More Lies from the Chief
Let’s parse W’s speech last night. I watched it, against my better judgment, and he looked as ignorant and goofy as usual, hands planted flat on the desk, eyes wide, straining with every muscle to avoid smirking. And as usual, from the cadence of his remarks, it was easy to tell that he didn’t have the slightest real knowledge of what he was talking about. So as always, criticizing a Bush speech really means criticizing his speechwriters and his sorry ability to convey their meaning. Let’s do it anyway.
First, W. once again exercised his typical fallacy of composition, first noting that the enemy in Iraq is a combination of Saddamists (i.e., the Baath party) and so-called “foreign terrorists” (i.e., Zarqawists):
Since the removal of Saddam, this war, like other wars in our history, has been difficult. The mission of American troops in urban raids and desert patrols, fighting Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists, has brought danger and suffering and loss. This loss has caused sorrow for our whole nation -- and it has led some to ask if we are creating more problems than we're solving.
That is an important question, and the answer depends on your view of the war on terror. If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone.
So, here Bush argues a central point, that the enemy will not “become peaceful” if we “leave them alone.” That may be true of the Al Qaeda types, but in fact the Iraqi nationalists and Baathists only want us out of Iraq—after which they most likely will become peaceful—or at least what passes for peaceful in a post-war, shattered state filled with militias.
Then W. gets to his central scare tactic, that we are fighting a menace in Iraq that wants global domination and will attack us even at home:
This is not the threat I see. I see a global terrorist movement that exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims -- a vision in which books are burned, and women are oppressed, and all dissent is crushed. Terrorist operatives conduct their campaign of murder with a set of declared and specific goals -- to de-moralize free nations, to drive us out of the Middle East, to spread an empire of fear across that region, and to wage a perpetual war against America and our friends. These terrorists view the world as a giant battlefield -- and they seek to attack us wherever they can. …
The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and elsewhere, they object to our deepest values and our way of life. And if we were not fighting them in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Southeast Asia, and in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens, they would be on the offense, and headed our way.
Where to begin? First, the only radical Islamists burning books and oppressing women in Iraq are the Shiite fundamentalist parties, backed by Iran, whose power is being supported by the U.S. armed forces. Second, the supposed enemy in Iraq is not a “global terrorist movement” but an indigenous, nationalist resistance that wants nothing more than the departure of U.S. troops. The spectre of “an empire of fear across the region” is a wildly exaggerated threat that exists only in Bush’s fevered imagination. In fact, if we began to withdraw from Iraq, one of our best allies in exterminating the remnants of Al Qaeda would be the Iraqi Baathists. And their operations to clean up Al Qaeda in Iraq would not be pretty.
I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet now there are only two options before our country -- victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I don't expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.
The only two options are “victory or defeat”? Hopefully, that is not true, because victory in Iraq is inconceivable, unless we plan to stay and fight for decades. There is, in fact, a wide spectrum of other options, from immediate withdrawal to phased withdrawal to a negotiated ceasefire with the resistance to the internationalization of the conflict through the UN, the Arab League, and other interested parties. By victory, it is clear that Bush means a victory that preserves, somehow, the remaining shred of U.S. credibility worldwide. In his speech, Bush raised the image of the world laughing at the United States. If we left Iraq, he said:
We would abandon our Iraqi friends and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word. We would undermine the morale of our troops by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed. We would cause the tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve, and tighten their repressive grip.
But no one, except Bush administration die-hards, believe that America has any word left to keep. By invading Iraq illegally and then bungling the occupation, Bush has utterly destroyed American credibility overseas. Our allies fear us, the nations of the Middle East are horrified at what Iraq has become. And if any Middle East tyrants are laughing, it’s the ones in Iran, who day by day are taking over Iraq.
To read the Arabic translation of this article: Iraq4ever
The Trial of Saddam Hussein /
Anti-war Movement Must Reject Colonial 'Justice'
To read the Arabic transilation of this article
By Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center
The trial of Saddam Hussein, which has opened with much international publicity, is a desperate attempt to justify and convey some legitimacy on the criminal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is an effort to demoralize and divide the resistance to the occupation. It has nothing to do with justice or truth.
All the political forces internationally that have opposed the 15-year-long U.S. war on Iraq--which has included starvation sanctions, bombing and invasion--should also oppose all the efforts to justify the continued occupation, including the present trial of the former Iraqi leader and seven members of his government.
