Iraq War 09-25-02
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Editor, The Konformist
Little Boys With Their Toys
By JOHN S. TULLY
Los ANGELES, SEPT. 24, 2002 ---
It has become the age of "muddled thinking" around Washington D.C.
and throughout this great nation. The debate about Mr. Hussein never
materialized and now the war drums are beating hideously loud. No
politician it seems is even questioning the administration's stance
that regime change must take place now. The non-debate is currently
focusing on when to strike and whether the rest of the world will be
This is a time when we are still actively engaged in Afghanistan,
searching for remnants of Al-Quaeda amongst the Taliban regime; one
that still has a viable presence in a country that our troops will be
engaged in for many years to come. In this War On Terrorism Osama Bin
Laden has not been found and dozens of milatary experts can still
find no connection between Al Quaeda and Iraq. The Middle East peace
process is in shambles; the two sides continue to tear one another
apart and there are no concrete plans in place to change this
paradigm. Indeed, Mr. Sharon has declared that he will strike back if
Iraq launches scud missles on Israel as it did during the Gulf War.
Meanwhile, both India and Pakistan have nuclear capability at a time
of increased reports of Al Quaeda presence in both countries. There
is serious uneasiness in the entire region about the ramifications of
a power play in an Islamic country by a foreign power.
Administration officials asked the United Nations for permission to
go back into Iraq and hold meaningful inspections of their weapons
program; permission was granted unconditionally with disarmament
being the ultimate goal. Now it seems that nothing short of a "regime
change" will satisfy officials in the White House and the State
Experts from the milatary, scholars of international diplomacy,
recognized leaders of democratic countries have warned the United
States that an attack on Iraq could be disasterous for the entire
region and in fact the entire globe. Saddam Hussein is a very
dangerous man in a very dangerous neighborhood. Evidence shows that
he does have chemical and biological weapons. There is however
absolutely no conclusive evidence of any kind that Mr. Hussein
has "Weapons of Mass Destruction".
Young American men and women are about to go to a war with Iraq that
may take more lives than that devastating day last September. With
six weeks until the elections United States Congressman and Senators
have fallen silent; their hollow echoes frightening the rest of the
Who will speak up?
Saddam Wins War Against America...In War Game
By Gordon Thomas
America has just lost the war with Saddam.
Its battle fleet in the Gulf was blown out of the water with
Sidewinder missiles. Al-Quaeda terrorists staged suicide attacks on
US carriers. Thirteen thousand crack American troops were decimated.
Using what the Pentagon called "surprise and unorthodox tactics",
Saddam won a resounding victory.
It was the biggest war game in history. But the results have sent
panic bells ringing in the Pentagon.
Now the officer who played "Saddam" has blown the whistle - adding
red faces to the panic buttons.
General Paul "Saddam" Van Riper - a tough-talking much-decorated
Marine - has now heaped further embarrassment on Bush's military
chiefs by castigating "Exercise Millennium Challenge" as one that did
not "auger well for the future".
And - perhaps the worst crime of all in any war game designed to test
the readiness of soldiers, Van Rider accused the US "enemy" he "well
and truly whipped" of cheating.
"Saddam" says that in "the most expensive ever war game - costing
$250 million - US ships were "raised from their watery graves in the
Gulf and allowed back in to join the fight against me"."
Dead "troops" wiped out on computers were "ordered back to life",
said Van Rider in Washington.
"Saddam's" electronic defences were ordered to be switched off by
senior Pentagon officers refereeing the war game.
"Then I was told to use cell phones to communicate. Crazy".
Worse was to follow. As the remnants of the US forces struggled to
make amphibious landings - all on computer simulations - "Saddam" was
ordered, he said, to "look the other way so the US troops could get
ashore. If I hadn't obeyed, we would have stopped them dead in their
"Saddam" had at his disposal a computer generated fleet of small
boats and replicas of Saddam's somewhat outmoded aircraft.
He mobilised them to attack the US fleet "by sending a coded message
in Arabic from the minarets of mosques at the call to prayer".
Watching from his electronic command console, Van Riper felt a sense
of "astonishment" how his ploy worked.
"Sixteen ships were sunk at once. Thousands of marines died. If this
had really happened, it would have been the worst naval disaster
since Pearl Harbour", said Van Riper.
The exercise ended a month ago. But until yesterday the Pentagon have
kept a tight lid on the outcome.
