Who do we believe?

  1. I definitely do not believe anything SH says!
    I want to trust my President.
    I want to trust my Attorney General.
    I love mu country, am NOT as accused on these boards anti American.
    Is this reporter accurate?

    Feb. 9, 2003. 01:00 AM
    Why invade when the U.N. system is disarming Iraq?

    LINDA MCQUAIG

    Every war has its galvanizing image, aimed at rousing all decent people to take up arms. In the last Gulf War, it was the image of Iraqi soldiers ripping Kuwaiti
    babies out of incubators. (Only afterwards did it come out that no such thing actually happened.)

    The galvanizing image of the upcoming invasion of Iraq has been the story that Saddam Hussein "gassed his own people." By constantly raising this 1988
    atrocity-including in his recent State of the Union address-U.S. President George W. Bush has managed to paint an image of Saddam as so uniquely,
    horrifyingly evil that a war to dethrone him is justified.

    As a galvanizing image and call-to-arms, it's hard to beat. It's also, apparently, not true.

    Given its sheer centrality to the case against Saddam, one might have thought that a New York Times article late last month casting doubt on the
    "Saddam-gassed-his-own-people" story would have stirred a little interest, even prompted some skepticism about how much the Bush administration can be
    trusted on Iraq.

    What makes The Times story compelling is the source-Stephen Pelletiere, who served as the CIA's senior political analyst on Iraq throughout the 1980s and
    later taught at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania. So we're not talking pinko or Saddam-lover.

    Pelletiere says that the gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq occurred as part of the fighting in the Iran-Iraq war, after Iranians seized the
    town.

    Both sides are believed to have used some form of gas on enemy troops, but the condition of the dead Kurds' bodies in Halabja indicated they were killed by a
    cyanide-based gas, which Iran had-and Iraq didn't. Pelletiere notes that an investigation by the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency concluded it was gas
    released by Iran-not Iraq-that killed the Kurdish civilians.

    Using gas against enemy troops (who are also using it back) is hardly good behaviour, but it doesn't conjure up the same level of depravity as gassing one's own
    defenceless citizens. So the Bush administration, although it presumably had access to the same inside intelligence as Pelletiere, didn't hesitate to alter the story
    considerably, thereby pushing Saddam's reputation for evil into the stratosphere.

    All this provides an interesting backdrop to the dossier presented at the U.N. last week by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell-a dossier based on
    unnamed sources, ambiguous aerial photos and snippets of overheard conversations, all of which we're supposed to take on faith that this administration is
    presenting and interpreting honestly. (Among the many allegations in the dossier was the claim that Saddam gassed the Kurds.)

    One odd aspect of the whole spectacle was Powell's insistence that war is immediately necessary to disarm Iraq. But the U.N. is already in the process of
    disarming Iraq. The inspectors are on the job, they are being given unfettered access, nobody in Iraq is threatening to kick them out. (If more inspectors or
    more equipment for the inspections are needed, these can be provided.)

    In other words, the U.N. system is working-working so well that we should consider imposing it on other countries defying U.N. Security Council
    resolutions, including Israel, Turkey and Morocco.

    Interestingly, the only country hampering the U.N. inspectors from truly getting on with the job of disarming Iraq is the U.S., which wants to replace this
    peaceful process of disarmament with a violent disarmament brought about by war. Nobody has explained why this would be preferable.

    In fact, it would be a clear violation of international law. The U.N. Charter (chapters 6 and 7) establishes that an attack on another nation can only be justified in
    cases of immediate self-defence (hardly applicable here) or a Security Council decision to use force, which can be taken only after every possible peaceful
    channel has been exhausted (certainly not applicable here!). Ironically, if the U.S. invades now, it will actually be interrupting the U.N.'s process of disarming
    Iraq.

    New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who is unabashedly eager for an invasion, wrote last week that disarming Iraq is Washington's "stated purpose"
    while its "unstated purpose" is to transform Iraq into a "progressive model to spur reform ... around the Arab world."

    Let's leave aside the sheer arrogance of this line, and marvel instead at the heavy-handed way that Friedman envisions this happening. "Iraq will be controlled
    by the iron fist of the U.S. army and its allies, with an Iraqi civilian `advisory' administration gradually emerging behind this iron fist," he wrote.

