by Julian Kunnie
This article was submitted to the main local newspaper in Tucson, the Arizona Star, on March 18—on the eve of Bush’s military assault on Iraq—but it was denied publication.
Julian Kunnie is Professor and Director of Africana Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is the author most recently of the book Is Apartheid Really Dead? Pan-Africanist Working Class Cultural Critical Perspectives. A forthcoming book is Indigenous Peoples’ Wisdom and Power (Ashgate Publishing, United Kingdom).
As a parent and educator, the most troubling element for me in recent days is the steady stream of lies that we have heard from the White House in regard to the UN arms inspectors and their program of disarmament in Iraq.
Each day, millions of students at schools around the country recite the pledge of allegiance and salute the U.S. flag, promising to uphold the constitution. Ironically, most students are unaware that the leader of the nation is engaged in a violation of principles of the U.S. constitution as he assiduously struggles to make his case for war against Iraq.
According to the constitution, only Congress has the legal authorization to declare war and order U.S. troops into combat against a nation that threatens the security of the United States. George W. Bush usurps this power of the constitution and ought to be challenged on this point. How can we counsel students and our young people to respect the constitution and the rule of law when the chief executive officer of the nation does not?
Bush’s obsession with war against Iraq is a clear violation of international law, a point deliberately sidestepped by the press. His plan to occupy a sovereign country is a blatant contravention of the basic principles of the UN Charter, the Geneva Convention, and the Nuremberg Treaty, and hearkens back to an era of uncivilization. The International Commission of Jurists has accused the U.S., Britain, and their allies of planning “an illegal invasion,” tantamount to a war of aggression.
UN Resolution 1441 explicitly stated that if Iraq was in material breach of the resolution, UN weapons inspectors would report such violations to the UN Security Council for further action. France, Russia, China, Germany, and Syria added a written proviso that indicated that the passage of a second resolution would be needed to authorize force against Iraq in the event of a material breach of 1441.
What global authority provides for an independent country to be governed by a U.S. military general? If the U.S. claims to uphold the principles of liberty and democracy and the rule of international law, then its planned violent overthrow of the Hussein regime and the military occupation of Iraq are nothing other than the actions of an international outlaw—modern-day political banditry.
In a recent interview on CNN, the Arab League’s ambassador to the UN, Yahia Nahmassani, angrily decried U.S. aggression against Iraq and its supposed liberation goals and asked, “Is this the white man’s burden?” This planned war is viewed as a racist and colonial war by many in the Arab world because a powerful Western country intends to decimate and subjugate an impoverished and vulnerable Arab people.
One of the principal reasons that numerous nations on the Security Council remained unpersuaded by the presentation by Secretary of State Colin Powell on February 5 is that many were skeptical about the veracity of his presentation.
For instance, the French were the ones who had intelligence information on Abu Masab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian national and “suspected terrorist,” who was allegedly in contact with Saddam Hussein. When Powell claimed that al Zarqawi was connected to Saddam Hussein, their jaws dropped because they knew that Powell had fabricated the connection, since Ansar al Islam, the group to which al Zarqawi had alleged ties, was supported by powerful factions in neighboring Iran, not Iraq.
Second, when the U.S. government alleged that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Niger for development of nuclear weapons, Mohamed al Baradei, the secretary-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who has been in Iraq supervising arms inspections, responded that the documents the U.S. government used were fake. He also pointed out that the aluminum tubes discovered in Iraq were not for nuclear weapons use.
Third, if the U.S. had full knowledge of where Iraq was hiding its weapons of mass destruction through satellite intelligence information, why didn’t it reveal such information to the UN weapons inspectors or destroy such sites immediately? Visits by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to sites such as supposed mobile weapons laboratories have led to no discovery of such labs.
Fourth, contrary to what has been widely propagated by the Bush team and which is widely believed by the U.S. public, yet which possesses no substance, is Saddam Hussein’s alleged links to al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, including Osama Bin Laden, has denounced Saddam Hussein as an infidel because Hussein is a secularist with no religious foundation, yet al Qaeda’s philosophy is premised on religion.
Fifth, a declassified memo from the State Department, discovered by a reporter from the Los Angeles Times last week, notes that the invasion of Iraq would not lead to a democratization of the region, but instead would harden repressive regimes, intensify Muslim fundamentalist leanings, and exacerbate political extremism among groups in the Arab world and in fact lead to more acts of organizational terrorism against the U.S.
Finally, it is evident that Bush was never overly concerned with receiving UN approval for military action against Iraq, as required by the UN charter, and was never committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict over Iraq. He had always meant to pursue the overthrow of the Iraqi regime through military invasion. How else could one describe the buildup of over 240,000 U. S. troops in the Persian Gulf, and the demand that UN arms inspectors leave Iraq immediately on March 18, even while the inspectors were supervising the destruction of Iraqi Samoud missiles and continued to visit weapons sites?
Bush’s demand to Hussein to leave Iraq within 48 hours is part of this arrogant rejection of diplomacy. Bush knew that Hussein would balk at such a threat. Bush’s claim that the war against Iraq is predicated on weapons of mass destruction is a lie, evident in his shifting from the position of disarming Saddam Hussein to “regime change.” Hundreds of millions of people around the world are fully aware of this lie.
It is clear that the Bush team has assembled an elaborate panoply of lies to deceive the U.S. public into supporting its illegal war plans against Iraq. The public needs to realize the irony of the U.S. plan to launch 3,000 laser-guided missiles into Iraq to destroy supposed weapons of mass destruction, the irony of killing Iraqis by the thousands in order to “liberate” them, and the plan to reconstruct Iraq’s infrastructure after bombing it to oblivion. Senator Robert Byrd has denounced George Bush’s statement that attacking Iraq, where over 50% of the population is under 15 years old, is “in the highest moral traditions of our country.” A perverted morality indeed.
Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan no longer believe Bush when he claims that he bears no hostility toward them, merely to the regimes ruling their country. “Why kill us, then?” they cry. In a fit of anger when the West refused to impose sanctions against then-apartheid South Africa, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu exclaimed, “The West can go to hell!” Muslims may just be praying the same for the United States and its war criminals: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, Wolfowitz, et al.