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The Downfall of Tyrants
December 17, 2003
By Jack Rabbit

Saddam Hussein was one of the major criminals of his time. He can be charged with waging one war of aggression against Iran and another against Kuwait and genocide against the Kurds of his own country. He was guilty of mass murder, religious persecution and of organizing and operating a brutal police state. He personally profited from the diversion of oil revenues that were supposed to be used to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people following the 1991 war and the imposition of sanctions.

Should he ever face justice, either in an Iraqi court or a duly constituted international tribunal, the trial could conceivably take years. The evidence that could be presented against him is voluminous. Plato defined a tyrant as one who is ruled by his passions rather than reason and will break every sacred bound in order to satisfy his appetites. That is a good description of Saddam.

Saddam has fallen. However, as a result the world is not a safer, better place, as one should expect. It is a more dangerous one. Indeed, even American citizens are less safe now than before as a result of the action of their own government. How could this have come about?

The truth is that the monster Saddam was not vanquished by a hero, but simply devoured by a more powerful monster. There is a right and wrong way to go about any task, including the ousting of a brutal dictator, and the overthrow of Saddam was brought about in the worst way possible. The operation was motivated by no real desire for justice, but by greed and a lust for power.

The ouster of Saddam should have been a clear call for universal rejoicing; instead, the cheers must be tempered. The Iraqi people are not free. They have had the yoke of one tyrant lifted from their shoulders, only to be replaced with the yoke of another. If the new rulers of Iraq are morally superior to the old ones, it is only because must of us hold theft to be less of a crime than murder. Nevertheless, both murderers and thieves should be locked up somewhere remote, where they can do honest men and women no harm.

The fall of Saddam was brought about as the result of an invasion of Iraq that was planned years ago, long before the September 11 attacks. Almost before the fire was out at one end of the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld and his aides were meeting on the other planning on how the horrible events of that day could be used as a pretext to push Saddam aside.

These men were concerned with driving Saddam from power not to benefit the Iraqi people or even as part of America's security interests, but to seize control of Iraq's natural resources and place them in the hands of American transnational corporations. For years, many of these same people had been writing of the need to restructure American foreign policy to meet the demands of American hegemony.

In September 2000, months before Bush took power and a year before the September 11 attacks, the Project for a New American Century, the organization to which these men are a part, published a paper promoting their plans for implementing new defense technologies and operational concepts to suit the organization's vision. The paper cautions (p. 63):

The transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor.

On September 11, 2001, Rumsfeld and his friends knew that Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network had just handed them a new Pearl Harbor on a solid gold platter.

Facts were not to be an obstacle. If the truth were inconvenient, these men would make up their version of the truth. To this end, the Office of Strategic Planning was formed to cull intelligence reports for information that would support their case for war and disregard information that contradicted it. In this way did the Bush Administration build its case for war based on Saddam's possession of biological, chemical and nuclear warheads and his connections with international terrorism, including al Qaeda.

For the following months, administration official such as Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Powell, Dr. Rice, Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Perle and even Mr. Bush would parade before network television cameras, Congress and the United Nations to state the case for invading Iraq. Mr. Powell told us how much of what biochemical agents Saddam had. Mr. Rumsfeld told us exactly where the weapons were.

The only problem is that the case was built entirely on lies, except for the statement that Saddam is a brutal tyrant. That may not justify war by itself, but at least they have found mass graves, even if they haven't found anything resembling a banned weapon.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush had declared that the United States would take preemptive action against any country deemed to be a threat to the United States. Under international law, the term "preemptive strike" means that an immanent threat exists to a state and the threatened state strikes first. However, an examination of Mr. Bush's words show that he was talking of something else. Bush was clearly speaking of a threat that had not yet materialized, but may become a real threat at some time in the indefinite future. This is not a preemptive strike but a preventative strike, which is a violation of international law.

What Mr. Bush was declaring was that the United States had the right to make war at any time against any state for any reason or no reason at all. Of course, that would satisfy a justification to invade Iraq. In fact, it pretty well covers all contingencies.

Through the autumn and winter of 2002 and 2003, the Bush Administration went through a charade of attempting to justify the invasion to the world. People who were paying attention weren't fooled. Many Americans who turned off their television sets and set aside the New York Times and Washington Post weren't fooled, either. Those of us who got news and information from less conventional sources knew that intelligence was being cooked, that weapons experts were questioning whether Saddam possessed warheads that would constitute at threat, that the Iraqi general in charge of Iraq's chemical program had ordered Iraq's chemical weapons destroyed and that reports of a meeting in Prague between an Iraqi intelligence officer and September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta were debunked. We marched against the war not as dreamy idealists but as informed citizens. We protested not war in general, or a war to oust a tyrant - but a preventative war based on lies. We were right. They were lying.