    The amazing thing is that these lines are written with enthusiasm; Friedman doesn't even understand that what he's describing is commonly referred to as
    imperialism.


    Linda McQuaig is a Toronto-based author and political commentator. Her column appears every Sunday.
    •  
  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   Mkue
    Is the UN really disarming Iraq? He (SH) has not complied with inspections for over 10 years so how do we know that he isn't producing weapons of mass destruction. He has just been given more time for inspections to take the "pressure off" of him. If he has nothing to hide then why not cooperate?
  4. by   Q.
    Is this reporter accurate?
    I dunno. Is Condeleeza Rice accurate?

    If our friends and allies believe that it would be useful to have a Security Council resolution that affirms the Security Council's willingness to act under 1441, then we're open to that.

    It's not that we need. What we must do now though is the Security Council has got to make clear that its resolutions are not going to be serially abused in the way that Iraq has done for the last 12 years.

    And when you have talk about more time or more inspectors, or maybe we could just enhance the inspectors, the Iraqis have got to be reading what Saddam Hussein said: "What we need is more time so that we can split the Americans and the British off from others."

    He's played this game before. He will continue to try to deceive, and he will continue to try to split the Council.
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    The article referred to above.

    Anyone think we should make life or death decisions without trying to get the facts?
    From the New York Times:

    A War Crime Or an Act of War?

    By Stephen C. Pelletiere 1128 words

    MECHANICSBURG, Pa. -- It was no surprise that President Bush, lacking smoking-gun evidence of Iraq's weapons programs, used his State of the Union
    address to re-emphasize the moral case for an invasion: ''The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole
    villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.''

    The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up
    concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush himself has cited Iraq's
    ''gassing its own people,'' specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein.

    But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi
    chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

    I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the
    Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In
    addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great
    detail on the Halabja affair.

    This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons
    to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to
    be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

    And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it
    circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

    The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they
    had been killed with a blood agent -- that is, a cyanide-based gas -- which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in
    the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.

    These facts have long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is cited, they are rarely mentioned. A much-discussed article
    in The New Yorker last March did not make reference to the Defense Intelligence Agency report or consider that Iranian gas might have killed the Kurds. On
    the rare occasions the report is brought up, there is usually speculation, with no proof, that it was skewed out of American political favoritism toward Iraq in its
    war against Iran.

    I am not trying to rehabilitate the character of Saddam Hussein. He has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. But accusing him of gassing his
    own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved
    battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq, but Halabja is not one of them.

    In fact, those who really feel that the disaster at Halabja has bearing on today might want to consider a different question: Why was Iran so keen on taking the
    town? A closer look may shed light on America's impetus to invade Iraq.

    We are constantly reminded that Iraq has perhaps the world's largest reserves of oil. But in a regional and perhaps even geopolitical sense, it may be more
    important that Iraq has the most extensive river system in the Middle East. In addition to the Tigris and Euphrates, there are the Greater Zab and Lesser Zab
    rivers in the north of the country. Iraq was covered with irrigation works by the sixth century A.D., and was a granary for the region.

    Before the Persian Gulf war, Iraq had built an impressive system of dams and river control projects, the largest being the Darbandikhan dam in the Kurdish
    area. And it was this dam the Iranians were aiming to take control of when they seized Halabja. In the 1990's there was much discussion over the construction
    of a so-called Peace Pipeline that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress
    has been made on this, largely because of Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change.

    Thus America could alter the destiny of the Middle East in a way that probably could not be challenged for decades -- not solely by controlling Iraq's oil, but
    by controlling its water. Even if America didn't occupy the country, once Mr. Hussein's Baath Party is driven from power, many lucrative opportunities would
    open up for American companies.

    All that is needed to get us into war is one clear reason for acting, one that would be generally persuasive. But efforts to link the Iraqis directly to Osama bin
    Laden have proved inconclusive. Assertions that Iraq threatens its neighbors have also failed to create much resolve; in its present debilitated condition --
    thanks to United Nations sanctions -- Iraq's conventional forces threaten no one.

    Perhaps the strongest argument left for taking us to war quickly is that Saddam Hussein has committed human rights atrocities against his people. And the most
    dramatic case are the accusations about Halabja.

