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<nettime> Irak-special

Konfr. Irak/22 feb 98  konfront@xs4all.nl   http://www.xs4all.nl/~konfront

1.  Interview with Noam Chomsky about the current build up to a new 'Gulf War';
2. NYT: "U.S. Outlines: Its Intended Targets in Iraq";

Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998

An Interview with Noam Chomsky about the current build up to a new 'Gulf War'

Originally for the Italian journal "La Repubblica"
The interviewer was Giampaolo Cadalanu

1) The intervention of the U.S. in Irak seems at the moment unavoidable. Do
you think the real reason of this intervention is to impose respect of U.N.

Ans: To evaluate the proposal, we can ask how the US itself respects UN
resolutions. There are simple ways to check. For the past 30 years, the US
is far in the lead in vetoing SecurityCouncil Resolutions (Britain second,
France a distant third). In the General Assembly, theUS regularly votes
against resolutions in virtual isolation -- hence in effect vetoing them
--on a wide range of issues. The pattern extends to the World Court,
international conventions on human rights, and much else. Furthermore the
US freely disregards violation of UN resolutions that it has formally
endorsed, and often contributes materially tosuch violation. The case of
Israel is notorious (for example, the 1978 Security Councilresolution
calling on Israel to withdraw immediately from Lebanon). To select another
example that is quite relevant here, in December 1975 the Security Council
unanimously ordered Indonesia to withdraw its invading forces from East
Timor "without delay" andcalled upon "all States to respect the territorial
integrity of East Timor as well as theinalienable right of its people to
self- determination."

The US responded by (secretly) increasing its shipments of arms to the
aggressors, accelerating the arms flow once again as the attack reached
near-genocidal levels in 1978.In his memoirs, UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick
Moynihan takes pride in his success in rendering the UN "utterly
ineffective in whatever measures it undertook," following theinstructions
of the State Department, which "wished things to turn out as they did and
worked to bring this about." The US also cheerfully accepts the robbery of
East Timor's oil (with participation of US-based companies), in violation
of any reasonable interpretation of international agreements. The analogy
to Iraq/Kuwait is close, though there aredifferences: to mention only the
most obvious, US-backed atrocities in East Timor were vastly beyond
anything attributed to Saddam Hussein in Kuwait.

 It is easy to extend the record. Like other great powers, the US is
committed to the rule of force, not law, in international affairs. UN
resolutions, World Court Judgments, International Conventions, etc., are
acceptable if they accord with policy; otherwise they are mere words.

2) Which difference do you see between this intervention and Operation
"Desert Storm", with the Bush administration?

ans: There are many differences. "Desert Storm" was allegedly intended to
drive Iraq from Kuwait; today the alleged goal is to compel Iraq to permit
UN inspection of Saddam's weapons programs. In both cases, a closer look
reveals a more complex story. After Iraq invaded Kuwait, the US feared that
in "the next few days Iraq willwithdraw" leaving in place a puppet
government and "everyone in the Arab world will be happy" (Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs Colin Powell). The concern, in brief, was that Iraq would act
much as the US had done a fewmonths earlier when it invaded Panama (vetoing
two Security Council resolutions condemning its actions). Whatfollowed also
does not quite conform to standard versions. Today, it is widely expected
that a military strike willleave Iraq's murderous tyrant in power,
continuing to pursue his weapons programs, while undermining
suchinternational inspection as exists.

 It may also be recalled that Saddam's worst crimes were committed when he
was a favored US ally and tradingpartner, and that immediately after he was
driven from Kuwait, the US watched quietly while he turned to the
slaughter of rebelling Iraqis, even refusing to allow them access to
captured Iraqi arms. Official stories rarely yieldan accurate picture of
what is happening. Nonetheless, the differences between 1990 and today are

 3) Do you believe that the so-called "Sexgate", the scandal about sexual
behaviour of president Clinton, had a role in the decisionto attack Iraq?

Ans: I doubt that it is much of a factor.

 4) Do you see an alternative to the "new world order" of the U.S.?

Ans:  "World order," like "domestic order," is based on decisions made
within institutions thatreflect existing power structures. The decisions
can be changed; the institutions can bemodified or replaced. It is natural
that those who benefit from the organization of state and private power
will portray it as inevitable, so that the victims will feel helpless to
act. There is no reason to believe that. Particularly in the rich countries
that dominate world affairs, citizens can easily act to create alternatives
even within existing formal arrangements, andthese are not graven in stone,
any more than in the past.

5) Do you see in Irak an alternative to Saddam Hussein?

