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On Target Britain

8th & 22nd March, 2003. Food for Thought:
With acknowledgements to Steve Berkin

THE "LIBERATION" OF IRAQ
HOW (NOT) TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE

Published in Two Parts - Part One

Editorial Note: Related editions of On Target are listed under References (1)(2)(3). We have added the emphasis where we have considered this justified throughout the following pages.

BARBARIANS THROUGH THE GATES

These Waters Run Deeper Than We May Think

We have discussed the Middle East on several occasions with On Target subscriber, Ian Dean-Netscher, son of a British Army surgeon, who worked professionally in the oil industry in the region. We have our own experience of the Middle East, and the benefit of the extensive knowledge of journalist Felicity Arbuthnot and others. It is quite true that Western resources and expertise were used in developing the oil industry in the Middle East. We must, however, remember that this was in the interests of the Western, capitalist countries. But we must also remember that in Biblical times, when our ancestors were still painting themselves with woad, the Middle East was the centre of a highly developed and sophisticated civilization.

In the early years of the Twentieth Century, after five hundred years of gradual decay in the Middle East under Ottoman rule, and under growing Western influence, Iraq was achieving the levels of development of a modern society. We therefore have to ask, as we should ask in the case of the Third and Developing Worlds, mainly of the southern hemisphere, if the exploitation of indigenous natural resources represents a fair exchange and could, or should, this continue on the present economic basis in the longer term?

We must also see the mighty oil industry, like the pharmaceutical and agri-chemical industries, not in the service of the likes of we ordinary mortals, of whatever perceived social class, but as conglomerates, under the control of a Ruling Elite; multinational corporations that have become a politically dominant end in themselves for the purpose of control and profit within the global economic model. British interests in this environment are often, and with superficial logic, seen as paramount in what one has to accept is this supranational and ruthlessly competitive global economic scenario.

But in the United Kingdom this is too readily associated in some minds with traditional Tory values based on the imperial tradition - the position of what we tend to see as that of the "squirearchy". Conversely, attitudes critical of what is now in reality International Finance-Capitalism come to be erroneously identified with the political Left, or "progressive" faction. However, we must remember that the invasion of Iraq was pursued, against strong public opposition from all sections of the community, by a Labour Government. Objections to what was reported by B.B.C. journalists and others ("B.B.C. hits back over 'rhetoric' claims", The Independent on Sunday, 13th April, 2003), was neither politically Left or Right. Objections came from those who had justified the invasion - when it suited them - on the grounds that the intention was to "liberate" the people of Iraq. It did not run contrary to British "interests". It was the unpalatable truth for those who precipitated and supported the invasion as events unfolded. It was reported by seasoned journalists such as Robert Fisk, John Pilger and John Simpson as his convoy of Kurds and American Special Forces was bombed by an American aircraft with the loss of 18 lives. John Pilger wrote, in The Independent on Sunday of 6th April, 2003, under the heading "We see too much. We know too much. That's our best defence":

We now glimpse the forbidden truths of the invasion of Iraq. A man cuddles the body of his infant daughter; her blood drenches them. A woman in black pursues a tank, her arms outstretched; all seven of her family are dead. An American Marine murders a woman because she happens to be standing next to a man in uniform. "I'm sorry," he says, "but the chick got in the way." We were reminded, as we studied the wealth of information and commentary surrounding the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March this year, of the perceptive satire of the late Peter Sellers. On the point of leaving the Colonial Service in Darkest Africa, "Brigadier Sir John Hanley-Adamant" discoursed on the selection and training of native servants. When one of these "honest Blacks", these "quaint creatures", committed a misdemeanour, the more serious offences were punished with a "varying number of lashes from a rhinoceros-hide whip". It was not without some wry amusement we read that when Colonel Sir Mark Sykes visited India in 1915 to discuss the problems of Baghdad and Kut el Amara, he was "greatly shocked to find that he, a soldier and staff officer, was expected in time of war to have brought civilian evening dress to dine in"(4).

In what was then Mesopotamia Kut, it may be remembered, was the scene of the siege of the ill-fated British force under General Townshend, from 8th December, 1915, to 29th April, 1916, that finally ended in Townshend's surrender to the Turks. More importantly, Mark Sykes was responsible with M. Georges Picot for drawing up what became the Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1919. The full title was "The Arrangement Between Great Britain, France And Russia, Regarding Syria, Mesopotamia And Eastern Asia Minor". This marked the early role of France in the share out of influence in the Middle East. The United States were nowhere to be seen. France may thus be seen as no different to any other Western Nation in pursuing its own interests. It just happens that France challenged United States hegemony by refusing to support the use of military force against Iraq; ultimately by pre-empting a largely cosmetic second United Nations Resolution to justify what was a premeditated invasion in any case.

We believe the greater issue to be the uneasy, competitive, but conter-minous relationship between International Finance-Capitalism and International Socialism. This brings links between the European Union and the former Soviet Union and its satellites; now with the Russian Federation.

The United Kingdom and European Nations are not alone under the growing control of an oppressive, Politically Correct Socialist bureaucracy. Rose L. Martin recorded in compelling detail how International Fabian Socialism reached the United States from Europe from the end of the Nineteenth Century(5). The image of a "Land of the Free" under an historic Constitution becomes less plausible as one realises that the doctrine of Political Correctness is not only Marxist-Leninist in origin(6), but has leached back across the Atlantic from the United States(7). Only when we peer behind the veneer do we recognise the reality in a headline such as "Banned from U.S. textbooks: owls, ketchup, dinosaurs and old ladies with cats" (The Sunday Telegraph, 4th May, 2003).

In Soviet Analyst, Christopher Story has postulated the dangers of bilateral agreements between European Nations and the former Soviet Union, with special reference to France(8). Eduard Shevardnadze, former Soviet Foreign Minister, and Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Foreign Minister in the Federal German Government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, have been attributed with the ideal of a Common European "Home" from the Atlantic to the Urals, and from the Urals to Vladivostok. Anatoliy Golitsyn has written that the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellites and transformation to "Social Democracy" has been a "Trojan Horse" strategy eventually to control an European Union Superstate(9)(10).
France and Germany have proposed a European Defence Force that must automatically challenge the role of a NATO controlled by the United States for the purpose of deployment outside Europe in pursuance of what are preeminently United States interests(11)(12).

