March 19, 2005


March 19, 2003 – a date which will live in infamy

On December 7, 1941, Japan made what would today be called a preemptive attack against US naval facilities at Pearl Harbor. The attack, judged by today’s post-ethical American standards, was quite justified. After all, the US forces posed a clear and present threat to Japanese interests. The next day, Franklin Roosevelt addressed the US Congress, calling the date of the attack “a date which will live in infamy.” If the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor was “infamous,” what would be an appropriate adjective to describe the US attack on Iraq that commenced on March 19, 2003? Iraq posed no threat whatsoever to any US interests, except for Bush's interest in taking control of its petroleum resources. Iraq had committed no act of aggression of any kind against the United States. Far from it. Iraq has been the clear victim all along. It had already suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties through the war imposed on it by Bush, Sr. It had suffered a dozen years of sanctions and continual US and British bombardment of its infrastructure, leading to deaths of half a million Iraqi children and many tens of thousands of others. Today, the only certainty regarding Iraq's future may be the fact that the United States will refuse to ever let it be free of the dominance of American profiteers. Iraq is now a ruined wasteland, with an obliterated past and no future.

Iraq has suffered badly over the last decade and a half, to be sure, but to claim Iraq has been the victim throughout is to ignore the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and his government. He started a war with Iran that resulted in hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of deaths. He invaded Kuwait and attempted to annex it by force. He brutally suppressed the Kurds and the Shiites within his own borders and he did all this with the tacit support of the Sunni minority, the group now enduring most of the punishment.
Did I say anywhere, Anon, that Saddam Hussein was a victim? I said the Iraqi people have been victims – his victims, and victims of the US government. The US Right has a tribal mentality, whether by choice or by chance, that attributes the guilt or innocence of individuals to the groups they are a member of, and vice versa. In the case of the 9/11 attacks, for instance, the US Right managed to implicate the entire Moslem world in the crimes of a couple of dozen individuals. Saddam Hussein, a partner of the US government for over 30 years, has always been an enemy of the Iraqi people. In 1959, after an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate President Qassim of Iraq, Saddam fled to Egypt. He repeatedly visited the US embassy in Cairo, and met CIA agents interested in President Qassim’s downfall. Upon returning to Iraq, CIA put Saddam up in an apartment directly opposite Qassim's office. President Qassim was assassinated in a Baathist coup in 1963. The US government immediately recognized the new Iraqi regime, and began arms shipments. This government collapsed within nine months, but two more CIA-backed Baathist coups during the next five years brought two more Baathist juntas to power—again, enemies of the Iraqi people, but on highly friendly terms with Western corporations. Saddam seized power in 1979. The incoming Reagan administration saw Iran’s Islamic Revolution as a threat, and encouraged Iraq to invade Iran, with promises of arms, money, and intelligence. Subsequently, it also supplied Saddam with chemical and biological weapons. The Iran-Iraq War went on for eight years, with over a million killed, and Iraq's economy ruined. The War ended in 1988. Meanwhile, Kuwait flooded the market with cheap oil, undercutting Iraq’s efforts to rebuild its own economy. Iraq pled with OPEC for intervention, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. He subsequently considered military intervention in Kuwait as a last resort. He informed the US about his plans. US Ambassador Glaspie told him: “We have no opinion on your border dispute with Kuwait.” Iraq invaded Kuwait, but the first Bush administration reneged on its promise of non-intervention, and prepared for the first Gulf War. All along, the Iraqi people have been victims of Saddam, and, through him, victims of the US government.
All of the information included in my last comment was gleaned (by others) from mainstream media sources, including UPI, PBS, and New York Times.
Saddam Hussein is but one man. He is completely incapable of committing all the crimes of his regime. He needed support from a sizable portion of the populace to hold on to power. The Sunnis supported the Baathists, his army consisted largely of Sunnis. Meanwhile, the Kurds fought the Baathists in the north and the Shiites fought them in the south. The Kurds also supported separatists in Turkey. There are precious few innocent victims in Iraq.

EXCUSE ME, MOST CITIZENS IN IRAQ, ANON, HAD ABOUT AS MUCH TO DO WITH SADDAM AS I DO WITH BUSH. MEANING THAT IF I WOULD HAVE DIED IN THE SEPT 11TH ATTACKS, which had nothing to do with saddam, IT COULD HAVE BEEN SAID ABOUT ME BY SOMEONE LIKE YOU THAT I WASNT EVEN AN INNOCENT VICTIM. There are VERY many people in Iraq who would like nothing more than to just "be". These people are very innocent of any wrong-doing, except being born, and these people are now without parents, children, homes, schools, etc. WHICH might I add, they HAD BEFORE WE INVADED/ ATTACKED THEM.

I find the general public of the United States quite ignorant and retarded to the way things are in the world! No one knows the truth about Saddam and Bush, everyone just follows and believes what they are told on a day to day basis by our dumbed-down mainstream media. No one cares to look, no one sees. It's sad, and it makes me want to move to Canada everytime I think about it. The only reason I dont, is because I hold out hope that someday the 49% will be the 51%...
You, anonymous, make me and the remaining 49 percent, victims of Bush's right-wing, fascist, corporate-enriching agenda.