Ans: The rebelling forces in March 1991 were an alternative, but the US
preferred Saddam. There was an Iraqidemocratic opposition in exile.
Washington refused to have anything to do with them before, during, or
after the Gulf War, and they were virtually excluded from the US media,
apart from marginal dissident journals. "Politicalmeetings with them would
not be appropriate for our policy at this time," State Department spokesman
RichardBoucher stated on March 14, 1991, while Saddam was decimating the
opposition under the eyes of Stormin'Norman Schwartzkopf. They still exist.
How realistic their programs are, I cannot judge, and I do not think wecan
know as long as the US remains committed -- as apparently it still is -- to
the Bush adminstration policy that  preferred "an iron-fisted Iraqi junta,"
without Saddam Hussein if possible, a return to the days when Saddam's
"iron fist...held Iraq together, much to the satisfaction of the American
allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia," not to speak of Washington (NY Times chief
diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman, July 1991).


Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1998
First published:  NYTimes February 21, 1998

Washington sez: "The mushroom will grow again if allowed to flower"

Don't mushrooms spread underground ?

U.S. Outlines: Its Intended Targets in Iraq

  WASHINGTON -- As Saddam Hussein defied U.N. inspectors late last
month, President Clinton's top foreign policy advisers huddled in the
basement White House Situation Room to wrestle with their military options.

The aides had already shelved a top-secret plan to carry out a prolonged
series of moderate air strikes. Officials feared this would not force
Saddam to allow unrestricted weapon inspections.

Instead, at the Jan. 24 meeting, the president and his advisers approved an
intense, four-day, round-the-clock bombardment aimed at undermining the
Iraqi military apparatus that supports Saddam and diminishing Iraq's
ability to use and produce biological and chemical weapons.

As Defense Secretary William Cohen recalled in an interview Friday, the
president turned to his top aides and asked, "Are we all agreed?" After the
aides voiced their approval, Clinton said, "Let's do it."

Desert Thunder, as Pentagon planners have named the military campaign, was

The administration planners acknowledge that after such a bombing campaign
the West's ability to monitor Iraq's chemical and biological programs will
be sharply reduced. Bombing is expected to destroy U.N. cameras now in
place at various key sites in Iraq, and American officials are assuming
that U.N. inspectors will never be allowed to resume their work.

Critics, however, say the plan will kill many Iraqis without getting to the
root of the problem: Saddam's hold on power and his hidden cache of
chemical and biological weapons.

Senior administration and military officers have disclosed these details of
their planning:

-- While Clinton and others have spoken of Iraq's threat to its neighbors,
administration specialists believe that Saddam's conventional military is
so weakened by the 1991 Persian Gulf war that it does not pose an imminent
threat to other countries.

-- The administration is relying on strikes against production facilities,
conventional forces and Saddam's power structure because it cannot pinpoint
Iraq's Scud missiles and stores of chemical and biological weapons.

-- The Pentagon is taking steps to limit civilian casualties, like avoiding
bombing chemical sites that could unleash a deadly plume. But it has warned
Congress that more than 1,500 Iraqis could die in air raids.

-- Government experts say it is unlikely that Iraq will launch a chemical
or biological counterattack. Such a move, they say, would buttress American
claims that an attack was necessary and risk a devastating American assault
with conventional arms.

The raids would be only a fraction of those carried out during the 43-day
gulf war in 1991.

But military experts expect they will include 300 combat flights a day and
hundreds of cruise missiles.
The bombing salvos would pound Iraq's air defenses, fighter planes, command
posts, missile factories, Republican Guard compounds, intelligence
headquarters and sites that can produce chemicals.

Even senior American officials concede that the bombing is a poor
substitute for an effective system of U.N. oversight. But they insist it is
the best alternative if Saddam will not cooperate.

"There is no question that military action is less effective than getting
the inspections going again," said one senior Pentagon aide.

The air campaign that Clinton approved on Jan. 24 had its origins in
November, when Iraq balked at allowing U.N. weapons inspections and
threatened to shoot down a U.S. U-2 spy plane.

The U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., which directs American forces in
the Persian Gulf, began compiling a war plan under the direction of Gen.
Anthony Zinni.

Diplomacy defused that crisis. But the planning went on, and the military
drew up at least half a dozen options to respond to Iraqi provocations.

U.S. Narrows Its Military Options

"We were working through a variety -- from a sustained campaign, to a short
intense one, to a 'shoot, stop, look' approach," said a senior American
officer involved in the planning.

By last month, Saddam was again blocking weapons inspectors at eight large
sites. In Washington, Clinton's top foreign policy advisers, known as the
principals' committee, met daily to develop diplomatic and military options.

But Clinton's top aides did not like the military planners' concept of a
long campaign with bombing pauses. They feared that it would not force
Saddam to open all the suspected sites, but would allow him to declare a
propaganda victory. Another worry was that an international outcry would
make it hard for the United States to complete a long bombing campaign.

So they turned to the shorter, more intense campaign.  "The idea was,
'Let's hit him really hard,"' said a senior military officer involved in
the planning.

Top aides to Clinton understood from the beginning that the faced a
conundrum with Iraq, no matter which plan they adopted.

The Iraqi military's most dangerous weapons -- the presumed stocks of
chemical and biological weapons are extremely difficult to locate.

The easiest targets to strike are largely old aircraft and missiles or
potential production sites already monitored by cameras installed by the
United Nations.