A further clue in this complex strategic picture comes with an earlier United States-driven invasion, that of Kosovo, in 1999. The Morning Star of 25th April, 2003, reported that "Kosovo heads down the privatisation road". We are seeing the same moves in the post-Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe. There, privatisation must inevitably involve multinational corporations and the United States dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.). Was it thus surprising that these candidate member states of the European Union supported the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. This would seem to have the potential to become a divisive factor within the European Union for any Franco-German challenge to United States hegemony in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East. This divisive strategy was explicit with an announcement from Washington that Poland was to play a military role in post-war Iraq. This implied that Poland, due to join the European Union in 2004, would be able to finance its overseas military role for the United States, whilst concurrently expecting to receive agricultural subsidies and structural development funds from Brussels. United States Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, sees this as "'old' Europe, with France and Germany as leaders of the anti-war coalition and the pro-United States 'new' Europe, led by former Communist countries." (The Financial Times, 5th May 2003).

Double Standards And The Fallacies Of Leadership

In the first instance attention must focus on British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Any analysis is likely to be a matter for contention, nor can we be "inside the head" of any individual. We have been offered one private view of Tony Blair as a far-sighted strategic genius who has manipulated world opinion to avert the threat of a greater global conflict with its epicentre in the Middle East. We disagree. We believe that Tony Blair is a Walter Mitty figure, dangerously ambitious with scant practical experience and an almost juvenile thirst simplistically to uproot a 2,000-year domestic heritage. He undertakes his high-profile global perambulations whilst the domestic infrastructure is concurrently in chaos; virtually broke with a Chancellor "robbing Peter to pay Paul" on the basis of conventional debt-usury economics. In this situation no politician of the necessary stature or experience on any scale above the "belly-button" of party politics appears to exist.

During almost six years in office, the Prime Minister had gone along with a continuation of the needlessly draconian United States-driven "United Nations" sanctions against Iraq. The deliberate destruction of the civilian infrastructure during the 1991 Gulf War, and imposed shortages of medical equipment and drugs since have resulted in the deaths of 1,000,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, including 500,000 children. Yet the Prime Minister was hypocritical enough to rail against Saddam Hussein for the deaths of 1,000,000 other Iraqis. No man who condones this situation can conceivably call himself "Christian". Furthermore, Blair also continued the unilateral, and thus illegal Anglo-American policy for patrolling the "no-fly" zone over Iraq, which has resulted in numerous civilian deaths and loss of civilian property.
This policy was extended, equally illegally, to include the pre-emptive destruction of the Iraqi air defence system well before the "decision" to invade had been taken.

The war against Iraq was forced through against the strongest public and political opposition. Blair's impassioned rhetoric has been shown to be pure candyfloss. He repeatedly shifted his ground in justifying the invasion of Iraq; from the terrorist threat, to regime change, to the threat from Weapons of Mass Destruction, to liberation of the Iraqi people. Meanwhile the search for the elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction goes on. Not the slightest account appears to have been taken by the United States, or the United Kingdom, beyond haggling with the United Nations, of the administrative support that would be urgently required on the ground immediately behind the military campaign.

In the Boston Globe of 2nd May, 2003, H.D.S. Greenway wrote:
In World War II the United States began planning the occupation of Germany in 1942. In contrast, little planning for controlling Iraq once the shooting stopped seemed to have been done. The subsequent chaos at the war's end, not the least of which was the destruction of 10,000 years of Mesopotamian archaeology and history, has lost the United States much of the good will it might otherwise have had for ridding the country of Saddam Hussein. The United States was determined on the war; which was premeditated, with the roots going back to around 1996. It is also known that planning took place throughout 2002, which would have allowed ample scope for the requisite civilian infrastructure by comparison with the scale of World War II. Clearly, the United States was hell-bent on war per se.

We find further proof in the meeting of the United Nations Security Council at the beginning of February, 2003, when Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector Dr Hans Blix exposed the evidence against Saddam Hussein, provided by the United Kingdom, as a fabrication. The United States simply disregarded this and rode rough-shod over any reservations about the legality of the war. Nevertheless, Tony Blair despatched a seriously ill-equipped, under-manned, underfunded and over-stretched British Force of some 30,000 to the Persian Gulf in February this year. There was insufficient opportunity against a purely political time scale for acclimatisation, shake-down training, or the establishment of proper command and control systems at working level with the United States Forces. Incidents of friendly fire and the attrition rate of journalists would seem to bear witness to this. If we misjudge the situation, perhaps some one would explain?

The military ethic is that of making the best of any given situation. But we found one of the most distasteful episodes was the Prime Minister's choice - it could only have come from the spin machine - to take the Passing Out Parade at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, on 11th April this year. Claims by some Labour politicians that Blair had "played a blinder" once the conventional military campaign was over were sycophantic non-sense. In their "Barbie Doll" world of military strategy, neither Prime Minister Blair or his Secretary of State for Defence, "Geoff", "Holiday" Hoon, displayed an understanding of the military ethos. Hoon's reference to looting was irresponsible and stupid, and displayed total ignorance of the Iraqi culture ("Carry on looting, Hoon tells civilians in Basra", The Daily Telegraph, 8th April, 2003). Even if he had purported to allude to official government property or that of Saddam Hussein, both are sacrosanct to the Iraqi people regardless of provenance. The laughter he evoked simply emphasised the banality and crass political ignorance of the House.

