Talking Points Against the War

Its amazing that Bush & Co. have been so successful in whipping up the current war frenzy given the hollowness of their main justifications for the proposed war. While we don’t want to rehash information that’s abundantly available everywhere, we thought a few “talking points” for discussing the war would be helpful as people everywhere continue, in millions of conversations with friends, neighbors, loved ones, co-workers, etc. to turn public opinion against the war. We believe the indications of general public support for the war are a mile wide and an inch deep, if a majority of the public supports war at all. When you really talk to people, its obvious that this is not our war — its a war pushed by elites for their own reasons, not a war necessary to “protect American freedom.” The crucial question is whether the raw public opinion, skepticism or opposition will really make any difference. In times like these, only mass, broad based popular non-cooperation may be capable of blocking the rush to war.

MYTH #1: The government needs to invade Iraq to protect the population of the United States

Governments always claim to act to protect their own populations when going to war, but this is seldom the case. More typically, the real beneficiaries of war are a tiny economic elite who stand to benefit from victory, military contractors, and government officials who increase their powers during time of war.

In the case of Iraq, the justifications for war are especially absurd. Iraq is a tiny country, thousands of miles from US soil. Even the government concedes that Iraq is incapable of directly attacking US soil. Instead, Bush & Co. pull out manufactured dangers — that Iraq will arm terrorists (see discussion below). Bush even argues that Iraq is a threat to US pilots who are flying missions over the no-fly zone in Iraq — not much danger if they weren’t there in the first place!

MYTH #2: The government needs to invade Iraq to free the oppressed people of Iraq and promote freedom and democracy abroad

Governments in general don’t promote freedom and democracy — they are created to constrain individual freedom to permit economic elites to dominate. In the case of the United States, this is especially easy to see. The US has a remarkable history of propping up brutal dictators when it fits US interests, without regard to legitimacy, freedom, human rights or democracy. The crucial question for US government officials is whether the dictator in question is willing to play ball, not whether a particular regime was elected or whether it tortures or murders its own people.

Moreover, the United States has a terrible history when it comes to using covert or overt military force for “regime change.” More often than not, the US installs extremely brutal dictators who will create stability for US economic interests. For example, the CIA assisted in the coup that deposed the democratically elected (but leftist) government of Salvador Allende in Chile. Following “regime change” Augusta Pinochet ruled Chile with an iron first for decades.

US officials have tacitly admitted that following “regime change” their main interest will be installing a government to keep Iraq from splitting apart. Iraq was artificially created by colonial powers and includes Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Kurds — competing ethnic groups that could splinter the country without a strong central authority. The US is not going to let democracy prevail in a post invasion Iraq if that means civil war and turmoil in the region, threatening the security of US ally Turkey and aiding US enemy Iran.

MYTH #3: The government needs to invade Iraq to prevent another September 11 because Iraq has ties to Al Qaeda

Bush administration officials have repeatedly claimed that Iraq has ties to Al Qaeda, but have refused to provide evidence or have provided misleading evidence. On October 7 Bush claimed: “We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We have learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb making, poisons, and deadly gases.”

In response to these claims, Rahul Mahajan, author of The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism, notes “Saddam Hussein sees the radical Islamist terrorist networks like al-Qaeda as a huge potential threat to his own rule, something that concerns him far more than any unrealistic ideas of revenge against the United States. Anything that could allow al- Qaeda (which, in its turn, is likely more concerned with replacing regimes in the Middle East with new radical Islamist regimes) to blackmail him would be the last thing he would give them.”

James Jennings, president of Conscience International, further observed “The claim that al-Qaeda is in Iraq is disingenuous, if not an outright lie. Yes, the U.S. has known for some time that up to 400 al-Qaeda-type Muslim extremists, the Ansar al-Islam, formerly ‘Jund al-Islam,’ a splinter of the Iranian-backed Islamic Unity Movement of Kurdistan, were operating inside the Kurdish security zone set up under U.S. protection in the North of Iraq. For some reason this was kept quiet and has not been much reported in the mainstream media. Finally last Spring the Kurds themselves attacked and killed most of the terrorists in their territory, sending the rest fleeing for their lives across the border into Iran. Since this area was under U.S. protection, and not under Saddam Hussein’s rule, it’s pretty hard to claim that al-Qaeda operates in Iraq.”

The reality is that if Bush could show ANY concrete ties between Iraq and the September 11 terrorists or Al Qaeda in general, he would be anxious to offer specific evidence as justification. Unfortunately for Bush, Saddam and al Qaeda aren’t cooperating because they aren’t allies. Just because people are anti-American doesn’t make them friends.

MYTH #4: The government needs to invade Iraq to protect people in the United States from weapons of mass destruction held by Iraq

In fact, there is abundant evidence that a pre-emptive attack on Iraq will endanger, not protect, US citizens from the use of WMD because Saddam would have “nothing to lose” should he be pre-emptively attacked .

October 8, Senator Bob Graham, the chairman of the Senate panel, read from a letter sent to him by CIA chief George Tenet. In that note, Tenet reported the CIA had concluded that “Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [chemical and biological weapons] against the United States.” The CIA, according to Tenet, also had determined, “Should Saddam conclude that a US-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions.” And the Agency found, “Saddam might decide that the extreme step of assisting Islamist terrorists in conducting a WMD [weapons of mass destruction] attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.” The bottom-line: Saddam is not likely in the near future to hit the United States or share his weapons with al Qaeda or other anti-American terrorists, unless the United States assaults Iraq, because his main priority is protecting his own power in Iraq.

Its also crucial to point out that a US attack is likely to destabilize the middle east, if not the whole world. Latent tension between Arab states and Israel could easily be inflamed as the bombs fall.

MYTH #5: The US has no alternative to attacking Iraq because they are tying to develop weapons of mass destruction

In fact, many countries around the world have developed or are developing weapons of mass destruction, yet Bush is only pushing an attack on Iraq. North Korea’s recent announcement of their weapons of mass destruction program is particularly instructive — no preemptive US strike is under consideration. If possessing nuclear weapons were such a concern, the U.S. would be pushing the UN to authorize weapons inspectors to enter Pakistan, Israel, China, France and Britain. Its also interesting to note that the US has the world’s largest stockpile of all forms of WMD. These weapons — no matter which government possesses them — are a huge threat to human beings seeking to live in peace everywhere. Bush doesn’t care about removing weapons or limiting militarism generally — just using it as a pretext when its convenient.