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What America Says Does Not Go

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  • ummyakoub
    What America Says Does Not Go-Uzma Aslam Khan (Extract presented in Lahore on 26/3/03) Difficult as it is to make sense of the barbaric attacks on Iraq to not
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      What America Says Does Not Go-Uzma Aslam Khan

      (Extract presented in Lahore on 26/3/03)

      Difficult as it is to make sense of the barbaric attacks on Iraq to
      not try is to surrender to madness. We have to clutch at every iota of
      sanity we have at our disposal, and this is where history can help. To
      understand what 's happening in Iraq today, we have to understand
      American global interests, as they have been for too many hidden
      decades. Bush Jr. is only making naked to the world wheels that had
      been set in motion long before he came onto the scene. Tyrants don't
      grow out of nowhere. They are products of the system that nurtures
      them, and allows them to grow. We in Pakistan know this well. General
      Zia was our worst dictator but his predecessors gifted him many
      invaluable tips.



      Before focusing in particular on Iraq, I want to very briefly trace
      the rise of American imperialism in general. America's first major
      imperial conquest was in the early 1900s, when American troops fought
      the Spanish to occupy the Philippines. An interesting aside to point
      out here is that in 1905, American writer Mark Twain wrote a story
      called `The War Prayer,' in which he condemned the war. The story was
      considered `unsuitable for publication at a moment of high and
      patriotic feeling.' It was not published till 1923, almost twenty
      years after the war and thirteen years after Twain's death. So,
      contrary to the myth that America is a free country in which every
      civilian has the right to speak, censorship in the US has been alive
      and well for at least a hundred years.



      After this little-discussed invasion of the Philippines, American
      might around the globe did not notably accelerate till after WW11.
      Between 1945 and now, the US has never stopped being at war with the
      world. For fifty-eight years, there has never been a single year in
      which it has not bombed and occupied another country, and in most
      years, it has attacked two or more countries at the same time. It
      attacked Korea from 1950-1953, and during the same period, also
      re-attacked the Philippines to stifle an indigenous leftist uprising.
      From 1945-49, it sent half a million troops to China, again to choke
      off the communists. In 1946-48, it sent troops to Italy; In 1947-49 to
      Greece; 1949-53 to Albania; together with the UK it attacked Iran in
      1953; Guatemala also in 1953; Indonesia in 1958; Cuba 1961-62;
      Thailand in 1962; Laos 1962-75; Congo 1964; Peru 1965; Dominican
      Republic 1965-66; Vietnam 1961-73; Cambodia (1969-70); Chile (1973);
      the proxy war in Afghanistan (1979-88); Nicaragua (1981-90); El
      Salvador (1980-92); Libya (1981, 1986, 1989); Panama (1989); Grenada
      (1983); Persian Gulf (1984); Iraq (1991, and air strikes had been
      repeatedly launched till the time of the latest full-scale invasion);
      Serbia (1997); Afghanistan and Sudan (1998); Afghanistan (2001 to
      date); Iraq again.



      The list is exhausting but so is the historical weight of power behind
      President George W. Bush. I haven't even touched upon America's
      non-military CIA-backed interference in the governance of sovereign
      countries all over the world, as that would only stretch this
      discussion even further. But the military and economic aid it gives to
      its `allies,' especially to Israel, will naturally weave itself into
      the lecture.



