A Problem Called Iraq



Roula Zoubiane
Middle East Committee
WILPF - Lebanon


April 22, 2003

"The only thing we need to kill is the thought of killing"


Forty years ago, in 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis, the world was brought closer than it has ever been before or since to a nuclear war.

Forty years later, in 2002, those who have witnessed those fearsome days, when the world held its breath and the fate of all the human kind hung in the balance, cannot but recall the year 1962. When America's charismatic young President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, with a grasp of international realities, stood eyeball - to - eyeball, with the Soviet Union's older but unpredictable leader, Nikita Khrushchev, who finally took the wise decision to withdraw the missiles, with their nuclear warheads, which he had rashly installed in Cuban bases less than 150 kilometres from the southern coast of the United States.

For those who recall what was happening in 1962 on the other side of the Atlantic, it is today interesting to compare that crisis with the far less urgent one which President Bush and the people around him are trying to convince the Western World is facing the world today.

Then, the confrontation was between the two superpowers, both armed with nuclear weapons. Now it is between the one remaining superpower and Iraq, a country without nuclear weapons or the means of delivering them, even if and when it succeeds in developing them; a country whose army has not had long to recover from the dreadful assault it endured a decade ago; a country whose infrastructure was devastated then and has not been rebuilt under the difficult circumstances imposed by the regime of United Nations sanctions enforced for the last ten years.

Is this the country that is supposed to be a threat to the United States? A country totally isolated in the world, ruled by a tyrant universally execrated, without a friend in the world or an ally to support it against the most powerful, the richest and the most heavily armed country in the world? Nobody loves Saddam Hussein; nobody doubts that the United States could defeat him and destroy his army, with or without the "mythical coalition" which the Americans keep talk about, to which President Bush promised to go back to the Security Council for consultation before he declares the arms inspections a failure and launches his attack on Iraq, but which in the present context simply does not exist. But to endanger the stability of the whole Middle East and very likely the peace of the World as well - to deal with this "threat" - is surely to get things hopelessly out of proportion.

Unless, of course, there is another hidden agenda.

1- Could it be that the war, which that little coterie of men and women around President George Bush are so eager to start, is not about the evil intentions of Saddam Hussein?

2- Could it be about Israel, America's most ardent supporter for a war against Iraq?

3- Or could the real issue be a much simpler one: the need to drum up popular support for George Bush's Republican Party in time for the mid-terms elections? (1)


1 - Answering the first question, we can certainly say: yes it could. The war is not against Saddam Hussein's evil intentions. And those, who like Jean Bethke Elshtain (a prominent American ethicist, arguing in an article published October 6 in The Boston Globe that a preventive strike on Iraq is morally justifiable) assert that "there are times when justice demands the use of force as a response to violence, hatred, and injustice" (2) are simply missing the point. Because

- even though "Saddam Hussein is an evil tyrant on the moral level of Stalin"
- even though "he has never wavered from his goal to possess atomic, bacteriological and chemical weapons"
- even though, "he has already used chemical weapons on his own people (the Kurds, in August-September 1988), the prevention of the use of these so-called ABC weapon of mass destruction is not a just cause for a war which will bring to people of Iraq an unspeakable human suffer.


2 - Answering the second question, we can with lots of confidence say: yes it is about Israel, America's most ardent supporter for a war against Iraq, and so for the following three reasons:

a- The present government of Israel is of course led by Ariel Sharon, a man detested by the Arab (because he is daily and systematically bludgeoning the Palestinians), but with whom President Bush reportedly has exceptionally close relations. "No US Administration has been a forthcoming to Israel's needs as this one", (3) Sharon told President Bush in substance during his most recent visit to the Oval Office - his seventh since taking office in March 2001. Not even Tony Blair has such a record of attendance at the "house of obedience".

b- Iraq constitutes a serious threat to the most strategic ally of the US in the Middle East. Let us recall that Saddam Hussein has not only threatened to attack Israel but did attack it by using the Scud missiles and Israel has threatened to re-attack by using the Patriot missiles but was prevented from launching them on Baghdad by the American Administration. Therefore, one could wonder with Professor Richard Falk - in his attempt to find a plausible explanation for "the obsessiveness of American policy toward Iraq over the course of more than a decade"- if the war on Iraq "is the long deferred payback to Israel for staying on the sidelines during the Gulf War (1990), despite the Scud missiles being fired from Iraq". (4)

c- While having chosen "peaceful means to protect the country from the threat of war" ( as it is said in the letter sent by Iraqi government to UN Secretary - General Kofi Annan), Iraq had accepted "unreservedly, without conditions", the UN Security Council Resolution 1441 (passed unanimously by 15 - to - 0 Security Council vote -even Syria, a hard-line Arab state, joined in on Friday November 8, 2002), that sets in place a tough new regime of weapons inspection and gives Iraq a last chance to disarm or face "serious consequences", and while President Bush reiterated (Wednesday, November 13, 2000) that the United States would show "Zero tolerance" for any "deception or denial or deceit" from President Saddam Hussein, Israel (the most militarised state in the Middle East), incidentally refuses to allow international inspection of its own clandestine development of weapons of mass destruction (the Israeli arsenal hides 300 atomic bombs). Nevertheless, the Bush Administration is pursuing its blind support for fundamentalist Israel as if it were the path to heaven for pious Americans, seeking excuses for Israel's excesses as if the Jewish state were as peaceful as Switzerland or Finland. By contrast, Washington has been dealing harshly with Arabs, considering their rejection of its policies as a challenge, and their resistance as terrorism.