From the safety of his Westminster "bunker" Hoon also sought to justify the use of cluster bombs on civilians, whom the war was intended to "liberate". For junior Defence Minister Adam Ingram to discount the effects of Depleted Uranium (D.U.), ammunition on the grounds that there was no reliable evidence, despite evidence from the sharp increase in various forms of cancer amongst Iraqi civilians in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, was dishonest, but no more so than the disappearance of medical records in the quest to investigate causes of Gulf War Syndrome! Had either Hoon or Ingram bothered to consult the maverick politician, George Galloway, or Two-hour-old baby from the Zubair area of Southern Iraq, which was heavily bombed in the Gulf War. The baby was born without eyes, nose, mouth, genitalia or anus. The legs are twisted and joined. Ibn Gahzwan Hospital, Basra, January, 1999. Photograph - Karen Robinson attended his Conference on Depleted Uranium, in July 1999, they would have had little doubt about the scientific evidence.
Nor were they apparently aware of the concern now expressed by no less than the Royal Society for the widespread effects on servicemen and civilians ("Allied troops 'risk uranium exposure'", the Financial Times, 25th April, 2003).

The Perpetual Story Of Double Standards

Dr Edward "Ed" Said is a Palestinian-American academic domiciled in the United States. He was born in Egypt and raised in the Middle East. An authority on the region, he is a close friend of the Jewish-American Professor Noam Chomsky. Both men have written extensively on the Middle East generally; both are severe and outspoken critics of Israeli treatment of the dispossessed Palestinian people. In the "Diary" page of the London Review of Books, 17th April, 2003, Dr Said provides interesting insights into the situation surrounding the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The following paragraphs are extracts:

* Let's get straight to the point about what is so unwise about this war, leaving aside for the moment its illegality and international unpopularity. In the first place, no one has satisfactorily proved that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction that furnish an imminent threat to the United States. Iraq is a hugely weakened and ineffective Third World state ruled by a hated despotic regime; there is no disagreement about that anywhere, least of all in the Arab and Islamic world. But that after 12 years of sanctions it is a threat of any kind to any other state is a laughable notion, and not a single journalist of the overpaid legions who swarm around the Pentagon, State department and the White House has ever bothered to investigate it. . . . One can't fault these people [Iraqi expatriates] for wanting to rid the world of Saddam Hussein; we'd all be better off without him. The problem has been the falsifying of reality and the creation of scenarios for unchecked American policy planners to foist on a fundamentalist President and a largely misinformed public. In all this, Iraq might as well have been the moon and the Pentagon and White House Swift's Academy of Lagado.

* Another thought stopping premise underlying the campaign in Iraq is that the map of the Middle East can be redrawn in such a way as to set in motion a "domino effect" that will introduce Israel friendly democracies all over the territory. According to this model, the Iraqi people are a blank sheet on which to inscribe the ideas of William Kristol, Robert Kagan and other deep thinkers of the Far Right. As I said in an earlier article for the London Review of Books (17th October 2002), such ideas were first tried out by Ariel Sharon in Lebanon during the 1982 invasion, and then more recently in Palestine, where, in terms of security, peace and subaltern compliance, there's been nothing to show for it. Never mind: well trained United States special forces have practised and perfected the storming of civilian homes alongside Israeli soldiers in Jenin.
It is hard to believe, as this ill conceived war advances, that things will be very different in Iraq. On the other hand, with countries like Syria and Iran involved, their shaky regimes shaken even further, and general Arab outrage inflamed to boiling point, one cannot imagine that victory in Iraq will resemble any of the simple minded myths posited by Bush and his entourage.

* What is truly puzzling is that the prevailing American ideology is still underpinned by the view that United States power is basically benign and altruistic. This surely accounts for the outrage expressed by United States pundits and officials that Iraqis should have had the gall to resist at all, or that, when captured, United States soldiers were exhibited on Iraqi Television. Apparently this is much worse than showing rows of Iraqi prisoners made to kneel or lie spread eagled in the sand. Breaches of the Geneva Conventions are invoked not for Camp X Ray but for Saddam, and when his forces hide inside cities, that is cheating, while high altitude bombing is playing fair. This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology. What winning, or for that matter losing, such a war will ultimately entail is unthinkable. But pity the Iraqi civilians who must still suffer a great deal more before they are finally "liberated"

The Shifting Sands Of Double Standards

Apart from his friendship with Dr Ed Said, Professor Noam Chomsky is an internationally recognised expert on Linguistics. He has long been an outspoken critic of what might be termed the forces and interests of the so-called "New World Order" of International Finance-Capitalism and the consequences for the people of the Third and Developing Worlds. In April, 2003, Michael Albert sought the views of Noam Chomsky on the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. His response to the question "Why did the United States invade Iraq" included the following observations:

* These are naturally speculations, and policy makers may have varying motives. But we can have a high degree of confidence about the answers given by Bush Powell and the rest; these cannot possibly be taken seriously. They have gone out of their way to make sure we understand that, by a steady dose of self contradiction ever since last September when the war drums began to beat. One day the "single question" is whether Iraq will disarm; in today's version (April 12th): "We have high confidence that they have Weapons of Mass Destruction that is what this war was about and is about." That was the pretext throughout the whole United Nations disarmament farce, though it was never easy to take seriously; UNMOVIC was doing a good job in virtually disarming Iraq, and could have continued, if that were the goal. But there is no need to discuss it, because after stating solemnly that this is the "single question," they went on the next day to announce that it wasn't the goal at all: even if there isn't a pocket knife anywhere in Iraq, the United States will invade anyway, because it is committed to "regime change." The next day we hear that there's nothing to that either; thus at the Azores summit, where Bush Blair issued their ultimatum to the United Nations, they made it clear that they would invade even if Saddam and his gang left the country. So "regime change" is not enough. The next day we hear that the goal is "democracy" in the world. Pretexts range over the lot, depending on audience and circumstances, which means that no sane person can take the charade seriously.

* The one constant is that the United States must end up in control of Iraq. Saddam Hussein was authorized to suppress, brutally, a 1991 uprising that might have overthrown him because "the best of all worlds" for Washington would be "an iron fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein" (by then an embarrassment), which would rule the country with an "iron fist" as Saddam had done with United States support and approval (New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman). The uprising would have left the country in the hands of Iraqis who might not have subordinated themselves sufficiently to Washington. The murderous sanctions regime of the following years devastated the society, strengthened the tyrant and compelled the population to rely for survival on his (highly efficient) system for distributing basic goods. The sanctions thus undercut the possibility of the kind of popular revolt that had overthrown an impressive series of other monsters who had been strongly supported by the current incumbents in Washington up to the very end of their bloody rule: Marcos, Duvalier, Ceausescu, Mobutu, Suharto, and a long list of others, some of them easily as tyrannical and barbaric as Saddam.
Had it not been for the sanctions, Saddam probably would have gone the same way, as has been pointed out for years by the Westerners who know Iraq best, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck (though one has to go to Canada, England, or elsewhere to find their writings). But the overthrow of the regime from within would not be acceptable either, because it would leave Iraqis in charge. The Azores summit merely reiterated that stand.

