Viewpoint: War, sales and slaps
By Joe Baker, Senior Editor
The Times of London says the Bush administration has launched a $200 million public relations campaign against Saddam Hussein in its eagerness to win approval for its war plans.
The paper said sophisticated advertising techniques are being used to persuade crucial groups that the Iraqi leader must go. The campaign will involve dossiers of evidence detailing Saddams breaches of U.N. resolutions and is being aimed not only at the American public, but at Arab and other foreign audiences as well.
The campaign will be directed by the new Office of Global Communications, which will be announced next month. Move over, Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda.
White House officials know full well they lack any new intelligence information on any nuclear weapons program in Iraq or any evidence linking that country to the attacks of Sept. 11. The administration plans to build on President Bushs speech to the U.N. last week in which he dwelt on Saddams violations of U.N. resolutions.
Of course, nothing is ever mentioned by the administration of the many breaches of U.N. resolutions by this country, or the fact that we also will not admit U.N. inspectors to our military installations. Justifiably so?
Also, Israel has not complied with U.N. resolutions. Justifiably so?
Still, more than $200 million will be spent trying to convince the world and the American people that Bush is right and Saddam is wrong. Such is the selling of war in this government.
Byrd raps Bush
At the same time, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., sharply rapped Bushs plans to invade Iraq. He said they are a conscious effort to direct public attention away from growing problems in this country.
The Charleston Gazette quoted Byrd as saying: This administration, all of a sudden, wants to go to war with Iraq. The (political) polls are dropping, the domestic situation has problems … so all of a sudden, we have this war talk, war fervor, the bugles of war, drums of war, clouds of war.
Are politicians talking about the domestic situation, the stock market, weaknesses in the economy, jobs that are being lost, housing problems? No.
He was strongly critical of Bushs demand for a congressional resolution giving him the power to attack any nation he deems a threat to U.S. interests. Sen. Byrd reminded his colleagues of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution which allowed President Lyndon Johnson to escalate the Vietnam War and cost this country 58,202 American lives and millions of Asian lives. All of it was based on something that never happened.
I cannot believe the gall and the arrogance of the White House in requesting such a broad grant of war powers, he said. This is the worst kind of election-year politics.
Also, National Public Radio reported that three retired U.S. generals testified before Congress that Iraq should not be invaded. The generals said that Iraq did not have the capability to produce or deliver nuclear warheads in the near future. They stressed diplomacy because of the long-range disadvantages for U.S. strategic interests an invasion of Iraq would produce. They said that the Arab world would view the U.S. as the larger enemy, even more than it does now, making it easier for organizations such as al-Qaeda to gain recruits for future acts of terrorism against us.
The War on Terrorism can become endless, like the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Case not made
Terrell Arnold, former chairman of the Department of International Studies, National War College, and a retired Senior Foreign Officer from the Department of State, says President Bush and his administration still have not made a case for attacking Iraq.
It should be deeply disturbing to us that not a single new piece of information about Iraq has appeared in months, he said. He said from all the hype and non-stop noise about this issue in the national media, you would think that Saddam Hussein controls a large meteor that is headed dead on for mid-U.S.A., and we must act strongly and now to head it off. The known facts dont support that contention.
When U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, there were still some questions about Iraqi weapons programs, but it was known for a certainty that Iraqs capabilities in that regard were but a shadow of what they had been before the first Gulf War.
Former U.N. observer Scott Ritter has also disagreed with Vice-President Cheneys assertion that Iraq can have nuclear capability in two years. He and other former U.N. weapons inspectors have said that the technology exists to check on such development and destroy it without setting one foot in the country, let alone massing a large invasion.
Arnold said there is no threat to the U.S. unless Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and intends to use them. If the mere possession of such weapons by a Mideast power is a threat to us, then Israel is a major threat, he said, because the Israelis have 200 nuclear weapons and an unclear number of chemical and biological weapons.
Iraq has stated no intent to use such weapons against us, and any effort to do so would bring a firestorm on Baghdad. Saddam knows that. He may be a brutal dictator, but he has remained in power by not being suicidal. If we push him, he is sure to unleash what biological weapons he has at tremendous costs to the invaders, the population of Iraq and the populations of the surrounding countries. Bush has obviously not thought out the consequences of his proposed actions; and if he has, he has unimaginable disregard for human life.
By the best estimates, there are some 20 nation-states trying to get weapons of mass destruction. Do we attack all of them? How many lives will be lost and what will our lives be like? The administration apparently thinks we should go after at least seven countries, but can we afford that much of a massive expenditure of money, blood and resources?
Every day that the Bush administration pushes for an invasion of Iraq, uncertain and unstable stock markets worldwide are pushed down even further. Is Bush trying to destroy our economy?
Arnold said Congress should be asking many questions and getting better answers before agreeing to any further power grants to the administration. He also notes that all the key players in this drama are oil industry insiders and comments: Just maybe the national interest, yours and mine, coincides with the special interests of that group, but dont count on it.
Our allies and the rest of the world view Bushs efforts as a move to control Iraqs oil supply. When are the American people going to wake up to that fact, and when are the American media going to stop lying about the farce?
Editor & Publisher Frank Schier also contributed to this editorial.