A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
August 19, 2002
Bush Wages War, But for Whom?
by Robert Jewett
It is extremely facile to say the President George W. Bush’s intent in invading Iraq is merely obsession with business unfinished from his father’s administration or a diversionary tactic to deflect the country’s attention from its mounting economic woes. And on the surface this does appear to be the case, yet given the Bush family’s long business association with both the family of Osama Bin Laden and the Saudi Royal family there may be other considerations at work.
True, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is a monster, and the Iraqi people will be better rid of him, but there is no compelling evidence linking his regime with any Islamic terrorist organizations, let alone the group responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. And while the West is blind, since the 1998 expulsion of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), on the issue of whether or not the Iraqis possess "weapons of mass destruction," here too, concrete evidence is Nonexistent
United States Air Force and Navel Aviation pilots yet patrol the northern and southern "no-fly zones" established at the end of the Gulf War and the U.S. Navy is stationed in the Persian Gulf for interdiction purposes. Nor has Hussein threatened any of his immediate neighbors, Turkey, Jordan or Kuwait, since the cessation of hostilities.
Thus far the only argument offered by the Administration and compliant Congressional Democrats is that Hussein might do something, that he might have "weapons of mass destruction," that he might order a terrorist strike on the United States -- hardly a cogent reason to declare war.
True, Hussein may possess "weapons of mass destruction," but how will he deliver them to American shores, in a suitcase on a commercial airline?
And should Hussein and his Baath Party be overthrown, what benefit will the American people derive and who or what follows in the presidential Palace in Baghdad?
Ever since President Bush pronounced Iraq as one leg of the "Axis of Evil," along with Iran and North Korea, the evidence linking Hussein's government to fundamentalist Islamic terrorist organizations is sorely lacking. Hussein's regime is precisely that which American foreign policy in the Middle East has paid lip service to for decades: a secular state acting as a counter-balance to the growing influence of fundamentalist Islamic clerics. Therefore, it is inconceivable that fundamentalist Islamist groups such as Hamas or Al Qaeda take orders, much less money, from the leader of the decidedly authoritarian Baath political party that is more in the nature of Spain’s Falangists party of Francisco Franco than even Iran's Islamic Republic.
At the present, the government in Riyadh says that it opposes American ground forces using Saudi territory for a staging area for an Iraqi invasion. As recently as March of this year the Saudis stated at an Arab League summit that an American attack may leave the kingdom vulnerable and give Iran growing regional influence, if the Hussein regime is not finished off.
Yet the Saudis play weak sister of the Middle East, pointing to the military strength of both Iraq and Iran. However, for a country of an estimated 23 million people that spends only 13 per cent annual budget on defense, Saudi Arabia has over 300 M1A2 Abrams and 290 older French AMX-30 tanks, 530 combat aircraft, missile frigates and a standing army of 70,000 plus another 77,000 assorted reservists. Certainly on paper not a match for Iraq's estimated 400,000 and 2,200 main battle tanks, though even analyst Anthony Cordesman, http://www.csis.org/burke/hd/reports/IraqMilCap.pdf, admits that Hussein’s army is mostly untrained conscripts and weaponry is mostly of 1980s vintage. Even Hussein’s vaunted Republican Guard has not recovered to pre-Gulf War strength.
Since the 1930s and the foundation of the modern nation under Abd al Aziz, the United States has guaranteed Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty. But as recently as April 29, 2002 Saudi minister of petroleum and mineral resources Ali al-Naimi said: "As the world’s dominant oil producer and supplier, Saudi Arabia has been committed to ensuring the stability of the international oil market and the reliability of supplies to customers...[and]...has consistently championed the cause of price moderation." (Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy And The Failed Hunt For Bin Laden, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie', Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, New York NY, 2002)
So how does a thinly populated country achieve hegemony over its more populous neighbors?
An U.S. invasion of Iraq will destabilize the region and will not lead to an end of Islamist terrorism. Indeed, Iraq after Hussein will in all likelihood become yet another "Islamic republic," a vassal state of Saudi Arabia and breeding ground for future Islamic extremists.
European intelligence agencies indicate financial ties between members of the Saudi Royal family, the Bin Laden family and Islamic terrorist groups, which our government seemingly chooses to ignore. The Saudi regime is one of the most repressive in the world. Promoting a fundamentalist form of Islam, know as Wahhabism, and ruling under the strict Q'uranic law of sharia, the Saudi government regularly executes citizens for what in the West are minor offenses at worst: adultery for women, sodomy for men. The Saudi system of justice is not unlike that of the recently ousted Taliban in Afghanistan.
Like Afghanistan, an Iraqi civilian population under the thumb of religious bullyboys would be easily cowed. True believers and sycophants are likewise easy to find. Yet the royals of Saudi Arabia are motivated by something even stronger than religious conviction: the money and power that flows from oil.
And so the Saudis, while coyly demurring contemplated American action in Iraq for regional and internal consumption, will let Hussein fall as they did their recalcitrant true believer-farm boy Taliban clients. Satisfying customer number one, the United States, is more important than religion. The deaths of 3,000 Americans, 3 million Afghanis or 30 million Iraqis is immaterial. It is, after all, the price of doing business. The oil must flow.
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