Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations was an example of Alice in Wonderland-type propaganda. Reality has been turned upside down. At the very moment that Iraq, hobbled by 12 years of devastating sanctions and ongoing U.S. bombing, is surrounded by a heavily-armed invasion force of more than 100,000 troops, fighter aircraft, warships and high tech conventional missiles, and is threatened with a nuclear strike, Powell argued that Iraq poses a great threat to "peace."
The Pentagon has disclosed its plan to maintain peace by carrying out an opening blitzkrieg on Iraq of more than 3000 bombs and missiles in the first 48 hours. This plan is titled "Shock and Awe" by the administration. 300 to 400 Tomahawk cruise missiles will rip through Iraq on the first day of a U.S. assault, which is more than the number that were launched during the entire 40 days of the first Gulf War. On the second day, another 300 to 400 cruise missiles will be sent. "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," said one Pentagon official. "The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before," the official said. One of the authors of the Shock and Awe plan stated the intent is, "So that you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but in minutes.'" (CBS News January 27, 2003, New York Times, February 2, 2003)
General Powell is routinely referred to in the media as the moderate or "dove" inside the Bush administration. It is important to remember that it is the same Colin Powell who, at a press briefing shortly after the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War when asked his assessment of the number of Iraqi soldiers and civilians killed, which had been put at over 100,000, answered, "It's really not a number I'm terribly interested in."
Is there justification for war? What Bush's war places in jeopardy is enormous. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis may be slaughtered. Tens of thousands of service members will be sent to risk their lives. The economic cost, estimated between $200 billion to $2 trillion will loot the U.S. treasury and mortgage future generations, depleting funds that could provide essential human needs such as education, healthcare, childcare and jobs.
What circumstances could justify these certain risks and losses? None that were presented by Powell. Laying out his case, Powell presented no threat issued by Iraq against the U.S. or anyone else. Powell's presentation had a two-fold purpose. It was not merely to "make the case" for war, it was also intended to redirect the attention of the people of the U.S. away from the Bush administration's real objectives in recolonizing the Middle East. Using smoke and mirrors and misdirection, Powell engaged in dramatic fear-mongering, even going so far as to reference the anthrax attacks that originated in the U.S. from U.S. stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, to suggest that bombing Iraq will make the U.S. safer.
During his entire presentation Powell never mentioned the word "oil," and yet the whole world knows that Bush and his corporate clients are already drawing up plans for the seizure of Iraq's oil reserves. For public consumption the talk is disarmament or democracy, but behind closed doors, the administration is meeting with oil industry executives to divide up Iraq's oil fields. (Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2003). Far from democracy, Bush intends to install a U.S. military dictatorship under General Tommy Franks to rule Iraq. In his column of February 5th, Thomas Friedman, Iraq invasion cheerleader, approvingly laid out the future for Iraq, "Iraq will be controlled by the iron fist of the U.S. Army and its allies, with an Iraqi civilian 'advisory' administration gradually emerging behind this iron fist to run daily life..."(New York Times, February 5, 2003)
Powell has presented no threat, no plan, no capability. Is there justification for waging a first strike war of aggression, for bombarding the people of Iraq with massive firepower? Who really poses the greatest threat to world peace?
Powell's presentation was much about Iraq's hypothetical and in any case much diminished weaponry, while the Pentagon is preparing to launch a devastating attack on Iraq using very real weapons of mass destruction - possibly including nuclear weapons. On the issue of weapons of mass destruction, Powell asserts that the Iraqi government may hope to possess nuclear weapons someday. It has not been lost on the whole world though that in recent weeks, the Bush administration has left open the option of actually using nuclear weapons against Iraq in the coming conflict and reserves for itself the right to carry out first strike nuclear war against even non-nuclear countries as part of a new military doctrine recently announced by the Pentagon.
Powell claims that if the U.N. does not support U.S. military aggression and conquest of Iraq, in violation of its Charter, that it will lose its "relevancy." History will remember with great irony Colin Powell's statement that we must stop the leader who "has pursued his ambition to dominate Iraq and the broader Middle East using the only means he knows, intimidation, coercion and annihilation of all those who might stand in his way."
The Bush Administration is not racing to deter an imminent danger posed by Iraq. They are racing to prevent our movement from becoming an insurmountable obstacle to war. Let's all pledge to intensify our work in these crucial coming days and weeks.
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