Ignorance is cheap in the short run, but so very dear in the long run.

You, anonymous, are even worse than the Sunnis, for many of them did what they did for Saddam at gunpoint, because to say no meant death for their families. You defend the fascist agenda of Bush's puppet masters voluntarily.

Study history. You'll discover that the Nazis manipulated democracy to create their nightmarish totalitarian dictatorship. That's right, people actually thought that monster was the savior of the German people--that he would restore Germany to greatness. What did he do for Germany? He held out in a bunker to the very end, while the German people were fire-bombed and carpet-bombed into oblivion.

I pray that America doesn't succumb to its fascist elements.
Why does everyone use the term sunni, shiite, muslim, etc so loosely these days?
Is it fair for me to typifiy catholics as crusaders, etc.
It is also important to know that America also supplied Iran with weapons during the Iran-Iraq war.
It is also interesting to note that America helped overthrow the democratic regime of Mossadeq in 54'.
Noam Chomsky is a very interesting source to read in analyzing U.S. foreign and domestic policy.
I would certainly say that it would be okay for someone to call Catholics "Crusaders", if that person wanted to counter-act the use of the terms sunni, shiite, muslim, etc... but then again, I'm neither Catholic, or Islamic... and I try not to generalize when it comes to negative terms...
This is a great post (not a rarity on this blog, but still meriting comment). I'm currently reading a book you might enjoy titled "Courting Conflict" by a legal sociologist, Lisa Hajjar. In it, she examines the Israeli military court system and how the West (chiefly America) has not only funded Israel's human rights violations against Palestinians, Palestinian refugees and Lebanese but also how the legalisms established by this court system is shaping U.S. foreign policy, particularly with regard to "detainees" or "terror suspects." Few people are aware also that the date September 11th has another interesting historical connection for America. That is the date of the 1973 CIA orchestrated military coup in Chile that brought Pinochet to power. If we're making a list of days of infamy, surely the ENTIRE history of that date should be considered.
One more thing, I wanted to comment on a comment (hope that's ok al...) made by Khalij-Khazar
who wrote:
Why does everyone use the term sunni, shiite, muslim, etc so loosely these days?
Is it fair for me to typifiy catholics as crusaders, etc.
It is also important to know that America also supplied Iran with weapons during the Iran-Iraq war.
It is also interesting to note that America helped overthrow the democratic regime of Mossadeq in 54'.
Noam Chomsky is a very interesting source to read in analyzing U.S. foreign and domestic policy.

This is a great question and rather poignant. I find it troubling when people call the U.S. a "Christian" nation because that seems to suggest that anyone outside that box does not exist.
Granted our politicians seem to favor the use and manipulation that calling themselves Christian affords (whether they actually practice this faith is not for me to judge) but the U.S. like so many other nations has a huge diversity of faiths. It is no less ignorant for American citizens to judge another group on the basis of a very minimal (if that) understanding and education of their religion, than it is for someone to assume sincerity when they hear the words "moral majority" uttered by a politician.

I think perhaps the reason people use these terms so "loosely these days" is because many are grappling with the discomfort of media-manufactured ignorance. It is easier for people to think that the U.S. really is just in Iraq as a "Peacekeeping liberation force" as the media seems to be insisting than for people to question what the word "occupation" really means and how an "occupied" country can be magically rendered democratic by military force. The United States' past "experiments" (read: foreign policy) as you point out in trying to spread democracy has really been quite devastating to most countries, particularly economic but also politically with puppet regimes, dictators and genocides aplenty. It is easier for people to think that lives are being wasted to "occupy" and "democratize" a country of warring parties than it is to think that the government might actually lie to its citizens. How odd that history has shown this to be the case. How odd and how quickly forgotten.
Thanks, Jen, for your comments. There is no day in the year that is not the anniversary of some of the many atrocities committed by the US Government and its foreign proxies. A complete and comprehensive list of the days of infamy would be very lengthy indeed. One function of the proxy states, such as Israel, has been to test methods of repression, so that the successful ones may be utilized by other proxy states or by the US government itself. In 1963, the US supplied Iraqi Baathists with a list of 800 Iraqi leftists. All of them were killed. The US, apparently finding the tactic a useful and successful one, supplied a list of 5,000 Indonesian leftist leaders to Suharto’s government in 1965. Nearly all of them were killed, plus at least half a million others. In each case, provision of the lists by the US amounted to an implicit green light to its proxy states to go ahead with any type and level of atrocities that they saw fit.

On the subject of spreading oppression in the name of spreading democracy, I will just say that one propaganda method beloved by fascists is to give the name of a lofty human aspiration to the basest of human instincts. What the United States has become in the wake of 9/11 – a country spreading oppression abroad and repression within – is, regrettably, a picture of its soul and of the aspirations of its ruling class. On the other hand, the US Government's slogans about freedom and democracy are, of course, no more than window dressing.
Try, just TRY to see the world beyond your hatred of George Bush.
As conservatives there are many things in the world and in our own society that we dislike, but by and large we do not look at any of those things through our disdain of Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi. We look for solutions. If liberals would do the same, you might get your candidates elected and get your shot...but you won't.
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