Iraq II:  The Wrath of Cheney!

OK, I'll talk about the upcoming war. 

I don't think it's going to happen.

I think that on November 5th, the day after the elections, the war talk will begin to subside, the US will say that Saddam is complying or that the UN will handle it or some such.  That is just how cynical I have become over the last few years.  For a man who said he was coming to Washington to be bi-partisan, Bush has put some of the most die hard Rebloodlicans on his front lines, and they fan out with talking points to the news networks and Sunday gasbag shows with ruthless efficiency.  Besides, whenever Clinton did anything about Iraq, the exact same people saying we need to strike before the election were they ones saying the Clinton would attack Iraq to distract people from Monica Lewinski.

And as time has shown, a horrible economy is far more dangerous to a member of the Bush family than Monica Lewinski was to the Clinton family.

However, this shouldn't be about past Presidencies even if Bush did say in a fund raising speech that "Saddam tried to kill my Daddy."  Which warms my heart as a lover of pop-culture, since our international policy is being made with all the loving care and forethought of a Kung Fu picture. 

It should be about why the rush to War is a bad idea, and why the US striking with provocation for the first time in the country's history is not the best decision to make right now.  I am far from alone in this thinking, as the world outside the US is practically jumping up and down shouting "Slow down, dammit!" to Bush any way they can. 

Before I get tarred with the peacenik brush, I think that US military force has done some pretty damn good things. 

The first Gulf War, while preventable long before Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait if we hadn't been asleep at the wheel, was a just use of military force.  Hussein sent his troops into Kuwait, claimed their bank accounts to try and pay his debts from his decade long war with Iran, and was a threat to international peace.  As with most wars, it got muddy (we told the people of Iran to rise up, just like we are telling them now, and didn't give them the promised support) and left things a bit of a mess.

In the Balkans, after years of allowing Slobodon Milosevic to allow his armies to commit genocide, the US finally took action.  This was over the objection of the exact same people saying we should give Bush a blank check to start a war.  The US used a new kind of war, one from the skies, and pushed back the Serbs, who eventually turned on their War Criminal in charge, and he is now before an international court being held accountable for his crimes.  Amazingly, this is how international law is supposed to work, and having read many accounts of what happened during the Balkans wars, the biggest mistake by the US in that conflict was not getting involved sooner.  One soldier I know said that while he was stationed there, he was thanked by citizens, and with tears in his eyes he told me about how families would clutch as his clothing just to touch the man who brought them food and saved their lives.

How can anyone be against that?

The conflict in Afghanistan has turned out pretty much as I predicted it would, much to my dismay. 

Let's be honest, I don't write this stuff hoping that our leaders screw up, but if a guy who makes jokes about beer and pie can see the problems, shouldn't people who get paid to do this stuff do better than me?  We went into Afghanistan, giving the terrorists a good month and a half warning, dropped bombs and paid the Northern Alliance to do the fighting, which means the Warlords who set up shop after Russia got their ass handed to them are back in power.  Oh, we gave the Afghani people food...in containers that looked exactly like the land mines that littered the countryside.  The containers had "Food!" on it in big letters, but in a country with a higher illiteracy rate than at most Texas High Schools, words in English mean about as much to them as the fascination with Yuh-Gi-Oh! means to me.  Most of the high level members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda (the ones who made the decisions) got out of the country and are currently in caves watching TV and saying, "Did you forget about me?"

We haven't even STARTED to bring that country to a level where they can be considered safe, and there are still reports weekly of Taliban and Al Qaeda forces staging attacks.  Never mind the fact that history tells us that when you defeat a country, if you don't help them rebuild, they come back stronger and more resolute...like Germany did in WWII. 

However, we have a short attention span here, brought on by news networks that have to have two or three things on the screen at all times, kids who are drugged on Ritalin until they are old enough for Prozac, ads that are made for hyperactive ferrets on crack, instant everything and the belief that if something in the news lasts longer than the Baseball Playoffs, there better be a celebrity involved.  So, despite not being done in Afghanistan, we're off to Iraq.

Unless you want to be cynical, in which point you would have to say that Dick Cheney said "We can't find Osama Bin Laden?  Fine, we know where Saddam Hussein is!"

Oh, but how dare I draw that connection, how Unpatriotic of me.

Let's go over Bush's points from his speech one by one.

First:  Saddam Hussein is defying International Law and UN sanctions, and we need to use military force to bring him into compliance.