But trying to prove that the United Sates uses - as usual - double standards in dealing with the Arabs and Israel is a waste of time, although comparing how America insists that Iraq comply with every iota of UN resolutions, with the way it lets Israel off the hook, makes that absolutely clear. We must deal with the US as it is. As a matter of fact, that is the way Arab politicians deal with the American already (even though they try to give a different impression in interviews to Arab journalists) because America is strong and has many means as its disposal to pressure Arab governments. There are to be no more inducements from America; only punishments. Nor does it allow Arabs to sit on the fence any more. On November 8, America deprived the Syrian delegate of the UN Security Council of his chance to enter history as a free Arab who dared to oppose the "one more Humiliation-Resolution 1441" that might lead to war on his brethren in Iraq (5).

Besides, sending UN inspectors into Iraq probably does mean a postponement of the American attack until early next year, but it was never clear that Washington wanted to act earlier anyway: A November attack would have unpredictable effect on voting patterns in the congressional elections, and a December attack could undermine the Christmas retail binge. In the middle of a recession, you want the consumers out at the malls not sitting at home glued to CNN (6).

3- As for the need to drum up popular support for George Bush's Republican Party in time for the midterms elections, it is not "a simpler issue" but one of the most important ones. The "accidental president" of a "50-50 nation" needed very badly to pull off the best result in the congressional mid-terms elections so that he could get what he wants from the United Nations to deal with Iraq speedily and rightly so. On the other hand, the history of George Bush senior tells us that the father did relatively well in his own mid-term elections, losing only one Senate seat and eight in the House. He then began his third year with a triumphant war (against Iraq, as it happens) and ran up approval ratings so high that he scared away most of the Democratic challengers. But, remember, voters soon decided that success overseas was less important than the ailing economy, and in 1992 he lost to a relatively unknown Arkansan.

Can bush the younger avoid the same fate? He has a number of obvious advantages not least the fact that the war against terror will, alas, go on much longer than Desert Storm did. He is also more clearly a man of the people than his father was: it would be hard for voters to imagine that he enjoyed diplomacy more than domestic politics (7).

But the problem is that:
First, the war against Iraq is not a war against terror.
Secondly, the war against Iraq will not put an end to the war on terror, but will certainly contribute to increase terror.

Let us explain each one of these two points:

1- The war against Iraq is not a war against terror, because if it was, there are other countries or belligerents who own nuclear weapons and represent much more danger than Saddam Hussein. Let us recall what happened last month (October 2002) at the United Nations: When North Korean representatives revealed to their American counterparts (in what a US official called a "belligerent" fashion) that their country was still working on nuclear weapons despite a 1994 treaty with Washington in which it promised to abandon its program, Washington did not move heaven and earth in order to demand "regime change", did not threaten to invade nor asked arms inspectors to go in at once. On the contrary, it suddenly became a model of politeness: "The president believes this is troubling and sobering", said White House spokesman Scott McCellan after news of the North Korean claims came out. "We are addressing this through diplomatic channels". North Korea is being treated with the softest of Kid gloves, while - by contrast - Iraq, which denies having nuclear weapons, has been the target of almost weakly threats of attack by President George Bush since he first discovered the "Axis of Evil" last January. Why? Because the US government does not really believe that Saddam Hussein has any seriously threatening weapons of mass destruction, whereas it suspects that Kim Jong-II does. Therefore, the probability of an American attack on Iraq remains high precisely because it does not, in Washington view, pose a serious danger to America's armed forces. So, the real lesson to be concluded from the North Korean imbroglio is that any government anticipating a confrontation with the United States should make sure it has nuclear weapons, because they raise the tone of the discourse wonderfully (8).

2 - The war against Iraq will not put an end to the war on terror, but will certainly contribute to increase terror.
In fact, after the atrocity in Bali and the bloody events in Kuwait and the Philippines, and the assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan, and of an American citizen in Saida/Lebanon, security officials in Western countries have understood that terrorism is still operative and ready to attack in many countries. This leads to an important conclusion: if the regime of Saddam Hussein is attacked by the US, the field of confrontation could not be limited to the region around Iraq. The United States would have to conduct two wars at once: one in Iraq, and the other against terrorism.

