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August 23, 2004

Poor Choice for a Fake Casus Belli


by Gordon Prather

When the Warsaw Pact disintegrated in 1989 – and the Soviet Union two years later – most of us heaved a humongous sigh of relief.

The Cold War was over!

Our "containment" strategy had worked. Now we could begin dismantling thousands of "battlefield" nukes and the scores of overseas bases that had encircled the "Evil Empire." Now we could bring home our soldiers and sailors.

That is, we could have, absent the neo-crazies.

For the neo-crazies – who had been previously been disguised as Cold Warriors – the time was ripe to advance an American Hegemony. To establish a permanent global military presence – by force if necessary – even in countries formerly part of the Evil Empire.

The neo-crazies targeted the Persian Gulf, arguing that the UN Security Council had already authorized us to invade and occupy Iraq..

"Wrong," said Bush the Elder. The Gulf War mandate was merely to eject Saddam Hussein's "annexation" forces from Kuwait and to restore peace to the region.

The neo-crazies had better luck with Bush's successor, Bill Clinton.

And with Congress. The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 declared regime change in Iraq to be a U.S. policy goal and called "upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein."

However, the neo-crazies realized that you soccer moms wouldn't support a war of aggression to effect regime change in Iraq unless you could be convinced that Saddam posed a direct and immediate threat to you.

So, as part of a campaign to convince you that he was, they launched Operation Desert Fox, Clinton's 1998 bombings of Saddam's palaces. They told you Saddam had hidden a nuke-development program beneath those palaces and that UN Security Council Resolution 687 authorized them to use "all necessary means" to destroy it. UNSCR-687 provided no such authority and the real rationale for Operation Desert Fox was to kill Saddam Hussein.

Finally, the neo-crazies hit the jackpot. Clinton's successor, Bush the Younger, came into office, determined to invade and occupy Iraq.

Congress obliged Bush by passing the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of U.S. Armed Forces Against Iraq. Bush was authorized to invade Iraq if he could convince you soccer moms that Saddam Hussein actually had nukes and intended to give them to al-Qaeda.

Of course, congresspersons – including Senator John Kerry – knew when they voted in 1998 and in 2002 that Saddam's nuke program had been unsuccessful, had been destroyed in 1991 and that no attempts had been made to resuscitate it. Saddam's son-in-law – General Hussein Kamel – in charge of Iraq's nuke and chembio weapons programs, had defected in 1995 and documented that, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Action Team had already verified Kamel's story.

Nevertheless, a few months later, Bush invaded Iraq, telling you it was necessary in order to prevent al-Qaeda from nuking you with Saddam's nukes.

The consequence? Without question, the use of Saddam's nonexistent nuke program as a pretense for invading Iraq has vastly increased your chances of being nuked. If for no other reason, North Korea unfroze its "nuclear freeze" and is busily producing nukes for "deterrence" and/or for sale to the highest bidder. Iran may now have decided to follow the North Korean example.

The consequence of "liberating" Iraq needn't have been nukes getting loose, perhaps getting into the hands of terrorists. As far as the neo-crazies were concerned, any excuse would have done. If – for example – the polls had shown that you soccer moms would support an invasion of Iraq if hard, convincing, evidence could be found that Saddam Hussein was producing kiddie porn and posting it on the Internet, then the neo-crazies in the White House and in the Pentagon would have "found" such "evidence."

If kiddie porn had been the casus belli – rather than nonexistent loose nukes – Bush would still have launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. Congress would still have supported the invasion. Billions of dollars would still have been spent and thousands of U.S. troops would still have been killed or maimed.

Of course, Dick Cheney would now be insisting that it didn't really matter that no kiddie porn had been found in Iraq. Yet.

But the authority and effectiveness of the IAEA to "police" the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would not have been undermined, North Korean weapons-grade plutonium would not have gotten "loose," and your chances of getting nuked in your jammies by terrorists would have been much, much less than they now are.


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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