      Now to focus particularly on US interventions in Iraq. In 1963, a coup
      assisted by the CIA ousted Iraq's popular leader, Abdel Karim Kassem.
      His crime: resisting the force of Western oil monopolies. He had said,
      `We are fighting for the industrialization of our republic and an end
      to our dependence on the sale of crude oil.' This was the goal of the
      Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), an organization
      that Kassem had helped to form. The defiant statement gave the CIA
      diarrhea overnight, and the plot to assassinate him was hatched by
      morning. In the bloody attack that followed, thousands of Kassem's
      followers were murdered along with Kassem himself. In 1968 the
      Baathist Party came to power. However, in 1972, the Baathists grew as
      defiant as Kassem had been ten years earlier, declaring that Arab oil
      was for the Arabs. They sought to nationalize the US-, UK-, and
      French- controlled Iraq Petroleum Company, made up of BP, Exxon,
      Mobil, Shell, and Partex. The US immediately accused it of supporting
      terrorism, but this time, the punishment it plotted was more covert.
      Taking lessons from the massive opposition to the Vietnam War at home,
      US President Richard Nixon did not authorize the use of direct
      military action. Instead, the plot was to weaken Iraq by arming and
      training the Kurds. The US-planted Shah of Iran was a key ally of this
      hidden agenda; he was the tunnel through which Americans provided arms
      to the Kurds. Interestingly, many of President Richard Nixon's
      advisors were the same as they are today, thirty years later, with
      Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski prominent among them..
      Assistance to the Kurds had as little then to do with human rights as
      it does today, as Kurdish empowerment would obviously weaken America's
      ability to exploit them. In fact, Kissinger is known to have told an
      aide: `Covert operations should not be confused with missionary work.'
      Incidentally, this is the same Kissinger who once asked rhetorically,
      'Why should the Arabs have all the oil?' and who would, during the
      Iran-Iraq War declare, 'I hope they kill each other' and 'Too bad they
      both can't lose.' For his love of humanity, he was awarded the Noble
      Peace Prize in 1973, along with a North Vietnamese negotiator who is
      said to have refused the prize in Kissinger's company. That's just an
      aside I thought might interest you. Going back to the covert
      operations being deployed to undermine Iraq, these might have
      continued unobstructed till a full-fledged civil war between Kurdish
      nationalists and Iraqis broke out if it weren't for the Iranian
      Revolution. The Shah, America's second-best collaborator in the Middle
      East (after Israel), was history. Iran became a bigger threat.



      Suddenly, the same Iraq that the US had been using the Kurds to weaken
      was now supplied with weapons to attack Iran. US President Jimmy
      Carter, still considered a dove at home (if anyone still has any
      doubts that the Nobel Peace Prize has as little to do with peace as
      the UN has to do with human rights, she has only to consider Carter's
      awarding of the prize -- it is as ridiculous as Kissinger's thirty
      years earlier), introduced a new intervention strategy called the
      Carter Doctrine, which stated that `any challenge to US access to the
      Middle East oil (can be met with) military force.' American companies
      directly and indirectly (that is, through America 's other client
      states Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) sold billions of dollars worth of
      armament to Iraq, some of it on credit, while purchasing increased
      amounts of Iraqi oil at greatly reduced rates. At the same time, a
      task force was created to implement Carter's strategy. However, Iran
      and Iraq so successfully destroyed each other for eight years that the
      task force was never needed. The subsequent US leader, President
      Ronald Reagan and his Vice President George H. Bush played their part
      as well. Reagan authorized the CIA to go to Baghdad to `advise the
      military' (read arm and train) of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
      We now know that the CIA was simultaneously `advising the military' of
      Iran.



      It has been said many times before but it cannot be said enough:
      Saddam Hussein is America's man. They were making him at about the
      same time as they were making Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. The
      chemical weapons that Hussein is accused of having were sold to him by
      the current Vice President Dick Cheney, when he was CEO of the
      chemical company Halliburton. They sold it to him and he used it on
      the Kurds the following year. The same Kurds, mind you, that were
      supposedly being liberated in the 70s, in the 90s during the first
      Gulf War, and now, in 2003 during the `shock and awe' fireworks
      display of the second Gulf War. The same Kurds that we've been told
      are dancing in their streets at the same time that, a few hundred
      miles away, Afghan women are supposedly stripping off their veils like
      newly-discovered Kim Bassingers. If the esteemed president and vice
      president of the United States are so concerned about weapons of mass
      destruction, why on earth do they keep selling them to murderous
      rulers of the impoverished and disenfranchised Third World? If the US
      so concerned about weapons of mass destruction, why does it keep
      selling them to the only nuclear power in the Middle East: Israel?