The "war on terror" began on September 11, 2002, in New York and Washington and will continue indefinitely. As is the case, with the "war" on organized trans-national crime, there will never come a time when we can say, "the war against terror is over" unless Social and Economic Justice is spread everywhere.

Certainly the loss of Afghanistan has deprived AL-Quaeda and its likes of a secure base, but all evidence suggests that its members are regrouping, and have also become more inflamed, more "zealous". Nor have the steps taken to cut off their funds had any serious effect. They are still capable - according to US officials- of striking telling blows against America and other countries, as they reportedly did in Bali. Moreover, according to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, Americans are becoming dangerously complacent about the danger posed by terrorism to "the homeland". A new attack, such as against a nuclear power station or some other major facility, would have devastating effects on American life.

But Americans are not safe abroad either, and the safety of US citizens and institutions outside North America will not be increased by a US occupation on Iraq.

The dangers threatening the territory of the US from within has changed the spirit of defending America as it has been made clear in the Homeland Security Act of 2002. This act defined the new security mission for the Defense Department as follows:

"The primary missions of the department include preventing terrorist attacks within the United States, reducing the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism at home, and minimizing the damage and assisting in the recovery from any attacks that may occur. The Department's primary responsibilities correspond to the five major functions established by the Act within the Department: information analysis and infrastructure protection; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and related countermeasures; border and transportation security; emergency preparedness and response; and coordination with other parts of the federal government, with state and local governments, and with the private sector. These primary missions and responsibilities are not exhaustive, and the Department will continue to carry out other functions of the agencies it will absorb."

All this shows the level of new measures established to defend the territory of the US and the level of dangers threatening it from within. But all this is not enough because America is fighting against an invisible enemy who could be present in a very close place, unknown and waiting for the right moment to attack (like the example of the Washington sniper has proven). So, successful measures could only reduce the action of the terrorists, but it will never stop it for good. On the contrary, certain kinds of repressive anti-terrorist action would have a tendency to antagonize those subjected to them and tempt more people, especially young men, into the path of extremism.

It is here that the danger posed by a US invasion of Iraq is clearly seen. An American occupation of an important Arab country, possibly for several years, could do nothing but inflame Arab opinion which is already deeply troubled and angered by the repressive measures taken by the present government of Israel against the Palestinians.

The spectacle of President Bush and Premier Sharon acting like two close allies, one occupying Iraq, the other bludgeoning the Palestinians, working together with such exceptional cordiality is one that can not fail to deepen Arab and Muslim antipathy for the US and act as a recruiting sergeant for extremism to avenge Iraq.

Therefore, the fight against "terrorism" and "Regime change" in Iraq remain an "inherent contradiction".

Another curious contradiction lies in the "obsessiveness of American policy toward the Iraqi regime over the course of more than a decade", when the American Administration has used it twice when it was able to serve the American vital interests in the Middle Eastern region.

1- The first time took place when, submitting to American will, Iraq launched a war against Iran in which it serves as a priceless mean. Let us recall that in 1980, Iran was representing a major threat since it was - and still is - the only country to shelter the Islamic Republic. But for Western World, there is no such thing as Islamic "Republic". There is only Islamic "fundamentalism" especially that when Iran was attacked and had to go into eight years of bloody and destructive war (1980 - 1988), the Islamic Republic model was flourishing as an alternative to the established regimes in the region.

2- The second time occurred on the night of August 2, 1990, when Saddam Hussein defied the whole world by seizing Kuwait - one of the most advanced Gulf States in terms of education, infrastructural development, and oil wealth - thus forcefully revealing the fragility of the Gulf petrol-monarchies. Incapable of defending the territorial integrity of their countries, the Emirs were compelled to appeal for foreign troops, particularly those of the United States. For the purpose of common defence, a rapid deployment force was set up, with its headquarters in Saudi Arabia, and each year military manoeuvres, christened "Peninsula Shield", took place in which sophisticated armaments were tested, weapons whose purchase price swallowed up 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the general budgets of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries which provided the US with:

- Oil in terms of energy and financial resources.
- Shelters for their military basis in Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Their presence in these two countries used as military bridge points allowed them lately to develop a new one in Qatar, a country that is in favour of Israel since its Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, had already recognized the legitimacy of the State of Israel and had lately offered the Pentagon unfettered access to bases at a time when the Kingdom foreign minister, Prince Saud al Faisal said that his government would cooperate with the UN Security Council if it decides to act, but "not to the extent of using facilities in [Saudi Arabia]", which seemed to mark an important shift that was very well welcomed by Iraq thanking the kingdom for its "Arab Solidarity".