While I agree that UN sanctions should be followed, Israel is defying a set of UN sanctions, as are Russia, China, India, Pakistan and a number of countries in Africa.  South Africa was sanctioned more than any country in the history of the UN during Apartheid, but we didn't rush over there with troops and tell them they had to allow black people to vote and hold land.  As for defying International Law, the US is generally the pot and we are shouting very loudly that the kettle is black.  We took our name off of the International Criminal Court treaty because we don't want US citizens to be held accountable to international law.  

Second:  Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and is willing to give them to terrorists.

Hussein's history shows that he won't give them to terrorists OR ANYONE ELSE!  He trusts no one, works deals with no one and tends to double cross his military partners (just ask Kuwait...or the US when we were his silent partner in the 80's).  He may have weapons of mass destruction, as does Pakistan (who's leader came to power in a Taliban supported military coups and just changed the Constitution so that it was much harder to remove him from power and gave him most of the decision making power), India, and a number of other countries that it would be a damn good idea if they didn't have bullets for their guns. 

To be honest, this reason is why we need to get the inspectors back in the country.  "But Saddam kicked them out because they were getting too close!" I hear you say...but you're wrong.  The US ordered them out of the country during 1998 when we were threatening war during Clinton's Impeachment, and the Saddam refused to let them back in after it was discovered that a number of members of the inspection team were CIA operatives and were reporting their findings to the US instead of the United Nations.  

As a caveat, if Hussein refuses to let the inspectors back in after his public concerns are either addressed (no spies on the team and it's all above board) or dismissed (yes, there will be people from the US on the team, so shut up, sit down and get rid of the Village People facial hair), then there is a good, solid reason to start bombing suspected weapons sites.  War?  I don't know. 

Third:  Al Qaeda operatives are working with Iraq.

This was brought up in a Sunday show on FOX by Condalezza Rice, and again by Bush in his speech on 10/7/2002.  Maybe it's even true.  However, the CIA released a report on Monday saying that there had been no high level contacts between Hussein and Al Qaeda.  White House Spokesman Ari Fliesher said that Al Qaeda operatives had gone to Iraq after leaving Afghanistan...never mind that they were sighted in area controlled by the Kurds, where Iraqi soldiers are not allowed.  Oh, and just so you know, the Kurds?  The ones we left high and dry during the last Gulf War?  They are supposed to be our allies and in Bush's military planes that have been leaked to the press, they are the ones who we will be partnering with during the ground portion of the war.

So much for "You are either with us or you are with the terrorists".

I could pile on, pointing out that Iraq is more like that Balkans than the Balkans, a country arbitrarily made by colonists, filled with ethnic minorities that have no connection to each other and will need a leader who can hold all of those groups together somehow.  Hussein has done it with fear and demagoguery, whipping him people to hate Iran, Kuwait and finally the US to hold power. 

I could point out that the Bush People have publicly said they are not in the business of nation building, but if they impose a "regime change", SOMEONE is going to have to do the heavy lifting of bringing the country food, medicine and into the 20th Century, something we are failing at miserably in Afghanistan. 

I could point out that Israel, who sat on its hands during the last Gulf War so as not to create an all out World War now has a leader who stays in power by keeping the country in a constant state of chaos and has said that if Iraq fires a single missile at them, they will strike back with all the force they have. 

I could point out that the Bush Administration's plan of "we send in a few troops and the people will rise up" is the same plan used at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba and North Vietnam.  Since Fidel is still happily giving speeches just a bit longer than this droning, that plan isn't exactly a winner.

Oh.  Wait.  I just did.  That's a really bad literary device.  If you have a better one, let me know, because at this point I'm just talking to myself and Ted Rall anyway.

Anyway, I just want people to think about one thing.  Why is it, that if Saddam has been defying these sanctions for 11 years, and working on weapons in secret for 4 years, we need to take action before November 4th, when Bush's people have set as the deadline for Congress to act?

Just a quick reminder, November 4th is Election Day, so forget about how your 401 (K) has done so poorly it's now a 101 (F).  Forget than unemployment among people are 25 - 40 is higher than it was during the recession of 1990-1992.  Forget about how the CEO culture is so corrupt that rap record producers look at them and go "Damn, those guys are sleazy."

Forget all that stuff, because there's a war on.

And to be honest, I'm starting to think that there will always be a war on.

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