by Eric Margolis
NEW YORK -- U.S. forces are rapidly massing in the Arabian Gulf to invade Iraq. Four heavy brigades have been positioned near Iraq, a huge new air complex is now operational in Qatar and American special forces are active in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The White House is hoping its threats of war will provoke a coup against Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi Army. But if one does not come, the George Bush administration shows every sign of plunging into an unprovoked war that the rest of the world will view as blatant aggression.
Even America's closest allies are appalled by the tide of warmongering and jingoism that has engulfed the United States. Bush's recently proclaimed doctrine of "pre-emptive intervention" anywhere on Earth is nothing less than a frightening revival of the old imperialist Brezhnev Doctrine of 25 years ago that called for Soviet intervention wherever socialism was threatened.
"Bush, himself the most intellectually backward American president of my political lifetime, is surrounded by advisers whose bellicosity is exceeded only by their political, military and diplomatic illiteracy." Such were the stinging words of Gerald Kaufman, highly respected former foreign affairs spokesman of Britain's ruling Labour party, America's closest ally.
Bush's accelerating campaign to invade Iraq and turn it into another U.S. oil protectorate is also provoking a storm of outrage across Europe, the Mideast and Asia, where people believe pollution and climate change are far bigger and more urgent threats than the bogeyman of Baghdad.
There are two important exceptions. First, Israel. Last week, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sounding like he was giving orders to a subordinate, demanded Bush speed up plans to attack Iraq. Right on cue, American supporters of Sharon's far-right Likud party, led by the Bush administration's Rasputin, Richard Perle, intensified their clamour to send American GIs to fight Iraq.
Virtual monopoly on U.S. media
These bloodthirsty "neo-conservatives" - most of whom evaded military service in their own country - dominate the Pentagon and exercise a virtual monopoly on U.S. media commentary on the Mideast. They are ardently backed by loony Armageddon-seekers of the Christian far right.
Senior Republican senator Chuck Hagel spoke for many when he asked if Perle was so eager to attack, why didn't he join the first assault wave against Baghdad. Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to Bush's father, warned an attack on Iraq would be a disastrous mistake.
Meanwhile, in Congressional hearings last week, former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter courageously stated what many Americans believe, but dare not say: "A handful of ideologues have hijacked the national security policy of the United States for their own ambitions." Ritter insisted Iraq was totally disarmed and no threat to the U.S. or the Mideast. The Bush administration - or, more precisely, the people pulling its strings - does not want renewed inspections of Iraq, Ritter said, it only wants war.
A torrent of propaganda, lies and half-truths about Iraq has been pouring from the White House in a campaign reminiscent of old Soviet agitprop. The government-appointed "defence" team representing accused 9/11 plot member Zacharias Moussaui reportedly urged him to falsely claim Iraq was behind the attacks. Moussaui refused. The head of Czech intelligence said there were no contacts in Prague between Iraq and al-Qaida, a key Bush reason for attacking Saddam. CIA veterans and European intelligence officials scoff at White House claims Iraq is a threat to the world.
The other exception to worldwide outrage over America's Mideast policies was Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida. In 1998, bin Laden carefully outlined his grand strategy to: 1) liberate Palestine; 2) drive the U.S. occupying troops from Saudi Arabia and 3) end the punishment of Iraq's people. To attain these goals, bin Laden planned to provoke the U.S. into a large number of fruitless military involvements that would wear it out and bleed its military and financial power.
Afghanistan, which costs American taxpayers $5 billion monthly, is the first step. Iraq, whose leader is hated by bin Laden - a hatred equally returned by Saddam - will be No. 2. Then, Iran, Syria, Libya - all also on Perle's hit list - and so on until a host of Lilliputian conflicts tie down the American imperial giant.
George Bush, who takes pride in not reading books, and calls Greeks "Grecians," is charging like a Texas bull into the trap set for him by both bin Laden and Gen. Sharon.
Israel has been trying for 20 years to get the U.S. to go to war against the Arabs and Iran, knowing this will permanently enlist America's vast wealth and power in its cause, and permanently alienate the U.S. from the Islamic world.
If ever the United States needed real friends, it is now. And real friends like Canada, Germany and France are trying to deter the empty, misguided George Bush and his hijacked cabinet from committing an outright aggression that risks plunging the Mideast into chaos, or even nuclear war.
[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster, and
author of War at the Top of
the World - The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet which was reviewed in
The Economist, May 13, 2000]
Copyright © 2002 Eric Margolis - All Rights