Critics Warn Iraq War Will Provoke Terrorism
From the radio newsmagazine
Between The Lines
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release March 3, 2003
Critics Warn Iraq War Will Provoke Increased Terrorism, Ethnic Conflicts and Global Economic Instability
Interview with Dilip Hiro author and journalist, conducted by Scott Harris
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While American and British troops continue to pour into the Persian Gulf region, a diplomatic faceoff is shaping up within the United Nations Security Council. The U.S., joined by Britain and Spain, has proposed a resolution that would find Iraq in material breach of U.N demands for disarmament, and to authorize war. But, France, Germany and Russia have put forward a competing draft proposal which calls for four more months of tougher weapons inspections and declares that military force is not yet justified. In the end, the U.S. must win nine votes from 15 member nations -- and no vetoes cast by France, Russia or China -- to gain authorization for war. A vote is expected by mid-March.
The Bush administration's timetable for invasion has been further complicated by the delay in Turkey's decision to allow some 40,000 U.S. troops to use their nation as a staging area from which to launch an invasion of northern Iraq. In spite of opposition to war by more than 90 percent of its people, the Turkish government was ready to submit to U.S. pressure in exchange for $15 billion in grants and loans -- however, the Turkish Parliament has thus far failed to approve such a deal. Turkish government officials have stated that in the event of war, their military will use force to prevent the establishment of any independent Kurdish state.
Journalist and commentator Dilip Hiro has been reporting on Middle East issues for more than three decades. In his latest book titled, "Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm," he warns that a U.S. invasion of Iraq will result in wide-scale human carnage, destabilize the Muslim world and seriously damage the global economy. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Dilip Hiro about his deep concern for the dangerous fallout which he believes will follow a Bush war against Baghdad.
Dilip Hiro: The majority of people living in Iraq are Shiite and they have been nursing their grievance against the Sunni minority ruling them since 1638 and once this pressure is off Saddam's cruel hand, then I'm afraid that this is going to end up in a civil war. So all these guys are rubbing their hands saying, "Ahhh, we have got a great access to the oil and we are going to rewire this whole country." I'm afraid they are going to come to grief.
And they must also remember, and I speak as someone who wrote a book on the subject, that when there was civil war in Lebanon it went on for 15-and-a-half years, and Lebanon doesn't have oil, Lebanon has only two or three neighbors. Iraq has 11 percent of the world's oil reserves, it has six neighbors, four of which are very big ones -- each of which has its own agenda -- and if a civil war gets going, which is very likely, then it could go on for years and years in a country which has the second largest oil reserves. Can you imagine what will happen to the oil, gasoline and heating oil prices, but that's all being ignored, because ultimately this guy (Bush) has to get even with somebody who wanted to try to kill his father.
If Bush goes into Iraq, many other things will be neglected. The very fragile peace in Afghanistan will break down. There will be a very great rise of terrorism all over the world, and this time even those groups which are not fundamentalist, Muslim groups who are secular, they will join in this particular terrorist mode -- they will turn into terrorists.
Finally we have to ask a simple question: Is terrorism a threat to America or is Iraq a threat to America? If terrorism is the main threat, then why does the government of the USA embark on something which is going to increase that particular threat, rather than decrease it?
Between The Lines: If you could answer that question … why do you think the United States is ignoring the warning signs that much of the world fears will be the backlash from a U.S. attack on Baghdad?
Dilip Hiro: Yeah, absolutely. There again the question is, "Who are the advisors to Mr. Bush?" I don't honestly think that whatever else might say either for against Mr. Bush, I don't think he is a particularly articulate or intelligent guy. I don't think he would claim to be a brilliant fellow by any means. So his advisors are Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld, Condie Rice, I don't think Colin Powell has much say, and of course the domestic advisors Carl Rove and Andrew Card. Three people especially, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, they are in my view power hungry idealogues. They say, "We have the biggest military in the world, and we should not be shy about using it." I'm not saying they shouldn't use it for anything, but in this case they would say, "because the USA was attacked on 9-11 and therefore we have to counter terrorism." And, of course their strong argument, which is, Saddam has weapons of mass destruction -- which nobody has found; even if he has (them) you have t! o show the evidence.
And that particular drive which is an ideological drive, which is basically power driven, "We are strong and we have to put our stamp on the world, we are the biggest guys," etc. etc.' That's the driving force.
Plus of course there is a very important other element which is that Israel must be made secure. …. Israel can "take care" of its neighbors singly or jointly. Its neighbors are Egypt and Syria. Jordan is a "cipher" in military terms. If Syria and Egypt were to even combine and challenge Israel, Israel can finish them off. But then beyond Jordan is a country called Iraq. And Iraq, of course as you know, in the Gulf war did fire 39 missiles at Israel -- and that has not been forgotten or forgiven. And beyond Iraq is Iran.
So, that particular strategy says that Israel's eastern border must be made secure for all time. This again, believe me, is not my paranoia or my thesis, I have the exact words of General Shaul Mofaz who is the chief of staff in Israel. He said, I think about a week ago, that the "war in Iraq is going to be very intense, very short and it will make our frontier secure," these are his words.
Between The Lines: What is the view of the United States and its project in Iraq around the world from your view in London? Is the United States seen as increasingly isolated and belligerent in terms of its sole status as the world's remaining super power?
Dilip Hiro: There have been quite a few polls in Britain where people have been asked who is a threat to peace in the world, and you wouldn't believe -- quite a few times Mr. Bush has come out above Saddam Hussein, that he is a greater threat to world peace rather than Saddam Hussein.
In fact there is a very interesting piece in the New York Times Feb. 23 where Regis DeBray, the French intellectual, made a very interesting point that this war is being driven by values which are, what he called, "pre-modern." Europe is the Old World really, they are more pragmatic, they understand things better to see the gray areas of life etc, etc., whereas this president has gone into what Mr. DeBray says is "binary logic, black, white, black, white, day, night, day night," that kind of thing. And so he says that we have a situation where there is the post-modern military machine which is being driven by pre-modern values.
Nobody disputes that the U.S. singly can militarily win, I mean that's not in doubt -- nobody doubts that. But the question is, A. for what purpose and what happens next? And what happens next if you ask me --- as you probably know, it's not a joke, but it's kind of an anecdote which sums up so much. A surgeon has performed his operation and he leaves the operating theater, comes out and faces the relatives of the patient and says, "The operation was successful, but the patient died." So I think that's what Mr. Bush is going for.
"Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm," is published by Thunder's Mouth Press / Nation Books Related links: http://www.nationbooks.org
Scott Harris is the executive producer of Between The Lines. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, nationally syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines (www.btlonline.org), for the week ending March 7, 2003. AOL users: Click here!
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