Things are not Always What They Seem
Iraq was not involved in 9/11, posed no threat to the United States, was dead against Al Qaeda and had done no harm to the United States or its citizens.|
And yet, Iraq had to be invaded because it had oil. And what is worse, it is Muslim. If Saddam didn’t have oil, he could torture his citizens to his heart’s content. Other leaders in the Islamic world have done it for decades with the blessings of the then current American President.
But there are some parts of the Iraq story that are widely available, and where the facts are not in dispute even though you may not be aware of them. Let's look at a few.
Britain wanted to pick up the pieces especially since it was already known that large oil reserves lay there. So they severed it. As the victors of World War I, France and Britain dismantled the Ottoman Empire and the Arab nation for their own colonial purposes.|
The Iraq Petroleum Company was created in 1920 with 95% of the shares going to Britain, France, and the U.S. In order to weaken Arab nationalism, Britain blocked Iraqi access to the Persian Gulf by severing the territorial entity, "Kuwait" from the rest of Iraq in 1921 and 1922.
This new British colony, Kuwait, was given artificial boundaries with no basis in history or geography. King Faisal I of the new Iraqi state ruled under British military oversight, but his administration never accepted the amputation of the Kuwait district and the denial of Iraqi access to the Persian Gulf. Attempts by Faisal to build a railway to Kuwait and port facilities on the Gulf were vetoed by Britain. These and other similar British colonial policies made Kuwait a focus of the Arab national movement in Iraq, and a symbol of Iraqi humiliation at the hands of the British.
Resistance to the British imposed separation of Kuwait from Iraq continued through the 1930s. A popular uprising within Kuwait to reunify with Iraq erupted on March 10, 1939. The Kuwaiti Sheik, with British military support and "advisers," crushed the uprising, and killed or imprisoned its participants. King Ghazi of Iraq publicly demanded the release of the prisoners and warned the Sheik to end the repression of the Free Kuwaiti Movement. Ghazi ignored warnings by Britain to discontinue such public statements, and on April 5, 1939, he was found dead. It was widely assumed that he was assassinated by British agents.
Following World War II, British rule was gradually replaced by U.S. neo-colonial domination of the Middle East. The new state of Israel became an important instrument for U.S. control of Middle Eastern oil in the post war era. With the U.S./Israeli sponsored coup of 1953 that deposed Mossadegh, the popularly elected president of Iran, and installed the Shah in his place, the U.S. became the dominant imperial power in the region.
In 1955 the U.S. and Britain inaugurated the Baghdad Pact, an anti-Soviet security agreement for Middle Eastern nations, including Iraq. The Baghdad Pact was widely perceived in the Arab world as alliance of regimes subordinate to British and U.S. power, and it was greeted with popular protests and riots.
For two years, appeals for the return of Kuwait to Iraq intensified. In January 1958, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri es-Said addressed a meeting of the Baghdad Pact and publicly urged the return of Kuwait to Iraq. All pact members agreed with the proposal, with the sole exception of Britain. Britain later agreed, but the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown on July 14, 1958 in a revolution led by General Abdel Karim Qassim. King Faisal II and Nuri es-Said were executed, and Britain immediately thereafter abrogated the agreement to return Kuwait to Iraq.
News of the coup triggered an uprising of the poor and dispossessed in Baghdad. The crowds attacked the British embassy and other targets. The U.S. did not initially respond to the coup, but the political upheaval of the subsequent popular uprising pushed the new regime further to the left than it had originally intended. The new government lifted the ban on the Iraqi Communist Party, and that modest step toward democracy in turn mobilized the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
CIA director Alan Dulles assigned the job of incapacitating Qassim to the euphemistically named Technical Services Division (TDS) of the CIA. The head of the TDS in 1960, Stanley Gottlieb, initiated a program to assassinate Qassim.
Qassim continued to alienate the U.S. and Britain, and Britain further exacerbated relations by declaring its Kuwait colony free and independent in 1961. Qassim held a press conference on June 19, 1961 at which he declared that "Iraq regards Kuwait as an integral part of its territory." Following that press conference, Britain quickly massed troops in Kuwait with naval support in the Gulf. Kuwait gained admission to the United Nations in 1963, the same year that Qassim was killed and his government overthrown in a CIA supported coup led by the Baath Party.
The prior war with Iran had left Iraq in ruins. When Saddam Hussein launched his eight year war against Iran, Iraq had $40 billion in hard currency reserves. But by the end of the war, his nation was $80 billion in debt. Iraq was pressed to repay the $80 billion to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, with interest.
