Release Date: January 11, 1999
Eric Margolis, c/o Editorial Department, The Toronto Sun
333 King St. East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3X5
Fax: (416) 960-4803 -- Press Contact: Eric Margolis

It's Time to Put Away The Big Stick

by Eric Margolis

MIAMI -- So, many of the supposed UN arms inspectors in Iraq were actually American spies. Washington was using the United Nations as a cover to track and overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The 'inspectors' came from the US Defense Intelligence Agency and were clearly military men in muffi. Some of them were also working with Israel's intelligence service. So this column has said for years.

This week, Washington finally admitted it had used UNSCOM, the UN inspection team headed by Richard Butler, to spy on Iraq. The US media was suddenly awash with reports that Washington had manipulated the UN to cover its ongoing efforts to overthrow the Iraqi regime, or keep it isolated

As I've written before, I detest the brutal Iraqi dictatorship - and I have a very personal reason, as well. When I was in Baghdad in 1990, during which time I ferreted out information on how Britain and the US had secretly developed Iraq's chemical and germ warfare programs, the Iraqi security police threatened to hang me. I've visited Baghdad since 1976 and seen the sinister works of Saddam's loathsome regime.

But I hate lies and propaganda even more than Saddam Hussein. Much of the US media has allowed itself to be used as drum beaters for Washington's intense propaganda war against Iraq. It's high time the American media has finally exposed the canard that the conflict with Iraq is not "a struggle between the world community and Saddam," but a self-serving campaign by the US and Britain to topple a dictator, and former ally, who dared threaten their commercial interests and strategic domination of the Mideast.

This week, we also learned from legitimate UN sources in Iraq that the recent, wag the camel, 'precision' bombing of defenseless Iraq destroyed at least thirteen schools, an important food storehouse, and the municipal water system of Baghdad's Karrada suburb, leaving 300,000 people without clean drinking water. During the 1991 Gulf War, US bombing wrecked Baghdad's water and sewage systems, creating a grave health crisis for millions of Iraqi civilians.

Just about everyone, save Iraq's ruling Sunni Muslim minority, would like to be rid of Saddam Hussein, including fellow Arab rulers, who detest the inept tyrant that led Iraq and the Mideast into disaster. But the clumsy, brutish policy being followed by the US and sidekick, Britain, of trying to starve and beat Iraq to death to get rid of Saddam is clearly counter-productive and, dare I use the word, immoral. Shattering Iraq could well produce a second Yugoslavia in the heart of the Mideast. As the commander of US forces in the Mideast recently noted, in a remarkably candid admission, a chaotic Iraq without Saddam could be more dangerous than one with him.

This week, France strongly denounced the recent bombing as unacceptable US and British unilateralism that was opposed by the other members of the UN Security Council, as well as the General Assembly. The French, who invented modern diplomacy, called for a negotiated settlement that would fairly monitor Iraq's weapons programs, while allowing Baghdad to resume full oil exports. Washington and London immediately dismissed the sensible French proposal.

It's amazing how all the usual liberal American voices that call for mediation and compromise in the world's conflicts fall suddenly silent when it comes to Iraq. Clinton's diplomatic opening this week to Cuba was hailed by the same people who call for the continued punishment and isolation of Iraq. Yet the Clinton Administration has offered North Korea, a nation that threatens to use nuclear, chemical, and, possibly, biological weapons, against US troops, South Korea, and Japan, a massive bribe of $2.6 billion to be good. Why not adopt the same approach to Iraq?

Saddam is unlikely to be overthrown anytime soon. US efforts to subvert his draconian regime have been expensive, comical failures. The current US policy of bombing Iraq every few months, is futile and wrong, an exercise in gunboat diplomacy worthy of 19th Century imperialist Great Britain, not the world's greatest democracy and defender of human rights. Responsibility for the deaths 500,000 Iraqi children from disease and malnutrition - these are UN figures - must be equally shared by Saddam and the US government. The continued torment of Iraq is provoking rage against Americans across the Muslim world.

Why not follow France's intelligent demarche by tying Iraqi oil exports to the total dismantling of its small, remaining strategic weapon's arsenal - supervised by truly neutral inspectors selected by the full Security Council? The claim Saddam will use oil income to swiftly rebuild his forces is nonsense. It will take Iraq years to refurbish its damaged, decayed oil infrastructure. A naval surveillance force can easily prevent North Korea, the sole potential supplier of heavy arms, missiles, and nuclear technology to Iraq, from delivering weapons by sea. The US has ample power to deter other would-be sellers of strategic weapons from rearming Iraq.

America has so demonized Saddam it can no longer deal rationally with Iraq. Let Europe take the diplomatic lead in returning Iraq to at least semi-civilized behavior, and alleviating the suffering of its people. If ending Cuba's economic isolation will help bring democracy, as Washington now contends, why not Iraq?

[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada.]

[NSA and CIA . . . decided to secretly bug an existing system of remote television cameras installed by the UN--James Bamford, "A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies," Doubleday (June 8, 2004), p. 387]

Copyright © 1999 Eric Margolis - All Rights Reserved
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