War and Social Upheaval: Iraq


Figure 1.--To many Brits, this is the enduring image of Saddam Hussein. This British boy was one of the Western hostages held in 1991. Saddam was pictured stroking him and asking if he was getting milk for his cerael. Saddam was using the hostages in an effort to prevent Coalition air strikes. At the last minute he decided to release them.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussain has been at the center of two major Middle Eastern wars. He launched an invasion of Iran bringing about the largest war between Muslim states in history and resulting in hundreds of thousands of casualties. Next he invaded neighboring Kuwaut, launching a reign of terror in that country until expelled by an international coalition in Opperation Desert Storm. As a result of Iraq's defeat in Desert Storm, Sadam agreed to dismantle its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It had clearly not done so. Sanctions impossed upon Iraq by the United Nations have stayed in place because of Sadam's continued work on WMD. The Iaqui economy has been crippled by those sanctions and the people of Iraq, including the children, have undeniably suffered. The question of course rises, who is responsible for that suffering. Is it the United Nations for imposing the embargoes because of Sadam's definace? Or is in Sadam for insisting on persuing WMD and siphoning off oil revenue to support WMD program. Besides the aggression on neigboring countries, Sadam administers one of the most brutal police states in the world and has even used WMD on his own people. Now a third war looms with U.S. President Gerorge Bush demanding that Saddam end programs to develop and deploy WMD. This has resulted in an impassioned debate, especially in Europe and the Arab world.

HBC Concerns

Some readers have asked why HBC has addressed the Iraq issue as well as the other wars and crisis. HBC's interest in these issues are the children and other civilians. I have in my mind the Kurd villages Saddam gassed and the pictures of mothers holding their children in their death agonies. Iraqi children have also suffered because of the decline of the Iraqi economy and declining nutrition and health care. Then there is the Iranian boys sent in mass human wave attacks against entrenched Iraqi possitions.

Saddam Hussein (1937- )

Saddam Hussein has been called the enemy of the Western world. Iraq in fact is among the most secualrized Arab country. The biggest influnce on his life, however, was spired by his uncle Khayrallah Tulfah, an Iraqi army officer and crusader for Arab unity. Saddam was a tough street kid. Yet he demanded an uncle send him to school.

Iran-Iraq War (1980-88)

Saddam launched an invasion of Iran in 1980 bringing about the largest war between Muslim states in history and resulting in hundres of thousands of casualties, including countless poorly trained Irainan boy soldiers. Sadam was concerned about the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the potential impact on Shite Iraqis. Border skirmishes occurred in September 1980 with artillery exchanges on both sides. Saddam as a result officially abrogated the 1975 treaty between Iraq and Iran and decalred that the Shatt al Arab waterway between the two countries belonged to Iraq. Iran rejected this and hostilities escalated. The two countries conducted bombing raids into each other's territory. Saddam felt that a quick victory over the Iranians was possible. He anticipated the Arabic-speaking, oil-rich area of Khuzistan would rise up against Ayatolah Khomeini's fundamentalist Islamic regime. This did not occur and the Arab minority in Iran remained loyal to Iran. Saddam began the War with a surprise air attack designed to destroy the Iraina air force on the ground--a tactic learned from the Isrealis. Iraqi Soviet-supplied MiG-23s and MiG21s on September 22, 1980, attacked major Iranian air bases. They caused substantial damage, but did not knock out the Iranian Air Force which launched its American supplied F-4 Phantoms to strike targets near major Iraqi cities. Coordinating with the air strikes, Saddam ordered six Iraqi army divisions into Iran on three fronts. This surprise attack was successful and drove 8 kilometers into Iran.

Kuwait (1990-91)

Iraqi as a result of the War Sadam began with Iran (1980-88) had ammassed an enormous debt--a substantail part of it to Kuwait. Saddam demanded that Kuwait forgive the debt. He also accussed Kuwait of over producing oil, keeping prices low. As tensions rose, Saddam personally assured Egyptian Ptesident Mubarack, who attempted to mediate, that he would never invade Kuwait. Claiming that Kuwait was in reality the 16th province of Iraq, he ordered his army in 1990 to conduct a new surprise attack, this time south to Kuwait. Saddam struck on August 2, 1990 with two armored divisions, a division of mechanized infantry, and a special forces division. The attack was spearheaded by the elite Republican Guard. The special forces division employed helicopters and boats to assault Kuwait City. With its minimal military force, Kuwait was in Saddam's hands in a matter of hours. Sadam's military and police units launched a reign of terror in that country until expelled by an international coalition in Opperation Desert Storm during 1991.

Disarmament (1991-2002)

As a result of Iraq's defeat in Desert Storm, Sadam agreed to dismantle its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He has clearly not done so. Sanctions impossed upon Iraq by the United Nations have stayed in place because of Sadam's continued work on WMD. The Iaqui economy has been crippled by those sanctions and the people of Iraq, including the children, have undeniably suffered. The question of course rises, who is responsible for that suffering. Is it the United Nations for imposing the embargoes because of Sadam's definace? Or is in Sadam for insisting on persuing WMD and siphoning off oil revenue to support WMD program. There is even evidence that Sadam has taken measures to intensify the sufferings of his people to garner international support. This appear to have incredibly included killing babies. President Bush and Prime Minister Blair insist that the 12 year history of attempting to get Sadam to fullfill his commitment has deonstrated tht he has no intention to do so. This has led to the third major international crisis with Iraq.

Domestic Terror

Besides the aggression on neigboring countries, Saddam administers one of the most brutal police states in the world and has even used WMD on his own people. The moral imperative for ousting Saddam is powerful. Iraq is an entire nation of victims. He oppresses his people on a daily basis. Saddam's police have terrorized opponents by not only personal vengence, but horrifying acts against whole families. The most terrifying act, of course, was the use of poison gas against Kurdish villages. I have in my mind the Kurd villages Saddam gassed and the pictures of mothers holding their children in their death agonies. They were, however, only a fraction of the 100,000 Kurds killed by Saddam's security forces.

Third Crisis (2002-03)

Now a third war looms with U.S. President George W. Bush demanding that Saddam end programs to develop and deploy WMD. This has resulted in an impassioned debate, especially in Europe and the Arab world. Unfortunately Presiden't Bush and his right wing Republican coharts have taken a unilateralist appraoch to foreign policy. A HBC reader writes complaining that Bush wants to start a war in the Middle East. HBC does not believe that it is fair to say that he wants to start a war on Iraq. It is Saddam who has decided on war as a element of national policy. Pacifism is of course an appealing philosophy. HBC finds pacifism moraly appealing--although not always based on hard reality. We wish the whole world had the same pascifist views. But it doesn't. In our modern world, pacifism has cost the lives of millions. As regards Iraq, HBC believes that it is unfair to criticise America for preparing to act against Sadam. Of course the only reason the weapons inspectors are now in Iraq is that Sadam sees that Bush is serious. And this is the only reason there will be any cooperation at all. Do European pacifists really believe that they could have convinced Sadam to let in inspectors by the force of their moral arguments? One Dutch reader writes, "All I want to say is that Saddam is only part of the problem." HBC agrees with our Dutch reader that Saddam is only part of the problem. But we do not believe tghat this argues against action. Just as Afgahnistan was only part of the problem, thw world is safer today because Al Quida can not operate freely in the country. Mind you NOT safe, but safer. By the same token, the world will be safter once Sadam is disarmed or dwposed--not safe, but safer.






CIH







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Created: November 20, 2002
Last updated: 10:28 AM 7/28/2014