    Before we go to war over Halabja, the administration owes the American people the full facts. And if it has other examples of Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds,
    it must show that they were not pro-Iranian Kurdish guerrillas who died fighting alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Until Washington gives us proof of
    Saddam Hussein's supposed atrocities, why are we picking on Iraq on human rights grounds, particularly when there are so many other repressive regimes
    Washington support

    Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
  6. by   Mkue
    And when you have talk about more time or more inspectors, or maybe we could just enhance the inspectors, the Iraqis have got to be reading what Saddam Hussein said: "What we need is more time so that we can split the Americans and the British off from others."

    He's played this game before. He will continue to try to deceive, and he will continue to try to split the Council._ - C. Rice
    ___________________________________________

    Exactly, I think she's got it. Thanks Susy

    And it's 12 years, not 10 like I stated.. thanks.
    Last edit by mkue on Feb 17, '03
  7. by   Q.
    What exactly are the facts?

    Interview from an Iraqi who opposes Saddam Hussein.


    source: www.frontline.org
    Last edit by Susy K on Feb 17, '03
  8. by   Mkue
    Perhaps the strongest argument left for taking us to war quickly is that Saddam Hussein has committed human rights atrocities against his people. And the most
    dramatic case are the accusations about Halabja. -S. Pelletiere
    ___________________________________________
    "On March 16th 1988, Iraqi jets bombed the town of Halabja with chemical weapons. At least 5,000 people were killed and 7,000 severely injured. Fourteen years on, thousands are still suffering the affects of the chemical weapons.

    The gases used included mustard gas, nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX. This was the largest chemical attack on a civilian population ever. "- Kurdistan Gov't.
    ________________________

    I wonder how much proof is needed. An actual picture of the Iraqi planes flying over?
  9. by   Mkue
    Originally posted by Susy K
    What exactly are the facts?

    Interview from an Iraqi who opposes Saddam Hussein.


    source: www.frontline.org
    Interesting article Susy. I especially like the comment on the right hand side in red.
  10. by   Q.
    Thanks. It is long, but very enlightening.
  11. by   pickledpepperRN
    So it depends on whether you believe previously classified US intelligence or the Kurdistan Government.

    The US report said it was IRAN who gassed the Kurds!

    Oh, too much for me. I'll try to go back to sleep.
  12. by   Q.
    Originally posted by spacenurse

    The US report said it was IRAN who gassed the Kurds!

    What US report are you referring?
  13. by   Q.
    Again, what are the facts?

    Many of us are aware that an Iraqi military incursion into a UN designated Kurdish "safe haven" in northern Iraq last weekend, caused President Clinton to order missile attacks this week on Iraqi military installations in Southern Iraq, to teach Saddam Hussein "a lesson". The "safe havens" had been set up the last time the Kurds had entered the Western consciousness, following the Gulf War in 1991, when Iraq crushed a Kurdish uprising, killing thousands, and creating 2 million refugees.


    It seems that we only hear of the Kurds at times of crisis. What do we really know about these people? Here's a few quick facts:

    Ethnic Kurds comprise 22 million people in 6 countries - 10 million in Turkey, 5.5 million in Iran, 3.5 million in Iraq and pockets of population in Syria, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
    They have lived for 2,000 years in the roughly 74,000 square mile mountainous territory that they inhabit.
    They speak a language related to Farsi.
    The majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslim.
    Following WW1 the Kurds were promised their own state, carved out of the former Ottoman Empire. This was thwarted by the British, French and Turks after oil was found in the territory.
    In 1988 thousands of Kurds were killed in Northern Iraq when Saddam Hussein ordered gas attacks against them.
    One of the most famous Kurds was the warrior Salladin, who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in the 12th century.
    extracted from www.pbs.org, dated 9/6/96
  14. by   passing thru
    I don't believe either side is telling the truth. It's politics. Each country has their own agenda.
    Tribal fighting in the mideast has gone on for centuries.
    Read your history, millions more were murdered in previous centuries. Where's RN Country?
    I'm all for bombing Iraq into a parking lot.
    But what will it cost my children & grandchildren in the next 50 years? There will be a price to pay. An economic price for us in this generation, and retribution "Payback" dealt us by the sons and grandsons of the present day Iraqi's. "These people hold grudges".
    Which country will "make us pay" by sending their Korean-made , paid-for -in-full nuclear weapon on America?

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