There is no doubt that these two wars, in which Iraq served as a mercenary at the mercy of the US superpower, were profitable to the American interests in the Middle East because:

They gave them better access to oil.
They weakened four important countries:

- The Persian Islamic belligerent: Iran
- The victim: Kuwait
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is today blinking yellow light and exhausting its best diplomacy by telling President Bush: yes and no and maybe.
- Iraq itself on which the UN sanctions regime was imposed: According to Professor Richard Falk, "the sanctions were exacting an enormous toll among the civilian population, and were doing virtually nothing to hamper the activities and life style of the Iraqi elite. The US government favoured the maintenance of a tough sanctions regime in the face of the well-documented reports detailing the suffering of the Iraqi people, contending in the notorious words of Madeline Albright in 1996, while serving as US ambassador at the UN, not long before becoming Secretary of State, when confronted by statistic as to the loss of life among Iraqi women and children, "we thing the price is worth it".(…) [later and] in response to the rising tide of anti-sanctions sentiment, especially in Europe, the United States took a series of backward strides from its preferred unyielding position so as to prevent the international consensus form falling apart. It had earlier agreed to an oil -for- food program that allows Iraq to sell its oil on the world market, importing civilian goods, with the use of the revenues by Iraq scrutinized by the UN Office of the Iraq Program (OIP) in such a cumbersome and restrictive way as to compromise the humanitarian rational. In May 2002, after elaborate diplomatic negotiations in which the United States did its best to maximise sanctions while retaining support of the Security Council, a much heralded move to "smart sanctions" was finally approved by the UN" (9).

In light of what has been already said, the real motive that lays behind the war that the US are planning to launch on Iraq, after putting the final touches on the diplomatic platform, the formalities and the field preparations, can be easily deduced: It is the oil.

In fact, George Bush Administration tries to justify its aims of attacking Iraq by talking about a danger supposedly posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, while in reality, its principal objective is oil: Iraq's reserves of petroleum are second only to those of Saudi Arabia. So instead of buying it, or exchanging it with food or humanitarian supplies, why not seizing and controlling the oil freely. If the Americans attack Iraq, they will take over these petroleum reserves, and that will be the end of OPEC (which is a real pain in the US neck). America will be able to fix the price of oil, its production and marketing. It will then exercise a hegemony over the petroleum industry, at the expense of Saudi Arabia, and thus over the whole Arab world. Further more, Washington will be able to impose its views on the leaders of this region of the globe, including its views about a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which will be a settlement that gives satisfaction to Israel. This will simplify the liquidation, pure and simple, of the Palestinian cause, a case to which we will be back in a while with further details.

But if this is one of the consequences of the imminent strike against Iraq what would the others be:

1- Unspeakable human suffering:
According to professor Jan Oberg who has done an impartial fact-finding mission in Iraq along with a team from Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF) (a scholarly foundation), "with an interest in listening to the views as they exist in Iraq/Baghdad, and in getting impression of the peace and the living conditions,(…) reports everywhere tell us that the Bush regime is relentless in its determination to start a major war against Iraq with the purpose of toppling Saddam Hussein. If it happens, Oberg continues, we face potentially unspeakable human suffering, mass killing, refugee catastrophe and famine - in short, total chaos - inside Iraq, incalculable regional consequences, western conflicts, perhaps a splitting of coalitions and alliances, not to speak of soaring oil prices and global economic crisis" (10)

The expected losses in lives should be added to those the Iraqi people have been suffering, at least for the past 12 years since the UN regime sanctions was first imposed. "The imposition and retention of comprehensive sanctions for more than a decade after the devastation of the Gulf War has resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, more than a million according to some estimates(11). This assessment has been abundantly documented by reliable international sources, and affecting most acutely, the very young and the poorest sectors of the Iraqi population (12)" (13) which is held prisoner not only of the "international cage" but of the "domestic" one to, where they fear to endure the violent oppressive means used against anyone who dares to oppose or criticize a system led by a tyrant used to the undisputable exercise of power and overwhelmed by his self-image, while his people is not even allowed freedom of speech. Here what Jan Oberg wrote after visiting Iraq:

"Baghdad is estimated to have about 5 million inhabitants, one-fifth of the population. The city is modern, but one easily sees that is a shadow of what it must have been in terms of renovation and maintenance. There is considerable building activity here and there, not the least a gigantic mosque that will take ten years to finish, new palaces, apartment houses, and public buildings. One is struck by the hugeness of Baghdad and its endless high-speed boulevards. (…) When you leave Baghdad, the scenery changes and is reminiscent of poor developing countries. On the highway toward Babylon, you see half-finished houses, water facilities out of order and fences with barbed wire where all the metal has been taken away and only the poles left naked behind. The typical village is a series of houses on both sides of the four-lane road with small shops selling cigarettes, groceries, and vegetables. (…)

We ask ourselves whether this is the type of rural area which hundreds of thousands of Baghdad citizens will flee to when and if their country is bombed and invaded? There is no way that they could survive out here. The whole environment smells of stagnation, de-development after years of domestic mismanagement and international sanctions.

