Three weeks ago, when the New York Times disclosed detailed plans drawn up by the Pentagon for a physical invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration took great pains to reassure the world that these were only contingency plans and that the government had taken no decision as of now to invade Iraq. However, a spate of articles by members of various Washington think-tanks, published in the Times, The Washington Post and other newspapers since then, shows that this is not true. On the contrary, in Washington it is now common knowledge that the Bush administration has all but made up its mind to launch an air-cum-ground attack from bases in as many as eight neighbouring countries most probably in January. Typical of such writing is an article by Robert S. Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. It takes an invasion of Iraq and the physical removal of Saddam Hussein as inevitable and concentrates on warning the US administration that it can't simply 'bug out' after a few months or a year, leaving the job of 'putting Iraq back together again to the United Nations or to Europe or, perhaps, to Iran'. Instead, he urges the US to make 'a commitment in Iraq and the Middle East not unlike the commitment it made in Japan more than half a century ago'. Another article, by David Phillips of the Council for Foreign Relations (which publishes the journal Foreign Affairs), warns the Bush administration against making a botched effort to replace Saddam, on the grounds that this would leave the Iraqi Kurds, for whom he has a special concern, worse off than they were before.
These, and a score of other articles published over the past three months, share several common features. First, not one of them has questioned the legal or moral right of the US to invade Iraq. Second, none of the writers feels it necessary for the US and its allies to obtain the UN Security Council's sanction for such an invasion. Third, none of them asks the Bush administration to furnish compelling reasons for invading Iraq, with or without UN sanction. Fourth, all of them, tacitly or explicitly, want the US to rule Iraq for as long as is needed to install a democratic regime that is friendly to the West and will behave as the West wants it to. Fifth, not one has questioned the US' moral right, let alone its capacity, to impose a government of its choice upon the Iraqi people. Last, absent in all this writing is even a token bow towards what the Iraqi people might want. It is simply assumed they want to be rid of Saddam and will welcome the Americans as saviours, especially if they come bearing gifts like the lifting of sanctions on Iraq's sale of oil and trade with other nations.
Taken together, these presumptions, even more than the proposed American action, show that if better sense does not prevail we will all soon find ourselves living in a tyrannical world order such as humanity has never known. It will be a world order in which no law shall prevail except the will of the mightiest nation on earth.
What is even more disquieting is the overwhelming support that the building of this new world order project enjoys in the American intelligentsia. Its manifest injustice and cruelty has evoked not a single dissenting voice from the champions of democracy within the US.
The Bush administration has not cast aside all pretence of abiding by international norms. According to it, Iraq's invasion is justified as Iraq violated its treaty obligations when it threw out UNSCOM, the UN body created to supervise the destruction of its capacity to build weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in December 1998, and devoted itself once more to the development of weapons of mass destruction. But by November 1998, when a diligent search in Saddam's palaces for materials that went into the building of WMD turned up nothing, only the US and the ever-faithful UK were still insisting that Iraq had not fulfilled its treaty obligations.Iraq, moreover, threw UNSCOM out only after warning the world it would do this if it was bombed by the US and UK. This the two duly did in December that year.
As for Iraq rebuilding its WMD capacity, Scott Ritter, a former member of UNSCOM and the CIA, told BBC on July 17 that this is simply not possible. Ritter reiterated that by the time he left UNSCOM in 1998, all of Iraq's WMD capability had been destroyed. It was simply inconceivable that Iraq had been able to acquire the equipment needed to rebuild it under the eyes of a watchful world after that. As for the materials that went into biological weapons, he pointed out that these had a shelf life of three years. Even if some had remained unaccounted for in 1998, as the US had then claimed, it was no longer usable.
One is therefore forced to conclude that the Bush administration's accusations are nothing but a fig leaf for an ambitious exercise of brute power whose real goal is the destruction of any nationalist leader or country that has challenged American supremacy, or is likely to do so in coming decades. That this is indeed so is revealed by the plans Bush has mooted for peace in West Asia. The Palestinians can have their state if they first get rid of Yasser Arafat and elect a new leader and government willing to kowtow to Israeli demands. Four years ago, the target of American ire was Slobodan Milosevic. Two years hence, it could be Kim Jong Il of North Korea. Another two years later, it could be Iran. Five or 10 years down the line, it could conceivably be China.
Missing from this grand design is even token consideration for what the people of these countries may want. What if the Iraqi people rally to Saddam Hussein? What if the Palestinians re-elect Arafat, as they seem certain to do? The obvious answer is that they must continue to suffer till they see the error of their ways. Such imperial contempt for lesser peoples has not been known since the days of the German master race.
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