Friday, March 28, 2003

The history behind the invasion of Iraq
With the invasion of Iraq now underway, our nation prays for the safe return of our troops and for a limit to Iraqi civilian causalities. However, while we are hoping and praying, we must also not forget the real reasons for this invasion and work to prevent these preemptive actions in the future. Altering the famous George Santayana quote, those who don't understand the past are condemned to repeat it.

President George W. Bush has said these strikes are due to the horrific attacks of Sept. 11 and the future proliferation of weapons to terrorists.

But in fact, Operation Iraqi Freedom has been conceived over the last decade by William Bennett, Dick Cheney, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, and Paul Wolfowitz, through a think tank called the Progress for a New American Century [].

You may recognize some of these names: Cheney was defense secretary during the first Gulf War and is now the vice president. Quayle used to be vice president. Kristol was Quayle's chief of staff. Rumsfeld is now defense secretary. Perle and Wolfowitz are guiding Bush through his foreign policy.

The political incestuous ness of it all is pretty disturbing.

What is also unsettling is that both Kristol and Bennett have been on TV for months as "news analysts," yet the supposed liberal media has never bothered to acknowledge their involvement in creating Bush's foreign policy.

The idea was originally hatched at the end of the first Gulf War, when then-president George H. W. Bush - by U.N. mandate - drove Hussein from Kuwait. But after the Iraqis were forced out of Kuwait, many inside the administration wanted Hussein overthrown altogether. Some in the intelligence community even encouraged Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north to rise up against Hussein. But Bush understood the diplomatic and foreign implications of an overthrow, and instead, adhered to the U.N. resolution.

Regrettably, when the Shiite and Kurdish factions rose up against Hussein, he beat them back, with weapons he acquired from the Reagan Administration.

Rumsfeld knows all about this. An executive and board of director for numerous defense contractors, he met with Hussein in 1983 as a "special envoy" for Reagan. Soon after, the weapons of mass destruction flowed to one of our government's favorite dictators.

Of course, the first Gulf War could have been avoided altogether, when Hussein met with U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie in July 1990 to discuss his border quarrels. Instead of trying to diffuse the situation, Glaspie said, "We have no opinion on your Arab - Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait."

Despite claims by conservatives, attempts to overthrow Hussein continued through the Clinton administration. In 1996 and again in 1998, opposition forces were armed and assisted with air strikes.

These actions did not succeed in changing the regime but have kept Hussein contained; his ruthlessness impaired by no-fly zones and oppressive economic sanctions that killed over 1 million innocent Iraqi women and children.

Some could say Bush's invasion of Iraq is eliminating a past evil perpetrated by American foreign policy. Except, this war is not about cleaning up America's global messes; it is about payback and our ability to reap Iraq's natural resources for future use - a financial windfall to Bush's political backers. As one energy analyst recently stated, whoever controls the reserve oil fields in Iraq, will also control the price of oil for the next century. And as Ralph Nader said so accurately last week, "If Iraq was producing carrots; I don't think we'd be quite as interested."

If Bush was serious about ending dictatorial regimes, he would start by limiting the export of military weapons overseas. According to the Arms Control Association, our government has exported over $131 billion worth of weapons in the last seven years. Most of these weapons were shipped to developing nations. Common sense suggests that our government would want to keep these weapons out of the hands of future dictators. But defense contracts are good business and these interests flood millions of dollars in campaign contributions to politicians on both sides of the aisle.

So instead of acting sensibly, we are being foolish - spending $75 billion [or more] to turn Iraq into dust, only to spend billions more to build the nation back up again.

Inside my own head and heart, there is an internal battle going on.

On the one side, there is the cryptic fascination of a newsman watching the bombs vaporize a dictator's strongholds. It is extremely enthralling.

But my own personal faith tells me this war is morally wrong, a sentiment captured by a protester last week holding a sign in Government Center asking, "Who would Jesus bomb?"

The answer is unmistakable and unambiguous, and our president is senselessly ignoring it.

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