Shaping A Repressive Colonial Regime Bush Taps Anti-terrorism Adviser As Iraq Pro Consul
by Bill Vann, May 2003

Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq

The Bush administration has selected of L. Paul Bremer, the former "counter terrorism ambassador" of the Reagan administration, to become the top United States official overseeing the creation of a new puppet regime in Iraq. Media reaction to the announcement has focussed almost entirely on the internecine disputes between the State Department and the Pentagon. Most press reports have asserted that with the ascendancy of a former career diplomat, Secretary of State Colin Powell has scored a victory against his powerful rivals headed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. There no doubt exist bitter divisions within the administration over strategy and tactics in Iraq. It became increasingly clear, moreover, that retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner, selected by Rumsfeld to head a Pentagon controlled Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, was far out of his depth in attempting to forge a United States controlled "transitional government" in the face of massive popular opposition. Yet Bremer's selection is significant above all for what it reveals about the nature of the regime that Washington is seeking to create.

The question must be asked: what precisely are this man's qualifications to oversee the Bush Administration's purported goal of establishing "government of, by and for the Iraqi people?"
While Bremer served for 23 years as a career State Department diplomat, he has enjoyed the closest ties to the Right Wing of the Republican Party for at least two decades. In 1981, then President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, appointed him as his special assistant in charge of the Department's "Crisis Management" Centre. Four years later, he was named Ambassador at Large for counter-terrorism, responsible for developing and implementing United States policies to combat terrorism. It was during this period that Washington labelled the African National Congress of South Africa (A.N.C.), and virtually every other national liberation movement as "terrorist" organizations.

It was on Bremer's watch that the Reagan administration ordered United States warplanes to carry out a terrorist bombing of Libya killing 40 civilians, including the adopted daughter of the country's leader Muammar Gadhafi. In an earlier version of "pre-emptive strike," the Administration described the bombing raid as "self defence against future attack." After leaving the State Department, Bremer joined Kissinger Associates [one-time Director, Lord Carrington], the consulting firm headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, where he was named Managing Director. Among the principal clients of the firm are United States multinationals seeking assistance in penetrating foreign markets.

In 1996, Bremer drafted an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal entitled "Terrorists' friends must pay a price", in which he called for the Clinton Administration to deliver ultimatums to and then launch unprovoked military attacks against countries throughout the Middle East. The countries that he said should be targeted included Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan. Curiously, Iraq was omitted.

In 1999, the Republican controlled House of Representatives placed Bremer in charge of a Commission on Terrorism, largely as a means of goading the Clinton Administration on issues of national security. In October 2001, he became the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Crisis Consulting Practice of Marsh Inc., a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies that advises corporations on threats of terrorism and other potential crises. In the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, Bremer became increasingly involved as an advisor to the Administration. He headed a panel on counter-terrorism formed by the Heritage Foundation, a Right Wing think tank close to the Bush White House. His principal advice consisted of ending restrictions on the C.I.A. going back to the 1975 Church Commission, which investigated the Agency's involvement in the assassination of foreign leaders and the overthrow of elected governments. He also called for the lifting of rules requiring C.I.A. agents in the field to obtain permission from higher ups in the agency before placing known killers on the agency's payroll.

Earlier this year, Bremer participated with ex C.I.A. Director James Woolsey [fellow "neoconservative hawk along with Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Richard Perle and others] in a "teach in" organized by a group called "Americans for Victory over Terrorism" and the U.C.L.A. [University of California at Los Angeles] student Republicans. It was at that conference that Woolsey, a close associate of Bremer, described the ongoing "War on Terrorism" as the "fourth world war," predicting that it would last far longer than either World War I or World War II.
"Over the decades to come," he said, " . . . we will make a lot of people very nervous." Referring to various Arab leaders, he added, "We want you nervous. We want you to realize now, for the fourth time in a hundred years, this country and its allies are on the march."

Woolsey, one of the most vociferous proponents of the United States war on Iraq, is reportedly being considered for a leading role as well in the Iraqi "reconstruction" operation. Deflating the widespread reports about Bremer's appointment representing a victory for Powell and "moderation," the Washington Post noted: "But Bremer, 61, is described as a hard nosed hawk who is close to the neoconservative wing of the Pentagon. He is supported by Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, officials said, and White House aides said the appointment affirms Bush's satisfaction with Pentagon control over Iraq until a new government is in place."

So what are Bremer's qualifications? He is a figure whose entire career is bound up with, on the one hand, national security, intelligence and United States military aggression; and, on the other, servicing the needs of United States based multinational corporations. Nothing could more clearly define the type of regime that Washington aims to establish in Iraq. Its overriding task will be ruthlessly to suppress the mass opposition of the Iraqi people and facilitate the looting of the country's wealth by the US banks and big business.

General Garner, meanwhile, will reportedly stay on, reporting to Bremer. He is supposedly in charge of repairing Iraq's infrastructure and seeing to humanitarian needs. He has repeatedly insisted, however, that the country faces no real problems. "There is no humanitarian crisis . . . and there's not much infrastructure problem here, other than getting the electrical grid structure back together," he told reporters earlier this week. Garner argued that, instead of worrying about the Iraqis, the United States media should join him in a triumphalist celebration of the war. "We ought to be beating our chests every day," he said. "We ought to look in a mirror and get proud and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say: 'Damn, we're Americans!'"