Iraq is a very unique country, but in one sense it is like anywhere I have seen wars: it's the ordinary, powerless people who pay the price of high politics. They have no chance to get out of the double cage of domestic and international politics (…).

Here, like everywhere else in Baghdad, we meet only kind, welcoming people. We would not have been surprised if someone thought we belonged to the West (we do!), were Americans or otherwise guilty for the sanctions, a major cause of their misery. Not one person did during 14 days; we felt safe everywhere. We took pictures, many asking us to do so, and the children of course indescribably happy to see themselves on the monitor of the digital camera. Shop owners invited us in, offered sweet tea, and showed us their neatly arranged produce and commodities. Here you may get a pen, here is something sweet to taste. "Welcome, welcome, wher' you from?"

The classic Arab hospitality and welcoming attitude towards the stranger has certainly not been destroyed. Their gratitude and joy over the fact that somebody has come a long way to ask them about their lives is so touching.

These are the people we, who have been there, think of when we read about the Bush regime's plans to bomb the country.

There is no humanity without empathy.

When you are here, and see with your own eyes, there are other pictures of Iraq than those you get sitting back home. One reason that so few scholars, journalists and diplomats go there is that it opens your eyes to another reality, a broader human reality, of this problem called Iraq. It becomes impossible not to sympathise with the 25 million people sitting for decades in a double cage.

It becomes difficult to accept that cold-blooded, emotionally numbed people in your own Western "civilization" have nothing else to offer the Iraqi people than their present lives, where they live like animals in a zoo (the Oil for Food Program just keeps people alive on a minimum of calories) and a future of war. That war is bound to destroy their few simple belongings, homes, water supply and produce. It will be the clilmax of decades of dehumanisation and humiliation. How could it ever lead to peace and justice?

Only one conclusion is possible when you go there: the Iraqi people deserve the world's sympathy, not our bombs. If you go there, you will hardly be able to advocate war. Not one international staff member of mission chief we met, most of whom have worked there for months and years, thought sanctions was an effective political tool or that an invasion would solve more problems than it would cause."(14)

Trapped between international and local environmental circumstances, the people are left with no other alternative than to back its president. Because he represents the Nation, the matter becomes a question of national duty and principle.


2 - Saddam's deposition

Toppling of Saddam Hussein is not a decision that US had taken recently, but long time ago because - and before he turned into the monster he became with a horrifying account of numerous purges, tortures and mass murders listed in a biography written by Con Coughlin and entitled Saddam: King of Terror (15) , he was once upon a time the leader of a people with lots of pride and sense of dignity, identity and culture; creative men and women, well educated, politicised and most importantly rich. Under his leadership, they have made the deliberate choice to refuse investing the oil financial resources in Swiss banks or luxurious hotels chains. Instead, they built a Nation with a modern infrastructure (schools, universities, hospitals, transport facilities, etc…), developed the economic sectors (industry, agriculture, tourism), and worked on projects that were until recently the privilege of the Western World such as venturing into space and developing a well equipped military arsenal. The American Administration kept Saddam's regime as long as its leader was submitting to their wishes and serving their interests in the region. But soon arrived the time when he was becoming too powerful that they could not allow him to stay in power anymore especially that he had dared not only to invade Kuwait (a disastrous event which was perfectly well orchestrated by US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie) but especially because he possessed weapons, particularly missiles that could reach the hinterlands of Israel and did not avoid to use them. Since he was not playing in accordance with the rules, it was time for him to be ripped off. This may be perfectly well understood in the light of what Prof. Richard Falk wrote in his fore mentioned study (see note nb.4): "The South, subordinate in any event, has remained fertile grounds for indefinite punishment of a political actor that challenged the established geopolitical order. Iraq, formerly a strategic junior partner in the maintenance of such an order, including during its long war with the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 1980s, became and remains the arch enemy of this post-cold war American design for the region".

But what would the results of Saddam Hussein's deposition be:

- Would he be killed by an American commando?
- Would he be incarcerated in Guattanamo?
- Would he manage to protect himself and to escape as he is trying to do now, since he has lately offered three billions dollars and a half in exchange for asylum ,for him and twelve or twenty persons of his family and close surrounding, to the Lybian leader, General Moammar Khadafi, the same Khadhafi who shacked hands early this month (November 2002) with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconie - who is in favour of a strike against Iraq and has been at the forefront of European efforts to strengthen ties with Kadhafi's Libya, considered by Washington a "rogue state" (as well as Iraq), but which is the main supplier of oil to Italy.
- Would he - out of pride and dignity - commit suicide? But he man is a true believer who has built outside Baghdad the "Mother of all Battles" mosque to celebrate his birthday in 2001: The minarets, each 43 meters high for the 43 days of the 1991 war in Kuwait are designed to represent the Scud missiles Saddam fired at Israel during the conflict. Inside a cabinet displays a copy of the Koran said to have been written entirely of Saddam's own blood, of which he is said to have donated 24 litres over three years.
- Or would he be brave enough to choose the hard path and give up power - instead of grasping it - allowing the people the fair chance to decide the most appropriate political system to its aspirations. Recently he surprised the world by releasing 300 political prisoners and he could surprise it by calling his people for a referendum. Who knows, isn't he unpredictable ?!


