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From LABOR-L@YORKU.CA Fri Sep 15 07:00:18 2000
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 15:27:25 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Jim Jaszewski <grok@SPRINT.CA>
Subject: [WW] Iraq: Is Washington setting stage for another assault?

Message-ID: <00fa01c01d16$94d44840$0a00a8c0@linux>
From: WW <ww@wwpublish.com>
Subject: [WW] Iraq: Is Washington setting stage for another assault?
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 20:07:17 -0400

Is Washington setting stage for another assault?

By Pat Chin, Workers World, 14 September 2000

The Clinton administration is threatening Iraq and setting the stage for a massive military attack on that sovereign country.

On Sept. 1 the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon had alerted an air defense artillery brigade in Germany to be prepared for possible deployment to Israel over White House concern that Iraq might attack Israel during the U.S. presidential campaign.

National Security Adviser Samuel Berger admits that the United States knows of no threat against Israel from Iraq. But the brigade was still activated. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak dismissed the report, saying that Israelis shouldn't be distracted or alarmed by it.

A month before the Washington Post piece appeared, the New York Times ran an article headlined, Flight Tests Show Iraq Has Resumed A Missile Program. It claimed the Iraqis had tested eight short-range ballistic missiles that could carry conventional explosives or the chemical and biological weapons that Iraq is still suspected of hiding.

The missile tests were given extensive coverage even though they did not violate restrictions imposed on Iraq by the imperialist-controlled United Nations Security Council after the 1991 Gulf War. The source of information was Clinton's Defense Department.

On the day the Washington Post broke the news about the anti-missile alert, Thomas E. Kelsch quit his position as civilian editor of Stars and Stripes, a military publication distributed to U.S. troops abroad.

Kelsch resigned, according to the Associated Press, to protest what he called Pentagon pressure to kill a news story. Kelsch had been forbidden from printing basically the same report that appeared in the Washington Post due to national security interests.

The Clinton administration's saber rattling against Iraq comes during the election campaign season and against a backdrop of growing international and domestic opposition to the murderous sanctions slapped on Iraq after the Gulf War.

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has accused Clinton of not doing enough to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from office--a thinly veiled euphemism for assassination.


Meanwhile, the anti-sanctions movement continues to grow.

On Aug. 10, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez boldly defied U.S. efforts to isolate and economically strangle Iraq when he crossed the Iranian border into Iraq for a meeting with Hussein on OPEC oil production.

Eight days later, the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in a report, called for an end to the economic and trade embargo that has condemned an innocent people to hunger, disease, ignorance and even death.

Moreover, the UN oil-for-food program, which has allowed Iraq to sell limited quantities of its oil since 1996 for food and other essentials, has met only part of the vital needs of the population, said the report.

Sanctions have killed more than 1.5 million people since 1990, according to Iraqi estimates.

Other events in August also challenged Washington's attempts to crush Iraq.

There was a rally of over 1,000 protestors outside the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, which took place despite a massive police presence. People demanded an end to the blockade and the almost daily U.S. and British air strikes against Iraq, many of them on civilian targets.

The latest was on Sept. 3, when U.S. jets bombed southern Iraq. Since the air attacks started in 1998, 311 civilians have been killed and 927 wounded, according to Iraqi government figures.

Meanwhile, representatives for UN Security Council members Russia and France are also taking on the United States over Iraqi reparations to Kuwaiti oil companies. The Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, for example, has asked for $21.6 billion in war damages, a sum that is grossly inflated, according to oil industry experts. The award was blocked after Russia and France challenged the amount.

The disagreement, said the Aug. 23 New York Times, adds another irritant to an already frayed Security Council consensus on how to deal with the government of President Saddam Hussein as economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait a decade ago drag on.

As a critical moment approaches in the efforts of the United Nations to return arms inspectors to Iraq--a key to lifting the embargo--the new dispute over war reparations reopens another divisive debate in a second important area, the oil-for-food program.

Iraq has rejected inspection of its defense and military facilities, and the latest team put together by the UN, as a violation of its sovereignty.

The Clinton administration has blocked every effort at the UN to lift sanctions on Iraq. But that hasn't stopped a worldwide grassroots movement in support of that beleaguered nation.

As if that weren't enough, Clinton now has to deal with international leaders like Chavez, who openly defied the U.S. by visiting Iraq. And there's resistance from imperialist allies like France, who--along with Russia--are also challenging the U.S. chokehold on Iraq.

Chavez and Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid have both spoken out against sanctions.

Yugoslavia, another country now being victimized by imperialist sanctions, recently broadened relations with Iraq. And a Russian-Belarusian oil company signed a deal with Baghdad in late August that will go into effect once the blockade has been lifted.

With all of the above and November's elections fast approaching, is it any wonder that the Iraqi missile tests and the Clinton administration's rush to defend Israel have been sensationalized in the big-business media?

Anti-sanctions activists and their allies should remain on alert. This is but the latest set-up to justify blistering Iraq with an even bigger military attack for resisting imperialist domination and neo-colonial plunder.