Moreover, while Iraq was distracted by its war, Kuwait had accumulated 900 square miles of Iraqi territory by advancing its border with Iraq northward. This was presented to Iraq as a fait accompli and it gave Kuwait access to the Rumaila oil field. The Kuwaiti Sheik had purchased the Santa Fe Drilling Corporation of Alhambra, California, for $2.3 billion and proceeded to use its slant drilling equipment to gain access to the Iraqi oil field.
In February 1990, Saddam Hussein spoke at the Amman summit on the relationship between oil production and the U.S. navy buildup and warned that the Gulf people and the rest of the Arabs faced subordination to American interests.
Following this speech the Western press carried stories of Saddam's missiles, chemical weapons and nuclear potential. The Israeli press speculated about pre-emptive strikes such as the Israeli attack on Iraq's nuclear power plant in 1981. In spite of Iraqi diplomatic appeals, Kuwait and the Emirates increased oil production, harming their own economic interests, but damaging Iraq's even more so.
Kuwait refused to relinquish Iraqi territory it had acquired during the Iran Iraq war which Kuwait had helped finance. Kuwait also rejected production quotas and rejected appeals to cease pumping oil from Iraq's Rumaila oil reserve. It refused to forgo any of Iraq's debt.
The easy solution for me is to drill from my land at a shallow angle into your oil reservoir, and steal all your oil. If you aren't paying attention, you will never know.|
A week before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Baker's spokesperson, Margaret Tutwiler and Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly both stated publicly that "the United States was not obligated to come to Kuwait's aid if it were attacked." (Santa Barbara News-Press September 24, 1990)
Two days before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee that the United States has no defense treaty relationship with any Gulf country." The New York Daily News editorialized on September 29, 1990, "Small wonder Saddam concluded he could overrun Kuwait. Bush and Co. gave him no reason to believe otherwise."
But in the event, Iraq had no sooner invaded Kuwait, in part to reclaim territory that had always been an integral part of Iraq and in part to put an end to the stealing of hundreds of millons of dollars worth of oil, that the US declared war on Iraq, and invaded.
In fact, the US government, George Bush and the US State Department double-crossed and betrayed Saddam, and used his action as an excuse to do something they'd been planning for a while. They set him up, led him to believe he had their support, and then betrayed him.
That is why Saddam set fire to all the wells when he left, and why he was furious enough to talk about putting out a contract on George Bush. You might have been tempted to do the same.
Saddam might still have survived, but he'd done something else to earn the enmity of the Bush clan, and that was by not supporting the US intention to invade Iran.
On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and quickly gained control of the country. The United States, along with the United Nations, demanded the immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces. Attempts by Iraq to negotiate withdrawal were rebuffed by the United States. U.S. military forces in the region had already rehearsed battle plans to repel an Iraqi invasion.
On January 16, 1991, U.S. and other allied forces launched a devastating attack of Iraq and its armed forces in Kuwait. The Allied bombing was intended to damage Iraq's infrastructure so as to hinder its ability to prosecute war by lowering both civilian and military morale.
"Desert Storm," as the war was called, destroyed 80% of Iraq's weaponry, and the international monitoring and inspections that followed the war (see the next section), resulted in at least 90% of Iraq's pre-invasion weaponry eliminated.|
Former U.S. Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, and International Action Center have reported devastating effects of the U.S. and British bombing on the Iraqi civilian population, including the use of depleted uranium from U.S. bombs that have led to cancer and unprecedented levels of birth defects in Iraq. More than 600,000 pounds of depleted uranium was left in Iraq after the war. See the International Action Center web site: click here.
Four days after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, on August 6, 1990, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 661, imposing comprehensive sanctions on Iraq and creating a committee to monitor them.
The United Nations "Oil for Food" program became operational in 1996 and was instituted by the Iraq Sanctions Committee. All contracts for aid (emergency supplies as well as infrastructure equipment) requested by Iraq had to be approved by the Sanctions Committee. Each member country could place a hold on any contract it considered to have "dual use," that is, both civilian and military use. The U.S. repeatedly exercised its prerogative to withhold supplies to Iraq, vital to the civilian population.
A Los Angeles Times article dated October 27 2002 appearing on the first page of the Business Section provided a possible agenda for the Bush administration for the Middle East. The article, "Iraq Regime Change Could Weaken OPEC" included the byline, "Restoring the country's oil production capacity might be enough to break the cartel's grip on world markets," and included this explanation:
Some industry analysts say the restoration of Iraq's production capability over the next decade might be enough to break OPEC's grip on world oil markets, even if Iraq remained a nominal member.