3 - The fragmentation of Iraq and the Balkanisation of the Middle East:

One of Washington's long-term objectives in regard to Iraq is to divide the country into three mini states:

a- A state in the North ruled by the Kurds, if they manage to overcome their ideological differences for the sake of their own people which for decades have been suffering from partition, forced exodus and systematic violations of its human rights.
b- A state in the south, not too far from Iran ruled by the Chi'a community.
c- As for the middle, two alternatives are possible: one of them would be a reduced government ruled by exiled Iraqi opposition groups whose loyalty to Iraq as a Nation could be questioned. In fact, they have asked (November 20, 2002) the British government - which granted them with political asylum- for permission to hold a December meeting in London to discuss how their country would be governed if Saddam Hussein is ousted. It should not be forgotten that previous attempts to set up such a conference have foundered as a split between Ahmad Chalabi, the exile with the best connections in Washington, and his Islamic and Kurdish opponents in the opposition.

These differences could leave the door widely opened to the other alternative which lays in what has been reported about the Bush Administration intentions to appoint a military governor in Baghdad, as was done in occupied Japan and Germany after the Second World War.

Such fragmentation would not allow the Americans a better control over the oil wells as they may imagine, because it will increase the sense of minorities identities, which could lead to a civil war between the different factions or communities. In the surroundings of Iraq, each one of them would be able to find an ally ready to provide it with the required assistance so that Iraq would no longer be a power in the region and its resources easy to be snaffled.

On the other hand, the fragmentation of Iraq would threaten all the countries of the Middle Eastern region, which they will fear for their unity, sovereignty and the integrity of their territories. Such a project targets not only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but also Syria and Lebanon. Besides, it will particularly affect the events course in the Palestinian occupied territories which for the past three years they have been the scene of ongoing aggression and vengeful attacks carried out by Israel on the defenceless Palestinian people. The strike against Iraq would give Israel - especially if the expected elections in Tel-Aviv are to bring one of the two most extremist right leaders, foreign minister Benjamin Natanyahu or Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz - the green light to implement its plan concerning the refugees, by provoking and exodus of the largest number of Palestinians from the west Bank and the Gaza Strip to the surroundings lands, and to oppose the return of the refugees from the Diaspora. Their implantation in Lebanon and in the other countries - such as Jordan, Syria and even Tunisia - which have given them asylum, would than become inevitable, in opposition - at least in Lebanon's case - to what the Taef Agreement stipulates.

Let us recall that, during the last two years of the Lebanese war (1988 - 1990), the political discourse of certain national fractions spoke of partition, political decentralization, cantons, federation and confederation, on the pretext that they did not want to live with the Palestinians if these where implanted in our territory. That is why the Document of National Understanding - the Taef Accord - stipulated: No partition, no implantation. And these expressions were subsequently excluded in the preamble of the Constitution.

It is true that those who call for partition are a minority and can absolutely not impose such a project, because after 20 years of destructive civil war, after witnessing what is happening on the regional level, after having worked so hard to rebuild the country, and after having succeeded to pull out the Israeli army from South Lebanon, the Lebanese people are very much aware of the dangers that are surrounding them, and they refuse any move or agreement that could compromise Lebanon's Unity. Therefore, Lebanon today calls for the unconditioned implementation of the UN Resolutions regarding not only the Lebanese prisoners in Israel Jails and the withdrawal of the Israeli army from what is left of the Lebanese territory (Shebaa Farms and the Wazzani waters) under its occupation, but also and most importantly what is related to the Palestinian People which has every right to self-determination and freedom on its own land. It has been wandering in the wild for more than fifty years. It is more than enough.

Thus, even though they are deeply worried because of what is happening now in the Holy Land, Arabs remain confident in the Palestinian people and their firm determination to carry on their struggle until the final victory. In spite of all they have endured, this heroic people will not bend the knee and the Intifada will not show the white flag. This in itself is a victory in view of the unbalance of forces. The Jewish state cannot force the Palestinian into a new exodus as it did in 1948.


4 - Opening the road to China

If Iraq falls into the hands of the American, then the road to China will be easy to be opened (and it is almost opened) for Globalisation purposes. In fact:

- Iran will think twice before confronting the US with any opposition, since it is afraid of being held eternally hostage of the "Axis of evil".

- Afghanistan will soon wake up to discover its 90% fields of gas exploded by western private companies.

- Pakistan will welcome the enterprise since it is an American ally in the region.

- India would not mind.

