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Before Pentagon blitzkrieg

U.S. war of lies

By Deirdre Griswold

It doesn't take much digging to prove that the much-hyped indictment of Iraq that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell laid before the UN Security Council on Feb. 5 was a brazen rehash of discredited charges.

What is amazing is that the Bush ad min istration obviously doesn't care that its arguments can easily be disproven. It is relying on the power of the U.S.-dominated mass media to sell these trumped-up excuses for a war to a misinformed public.

And it is playing the diplomatic game only to gain time as it deploys a nightmarish armada for mass destruction around Iraq and its rich oil fields.

Take the charge that Iraq gassed thousands of Kurds at the town of Halabja in 1988, and that this proves Iraq's "monstrous human rights record." Just days before Powell's appearance at the UN, this allegation was disproven in an opinion piece in the New York Times of Jan. 31 by Stephen C. Pelletiere. He wrote that "all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds."

He goes on to explain that the incident took place during the Iran-Iraq war, and that the Kurds were not deliberate targets of the gas but were caught up in a battle. Furthermore, says Pelletiere, "the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report ... that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas." Iraq and Iran both used gas in the battle, but only Iran possessed nerve gas, the kind that killed the Kurds, according to this report.

And who is Pelletiere? The CIA's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war and a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000. He got to see much classified material about the region.

Like the story of babies being torn from incubators by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait in 1990, which was later proven to be totally invented, this gruesome charge about poison gas was created for its media value in softening up the population to accept a war of aggression by Washington.

That Powell used it again--even right after it had been publicly discredited by a CIA expert--shows that he had nothing more convincing on which to pin his case.

The Iraqi government had a mountain of rebuttal ready as soon as Powell had finished speaking, even though most governments take more time to frame a response to such serious charges. However, the Iraqi ambassador to the UN was given only a few minutes to respond to Powell's hour-and-a-half speech.

Most of Powell's allegations about Iraq concealing weapons were based on unnamed and unidentified "intelligence sources" or "defectors" and therefore cannot be independently verified.

Powell also showed slides purportedly taken by U.S. reconnaissance planes that he claimed showed Iraq's intent to deceive UN inspectors. In a press conference from Baghdad, Iraqi scientific adviser Amer Al-Saadi pointed out that the UN has its own sources for aerial imagery and has found no such evidence.

The Iraqi pointed out that under Resolution 1441, which Powell cited many times as justification for the U.S. unilaterally moving toward war, member states of the UN are required to hand over any information they might have about Iraqi weapons programs to the UN agencies in charge of inspections: UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Not only isn't Washington doing this, but it quickly removed all its so-called "evidence" from the Security Council as soon as Powell finished speaking, according to the Pacifica program "Democracy Now."

Washington is presenting as fact its uncorroborated allegations. And the media are playing along, saturating the public with this old wine in new bottles.

The stock markets fell after Powell's speech. At least one financial analyst said it was because the markets are afraid that he failed to convince the world to support a U.S.-British war, and that therefore it will be long and bloody. "This (war) is not going to be easy. It's not going to be short and it's not going to be limited," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp.

What the world saw on Feb. 5 was a classic case of "might makes right." The clear aggressor in this situation is U.S. imperialism, which is determined to go to war against Iraq even though that country has done nothing to provoke a confrontation. Yet most of the capitalist governments in the world are demanding that Iraq do more to prove it has no weapons of mass destruction. Anyone familiar with logic knows that proving a negative is virtually impossible.

Not one country is demanding that the UN look into U.S. weapons of mass destruction, investigate the Pentagon's stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, or reveal the secret deals made by the White House and State Department in collusion with the big oil companies over who will get what in a post-war Iraq.

These are the issues on the minds of millions around the world. Every diplomat knows, however, that even to contemplate such a question is to bring down the wrath of the true terrorist government--the one run by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice and John Ashcroft. It is insisting on total obedience from the countries in the UN or they will be made "irrelevant"--a euphemism for their destruction.

Yet even as this shoddy scenario was being played out in the organization that claims to be the guardian of world peace, yet has never even tried to stop a U.S. war, the anti-war forces around the world were preparing for a new round of demonstrations. Some protesters came out in the streets immediately.

In Europe and a number of cities across the U.S., the week of Feb. 15 will be a time of mass mobilizations against the war that are expected to bring out many millions of people. Powell's speech may convince many people that it is up to them to stop this war, especially if it becomes clear that no other deterrent will work.

Reprinted from the Feb. 13, 2003, issue of Workers World newspaper
This article is copyrighted under a Creative Commons License.
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