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September, 2002

Iraqi War About Politics Not Security
By Oz Grimes

Many of us have been expecting an "October surprise" from the White House. The fall election campaign is under way and George W. Bush's poll numbers have fallen as a disgusted public learned of corporate corruption scandals, watched stock prices fall and observed massive employee loss of retirement security. What better way to restore Americans' approval of Shrub's job performance than renewal of armed conflict in a new phase of the war on terrorism? And what better target than Iraq? Not only would more fighting generate the old "rally round the flag" phenomenon and re-capture the approval of a disenchanted public, guaranteeing re-election of a Republican majority to Congress, but it would make Bush's donor base in the weapons industry happy as well.

However many prominent Americans, including Republicans, are opposed to renewal of hostilities with Iraq. Among them are General Brent Scowcroft and Secretary of State Colin Powell. One who is particularly credible in his opposition is Scott Ritter, a self-described "card- carrying Republican in the conservative-moderate range who voted for George W. Bush for President." He knows something about whether Iraq poses a real threat to us, because he spent seven years there after the Gulf War with the UNSCOM weapons inspection team performing detailed investigations into Iraq's weapons program. Because he put no faith in Iraqi statements, Ritter and his team tracked down every bomb, every missile, every factory designed to produce chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry. By the time he and the team were through, they had no reason to believe that Iraq is a threat to us and every reason to believe it is not. Ritter has publicly stated that, "This [proposal to attack Iraq] is not about the security of the United States. This is about domestic American politics."

Sunday, August 18th, the S. F. Chronicle reprinted a story from the N.Y. Times which revealed that in the 1980s, the Reagan Administration supplied both sides of the Iran-Iraq war, providing arms to Iran through Israel while giving not only battle planning help to Iraq but supplying Hussein's forces with military weapons and technology that could be used to produce more such weapons. At that time, Iraq was losing the war with Iran and was no one's idea of a huge menace, even though the Iraqi military was then at its strongest. Does that tell us something about how seriously we should take the Iraqi threat now? Like not seriously at all? But an ever-changing series of justifications for war with Iraq continue to be vomited from the mouths of such Administration spokes people as Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice.

Meanwhile, preparations for war go on. According to Scott Ritter, "The Third Marine Expeditionary Force in California is preparing to have 20,000 Marines deployed in the [Iraq] region for ground combat operations by mid-October. You got 20,000 Marines forward deployed in October, you better expect war in October."

Can we afford another Persian Gulf War? The first one cost $61 billion ($80 billion in constant dollars) more than half of which was paid by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Japan. It still resulted in a US recession, even though the war lasted only a short time and American service men and women did not occupy Iraq. At this time, since no other countries are enthused about our plans to oust Saddam and conquer Iraq and so will be unwilling to help pay for military action, we taxpayers will have to pay for the war both in taxes and in government services foregone.

But the real cost of a war with Iraq will be counted in human suffering. If we cannot find it in our hearts to feel some compassion for the thousands of Iraqi civilians, especially children, who will suffer and die in even greater numbers than those killed by the sanctions, we should at least try to feel some concern for our own young servicemen who will be sent to fight this war.

Shortly after the Gulf war, veterans began to experience what came to be known as Gulf War Syndrome. Serious medical problems developed in the vets and a higher than expected number of birth defects occurred in children born to their wives. After several years of stone-walling, the Pentagon finally admitted that "thousands" of soldiers "may have been exposed to radioactive and toxic debris from American ammunition".

Now we have learned of another way American military services harm our own men. The Christian Science Monitor of August 9, 2002, reports the use of prescribed amphetamines often Dexedrine by pilots and Special Operations forces to fight fatigue, and, when effects of these stimulants wear off, sedatives to induce sleep between missions.

Use of such powerful drugs is well known to have psychological effects. "Speed "affects a user strongly, making him irritable, distrustful and irrational as well as alert and able to continue fighting for long periods of time. In April, four Canadian soldiers were killed and eight more injured when an American F-16 pilot dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb on an allied military exercise. The pilot's behavior was later reported to be "aggressive and paranoid".

Within the past month, soldiers newly back from Afghanistan showed both hostility and violence toward their wives and in three of four cases killed the women. The men were in special-forces units based at Fort Bragg, N.C. We can only wonder if these men were affected by drugs given them by their officers "to enhance performance". (Readers with Internet access can read the full report, titled "Military looks to drugs for battle readiness" at http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0809/p01s04-usmi.html)

During any war, we are admonished to "support our troops." Let's support them the best way possible. Let's keep them home.

War is a crime against humanity. Wage Peace!

 

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