The March 3 Record article “Peace in Iraq? Conflict not over until Hussein is powerless,” while providing, for the most part, an accurate if highly selective summary of recent events, failed to touch a number of key issues while grossly misrepresenting others.
Despite all the exacting attention paid to the relative amounts of whatever weapons Saddam Hussein has, how he came to acquire them, understandably given their embarrassing origins, went unreported. The recent domestic scare involving two men from Nevada and Anthrax led to the discovery that both these two Americans and the Iraqi leader were all procuring their supplies from the same place: a firm in Rockville, Maryland (that’s U.S.). A minor point? Perhaps. I only suggest that we look at the broader picture of proliferation, rather than obsess solely on the end game of where these things end up.
The five veto powers on the U.N. Security Council (not a Middle Eastern, African, or Latin American power among them) account for 85 percent of global weapons production.
All our rhetoric about being against weapons of mass destruction looks increasingly hypocritical given our own record, both past and present, of proliferation. Interesting to note that Clinton issued a Presidential Decision Directive last November allowing nuclear attacks against non-nuclear powers, directly contradicting another proclamation made in 1995 stating the United States would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states
I don’t mean to say that we should just unilaterally lay down our arms â€” though there’s obviously no danger of that happening! â€” but rather that, to be effective, all proliferation, not just that of various Others, needs to end. Or at the very least, not pick up in pace as Clinton (and our loyal arms industry) would wish it. The second half of the article was far less successful given its quick degeneration into the by now all too familiar Israeli paranoia. God forbid we press Netanyahu “to move beyond what he is comfortable with.”
Furthermore, the contention that Israel will be the victim of a non-conventional attack, if we’re going to ground our arguments in historical reality rather than fanciful projections, is absurd. Hussein did not use chemical or biological weapons in retaliation for Israel’s attack on Iraq in 1981, though he had them; he did not use them in retaliation against the U.S.’s attack on Iraq during Desert Storm, though he had them; and he is not going to use them in any possible upcoming conflicts even though he has them. Via our decades-long policy of showering our mercenary in the Middle East with military aid, we’ve made damn sure that Israel can more than handle any perceived or imagined threats. So, no, the attack just isn’t forthcoming.
And lastly, the article holds that a U.N. invasion is necessary to end this pesky Iraq problem. Presumably, we actually live by the same democratic values we prattle on about and would never grant ourselves the right to determine the governments of other nations. In practice, I realize, this is far from true, but our tendency to do what we think is best for the Third World (which rarely coincides what the actual peoples themselves want, but that’s besides the point) doesn’t mean we should continue to pervert the very ideals we base our national existence on. It isn’t now and never has been our place to force our decisions and preferences on the rest of the world. The fact that we so often do, however, does not justify the tendency. Whether we like it or not, we’re going to have to leave this one to the Iraqi people, and try to avoid sinking into the quagmire of AIPAC dogma in the meantime.