Another War of Shame
U.S. Hands Off Iraq!
Revolutionary Worker #945, February 22, 1998
The water supply system of an entire country is contaminated with germs...millions of people get sick...babies and the elderly are especially vulnerable...many tens of thousands die from severe diarrhea and intestinal diseases.
Is this an imaginary scenario concocted by the White House PR team to warn of what might happen if Saddam Hussein carried out germ warfare--and to justify a new bombing campaign against Iraq? No, it's a description of an actual nightmare: the situation in Iraq after the U.S. bombed this small country for over a month in 1991.
The massive Gulf War bombing killed many people directly. But the bombing also destroyed Iraq's sewage and water treatment plants, electrical power grid and hospitals, setting off a deadly chain of events. Dangerous bacteria contaminated the drinking water, causing widespread illness. The devastated health system was overwhelmed. And the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. alliance has prevented Iraq from getting medicine, chlorine for purifying water or parts to repair the sewage and water plants. The extreme food shortages caused by the sanctions have also led to malnutrition, making the health problems even worse. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people have died as a result.
As the U.S. policy makers prepare for a new military assault on Iraq, they claim to be protecting the world from Saddam Hussein's biological weapons and other "weapons of mass destruction." But the U.S. has already committed mass murder in Iraq with a form of germ warfare and with their weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. Prepares for Another Techno-Genocide
During the 1991 Gulf War, Pentagon briefers bragged about the computer-guided "smart" bombs that minimized "collateral damage"--U.S. military-speak for ordinary people killed by the bombing. But as the truth came out, it became clear that this was an outright lie. The bombs came down on city neighborhoods, markets, baby milk factories and other civilian areas. Who can forget the U.S. bombs that exploded inside the Amiriya air raid shelter, killing over 400 people?
Seven years later, a report in the New York Times (2/13/98) claims that the U.S. weapons are now "cleaner" and "smarter": "Precision-guided and laser-designated smart munitions, first seen in the war, have greatly improved in accuracy and dependability. Many of the improved systems allow the pilots to stand off from their targets at high altitudes without a loss of accuracy. This protects the pilots, but also should reduce the number of civilian casualties."
The very next day, an article in the same newspaper made clear that the claims of "cleaner" high-tech weapons are still a lie. The Times wrote, "President Clinton and his top aides began today to prepare the nation for war in Iraq, and for the grim prospects of civilian casualties on the ground and of American pilots shot down from the skies." The Pentagon has summoned major news organizations to discuss "how to cover the war." The Times quoted Gen. Henry Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying, "The truth is, war is a dirty thing."
The truth is, the U.S. is preparing for yet another dirty techno-genocide against an already battered nation. A few more microchips and other technological upgrading may have gone into the U.S. missiles. But they are still weapons of mass murder.
A new war on Iraq will be even more one-sided than in 1991--it will mean more Iraqi people dead and injured. This is what Clinton and other officials are trying to "prepare the nation" for--to quietly accept another round of bloodshed in Iraq.
Pentagon officials say that a key target of U.S. missiles will be the sites where Iraq allegedly makes and stores biological and chemical weapons. There seems to be little actual evidence that Iraq has significant amounts of such weapons at this time. But if Iraq actually does have large stores of deadly germs and chemicals, wouldn't U.S. bombs unleash toxic clouds that could drift over Iraq and nearby countries? Either the U.S. war planners know that Iraq has no such weapons--or they are going to go ahead and bomb, fully aware of the danger to the people of the region.
The U.S. is even throwing around talk of using nuclear weapons against Iraq. New York Newsday reported on Feb. 1 that a top-secret directive--signed by Clinton last November--discusses the possible use of atomic bombs against Iraq and other "rogue states." According to Newsday, U.S. contingency plans include so-called "mini-nukes" designed to destroy underground bunkers made with reinforced concrete. They have less than one-tenth of the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. But they are as much as 500 times more powerful than the largest non-nuclear warheads--and emit dangerous radiation.
Any use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. would be an intolerable outrage--to add to the bloody mountain of war crimes the U.S. has carried out in Iraq and around the world. But even if "mini-nukes" are not used, the talk of such weapons is meant to terrorize the people in Iraq and worldwide.
The U.S. imperialist bullies believe that making an extreme "example" out of Iraq will help them keep other oppressed people and countries around the world from "stepping out of line." They think that their cold-blooded methods and brutal actions will keep their world empire "in order."
Tensions Between the Powers
The U.S. moves in Iraq and the Persian Gulf are also intended as a message to other major powers--that the U.S. still has the biggest military, including its nuclear weapons, and that it controls the oil lifeline of the imperialist world economy.
As the U.S. war moves against Iraq heat up, the Russian government is trying to outmaneuver the U.S. The Iraqi government agreed to a Russian-sponsored plan to open up a number of previously restricted "presidential sites" to international inspectors during a fixed time period. But the U.S. has rejected any such compromises, demanding that Iraq submit to unlimited inspections of all military and government areas. In essence, the U.S. is saying that war is inevitable unless Iraq gives up any claim to national sovereignty and independence.
The Russian rulers are acting out of their own imperialist interests. They have large oil contracts and other economic interests in Iraq. The 1991 Gulf War was a factor in the final collapse of the Soviet Union--and Russia sees the current Gulf crisis as a way to project itself once again as a major player in the Middle East. And they are worried that increased U.S. power in the Gulf threatens Russian-dominated areas of Central Asia--even as the NATO war bloc expands in Central Europe, on Russia's western flank.
On February 4, Russian President Boris Yeltsin warned that a U.S. military attack on Iraq could lead to a world war. This statement was treated by the U.S. media and government spokesmen as a typically "bizarre" outburst by Yeltsin. But according to Russian officials, Yeltsin was reacting to the reports in Newsday and elsewhere about the U.S. contingency plans for possible use of nuclear weapons against Iraq.
Several days later, the Russian leadership issued another warning when Defense Minister Sergeyev told U.S. Secretary of Defense Cohen, "Is America ready for all the possible consequences? Does the uncompromising and tough position of the U.S. on Iraq help to strengthen stability and security in the world?"
These developments show that the looming threat of war in the Gulf have sharpened up some underlying inter-imperialist tensions and contradictions.
U.S. Hands Off Iraq!
During the last Gulf War, one U.S. general said, "The army carries the morality of the society with them." This was one time when a ruling class pig spoke some truth. The U.S. way of fighting, displayed in the Gulf War, concentrates what their society is about: organized greed, backed by weapons of mass destruction.
The U.S. powers carried out a cowardly mass murder from the air. They used a military designed to fight a world war against the rival Soviet bloc--and threw it against a small Third World country. It was truly a war of shame.
And now the U.S. is getting ready for a War of Shame 2. A war in the tradition of a society that massacred Indians and turned "slave chases" into a sport. A war in line with the vicious mentality of the cops who kept on beating Rodney King while he was on the ground. A war without any honor or justice.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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