Shortly after Garner made these remarks, a coalition of eight major international relief organizations issued a statement implicitly criticizing apparent United States indifference to a major humanitarian crisis developing in the country. The statement said in part: "Already under severe strain and under resourced before the war began, hospitals, water plants and sewage systems have been crippled by the conflict and looting. Hospitals are overwhelmed, diarrhoea is endemic and the death toll is mounting. Medical and water staff are working for free, but cannot continue for long. Rubbish, including medical waste, is piling up. Clean water is scarce and diseases like typhoid are being reported in southern Iraq."

Garner and the United States occupation forces are deliberately covering up this crisis in an attempt to stifle any questioning of United States activities in Iraq and to prevent any international agencies from getting in the way of the fulfilment of United States war aims. The general began his military career as a United States Army "advisor" supervising the "strategic hamlet" programme during the Vietnam War in which tens of thousands of Vietnamese peasants were forced off their land and driven into concentration camps surrounded by barbed wire.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Garner commented: "If President Bush had been president we would have won the Vietnam War", adding that the United States could have invaded the North. This is the face that America is presenting to the people of Iraq.
The task of Bremer and Garner is quickly to patch together a figurehead Iraqi regime made up of corrupt emigres, former Ba'athists and anyone else who can be bought. The job of this regime will be to legitimize continued United States military occupation and the takeover of the country's oil industry by United States corporations. The conditions and rights of the Iraqi people will count for nothing. Instead, those in charge are determined to mete out unrestrained repression and violence to enforce American colonial domination.


DESECRATION AND DESTRUCTION - A CULTURAL VACUUM

Political And Military Power Out Of Control

Both American and British troops have smashed their way into, and taken up residence in, Saddam Hussein's palaces and other official buildings. In particular United States units have displayed a singular lack of military discipline. On the 10th April, 2003, The Daily Telegraph reported that United States troops were ransacking buildings in search of suitable mementoes such as flags, badges, clocks, door name plates and even Iraqi fire service equipment. The Morning Star of 24th April, 2003, reported the theft by soldiers of the United States 3rd Division of some $650,000,000 during an operation to prevent looting by the civilian population.

Uncontrolled looting and destruction of priceless historical artefacts as United States troops stood by has been widely reported. Idiotic parliamentary comments by British Defence Secretary, "Geoff" Hoon, that condoned the looting, merely exacerbate the situation and reveal the crass ignorance of those politically responsible. Indications are that a shallow North American culture and tradition of less than 300 years compares ill with 2,000 years of European heritage and does not even begin to relate to several thousand years of Mesopotamian history.

The United States, as the world's greatest ever military Power, had been spoiling for this contrived war well before the attack on the World Trade Centre, in New York, on September 11th, 2001. Extremely tenuous links with this event to Iraq, spuriously massaged by such authors as Laurie Mylroie, simply provided the pretext. The public rivalry between the State Department and the Pentagon, like two warring Mafia families had - and continues to have - the deadly potential for the rest of the world of a match in a barrel of gunpowder. Thus the invasion was inevitable.

There can be little doubt that ample time existed for careful and comprehensive planning of the invasion; not simply for the operational and tactical training of military units, some of which did take place in the United States. Before any large-scale military operation can properly be launched, this must be preceded by extensive and detailed studies. These must include the local geography, the political situation, the administrative infrastructure, the local population and its characteristics, the politico-military objectives.

To this must be matched the composition and scale of the resources required. Also required to be studied and in place are the civilian logistic requirements from such as the United Nations and the International Red Cross. We need hardly be surprised that instead the true priorities appeared to be opportunities for reconstruction and the business rehabilitation - "take-over" - by principally American business conglomerates.

The potential for urban, guerrilla warfare, and the implications for the civilian population were well-known and could have been allowed for with the appropriate training and organisation. Instead, and in full knowledge of this, the Coalition Forces simply went in like a blunt instrument using conventional European military tactics of heavy armour and massive aerial bombardment. The heritage of the people they had come to "liberate" was smashed along with the civilian infrastructure, such as power and water services, and the death or injury of thousands of innocent civilians.

It is significant that the Morning Star of 19th April, 2003, reported that two cultural advisers to the Bush Administration had resigned in protest, which alone confirms the spurious pretext for the invasion of a weakened country that posed no imaginable threat to the United States. Below we publish extracts, edited for space, from the writing of journalists Felicity Arbuthnot and David Lindorff.

Conditions in Iraq were known at least two years before the invasion. In a parliamentary debate recorded in Hansard, for 8th February, 2000, Tam Dalyell, M.P., referred to Felicity Arbuthnot as "Not popular in the Foreign Office"! He went on to say that:
Felicity Arbuthnot, who recently returned, describes a society that is breaking down. People are selling all their possessions - even their marriage presents. There is no work for all the talented engineers. The trauma caused by the [Anglo-American] bombing is felt every single day. Iraqi children are the most traumatised on earth. Those should not be the effects of a Labour Government's policy. What is the point of bombing flocks of sheep? All we succeeded in doing was letting loose rockets and killing a few shepherd boys. What is the long-term object of it all?

Iraq Memories by Felicity Arbuthnot

It feels as if I have a memory of every building that falls, crushed and broken to the ground. In 1998, beloved, gentle, intellectual friend Mustafa, spoke to me from Baghdad, his voice cracking as he described the damage of the four day Christmas and Eid blitz on his country damage to Munstanstarya University, thought to be the world's oldest; the 9th century Abbasid Palace with its great arches, which recreate themselves reflections in shadows, created by the inspiration of the inspired nearly a thousand years ago(13). The list went on and on. Barely a month later, Mustafa was dead. He died on the 17th January, anniversary of the start of the first Gulf War. All who knew him said he died of a broken heart, destroyed by his inability any longer to protect his family and those and the city he loved so much. My pain could never be that of those who are losing their loved ones, limbs, homes, history and all that is familiar to them in Mesopotamia, the "cradle of civilisation"; "land between two rivers" the great Biblical Tigris and Euphrates it must be only really a second best pain, but it surely feels like the real thing.

The Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad has not fallen yet, it is described as swaying, shaking and shuddering as the bombs fall. A B.B.C. correspondent broadcasting from there, rather than the Ministry of Information formerly home to all correspondent's offices which has been hit twice described the hotel as a "bit of a dump." "Welcome home, welcome home", the Palestine staff said to me repeatedly less than a month ago (as I write), beaming their generous welcome on imminent eve of disaster. Jemilla, one of the employees, ran home in her lunch hour to pick me flowers from her garden for my room. Mohammed, gentle historian, who now works there to earn hard currency from foreign visitors, brought me another of his precious books on the Middle East from a dwindling collection he sells for ridiculously little, to a few selected guests. He needs the money desperately, but his lifetime's collection must go to a loving home. Susan, who runs the small shop in the lobby is a survivor of the Ameriyah Shelter bombing of the 1991 Gulf war, which killed at least four hundred and five people, leaving just eight survivors. Beautiful, poised, generous to a fault, dispensing sweets and sweetmeats far in excess of what one spends, she suffers terrible physical scars under her jeans and silk shirt. And worse mental ones she lost her parents, brothers and sisters in the inferno at five years old and still greets, hugs and feeds visitors from the countries who decimated her young life and incinerated her family.

The Palestine's Orient Express restaurant was the last stopping point before Istanbul on that Rome to Istanbul train. It has a 1920's model of the Express, lovingly restored by Mohammed. A short time ago the proud hotel which the Palestine is, was reduced to sheets sewn side to middle, and so thin that a wrong move could rip them. This visit boasted new sheets, fluffy towels and both flowers and a large basket of fruit in my room. A small, but huge triumph, a phoenix from the ashes of the most draconian United Nations embargo in history. The "bit of a dump" which is the Palestine deserves a book, not an article.

Next door is the Al Fanar Hotel, long host to peace activists. Just before I left Baghdad they had a structural survey to assess whether it would withstand vibrations from bombings. Probably not, was the verdict. The welcome equals the Palestine. Making a local phone call from the lobby, I asked how much I owed. "Nothing, it is on the house" said the owner. "Everything is on the house here", I replied, referring to the fact that breakfast, dinner and much else, seems to be complimentary. "Yes, of course, unless, unless . . . " he replied, pointing skywards . . . unless the house falls down.

Five minutes drive away, along the Tigris, past evocative Ottoman buildings, riverside restaurants which sell Iraq's most famous dish, masgouf freshly caught fish, embalmed in herbs and slowly cooked over open wood fires, is the Ministry of Information. Correspondents in Iraq have a love hate relationship with the Ministry; the world's media had their offices there. Permits to travel are issued or refused there, "minders" allotted and many hours consumed often wheedling, pleading. Usually it all works out and after all one reminds oneself during moments of exasperation, it is a country which has been on a war footing for twenty years. With or without the regime, any nation would be paranoid. The Ministry too has poignant memories the elegant, educated official who hesitantly attempted to sell me his wife's mink coat for fifty dollars then broke down, tears streaming down his face: "Oh, what this embargo is doing to us. . . . "

A "minder" known as "little Mohammed" there are two Mohammeds and the other of course, "big Mohammed." The little one, is quiet, wistful, can fix anything and adores children. On one visit I went in search of him and found him more wistful than ever. No greeting, no smile, utter withdrawal. Perhaps I had offended him in some way I thought. In desperation I asked the question one seldom asks now in Iraq tragedy invariably lurks in the answer: "How is your family Mohammed?" "My wife, she is fine and my little daughter but my son, he died forty days ago." When I had left months before, they had been celebrating the safe arrival of a healthy baby. Forty days is the mourning period and he was working on that last, agonising, poignant day because he too needed the money so desperately for his remaining small family.

The Ministry, like the waiting hours, is no more. Not far away, near Rashid Street (named after Baghdad's seventh century founder) with its ancient, evocative, bustling, now battered, balconied buildings is the first of the telephone exchanges to be hit. I remembered a competition with an Italian photographer to find the most unusual picture of Iraq's President which abound everywhere. I won the first round: Panama hat and Hawaiian shirt. He bought dinner. Next day: "Come with me, I have won . . ." It was a building high portrait of the President in full military dress on a bright pink telephone. I bought two dinners.

Tragedy struck a couple of years later when the telephone was re-painted black. Now it has struck again, the building is no more, terrified families unable to check on those they love and did those irreplaceable antique buildings in Rashid Street survive the blast, or was it a vibration too far? As the coalition boasts of bombing palaces and the Olympic stadium to erase symbols of the regime, they are also erasing a culture, for which they will not be thanked. It is incumbent upon leaders, from the time of the caliphs, to leave something more magnificent than their prede-cessor. Whatever about this or many other leaders, in a most ancient of civilisations this will be seen as a cultural assault. And whilst there is little love for [Saddam's elder son] Uday, they were proud of their stadium.

Down what has become known as "sniper's alley" (in fact the highway of death resultant from the slaughter of fleeing military and civilians after the cease-fire of 1991, by the United States) is beautiful, battered Basra, formerly the "Venice of the Middle East." Sinbad left for his magical journeys from here and the Tigris and Euphrates meet at the Shatt Al Arab waterway now "secured" by the invaders.

Front line in the Iran Iraq war, the Gulf War and now this assault, this ancient city displays tragedy everywhere. After the 1998 bombing, empty hotels refused rooms to British or Americans at any price. Hearts and minds are going to be hard won here. The general hospital which has received numerous casualties from the ongoing, unsanctioned bombings of the region by the United States and United Kingdom over the last eleven years, was built by General Maude in the 1920s in another British adventure. He is buried in the war graves in Baghdad. "Let them come, there are plenty of plots next to him", was an example of the tone of response to questions about the welcome the liberators would receive.

