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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Caught Between Iraq and a Hard Place? Hardly.

The level of “all or nothing” rhetoric employed by the Bush administration in rallying support within the American public, the media and the international community for its impending campaign against Iraq is frighteningly transparent and very much a sign of just how weak this regime is. The gist of this rhetoric’s content is that if the U.S. does not launch a military offensive against Saddam Hussein [with or without the backing of the U.N.], then Iraq will inevitably use weapons of mass destruction against American civilians, either directly or by providing such armament to rogue terrorist groups.

It’s a noble facade, but a facade nonetheless. While there is certainly ample evidence [albeit primarily conjecture] that Saddam Hussein does possess W.O.M.D. capabilities and is in cahoots with the al Qaeda terror network, the most effective and efficient way to bring about disarmament would be via the extensive employment of U.N. Security Council weapons inspectors. A unilateral military assault on Iraq would not only be terribly inefficient, but also possibly counter-productive. If the invasion is carried out by the same means as the operation to depose the Taliban in Afghanistan [air raids, and lots of ’em], the result may very well be massive Iraqi civilian casualties. The more innocent Iraqis killed by American forces, the greater the scrutiny placed on the U.S. by friendly nations, the greater the risk run by the U.S. of having international support for its anti-terrorism campaign swiftly withdrawn.

Certainly the supporting cast that comprises the Bush cabinet is aware of these implications, so what, then, is the motivation behind their push for a full-scale assault on Iraq? The motives are threefold. The first and most obvious is what Jed Clampett referred to as “black gold.” Iraq’s status as one of the world’s top oil producing states remains unchanged since the first Gulf War, and gaining solitary control of its reserves would do a great deal to boost the U.S.’s struggling economy. Lower oil prices means less money American consumers have to spend on that commodity, which gives them more money to spend on products made by American companies, which means greater profits for those American companies, which means more tax revenue for the American government to draw from both individuals and businesses.

The second would be vindication of the Bush family name. Everyone knows how the elder President Bush failed to act on his chance to remove Hussein from the picture at the end of the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. At this point in time, when all of America remains on edge following the September 11, 2001 incidents, the younger Bush sees the pinning of Saddam Hussein as a threat to Western Civilization and a contributor to the same terrorists who perpetrated said incidents as the perfect opportunity to, ten years too late, do what his father could not. It seems petty and irresponsible for the president of the United States to use his office for the fulfillment of a personal vendetta, but…

The third motive is re-nomination. Pending the success of the proposed military campaign, the Bush administration [minus Colin Powell, perhaps its most level-headed member, who has promised to resign after the current term is up] would most certainly use it as a credential in the 2004 presidential race. In essence, it would let Bush & Co. say, “Hey! We got the bad guys! [Yes, we killed thousands of civilians, many more than our side would’ve lost if those brown people attacked us, but who cares, they’re brown! Plus we found an excuse for having a ridiculously bloated military budget that is the primary cause of you guys bitching about high taxes, but we’re too lazy and too strapped for time to look for ways to restructure the budget so we’ll just trump up some house-of-cards excuses like this one that will justify the status-quo!]”

Of course, the blame doesn’t fall entirely on the shoulders of the current regime. In 1998, UNSCOM inspectors led by Scott Ritter were all set to do their thing in Iraq, only to have the operation aborted before it had a chance to begin by request of the Clinton administration. Since then, Ritter resigned from his position in the UNSCOM and has authored a book entitled End Game, which details the self-frustrated efforts and missed opportunities of both the U.S. and U.N. that, had they been taken, may very well have solved the Saddam conundrum without a single shot being fired.

But the bottom line is that the Bush administration’s proposed course of action towards Iraq is ill conceived, ill advised, potentially dangerous and most definitely not the only possible solution to this problem. Don’t allow yourself to be taken in by thinly veiled, opportunistic propaganda.