cj#744> Margolis on Iraq deomonization (fwd)


Richard Moore

Date: Dec. 15, 1997
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                        Foreign Correspondent

                      Inside Track On World News
            By International Syndicated Columnist & Broadcaster
                 Eric Margolis <•••@••.•••>

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                             by Eric Margolis
                             December 15, 1997

The Christmas season is supposed to bring peace on earth.
But not, it seems, for wicked Iraq. `Let's take out Saddam'
echoes across America.

After months of wildly inflated claims about `the  threat to
mankind' posed by Iraq's secret weapons programs, Americans
are again calling for Saddam Hussein's head. An Iraqi
opposition group, run by CIA and Israel's Mossad, is being
used as the main conduit to spread alarmist disinformation
about Irsq's alleged weapons of mass destruction...

A former Pentagon `expert' even recently made the ludicrous
claim that Saddam's anthrax program was capable of
`destroying the world three times over.'

Please. The first public revelation of Iraq's covert anthrax
program was made in this column, in late 1990, after I
secretly interviewing British technicians and scientists in
Baghdad. They had worked on germ warfare in a hidden lab
north of Basra.  The breeder stock for Saddam's anthrax came
from Maryland, USA.

My sources say Iraq never subsequently produce the `huge'
quantities of toxins the US claims. Only  small amounts
remain. Still, Israel's American supporters urgently demand
US military power be used to destroy  Iraq for good. This
week, the Clinton Administration again joined Israel in
threatening Iraq with nuclear weapons if Baghdad ever used
germ or chemical weapons.against them.

But these days, only the US and Israel want to attack Iraq.
The 1991 Gulf War coalition has collapsed. The Islamic
Summit this week in Tehran showed Iraq is gaining growing
international support, and wide sympathy over the prolonged
suffering of its wretched people. So  Iraqophobes have
redoubled cries to `take out Saddam.'

Many Americans blame President George Bush for failing to do
just this in 1991.  People constantly ask me, `why didn't we
just match into Baghdad and waste Saddam? (Americans love to
use euphemisms when talking of killing foreigners).  I
always reply, `which `we' was going to march first into
Baghdad? You?'

Bush was right not to attack Baghdad.  Iraq's main forces -
about 250,000 troops,  remained largely intact, contrary to
the lies spread about the Gulf War's non-existent, `titanic'
battles. In fact, there was no real ground war, just a great
deal of bombing and strafing.  Saddam's best troops were dug
in  around Baghdad and Basra.

Attacking Iraq's capital would have meant ferocious urban
combat, the ugliest, bloodiest kind of warfare - as the
humiliating American disaster in Somalia clearly showed.
Even the crack Israeli Army avoids house-to-house fighting.
America would have suffered serious casualties.

The fighting would have been prolonged, and certainly have
turned into a lengthy guerrilla war in built-up areas, and
Iraq's lush river valleys. Equally bad, the US would have
had to garrison hostile Iraq - requiring at least 100,000
troops - as well as feeding and financing the entire
demolished country of 22 million. Bush wisely avoided these
horrible prospects by declaring victory and leaving..

Saudi Arabia pleaded with Bush not to overthrow or kill
Saddam. No matter how brutal or stupid Saddam was, without
his iron hand, the Saudis warned, Iraq would splinter: Iran
would occupy the Shia south, and Turkey the north.  Iran
would then be on Saudi Arabia's border.  Bush agreed.

Instead, the US turned Iraq into a gigantic prison by
isolating it behind a wall of sanctions. Ironically, by
demonizing Saddam, a former US ally, Bush made it extremely
difficult for his successors to ever lift sanctions, or have
normal relations with Iraq.  No president, particularly not
ardently pro-Israel, Bill Clinton, dared risk being called
`soft on Saddam.'

Now, American armchair Rambos want to have another go at
Saddam.  Assassinating foreign leaders is against US law, a
fact often ignored when they are Muslim malefactors. In the
American view, delivering a laser-guided bomb on a Mideast
leader's residence or office - as the US did in an attempt
to kill Libya's Col. Khadaffi and Saddam Hussein - is not
assassination, but merely a `retaliatory airstrike.'

Maybe a lucky cruise missile will catch Saddam in the open -
the way Chechnya's independence leader, Dzhokar Dudayev, was
murdered by a Russian missile that homed in on his portable
telephone.  Or maybe one of CIA's attempts to launch a coup
against Saddam will finally succeed, after so much bungling.

Assassinating Saddam, however, won't end Iraq's weapons
programs.  Most of Iraq's military production facilities and
stocks of germs and gas have been destroyed.   But there are
also 10,000 Iraqi military technicians and scientists who
could recreate most of the weapons programs.  The only way
to totally eradicate Iraq's military potential is to either
deport or kill them all.

Today, Israel has the Mideast's sole nuclear arsenal, and
the largest chemical/biological weapons programs in the
region. Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Iran all have chemical
weapons. Iraq, with the Mideast's second largest oil
reserves, will inevitably acquire such weapons - as long as
its hostile neighbors have them.  Most chemical and
biological weapons are relatively easy to manufacture -
though very difficult to deliver efficiently.  Saddam's
nasty anthrax germs could be made in a bathtub in Baghdad's
El Mansour Hotel.

Crying wolf about Iraq by wildly exaggerating its threat is
not foreign policy. Nor is trying to brutally starve Iraq
into submission. Washington needs new ideas.

Copyright: Margolis December 1997

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