go to WASHINGTON FREE PRESS HOME (subscribe, contacts, archives, latest, etc.)

Mar/Apr 2001 issue (#50)


'60s Dream Lives On

Party Troopers

Suit Filed Against George W. Bush

"Friends in High Places"

Baby Bush Bombs Baghdad

Don't Put the Utilities Back in Charge

Biblically-Grounded Movements For Progressive Change In Washington

How to Run for City Council

Mad Cow: Coming to the U.S.?

Monoculture and Mad Cows

Itching to Ride Light Rail

Is Work Killing You?

Escaping the Globalized Gym

Seattle's Clattering Poets

A Puppetista Manifesto

Living Outside Empire

Don't Put the Utilities Back in Charge

ACORN's Falling

Social Transformation Explained? Technogod

Spokane Free-speech Battle


Reader Mail


Urban Work

Media Beat

Nature Doc

Rad Videos

Do Something!

Reel Underground

Baby Bush Bombs Baghdad

opinion by Ruth Wilson

The surprising thing about the bombing of Iraq on February 16 was that it was front-page news. Just two days before another bombing of Iraq had received almost no coverage. On February 11, there were also Allied (US/UK) airstrikes in Southern Iraq, which reportedly killed four men, two women, and one small child.

The two earlier bombings received very little coverage (some coverage in Yahoo News, AP). In fact the US has bombed Iraq fairly steadily for over two years, roughly twice a week since Dec. 1998, killing over 323 civilians and wounding 960 (Iraqi figures). The bombs often strike in metropolitan areas, such as Basra and Mosul.

Why the sudden avalanche of news stories? No doubt the State Department and Pentagon sent out major releases for a change. Why? To impress on the public mind that Bush Jr. can give the command to kill? To gauge the American people’s reaction to bombing Iraq at this time? (A gruesome way of taking a poll.)

Confused liberals in the press likely amplified the bombing story, because they love to hate Bush, but desperately grasp at straws to defend Clinton. In fact, there has been virtually no change in Iraq policy from one president to the next. The actual result of the new bombings was the same as that of the old bombings, a temporary increase in nationalism and support for Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Some 20,000 Iraqis marched in the streets of Baghdad in protests organized by the Bath party to protest the air raids. There is no reason to suppose that shoring up shaky support for the Iraqi regime is not the goal of these US exercises in bloodshed.

The Old Game

Iraq’s oil pipelines were stopped up in 1990 when the UN sanctions began. The only condition for lifting the embargo was that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait. Petrodollars began to spurt into Saudi Arabia as Iraq’s quota was transferred to the kingdom. The Saudi royals showered billions on deserving American corporations, including Citibank and many others.

After the Gulf War, the US decided to extend the sanctions (and cash flow) for a while longer (10 12 years so far), inventing new justifications as necessary. It was found early on that the issue of weapons of mass destruction resonated with the American public. Hence the issue was beaten to death, years after Iraq’s nuclear program had been destroyed.

The Ace in the hole for the US and Britain was that Saddam played along, like a good client dictator. There is evidence the US has been supporting Saddam overtly and covertly since the Gulf War. (You saw it here first, WA Free Press, Jan-Feb 1999 www.wafreepress.org/37).

The New Game

The New York Times issued an editorial on Feb. 11 which caused some excitement among anti-sanctions activists. At first glance, it seemed to call for exactly what many who oppose the oil embargo on Iraq have saying for years: ”Please, end the economic sanctions, and replace them with an arms embargo.” Could this signal that US policy is about to change?

A closer reading shows that the Times actually proposes keeping the oil embargo, with very small change. Besides endorsing bombings, the editor at the Times suggests relaxing the ban on some “dual-use” items, to allow Iraq to purchase a few more items (such as chlorine) with food-for-oil money. A substantial cut of food-for-oil revenue is routinely taken from Iraq to pay “war reparations” to Kuwait, and other parties. The oil-for-food deal is not ideal from the US corporate point of view. The ideal would be for Iraq to get no money and no food, but public opinion and world opinion must be appeased at times.

A real shift in policy might involve ending the oil-embargo on Iraq, and possibly shifting it to a new oil-producing nation (Iran?). Another possible chess move might be to depose Saddam and replace him with something like the Kuwaiti ruling family, although the Iraqi population may be too large to permit the Kuwaiti scale of cash flow to the US/UK, and the population may object.

Down at the Protest

There was a fairly good turnout of perhaps 100 people on Saturday, February 17 at Westlake Center in Seattle, to protest the latest bombings. There was good music and some heartfelt speeches, but no TV cameras. Did anyone call the press? If the goal is to be effective, organizers please fax the press first, then plan the protest.u

go to WASHINGTON FREE PRESS HOME (subscribe, contacts, archives, latest, etc.)