by Our Own Correspondent (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 23, Shawwal, 1419)
What is America’s strategy vis-a-vis Iraq? This is a question being widely debated in the west now, and the general opinion is that it doesn’t have one, but is simply hoping something will come along. However, looking at the situation in a broader perspective, it is possible to see the US’s real objective in attacking Iraq, and to see the sense behind its every act.
The US claims that its new object since Operation Desert Fox is to undermine the regime of Saddam Husain and assist Iraqi opposition groups to overthrow it. In recent weeks it has made great play of going through the motions of helping Iraqi exile groups, even though observers agree that the groups involved have little or no popular support in Iraq and have no prospect of toppling Saddam.
The US’s stated objectives, however, are seldom its genuine ones. Remember, Operation Desert Fox’s stated objective was to persuade Saddam that he had to accept international monitoring of his supposed weapons of mass destruction, even though everyone knew that this would not happen. The question which then arises is, what are the US’s real objectives? The answer must lie not in the US’s statements, but in the results of its actions.
In the last few months, Iraq has become an arena for the US to demonstrate its almost absolute freedom of action in international affairs, and its ability to totally ignore both international law (even though that was written by and for the west itself) and international opinion. In the absence of any clear direction and purpose to US policy towards Iraq, it may well be that this is actually the end in itself.
There are a number of good reasons for this to be the case. The US needs a bogeyman to blame for all ills and Saddam fits the bill perfectly. All the US’s alleged grounds for attacking Saddam can be shown to be hollow. The US has no problem, on principle, in dealing with murderous dictators who oppress their own people and invade other countries.
It is also clear that the US can find other ways of dealing with weapons of mass destruction if it wants to. If it was genuinely concerned with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, its best policy would be to diplomatically befriend Saddam and use him for their purposes, thus giving him no reason to use his weapons, rather than to make an enemy of him.
It can also be demonstrated by looking at the US’s military record--Vietnam, Granada, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc. -- that the US, like all bullies, only flexes its muscles against weak and powerless victims. Clearly Washington would not really be so aggressive against Iraq if it feared that Saddam really had the military capacity and weaponry that Washington says it has. On the contrary, its attitude would be altogether more conciliatory, and its strategy more politically manipulative.
To really understand the US’s policy in Iraq, we have to look past Saddam to the wider regional situation. The US’s main object in the 1991 Gulf War was to permanently place its troops in the Arabian peninsula and to occupy the heartland of the world of Islam. That is now perfectly clear. And the real reason for the continuing Iraqi crises follow from this. America’s reasons for wanting a presence in the region remain its fear of the rise of the Islamic movement following the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the growth of Islamic movements in every other Muslim country.
This resurgence of the Islamic movement has scared the west badly. It has demonstrated the failure of the western drive to westernise and secularise Muslim minds, despite decades of political control and total control over media and other means of brainwashing. And, in response, the west has had to return to a policy of military colonization and gunboat diplomacy which it previously thought it no longer needed.
This is where Iraq comes it. The west’s object is precisely to show the Muslims of the region--Islamic Iran and the Islamic movements more than other governments--that it is able to and is willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of international law, international opinion, or any moral considerations, to protect its global hegemony. That is the only explanation for why the west has all but destroyed Iraq and killed millions of Iraqis--most of them innocent children and other civilians--over the last ten years: just to show that it can. And that is why the bombing and the pseudo-legal killings by sanctions and other means will continue for the foreseeable future.
Muslimedia: Feb.1-15, 1999