Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why are we in Iraq?

* Karen Kwiatowski (echoing some questions from round here these last few days):
"Instead, I have a very simple question (for Tenet). Why are we in Iraq? Tenet made it clear that no debate ever occurred on whether the United States of American should invade and occupy Iraq – at least not with the Director of Central Intelligence in attendance. Instead, as so many others have reported, revealed, and witnessed – the decision to "do" Iraq had long been made. In 2001? In 2000? In 1998? In 1991?

The questions debated by the administration in late 2001 and 2002 were only about when and how to sell the story to a frightened flock of American sheep. The forcible rape of Iraq was, according to the second-longest serving CIA Director, already scheduled.

I want to know. I have my theories, as do most people. I don’t believe we destroyed a secular Arab country along with our army, our global reputation and our honor because Dubya wanted a) to vindicate his father, or conversely; b) to show Pop what he was made of.

I don’t know how much of our actions on Iraq were influenced by Foreign Country A, or B, or even C. Israelis and Saudis, or even the Pakistan military might have their reasons, I suppose – but unless they were gambling on chaos and fickleness, or just love a percolating disaster next door, it seems they were mainly cheerleading their friends in Washington, rather than leading them. In any case, it would be nice if Tenet would clear that up for the rest of us.

I don’t know how much of this is related Christian premillennial dispensationalism. I’d sure like to find out.

I’m pretty sure freedom and democracy had little to do with the invasion or occupation of Iraq. Our most reliable regional allies are despots, dictatorships, or militaristic socialist states, as Iraq had once been.

None of the above makes sense to me – but I’d like George Tenet’s help and gentle correction, now that he is speaking freely.

I think the invasion and occupation of Iraq – at its heart – was and remains institutionally supported because it allows all of the key governing bodies in the United States (including the Congress) to reallocate and confiscate more of the national treasury, and to build more military bases around the world. Certainly that has happened, and I don’t hear a loud unified demand from the Congress or anywhere else saying return the money to the taxpayer, and close the American bases in Iraq immediately and permanently.

I think it was timely in light of the circa 2000 euro-based Iraqi oil economy, and the imminent relaxation or cancellation of trade sanctions. While arguably heavy-handed and stupid, invasion provided a face-saving way to ensure US-beholden companies could play with a major advantage in a post-sanction Iraq, and to ensure Iraq’s reversal back to a dollar-based economy. This explanation also has real beneficiaries, all of whom (Congress, establishmentarians including the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editorial pages and most of the Washington thinktanks) actively support the occupation even as they grow bored with the continued death and destruction.

I also think there are frightened men in Washington with conflicted identities who believe playing war while wearing fine cloth and nibbling the lightest of souffl├ęs will somehow make them manly, admired, virile, and powerful.

So Mr. Tenet, you’re looking good these days. One question, sir! Why are we in Iraq?"


Simon said...

(echoing some questions from round here these last few days)

Well, I've offered my take but no-one seemed to want to run with it. Kathleen (whose opinion here I hold in great esteem) came back with "We waged war in Iraq so Dopey could be a War Preznitwit and use all his War Powers against us. And, some mega oil fields for his buddies." She's not wrong in her main sense, but her answer is fatally flawed as such because it is simplistic to an extreme degree. It especially doesn't provide us with what we really need here, which is a homogeneous explanation as to why we are where we are.

Karen Kwiatowski at least concedes the possibility that the decision, as she somewhat euphemistically puts it, to "do" Iraq goes back to 1991. She doesn't believe, or doesn't want to believe, that all of this occurred just because one man wanted to show his own dad that he was a finer cut made of the same cloth.

We have to go back to 1991 to explore whether any of this could be true.

On January 9 1991 President George Herbert Walker Bush sent a letter to Saddam Hussein via his Secretary of State James Baker. Mr. Baker in turn handed the letter to Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, at a six-hour meeting to discuss possible Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait before the expiration of the U.N. deadline, then just five days away, as called for by U.N. Resolution 678, which demanded that Iraq complied fully with resolution 660 [1990], and subsequent resolutions 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674 and 677, with full regard to Iraq withdrawing immediately and unconditionally from Kuwait. Mr. Aziz read this letter, and considering it to be threatening, refused to accept the missive. As part of the letter, President Bush had written:

"Let me explain that the United States will not tolerate the use of chemical or biological weapons, nor the destruction of the oil wells and installations in Kuwait. Furthermore, you will be held directly responsible for any act of terrorism against any member of the coalition. If you order any such reckless act, the American people will ask me for the hardest reprisal and you, as well as your country will pay a terrible price. I am writing this letter not to threaten you, but to notify you I am doing this without the least sense of ease because the American people is not at odds with the Iraqi people."

On January 15 President Bush signed National Security Directive 54. This document authorised US forces to act in support of the UN resolutions; furthermore it broadly placed the above conditions into the form of a Presidential Directive for all time, this from Paragraph 10:

"Should Iraq resort to using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, or be found supporting terrorist acts against the U.S. or coalition partners anywhere in the world, or destroy Kuwait's oil fields, it shall become an explicit objective of the United States to replace the current leadership of Iraq. I also want to preserve the option of authorizing additional punitive actions against Iraq."