Regardless of the wide spectrum of political views on the c haracter of Saddam Hussein’s government, it is essential to oppose this U.S. justification for the war. To be silent on this issue is to give credibility to a U.S.-created phony court at the giant U.S. command center called the Green Zone.
The U.S. government has no right to have even one soldier in Iraq. It has no right to bomb, sanction or starve the Iraqi people. It has no right to impose a colonial government or to establish courts in Iraq. It has no more right to decide the fate of Saddam Hussein than it does to control the oil and resources of Iraq.
The detention of Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants, along with tens of thousands of other Iraqis, is all based on a criminal, illegal war of aggression.
The Iraqi Special Tribunal and the trial of Saddam Hussein are also a violation of international law. The Geneva Convention, to which Washington is a signatory, explicitly forbids an occupying power from creating courts. In addition, the trial itself, along with the total isolation of the defendants and denial of all visitation and legal rights violates the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
The defense lawyers who have stepped forward have been threatened and intimidated. Two lawyers on the defense team have been assassinated.
Today in Iraq there is no judicial system. There are no codes, no laws, no courts. There still is no agreement on a constitution. The entire structure of the Iraqi state was destroyed. In its place is only the most brutal form of outright military domination.
The Iraqi Special Tribunal has been illegitimate since its very formation. It is a creation of L. Paul Bremer III of the U.S., former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority--the illegal, occupying power. Bremer initially appointed Salem Chalabi, the nephew of Iraqi Deputy Prime M inister Ahmad Chalabi, to organize and lead the court.
Chalabi had returned to Iraq from exile with the aid of U.S. tanks in April 2003. He opened a law office to draft the new laws that have reopened Iraq to foreign capital, in collaboration with the law firm of former Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith, a war profiteer, an ideologue of the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld cabal and a principal architect of the war.
Bremer also appointed the tribunal judges. The funding and the personnel are totally controlled by U.S. forces. The U.S. Congress has appropriated $128 million to fund the court. Of course, the court has no jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. forces in the invasion and occupation!
Role of demonization
The trial underway now is part of the sustained U.S. effort to totally demonize Saddam Hussein. This has been an ess ential part of the 15-year war on Iraq.
U.S. propaganda has relentlessly described Hussein as an evil madman, a brutal dictator and a threat to the entire planet who was poised to strike with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons within minutes. He was charged with having a role in 9/11 and being in league with al-Qaeda.
Both Republicans and Democrats knew this was a fraud. U.S. bombs had destroyed Iraq’s entire industrial capacity. But no politician was willing to challenge the demonization.
Every U.S. war against oppressed peoples and nations has begun with saturating the entire civilian population with war propaganda that so demonized the leader of the targeted population that any crime was treated as acceptable and beyond question. This has been true since the wars against Native populations and the demonization of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo and many, many other Indigenous leaders, up to the le aders of every progressive or revolutionary struggle over the past 50 years.
It doesn't matter how mild or committed to non-violence the leader is. Consider the case of the kidnapped former priest, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, who was charged with corruption, drug running and gang violence. Today President Hugo Chلvez of Venezuela and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran are increasingly portrayed as madmen, dictators and evil incarnate
Since the days of the Roman Empire, victor's justice has meant humiliation, degradation and placing the defeated leader in the dock in order to establish a new order. It hides the brutality of overwhelming force and gives legitimacy to the new rulers
The trials of Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner in the ante-bellum South were the slaveowners' way of cloaking the violence and degrading brutality of slavery in "god-given" property rights. The kidnapping and trial of Y ugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic after the 78-day U.S/NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, in which hundreds of civilians died, was a similar case of victor’s justice.
U.S. and WMDs
While the U.S. demonizes Saddam Hussein, it should be remembered that the Pentagon has used weapons of mass destruction not only in Iraq but against countless other defenseless populations, from Korea and the Philippines to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Libya, Lebanon and Yugoslavia.
It is the U.S. military machine that should be put on trial for having used the most horrendous weapons, from nuclear bombs to napalm, white phosphorus, anti-personnel weapons, so-called bunker busters and radioactive depleted-uranium weapons.
In Iraq intentional civilian destruction was calculated, photographed and studied. The infrastructure was consciously targeted. Reservoir s, sanitation and sewage plants, chlorine and water pumping stations were bombed. The electrical and communications grids were destroyed. Food production was targeted, from irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides to processing, refrigeration and storage.
