We drove over 1,100 miles this weekend (and the reason why we’ve been in hibernation since Wed) and to be honest… not many interesting thoughts or things of note. Sure Pittsburgh’s a great town, all roads lead to New York just so they can charge you five bucks to cross the Hudson, and Connecticut is awesome, but we don’t feel like it because they aren’t that interesting. So instead of filling you with tidbits like that or that one should never drive 700 odd miles on a Friday during Lent because it’s just temptation after temptation and you end up eating crap pretzels and JUST a biscuit from McDonald’s, we’re going to do in another direction, what we’re not sure but we’ll think of something. We’re good like that and we did have a good idea in the shower, but we aren’t in the shower any more. Damn it.
So instead of letting Paul Krugman lay out the odds that Bush will attack Iran for political gain, we’re going to go back in time. A time when we were a wee-little intern in London for a Member of Parliament (remember that’s just how we roll). A time when Iraq was in mass chaos and we debated how much power Saddam really had (remember he didn’t control the northern or southern third of the country). A time when we were putting together a little report for our MP on Iraq back in the early days of 2003.
Let the record show this is not the best thing I’ve ever written, it’s pretty dry. I’ve tried to clean it up a bit but we left the British spelling and dates just for the full effect. But also let the record show that in the mist of all the details and happenings of those weeks leading up to the US invasion of Iraq, the words “democracy”, “liberty”, and “freedom” weren’t uttered that often. It was mostly “WMDs” or “Al Qaeda”. This idea of freedom and liberty was all, let’s be honest, bullshit that they used after the fact. These guys [aka the White House] were going into Iraq for their own reasons… we’ll let the readers decide, but here are the options we see looking back:
1) Weapons of Mass Destruction
2) Saddam’s ‘ties’ Al Qaeda
4) To ‘cover up’ the, pardon our French, fuck up that was Torra Bora which allowed bin Laden to escape the US military. Toppling Saddam and taking control of Iraq became the political gain for Bush.
5) They really are warmongers
Personally… we think the right answer is #4. And that’s why these early rumors of Iran worry us… the invasion of Iraq started much the same way. Very quietly, little by little, things built up, ‘evidence’ was shown, cases made... and then we were at war. Fool me once… shame on you. Fool me twice…
No matter, what we’re saying is that this was never about freedom or liberty or democracy… that was just a byproduct, the plan M if plans A though L failed. Okay without further Freddy Adu:
The United States and Iraq
13 February 2003
In 1990 after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the United Nations placed economic sanctions on Iraq. A year later the United States and allies attacked and defeated Iraq in a short war (the Gulf War) that liberated Kuwait. After the Gulf War, weapon inspectors were sent to Iraq and to made sure that Iraq complied with the UN rules of disarmament. This process continued until November of 1998, when the United Nations ordered all its weapon inspectors to leave Iraq, fuelling speculations that a military strike against Baghdad may have been imminent.
In August of 1998, Iraq banned further inspections by UNSCOM, a commission of the UN Security Council that oversees the dismantling of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. In July of 1998, it broke off relations altogether. Baghdad said it wanted a clear timetable for the lifting of sanctions, imposed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War.
The report from the United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix that was released and presented on 27, January 2003, was a broadly negative report on Iraq's cooperation during the inspections for weapons of mass-destruction. "Iraq appears not to have come to genuine acceptance - not even today - of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out win the confidence of the world and live in peace," Mr Blix reported in his 15 page report.
For President George W. Bush the news was unexpected support from Mr. Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector. Blix's report gave the president the support, but not all the support necessary, to go to war. It raised more questions concerning the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction than answered them. The report also failed to produce a “smoking gun”. The question over where the stores of these weapons are only grew; VX, anthrax, illegal missiles and chemical weapons, all are either unaccounted for or differ with Iraqi documents and reports.
Still, despite the report from Mr. Blix, countries such as France, Germany, and Russia, are not convinced that war is a necessary option. They are in favour in giving the inspectors more time. Yet, Mr. Blix's report was extremely critical and forced the doubting Council members to confront Iraq's attempts to delay and stop the inspectors from doing their job.
Also on the 27, January the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iraq had not resumed its nuclear program, one of the Bush administrations main arguments for taking military action. This summer's accusations by the Bush government claiming that Iraq was attempting to restart its nuclear program have proven to be false. "We have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapon program since the elimination of the program in the 1990's," Mohamed El Baradei, the head of the agency, told the UN Security Council.
