As the United States of America calls up more and more reservists, sends more and more troops to the Gulf and spends more and more money on training exercises and while the White House continues to claim that Iraq has made substantial omissions in its report on arms programmes, the ground is prepared for a war. What would the consequences be?
Washington believes that a swift attack on Iraq would be met by a wave of euphoria in Baghdad, as the people, tired of decades of oppression, turned on the Republican Guardsmen who remained loyal to the regime and that the invading force would be hailed as heroes by streets lined with smiling faces waving plastic Stars and Stripes. Richard Perle, President of the Consultative Defence Committee at the Pentagon, considers that an invasion would for these reasons be concluded in a short space of time.
Perle has even admitted that what Washington wants is war, despite pleas to the contrary from the White House. In his declarations to the French newspaper Le Figaro, he declared that “Our presence in the Gulf will decrease when he (Saddam Hussein) is deposed”. In a post-Saddam Middle East, Perle insists, “Our role would be to guarantee a level of security inside the country which would enable the development of a normal political process”.
Perle goes further: “I would bet that shortly, we will prove that the documents (presented by Baghdad to the UNO) are not complete, nor sincere, we are going to discover weapons or programmes which are not mentioned in the list”.
In a word, the USA has already decided that Iraq is guilty and before long, there will be a statement by Washington that the documents reveal that Iraq has not followed the terms of Security Council Resolution 1441 and therefore the “serious consequences” mentioned in the Resolution will begin. Washington will launch an attack on Iraq.
However, the consequences may not be as simplistic and as clear-cut as Washington’s vision. Washington has a black-and-white approach to complex world issues which at times appear to be outside the grasp of the collective psyche of the Administration.
Hundreds of thousands of weapons have been distributed by the regime to the people of Iraq, the majority of whom respect their leader and who would fight against an invading army to protect their dignity, if not their leader. Many times, the intelligence gathered by Washington is flawed because they pay people who give the answers they think their interlocutors would like to hear. The result of using such intelligence in Afghanistan was consistently catastrophic.
Secondly, it is not Saddam Hussein who is in the spotlight, but the whole of his regime. With nothing to lose, knowing that they were going down, the military commanders would do whatever necessary to visit destruction on those perceived to be the enemies of Iraq, namely the US Forces in the region – and Israel.
Thirdly, the consequences for the entire region would be profound and vast. Bashar-al-Assad, the Syrian president, believes that in the ensuing chaos, as peoples fought for their independence after the fabric of Iraq which has stitched the area together for so long was torn apart, the countries in the area would become partitioned. The Kurdish question would become a regional problem, not a national one because it is not restricted to Iraq. There are large Kurdish communities in Iran, Syria and Turkey.
The whole region would be gripped by a refugee crisis, destabilising economies which are already weak, creating, in President Assad’s words, “fertile soil for terrorism”. More poverty means more terrorism because when people have nothing to lose, they have everything to gain.
Once again, Washington has got it wrong. Once again, Washington has misjudged the situation and has regarded an intricate, complex and delicate political, diplomatic and sociological question with the greedy eyes of the obese seventeen-year-old who wants his baby sister’s hamburger.
Washington needs to learn how to make a mature judgement based on reality, not what it perceives as reality by looking at foreign regions through rosy-coloured spectacles. It is to be hoped that the Bush regime will have the common sense not to launch into what could be the beginning of a prolonged, rapidly escalating and extremely costly military conflict.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart