by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
April 11, 2002
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Did I miss something? When did it become generally accepted that the United State's most pressing concern is the elimination of Saddam Hussein? Shouldn't there have been -- at the veryleast -- a national conversation? Was I asleep that day?
The last time Bush/Cheney (different Bush, same Cheney) tried totake out Saddam Hussein, there was a token bow to "We, the People of the United States," even if it was done with a pack of lies. Who can forget those tiny infants supposedly ripped from their incubators by Iraqi soldiers? When the story turned out to be the invention of an American public relations firm, Hill & Knowlton, hired by Kuwait to whip up some enthusiasm for U.S. intervention when Iraq invaded, it didn't matter. The war had already ended. This time there has been no public discussion at all. It's as if "We, the People" no longer exist. First we read in The New Yorker that the Bush administration has decided to take out Saddam Hussein, and then it's repeated everywhere as common knowledge.
Just at random, take the Week in Review section of The New York Times for April 14. R.W. Apple, Jr., in writing about an out-of-control Middle East, said, "Unless it's diffused, the prospect of significant European or Islamic support for an attempt to oust Saddam Hussein of Iraqis next to nil."
What about the support of "We, the People," Mr. Apple?
In the same story, Apple wrote that British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a speech in Texas pledging support for American action in Iraq .
They asked Tony Blair, but they didn't ask "We, the People?"
In another story in the same section, Christopher Marquis, describing a new American policy of abandoning long-time alliances in favor of shifting short-term coalitions, says these relationships "will dissolve when the job is done and a new one -- like toppling Saddam Hussein -- is at hand."
How did it come to be a fact of life that we will invade Iraq as soon as those pesky Israelis and Palestinians calm down? Thousands willdie. And no one asks why?
I can't say that Saddam Hussein deserves our respect, admiration or support; he's got lots of blood on his hands. But so does Henry Kissinger,and he goes to fancy parties in Washington, D.C.
Why has Saddam Hussein suddenly become our business? "How in the absence of a declared war - (do) we justify going into someone else'scountry to wipe out its government?" asked Hubert G. Locke in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
"Since there's no U.N. mandate for this invasion, it will be as lawless as Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland, which triggered the Second World War," wrote John Pilger in the U.K.'s Daily Mirror. "Indeed, it may well trigger a Third World War, drawing in nations of the region and beyond."
Aren't we fighting enough wars already? What happened to the "war on terrorism?" For that matter, what happened to Osama bin Laden? We don't know where he is, or even if he's alive. We never really learned if he was behind the World Trade Center massacre. Saddam Hussein may be a world-class bastard, but he wasn't responsible for Sept. 11.
And if we're looking for some world-class bastards to oust, the leaders of China are selling the organs of executed "political" prisoners. And the names Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon Spring to mind.
The usual reasons given for attacking Saddam Hussein have to do with his "weapons of mass destruction." He has nuclear capability, the argument goes, and has already used germ warfare. He threw out the U.N. inspectors. Who knows where he will strike next?
Pilger's article contained some reporting not ordinarily found inAmerican newspapers and magazines.
"Few countries have had 93 percent of their major weapons capability destroyed," Pilger wrote, quoting a report by Rolf Ekeus, the chairman of the U.N. body authorized to inspect and destroy Iraq's arsenal following the 1991 Gulf War: "In 1999, a special panel of the Security Council recorded that Iraq's main biological weapons facilities (supplied originally by the U.S. and Britain) 'have been destroyed and rendered harmless,'" Pilger reports. Also according to Pilger, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which still sends inspectors to Iraq, reports that the country's nuclear weapons program has been eliminated. As late as January, the IAEA reported that Iraq was in full compliance with international law.
I can't personally verify Pilger's reporting, but certainly one of the larger, Pulitzer-prize winning American newspapers has the resources to do so. Why hasn't this important information been reported on or discussed in the American media?
Many believe the Bush/Cheney obsession with Saddam Hussein datesback to the first Bush administration's failure to remove him from power inthe aftermath of the Gulf War. In this interpretation of history, Bush Jr.is trying to reclaim his father's macho, while Cheney is trying to reclaimhis own. A war with Iraq is personal.
"Saddam Hussein is George W. Bush's great white whale; and we, hiscrew, are held hostage to his obsession," wrote Brattleboro Reformercolumnist Marty Jezer. "A whale is not aggressive unless stuck by aharpoon. Then, as it dives for self-protection, its great tail istransformed into an instrument of destruction."
There is another reason. For many years, Saddam Hussein was a fully-controlled and armed subsidiary of the United States. Since Iraq sits on one of the world's largest pools of oil, it is possible that the Bush administration wants to oust Saddam Hussein and install a dictator who will do what he is told.
In general, "We, the people" are good men and women who believe they support and export democracy.
But our recent actions in Venezuela, where, to the outrage of most of South America, we supported the overthrow of a democratically-elected president, proves that our image of ourselves is wrong. We have a long history of supporting bloody-handed dictators all over the world who will dance to the tune of American economic interests.
But at least democracy is alive and well in our country, isn't it? Not quite. Ever since the last presidential election, when our democracy was subverted by a Republican coup d'état, the administration has been acting as if the opinion of "We, the People" counts for nothing at all.
I fully expect to wake up some day soon and find oil companies drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve because the Bush administration has found a way to subvert the will of Congress.
In the end, it all comes down to the oldest American concept of all, taxation without representation. This war is not personal to me, and until my views as a member of "We, the people" are represented, or at least sought out by my government, then hell no, I won't go.
Joyce Marcel is a freelance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel.