Letter to Uncle Sam
I know its Budget time and I know how busy you have these days and how busy you will remain until your Budget gets approved by Congress. I am sorry and I apologize if this letter creates some kind of distraction on the lawns of the White House.
I don’t know if the briefing paper submitted daily to you referred to the person who now claims he lied to his handlers in Europe to make his personal case against Saddam Hussein and whose oral testimony formed part of the basis of the file for war against Iraq in 2003.
The best thing I first did Uncle after I came cross this story was to re-read the famous speech you delivered in October 2002 as a young State Senator in Illinois. This is what you said:
“I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.
What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate.
Saddam Hussein is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He’s a bad guy.
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles…I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.
You want a fight, President Bush?
Let’s fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work…
You want a fight, President Bush?
Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.
You want a fight, President Bush?
Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil. Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.”
In October 2002, Uncle, George W and his warlords were busy sexing their case against Iraq. In February 2003, our good friend Colin Powell was sent to the UN — in Creole here folks would say, “labatoir”. And poor Powell, while referring to Saddam’s biological weapons, quoted a source. Powell then said –
“The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. Twelve technicians died from exposure to biological agents.
He reported that when UNSCOM was in country and inspecting, the biological weapons agent production always began on Thursdays at midnight because Iraq thought UNSCOM would not inspect on the Muslim Holy Day, Thursday night through Friday. He added that this was important because the units could not be broken down in the middle of a production run, which had to be completed by Friday evening before the inspectors might arrive again.
This defector is currently hiding in another country with the certain knowledge that Saddam Hussein will kill him if he finds him. His eyewitness account of these mobile production facilities has been corroborated by other sources.”
Uncle, since long this engineer defected the Iraqi regime and took refuge in Europe. He became a trusted source for European intelligence and his submission on biological weapons was sent to the CIA in DC.
But the chief among his European handlers doubted the defector’s submission. He pressed the intelligence hierarchy in Europe and the USA not to buy the engineer’s story.
But early 2003 in Washington, the neocons was already “dans une logique de guerre”, except that the sexing of arguments and shaping the war file was in its final days. And the neocons would not budge an inch.
The neocons, Uncle, took the US to a “dumb” war, a “rash war” based on flimsy and flawed ideas and arguments.
After the war, it came to light that Iraq had no WMD. And as you rightly said in 2002, this war did more harm than good to the US.
To be fair, Uncle, you were not alone to stand against the neocons. Your then French counterpart also stood firmly against any idea to go to war. And France stood ready to veto any move for war at the UN.
You know what, Uncle, the engineer whose words Washington trusted in 2003 has now come out openly and has even gone public to narrate what he calls the “lies” he cooked purposefully for the attention of his handlers in Europe. In defense of his lies, he now says he has no regret because he wanted to oust Saddam from power and bring down his regime. In the war, apart from Saddam the dictator, innocent lives paid a heavy price.
Gentleman Powell has acknowledged his 2003 UN speech gave “a painful blot” to his career.
Uncle, I am sure you will learn one or two lessons from this new affair.
But you were already wise before the event when you made it clear to the US generals that decisions regarding military affairs under your administration belong to the civilian president you are. That was when talks were engaged for the setting up of a new war strategy in Afghanistan and to meet the request of the generals for more troops.
The world is safe. We will see no “dumb” war, no “rash” war till at least 2012. And, with God’s blessings, may be till 2016 when the renewal of the occupation permit of Diego Garcia will become war news.
* Published in print edition on 18 February 2011
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