OF PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS - “Why We're Going to War with Iraq”

(09/28/2002)

By Tony Russell

Sometimes I can't think my way out of a revolving door. Yesterday was a prime example. I just haven't been able to understand why we're hell-bent on attacking Iraq, so I finally asked my buddy Joe Ragland, who's a pretty good barbershop political scientist. “Joe,” I said, “I just don't get it. Where's the justification for invading Iraq?”

“What is it you don't understand, good buddy?”

“The World Trade Center was destroyed by nineteen guys. Most of them were from Saudi Arabia, right?”

“Right.”

“So we blamed Osama bin Laden and attacked Afghanistan, right?”

“Right again.”

“But we don't know what happened to bin Laden, whether he's alive or dead, right?”

“Right.”

“So we have unfinished business with bin Laden. But Iraq didn't have anything to do with the attack on the World Trade Center, right?”

“Right.”

“Iraq didn't attack us, has no plans to attack us, and hasn't threatened us, right?”

“Right.”

“So Bush wants to invade a country that didn't attack us, has no plans to attack us, and hasn't threatened us, right?”

“I suppose you could put it that way.”

“Joe,” I said, “does that seem right to you? I mean, isn't it against the law or something? Hitting back when somebody hits you, sure, anybody would do that. And Sadaam Hussein may be a rotten excuse for a human being. But we've sent money and guns and CIA agents to prop up the governments of some really despicable characters over the last fifty years. So what gives us the right to just decide we're going to overthrow the government of another country?”

“Well, Ace,” he said, “I’ll give you this much. It's true that a unilateral, unprovoked attack on Iraq would violate international law and the United Nations Charter, and be indefensible from a moral and religious standpoint.”

“But I don't get it! If it's illegal and immoral, and most of the rest of the civilized world is condemning it, and Congress is getting an overwhelming amount of mail opposing it, why does it sound like a done deal? Like it's going to happen no matter what anybody says or does?”

“Ace,” he said, “grow up. Look at the facts of life. You can play psychologist and claim Bush wants to do it because his daddy didn't finish the job. But the real story is that an administration bought, paid for, and staffed by giant energy corporations is slobbering all over itself to storm into Iraq and install a puppet government. Iraq has the second largest known oil reserves on the planet. The big oil companies would do anything to control that territory. Britain will suck up to us and go along with anything we say because we'll cut them in on the deal. We'll buy, bribe, bully, or bulldoze anybody else who objects. You can do that when you're the five hundred pound gorilla in the house. We're the world's only superpower, and if we want to take a walk on the wrong side of the street, who's going to stop us?”

“But why would Congress and the public go along with something like that? I don't think most Americans want our country to be the world's biggest bully, or for our soldiers to die so big oil can get even richer.”

“Of course not,” he said. “So if you're the administration, that's not how you play it. You never mention oil. Perish the thought that something as lowdown as greed might be the motive for an invasion. You claim we're at war, even though we're not. You keep warning people of attacks that never take place. You keep ranting about “weapons of mass destruction,” as if we didn't have any. You drape the flag over everything you do, and make it look unpatriotic to oppose the President. You get Congress to roll over and authorize a resolution that lets you do anything you want, and then tell them to fluff off. The Democrats, with the exception of Byrd, couldn't muster a full backbone between them. It's a done deal.”

“Joe,” I said, “I can't believe it's really that bad. You have to be cynical or sick to think things like that about the leaders of the free world.”

“Ace,” he said, “when they make you think that the only way to be a patriot is to be a sucker and like it, democracy is a memory.”


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