On Iraq, Doubts And Murmurs
Sunday, September 8, 2002; Page B03
The possibility that the United States would carry out a preemptive strike against Iraq has not played well among the world's chattering classes. Much of the newspaper commentary reflects opposition -- or puzzlement -- about why the Bush administration has not explained its intentions better.
To quote Bush Jr.: Make no mistake. This is not only about Saddam Hussein being a vile man with an unattractive moustache thinking day and night about ways to make the world worse, and getting his scientists to develop weapons of mass destruction in the meantime. It does not even complete the picture that the United States wants total control over Middle East oil wells and has a well thought-out plan to assist "friendly" regimes first in Baghdad and then in Riyadh in acquiring power. Such a plan would also entail cutting off external support for the Palestinians, fulfilling Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's old dream. The debate is about much more than all of this: It is about the future of the world.
The younger Bush's most influential people -- also coming from his father's team -- believe that from now on, the United States is allowed to decide on its own whose moustache it likes, who is a threat to its security, and whose oil needs U.S. control, even if such a decision triggers resistance from the whole world. If they succeed in forcing this approach on number 43, Congress, the allies, Europe, Russia, and China, U.S. supremacy will be ensured for the next couple of decades, and even the appointment for a linesman at the next World Cup will require Washington's approval. (Sept. 5)
-- Gabor Horvath
The objective of an attack on Iraq is clearly to ensure a change of the regime in power in the country. The biggest reason, it is argued, for the need to do so is that Mr. Hussein has acquired weapons of mass destruction or is very close to acquiring them. And given Mr. Hussein's past record, the Iraqi regime will have no qualms in using these weapons in a future conflict. There is, indeed, considerable merit in these arguments. ...[A]n Iraqi civil engineer, who defected recently, has disclosed that a vast network of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons continues to exist in the country.
There is a strong case to be made for action against Mr. Hussein. But the skepticism arises out of three factors. First, it is not clear how the use of force will help to remove Mr. Hussein. In the past, the Iraqi people have suffered, but the regime in power does not seem to have been affected. Second, the Iraqi government has, of recent, demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with U.N. inspectors. While this move may be disingenuous, it is important for all avenues to be explored before force is used. Finally, the Bush administration does not seem to have taken the trouble to build a consensus on the issue, either at home or internationally. In the absence of such a consensus, the U.S. action will obviously lack legitimacy and may even create an anti-American backlash, especially in the Arab world. (Sept. 2)
The White House hawks are busy contemplating another regional military operation. This is while the Ba'ath ruling clique stubbornly refuses to learn and constantly courts trouble.
If Iraq continues to insist on its wrong policies, the region will once again sink into a devastating war which above all will harm the oppressed Iraqi nation.
The spirit of bellicosity in Washington, which in essence is the result of the powerful Zionist lobby's influence, indicates the U.S. intends to create tension in the sensitive region despite the growing opposition of world public opinion. And worse still, the Iraqi regime is doing exactly what is necessary for the U.S. to justify its militarism ...
[W]hat the masters in Baghdad must understand is that due to its unconventional and dangerous policies in the past several years, it is still very far from winning the trust of any respected foreign government. (Sept. 5)
-- Ali Fatemi
GROOT BIJGAARDEN, BELGIUM
In the United States, a long-awaited fundamental debate on the country's foreign policy has finally broken out: An offshoot of 11 September 2001 and of the Bush administration's laborious efforts to formulate a response to that challenge. The outcome of that debate could have far-reaching consequences for U.S. relations with Europe and with the rest of the world. But it is distressing to see how Europe is merrily waltzing on as if nothing were about to happen...
If the Americans act unilaterally, there will be total lack of understanding in Europe ,and, for the first time since World War II, there will be an unbridgeable gulf between the United States and Europe....
But the Europeans must also consider urgently how it can all have gone so far, and what their own part in this situation is. Washington no longer takes into account the voices from the Old Continent. The tone in which the debate is being conducted on the opinion pages of the most important U.S. newspapers speaks volumes in that connection. Even commentators who are opposed to the extension of the "war against terrorism" to Iraq are dismissive of the role which the EU [European Union] can play in the whole matter. (Sept. 3)
-- Axel Buyse
The New Nation and Nation-Online
The U.S. scheme to overthrow the Iraqi regime is the crudest instance of U.S. interventionism since the mid-1990s. The United States succeeded in deposing a semi-fascist regime in Yugoslavia, and then proceeded to replace the anachronistic government of the Taliban, with a weak and fragile one. In both cases the action was at least partially justifiable and internationally backed.
In the case of Iraq there is not a single justification, apart from the desire to depose a system considered in Washington inimical to civilisation... Democracy and human rights, those long-standing U.S. values that have waned since 11 September, have nothing to do with the new U.S. quest. The United States is set to create new regimes abroad that lack any domestic legitimacy, and back a new brand of leaders who cannot move freely outside their U.S.-protected palaces. This new type of regimes (Afghanistan yesterday, Iraq tomorrow) would obliterate any chance for the nations in question to produce regimes that can express genuinely their aspirations, manage meaningfully their affairs, and react sensibly to U.S. policies.
The Iraqi regime that Washington wants to overthrow is definitely one of the worst, bloodiest, and most misguided regimes in the entire world. Its war with Iran and its invasion of Kuwait prove its exceptional aptitude for misjudgment. Yet, this does not mean that the U.S. would, or could, come up with a democratic government in Iraq. (Sept. 7) -- Amr Elchoubak