- And China is doing its very best to be ready for the glorious day: In fact, it's well known, that the 16th Communist Party Congress looks set to enshrine a change to its constitution which lays down that the Party exists to represent not just the proletariat but also the "advanced productive forces". Though a number of businessmen are already party members, these have often been people who run newly - privatised state - own enterprises, rather than genuine entrepreneurs, who, according to the new reform, will be able to join. Arguably, this could signal a profound transformation, if a growing number of businessmen entered the party to push for more open government and the rule of law, at least in economic matters. Even though China's leadership is collective, with the Standing Committee and the wider Politburo exercising considerable power over the nominal leader, Mr. Hu Jintao, there is no senior figure willing to prevent the elaborate process of consensus - building over the past few years - thanks to Jiang Zemin's five years efforts - from going on. No one advocates reversing China's economic engagement with the world, its embrace of capitalism and its pursuit of good relations with America. Even Hu Jintao main rivals suggest that there will be continuity on these issues. Therefore China should - according to Jiang's dictum - "increase understanding, reduce trouble, be non-confrontational, and develop co-operation". If this country of almost 1.3 billion people (which represent enormous markets) undergoing turbulent economic and social changes is willing to keep these new politics, then it could enter the circle of Economic Globalisation(16). As for Democracy, it is not an emergency especially when we know that the New global order has been using it in the South as a weapon with which it threatens those totalitarian regimes that refuse to cooperate, to enter the games' circle and to play in accordance to the rules.

Besides, if some countries of the Western world are today opposing the strike against Iraq, it is not just because they want to see democracy and human rights promoted in the countries of the South, but because new concepts such as "pre-emption in threatening their owns. "Pre-emption (…) validating striking first, not in a crisis, (…) but on the basis of shadowy intentions, alleged potential links to terrorist groups, supposed plans and projects to acquire weaponry of mass destruction, and anticipations of possible future dangers. It is a doctrine without limits, without accountability to the UN or international law, without any dependence on a collective judgement of responsible governments, and, what is worse, without any convincing demonstration of practical necessity" (17).


5 - Increasing fundamentalism

A strike against Iraq would increase frustration, anger and violence in the Arab world where people have been watching their governments submitting since the 1967th Defeat or "Nakba", in a very humiliating way, to the US Administration. If a total chaos is possible, it would mainly be because Arabs do not have charismatic leaders anymore and even the opposition's politicians do not have an alternative coherent political plan that could be spread and implemented.

This would probably lead to the rise and development of fundamentalism, which has nothing to do with Islam: look at the Moslem World's map and you will find it colourful and speaking many languages; it is one of the most successful combination of diversity within Unity; but if fundamentalism threatens to spread, it is because, in some countries, it is an important factor that has the power to mobilize civil society (which is empowerished and oppressed) by giving it social aids with one hand, the veil and the sword with the other.

Therefore, if the Western World is really willing to keep its interests alive and prosperous in this region of the South, then it has to work toward preventing the strike on Iraq, and toward sparing human kind violence death, and destruction of priceless civilizations. It's worth it, especially when peaceful alternatives exist.


Alternatives to war:

1- To remove unconditionally and immediately the sanctions imposed on Iraq and to grant its people with compensation for the damage and harm that were done to them. This would give the International Community a fair chance to rebuild confidence not just with the Iraqi people but, most importantly, with the Arab street.

2- To work toward the mobilization of the civil society in Iraq by calling Parliamentarians, Political Parties, NGOs, and Intellectual for an effective participation that would lead it to a referendum through which the future head of the state would be elected.

3 - To establish a civil and democratic government whose main tasks would be:

a- to rebuild the country
b- to encourage the fruitful steps that have been taken in Iraq such as the release of 300 Iraqi political prisoners, and to develop peaceful and constructive relations with the countries in the region.
c- To solve through negotiation the water conflict with Turkey
d- To integrate the Kurdish community and to recognize its political and language rights.

As for the Western World, it is invited to mobilize its civil society in order to increase its awareness and recognition of other people's rights to self- determination, peace and freedom.


One last remark: it is surprising to learn that most of the American public opinion is backing President Bush in this war on Iraq when Americans cannot find this flashpoint state on a map of the Middle East.

In fact, and according to a survey released by National Geographic, only 1 in 7 of Americans between the age of 18 and 24, the prime age for military service, could find Iraq on a map of the Middle East, despite a barrage of headlines and broadcast reports about an imminent war against President Saddam Hussein. The score was the same for Iran, Iraq's neighbour and only 13 percent could locate Israel.

Although the majority, 58 percent, of the young Americans surveyed knew that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda were based in Afghanistan, only 17 percent could find that country on a world map.

Astonished, John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society said in a statement: "If our young people can't find places on a map and lack awareness of current events, how can they understand the world's cultural, economic and natural resources issues that confront us?" (18)

An Iraqi could ask: "If American young people, in prime age for military service, can't locate Iraq on a Middle East's or World's map, how can they go there and bombard cities, causing mass killing among innocent people, for the sake of new concepts such as "pre-emption", "globalisation", "Axis of evil", "ABC mass destruction weapons", "Rangoon states"".