      No UN nuclear arms inspectors have ever been allowed to enter Israel.
      The arms inspectors who were in Iraq in the 90s had long before
      declared that Iraq had no nuclear weapons. It is Israel that has
      weaponry that can only be matched by one other nation: the United
      States, which furnishes it with over 3 billion dollars in aid every
      year. So the claim that this state is a lamb surrounded by lions is
      absolutely facetious. It has attacked more of its neighbors since its
      creation in 1948 (Egypt twice, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, also twice, and
      Iraq) than any other country in the Middle East – and, it should be
      added, than it itself has been attacked. Israel is the only country in
      the world to have never declared its borders, thus allowing itself the
      absolute right to enter Palestinian Territories whenever it wants, and
      then withdrawing by a few inches in order to extract more political
      leverage from the crushed Palestinians. This strategy has been
      repeated so ruthlessly, and in violation of so many international
      laws, that it is virtually impossible to measure exactly where the
      border lies on any given day. The latest uprising in the territories
      has resulted in over a thousand Palestinian deaths, many of them
      children. In return, Bush calls Sharon a man desiring of peace. These
      two could well be the contenders of this year's Noble Peace Prize.



      It is more than obvious that the United States and its Liberation Army
      care nothing about the disarmament of destructive weapons, about human
      rights, or about any international law. If they did, they would not
      have renounced the non-nuclear proliferation treaty, or voted against
      the protocol allowing implementation of the Biological Weapons
      Convention, or rejected the treaty banning land mines, so that tens of
      thousands of innocent civilians around the world, mostly children, do
      not have to live their lives without legs, arms, and eyes. New mines
      have again been laid by the US in Afghanistan – a country that had
      already been riddled with more mines per square inch than any other
      country in the world. America has vetoed the passing of virtually
      every international attempt to reduce instances of war, and to protect
      the environment. As I have said already, for the last fifty-eight
      years it itself has never stopped being at war with the world. Its
      economy thrives on war.



      Is then, the perpetuation of the military-industrial complex the main
      reason for waging the current war? Remember that Iraq has 112 billion
      barrels of reserves. Ajmal Kamal recently quoted an article in
      Hydrogen Economy, in which Jeremy Rifkin calculates the number of
      years that world oil reserves would last at current rates of
      consumption and extraction, and came up with these figures: In the US
      and Norway, 10 years. In Canada even less, only 8. But in Iran 53
      years; Saudi Arabia 55; the United Arab Emirates 75; Kuwait 116. In
      Iraq, it is 526 years. So the prospect of grabbing hold of the most
      untapped oil reserves in the world, and stirring up animosity in the
      region so rival groups become even more enthusiastic arms customers,
      must be part of the appeal of this war. It could be -- your guess is
      as good as mine. The second theory -- that the war is a way to show
      the world who's boss – is also believable. Certainly the message `If
      you don't comply, we'll bomb you, ' has been heard loudly enough in
      Pakistan, with many people fearing that Pakistan, which has the
      world's most unpopular known nuclear weapons, after perhaps, North
      Korea, is next in line. Personally I don't believe an attack on us is
      imminent. The last twelve years of high-tech warfare have shown
      that the US Government enjoys killing those who are virtually already
      dead – Afghanistan was all but a graveyard before October 2001 when
      the bombing there began, and Iraq has been living under the weight of
      economic sanctions that have killed 600, 000 Iraqi children alone, and
      those children that survive are so malnourished that future
      generations will be crippled for many years to come. However, even if
      an attack on us, or on another country, is not likely to happen soon,
      the pressure to do whatever Big Brother dictates is very strong. This
      absolute power is obviously just as thrilling for the US Government as
      an infinitesimal number of green bills, nukes, and cars.



      The third theory is one that's been circulating in the press much less
      but I'll mention it briefly – and this is that there is a plan to move
      the three million Palestinians who are trapped in occupied West Bank
      and Gaza to the lonesome desert of Iraq, thus allowing the Jewish
      homeland to be free, once and for all, of Arabs. This is thin. Since
      the Israeli army has never been held accountable to any world court,
      it could easily destroy the Palestinians on their own soil, as it has
      been doing quite successfully since 1948. But since this would amount
      to genocide of even greater proportions than the one Israel is
      currently carrying out, perhaps the idea of simply smuggling out the
      populace is favorable. It might be a theory to keep visible in our
      rear-view mirrors. No one would have thought that a people who, in
      1948, controlled only 6% of the land would today control 80%. A
      further 20% might not be that unlikely.



