Gulf War II – Unfinished Business

The world awaits with bated breath the sounds of roaring engines belonging to an elite squad of US fighter jets, as they soar across the skies of Baghdad to drop missiles of death and destruction in a determined, yet desperate bid to dethrone Saddam Hussein.

All eyes are on a ring-shaped coral island enclosing a lagoon, Diego Garcia, the British-held Indian Ocean Island, regarded as a critical launching pad for US long-range bombers. So too is there an intense focus of activities in Saudi Arabia, which hosts the center for US intelligence, reconnaissance and military.

Major US command bases in Kuwait, Qatar, U.A.E, Oman and Bahrain, which collectively hosts US ground forces and the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet, have also come under scrutiny by eagle-eyed war-watchers, eager to alert the world to the impending war on Iraq.

Perhaps Turkey will provide the initial signal that the son has set the skies alight in his bid to finish his father’s unfinished war. For the US airbase in the Turkish territory of Incirlik would be critical to any US attack, since it is from here that American fighters and tankers currently enforce the no-fly zone over northern Iraq.

The heightened sense of an imminent war follows repeated vows by the Bush administration to remove Saddam. The question is no longer whether the US would attack Iraq; the question is when.

In a recent article on George Bush’s strong anti-Saddam feelings, Time reported that the US strongman shows little interest in debating what to do about the Iraqi leader. He used extremely strong words, including a vulgar epithet to refer to Saddam and concluded with four words that left no one in doubt about Bush’s emotion driven intentions: “We’re taking him out”.

Many critics are fuming that a blizzard of Bush words and deeds are undercutting US moral leadership at a time when Bush needs it to draw allies to an unpopular war. They refer to his lumping of North Korea, Iran and Iraq in an ‘axis of evil’; the disdain for the Geneva Conventions shown in the brutal treatment of suspected al-Qaeda prisoners at Camp X-Ray; the repudiation of the Kyoto climate Accord and the refusal to lean on Sharon to ease the horrors visited upon the Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Force.

Like events in the Gulf, current and beckoning, the First World War was distinguished by a drift to war in a specious notion that allowed for war preparation – and by an inferno of which there was little public comprehension of warning, and by the theatrical distortions and lies of the warlords and their mouthpieces in the press.

The British and American media, which unlike Iraq’s, is held aloft as “free” will bear much of the responsibility for a “patriotic” and culpable silence if war breaks out, that will ensure that their societies don’t know and can’ t know the real reasons behind the faéade of ‘weapons of mass destruction.’

Before the outbreak of the first Gulf War led by Bush snr, in order to prepare them, the British and American public was denied an understanding of the complexity of reasons behind the crisis in the Gulf. For instance it was hardly ever mentioned that Britain carved up Iraq from the underbelly of the Ottoman Khilafa and divested it of Kuwait in order to divide and rule the region, laying the roots of war.

That the Americans had helped to put Saddam Hussein in power, providing him with a hit list of his opponents, armed him to the teeth to invade Iran, was regarded as irrelevant then and now.

The fact that Britain, America and other allies sustained his murderous regime was and remains relegated to the letters pages.

In the rhetoric emanating from the White House, the goal posts have been shifted unashamedly from “the liberation of Kuwait” as the original sole aim to the current objective to remove Saddam because he is a “menace to the region.”

The truth is to be found in events notably excluded from the present coverage or “cover-up”.

In May 1990 the US president’s most senior advisory body, the National Security Council, submitted to Bush a White Paper in which Iraq and Saddam Hussein are described as “the optimum contenders to replace the Warsaw Pact” as the rationale for continued Cold War military spending and for putting an end to the “peace dividend.”

As the world braces itself for a new blitz, certain to add to the devastation already caused by more than a decade of US imposed sanctions, many questions arise, but who is to raise them if there is a general agreement among the opinion-leaders that this is a matter of good versus evil.

(Mr. Iqbal Jasarat is Chairman of the Media Review Network, which is an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.)