same crowd who last year were signing petitions pleading
with Bill Clinton launch a "ground invasion" were
in 1991 fiercely attacking George Bush for ending the so-called
"turkey shoot" just two days after the entry of
US forces into Kuwait. The United States was allowing Saddam’s
military machine to escape! That the Iraqi army ran away
as soon as they saw the US forces arrived did nothing to
dim the ardor of the armchair warriors. Had George Bush
heeded their hysterical advice there would have been many
more incidents like the ones Seymour
Hersh describes. Waging a war against people who are
fleeing for their lives is certainly not the bravest of
enterprises and has a tendency of being somewhat bloody.
There is a sight even less edifying that that of a conquering
army beating the living daylights out of much weaker opponents
thanks to its infinitely superior weaponry. And that is
the self-righteous zeal by which it justifies every atrocity
with tales of "Hitlers" who need to be stopped
in their tracks. Imagine the horrors that would have taken
place during the seizure and occupation of Baghdad! US forces
would still be there today, alternately hoisting into
and kicking out of power a variety of stooges, sneaks
and toadies. In the meantime, Human Rights Watch would be
telling us about how dramatically the human rights situation
has improved. US AID and the National Endowment for Democracy
would be busily funding fraudulent elections in which only
pro-American Arabs could take part. George Soros and Rupert
Murdoch would take over the media outlets and feed the hapless
Iraqis a steady diet of soaps, quiz shows, sport, talk shows…oh
and lectures about "democracy."
the brutality of the Gulf War was as nothing compared to
the murderous onslaught on Yugoslavia. Lawful force is rarely
as lethal as unlawful force. In 1990, unlike last year,
the United States had some justification in going to war.
The initial act of aggression back then was perpetrated
by Iraq. Last year the initial act of aggression was perpetrated
by the United States. Whatever one may think of the Al Sabah
fiefdom known as the state of Kuwait, it was a sovereign
member of the United Nations. It had every right in international
law to invoke Article 51 and ask any nation in the world
to come to its defense. In addition, the force that the
United States used to dislodge the occupying Iraqi army
was in accordance with a number of United Nations Security
Council Resolutions. Unlike every other Administration since
the Second World War, that of George Bush sought and obtained
Congressional authorization for US military action. All
this, needless to say, served to enrage the warriors at
the Wall Street Journal and National Review.
They foamed at the mouth at the notion of a United States
bound by international law. As they see it, the United States
should be able to do whatever it wants to do whenever and
wherever it wants to do it, and that’s all there is to it.
Nor should any President bother about going to Capitol Hill
to seek the support of the "535 Secretaries of State"
to use the cliché of those years. Thus began
the "neo-conservative" flirtation with Bill Clinton.
it had something to do with the personalities involved,
but the ‘neo-conservatives" proved to be an extraordinarily
ungrateful lot. For Bill Clinton gave them the US foreign
policy of their dreams. Unlike George Bush, Clinton has
never bothered with the United Nations. The daily bombing
of Iraq that the United States has been carrying out for
the better part of the last decade has never been authorized
by the United Nations. The sanctions on Iraq remain in place,
even though the majority of the UN Security Council wants
them gone. Neither the UN Security Council nor Congress
ever authorized the aggression against Yugoslavia. Clinton’s
world like theirs is full of "rogue states"
and "falling dominoes."
Clinton’s war and George Bush’s war did have something in
common. Both wars served as pretext for the assertion of
US imperial power. Iraq had invaded Kuwait. Though there
was legal justification for going to war, the fact is we
do not go to war every time one country invades another.
Even the newly-aggrandized Iraq posed no threat to the United
States. Iraq may have posed a threat to Saudi Arabia. But
the United States has always been heavily committed to the
survival of the Royal House of Saud. It is extremely unlikely
that Saddam Hussein would have tried his luck against this
US client state. As for Iraq supposedly controlling vast
reserves of oil, basic economics would suggest that there
was little Iraq could do to affect the price of oil. Since
Saddam Hussein badly needed dollars to rebuild his country,
it was highly unlikely that he would want to withdraw oil
from the world markets. If anything, he would have probably
overproduced and thus driven down oil prices. In any case,
even if he had withdrawn oil from the world markets, there
were enough producers to make up for the shortfall. To be
sure, there was always the possibility that the ungrateful
Saudis would have teamed up with Iraq to cut back oil production
and thus drive up world prices. No doubt it was just this
sort of independent policy making on the part of its client
states that the United States sought to avert when it launched
the war on Iraq. Crushing Iraq would ensure United States
dominance in the region for decades to come.
is why the pre-Gulf War diplomacy was as meaningless as
the Rambouillet "talks" though perhaps
not quite so transparently dishonest. Just before the War,
there was an opportunity that would have allowed Iraq to
withdraw completely from Kuwait without the launch of a
single cruise missile. Columnists and editorial writers
shrieked that this would be interpreted by the world as
a victory by Saddam. It would be a shot in the arm for the
ailing Soviet Union. Yet it was obvious that the Iraqis
wanted out. Nonetheless, the Bush Administration rejected
any possibility of a peaceful resolution that would have
denied the United States the opportunity to exert itself.
As it turned out, the Gulf War was a huge disappointment.
After all the scare stories about Saddam as the latest "Hitler"
and his invincible war machine, all we saw was Arab boys
running for their lives. A somewhat shocked George Bush
put an end to the pointless slaughter.