Monday, March 31, 2008

dd-after-s04

Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Afterword Segment 4/14
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2. Deterring Iraqi Democracy

Iraqi opposition forces have always been given short shrift in Washington, hence ignored in the media. They were rebuffed by the Bush Administration in February 1990, when they sought support for a call for parliamentary democracy. The same was true in Britain. In mid-August, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani flew to Washington to seek support for guerrilla operations against Saddam's regime. Neither Pentagon nor State Department officials would speak to him; he was rebuffed again in March 1991. The likely reason was concern over the sensibilities of the Turkish "defender of civilized values," who looked askance at Kurdish resistance.11

The Iraqi democratic opposition was scrupulously excluded from the mainstream media throughout the Gulf crisis, a fact readily explained when we hear what they had to say.

On the eve of the air war, the German press published a statement of the Iraqi Democratic Group reiterating its call for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein but also opposing "any foreign intervention in the Near East," criticizing US "policies of aggression" in the Third World and its intention to control Middle East oil, and rejecting UN resolutions "that had as their goal the starvation of our people." The statement called for the withdrawal of US-UK troops, withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, self-determination for the Kuwaiti people, "a peaceful settlement of the Kuwait problem, democracy for Iraq, and autonomy for Iraq-Kurdistan." A similar stand was taken by the Teheran-based Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (in a communiqué from Beirut); the Iraqi Communist Party; Mas'ud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party; and other prominent opponents of the Iraqi regime, many of whom had suffered bitterly from Saddam's atrocities. Falih 'Abd al-Jabbar, an Iraqi journalist in exile in London, commented: "Although the Iraqi opposition parties have neither given up their demand for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait nor their hope of displacing Saddam some time in the future, they believe that they will lose the moral right to oppose the present regime if they do not side with Iraq against the war." "All the opposition parties are agreed in calling for an immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait," British journalist Edward Mortimer reported, "but most are very unhappy about the military onslaught by the US-led coalition" and preferred economic and political sanctions.

A delegation of the Kuwaiti democratic opposition in Amman in December 1990 had taken the same position. On British television, anti-Saddam Arab intellectuals, including the prominent Kuwaiti opposition leader Dr. Ahmed al-Khatib -- who had already, in October 1990, strenuously opposed military action -- were unanimous in calling for a cease-fire and for serious consideration of Saddam's February 15 withdrawal offer.

The silence here was deafening, and instructive. Unlike Bush and his associates, the international peace movement and Iraqi democratic opposition had always opposed Saddam Hussein. But they also opposed the quick resort to violence to undercut the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Such an outcome would have avoided the slaughter of tens of thousands of people, the destruction of two countries, harsh reprisals, an environmental catastrophe, further slaughter by the Iraqi government and the likely emergence of another murderous US-backed tyranny there. But it would not have taught the crucial lesson that "What we say goes."

With the mission accomplished, the disdain for Iraqi democrats continued unchanged. A European diplomat observed that "the Americans would prefer to have another Assad, or better yet, another Mubarak in Baghdad," referring to their "military-backed regimes," Assad's being particularly odious. A diplomat from the US-run coalition said that "we will accept Saddam in Baghdad in order to have Iraq as one state." A State Department official told a European envoy that the US would be satisfied with "an Iraqi Assad," "a reliable and predictable enemy."

In mid-March, Leith Kubba, head of the London-based Iraqi Democratic Reform Movement, alleged that the US insistence that "changes in the regime must come from within, from people already in power," amounted to a call for military dictatorship. Another leading activist, banker Ahmad Chalabi, observed that the US was "waiting for Saddam to butcher the insurgents in the hope that he can be overthrown later by a suitable officer," an attitude rooted in the US policy of "supporting dictatorships to maintain stability." Official US spokesmen confirmed that the Bush Administration would have no dealings with Iraqi opposition leaders: "We felt that political meetings with them...would not be appropriate for our policy at this time," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated on March 14, as Saddam's "iron fist" was decimating the opposition.

Kuwaiti democrats too discovered that Bush would lend them no support. The reason offered was the President's commitment to the principle of noninterference in internal affairs, so profound, officials explained, that he could not mention the word "democracy" even in private communications to the Emir. "You can't pick out one country to lean on over another," one official said. Surely we will never find the US "leaning on" Nicaragua or Cuba, for example, or moving beyond the narrowest interpretation of international law. As human rights abuses mounted in postwar Kuwait, Bush became "the foremost apologist for the perpetrators," observed Aryeh Neier, director of Human Rights Watch, noting that Bush's apologetics for repression were featured on the front page of the Kuwait government daily.

American democracy also took the usual licking. Polls a few days before the mid-January bombing showed about 2-1 support for a peaceful settlement based on Iraqi withdrawal along with an international conference on the Israel-Arab conflict. Few if any of those who expressed this position had heard any public advocacy of it; the media had been virtually uniform in following the President's lead, dismissing "linkage" as an unspeakable crime, in this unique case. It is unlikely that any knew that their views were shared by Iraqi democratic forces; or that an Iraqi proposal in the terms they advocated had been released a week earlier by US officials, who found it reasonable, and flatly rejected by Washington; or that an Iraqi withdrawal offer had been considered by the National Security Council as early as mid-August, but dismissed, and effectively suppressed, apparently because it was feared that it might "defuse the crisis," as the Times diplomatic correspondent reported Administration concerns.12 Suppose that the crucial facts had reached the public and the issues had been honestly addressed. Then support for a diplomatic settlement would have been far higher, and it might have been possible to avoid the huge slaughter preferred by the Administration for its particular purposes: to establish the efficacy of violence and teach lessons in obedience, to secure the dominant role of the US in the Gulf, and to keep domestic problems in the shadow.


Go to the next segment.

11 See references of note 1 for further details and sources, here and below.

12 See 190f., 203f., above; and references of note 1 for more recent information. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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