Rationalizing the Attack
The guided missiles know the route to Baghdad. President Bush has failed to satisfactorily explain why he sent them there.
The Reasons Given for War
First we heard that Iraq is assisting al Qaeda. The administration has still not furnished a significant link. One link that has been mentioned is in Northern Iraq (Kurdish territory), an area not well governed by Saddam Hussein, where Ansar al-Islam, an enemy of the Saddam Hussein regime, has been supposedly linked to al Qaeda. American special forces parachuted into the area and decimated an Ansar al-Islam concentration, killing about 100 and forcing about 700 of them to flee to Iran, where they were interned. The military action occurred on the border with Iran and close to Halabja, the same city where the U.S. has accused Saddam Hussein of gassing Kurds.
Then we heard that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. The military have not discovered any of these weapons and have not presented reliable evidence of any preparation for their use.
Iraq must disarm or suffer attack! The lack of organized military resistance indicates that Iraq had disarmed. No airplanes for battles, few tanks for battles, no use of heavy weapons, no discernible well organized fighting army. Where is the captured equipment? Where are the massive numbers of prisoners? Where is a powerful Iraqi military?
Operation Iraqi Freedom! Finally, Allied Commander Tommy Franks resolved the confusion: "We're not concerned with weapons of mass destruction now. We are liberating Iraq." This could be true, except it is difficult to distinguish those who don't want to be liberated and those who might want to be liberated but not by foreigners, from those who honestly welcome liberation. The two former groups, which might comprise the majority of the Iraqi population, have no voice and no choice in their "liberation." They must accept liberation or suffer an undesirable fate.
Trying to Regain Credibility
U.S. Administration rhetoric has made it difficult to distinguish between truth and falsehood, reality and fiction, honest explanation and wartime propaganda. America's confused attempt to rationalize its actions has only caused additional international loss of trust and credibility in the U.S. effort. The war reports, containing obvious gross distortions of Iraq's military power and threat, prompt the observation: "If the administration cannot express truth to explain its war efforts then how honest are its efforts?" The responses the Bush administration has offered to offset its loss of credibility are aimed principally at the American audience, appealing to their patriotism with exaggerated and one-sided reports, that at close examination, only aggravate the mistrust :
(1) broadcasting repeated distortions in order to condition minds,
(2) using negative images of the Iraq enemy to offset negative images of America,
(3) daily briefings that come across as rationalizations and propaganda.
- The U.S. military continually portrays its well directed bombing campaign as a humanitarian effort that avoids civilian casualties. Can war ever be humanitarian? Many bombs miss their targets and cause civilian casualties. Others hit targets that must include civilians. The most serious damage is psychological, the trauma and fear that remain for a lifetime from the roar and terror of bombing campaigns. Overlooked is the lawlessness that results in pillage and violence.
- The military is not responsible for civilian casualties. Even when American soldiers have directly shot civilians in cars, the thrust is to blame Saddam Hussein. "He forced them to drive through our blockade so that we would be blamed for killing them."
- The Iraq government is daily accused of war crimes. These "crimes" are never specified or detailed. In wartime, every country expects its citizens not to assist the enemy and treats those who do with harsh reprisals. Instead videos from fifteen years ago are shown to give an association with "present day" war crimes.
Continuous reports that plant negative images of Iraq seem to have one intent, equalize negative images of the allied war effort. These reports are counterproductive - reinforcing a belief that the U.S. administration has no positive comments to support its actions.
- The U.S. attacked Iraq and then demanded that other nations dismiss Iraq's diplomats as if Iraq has committed the aggression.
- We are told a captured Iraqi soldier (?) is being given a pill for his asthma. Then we are told to compare his treatment with the way Iraq is treating our prisoners. What treatment? How many prisoners of war? Wasn't Jessica Lynch, the rescued army POW being treated in a civilian hospital?
- Daily reports that the Baath Party is shooting fleeing civilians in Basra. No proof, nothing, just unverified statements. An interview by an American correspondent reported in the Washington Post states:
"..the main problem for Basra's 1/3 million residents are on-again, off-again electricity and a shortage of water (ED: due to the military effort), but not a reign of terror.The people are living normally..They go to the market, they go shopping, they go to the hospital when they are sick..Life is normal.
- President Bush - The world can see how humane we are and the inhumanity of the Iraq leader.
- President Bush - Every (Iraqi) atrocity has confirmed the justice...of our cause.
Arab newspapers report that Bethlehem's Orthodox Christian Authority has barred for life President Bush (and British PM Tony Blair) entry to the Church of the Nativity. Reason- war crimes against the Iraqi people.
It will be interesting to see if other institutions, religious, private and public, follow these Church leaders and also promote activities against the leaders of the war against Iraq.
The Daily Briefings
The military campaign has been accompanied by daily briefings that have one intention--solicit the questions that have been provoked by doubts and provide dubious responses that smother the doubts--which they don't.
In one Central Command (CENTCOM) briefing, a General responded to the question "Why hasn't Iraq used their chemical weapons in the South?"
"Because they want to use them when we get near Baghdad."
Rather than using chemical weapons in an area populated only by coalition troops and few Iraqis, and where "chemical weapons" would have been most effective, CENTCOM is portraying Iraq as ignorant, ready to use the "chemical weapons" in areas densely populated by Iraqis, and where a shift in wind direction could destroy the concentrated Iraqi soldiers and civilian populations.
In another CENTCOM briefing, a Brigadier General displayed a photo of a guided missile hitting the Central Intelligence headquarters of the Iraqi regime. His comment:
"Iraq intelligence is the center of international terrorism."
Does anyone believe that? The General followed his dubious comment with the sentence:
"We have these meeting to bring the truth to the world."
In response to a question about the large number of civilians being killed in the war:
"Civilians get killed in wars."
Nobody asked, "If so, why start a war?" especially since nobody asked these dead Iraqis if they wanted a war.
Two videos summarize the dubious nature of the U.S. and British cause.
In one video, a British officer patronizes a group of Iraqis, trying to convince them that "we have not come to take your country but to free you."
In another video, a British soldier asks a hospital director to remove a wall photo of "your ex-president."
He is still our president", replies the medical doctor who refuses to remove the photo. The British soldier then removes the photo.
This British soldier didn't tell the Iraq doctor that "we haven't come to take your country." He showed what is expected of Iraqis by telling the Iraq professional what he must do in his own country and treating him contemptuously after he refused to obey an order.
Rationalizing the Attack
The lack of verification to the constantly changing reasons for the invasion has disturbed the international community. The loss of credibility in Bush's actions has developed an entirely new world situation. The social and economic future is unclear and the lack of clarity will surely lead to chaotic and erratic occurrences and a new arms race. The entire world is facing new and unforeseen challenges after the war ends. The war is creating greater problems than any it proposed to resolve.
april 6, 2003
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