"It's tough to see Iraq under any circumstances really participating closely with OPEC in the next five years," said analyst Raad Alkadiri of Petroleum Finance Co. in Washington. "If you have a government in Iraq that is closely tied to the United States and dependent on the United States for its continued power, it is conceivable that it will feel pressure to leave OPEC."
U.S. Undersecretary of State Grant Aldonas cited the potential economic payoff during a recent trip to Poland. A regime change, he said in Warsaw, would "open up the spigot on Iraqi oil, which would have a profound effect in terms of the performance of the world economy."
The Washington Post offered a similar analysis in its September 15th, 2002 article entitled, "In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue"  Read more. The lead paragraph explains that:
A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling world petroleum markets, according to industry officials and leaders of the Iraqi opposition.
The importance of Iraq's oil has made it potentially one of the administration's biggest bargaining chips in negotiations to win backing from the U.N. Security Council and Western allies for President Bush's call for tough international action against Hussein. All five permanent members of the Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - have international oil companies with major stakes in a change of leadership in Baghdad.
"It's pretty straightforward," said former CIA director R. James Woolsey, who has been one of the leading advocates of forcing Hussein from power. "France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them."
But he added: "If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them."
Saddam Hussein nay not have deserved support from the progressive community, but Saddam Hussein was not Iraq. It is the people of Iraq who will do most of the dying when and if the U.S. attacks them, and the people of Iraq deserve our support.
The claim that Iraq poses a grave danger to the rest of the world, and to the United States in particular, is so ridiculous that it would not even merit the attention of a rebuttal except for the fact that U.S. government propaganda has been so successful in fabricating that threat. Part of the propaganda success stems from completely unsupported claims that Saddam Hussein is in league with al Qaeda. The U.S. CIA has found no credible connection between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden and/or al Qaeda. Moreover, such an alliance is implausible. Iraq is a secular state whereas al Qaeda is fundamentalist, and the two do not mix well.
For example, Israel possesses nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Israel has violated United Nations resolutions; it has threatened and attacked neighboring countries; and Israel is guilty of extensive human rights violations. Yet, there is no talk from Washington of weapons inspections in Israel, much less of an invasion of that country. Indeed, the U.S. arms Israel and provides it with massive economic and political support.|
The ultimate hypocrisy in Washington's focus on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is that the U.S. itself leads the world in the possession and production of weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. has weapons of every imaginable variety, including a nuclear arsenal sufficient to obliterate human life on this planet. If weapons of mass destruction were a real concern to Washington, weapons inspections and disarmament would begin at home.
"Not America's Finest Hour" - The Aim is to Gain Control of the Oil in the Middle East and the Gulf
"Let's Look at Libya - Things are not always what they seem"
 Ralph Schoenman, Iraq and Kuwait: A History Suppressed, Veritas Press, Copyright 1990 Read More
 Hidden Wars of Desert Storm, Video narrated by Joel Hurt, Free-Will Productions. Read More
 International Action Center Read More
 The Saddam in Rumsfeld's Closet, by Jeremy Scahill, Common Dreams web site Read More
 Amnesty International Reports on Human Rights Abuses in Iraq Read More
 Amnesty International Reports on Human Rights Abuses in Iraq Read More
 The Avelon Project at the Yale Law School: The Baghdad Pact Read More
 Shatt-al-arab A Survey Of Wars And Treaties Read More
 British Empire: The Map Room: Middle East: Iraq Read More
 Interview with Scott Ritter Read More
 Iraqi Sanctions: Myth Fact, contains attributions to DIA documents on U.S. destruction of water sanitation and sewage treatment plants in Iraq Read More
 Extra! "We Think the Price is Worth It" Read More
 Sources for Military history of Gulf War Read More
 Sources for Military history of Gulf War Read More
 The 1991 Gulf War Rationale Read More
 Sanctions from a Mennonite perspective  Common Dreams, UN Sanctions Against Iraq Only Serve US Ambition, by Denis J. Halliday, Read More
 "Iraq Regime Change Could Weaken OPEC" By Warren Vieth, Los Angeles Times October 27 2002; "In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue," The Washington Post September 15th, 2002, Read More
 Democracy Now! Weapons inspections and U.S. government support of Saddam Hussein in the early 1980s Read More
Interview with Scott Ritter and Hans von Sponeck, Kathy Kelly Read More