Viewpoint: Beware the ides of October

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts. To announce there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally

treasonable to the American public.”—Theodore Roosevelt, May 7, 1918

The hype and drum-beating for attacking Iraq is in high gear. An almost endless

parade of “experts” marches across our TV screens detailing how Saddam Hussein is a grave threat to world peace and a hoarder of weapons of mass destruction.

As The Observer of London so aptly put it: “This is the summer of the phony war against Iraq; expect much smoke but very little fire. But come the autumn, expect it to get real.”

Outwardly, in this country at least, we are being told there’s nothing to be concerned about yet. President Bush says he hasn’t got a timetable for taking action against Iraq, and maybe it won’t be a military strike at all. We all have our opinions of the truthfulness of Bush Jr.

The Israeli website,, has some interesting information in its lead article. Certain observers have long considered Debka a tool of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

Nonetheless, there are indications that some preliminary moves already have been made in this pending assault. Debka says American military forces are already present in northern and southern Iraq, amid much disinformation and deception, such as recent statements by President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Debka reports U.S. Special Forces entered Kurdish regions of northern Iraq four months ago to establish and train local militias. Around the same time, Turkish special forces entered northern Iraq and set up in the areas around Mosul and Kirkuk, the principal oil towns of the region.

U.S. troops have established and occupied a ring of bases around Iraq and, Debka says, have stocked them with tanks and other heavy armor, air, navy and missile forces, combat medical units and special units for biological, chemical and anti-nuclear war. An armada of U.S. aircraft carriers is reportedly assembled in the eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Debka says American forces have carried out two military operations. U.S. and British bombers destroyed the Iraqi air command and control center in the desert between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and several waves of American aircraft overflew Baghdad to test Iraqi early warning systems.

Turkish forces in northern Iraq are said to number 5,000 men in addition to air force units. They and U.S. forces now control all the airfields in the area and have air superiority above Mosul and Kirkuk and the Syrian-Iraqi railroad, which is said to be vital to Saddam for bringing in arms and shipping out illegal oil.

One member of the American intelligence community told the British newspaper: “One thing you can say with an awful lot of certainty is that there is going to be an awful lot of deception going on over the next few months.”

Last month, Scott Ritter, a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, addressed a peace and justice coalition in Boston.

Ritter told the assemblage: “The Third Marine Expeditionary Force in California is preparing to have 20,000 Marines deployed in the (Iraq) region for ground combat operations by mid-October. The Air Force used the vast majority of its precision-guided munitions blowing up caves in Afghanistan.

“Congress just passed emergency appropriations money and told the Boeing company to accelerate their production of the GPS satellite kits that go on bombs that allow them to hit targets while the planes fly away, by Sept. 30, 2002. Why? Because the Air Force has been told to have three air expeditionary wings ready for combat operations in Iraq by mid-October.”

Ritter, who participated in the Gulf War during George Bush Sr.’s presidency, said when that kind of resources are committed, it is very hard to pull them back without using them. “You got 20,000 Marines forward deployed in October,” said Ritter, “you better expect war in October.”

He is completely opposed to the planned war and stated in his view there is no justification for it—either on national security grounds, international law, or basic morality. Ritter said he spent seven years in Iraq and said he knows first hand that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction and does not maintain ties with international terrorist organizations. Ritter said the planned war is purely for domestic political purposes.

“The Bush administration has provided the American public with little more than rhetorically laced speculation,” he said. “There has been nothing in the way of substantive fact presented that makes the case that Iraq possesses these weapons or has links to international terror, that Iraq poses a threat to the United States of America worthy of war,” Ritter added.

Ritter is not alone in that view. Some of Dubya’s most loyal supporters don’t like the idea of attacking Iraq nor the plans to do so. One is House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who declared such an attack would be a violation of international law.

Two others, however, Senators Richard Lugar and Fred Thompson, pump out the administration line. “It’s weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a dictator who might use them,” Lugar said.

Administration warhawks are determined to attack Saddam, no matter what the consequences. There is little doubt this is all tied to the upcoming election and the one in 2004 and, of course, to oil. Bush and Blair want to make certain that they and their oil-soaked buddies will control Iraq’s oil supply in the future.

And as we proceed with the War on Everybody, Iraq may be only an intermediate step on a long and bloody road. The Bush bunch is said to be making moves toward ousting Yasser Arafat in Palestine and considering expeditions against Iran and Saudi Arabia. There’s said to be more discreet discussions about imposing our will on Syria, Egypt, North Korea and Burma as well. The “Axis of Evil” is widening rapidly.

The Bush administration, it is said, is thinking about an overhaul of the Arab and Islamic world; imposing democracy on the American model.

Where did we get the moral right to tell other nations who their leaders may be and what form of government they may have?

In the more immediate future, who or what will be the new puppet government in Iraq? There seems to be no plan for that contingency. The internal wrangling in the administration may delay this misbegotten, bloody adventure for a time, but the warmongers in Washington are determined to have their way.

What will be the reaction of the American public if the Mideast explodes just as the world economy really crashes? How popular will our flag-waving, cowboy leader be at that point?

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