Questions and answers on Iraq

Submitted by martin on 12 September, 2002 - 11:27

From Solidarity 3/12, 12 September 2002

Come and join us on the streets, and in the meetings, so that we can build a strong anti-war movement on a clear internationalist and democratic basis.
Is Saddam Hussein a threat?
Yes. A threat to his own people - he rules them by terror. A threat to Iraq's oppressed national minority, the Kurds - he has massacred them. A threat to neighbouring peoples - in 1980 (against Iran) and in 1990 (against Kuwait) he went to war to make his state the regional "big power" in the Gulf. He is in no position to attempt a new war of expansion now, but given half a chance he would try again.

So Bush and Blair are right to want to eliminate that threat?
If Saddam's regime is poisonous, then the "antidote" of US war is even more poisonous. The USA would just replace Saddam by another Saddam, essentially different only in that he would be more pliant to US wishes.

But the USA's "other Saddam" would be less aggressive and dictatorial?
Not necessarily. The CIA had a hand in the 1963 and 1968 coups that brought Saddam's Ba'athists to power in Iraq. The USA tacitly backed Iraq in its 1980-8 war with Iran. The USA has no fixed objections to dictatorship and aggression.
Any such possibly less aggressive and dictatorial regime lies the other side of a war, probably a big war, in which the US and UK will slaughter many thousands of Iraqi civilians and conscripts. We recognise no right for the USA to kill people in pursuit of its self-ascribed role of "globocop".

If the Iraqi people want US and UK help to get rid of Saddam, don't they have the right to get it?
The Iraqi people cannot speak, because of Saddam's regime, but there is no evidence that they have asked, or would ask, for such "help". Cliques of Iraqi oppositionist exiles carefully cultivated by the USA, the chiefs among them former associates of Saddam, want it, but that is a different matter.
However much Iraqis hate Saddam, the last 11 years of US-led sanctions against their country will not have made them friendly to the USA. Their political culture is shaped by the memory of Western imposition of semi-colonial rule on most Middle Eastern countries between 1882 and the 1960s, and the revolts against that.

But Iraq may be near getting nuclear weapons!
India and Pakistan not only have nuclear weapons, but are threatening to use them against each other. No-one thinks a US war to impose "regime change" on India and Pakistan is the answer to that.
Iraq may have some chemical and biological weapons. It used chemical weapons in its war with Iran, and against the Kurds. US/UK war against Iraq is the move most likely to trigger the use of those weapons. If Saddam Hussein faces an all-out US assault, what can he lose by trying to take a few thousand Israeli civilians with him as he goes down, or to rally Islamist support by appearing as a bold champion against "Zionism"? The USA's war may set the whole Middle East aflame, and cost many lives outside Iraq.

Wouldn't it be all right if Bush got UN approval for war?
No. UN approval just means that the governments of Russia (the butchers of Chechnya), China (the butchers of Tibet) and France (with much blood on its hands from Rwanda, where its meddling provoked civil war) back Bush. However desirable a democratic world government may be, the UN isn't it.

The job of clearing up Al Qaeda terrorism must be completed.
George W Bush does not even claim that Iraq has much to do with Al Qaeda. On the other hand, US war on Iraq will give a great boost to Islamic fundamentalism in all those many countries where the Islamists will be strong enough to hegemonise the anti-war protests. It will breed new Al Qaedas.

Why does the USA want to attack Iraq?
Key US policy-makers reckon that their easy victories in the Gulf (1991), Kosova (1999) and Afghanistan (2001) show they have the ability, and give them a window of opportunity, to "tidy up" the Gulf, an ultra-strategic area because it holds over 50% of the world's oil reserves. A quick (they hope) war can enable them to end the malodorous sanctions against Iraq and establish a powerful, friendly and solid regime at the heart of the region. At present the best they have for an ally is Saudi Arabia's monarchy, which they know to be corrupt, Islamic-fundamentalist, and under serious threat from even more extreme fundamentalists. They want something more solid.

Aren't a lot of anti-war agitators pro-Saddam?
Some have the old idea that "my enemy's enemy is my friend" - that to be hard against Bush and Blair we must be soft on Saddam. When Bush says Saddam is part of an "axis of evil", or a "terrorist", they say that Bush and others are the "real" terrorists, or the "real" axis of evil, as if Saddam were harmless. But most people who will be against the war don't think that. Come and join us on the streets, and in the meetings, so that we can build a strong anti-war movement on a clear internationalist and democratic basis.

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