Intelligence officials have said in recent months that they have found no conclusive evidence of links between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks. "At the same time, there has been a continuing debate within the intelligence community about possible connections between Iraqi and a northern IraqiIslamic extremist group known as Ansar al-Islam. It has been affiliated with Al Qaeda, and some of its Iraqi members trained in Al Qaeda's Afghan Camps. American officials say Iraq may provide Ansar al-Islam with some support, but it does not appear that the group controlled by Baghdad." (28 January, 2003, Michael Gordon and James Risen, "New York Times" Report's Findings Undercut US Argument.)
With it appearing that Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction that they are hiding from inspectors and have had these weapons for 12 years, but no evidence of Iraq rejuvenating its nuclear program or any connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq, and still no 'smoking gun', the question now becomes, 'Why attack Iraq now?'
The concerning question of 'Why now' is a question that Bush has yet to fully answer. The State of the Union was an opportunity for him to do so: "The world has waited 12 years for Iraq to disarm. America will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our country, and our friends and our allies. The United States will ask the UN Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq's ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about. Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups." - President George W. Bush, 28 Jan. 2003
On Wednesday, 5 February US Secretary of State Colin Powell went in front of the United Nations Security Council with super-secret intercepts of conversations between Iraqi officials and information concerning Iraqi deceit. Still without a smoking gun, Powell's presentation did strengthen the Bush administration's case that Iraq has sought to deceive the weapons inspectors.Powell provided new details concerning Iraq's effort to develop mobile laboratories to make germ weapons, had developed a technique for making dry biological agents, and went on to say that Iraq attempted to hide missiles in the western desert. He also provided intelligence reports that Saddam Hussein authorized the use of poison gas if the United States invades.
Mr. Powell was still unable to make an 'airtight case' that Saddam Hussein and Iraq is plotting with Al Qaeda to attack the US. This has been the argument coming from the White House, but the evidence is shaky at best. Powell cited information from foreign intelligence reports that Osama bin Laden had met with senior Iraqi officials. He went on to say that 'extremists' affiliated with Al Qaeda had taken up residence in Iraq and Baghdad. "But a senior State Department official stressed after the speech that the Bush administration was not asserting that Saddam Hussein was "exercising operational control" of Al Qaeda." (New York Times, 6/2/03)
But it was reviled that some of the sources that Mr. Powell used in his case for war against Iraq were actually not as he presented them as. Powell used "chucks of British "intelligence" that he invoked were copied verbatim from an old article by a young academic." (The Times, 7/2/03). This realization was a set back to Powell's and the White House's case for war with Iraq since it appears that some of their information may not be what it seems.
While British Prime Minister Tony Blair has pressed for a second resolution, Bush has resisted this. He appears to have realized that a second resolution is necessary, which is why Powell went in front of the Security Council on 5 February. Britain has also expressed support of the German proposal that the inspectors report back to the Security Council again on 14 February. But whether the United States supports this is in question. But such a date would allow the US and Britain to continue to make war plans while at the same time appeasing France, Russia, and China, all skeptical allies, showing them that they are not rushing into war. Each country also has the own ideas of the action that should take place in dealing with Iraq. For instance, Russia favours allowing more time for weapon inspectors to continue their search for these weapons of mass destruction. France is at the moment against war. A veto from one of these three nations would block any UN movement in Iraq.
President Bush did announce on 6 February that he would welcome a second UN resolution authorizing war to disarm Baghdad. Also on the 6th, the 101st Airborne Division (one of the US best trained and fighting units) was ordered to the Middle East. There are already 100,000 US troops in the region, and that number may double by the end of February.
Kuwait has allowed for US troops to use their land and be station there in case there is war, and talks have also been going on with Turkey in order to use Turkish land to station US troops and aircraft. At the same time talks have been going on that would allow Turkish troops to follow US troops, fall back behind advancing US troops, into Northern Iraq if war does break out and help occupy the area.
On 10 February, Iraq began to agree to some of the UN demands, among them being allowing U-2 flights of photographic surveillance over Iraq.
But with the release of a tape that is believed to be Osama bin Laden's voice, the question of weather bin Laden and Al Qaeda has connections to Iraq have resurfaced. On 11 February, both Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA director George Tenet gave testimony linking Iraq and Al Qaeda. The tape urged Muslims to help Baghdad defend itself against an American attack. "We want to let you know and confirm to you that this war of the infidels that the US is leading with its allies. We are with you and we will fight in the name of God," the speaker said.
