Coastal Post Online


November, 2002

Snake Oil And Pre-Emptive War
By Edward W. Miller

"Whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship... the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in every country."

Hermann Goering from Gustave M. Gilbert's Nuremberg Diary

In THE NATION magazine (October 7th') writer Richard Falk says: "There has been virtually no discussion of whether a pre-emptive war policy directed at Iraq is consistent with international law or is somehow justified by exceptional dangers. On the first issue, international law has authorized action in self-defense only if an armed attack has occurred." Falk then added: "True, there may be tolerance for pre-emption if an attack is imminent as was the case with Israel's initiation of war against Arab neighbors massed on its borders in 1967."

Falk's excuse for Israel's 1967 pre-emtive war, rather than making a case for such military action, in fact, affords us one of history's best arguments against pre-emption since that Arab military threat presented to both the Israeli and the American public, was a dose of political snake oil.

As was later divulged , the Israeli military had actually planned their 1967 War three years in advance. Prime Minister Menachem Begin on August 8, 1982 in a speech before the Israeli National Defense Council, freely admitted: "In June 1967 we had a choice. The Egyptian concentration in the Sinai did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him." (see NY TIMES 21 August, 1982)

Some years before Begin's confession, in an interview printed in the French paper, Le Monde (Feb. 29th, 1968), Israel's General Yitzak Shamir had already confessed: "I do not believe Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai in May 1967 would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it."

Another piece of false propaganda during the 1967 War was confessed by Israeli general and Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan. He admitted in an interview with the press that against his military judgment he had ordered the seizure of Syria's Golan Heights, driving some 120,000 Syrian farmers from their holdings, not because the territory was necessary for Israel's defense, the excuse given to the public, but because of the intense political pressure on the military afforded by Russian Kibbutzin Jews, determined to get their hands on that rich Syrian farmland. Dayan's interview was withheld at his request until after his death, when his daughter, a Knesset member, released it to the press.

Just as the Israeli leaders in 1967 mislead their countrymen into believing they were under threat from the Egyptian forces under Nasser, so today President Bush, supported by almost daily "testimony" from Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell, is misleading the American people with his threats of possible attacks by Saddam Hussein, with his "weapons of mass destruction," in what columnist William Pfaff described as a "highly emotional argument untouched much by fact." (International Herald Tribune 17 Oct.)

Much of what Bush has been reiterating in his drive toward war has, under closer scrutiny, proved to be either conjecture or pure snake oil. The nuclear threat in his speech in Cincinnati that : "the final proof-the smoking gun-could come in a mushroom cloud" was dispelled the following day by his CIA's George Tenet who reported, "Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW (chemical or biological weapons) against the United States, and Saddam's procurement of fissionable materials for nuclear use is unproven." (SF Chron, Oct 12th)

Bush's statement that "information from Khidir Hanza, a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer... revealed that "despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to continue" was criticized by David Albright, former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for International Security where Hanza had formerly worked, saying Hanza "went off the deep edge...saying irresponsible things."

Even a top Israeli general recently admitted Iraq had no present nuclear capability.(www.

In fact, even Iraq's supposed stockpiling of biological and chemical weapons has been questioned by a comprehensive British Intelligence report , based on its own ...findings that "most estimates were based on guesswork" (SF Chron ).

The supposed threat that "Saddam was in bed with Al Qaeda" has also been dispelled. Saddam and Bin Laden have been at odds at least since the Gulf War when Osama offered his mujahedeen warriors to the Saudi's King Faud to stave off possible attacks on his kingdom by Iraq's army.

The story that one of Saddam's high government officials had been meeting with Al Qaeda out of the country came from that same Kuwaiti official who, before the Gulf War had coached his teenage daughter to lie to our Senate Armed Services Committee about incubators and Kuwaiti preemies. No longer Kuwait's Ambassador in Washington he is now their Minister of Intelligence.

Despite earlier warnings against a US military assault on Iraq by such Washington stalwarts as Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger, plus a gentle reminder from Kofi Annan that his UN was the ONLY organization chartered by the world to authorize such military action, the Bush hawks persisting in their clamor for war, pressured our Representatives and obtained a weakly-restrictive Congressional assent which will make it easier for Bush to seize on any presumed delay or supposed obstruction experienced by the UN inspection team. As writer William Pfaff remarked: "conceding to him greater discretion than to any president in history . This is not the conduct of a serious government or a serious nation." (Int. Herald Tribune 17 Oct.)

The fact that not one of Iraq's close Arab neighbors endorses such an assault, (though Qatar and Kuwait are accepting US troops and even practicing "joint-maneuvers"), signals that Mideast rulers are wary of "blowbacks," their predominately Muslim populations being in sympathy with the long-suffering Iraqis . Arab leaders also fear the terrorist Sharon will take advantage of any US attack on Saddam to ride roughshod over their fellow Palestinians and destroy their dream of statehood.

Americans savvy enough to smell the snake-oil in Bush's sales-pitches for war also sense a growing resistance from both our European and Asian friends to any US-lead military intervention.

Recent polls show "a significantly-greater anti-war sentiment right across this Country than our recent Congressional vote would suggest. US delegates involved in the ongoing fierce debate within the UN have already dropped their demands "for instant military retaliation should Iraq fail to meet every inspection challenge."

There is always the chance that Bush, driven by Cheney's oil friends, the Christian Right and Israel's lobby may choose to put his own interpretation on any Security Council Resolution.

President Clinton purposely overrode such restrictions against military force in a UN Resolution just to set his OPERATION DESERT FOX in motion. Hopefully this ground swell of anti-war sentiment will gain enough political energy to bring to heel Bush and his dogs of war



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