So who says this country is in moral decline? On at least one political issue your Democrats and Republicans in Congress, the White House, and writers for every mainstream publication in the country are united, and that is: What to do about Iraq and Saddam Hussein?
Our leader Bill Clinton's words, as quoted by the Washington Post, ring out strong, lightening up our steps:
"[The President] added that the world community had to act `in the face of what I consider to be one of three or four most significant security threats that all of our people will face in the next whole generation, this weapons of mass destruction proliferation' [Washington Post, 11/15/97]."
Meanwhile, we are given no shortage of descriptions of Hussein (a.k.a. "Saddam") that illustrate just how far he is from the humanitarian examples of Clinton and George Bush:
"Saddam Hussein keeps his eye on the prize, looks for opportunities, forgets nothing and maintains endless patience. The U.S. and the U.N. should do no less [The Sun, 11/14/97]."
All of which leaves the left in a kind of quandary: if we criticize the cartoon-like images of Hussein as the man in black, and the U.S. as a gallant white knight, we become apologists for Hussein. There is no middle ground to trod.
Which is one reason why the Washington Post did not elaborate further on U.S. policy on weapons of mass destruction. If one looks to the alternative media we see that on April 12, 1990, Hussein, while still President Bush's friend and ally, proposed to destroy Iraq's arsenal of chemical and other nonconventional weapons if Israel agreed to eliminate its chemical and nuclear weaponry. The State Department, decrying the `linkage with Israel,' rejected the deal [Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy].
The meaning of this is clear: it is okay for our side to have weapons of mass destruction but not theirs.
As for Clinton's presumed credibility on the subject of global weapons proliferation, since he took office the U.S. has increased its world market share in exporting arms. Among the more morally suspect customers of these highly subsidized (by U.S. taxpayers) commodities is the Turkish regime. Last May, Turkey used many of the fighter jets and tanks the U.S. sold it to slaughter Kurds when they invaded Northern Iraq with between 25,000 and 50,000 troops (reports differ), with Washington's tacit approval.
Again, the moral here is obvious: it is okay for an ally of the U.S. (Turkey) to bomb Kurds in Northern Iraq; but if Hussein does so he is a barbarian.
Indeed, Clinton has been so worried about the proliferation of advanced weaponry that he has sent members of his Cabinet to arms trade shows-to help sell them. His V.P. Al Gore uses White House stationery to draft letters to heads of foreign states to drum up sales. As our Lobbyist in Chief, Clinton has even used a personal phone to call up the president of the United Arab Emirates to request that the Sheik purchase eighty F-16 jet fighters from Lockheed Martin (The Progressive, 12/97).
If that weren't enough, Clinton has led the way in lifting a 20-year ban on selling arms to Latin American countries, Also, he has refused to sign an international treaty to ban landmines that just about all other nations have endorsed [see "Spotlight" story in this issue's Sentinel section]. All of these facts become buried when the mainstream press discusses Hussein vs. the U.S.
Another item off the discussion list is how the U.S. is conducting its foreign policy without a shred of diplomacy. Hussein has been lately requesting that the U.N. investigative team have fewer Americans on it. Clinton's response, universally hailed by the press, is an unwavering no. We are prepared to start another war before allowing this concession.
This is a continuation of our policy after the 8/90 invasion of Kuwait by Hussein's order and before the 1/91 U.S.-led attack on Baghdad. In private, Hussein offered the Bush administration to pull out of Kuwait in five days-the Bushites said it had to be three. Without any further discussion on the subject we launched our attack on Iraq's civilian infrastructure.
(In fact, that period after the invasion of Kuwait and before the U.S. attack, when pundits debated the merits of militarism and hundreds of thousands of people around the world marched in protest of a possible war, is rapidly vanishing from the media's eyes. The Washington Post, for one, has consistently opined since 1991 that Hussein started the Gulf War, with many other news outlets following suit. It is unlikely that our approved version of history for the next generation will read any differently.)
This policy of zero tolerance for Hussein has been a catastrophe for Iraq, which is occasionally mentioned in the media but always as Hussein's fault. A very good recent article in The Progressive ("Iraq's Children," 11,/97) showed an Iraqi society which has deteriorated to a level of hardship few of us could imagine . At least 500,000 children have died since the War's final atrocity up to now.
This is more than the number of children killed from both atomic bombs and the recent ethnic cleansing in Bosnla combined. None of these Iraqi children had anything to do with Kuwait; and their lives were worth more than whether Iraq pulled out of there in five or three days. They are where they are arguably because the richest nation and last superpower on Earth has a mainstream media that any totalitarian regime would covet.
A recent news article in the Sun closed by quoting war-hawk Newt Gingrich as saying that the strategy of economic sanctions is "a liberal fantasy of a foreign policy without force [sic] [The Sun, 11/14/97]."
And, if the media have their way, the public will continue to believe that no unjustified force is being applied to no one knows how many more children in Iraq.
To learn more about providing humanitarian assistance to Iraq, contact Voices in the Wilderness at 773-285-7544.