Of course, Saddam may have been a paper tiger, but he was a brutal tyrant. Wasn't that worth the effort? The war considered in moral terms may have a tinge of ambiguity about it, but not when considered in pragmatic terms. In pragmatic terms, the invasion and occupation of Iraq is an unmitigated failure.

It is true that if we had not invaded:

  • Saddam would remain in power;
  • He would remain a brutal tyrant;
  • He would remain a paper tiger;
  • He would remain a contained threat;
  • He would remain a deterrent to Islamism in Iraq, albeit a brutal one.

Instead, the invasion occured and:

  • Saddam is behind bars;
  • We have an occupation regime that no more has the welfare of the Iraqi people in mind than did Saddam;
  • We have war profiteering by Bush's cronies;
  • We have a terrorist presence in Iraq that was not there before;
  • We have half of the army's combat divsions tied up on occupation duty instead of pursuing international terrorists.

While it would be wrong to say that Bush is more brutal that Saddam - his tyranny inclines him more to theft rather than murder - neither would it be correct to say that Bush is a paper tiger. Saddam had been forced to part with his biochemical weapons. He may have entertained dreams of reconstructing them, but that is of little matter. Bush possesses the world's largest and most sophisticated weapons arsenal and one of the best-trained military forces on earth. He is apparently in the process of using this to impose hegemony on the world and reward his corporate cronies, and will seemingly trample over any alliance and any longstanding treaty to that end.

However, the problem now is how to go forward.

We should make no mistake that this war is a colonial war. For all the high-sounding talk of nation-building and democracy, the Bush Administration wants nation-building only if it is profitable to those who have foot the bill for Mr. Bush's political career. We bomb Iraq and Halliburton rebuilds the pipelines to pump oil for the profits of Exxon and Chevron. Iraqi women fear for their personal safety, afraid of being kidnapped and raped in broad daylight and the colonial adminstration disbands the police. What are they waiting for? Perhaps for a US security firm to come in and keep law and order? The Iraqi people could solve many of their own problems better without American interference. The problem is, that would get in the way of war profiteering. We certainly can't have that.

The Bushies should spare us the talk of invading Iraq to make the lives of Iraqis better. It was fought to line the pockets of Mr. Bush's cronies. If Iraqi lives got better as a result, so much the better; but if not - well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. Iraqi lives will not get better until this set of priorities change. As of now, we have only succeeded in replacing a gang of murderers with a gang of thieves. That's only a marginal improvement.

Consequently, the Iraqis are resisting the occupation. Those who believe Saddam's capture will alleviate Iraqi resistance will be disappointed. The Iraqi people want none of the past that was Saddam, but neither do they want the future which Bush would impose on them. They can run their country in their own interests better than Bush and his friends can and they know it. If Saddam's overthrow is to have any positive meaning, then we need to get out of the way and let them run it. Freedom and self-determination is their natural right. A new, international team is needed to transistion Iraq to self-rule.

All contracts awarded by the Bush Administration should be cancelled, all sales of Iraqi assets nullified and all debt incurred by the colonial regime declared odious. There is no reason for the Iraqi people to have to pay bills run up by thieves. Iraqi resources shall belong to the Iraqi people. The Iraqi Governing Council should be dissolved. Bush, his aides and their cronies should have as little to say about Iraq reconstruction as possible. If they don't like it, we'll remind them they're lucky not to be in front of an international tribunal.

The new international reconstruction administration will be responsible for Iraq's international security during the transitional phase from US colony to sovereign state. An international peace force will be responsible for Iraq's defense during this period. The international administration will select an interim government from all parties in Iraq, including insurgents. This new interim government will have the power to open bidding for contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and to arrange for Iraq's internal security as Iraq's army is rebuilt in order to guard Iraq's borders from any foreign aggression. A constitutional convention will be called. Upon the adoption of the constitution, free elections will be held. As the new government takes control, the international force responsible for Iraq's defense will depart. All of this will be done on a published timetable. The schedule will be subject to change as conditions warrant.

If Bush steps aside and lets those with the interests of the Iraqi people take charge, this sorry affair might be salvaged in the end. Then and only then will the fall of Saddam become a truly meaningful event.

However, that will probably not happen. And so for the Iraqi people to take control of their own destiny, the American people must also take control of theirs - it will be necessary remove from power the PNAC ideologues who are most concerned about American hegemomy. For the world to really become a better place and for real democracy to have a chance to flourish, Bush must be defeated in 204. That would make the fall of Saddam meaningful.

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