By Michelle Mairesse
Prelude to War
In 1990, Hussein was preoccupied with Kuwait (one of the Persian Gulf states the British had carved out in the 1920s), which severely limited Iraq's access to the Gulf. Not only did that tiny country demand repayment of war loans, but it had also been slant-drilling and siphoning oil from Iraqi territory. Saddam Hussein had reason to believe that the U.S.A. still backed him. After all, the C.I.A. had helped install him as dictator of Iraq in 1979, and the U.S.A. had supplied him with arms, including chemical and biological weapons, during the war with Iran (1980-1988).
On airing his concerns to U. S. Ambassador April Glaspie in July, Hussein was encouraged by her response. She told Hussein that Washington had "no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait," a statement, she said later, she regretted. In September 1990, Glaspie told the New York Times, "We didn't think he'd take all of Kuwait."
The Invasion of Kuwait
As early as April of 1990, both Kuwaiti and American intelligence services were aware of Iraqi invasion plans, and American policy-makers were informed several days beforehand, but there were no public pronouncements or warnings to Hussein.
When Iraqi tanks rolled into Kuwait on August 2, 1990, President George Bush Senior compared the invasion to Nazi Germany's occupation of the Rhineland. Nevertheless, the day before the invasion, the Bush administration approved the sale of $395,000,000 worth of advanced data transmission devices to Iraq, just one item in the 1.5 billion dollars of advanced technology that both the Reagan and Bush administrations sold to Hussein from 1985 to 1990.
Exploiting the Crisis
The first President Bush, aided by Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Colin Powell, now jumped at the opportunity to justify a more militaristic foreign policy.
Bush proposed "a new world order--free from the threat of terror." The United States would lead a coalition against the aggressor.Arab leaders suggested a compromise: allow Iraq to annex a small segment of Kuwait after withdrawal. The administration refused that offer and all others, not because the plans were unreasonable, but because the Bush administration had decided on a war designed to enhance American power in the oil-rich Mideast.
Fake Satellite PhotosJean Heller, an ace journalist from the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, persuaded her editors to buy two photos from the Russian commercial satellite, the Soyuz Karta, taken September 11 and September 13. The photos proved that the entire Iraqi airforce was parked in Riyadh and that Iraqi troops were nowhere to be found massing in the desert. The editors asked two former Defense Intelligence Agency analysts to examine the photos. They, too, were surprised that the pictures showed American jets arrayed on the Saudi Arabian border but no troops at all on the Kuwaiti border. Peter Zimmerman, a satellite expert at George Washington University, said,
In early January, Hussein's troops began to withdraw from Kuwait, but the Pentagon claimed to have satellite photographs showing an enormous buildup of Iraqi forces and weapons, 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1500 tanks massing in the desert for their impending attack on Saudi Arabia. This announcement stunned the anti-war protesters, and world opinion gradually shifted, although no one saw the alleged photos, which were, of course, classified."We could see clearly the main road leading right through Kuwait, south to Saudi Arabia, but it was covered with sand banks from the wind and it was clear that no army had moved over it. We could see empty barracks where you would have expected these thousands of troops to be billeted, but they were deserted as well."
Then a strange thing happened. Major news organizations, including Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, and ABC, perused the photos but decided not to publish a story that would contradict the government's information. The Iraqi military buildup, which did not exist, was Bush's justification for dispatching troops, yet the American media refused to expose the government's lie. The only honest American journalists were in St. Petersburg, Florida. After the war, the House Armed Services Committee concluded that at the beginning of the ground war in February, the Iraqi troops numbered 183,000, not the 250,000 "discovered" by the Pentagon satellite. The alleged Pentagon satellite photos are still classified.
Fake Dead BabiesThe propagandists for the Gulf War had to reach back to World War I for the ultimate staged outrage--our evil enemy attacks innocent babies. Here is how it unfolded. Kuwaiti citizen Nijirah al-Sabah, wiped her eyes and described a horrifying scene she saw when she was a volunteer in the Al Adnan hospital in Kuwait City. She had witnessed Iraqi soldiers looting incubators to take back to Baghdad, throwing Kuwaiti babies on "the cold floor to die." This story, told and retold, incensed the public and congress as nothing else had done. The Senate resolution to go to war passed by five votes. Six senators said the baby-incubator story had overcome their reluctance to send troops.