It now appears that Saddam Hussein did commit many of these acts despite being specifically warned against doing so by the US President. In committing these actions he deliberately and knowingly called the US President's bluff. In fact it is highly likely that the only one of these acts which he did not commit was that of using a nuclear weapon, this was simply because he did not possess one.

President Bush later demonstrated great remorse for not being able to remove Saddam Hussein from power at this time. Whilst being interviewed by ABC's This Week his then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, upon being asked why Operation Desert Storm had not gone "all the way" to remove Saddam Hussein from power, said: "I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire" and: "Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shia government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Baath party, would it be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all."

This was not really the predominant motive for promoting and accepting the ceasefire, although it was patently germane (then if not now). The overriding reason for ending the war when and as they did was because a major assault on Baghdad may have provoked Saddam into more serious use of his not-insubstantial stocks of biological weaponry. His line of reasoning is exposed in the Iraq Survey Group Final Report>Regime Strategic Intent>Annex D:

Saddam: We will never lower our heads as long as we are alive, even if we have to destroy everybody.

Given all of this, can anyone really be surprised that President George Bush '43 wanted to put an end to what President George Bush '41 could not because he thought Saddam was a dangerous man?

lukery said...

thnx - fp'd

Kax said...

Hello Simon,

Good to see you back. How is work on David Kelly? I'm so interested in the details of that story, partciluarly the fact that Judy Miller was the last person to speak with him before his death. That stuck in my mind as a key dot to connect, somehow.

I'm sure there are many reason we went into Iraq, including of course, the reasons you so carefully outlined.

At this atage of the saga though, I have no patience left for all the nitty gritty nuanced details of why we went into Iraq. I just want to cut to the chase, which may seem simplistic but using War Powers is a real danger, so I want to be a voice to shout FIRE when it comes to the devastation happening to our Constitutional gov't.

As an American citizen, I perhaps am more focused on the domestic internal power stuggles that were part of the motivation for Busholini and Captain Ahab to have themselves a war.

In fact,`they are having so much fun playing "WAR' that I think it is entirely possible and now a confluence of law makes it legal, for them to declare martial law and skip any further elections.

I accepted the findings of the UN Weapons Inspectors and feel that my time is best spent on watching the domestic Fashcification of our country.

In terms of motivating people to change their minds about Iraq and overcome their conditioning to just wave a flag because of 9/11 and mindlessly question the Patriotism of those who do questionm, I think the damage to our Constitution is more moving, at this stage.

Dopey and Darth using their ever increasing War Powers to change our gov't may seem like a fatally simplistic viewpoint to you, but I think it is naive to discount this as a strong motive for going to War and choosing am oil rich place to do it.

Together with all of our various efforts and talents, perhaos we will succeed in turning the tide of pnblic opinion, so we can end the war and bring some criminals to justice.

Simon said...


Hi to you too and thx for your reply. I'm still plugging away at finding stuff out about Dr K, but things here move slowly. I don't entirely hold with the murder theories, I tend to think that he was much more sceptical about the presence of WMD in Iraq than has been publicly portrayed, and that this is where the 'dark actors' stuff comes in. People making a case when none really existed etc.

When it comes to D+D going into Iraq, I'm really looking for the carrot that led the way for the stick to follow. I understand what you are saying about the War Powers Act and all that, but I think these were just tools that were put in place to legitimize what they were already setting their hearts upon. The removal of Saddam by any means possible.

When Clinton was in power he had no such ambitions. He was more than happy to go along with the status quo and to just keep Saddam in his metaphorical box. He (Clinton) knew everything that GWB officially came to know, and most of what GHWB had known before him. So why was there a new urgency to deal with Iraq just as soon as GWB came to office? That's why I think there is such a strong family connection here. Not to mention the fact that many of his high officers had also served under his dad AND been personally involved in Gulf War One.

Let me play out a scenario for you here. Not one necessarily based on fact, but one which MAY have been the case.

In early 1991 Saddam was looking down the barrel of a gun. Three-quarters of a million men and women had travelled to Saudi Arabia to prepare to remove his forces from Kuwait. He faced the heaviest-armed force that had ever been mustered for such an occasion. He had very little opportunity to strike back at this force even though they were already bombing the shit out of his country, his capital city and all of his armed forces. He didn't know what the ultimate plan was. He knew that they might just try to take his 19th province back and restore it to its former owners, but he also thought they also might go all the way and take Baghdad and seize him and his entourage personally. He also didn't know whether his implacable enemy, a little nation on the edge of the Mediterranean, might join in too, in order to seal his ultimate destruction. Other Arab nations had already joined the Coalition against him, and he desperately wanted to break that grouping. So he launched his Scuds. He put messages in them. He had already warned the little nation, saying he had the fire to eat up half of it. Words were not enough though. He had to make a demonstration. So he fired chemicals at Saudi. The Americans shrugged this off. They didn't give him the pleasure of his actions. They pretended it never happened. The little nation received three very special Scuds. Al Hijarah al Sijjil. The powerful stones. He didn't dare fire them at Tel Aviv. They went into the very empty Negev desert. But the little nation did get the message. About the fire. The American President also got to know about it too. But very very quietly. Some of the Saudi Scuds fell in a place called Al Thugbah. Home of some very militant people. Some call them Hizbollah. These Saudis came to know the truth of Gulf War One. Later they blew up one of the buildings which one of the Scuds had hit. Al Khobar Towers. These people saw the punishment, which GHWB had reserved the right to use, in the form of the sanctions, which further devastated the already devastated people of Iraq. They saw the American denial of Gulf War Syndrome. They read the UNSCOM reports. They saw through the lies. They knew the Americans were hiding the true number of Scuds fired. And the true nature of those Scuds. They knew they were pretending there were only 93, which was the only number Saddam was ever prepared to admit to. Later they chose some planes. To fly into buildings. 93 was the special one though. A message, as is the Arab way. Most likely they wanted to fly it into the Capitol Building. It never got there though. Given all of this, can you see why a man named George wanted to destroy a man called Saddam? To prevent him from ever telling the truth perhaps?

(Tell me it isn’t so...)

Kax said...

Simon, I see it differently.

Perpetual Power at home is the prize that has captured Busholini's eyes. Saddam is the carrot to justify sweeping our civil liberties aside.

We propped up Saddam for our own purposes, gave him the weapons and then deomonized him when he used them. We created a first class Boogey Man to justify the fear and need to sweep away our freedoms.

Compared to reinstating a monarchy, Saddam was just a temporary pawn.

It isn't just the War Powers Act. It's the confluence of certain elements of FEMA, ICE, MCA and the Patriot Act that alarms me, all done by our War President, playing with his powers and daring Congress to stop him.

Those of us paying attention all know the truth about the Busholinis and Saddam. Hanging him just gave it all creibility.

Simon said...


I don't disagree with most of what you've written here. I just see the perpetual power thing as being something that became a necessity once the absolute power craze kicked it. It's been done to protect them, so they can never be held to account for anything they ever did. The giving Saddam weapons thing is just a great big red herring in any case, they initially installed him to kill all the communist influence in Iraq. People generally don't even understand about the weapons use anyway (they stopped him losing the Iran-Iraq War), or about Iraqi history or its politics. Saddam used those things against the Iranians in the same way that Churchill used firebombing against the Germans, which was followed up in pretty much the same fashion when Truman dropping his nukes on Japan. Victors justice and all that. It was 9-11 that really changed your lives (mine too) forever. Saddam didn't do that. But it did happen because of him.

Kax said...

Fun to quibble with you, but I disagree that giving Saddam weapons is a red herring, or that he used them soley against the Iranians. As Ted Koppel said recently on The Daily Show, we knew Saddam had WMD's because we still have the receipts. Also I personally witnessed the testimony of the Kurds at the UN in Geneva in the late 80's and know how some of those weapons were used.

In any case we propped up Saddam for our own purposes without regard for what it did to Iraqis, a practice we have done around the world.

"Fatally flawed" seems a bit over the top. There is no one single reason we invaded Iraq, but rather a constellation of reasons that accrue benefits to a small cabal of NeoNutzis, including oil in Iraq, power in the region and tyranical power at home, for as long as they choose. it's silly to insists on ONE reason as IT. That's myopic.

I also disagree that 9/11 happened solely because of Saddam, but rather that 9/11 happened to facilitate the grand scheme and provide NeoNutzis with a perfect knee jerk conditioned response from Americans, that of hitting first and asking questions later, if at all.

Saddam is a cog in a very big juggernaut. Ask Noriega.

My focus now is on what the current Iraqis are saying and trying to find a way to facilitate a just out come for those who survive this debacle. Wish me luck, Simon. It's gonna be a tough slog even with all of us pulling in the same direction.

Essentially we're saying that 9/11 happended so they could go after Saddam. And I'm saying they used going after Saddam to justify creating their Police State here at home, a gift that will keep on giving. Let's hope I'm wrong. It's not a pretty picture.

Simon said...


Fun to quibble...

My sentiment too. We're going to roll right off the front page soon... Saddam weapons...

Everyone did it, he was in the market for them. The US wanted to prop him up against Khomeini but they didn't go as far as others.

...or that he used them soley (is that some sort of fish too... or an american word... ;-)) against the Iranians...

I'm not denying Anfal or anything that happened. But he was trying to stop the break-up of his nation.

"Fatally flawed" seems a bit...

Sorry. Retracted.

There is no one single reason we invaded Iraq...

I tend to think there was a starting point to all this though.

I also disagree that 9/11 happened solely because of Saddam...

If he hadn't invaded Kuwait and if American troops hadn't stayed in Saudi afterwards it probably wouldn't have happened.

Wish me luck...

All you need.

Essentially we're saying...

It's more complicated than that me thinks.

Let's hope I'm wrong. It's not a pretty picture.

Not a pretty picture at all, I agree with that.

(More later in another thread perhaps...?)