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Are They Listening?
February 22, 2003
By Gregory Davidson

The French minister, Dominique de Villepin, spoke with eloquence and passion in his response to the Iraq weapons inspector's report to the United Nations Security Council on Friday, though his message was clearly aimed at the Bush administration.

"No one can claim today the path of war will be shorter than the path of inspections," he said. Following de Villepin's oratory (a reaffirmation of the potency and power of the French in things diplomatic), rare and spontaneous applause broke out in the chamber of gathered diplomats and gallery public. Further, delegate after delegate around the table came to the conclusion that continuing inspections was the most desirable course toward settlement of the Iraq question and containment of Saddam Hussein.

Only two of the other fourteen Security Council ministers (from Great Britain and from Spain) spoke in agreement with Secretary Powell and the US position. The AP's assessment of an exasperated Powell was accurate.

"More inspections - I am sorry - are not the answer," Powell said in his turn. His remarks were met with silence.

But is the Bush administration absorbing any of this? Could they realize that much of the divisiveness and anti-American sentiment fomenting around the world is the direct result of the administration's headlong pursuit of the bin-Laden-morphed Saddam Hussein? Are they thinking the path of military action will bring anything that's worth the destruction of a nation and a people, the disruption of long-standing political ties which has created bitter feelings among once-trusted allies, the high probability of increased terrorist activity, and, worst of all, the many thousands of lives which would be lost in such a move? If they do, and continue on this path toward invasion of Iraq, the consequences will be dire.

No doubt, a world without Saddam Hussein is something to look forward to. US policy in the past was instrumental in creating this situation and we have a responsibility to see that Saddam's ambition is contained. But, the re-emergence of "UBL" (that's Usama bin-Laden, as he was monikered in a memo dashed off by Secretary Rumsfeld in the hours after 9/11) only serves to remind us of the figure toward whom our righteous ire should be turned.

We know "UBL" is the culprit of 9/11. (We're not sure why Secretary Rumsfeld might have suspected it so early, though an extensive timeline of the events of 9/11 by Paul Thompson at the Center for Cooperative Research provides some possible answers). Saddam Hussein, by any evidence so far presented, was not a part of the planning or execution of that fateful day.

The Bush-Cheney-Rice-Rumsfeld war machine seems oblivious. Indeed, Iraq has been in the sights of the holdover hawks and oil chums of George H. W. Bush since Junior was a mere blip on the radar.

Greg Palast, author of the book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and noted investigative reporter, (well-known in Great Britain and probably much of English-speaking Europe, but not known in the media-veiled US), in an interview with, (Buzzflash asks Greg Palast: "What the Heck is Going on With Tony Blair?") talks of how the first Bush administration told Americans we would fight the Gulf War to save the democracy of Kuwait from the despot, Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, we didn't quite get Saddam and chose to settle only for strict totalitarianism in Kuwait. Even though, in that war, US bombs exterminated thousands of Iraqi civilians, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld must surely have felt incomplete.

In 1992, Palast says, after the American people (in their infinite wisdom) showed him the White House front door, the former president Bush called in a chit from the dictators in Kuwait: a request for an oil concession for Chevron Oil Company. Chevron, in turn, provided more than half a million dollars to the Republicans for Dubya's 2000 Presidential campaign. (It should not escape attention that President Bush's National Security Advisor, Condi Rice, was then an employee of Chevron). Is it any wonder that UN members (and much of the American public) might be skeptical about Bush administration motives for their proposed war with Iraq? While it is undoubtedly true that our allies in Europe have their own various motivations for stopping an invasion by a US-led coalition (aside from compelling humanitarian reasons), America needs to get her own house in order.

With the vision of the bin-Laden-sponsored and al-Qaeda-perpetrated destruction visited directly upon the US on that sparkling September morning, the admonition of the Homeland Security Department's Secretary Tom Ridge, to protect ourselves with plastic and duct tape, is (if it weren't so frightening) laughable. Rational, thinking Americans (especially Arab-Americans, fearing discrimination) should not anticipate feeling (or being) safer from terrorism following a US-led invasion of Iraq. Indeed, it seems logical to conclude that such an invasion would spark realities in the world which defy imagining.

The world knows it. Is the Bush administration listening?

Gregory Davidson is a freelance singer living in New York City.

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