As a pretty visible proponent of peace I get asked pretty often why I oppose going to
war with Iraq. I have no problem stopping and explaining my position over and over
again, but I figured that in the interest of simplification and expedience I should put a
page out here on the web that I can simply refer people to. Admittedly I talk too much
once I get going so I have no illusions that this is going to be at all brief, yet there's
plenty more where this came from if you feel the need to argue about it some more.
I oppose a war in Iraq because:
1. Likely to Make Things Worse
- A war with Iraq is likely to make things worse,
not better. Iraq is a nation that we have been attacking for more than 10 years. Despite
what the news may tell you we have a pretty good idea of what Iraq is capable of. On the
other hand there are at least three nations holding on to power by the skin of their teeth
in the region:
2. Preemptive Wars Never End
- Most notably, Pakistan. Remember when we first started learning about
Afghanistan and we learned that the ruling government, the Taliban, only controlled about
80% of the country? Well the same conditions exist in Pakistan. President Pervaiz Musharif
controls most of Pakistan, but there is about 10 to 20% of the country where government
officials dare not go because it is ruled by Muslim fundamentalists. And throughout the rest
of Pakistan there is a high concentration of radical, anti-western Islaam. If anything that
could even be percieved as a war on Islam broke out in the middle east (such as an attack on
Iraq) there is a very good chance that the Pakistani government would be overthrown and then
we would have an enemy that DEFINITELY DOES have weapons of mass destruction. This would
be a new enemy. We have no idea who they would be ruled by or what their intentions might be.
They would probably be inclined to start a nuclear war with India. It would be much worse than
things are now.
- Also, Saudi Arabia. Suadi Arabia has a strong Wahabist movement that is very
pro Iraq. Even though Saddam Hussein is a secular (non religious) leader, he has had strong ties
over the years with the Wahabi movement in Saudi Arabia because they BOTH hate Iran. The Wahabists
already hate the Saudi royal family and always have. This is a country just waiting for a spark
to set off a civil war and the U.S. bombing Bahgdad would probably be that spark.
- And Egypt. Egypt has a strong government that has cracked down very hard on
Islamic radicals over the decades. They have used lots of money and military hardware that they've
gotten from the U.S. government to facilitate this crack down. This has not made the Islamic
radicals go away, it has only made them more secretive and more determined. It may not be very
likely that an Islamic movement could overthrow the strong Egyptian government but it is at least
possible and if they were to do so they would have a lot of U.S. military hardware at their disposal.
- Peace is worth fighting for. That's true. War should be
avoided at all cost and used only as a last resort. That's true too. I hear the president say
things like this but why then is he hell bent on waging war when there is no imminent threat
from Iraq. Think of this on a local level. Imagine, if you will, an inner city with large groups
of young people who have lots of free time on their hands. Now if these young people have
productive things to do and have been rasied in such a way that they use violence only as a last
resort and in self defense only then there won't be eruptions of violence because no one will
be hitting anyone else first. On the other hand if you have roving gangs of paranoid kids convinced
that everyone else around them has a gun and that they need to shoot anyone wearing different color
clothes then them before that person gets them, then you will have a cycle of violence that can
never, ever end. Well WE are the ones acting like paranoid teenagers. Running around yelling
"AH! SADDAM IS GOING TO DROP A NUCLEAR BOMB ON OUR KIDS! DUCK AND COVER! HIDE UNDER THE SOFA!!!"
We are very close to starting a pattern of escalating wars that can't be stoped. Once we establish
a pattern of violence that says it is okay for us to attack Iraq because we think they might attack
us in the future then how can we say it's not okay for the Russians to attack the Chechens or for
the Chinese to attack the Tibetans and Taiwanese or for those in India to attack their own Muslim
population and how in the world would we ever have anything credible to say in the Israel and
Palestinian conflic? If the standard of starting a war sinks so low as to be permissable to
attack anyone that looks like they're thinking of doing harm to you we will lose all hope of
attaining peace for a very long time.
3. Corporate Greed Motivates This War
- It's good to see more and more people saying "No
blood for oil". It's very obvious that oil has a lot to do with this war and even people within
the president's administration have admitted it. But it has to do with FAR more than JUST oil.
Let's start with Defense Contractors. Before the first American Oil corporation sets foot in
Iraq this war will be about taking our tax dollars and handing them over to Raytheon and Boeing and
Lockheed Martin and all of the defense contractors. It will be about buying five hundred and
fifty thousand dollar tomahawk missiles from Raytheon and fifty-five million dollar C-17 aircraft
from Boeing/McDonnell Douglas. THEN it will be about installing a puppet government that we can
control and manipulate for their oil resources and which American construction contractors will
be enlisted to rebuild Iraq, which may just have to be rebuilt several times depending on how
unstable the region becomes.
4. It is a War effort based on Lies and Distortions
- Public Relations firms are used by
Republican think tanks and Corporate capital conglomerations to shape public opinion and convince
people that they want to go to war. This is a fact.
- The PR Firm of Hill & Knowlton has been used to make the government of Turkey more appealing
or at least to make their human rights violations less well known among the general U.S.
population all the while the U.S. has been pumping money to the Turks to blow up the Kurds.
Yes, these are the same Kurish people we are "supposedly" mad at Saddam for "gassing his own
people" yet we are helping the Turks fire missiles at them from helicopters.