      What will be the aftermath of the war? If we are to look at the result
      of Gulf War 1, and that of the war in Afghanistan, the picture is
      unbearably grim: human rights groups like RAWA (Revolutionary
      Association of the Women of Afghanistan) have long been saying that
      during its first rule from 1992-96, the Northern Alliance committed as
      horrendous crimes against humanity, particularly against women, as the
      Taliban. It has been at it again. Contrary to what the US media
      reports, the Afghans are even more impoverished, frightened, and
      helpless as they were before October 2001, when Americans proceeded to
      kill more people than died on September 11 and called it freedom.
      America has abandoned the so-called free, just as it did after it
      trained Afghans, Pakistanis and Arabs on Afghan soil to fight the
      Soviets. The tens of thousands of refugees hunched in tents along our
      common border, or in Pakistan, have not gone home. They know it isn't
      safe to do so. There are absolutely no signs of the infrastructure the
      US vowed to create. Except for the occasional 'Osama is alive' or 'No,
      he isn't alive' the country appears to have completely fallen off
      America's political map, even as it remains a military target. As a
      result, how many enraged mini-Osama's are being bred across the
      border, or right here in Pakistan, even as we speak?



      After Gulf War 1, it is estimated that around 250, 000 Iraqis died as
      a result of 110, 000 aerial sorties that dropped 88,000 tons of
      explosives. Contrary to what the government said, these were not
      target bombings and no effort was made to not kill civilians. In The
      Fire This Time, Ramsey Clark estimates that around 93% of the bombs
      fell in civilian areas. The country was without power for the duration
      of the bombing, and as many roads were also destroyed, people were
      limited in their ability to flee. Water contamination remained a
      problem even when the current war began. We were are not being shown
      footage of human destruction on TV, but we have been told that the
      current war is, and will continue to be, on an even larger scale. It
      is virtually impossible to imagine a situation even worse than the
      one the Iraqi people had been living in before March 19th.



      So, to come to my last point, if we consider the rise of American
      imperialism in general, and, in particular, in the Middle East, and if
      we weigh all the possible reasons for the current crisis, what choices
      do we ordinary people have left to counterbalance the looming force?



      Our only choice really is to resist imperialism, in will and in
      action. Just yesterday, the Iraqi Vice President issued a statement
      dismissing the Arab League's criticism of American force, asking, 'Why
      do you condemn aggression on the one hand, and on the other hand,
      continue to sell oil to the aggressor? Why do you open your airspace
      and seaports and military bases to the invaders?' It's an important
      question. The complicity of the Arab states over the years is shameful
      and sickening, and this needs to be said every time we condemn the
      war. The notion that there is such a thing as the Muslim Ummah or
      Brotherhood has gone from being a bad joke to a nightmare that we
      somehow have to wake up from. The massive demonstrations world-wide
      show that people in the West are waking up. Even Americans, who have
      long been either supremely indifferent to what their government does
      outside its own borders, or supremely confident that whatever their
      government does to 'others' is right, are at last angry. I personally
      know of Americans who have never questioned US foreign policy who are
      beginning to do so now.



      This is also the first time since the end of the Cold War that many
      other governments, including Security Council members France and
      Russia, are challenging US hegemony -- another hopeful sign in an
      otherwise overwhelmingly dark horizon. France's strong words of
      opposition to the US, along with those of major religious authorities
      like the Pope should encourage smaller, weaker countries to stand
      their ground and resist US hegemony. We must peacefully fight for an
      immediate stop to the attacks on Iraq, followed by an immediate end to
      the economic sanctions, followed by the trying of the US and UK
      Governments, in a world court, for repeatedly violating human rights.



      It is important not to interpret this war as a war on Islam. To do so
      is to play straight into the hands of Bush. The more Muslim militants
      there are, the more he can say to his people, 'Look, I told you
      they're out there. I told you we're not safe. I told you we have to
      disarm them, and liberate them.' No doubt Blair and Aznar will happily
      join in the chorus. The culprits are the US and UK Governments, not
      ordinary Americans, not ordinary British. Not Christians, Hindus, or
      Jews. The US was at war with Latin America for decades, and its people
      are Christian. It was not a war against Christianity. Nor was it a war
      against Buddhism when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed. Militancy is
      one of two outcomes of interpreting this as a religious 'crusade.'
      Another is just the opposite: passivity. It is to grow more
      fatalistic, and more smug in the knowledge that the afterlife will be
      better than this one. We have to make this one worth living for.



      At the start of Gulf War 1, George H. Bush was known to have said,
      'Whatever we say goes.' It is up to us to tell his son, 'You're wrong.
      What America says does not go.'



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