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Iraq: war is needed now « Previous | |Next »
August 28, 2003

I heard this piece on the ABC Radio National's AM program yesterday morning. I did not have time to link to it even though it was interesting piece because it highlighted the limits of the standard US view of Iraq. First, we have the US view as outlined by Geoff Thompson who is reporting from Baghdad.

GEOFF THOMPSON: In his most recent press conference, the leader of America's presence in Iraq, Ambassador Paul Bremer, made clear the context in which he believes last week's suicide bombing of the UN's Baghdad Headquarters should be placed.

PAUL BREMER: It's part of a global war on terrorism which was declared on the United States September 11th, two years ago, and it is now unfortunately the case that Iraq has become one of the fields of battle in this global war.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Later in the same press conference, Ambassador Bremer was asked whether it might be more accurate to say that perhaps it was the presence of American forces in Iraq which had turned Iraq into a new battleground in the United States war on terror.

PAUL BREMER: No, it would be completely inaccurate because Iraq under Saddam Hussein for 20 years was identified as a state sponsor of terrorism, correctly in my view. This was a state which sponsored terrorism, it is no longer a state which sponsors terrorism, I don't sponsor terrorism, I try to defeat it.

So the US is fighting a global war on terrorism and Iraq is just one bit of the big picture. That line will sell well in the US during a presidential election campaign. It counters the anxieites of an electorate increasingly worried about the rising numbers of body bags.

Then we have the differing views from two members of the Governing Council.

GEOFF THOMPSON:...But two Council members interviewed by the ABC also believe that the presence of US forces here is attracting foreign terrorists, easily able to cross Iraq's poorest borders from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran. Council member, Younadem Kana says the US presence is a magnet for terrorists.

YOUNADEM KANA: Yeah, for sure it's a magnet for terrorists, yeah. For sure it's a magnet for terrorists and especially the most fanatic extremists, let's say, bin Laden's group al-Qaeda, for example yes, it's a magnet.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Because they see Iraq as a place where they can attack America?

YOUNADEM KANA: Yeah, for sure. It's more easy for them to reach. For Americans, not only for Americans, for all Coalition forces, even allies.

GEOFF THOMPSON: It's an opinion also held by the Council's Secretary-General, Muhyi al-Kateeb, a former Iraqi Ambassador to the United States who has spent the last 24 years running a petrol station in the US.

MUHYI AL-KATEEB: Because we have no control of our borders yet, so it is heaven for terrorism.

GEOFF THOMPSON: As long as there is an American presence here it's going to be an attractive place for terrorists looking to target Americans?


GEOFF THOMPSON: Do you see a certain irony in the fact that America's war on terror, in a sense, made the invasion of Iraq and the ousting of Saddam Hussein possible politically, and now in fact it's attracting, it's attracting people who wish to battle America on that front?

MUHYI AL-KATEEB: It is ironic. But this is the reality of it. I mean, our borders are open and they're very long ones too, and we have a lot of neighbours that don't like what is going on inside Iraq. So I assume that they are going to use that to, maybe to send some signals to the Americans on the Iraqi soil, unfortunately.

The American occupation is actign as a magnet. It takes two to wage a war.

So what is the American neocon response to the war being waged by what Michael Ledeen calls the terror masters? Since the US is surrounded by regional enemies---Iran and Syria--- it is time to return to neocon basics of waging war against the enemy. Ledeen spells it out:

"...we cannot win in Iraq without defeating the other terror masters as well. Simple common sense required that we do what President Bush proclaimed shortly after September 11: move forcefully against the terrorist organizations and the states that sponsor and support them.....

...So long as President Bush remains entrapped by the false vision of the "peace process" and plays defense in Iraq, initiative passes to the terror masters. He often speaks as if he understood his peril, but his diplomatic and military policies remain paralyzed by false vision. Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia organize, fund, and support the terror war in Iraq, but instead of supporting freedom fighters in Iran to topple the world's major sponsor of terror, we plaintively implore the mullahs to hand over some al Qaeda leaders so we can get on with lifting sanctions and "normalizing" relations. Instead of bringing real pressure to bear on the Baathist regime in Syria and the cunning Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, we plead with the tyrannical leaders of those countries to behave better, so we can have better relations.

Understand that while we say we're at war, we're certainly not waging it at the moment. Unless we escape from the trap, it is only a matter of time before our soldiers and diplomats in Iraq fall prey to the terror masters on a greater scale. The longer we delay the inevitable reckoning, the more costly it will be. It's time to get out of the trap and resume the war."

There is no political solution. There is only a military one of permanent global war against the terror masters.

The reverse image to Ledeen's neocon account of the Middle East is this one from the Arab world. Each mirrors the other. And the flip side of Ledeen in the US Ann Coulter's war against the enemy within: a war to expose and fight liberal treachery inside America against (Republican) America.

Ledeen and Coulter are very American. It's all much more reserved here in Australia. But you can hear the muted tones in a text like this by Alexander Downer. He is responding to Peter Carnley, the head of the nation's Anglican church saying there are blowback consequence of Australia's outspoken support for the US and particularly its preparedness to take unilateral action against Iraq.

" leaders... ignore their primary pastoral obligations in favour of hogging the limelight on complex political issues and in this case a national tragedy....I will always defend the right of the churches to enter the political debates of our time. But they have special responsibilities to the facts, to their congregations and to their faiths. Too often, it seems to me, the churches seek popular political causes or cheap headlines. And this tends to cut across the central role they have in providing spiritual comfort and moral guidance to the community"

Those words, "hogging the limelight", "seek popular political causes or cheap headlines", say the churches should not intervene to articulate what is right and wrong on foreign policy.

Is not expressing such views expressing moral guidance on public issues?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:10 AM | | Comments (0)