with the program or get ready for unilateral "Allied" action. The resolution now before the Council would create a new Iraqi arms control bureaucracy to be called the United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission : UNMOVIC Now here is an acronym that perfectly describes the response of Western governments to widespread condemnation of their genocidal policies, from the Vatican and the US Council of Catholic Bishops, and pundits and political leaders spanning the spectrum. Unmoved by appeals to either mercy or justice, our remorselessly amoral leaders have embarked on a policy that will one day rank as among the most horrific war crimes in history.
The demonic cruelty of our policymakers is underscored by the text of the proposed UN resolution, which is designed to delay the lifting of sanctions as long as possible. The new bureaucracy will take its sweet time to get up and running, with a chairman appointed 30 days after passage of the resolution. The commission then has 60 more days to draw up a "work plan" that is, set up the hoops the Iraqis are expected to jump through before we agree to stop starving their children to death. A draft version of the UN resolution gives the commission 180 days to make a decision after its report is issued, and there will be more delay in actually reopening trade routes and getting Iraqi oil to market. Meanwhile, how many more children will have died? With at least six months before the commission will even consider lifting the sanctions, and at 4,000 dead babies a week well, you do the math.
Compared to this, what Slobodan Milosevic did in Kosovo was a pinprick: this is a beheading. If what is happening in Iraq is not genocide, then the word had best be retired from the English language, since it no longer serves any useful purpose.
The US, Britain, and their allies on the Security Council are demanding a vote on a resolution Iraq is certain to reject. This would open up Iraq to another wave of assaults perhaps a concerted and overwhelming attempt to solve the Iraqi Question once and for all. The two major Republican candidates for President have already weighed in on this question, with Dubya strongly hinting that military action would be in the offing if only he were the commander-in-chief, while McCain energetically outdoes him in the warmongering department by openly declaring that we ought to take Baghdad to the fervent applause of his media coterie.
A coalition of Russia, China, and France have lobbied for a relaxation of the sanctions, with Russia championing the Iraqis and demanding the lifting of all sanctions. The Iraqis, for their part, have declared that they will not endure one more day of this criminal barbarity, and have several times stopped the limited sales of their oil in protest, driving up prices of crude on the world market just enough to remind everyone who profits from the absence of Iraqi oil on the market why, the oil companies, naturally enough. The same oil companies who are slavering over the Caucasus and backing the Republican heir presumptive. What a coincidence.
A nameless diplomat cited in the Washington Post put it this way: "We are finishing the chess game and beginning the poker game. And everybody thinks everybody else is bluffing." While the Allies are almost certainly not bluffing, the Russians almost certainly are just ask the Serbians, who were sold down the river for considerably more than thirty pieces of silver, as the Swiss bank accounts of the Russian gangster regime filled up with Western "aid." But this time, it seems, the Russians are being paid in a different coin . . .
The kind of maneuvering that is now going on was summarized rather succinctly by the headline of a New York Times article: "Russia Offers to Bargain on Chechnya, Using Iraq as Its Bait," by Judith Miller [November 19, 1999]. While in Istanbul, at the big OSCE summit, Yeltsin did everything short of pulling a Khruschev and pounding his shoe on the table. But away from the cameras, an in vivid contrast to this very public tantrum, the real story was Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov making kissy-poo with Maddy Albright. The sordid details of the romance were recorded in a Russian official document, submitted to Albright, which suggests that in return for not bringing up Chechnya at the Security Council "which is unacceptable to us" Moscow promised to be "ready to instruct the Russian representative to the Security Council to be flexible on Iraq."
One would have thought that this administration having just announced the Clinton Doctrine pledging protection of racial minorities against "ethnic cleansing" would have gotten up on its high horse at the first signs of a Russian invasion of Chechnya. Even if the prospect of direct Western intervention on behalf of the Chechens is highly unlikely, the Clintonian denunciations of the invasion have been soddly restrained i.e. just not like them at all. What gives? A free hand for the Russians in Chechnya in exchange for the Allied dismemberment of Iraq it is not hard to see such a bargain being struck between two old crooks like Clinton and Yeltsin.
Without Russia's veto, the UN resolution would provide a "legal" pretext for renewed US -British military intervention. By refusing to let in a new "inspection" team, and declaring that the materials requested by the commission have long since been destroyed, the Iraqis are saying: better to die in battle, than to watch your children and elderly parents slowly waste away.
With the threat of a Russian veto effectively neutralized, such a battle seems imminent, as the US and Britain push for passage and implementation of yet another warmaking UN resolution. The Iraqi newspaper Babil, whose publisher is Saddam's eldest son, predicted that hostilities would begin sometime before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which begins between the 7th and the 9th of December. Whether Saddam Jr. may have merely consulted Babil's resident astrologer, or heard something at the dinner table, is up for speculation. But nothing would surprise me as far as US policy toward Iraq goes. The sheer savagery of that policy, which has to mean the death of so many thousands of innocents, shows that the ruling elites mean business and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
Speaking of stopping at nothing we interrupt this column to bring you an alarming news report: there has been an attempted hacking of this website, involving a cybernetic assault on our server. The hacking attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, but the criminal creeps responsible did succeed in breaking into and damaging our email system. To add mystery to mayhem, my own personal email system was shut down, and rendered inaccessible an amazing coincidence, or something a little more sinister? I'll leave that to your imagination, because right now I just don't want to go there.
At this point, we are still accessing the damage, and tracking the electronic traces left by the hackers. Whoever the perpetrators were, they weren't very good at what they were doing: just barely competent enough to mess with the email. While the apparent incompetence of our cyber-burglars is enough suggest that they might be government employees, this is hardly enough on which to build a conspiracy theory.
Yet it does make one think. I mean, after all, just look at what the infamous "Cointelpro" program did during the Vietnam war to destabilize antiwar groups, such as the Socialist Workers Party, SDS, and others: infiltration, setups, break-ins, they employed every dirty trick in the book and then some. In the end, of course, they were exposed, and, in testimony before congressional committees, officials of the agencies responsible pledged to never again spy on and intimidate American citizens. Did anybody with even a vague sense of history believe them?
Not that I mean to imply that this is all an Oliver Stone movie, a murky conspiracy involving guys in dark glasses and secret cyber "hit squads." There are all kinds of wackos out there, and you can take your pick. I have often written about the War Party, in capitalized letters, as a kind of symbolic entity subsuming all the different groups, official and unofficial, public and private, that lobby for US military intervention around the globe. I think we have had our first experience with the cybernetic wing of the War Party and it hasn't been pretty.
It is frankly frightening, and sobering, to realize the possible implications of this vicious cyber-attack on Antiwar.com. Frightening, because it makes me realize how much I have made myself a target. I mean, there is my picture right up there on the World Wide Web. Not only that, but I have mentioned the city I happily inhabit and even blabbered on about the street I live on good God, what was I thinking, how could I have been so stupid? I find myself thinking: How could I have made myself such a target? Why oh why did I ever get involved in any of this stuff to begin with I mean, there's somebody out there breaking into my personal email, for godssake. What is the world coming to?
But then I think to myself: oh, snap out of it! Get a grip on yourself. It's probably a bunch of goofy teenagers with nothing better to do you hope! But whoever it is, they won't succeed in demoralizing me: this kind of stuff just makes me more determined than ever that Antiwar.com must continue, no matter what.
A coven of cybernetic vandals can attack the new media with impunity yet imagine if this happened to a print journal, say, The Nation: say a bunch of vandals broke into their offices and trashed the place. What an outcry there would be!
I have been optimistic about the future of Antiwar.com. Every week the number of individual visitors rises. We have been getting unprecedented exposure: Yahoo now regularly features original material generated by us on its various news pages, and our pieces have been reprinted and linked everywhere from the London Times to the Buchanan for President website, effectively doubling our "circulation" (to use the armchair terminology of the print media for a moment) inside of a few months. But this vicious attack means that we will have to invest a lot more time, resources, and money into building an effective defense. We had feared that this would happen, sooner or later, and I was not at all surprised when I heard the news yet I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, and, for the first time, a twinge of . . . fear. Fear that we would become a target of God know who or what; fear that this would mean the diversion of very scarce resources and fear that this is just the beginning.
We are working now to track down the person or persons responsible for this cowardly attack a sneak attack carried out, ironically enough, on the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Now, that is good for a laugh but, also, good for a lesson. We are taking defensive measures, investing time, resources, and assets in making our site impregnable to attack. In fighting for peace, we must prepare for war cyberwar, that is.
We are appealing to you, our readers and supporters, to help us through this emergency. We need your help now, more than ever before. This is going to cost us bucks, and frankly we don't have it. Indeed, we have barely enough money to pay up our obligations for another month or so, and that is it. So I am making my pitch in the only way I know how directly to you, through this column. I've done it before, but this time, you'll note, there's a real note of urgency and, yes, a note of fear. To the omnipresent fear that my fund appeals will fall on deaf ears is added a new one the fear that we will be shut down by the cost of defending ourselves from whatever creeps are messing with our site.
Every antiwar movement of any consequence has been harassed by groups of vigilantes, as well as government agencies indeed, during World War I there was virtually no distinction to be made between official and unofficial agencies of repression. The opposition to US entry into World War II was demonized, and then indicted, unceremoniously driven out of public life. Private spy agencies, such as the one operated by the pro-interventionist "Friends of Democracy," operating in conjunction with the British intelligence operation in the US, smeared and actively sought to infiltrate and disrupt the antiwar America First Committee. (See Thomas E. Mahl's Desperate Deception : British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44. During the cold war, the national security state evolved an entire apparatus to deal with domestic opposition to US foreign policy, with a network of spies, moles, snitches, and provocateurs that rivaled in scope and expense that of any ostensibly "totalitarian" nation. That some of these people were "freelancers" did not make any difference: they acted as if they were government agents, and often in coordination with them, in some cases for money, in others out of ideological fervor, and very often both.
The antiwar movement of the new millennium is facing a new kind of attack: instead of throwing a rock through the plate-glass window of a bookstore, or trashing an office, they're hacking our site, breaking into our email, and proving that there is such a creature as a cyber-barbarian.
Remember that 15-year-old "hacker" who wrote "peace now" or something to that effect on the White House website? Well, that poor kid is going to do time! Does a similar fate await the cyber-vandals who invaded our server? Stay tuned and keep reading because we need your help more than ever. And I mean your financial help, as well as your moral support. Not only is the War Party on the offensive, but the bill collector is at the door. We're fighting a two-front war and we can't win it without your contributions. Faced with a campaign of harassment, and mounting bills, we are asking for you, our loyal readers and supporters, to come through for us one more time. I know you won't let us down.
Just click here to contribute over the Internet or you can send in your contribution by mail. However and in whatever amount you plan to make your contribution, remember that old typing drill: "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party." Of course, today, any typing drill taught this way would soon be revised to read "all good men and women" but never mind. The point is that now is the time to come to the aid of your party the Peace Party, whose standard we have raised cyberspace. With your help, we can keep the flag flying.
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