Admiral Cutler Dawson, the commander of the "computer fleet" and in
real life the man who will help launch the US forthcoming naval
attack on Iraq, admitted yesterday that "some things worked, some
things didn't. That's how you learn from a war game".
But Van Riper has ridiculed the whole war game as "rubbish. My own
concern is that our forces showed they are just not yet ready".
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Sneak Attacks and American Aggression
By Marty Jezer, AlterNet
September 11, 2002
Growing up in the Bronx in the years after the Second World War,
there was a game that boys used to play in the schoolyard. One boy
would walk up to another (usually smaller) boy and say, "Let's play
Then he'd grab the kid by the crotch and shout, "Sneak attack!"
Make no mistake about it -- if we launch a unilateral attack on Iraq,
it would be the moral equivalent of the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor. This time, however, we'd be the "Japs." In the eyes of the
world, we'd be the aggressor nation.
To be sure, the idea for such an attack is no longer secret. But
that's only because opponents of an attack inside the Bush
Administration leaked the plans to the New York Times. Subsequent
articles in the Times provoked the current discussion.
If it were up to the Administration, the idea of attacking Iraq would
still be a secret. We'd wake up one morning to televised pictures of
Baghdad being bombed and anti-American demonstrations throughout the
Is an attack on Iraq something we want to be responsible for as a
nation? I agree with Texas Republican Dick Armey who, early in
"If we try to act against Saddam Hussein, as obnoxious as he is,
without proper provocation, we will not have the support of other
nation states who might do so. I don't believe that America will
justifiably make an unprovoked attack on another nation. It would not
be consistent with what we have been as a nation or what we should be
as a nation."
Armey's historical memory is a little warped, however. The United
States has waged unilateral and unprovoked wars a number of times in
its history, and American presidents have ordered military action
without the approval of Congress. The invasion of Grenada was one
such instance. So was the 1961 invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
But the plans for Iraq take brazenness to a dangerous level. A Middle
East conflagration is one probable outcome.
We can learn something from the Bay of Pigs debacle. It too was
supposed to be secret but, as with Iraq, government critics leaked it
to the New York Times. To its confessed regret, the Times sat on the
story. As a result, neither the American people nor Congress, in any
official capacity, knew that an invasion was pending. Without public
discussion, the CIA came to believe its own self-serving propaganda.
President Kennedy approved the invasion on the basis of CIA
assurances that the Cuban people would welcome the invaders and
themselves overthrow the Castro government. Sound familiar? Beware of
government intelligence briefings that reinforce government
ambitions. The Cuban people never rebelled, and Castro, who knew an
invasion was coming, stopped it at the beachhead.
Fidel Castro is no Saddam, despite Bush's nonsensical attempt to tar
him as a terrorist. Successive U.S. governments have more or less
opposed Castro for ideological reasons, not because he has weapons of
mass destruction or threatens Miami. Earlier this year, when the
Administration accused Castro of building biological weapons, the
accusation went no further than the day's headlines. False
accusations and dubbing opponents "evil" do not justify a war of
aggression. So far, Bush's argument for "taking out" Saddam consists
of ad hominem name-calling. This is schoolyard stuff. Just because
Bush can't goose Saddam (and perhaps avenge his father) is no reason
to set Iraq afire.
Public pressure has forced Bush to at least promise to go before
Congress. I take this with a grain of salt. Remember the Tonkin
Resolution? Congress approved an open-ended escalation of the war in
Vietnam because the North Vietnamese supposedly attacked American
naval ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. We now know that the attacks never
happened and that President Johnson knew it was a lie.
A Congressional debate would be useful. I would like to know when
Saddam became the modern-day Hitler that Bush says he is. Was it when
he used chemical weapons against the Kurds and Iranians with our
political support and military assistance? Was it after Senator Bob
Dole went to Baghdad to cut a deal for oil and proclaimed Saddam
(even after he had used those chemical weapons) "a leader to whom the
United States can talk."
Saddam is a brutal dictator, no doubt; and he may or may not be
building dangerous weapons. As Noam Chomsky, a leading critic of
American foreign policy, says, Saddam "is as evil as they come....No
one would want to be within his reach. But fortunately, his reach
does not extend very far."
Iraq is not a U.S. problem. His weapons cannot reach America. Nor is
there any evidence tying him to Osama bin Laden. Saddam is a problem
for the Middle East and for his own people. Bombing people in order
to save them, which is how the U.S. proposed to help the people of
Vietnam, is not likely to win the support of the Iraqi victims. The
United Nations recognizes Saddam as an international outlaw. It's
U.N., not American, weapon inspectors we want back in Iraq. It's U.N.
resolutions, not American laws, that Saddam is flouting.