Another hotel which will unlikely to be welcoming for a while is the Sheraton, "damaged" last week. Overlooking the Shatt Al Arab, its rooms are pure Arabian nights, with their rich hangings, richer carpets and slatted wooden balconies, where the birds inhabiting the Shatt weal and swirl past, as the sun falls into the water and the sky turns peach. The birds swirl in great joyous swathes at dusk and dawn over the corniche in the northern town of Mosul too, where the prophet Jonah is believed buried in the great, ancient mosque named for him. Christian monasteries include the Lourdes of the Middle East, where Saint Matthew is believed buried and where people of all denominations bring their sick believing in his healing powers. This is the region which has inspired poets. "'Quinqeurine of Nineveh, from distant Ophir" wrote John Masefield in Cargoes. This is Nineveh province. When the cargo returned with "sandalwood, cedarwood and sweet white wine", the wine was from Mosul grapes, watered by an irrigation system developed twelve thousand years ago. "At one with Nineveh and Tyre . . . ." wrote Kipling. The great walls of Nineveh still stood, a fortnight ago with their winged bulls, guardians for millennia, testament to living history. Are they there now?

In another sparkling pink and azure dawn on the day I left Baghdad, (dubbed "the Paris of the ninth century" by 19th century traveller, Sir Richard Burton ) I photographed the panoramic views of this great, vibrant city. I would, I felt certain, never see it like this again. . . . I never will.

Brute American Military Force And Ignorance
by Felicity Arbuthnot

One way not to win hearts and minds, is to invade, then threaten people at road blocks going about their daily business. Damage limitation might have included: having an arabic speaker at all points and understanding the culture. For instance Iraqis, told they have been "liberated", approach barriers to be met by a soldier with his arm up and palm out. This means "welcome" in the region so they drive through and get shot. Loutish behaviour is excused in the West ("deprived background" etc.). Courtesy is incumbent on all the Middle East. General Garner, imposed Viceroy of Baghdad, swaggered off his flight, shook hands and greeted Iraqi officials whilst munching gum. Culturally: bad as it gets. He was also wearing impenetrable dark glasses worse. None of the Middle East has been ruled by Mary Poppins' since the mists of time, but also incumbent, is that each ruler leaves behind something more magnificent for history than his predecessors. At their demise, that left behind, becomes a symbol of nationalism, history. That is what made Iraq Mesopotamia a unique archeological jewel. Bombing palaces then United States and United Kingdom troops moving into them is an invasion of sovereignty, instantly breeding an implacable hatred.

Note to Central Command and Ministry of Defence move them out before those pesky Iraqis do. And; pulling down statues and arranging destruction of portraits: a bad idea.
Note to C.I.A.: you could have saved that reported hundred millions dollars spent on this exercise and left the Iraqis to decide. The Crusades are "Recent" in Iraq's history a symbol of attempted slaughter and destruction of beliefs, culture, history. "Nothing so terrible has happened to us since the Crusades", Iraqis were saying of the embargo a couple of years ago. Then George the Second announced after 9/11 that his ludicrous "War on terrorism" ( bit like waging "war on secret bagel eaters"!) was: a "Crusade". The result has indeed been just that, hardly missed by a soul it seems, if one reads the Middle East press. Iraq Mesopotamia history, records and buildings, lie in dust. Franklin Graham Bush Baby's pal the Christian Fundamentalist from hell, is to send his missionaries in with aid and a Bible. As the United States trumpeted that southern Iraq was now "stable", "under control", calming down, no one who knows the region believed a single word and were correct. It is none of these.

The Iraqis have been invaded for thousands of years. The invaders have always given up, left their dead behind and beat a bloodied retreat. "Wait until they get to Kut", those familiar with the region also predicted. The British were defeated in an appalling siege at Kut in the First World War. Those who survived were marched the 900 odd miles to Turkey to be jailed. Few survived. Kut has organised itself, demanded the "invaders" leave, said anyone who co operates with them is a traitor and collaborator and when told they now had a police force doing just that, burned down the police station. Told that, the imposed Administration would bar them from the Governor's office, they replied that it was no problem, they would run theirs from the Mosque. They will.

Tony Blair and Donald Rumsfeld have announced they are going to Baghdad shortly. "The embargo even extends to dialogue", said Iraq's wily former Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, in an interview with this writer three years ago, "why don't they talk to us?" I predict we'll hear more from "captured" Tariq Aziz. Oh, and a word of advice to Blair and Rumsfeld: don't do what General Garner keeps doing; addressing the media with your backs to the crowd. And don't stay in a palace. Iraq is not Ealing, Martha's Vineyard, or Manhattan on the Tigris.

Iraq images - Trashing, Smashing And Looting
by Felicity Arbuthnot

Many indelible images have resulted from the invasion of Iraq, some omitted from western television screens but not from some Arab ones dismembered bodies piled in the back of trucks, resultant from America's rush for oil, for instance. The encouraging or ignoring by United States troops of looting and sacking of all vestiges of civil society. Mosul University, a unique institution, systematically trashed and museums which represented the "heritage of humanity". Breath taking beauty smashed and plundered. "An unbearable mourning" is how one academic has described this modern day fall of Babylon; the barbarians let through the gates. But amid the ruins of Mesopotamia, another image is beginning to ascend; a true "clash of civilisations"; shaven headed soldiers, resembling skin head thugs, posing with their loot, a portrait of Saddam Hussein. American troops lauding it in palaces, United States flags fluttering above them, a soldier sitting spread legged on a sofa in Palace grounds. Palaces are not alone symbols of Saddam Hussein, but in a fiercely nationalistic country, national symbols. Only the other barbarians, the Mongols, allowed sacking and looting of manuscripts and magnificence. Further, with troops who know not language or culture barring familiar roads and accesses, a further danger has not been addressed.

Having been told they have been liberated, many people are being shot at road blocks because they drive through. In the region to put an arm up, with palm out, means "welcome". The shootings at Fallujah, west Baghdad would seem to have risen from further cultural crassness by United States troops. Having taken over a school in a country where education is paramount, they then took up positions on the roof, where they could see into courtyards where woman, in the privacy of their homes, did not have their heads covered or wear an abbaya. (Indeed, in searingly hot months, as now, at home, often the flimsiest of clothes are worn.). For strangers to be observing them would be an anathema. There are conflicting reports as to whether Iraqis fired guns in the air at the soldiers as well as threw stones. Certainly it seems there were no bullet marks on the school from it being attacked. But in the Middle East, firing a gun in the air is a sign of celebration, disappointment (for example, winning or losing a football match) or a warning of displeasure. It is unlikely the crowd including women and the very young would damage a revered educational building they were trying to reclaim. The gentle school Principal thinks not, he is so enraged, that this lifelong academic wants to become a martyr and kill Americans. As seventeen year old Khalil Mutanna whose uncle, mother and grandmother were injured and another uncle killed at Fallujah remarked: "The Americans have nothing left with which to love them."
General Garner put it better this week, he said: "We ought to be beating our chests every day, look in the mirror, stick out our chests, suck in our bellies and say: Damn, we're American". Most of Iraq too is damning Americans.

