Doesn’t Iraq have weapons of mass destruction that put Americans in danger?
No. Even the CIA admitted last March that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein does not have the capability to launch missiles that could reach the United States even if he wanted to: “Most agencies believe that Iraq is unlikely to test before 2015 any [intercontinental ballistic missiles] that would threaten the US.” In an October 7 letter to Congress, the CIA declassified an exchange from a closed Congressional hearing on October 2 in which a senior intelligence official judged the likelihood of Mr. Hussein’s initiating an attack on the US in the foreseeable future as “low.” (NY Times, 10/9/02)
Doesn’t Iraq have weapons of mass destruction that put people in the Middle East in danger?
Possibly. Saddam is an authoritarian dictator interested in increasing his power by acquiring weapons of mass destruction. And since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is much easier for governments to buy these weapons on the black market. In 1988 Saddam massacred 5,000 Kurds (an ethnic group in Northern Iraq) in Halabja with mustard and nerve gas, and he used chemical weapons in the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war.
But where did Saddam get these weapons of mass destruction? According to the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the Reagan/Bush Sr. administration approved the sale of biological and chemical agents – including anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever, and botulism – to Saddam during the 1980’s, even after he used chemical weapons against the Iraqi Kurds. As Representative Louise M. Slaughter from New York put it: “Sure he has biological weapons. We gave them to him.”
After the Islamic fundamentalists took over the 1979 workers’ revolution in Iran, the US feared the spread of Iran’s theocratic, anti-western ideology to oil-rich Arab states. So they backed Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, regardless of his use of chemical weapons, and continued to sell him chemical and biological weapons.
Also, the former head of the UN weapons inspections team in Iraq, Scott Ritter, firmly believes that the vast majority of Iraq’s weapons have been destroyed by previous inspections, and that the decade-long economic sanctions have rendered the remainder useless.
Should we go to war in order to prevent Saddam from building weapons of mass destruction?
Absolutely not. Saddam is a brutal dictator who should be overthrown. But this is not the job of the US government. If the US removes Saddam, the US will only install a new dictatorship to benefit US oil companies and US corporate interests. Only the Iraqi masses themselves can create a government that serves their interests.
A war on Iraq will only mean death and destruction for American troops and innocent Iraqis. A war on Iraq is estimated to cost the US as much as $200 billion. $45 billion was just added to the $400 billion US military budget, and an extra $100 billion will be spent on the military over the next six years. In a situation where college tuition rose by 10% across the country last year, and millions of workers in the US cannot find work, funding should be budgeted for jobs and education, not war.
The US isn’t targeting Iraq to prevent the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction by a dictator. The US government supports all sorts of kings and dictators in the Middle East and around the world, many of whom have biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The US supports Pakistani military dictator General Musharraf who almost used nuclear weapons against India last spring. The US’s biggest ally in the region, Israel, possesses approximately 200 nuclear weapons, far more than any other country in the Middle East. When North Korea admitted to having several nuclear weapons, Bush hypocritically announced that diplomacy, not war, would be enough to pressure North Korea to reduce its nuclear weapons build-up.
The US is the country with the most weapons of mass destruction in the world. The US is the only country that has ever used a nuclear weapon on another country – when it dropped atomic bombs on Japan in World War II, killing 200-300,000 people. In Vietnam, the US used chemical warfare such as cancer-causing Agent Orange and flesh-burning napalm. The US has even tested biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons on its own civilians and troops, exposing more than 250,000 Americans to nuclear radiation (Tashiro, Discounted Casualties).
The Bush administration’s Nuclear Posture Review describes the US’s new policy of willingness to use nuclear weapons in a first strike to eliminate any potential threat from a perceived enemy nation. How can the US claim that Iraq is such a threat, when no evidence of Iraqi nuclear weapons has been produced, while the US has clearly announced its willingness to attack a hit list of seven nations with nuclear weapons?
Won’t invading Iraq help prevent more terrorist attacks against Americans?
No. The Bush Administration tries to claim that there is a link between Saddam’s regime and the al Qaeda terrorist network, or that Iraq might provide weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda. However, they have been unable to provide a single shred of evidence. Vincent Cannistraro, the former director of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism office, said: “Is there any confirmed evidence of Iraq’s links to terrorism? No.” The CIA “is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda.” (NY Times, 2/5/02)
Socialists are completely opposed to terrorism and the attacks on 9/11, which only play into the hands of Bush and big business. However, invading Iraq will only exacerbate the social conditions that caused the 9/11 attacks in the first place. A US invasion of Iraq will ignite the boiling anger in the Arab world toward the US, drive more recruits into terrorist organizations, and actually result in more terrorist attacks against the US.
It is the poverty and oppression created by western corporations and governments and the Arab ruling elites that gives rise to desperate acts of terrorism. It is only by a movement organized by the working class and oppressed peoples of the world to take control of the productive resources of their lands, and establish new democratic workers’ governments, that these underlying social conditions can be overcome. Only in this alternative socialist society will the people of the world finally live in security, prosperity, and peace.
Isn’t removing Saddam Hussein part of America’s responsibility to uphold freedom and democracy in the world?
No. How can we trust the US government to put itself in charge of removing a murderous tyrant from power, when the US government is largely responsible for putting him into power in the first place? (See “Saddam: Made in the USA“)
Again, Saddam is a brutal dictator who should be overthrown by the Iraqi masses, not the US government. The US is openly considering a military occupation of Iraq, and placing US General Tommy Franks in charge. Foreign oil companies and politicians are discussing how to divide up Iraq’s oil after a US war. If the US was truly interested in democracy for Iraq, it would let the Iraqi masses control their own resources, organize elections on their own, and vote for their own representatives.
After the US toppled the Taliban, no democratic elections were organized by or for ordinary Afghans. The tyrannical rule of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban was replaced with the tyrannical rule of Hamid Karzai and the loya jirga, a self-appointed council of warlords.
How can Bush claim to defend democracy when he undemocratically assumed office after receiving fewer votes than his opponent, Al Gore? Bush was only able to cheat his way into the White House because of the Electoral College, the conservative-dominated Supreme Court that stopped the ballot counting, and his brother Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida, who mobilized police to prevent African Americans from voting.
How can the US government claim to defend democracy around the world when it has been attacking the democratic rights of its own citizens at home? Politicians cynically exploited the tragic events of 9/11 to ram through legislation such as the Patriot Act, which gives the FBI and other government agencies the power to search people’s homes, financial records, and emails, and to indefinitely detain “suspected terrorists.” Over 1,200 people – the vast majority Middle Eastern and South Asian – were detained without any formal charges, and many remain in detention a year later.
In reality, US capitalism is the main obstacle to democracy around the world (See “A World Torn by War and the Socialist Alternative“). The brutal Israeli regime, Pakistan’s military dictatorship, and all the kings and dictators who rule over countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America could not withstand the working class revolutions that take place if these regimes were not financially and militarily supported by the US.
Justice #32, November 2002