Without U.N. backing, without sufficient evidence to win support from
our allies, the United States has no right to go to war against Iraq.
If Bush starts a war without congressional backing, he ought to be
impeached for violating the U.S. Constitution. And any member of
Congress who votes for war without U.N. backing ought to be voted out
of office, no matter what his or her party.
Marty Jezer's books include "Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel" and "The
Dark Ages: Life in the U.S. 1945-1960." He writes from Brattleboro,
Vermont and welcomes comments at mjez@....
Untested administration hawks clamor for war
By James Bamford
Beware of war hawks who never served in the military.
That, in essence, was the message of retired four-star Marine Corps
general Anthony Zinni, a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War
and the White House point man on the Middle East crisis. Zinni is one
of a growing number of uniformed officers, in and out of the
Pentagon, urging caution on the issue of a pre-emptive strike against
In an address recently in Florida, he warned his audience to watch
out for the administration's civilian superhawks, most of whom
avoided military service as best they could. ''If you ask me my
opinion,'' said Zinni, referring to Iraq, ''Gen. (Brent) Scowcroft,
Gen. (Colin) Powell, Gen. (Norman) Schwarzkopf and Gen. Zinni maybe
all see this the same way. It might be interesting to wonder why all
of the generals see it the same way, and all those (who) never fired
a shot in anger (and) are really hellbent to go to war see it a
''That's usually the way it is in history,'' he said.
Another veteran, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who served in combat in
Vietnam and now sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, was even
more blunt. ''It is interesting to me that many of those who want to
rush this country into war and think it would be so quick and easy
don't know anything about war,'' he said. ''They come at it from an
intellectual perspective vs. having sat in jungles or foxholes and
watched their friends get their heads blown off.''
The problem is not new. More than 100 years ago, another battle-
scarred soldier, Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman,
observed: ''It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard
the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more
vengeance, more desolation.''
Last month, Vice President Cheney emerged briefly to give several two-
gun talks before veterans groups in which he spoke of ''regime
change'' and a ''liberated Iraq.''
''We must take the battle to the enemy,'' he said of the war on
terrorism. Cheney went on to praise the virtue of military
service. ''The single most important asset we have,'' he said, ''is
the man or woman who steps forward and puts on the uniform of this
But during the bloodiest years of the Vietnam War, Cheney decided
against wearing that uniform. Instead, he used multiple deferments to
avoid military service altogether. ''I had other priorities in
the '60s than military service,'' he once said.
Cheney is far from alone. For instance, neither Paul Wolfowitz, the
deputy Defense secretary, nor Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense
Policy Board, has served in uniform, yet they are now two of the most
bellicose champions of launching a bloody war in the Middle East.
What frightens many is the arrogance, naïveté and cavalier attitude
toward war. ''The Army guys don't know anything,'' Perle told The
Nation's David Corn earlier this year. With ''40,000 troops,'' he
said, the United States could easily take over Iraq. ''We don't need
anyone else.'' But by most other estimates, a minimum of 200,000 to
250,000 troops would be needed, plus the support of many allies.
Even among Republicans, the warfare between the veterans and non-vets
can be intense. ''Maybe Mr. Perle would like to be in the first wave
of those who go into Baghdad,'' Hagel, who came home from Vietnam
with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, told The New York Times.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Vietnam combat veteran and former
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has often expressed anger
about the class gap between those who fought in Vietnam and those who
''I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed
managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units,'' he
wrote in his 1995 autobiography, My American Journey. ''Of the many
tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the
most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and
owe equal allegiance to their country.''
Non-combatants, however, litter the top ranks of the Republican
hierarchy. President Bush served peacefully in the Texas National
Guard. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spent his time in a
Princeton classroom as others in his age group were fighting and
dying on Korean battlefields (he later joined the peacetime Navy).
Another major player in the administration's war strategy, Douglas
Feith, the Defense undersecretary for policy, has no experience in
the military. Nor does Cheney's influential chief of staff, Lewis
The top congressional Republican leaders -- Senate Minority Leader
Trent Lott, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Dick
Armey and House Majority Whip Tom Delay -- never saw military
service, either; only one, Armey, has shown hesitation about invading
Iraq. In contrast, House International Relations Committee Chairman
Henry Hyde, R-Ill., a World War II combat veteran, has expressed
skepticism about hasty U.S. action, as have some prominent Democrats -
- House Minority Whip David Bonior, Senate Majority Leader Tom
Daschle and former vice president Al Gore -- who were in the military
during the Vietnam War.
