Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is convinced the United Nations was taken for a ride, according to an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, because the White House was never really that concerned with Iraq’s alleged weapons threat. From the forged evidence and still-unsubstantiated claims desperately used to garner world support, Blix says it’s evident that this war was planned long in advance.
That an illegal weapons site has yet to be uncovered has long since faded from the headlines. Now Baghdad is lawless after a power vacuum has left the city in the hands of enraged looters who have robbed or sacked businesses and government offices, stopping only when there’s nothing left to steal. In a Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joked how “freedom’s untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.” Mr. Rumsfeld: No one is laughing.
Iraqis remain suspicious as to why most areas of Baghdad were unguarded by the Americans while the Oil Ministry and many of Iraq’s oil fields have long since been heavily fortified. One angry resident vented at The Washington Post: “Is it because they just want our oil?”
I wish it were that simple. But then again, liberations seldom are.
Rumsfeld still wonders what went wrong between himself and Saddam back in 1983, Iraq’s first meeting with a top-ranking American official in six years, when he presented the dictator with a gift of golden cowboy spurs. As the Middle East envoy acting on behalf of George Shultz, then secretary of state under Ronald Reagan and former president of Bechtel Corp., Rumsfeld spent a year wooing Saddam as he massacred Iranian soldiers with nerve gas.
Memos show he never condemned Iraq’s use of U.S.-provided chemical weapons for fear of harming what turned out to be his real agenda – selling a $2 billion oil pipeline across Iraq to Jordan, built by Bechtel. The proposal failed and relations with Iraq again turned sour. History underwent a vast revision by the Bush administration and all memory of Rumsfeld’s courting of Saddam was erased, so that 20 years later they were able to dupe the United States into believing that the current war had nothing to do with oil.
Bechtel, former supplier of chemical weapons technology to Saddam, is one of three American corporations with a $1 billion stake in “rebuilding” Iraq’s oil industry. Vice President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton is another. The substantial pension he continues to receive from the oft-troubled company raised concern when Halliburton received a no-bid contract in Iraq worth up to $7 billion, and an investigation into the matter is pending.
Crooks of the same feather flock together, or so goes the proverb. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Pentagon advisor Dick Perle (also pending investigation for illegal conflicts of interest related to this war) are among administration officials who have tapped international criminal Ahmed Chalabi for a leadership post in Iraq, to the chagrin of the Arab world. Sentenced in absentia by Jordan for his role in the collapse of Petra Bank in 1990, Chalabi cost shareholders over $500 million as he fled prosecution in a car trunk.
Chalabi now heads the Iraqi National Congress that is sponsored by an odd blend of self-interests including the Pentagon and White House, neoconservative hawks and pro-Israel lobbies, all of whom feel the INC is most fit to lead Iraq. But it is the motives of this cabal that make the INC the worst candidate as it pushes for a pro-Western puppet government that will eagerly accede to American hegemony, right-wing Israeli demands and oil exploitation over a true democracy, which has always been least of their concerns.
As the media parades the same images of children kissing soldiers, 12 people are killed and 100 injured when coalition troops open fire on angry protesters. While the world decides whether it’s liberation or imperialism, a group of 20,000 Shiite Iraqis chant “No America, no Saddam” outside a meeting where the United States is to seal Iraq’s fate. This is not freedom – it’s just another occupation. Saddam is gone, but liberation will come only when the Bush administration and its cronies stop exploiting this human ideal as a front for their own dishonest agenda.
If this war is treason, then these hawks have certainly made the most of it. Under the fa