Mr. Powell used the tape as evidence that the Qaeda leader was "in partnership with Iraq." Mr. Tenet's testimony was especially noteworthy because some Pentagon and White House officials had privately complained that the CIA was too reluctant to conclude there was an Iraq-Qaeda link. Mr. Tenet told the Senate intelligence committee that intelligence officials had unearthedpowerful evidence showing a connection. "Iraq has in the past provided training in document forgery and bomb making to Al Qaeda. It has also provided training in poisons and gases to two Al Qaeda associates. One of these associates characterized the relationship he forged with Iraqi officials as successful." (New York Times, Feb. 12, 2003, Top US Officials Tell Lawmakers of Iraq-Qaeda Ties, David Johnston)
Bush officials feel that they have enough evidence to gather the necessary support for an invasion of Iraq. The evidence shows "an active pattern of defiance" by Saddam Hussein in violation of UN Resolution 1441 (which requires Iraq to cooperate with the UN in declaring and relinquishing its weapons of mass destruction) (Newsweek Feb. 10, 2003).
One answer why the United States has begun to go after Saddam Hussein and Iraq is the attacks on New York City, Washington DC, and Somerset, Pennsylvania. David Owen of The Guardian brings up an excellent point:"The fact that the US is ready to mount another military invasion, risk American lives and incur formidable costs, is solely due to what happened in New York and Washington on September 11 2001. After, Afghanistan, containing Islamic fundamentalist terrorism requires peace in the Middle East." – “The Guardian" 4, February 2003. American foreign policy has been shaped by the events of September 11th, and will do what it feels necessary to protect herself.
Questions over what should be done and how Iraq should be governed and rebuild have come into question. The White House told Congress that it would take two years for the US military to transfer control of Iraq's government to Iraqi leaders.
Threats and Supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction:
1.) VX - A nerve agent that is one of the most toxic substances on Earth
a. There are indications that Iraq has worked on the purity and weaponized this substance.
2.) Chemical Bombs - Documents found in 1998 detail the usage ofthese bombs in the Iran-Iraq War.
b. More than 13,000 bombs were dropped by Iraqi forces.
3.) Chemical Rocket Warheads - Discovered by inspectors in Dec. 2002.
c. Weather these warheads were overlooked as Iraq says, or just the 'tip of the iceberg' of the thousand of unaccounted rockets is yet to be seen.
4.) Anthrax - There have been reports of anthrax in Iraq in the past.d. There has yet to be any documentation that proves that Iraq has destroyed the deadly agent. And there are indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than declared.
5.) Bacterial Growth Material - Material capable of building stocks of deadly bacteria.
e. In its Dec. 7 report to inspectors, the pages concerning this material were omitted and renumbered.
6.) Scud-type Missiles - Iraq may have retained some of these missiles after the Gulf War.
7.) Missile development Projects - Two Iraqi projects to develop missiles.
f. Both missile systems have been tested, a range of 93 milesg. Both missiles are in control of the Iraqi Armed Forces, despite Iraqi reports that they are still in development.
8) High-strength Aluminum Tubes - Iraq attempted to obtain tubes used to manufacture nuclear centrifuges.
h. Iraq is forbidden from purchasing the tubes under a UN Security Council resolution. IAEA analysis of the tubes is not finished but the Iraqi's claim that they were needed to reverse engineer conventional rockets.
9.) HMX - An explosive that can be used for nuclear weapons or for legitimatepurposes.
i. Again, IAEA needs more time to investigate the whereabouts of missing quantities of HMX that the Iraqis claim were used for mining purposes.
10.) Uranium - Iraq has denied trying to import uranium since 1991.
j. Again, the IAEA does not have enough information on the topic. But inspectors found 2,000 pages of documents on uranium enrichment in the home of an Iraqi scientist.
Iraqi Oil and Connections to Other Members in the UN Security Council
Among one of the most talked about topics during the debate of war with Iraq has been over oil, what to do with Iraqi oil, and national interests in Iraqi oil. Russia, France, and China all have existing deals involving oil with Iraq. UN sanctions had been imposed in August 1990 and in 1995 the UN Security Council allowed Iraq to sell oil, under UN supervision, to buy food, medicine, oil equipment and a host of other goods in an effort to ease the impact of the UN sanctions.