There were serious questions about whether a military strike was
worthwhile. Was it better to rely on economic sanctions and U.N.
inspectors, even ones whose movements were limited? Or was it better to
resort to military action even thought that may bring what remained of the
inspections to an end.

One military officer who has reviewed the attack plans said they call for
about 300 sea-based Tomahawk and 100 air-launched cruise missiles, carried
on B-52 bombers, which would be fired in a round-the-clock campaign lasting
about four days. Air Force F-117s "stealth fighters," B-1 bombers and F-16s
would also strike military targets.

Navy carrier-based F-14s and F/A-18s would play a more important role than
in the Persian Gulf war. The aircraft are now equipped with laser-guided

Justifying the targeting strategy, Zinni has said the intent "is to deny
him the capability to continue to threaten his neighbors and his own people
and to threaten the world with his capability. So I think we are trying to
take away his tools or his ability to continue the way he has."

Saddam "doesn't much care if you strike a unit, a surface-to-air missile
site, a division," Zinni explained in November. "What means most to him are
things like the special Republican Guards, his own special Republican Guard
and other Republican Guard units that keep him in power, his own
infrastructure and command and control systems and those kind of things."

Among those tools are factories that could make biological and chemical
weapons, conventional bombs, cluster bombs, fuel-air explosives, rocket
propellants and electronic guidance systems. The most important of these
factories are in Baghdad, Fao, Yusifiyah, Iskandariyah and Qaqaa, according
to U.S. government officials.

The United States can hit many of the so-called "dual-use" installations
that can make ingredients for chemical and poison gas. But they are already
subject to U.N. monitoring. As long as the United States does not attack,
the monitoring will go on.

American air power can also strike the eight presidential sites, which
Saddam has put off limits to U.N. inspectors. But American officials say it
is unlikely that biological and chemical stocks are housed there. The sites
are believed to include records to which the United Nations would like to
gain access to reconstruct the history of the Iraqi program. Bombing those
sites would only destroy those records.

Then there are delivery systems, such as aircraft and missile factories.
Iraq is also allowed to manufacture missiles with a range of up to 150
kilometers. That program is being monitored by the United Nations, but the
factory could make longer-range missiles if the monitoring was halted.

Administration officials also suggest that they may be able attack chemical
and biological sites that have eluded detection by the United Nations.

But as experts picked targets based on information from the Defense
Intelligence Agency, the CIA and U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, senior
administration officials made a crucial decision to exclude sites that
carried even a moderate risk of civilian casualties. Some suspected
chemical and biological sites were scratched over fears of unleashing a
toxic plume over Baghdad.

"We have gone to great lengths to ensure that in any targets that were
selected, that we do not intentionally release any kind of chem/bio," Gen.
Henry Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."We have done some
studies, some analysis of 'what ifs' in the event that in spite of the fact
that he claims he doesn't have any, we were to strike a target where he was
hiding, storing, to see what the result of that would be done and to see
what could be done after that to minimize the casualties."

The military has warned Congress there will be Iraqi casualties.  Shelton
told Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., at a private briefing on Capitol Hill
on Feb. 11 that an air campaign could kill or injure 1,200 to 1,500 Iraqi
civilians and troops.

But Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat with close ties to the
military, said in an interview that the casualty estimate he has received
in classified military briefings was much higher than 1,500. Murtha would
not disclose the higher figure.

While the Clinton administration has described the Iraqi military as a
menace to the region, it is a shadow of the military that stormed into
Kuwait in 1990.

Iraq has about 300 fighter planes, including Soviet-made MiGs-25 and Su-25
bombers. American intelligence says that only 60 percent of those planes
are ready to fly at a given time and that Iraqi pilots do relatively little

Nor is there any indication that the Iraqis have trained their Air Force to
deliver biological and chemical weapons.
"You would think that squadrons would practice tossing bombs at targets or
practice dispersing chemicals at high altitude so that it could be carried
by wind drifts toward towns," said an administration official familiar with
intelligence reports. "But they do not do that kind of stuff."

Artillery and short-range rockets are also potential delivery systems but
they have very limited reach.

The Scud missiles which rained down on Saudi Arabia and Israel during the
Persian Gulf remains one of Iraqi's most worrisome weapons.

According to American intelligence, Iraq has a small stockpile of chemical
and biological missile warheads and bombs, as well as the Scud missiles to
deliver them. These conclusions about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
are based on calculations of how many weapons Iraq had before the 1991
Persian Gulf war and how many are believed to have been destroyed since

But as worrisome as the Scuds are, officials say their utility as delivery
systems may be limited. The best way to disperse germs or poison gas in a
missile attack is in an "air burst" so that the agents cover the widest
possible areas. But that requires specially designed fuses. One
administration official said it is more likely that the warheads are
designed to explode when it hits the ground, reducing its effectiveness.

"In a strict logical sense it is a nuisance now," said an administration
official said, referring to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. "The
mushroom will grow again if it allowed to flower."

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
in receiving the included information for research and educational
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