Last warning: time to go.

IOUs For Looting
by David Lindorff, CounterPunch, 31ST March, 2003

As the United States Army's Seventh Combat Support Group, a unit of the Third Infantry Division, moved northward in the Arabian desert west of the Euphrates River towards the town of Najaf on March 26th, the commander, realizing his exhausted men faced shortages of food and water, was looking for a place of refuge. He found it in the form of two Bedouin families. Drew Brown, reporter from Knight Ridder News Service who was embedded with the unit, reported that Col. John P. Gardner ordered the two families to leave their land and turn it over to his men. He reportedly gave them "receipts" for the tents. dogs, chickens, bowls, pots and other possessions they left behind - receipts that neither he nor anyone else could tell them how they could redeem - and sent them off "befuddled" into the desert.

If any incident illustrates the true nature of the Anglo United States invasion of Iraq, this one is it. A modern army unit, bristling with the latest in high tech, high powered weaponry, purportedly in the country to "liberate" the natives from the tyrant who "enslaves" them, summarily casts two defenceless groups of men, women and children out of their homes into the barren desert, handing them worthless I.O.U.s for their trouble. Obviously Colonel Gardner the liberator didn't do much studying of American history or he would have known that the Third Amendment of the United States Constitution, the one that bans the billeting of troops in private households, was a direct result of the British practice of taking over colonial farms and households at will for the quartering of Redcoat troops. It was this obscene imperial behaviour, perhaps more than the issue of "taxation without representation", that really fed the fires of rebellion in the United States colonies.

Brown doesn't tell us what the two "nomad" families felt or said as they were driven by Gardner and his men from their homes and lands, but it's a fair bet they weren't awash with feelings or gratitude at their liberation. As this war continues to look more and more like a quagmire, this and other actions by the army of liberation are likely to cause problems for the liberators. Take the United States attacks on Iraqi television and on the telephone headquarters in Baghdad. Under the doctrine of reciprocity, a country that suffers any type of attack during a war is entitled to respond in kind, even if the initial attack was outside the bounds of normally acceptable rules of war. This means that should Iraq decide to respond by sending sappers to the United States to blow up the headquarters of C.N.N. or Fox Television, for example, such attacks would not be acts of terrorism, but of war. President Bush said he was invading Iraq to make America safe. In fact, by going to war in Iraq, he has, legally speaking, made the entire United States a potential battlefront in this war, inviting Iraq to send its agents into the country, or to get sleeper agents already here activated.

It's unlikely that Iraqi sappers would be billeting themselves in American households, but should they do so, in an effort to hide from Ashcroft's minions, or simply to seek temporary refuge, they could always cite the precedent of Colonel Gardner, and say they were just behaving reciprocally. Hopefully, if they force any American families out of their homes, those Iraqi agents will be as thoughtful about providing their unwilling hosts with receipts as was the Seventh Combat Support Group. (Continued in Part 2)


REFERENCES

Note: Prices are shown where available from Bloomfield Books, and represent only a selection relevant to the theme of this edition of On Target. A wide range of reading may be found in the Stock Price List (S.P.L.), which may be obtained post free on request from the address on the last page. Out of print, or older works, may be obtained through the Book Search Service, or the Second-Hand Book Service, both of which are operated by Mr. T.G. Turner, for which details are available as for the S.P.L.
(1) Iraq In The Global Scenario; in three parts, Nos. 18 - 23, On Target Vol. 31, 9th & 23rd March, 6th & 20th April and 4th & 18th May, 2002.
(2) Power, Greed And Money - Target Iraq. The World, Courtesy The International Community; On Target Vol. 32, Nos 1 & 2, 13th & 27th July, 2002.
(3) Why A Major War Is Needed. The Global Economy And Those Who Control It; in two parts, On Target Vol. 32, Nos. 7 & 8, 5th & 19th October and Nos. 9, 10 & 11, 2nd, 16th & 30th November, 2002.
(4) Leslie, Shane. Mark Sykes: His Life and Letters. Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1923.

(5) Martin, Rose L. Fabian Freeway - High Road To Socialism In The U.S.A. 1884-1966. Western Islands, 1966.
(6) Ellis, Dr Frank. "Political Correctness and the Ideological Struggle: From Lenin and Mao to Marcuse and Foucault". The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, Winter, 2002.
(7) Beard, Henry & Christopher Cerf. The Official Politically Correct Dictionary And Handbook. Grafton, 1992.
(8) Soviet Analyst. Volume 21, Numbers 1-2, December, 1991 & Number 5, April-May, 1992.
(9) Golitsyn, Anatoliy. New Lies For Old - The Communist Straegy of Deception and Disinformation. The Bodley Head, 1984. £21.95.
(10) Golitsyn, Anatoliy. The Perestroika Deception - Memoranda to the Central Intelligence Agency. Edward Harle Limited, 1995. £20.00.
(11) The Alliance's Strategic Concept. Approved by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington D.C. on 23 and 24 April 1999. NATO office of Information and Press, 1110 Brussels, Belgium.
(12) The Reader's Guide To The NATO Summit In Washington, 23-25 April 1999. NATO office of Information and Press, 1110 Brussels, Belgium.
(13) Operation Desert Fox. This was the perceived "punishment" in which Iraq was subjected to a four-day bombardment following the unilateral withdrawal of the United Nations Weapons Inspectors, UNSCOM, from Iraq. They were not ejected by the Iraqi Government, as is often misrepresented. Operation Desert Fox had no tactical raison d'être, and is generally accepted to have been a diversion from the scandal of President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

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