Months later, Nayirah was exposed as the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington. She had no connection to the Al Adnan hospital, as nurses there would testify. She and several other "witnesses" had been coached by the Hill and Knowlton public relations firm, which had a contract worth over $10,000,000 with the Kuwaiti government. Brent Scowcroft, Bush's national security adviser, later said in an interview with the Guardian that the administration had not known at the time that the story was false. He admitted that "it was useful in mobilizing public opinion."
Fake StatisticsAfter the war, Bush's Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney said that the government did not know and probably would never know how many Iraqi casualties resulted from the Gulf War.
Beth Osborne Daponte, a Commerce Department demographer, prepared a report estimating that 13,000 civilians were killed by allied forces, 70,000 civilians died from infrastructure damage, and 40,000 troops were killed in battle. Her supervisors dismissed her, confiscated her report, and issued a new one with much lower estimates of Iraqi mortality rates. Later, after Beth Osborne won her appeal and had been reinstated in her job, U.S. officials provided higher estimates: 100,000 Iraqi soldiers killed, 300,000 wounded, and 2,500 to 3,000 Iraqi civilians killed by bombing. International organizations estimated that the war created 5,000,000 refugees and that sanctions had killed more than 500,000 Iraqi children.
A Grateful NationReturning Gulf War veterans experienced the same government obstinacy that Vietnam veterans had run into when they reported illnesses caused by chemical warfare agents. After both wars, the U. S. government insisted that the veterans' symptoms were psychological and had no known physical cause. After both wars, even sympathetic Veterans Administration physicians were ordered to treat such claims as stress related. As recently as January 23, 2003, the Veterans Affairs Department announced that Vietnam veterans suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia probably contracted the disease after exposure to Agent Orange (a defoliant the American army used extensively in the Vietnam War) and were entitled to benefits. Of an estimated 540,000 Gulf War veterans, two out of five are on disability. Not all disability claims are honored. Veterans suffering from what is known as Gulf War Syndrome are encountering the same official blindness to the after-effects of chemical warfare agents. Despite international opposition to weaponized depleted uranium, the Pentagon is still denying its toxic effects and still employs the radioactive substance in shells and armor. Despite mounting evidence of the health hazards created by the forced inoculations of troops, the Pentagon blandly persists in requiring them. During a press interview in October 2000, the retired commander of French forces in the Gulf War said his French troops took anti-nerve-gas tablets" (pyridostigmine bromide) for four days only. The British and American troops took them for months at a time. General Roquejoffre had never allowed his troops to be inoculated with the untried, controversial American "cocktail" vaccination. British and American troops had all been inoculated. British and American troops who had served in the same areas as the French came down with Gulf War Syndrome, but not a single French soldier suffered from the disease. The Pentagon continues to blow smoke about this issue and still forces troops to be vaccinated. Question: How many retired military officers own stock in the pharmaceutical companies who make components of the "cocktail"? The anthrax vaccine alone goes for $18 a pop.
Like Father, Like Son
It's the same old crew, all right, the wonderful folks who brought us the too-soon-forgotten Iran-Contra scandal. Obviously, Big Oil is over-represented in Bush Junior's administration. The Bushistas, including Vice President Dick Cheney (Halliburton Oil), Commerce Secretary Don Evans (Colorado Oil), National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice (Chevron), Secretary of Commerce and State Department official Richard Haas, have served as executives and consultants for international oil firms. They have traded valuable stock in companies that extract, refine, and market petroleum. They have profited from companies that build pipelines, obtain drilling concessions, and provision the industry. Enron used to be busy in all those capacities. Robert Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative, served on Enron's advisory council; I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's Chief of Staff, was a major Enron stockholder; Secretary of the Army Thomas White was an Enron executive for a decade and cashed in millions of dollars in stocks and options before the crash. Karl Rove, Bush Junior's Gray Eminence, owned about $250,000 worth of Enron stock at the time he conferred with Ken Lay in the White House about Enron's difficulties with federal regulators. It's the same old crew, all right, refusing to negotiate, comparing Hussein to Hitler, accusing him of "gassing his own people" although the preponderance of evidence shows that the Iranians gassed the Kurds during the Iran-Iraq War, while the U.S. was supporting the Iraqis. Charley Reese reminds us how easily this administration resorts to obfuscation or lies.
John MacArthur, author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, reminds us that both Bush administrations shared many of the same top officials. "These are all the same people who were running it more than ten years ago," he says. "They'll make up just about anything-- to get their way.""Bush has repeatedly cited the 1988 gassing of Kurds in Halabja as evidence of Iraqi cruelty. Recently, Stephen C. Pelletiere, a former CIA analyst, has reminded us of a Defense Intelligence Study that concluded that (1) the Kurds were casualties in a battle for the city between Iraqi and Iranian forces and not the object of the attack; and (2) that it was the Iranian gas that killed the Kurds.No one should be surprised that the majority of hawks, the men who want to go to war rather than resort to diplomacy, have never seen military service. They managed to avoid the draft during the Vietnam conflict. Vice President Dick Cheney boasts, "I was smart enough to get five deferments." Bush Junior served in the National Guard, went AWOL for most of his enlistment. and somehow avoided imprisonment. Abrams, Card, Perle, Thompson, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft, Rove, Perle, etc.--none of them served, and all of them are eager to draw blood in Iraq. The notable exception is Colin Powell, the only Bushista to have credibility in the realm of tactics, strategy, and diplomacy. Unfortunately, he is in the same position he occupied during Bush Senior's regime when he repeatedly covered up the Iran-Contra crimes. Against what we hope must be his better judgment, he exercises the same function for Bush Junior. How sad, then, we were to see Powell standing before the United Nations Security Council with a pathetic show-and-tell presentation. The incriminating aerial photographs of Hussein's hidden weapons facilities could have been a Hollywood set or a Bakersfield truck stop as far as the audience was concerned. The photos required, Powell hastened to explain, expert interpretation. Sigh. Maybe the Pentagon should buy its photos from Soyuz Karta, the commercial Russian satellite. Powell made points when he read earnestly from the thick British intelligence dossier, only to be ridiculed days later when the "intelligence dossier" proved to have been cobbled together from decade-old public sources, such as Jane's Intelligence Review and an unattributed article from the Middle East Review of International Affairs written by a lecturer at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. While Powell was brandishing his vial of simulated anthrax, he failed to mention the significant facts about the anthrax letters. F.B.I. investigators have concluded that the powdered anthrax mailings were a weaponized form of an American strain produced at an American facility. Furthermore, weapons inspectors declare that Iraq has never possessed a dry preparation of anthrax.
"I remember reading a story in The Washington Post about this report. Now, one of two things is inescapable: Either the U.S. government was lying when it issued the report, or the president and his people are lying today when they blame it on Iraq. It has to be one or the other."
No, General Powell. You had your chance and you blew it. Instead of holding up the vial of white powder and announcing that Hussein could do a whole bunch of damage with a teaspoonful of this anthrax stuff, you should have thrown your head back, swallowed it, and declaimed, "It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before." It looks like we'll be hearing about dead babies pretty soon.
Updates and Links:
3/18/2015 Iraqi Oil Bombshell
Charley Reese Nails Conflicting Stories about Gassing
See the "Iraq Lies" section
The Guardian UK 5 December 02
The Los Angeles Times, 5 January 03
The Independent Institute, 7 October 1993
The Christian Science Monitor, 6 September 02
Joe Vallis, 12 January 03
Business Week, 5 February 2003
Mike Ruppert, 5 February 03
SFGate.com, 7 February 03
The Independent 6 February 03
The New Hampshire Gazette (ongoing)
Carl Jensen (ed.), 20 Years of Censored News, Seven Stories Press, 1997, N.Y.
Haim Bresheeth and Nira Yuval-Davis (eds.), The Gulf War and the New World Order, Zed Books Ltd, 1991, London and New Jersey