- The PR Firm of Sawyer/Miller was used to make the Columbian government seem like the victim
rather than the perpetrators of human rights violations while they assasinated unionists and
other "leftist trouble makers".
- During the Reagan administration the government itself engaged in public relations when the
National Security Council and the State Department set out to control the media and public
opinion in order to foster support of the Contras and deminish support for the Sandinistas
And there are numerous other examples. The point only is that no matter how many times
you see Saddam Hussein on your tv with a sinister laugh or shooting a gun in the air
that doesn't mean he wants to drop a nuclear bomb on your children. I'm not making the case
that Saddam is an angelic individual full of redeeming qualities, I'm saying only that
the American Public is being manipulated with an incomplete story. This daily reinforcement
we recieve that America is all good and Iraq is crazy, insane, poised to destroy us is
nonsense. The reasons we give for wanting to wage war on Iraq are things we helped Iraq
to do so we may as well wage war against ourselves while we're at it.
The truth is that when Saddam came to power we ignored his Stalinesque purges and said
they were none of our business. When the Reagan administration came into office they were
more than happy to give Saddam all the weapons he wanted to fight Iran. We convinced Saddam
that we wanted him to defeat Iran and we were giving him money, weaponry and a free hand to
do it. When Saddam said that he wanted to gas the Kurds because they were sympathetic to
Iran, he got the gas to do it from US. When the government says that Saddam is a madman
who gasses his own people without provocation that is similar to saying that Ulysses Grant
attacked his own people in the Civil War. The Kurdish citizens are "technically" in
Iraq but Saddam has never viewed them as his own people. They are in the same country only
because of the way the middle east was divided up after World War I but Iraq is not one big
unified country. It is three different areas thrown together because the British government
just left it that way as they were getting out of the middle east. Anything Saddam wanted to
do to weaken Iran was fine with the Reagan administration. NEXT Saddam and the whole
world finds out that the Reagan administration has also been secretly been supplying weapons
to the Iranians and using the money from that to arm the Contras in the "Iran/Contra scandal".
It turns out that were weren't the friend to Saddam that we pretended to be, we didn't really
want to help him win his war against Iran after all. We just wanted wanted Iran and Iraq to
fight forever and weaken one another.
Even still the U.S. government tried to mend its fences
and show support for Iraq. They continued to supply Iraq and allow Saddam to get away with
anything he wanted to. Saddam had every reason to believe that when he attacked Kuwait (who were
slant drilling into Iraq and stealing Iraqi oil) that the U.S. would sit back and do nothing.
I guess he didn't realize how things work and that when you do anything that endangers the U.S.
financial markets or corporations THAT is when you've crossed the line. The U.S. and the
Kuawiti governments went into full on Public Relations mode. The Kuawit government retained
as many as 20 P.R. law and loby firms to turn public opinion against Iraq. This included the big
lie where the Kuwaiti Embassador to the U.S.'s daughter lied before congress about babies being
snatched out of incubators by Iraqi soldiers.
The first war on Iraq was based largely on lies, and this new war will be based on more lies
and deception. When I was in grade school and learning about the Soviet Union I was told
that the U.S.S.R. was a terrible place to be because they did not have a free press and
their government told lies to the people and the people had no way to know what was going on.
Then I grew up and realized that our government does the SAME EXACT thing, only it's worse
because we are fed all these lies about having freedom of speech and a free press all the while
huge amounts of money are being spent to mislead and misinform us.
5. Resources Could be put to Much Better Use
- And lastly, let's just stop and
consider the question of money. There are so many things that the people here in America need
and the federal government cries and says there is no money for. More and more of our money
is going to service the national debt and we are issuing more and more debt that our children
will have to pay for. At the same time there is a very big population bubble about to hit
retirement age and Social Security is heading closer and closer to the danger zone so our
parents will have to pay too. Let's not have to pay for costly wars on top of all that
we already owe. This government seems ready to fight anyone that sneezes all over the globe.
They clai they're ready to fight Iraq and North Korea at the same time. How much would that
cost? And beyond the monetary cost, what would be the human cost? We are faced with a
G.W. Bush administration that seems to be trying to make a decision whether they want the
political costs of American troops coming home in body bags or if instead they'd rather
just bomb Bahgdad into a smoldering husk and see if the American people would swallow that
any better. Well, NEITHER of those options are even close to being acceptable. You can not
tell us, Mr. President, that Saddam is evil because he's "killed his own people" and has
public executions of anyone that opposes him, and THEN tell us that your solution to that
problem is to kill hundreds of thousands of those same men, women, children and elderly in
a huge bombing campaign in a populated city.
We are at a moment in history where we, the American public, need to make
some very quick decisions. Are we to become a nation of bullies that imposes our will on the
rest of the world only to have our children suffer the consequences and retaliation? Are we
going to rise up and demand that our government revert back to a true democracy or are we going
to allow the powerful few shape us and tell us what we think? Will we allow them to continue
to make the political process so disgusting that most of us can not even bear to vote or will
we begin to find alternative ways to vote? Are we going to allow our Pentagon to insist that
an airplaine is more important than having a good school to send our children to? There is much
that has been done in our name that must now be undone. Will we take the time to care or will
we continue to wait and hope the next person will do it?