In the 1991 bombing more than 150,000 Iraqis died. There were 156 U.S. soldiers killed.
Year after year international delegations that had been to Iraq, including many organized by the International Action Center (IAC) and led by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, reported on the impact of the 1991 bombing and the years of U.S.-imposed UN sanctions. The sanctions created an artificial famine. Imports of food, medicine and civilian necessities were withheld.
By the UN's own estimates, over 1.5 million Iraqis died of preventable diseases. Half a million children under the age of 5 years died between 1991 and 1996. Both the sanctions and the bombing, begun under George H.W. Bush, continued through the eight years of the Clinton administration. U.S. bombing continued at an average of 25 raids a day for 12 years.
Ramsey Clark, founder of the IAC, has courageously challenged the legitimacy and legality of the Iraqi Special Tribunal as a legal adviser to Saddam Hussein.
As an international human rights lawyer, his position is entirely consistent with his 15 years of opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq--from his visit to Iraq in 1991 when the U.S. bombed every 30 seconds for 42 days, through the 12 years of starvation sanctions, to his opposition to the 2003 invasion. It is consistent with his principled opposition to other U.S. wars and interventions in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Grenada, Iran, Libya, Lebanon and Panama.
Standing up to demonization is part of standing up to the U.S. war and its propaganda machine.
Target is Iraqi sovereignty
The agents of U.S. imperialism have established corrupt and brutal dictatorships and trained and funded military rule from one corner of the globe to the other--from Indonesia to Chile to Congo.
Their problem with Saddam Hussein was not that he was a dictator. It was that he refused to surrender the sovereignty of Iraq. He refused to give U.S. corporations control over Iraqi oil, nationalized beginning in the 1960s. His worst crime in their eyes was that he refused to bow down to the New World Order.
It is Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair who should be on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The global movement that opposes the U.S. occupation in Iraq must seriously consider its responsibility to oppose every aspect of the U.S. war--especially the phony courts and staged elections that seek to legitimize an d legalize this piracy.
Implicit in the call to bring the troops home now is the demand to stop the whole brutal process of recolonization. This means cancellation of the U.S. corporate contracts that have privatized and looted Iraqi resources, closing the hundreds of U.S. bases and the thousands of U.S. checkpoints, canceling the "search and destroy" missions and closing the secret prisons where tens of thousands of Iraqis are tortured and humiliated.
And closing the illegal, U.S.-created courts.
Sara Flounders is co-director of the International Action Center. She has edited five books on Iraq and coordinated several delegations, headed by Ramsey Clark, that visited Iraq to challenge the U.S. bombing and the sanctions.
To read the Arabic transilation of this article
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Murtha Says Army Is 'Broken, Worn Out' Congressman Predicts Troops Will Leave Iraq Within a Year
The Associated Press
LATROBE, Pa. (Dec. 1) - Most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth," Rep. John Murtha told a civic group.Two weeks ago, Murtha created a storm of comment when he called for U.S. troops to leave Iraq now.
The Democratic congressman spoke to a group of community and business leaders in Latrobe on Wednesday, the same day President Bush said troops would be withdrawn when they've achieved victory, not under an artificial deadline set by politicians.Murtha predicted most troops will be out of Iraq within a year.
"I predict he'll make it look like we're staying the course," Murtha said, referring to Bush. "Staying the course is not a policy."Murtha, 73, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, expressed pessimism about Iraq's stability and said the Iraqis know who the insurgents are, but don't always share that information with U.S. troops. He said a civil war is likely because of ongoing factionalism among Sunni Arabs, and Kurds and Shiites.He also said he was wrong to vote to support the war.
"I admit I made a mistake when I voted for war," Murtha said. "I'm looking at the future of the United States military."Murtha, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, said the Pennsylvania National Guard is "stretched so thin" that it won't be able to send fully equipped units to Iraq next year. Murtha predicted it will cost $50 billion to upgrade military equipment nationwide, but says the federal government is already reducing future purchases to save money.
Murtha, who represents a western Pennsylvania district that includes Latrobe, was first elected to Congress in 1974.Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver, spokesman for the Pennsylvania National Guard at Fort Indiantown Gap, said "there are some deployment concerns.
"Cleaver said some guard units had to leave equipment in Iraq when they returned to the United States, which could cause training problems here.But Cleaver also said most of the 2,100 Guard troops now deployed with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team can't be sent back to Iraq for a second tour of duty anyway, because of regulations that limit redeployment.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press