Green Left Weekly: UN Vote Brings War Closer
UN Vote Brings War Closer
From The Green Left Weekly
UN vote brings war closer
The unanimous vote by the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council on November 8 to impose ``tough'' new weapons inspection rules and deadlines for compliance on Iraq, with the threat of ``serious consequences'', should not confuse anti-war campaigners. It makes a massive US invasion of Iraq more likely.
The resolution gives the United States all the excuses it needs to launch a devastating war, whenever it chooses. As White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer boasted, ``Nothing in this resolution handcuffs the president''.
There is no justification for a US/UN war on Iraq. There is no credible evidence that Iraq retains or has continued to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Former senior UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter has stated repeatedly that Iraq was disarmed of biological and chemical weapons and the capacity to produce them by 1994. The International Atomic Energy Agency concluded in 1998 that Iraq did not have nuclear weapons or the capacity to make them.
Iraq has stated unequivocally that it does not possess WMD and on September 16 Baghdad agreed to US President George Bush's September 12 demand that Iraq abide by existing UN Security Council resolutions and allow the unconditional return of UN weapons inspectors. This was immediately rejected by Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the return of inspectors was blocked.
Washington's war threats have nothing to do with Iraq's mythical WMD or its equally mythical links with the al Qaeda terrorists. These are just ruses to panic people into accepting a bloody war. The Bush gang repeats endlessly and openly that its real goal — which was even enshrined in US legislation in 1998 — is ``regime change'' in Iraq.
US imperialism has long wanted to extend its military and political dominance over the Middle East's oil resources. Iraq and Iran — which remain too independent for Washington's liking — are obstacles to that.
The Bush gang hoped that by exploiting the 9/11 attacks it could convince the American people of the need to invade Iraq. However, the US public remained sceptical and Washington's ``hawks'' were unable to win their support for a unilateral US attack. This forced the Bush gang to reluctantly ``negotiate'' with France and Russia at the UN.
While France and Russia were always more concerned with gaining guarantees that their economic interests in Iraq would be respected than with preventing war, the delay has allowed the US anti-war movement to grow in size and understanding.
War plans back on track
But now, the Bush gang's war plans are back on track. Washington's UN ambassador, John Negroponte, declared that Security Council resolution 1441 does not contain ``hidden triggers'' for a US war. He's right — the triggers are blatantly visible:
- If Iraq does not accept 1441's provisions by November 15, the US will go to war.
- If Iraq fails to provide a ``currently accurate, full and complete declaration'' of its entire military and civilian biological, chemical and nuclear industries by December 8, or if that declaration contains any ``false statements or omissions'', the US will go to war.
- If Iraq fails to give the ``precise locations'' of ``weapons, components, sub-components, stocks of agents and related material and equipment'', the US will go to war.
- If Iraq fails ``at any time to comply with'' or ``cooperate fully'' with the implementation of the resolution, the US will go to war.
- If inspectors report ``any interference'' with ``inspection activities'', the US will go to war.
- If UN inspectors seize Iraqi scientists and their families and attempt to spirit them out of the country — even if they do not want to go — and Iraq attempts to prevent it, the US will go to war.
The resolution states that Iraq is already in ``material breach'' of previous UN resolutions and any further failures to comply would constitute another ``material breach''. In diplomat-speak, this means that military action must follow.
While the resolution does state that the Security Council will immediately meet ``to consider the situation'' once a breach is reported, there is nothing in the resolution that prevents the US from going to war. Such a war does not require authorisation from the Security Council.
Negroponte was open about this when he stated on November 7: ``This resolution doesn't constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq.''
Iraq must attempt to avoid any breach, no matter how trivial, for 105 days (February 21), at which point the heads of the UN inspection teams will report to the Security Council on whether Iraq has or has not fully cooperated. A negative report means war.
The US and Britain will be sure to interpret the resolution as literally as possible. British officials told the November 7 British Guardian that they would not require evidence that Iraqi officials had deliberately set out to obstruct inspectors. US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice has stated that a two-hour delay of inspectors must be considered a violation, the Los Angeles Times reported on November 6.
Even the UN's chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, who abandoned any pretence of neutrality and backed the US-British resolution, admitted that it would be impossible for Iraq to meet the 30-day deadline required of it to declare every component of its alleged chemical and biological weapons programs and related industries.
Clearly, there is vast latitude in the resolution's provisions for war to be triggered, and even if Iraq scrupulously abides by them, Washington can simply provoke a crisis just as it did in the days before its December 1998 three-day bombing blitz on Iraq — which was launched even as the Security Council was meeting ``to consider the situation''.
The Bush gang wants to wage war on Iraq. It would prefer to launch such a war in the cooler months, around January or February. US forces have been steadily building in the Middle East. There are around 60,000 US troops present in the region.
Over the past few months, the US has ferried dozens of helicopters and hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles to supplement the huge arsenal that is already warehoused there. Six-hundred US war planners will be ensconced in Qatar by December.
By late December, there will be at least four aircraft carriers and their battle groups in the region. It is estimated that the extra 50,000-70,000 US and British troops required for an invasion of Iraq could be transported to the region within weeks of a final decision to attack.
The anti-war movement — and all the political forces which claim to be part of it — must now take a clear stand: UN endorsement of Washington's war on Iraq does not make it legitimate. The anti-war movement must redouble its efforts to mobilise the largest possible numbers of people to stop this war.
As the successful campaign against the US war on Vietnam proved in the 1960s, mass political action around the world can force governments to end wars.