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September 2, 2002

Why the War on Iraq is Just Not Working Out


by Ramzy Baroud

There were many good reasons for the successful "coalition" formed in 1990-91 to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait. None of these reasons are present in today's argument presented by the United States to attack Iraq. The US administration seems unable or unwilling to understand how different the Middle East has become in the last ten years.

Some of those who joined the US-spearheaded coalition back then might have believed in that military action was the only available tool to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, and therefore liberate the oil fields (subsequently Kuwait) from the hands of the Iraqi government.

Others were concerned that not joining the coalition would exclude them from the New World Order, proposed by George Bush senior, and now only used by pro-American wrestlers as a theme for their orchestrated matches between good and evil.

Few, including Arab countries, were little concerned by world orders and were more interested in debt relief, which they got, only to sink deeper.

"Liberating Kuwait" was not as rewarding as those who took part in the world vs. Iraq war hoped. The economic prosperity which they were promised never actualized. Egypt, Turkey and various Gulf countries are suffocating under economic pressure, of which neither Iraqi President Saddam Hussein nor his alleged "Weapons of Mass Destruction" are factors.

The paradise which Middle Eastern governments were promised was nothing but a fantasy, only aimed at tightening the war coalition to include as many countries as possible, therefore to legitimize the war of the "international community".

Israel didn't reap the benefits of the war either, even though we were told that the Jewish state which kept to itself, benefited greatly from the war. The Israeli government is ever convinced that a war that would engulf as many Arab states as possible would always be in its favor, a fact that was never proven. True, Iraq's military capabilities were disabled during the two Gulf Wars, but it was not Iraq who defeated Israel in South Lebanon, but a small group of resistance fighters that hardly exceeded a few thousand.

Even the "peace talks" that kicked in almost immediately after the end of the Gulf War in Madrid to initiate the New World Order promoted through the US went nowhere. Ten years later, the US and Israeli governments are being confronted with a fact they insist to ignore, it's justice that precedes a lasting peace, not secret negotiations in some forsaken orchards near Oslo.

The so-called war coalition against Iraq is dismantling. The Arabs diverted from the US leadership and began moving closer toward Baghdad, thanks to the Arab streets that grew agitated from the human catastrophe developing in Iraq and the apathy towards it. The famous embrace in the last Arab summit in Beirut between top Iraqi and Saudi officials was a signal that the coalition, at least on the Arab front is no longer there.

The Europeans, at least most of them are leading more moderate views toward Iraq, growing more interested in joint economic ventures than war. There was also the pressure of those activists throughout the West who oppose the economic sanctions which left incomprehensive devastations on Iraqi children. According to a study by respected UN organization, UNICEF, that was published a few years ago, over half million Iraqis have died as a result of the sanctions alone. Many more must have died since then.

Yet in a time when many are beginning to see positive signs of change, as the sanctions regime was expected to dismantle eventually without a UN resolution, and when Iraq is breaking its isolation by striking economic deals with various Arab and world states, war is resurfacing.

Of course it was the dreadful terrorist attacks of September 11th that breathed life into the extremist branch in the US government, who concluded that war is the best method of resolving America's security problems.

It is certainly not naivety alone that makes many perceive war with such enthusiasm; there are the strong Israeli lobbies that also perceive war as a way out of Israel's problems.

Needless to say, the war on Afghanistan was not enough to convince the American people that New York is more secure because Afghanistan has a coalition government led by a Pashtun. Therefore, a new menace must be presented as the new target after all Osama Bin Laden is nowhere to be found.

Such psychological perceptions of war and security are not convincing enough to form a strong coalition like the one formed in the early 1990's. In fact, there are more reasons that convinced Middle Eastern countries, including the "moderate ones" that a war on Iraq, was not only unnecessary, but would bring devastation to their economies, and would destabilize their own governments as well.

It seems that only US officials and war generals believe that "taking Saddam out" is a good idea. The world however, has matured enough in the last 10 years to realize that Saddam is only an "evil figure" used by the US government to recalculate bad policies that no one approves of.

It's just not a good idea to topple the Iraqi government, which would perhaps lead to the fragmentation of the already devastated Arab country, and most likely to further radicalization of its various sects, just because the American people are not feeling that the war on Afghanistan was rewarding enough, and the US administration is seeking a new venue to continue its "war on terror."

More unsupported claims are dealt with as a matter of fact in the US media about fleeing Al Qaeda fighters who are now stationed in Iraq. Those who understand the ideological differences between the Iraqi regime and Islamic parties must realize the fallacy of such claims, especially as such claims have no reference but the ever ambiguous: "intelligence sources indicated so and so..."

No one said that the US is not capable of fighting a war against Iraq, and maybe topple the government and impose a "democratic one." But no one can claim that even if such a scenario succeeded, that the American people would feel any more secured. It's just policies that bring security to unsecured nations, not the Napalm and the starvation of children. Israel is the best example.


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  • Ramzy Baroud is editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle. His book The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle is now out in paperback.

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