No administration's senior ranks, of course, have to be packed with
military veterans in order to make good military decisions. But what
is remarkable about this administration is that so many of those who
are now shouting the loudest and pushing the hardest for this
generation's war are the same people who avoided combat, or often
even a uniform, in Vietnam, their generation's war.
Military veterans from any era tend to have more appreciation for the
greater difficulty of getting out of a military action than getting
in -- a topic administration war hawks haven't said much about when
it comes to Iraq.
Indeed, the Bush administration's non-veteran hawks should review the
origins of the Vietnam quagmire. Along the way, they might come
across a quote from still another general, this one William
Westmoreland, who once directed the war in Vietnam.
''The military don't start wars,'' he said ruefully. ''Politicians
James Bamford is author of Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-
Secret National Security Agency and a member of USA TODAY's board of
Byrd Charges Bush's War Plans Are A Coverup
By Paul J. Nyden
Charleston Gazette Staff Writer
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said President Bush's plans to invade
Iraq are a conscious effort to distract public attention from growing
problems at home.
"This administration, all of a sudden, wants to go to war with Iraq,"
Byrd said. "The [political] polls are dropping, the domestic
situation has problems.... So all of a sudden we have this war talk,
war fervor, the bugles of war, drums of war, clouds of war.
"Don't tell me that things suddenly went wrong. Back in August, the
president had no plans.... Then all of a sudden this country is going
to war," Byrd told the Senate on Friday.
"Are politicians talking about the domestic situation, the stock
market, weaknesses in the economy, jobs that are being lost, housing
Byrd warned of another Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Passed on Aug. 7,
1964, that resolution handed President Lyndon Johnson broad powers to
escalate the war in Vietnam, a conflict that cost 58,202 American
lives and millions of Asian lives.
"Congress will be putting itself on the sidelines," Byrd told the
Senate. "Nothing would please this president more than having such a
blank check handed to him."
Byrd said his belief in the Constitution will prevent him from voting
for Bush's war resolution. "But I am finding that the Constitution is
irrelevant to people of this administration."
Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., both praised
Byrd after he spoke.
"It is the height of patriotism to ask such hard questions," Clinton
said. "No one exemplifies that more than the senior senator from West
Byrd said, "Before the nation is committed to war, before we send our
sons and daughters to battle in faraway lands, there are critical
questions that must be asked. To date, the answers from the
administration have been less than satisfying."
Byrd repeatedly said Bush has failed to give members of Congress any
evidence about any immediate danger from Iraq. Byrd also criticized
his speech to the United Nations.
"Instead of offering compelling evidence that the Iraqi regime had
taken steps to advance its weapons program, the president offered the
U.N. more of a warning than an appeal for support.
"Instead of using the forum of the U.N. General Assembly to offer
evidence and proof of his claims, the president basically told the
nations of the world that you are either with me, or against me,"
"We must not be hell-bent on an invasion until we have exhausted
every other possible option to assess and eliminate Iraq's supposed
weapons of mass destruction program. We must not act alone. We must
have the support of the world."
Byrd said Congress needs solid evidence and answers to several
specific questions, including:
* Does Saddam Hussein pose an imminent threat to the U.S.?
* Should the United States act alone?
* What would be the repercussions in the Middle East and around the
* How many civilians would die in Iraq?
* How many American forces would be involved?
* How do we afford this war?
* Will the U.S. respond with nuclear weapons if Saddam Hussein uses
chemical or biological weapons against U.S. soldiers?
* Does the U.S. have enough military and intelligence resources to
fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while mobilizing resources to
prevent attacks on our own shores?
Byrd said the proposed resolution Bush sent Congress on Thursday
would be the "broadest possible grant of war powers to any president
in the history of our Republic. The resolution is a direct insult and
an affront to the powers given to Congress."
Byrd also criticized Bush's request for power to carry out "pre-
emptive attacks" and send troops to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon,
Yemen, the West Bank and anywhere else in the Middle East.
"I cannot believe the gall and the arrogance of the White House in
requesting such a broad grant of war powers," Byrd said. "This is the
worst kind of election-year politics."
To contact staff writer Paul J. Nyden, use e-mail or call 348-5164.
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