Three conclusions remain to be made:

1- They are going there for the oil and most of the rest is a masquerade or a charade.

2- Their government will put at their disposal sophisticated aircrafts with newly equipped computers. The strike against Iraq will be "a peace of cake", a video game, with no casualties among soldiers.

3- Peace Education should proceed through geography, geopolitics, cultural studies, and foreign languages. If we want the World to be a better place where Peace and Freedom are shared by all, we have to act in accordance with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom's global shared priorities, which are:

1- Peace and culture of / for peace
2- Disarmament of all weapons
3- Social and economic Justice
4- Sustainable environment and human security
5- Racial Justice
6- Freedom and Human Rights
7- Democratisation of the United Nations


In solidarity and peace

Beirut, November 24, 2002



(1) ADAMS (Michael), Reflections on a Fortieth Anniversary, in Monday Morning (vol. XXXI, No 1558, November 4, 2002, p.5)

(2) Quoted by Bishop Whalon (Pierre W.), "A moral justification of going to war", in the International Herald Tribune, Thursday, November 14, 2002, p.8 (views/editorials and commentary).

(3) Quoted by Jallad (Edgard), "The fight against Terrorism and 'Regime Change' in Iraq, an Inherent contradiction", in Monday Morning, November 14, 2002, p.11.

(4) FALK (Richard), "Iraq, the United States, and International law: beyond the Sanctions", August 27, 2002 (

(5) KHASHOGGI (Jamal Ahmad), "Resolution 1441 - one more humiliation", in the Daily Star, Thursday, November 14, 2002, p.5.

(6) DYER (Gwynne), "The second Gulf war: Delayed but not cancelled", in Monday Morning. November 14, 2002, p.6.

(7) The economist, November 9th - 15th 2002, p.13 (leaders)

(8) DYER (Gwynne), ibidem

(9) See R. Falk, ibidem and Richard Garfield, "Health and Well-being in Iraq: Sanctions and the Impact of the oil-for-Food Program", "Transnational law and contemporary Problems 11 (No.2): 277 - 298 (2001).

(10)See Jan Oberg, "Visit Iraq", Pressinfo 156. August 8, 2002, (

(11)See the valuable overview that has been provided by Sarah Graham-Brown, Sanctioning Saddam (1999)

(12)See early respected assessment of the civilian impact of the sanctions imposed after the Gulf War by the Harvard Study Team that visited Iraq several times during 1991. Albert Acherio and others, "Effect of the Gulf War on Infant and Child mortality in Iraq", 327 New England Journal of Medicine 931 (1992); see also: "Unsanctioned Suffering: A human Rights Assessment of United Nations Sanctions on Iraq", center for Economic and Social Rights, May 1996.

(13) See Richard Falk, ibidem.

(14) See Jan Oberg, "Visit Iraq".

(15) Ecco Press, 2002; published in Britain, as "Saddam: The Secret life"; Pan Macmillan 2002

(16) See The Economist, "China: out with the old, in with the old", November 9th - 15th 2002, pp.15 - 16.

(17) See Richard Falk, "Grasping George W. Bush's Post-modern Geopolitics", 10th IUPIP International course: People's Diplomacy, non-violence and global civil society after September 11 (Rovereto, 29 September - 20 October 2002).

(18) See Paul Recer, from the Associated Press, "Despite drive to war, Americans can't find Iraq on a map", in the Daily Star, (published with the International Herald Tribune), No. 10, 1942, Thursday, November 21, 2000.




BLUM (William) The Rogue states

CHOMSKY (Noam) 11/9 Autopsie des terrorismes

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Chomsky (Noam)
Manufacturing consent. The political Economy Of the Mass Media, Great Britain Vintage originale, 1994

JOHNSON (Chalmers) Blowback

MURAKAMI (Masahiro) Managing Water for Peace in the Middle East, Alternative Strategies, Tokyo - New York - Paris, United Nations, University Press, 1995


POLLACK (Kenneth M) The Threatening storm: The case for Invading Iraq, Random house, 2002

COUGHLIN (Con) Saddam: King of Terror, Eco Press, 2002. (The same book was published in Britain as Saddam: The Secret life, Pan Macmillan, 2002)


- The water question


BRUNS(Bryan Randolph)
Negotiating water rights. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Washington D.C. 2 Vistaar Publications, New Delhi, 2000.

MURAKAMI (Masahiro) Managing Water for Peace in the Middle East, Alternative Strategies, Tokyo - New York - Paris, United Nations, University Press, 1995

SCHEIL (Christopher) Water's Fall. Running the Risks with Economic Rationalism. Pluto Press Australia Ltd, Annandall, 2000.



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