When the food for oil deal was extended in 2000, the Security Council was also united in calling for the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq. But Iraq's few council supporters, led by France, pressed for measure to ease these sanctions and the negative impact they imposed on the Iraqi people. In December of 2000, France wanted "to set aside 600 million Euros ($538 million US) for Iraq to use for its oil industry expense, but the United States and several other council members argue that any cash allocation must be available to all economic sectors." (CNN.com; 5 Dec. 2000; AP & Reuters, www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/12/05/un.iraq.oil.02)
Iraq is estimated to have 112.5 billion barrels of oil, about 11% of the world’s total, and also has immense gas fields. Before 1972, US and UK companies controlled about a three-quarters share of the Iraqi oil production, but in 1972 they lost their position with the nationalization of the Iraq Petroleum Company. As Iraq attempted to gain control of its oil resources they turned to French companies and the Soviet government for funds. While France and Russia still have major stakes in Iraqi oil today, China, Germany, and Japan all also have interests.
In the 1990's Russia's Lukoil reached an agreement in 1997 to "develop Iraq's West Qurna field." (Iraq: the Struggle for Oil, James A. Paul, Dec. 2002 www.globalpolicy.org/security/oil/2002/08jim.htm) Also in 1997, China National signed an agreement for the North Rumailah field. And France and French company, TotalFinaElf, held contract talks with the Iraqi government to develop the Majnun Field and other fields as soon as sanctions were lifted.
France is not alone when it comes to connections to Iraq and oil, if anything Russia has more of a stake in Iraq than any other country. Russia "which is owed billions of dollars by Iraq for past arms deliveries, has the strongest interest in Iraqi oil development, including a 3.5 billion, 23 year deal to rehabilitate oilfields, particularly the 11-15 billion-barrel West Qurna field, located west of Basra near the Rumaila field." (The Observer, Peter Beaumont and Faisal Islam, Nov 3, 2002, "Carve-up of oil riches begins").
While France has never signed a deal, unlike Russia and China which both did in 1997, all three countries have clear and great interests in Iraq and Iraqi oil. War with Iraq, and thus bring in a new government that would be friendly with the United States, would damage these countries interests in Iraqi oil. James Woolsey, the former CIA Director said at a congressional hearing last September: "If the French and Russians, especially, believe that they can oppose steps to destroy Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and change the regime as necessary and still be favorably treated of have their oil companies favorably treated in a newly liberated Iraq, I believe we should give them something else to think about."
In other words, if the UN supports a war, UN members like France and Russia might have a voice in how the oil fields are administered afterward, but if the US attacks alone, they'll have no voice.
But while France has been the most vocal voice against war with Iraq, it may be oil that they are thinking about. Oil Analyst Raad Alkadiri said on NPR (National Public Radio in the United States): "I think France has been acting unbalanced on the basis of its broader strategic interests. And I think those obviously include political, commercial and otherwise. They have a very, very large Muslim population that they're obviously concerned about, the repercussions of the war on. So I think they're pulling all of their thinking together and coming up with a policy that best suits their national interest very much in the same way as the Bush administration is following its own. It may be the case that for the French stepping back and not participating in this war, particularly if it's a narrow-led US war, will enhance their commercial interests in the rest of the Arab world and in the rest of the Middle East." (NPR, All Things Considered: Jan 25, 2003.)
Mr. Alkadiri went on to say that the same may be true for Russia too.
General Iraqi Information
Iraq it self is 437,072 sq. km, with Baghdad being the capital (population of 3.8 million in a 1986 estimate). A 2001 estimate of the population was 23,331,985, with 75% of that population being Arab, anywhere from 15-20% being Kurdish, and Turkman, Assyrian, or others making up less than 5% of the population. Religiously Iraq is divided between a 60% Shia Muslim and a 35% Sunni Muslim population, there is also a 5% Christian minority and less that 1% Jewish population. Almost 75% of Iraq's population lives in the flat, alluvial plain stretching southeast toward Baghdad and Basrah to the Persian Gulf. The most common language is Arabic, but Kurdish is spoken in the north.
Politically the Ba'ath Party controls the government and is the only recognized political party in regime-controlled territory. The Iraqi regime does not tolerate opposition.
The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iraq; however, it does have an Interests Section in the Polish Embassy in Baghdad. Iraq, likewise, has no diplomatic relations with the United States; it has an Interests Section in the Algerian Embassy in Washington, DC.