PRESIDENT BUSH has offered three reasons why the United States should
launch a pre-emptive attack against Iraq. But on close inspection, they just
don't hold up. Take a look.
Saddam Hussein is our greatest threat: Daniel Ellsberg, the career Pentagon
official who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, is an expert on government
secrecy. His new book, "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers"
recounts the government deception that kept the American people from knowing
the truth about the Vietnam War.
In the current issue of the trade magazine Editor and Publisher, Ellsberg
now says that "this government, like in Vietnam, is lying us into a war. Like
Vietnam, it's a reckless unnecessary war, where the risks greatly outweigh any
We've been told that Hussein represents the greatest danger to U.S.
security. To this, Ellsberg responds, "More dangerous than al Qaeda? North
Korea? Russian nukes loose in the world? An India-Pakistan war?"
Iraq has weapons of mass destruction: We've also been told that we must
invade Iraq to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction. But CIA
Director George Tenet has told Congress that Hussein would only use such
weapons if he were attacked. Inspections, moreover, have so far failed to
uncover any nuclear weapons program, even though they have raised questions
about other hidden weapons.
Iraq is a ruthless dictatorship, but it is our country that is lowering the
threshold for using nuclear weapons. According to reports published in the Los
Angeles Times, the Bush administration is considering using tactical nuclear
arms if American troops are attacked with chemical weapons and employing
"bunker-busters," small nuclear weapons, to destroy deeply buried targets that
may be impervious to conventional bombs.
Ellsberg is not surprised. "Based on my years of experience within
government and familiarity with such scenarios, let me say I am certain we
have contingency plans for use of nuclear weapons in response to a successful
use of gas against our troops."
Blurring the line between conventional and nuclear weapons is a terrible
precedent, argues William M. Arkin, a former Army intelligence analyst and now
a commentator, who interviewed military officials and reviewed planning
documents. "The danger is that nuclear weapons -- locked away in a Pandora's
box for more than half a century -- are being taken out of that lockbox and
put on the shelf with everything else."
We should install democracy in Iraq: We've also been told an invasion of
Iraq is necessary to promote democracy. But according to Michael Klare,
professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and author
of "Resource Wars," that is another falsehood. In the 1980s, when Iraq was the
enemy of our enemy, Iran, the United States eagerly embraced Hussein's
dictatorship. Donald Rumsfeld even personally met Hussein in 1983 to give him
secret satellite data on Iranian military positions.
America's support of post-Soviet dictatorships in Azerbaijan, Kazakstan and
Uzbekistan, not to mention Saudi Arabia, doesn't support the assertion that
our foreign policy is driven by a passion to encourage the spread of democracy.
So, if Hussein is not the greatest threat to America, and if the United
States is considering the use of nuclear weapons, and if we're not dedicated
to installing democracy in Iraq, what, then, explains the Bush
administration's rush to war? The answer is our government's stated intention
to preserve America's supremacy as the paramount world power, which is
precariously based on our dependence on oil. By 2020, the United States will
import 65 percent of its energy resources. "This dependency," Klare argues,
"is the Achilles' heel for American power: Unless Persian Gulf oil can be kept
under American control, our ability to remain the dominant world power would
be put into question."
Now you know. The question is, what will you do?
©2003 San Francisco Chronicle