is executive director of the council on American-Islamic
Relations based in Ottawa.
* * * * * * * * *
bitten. And now many are shy to believe that the Iraq weapons verification
process headed by Hans Blix is anything except redundant - immaterial,
really - to whether Iraq will be in material breach of Security Council
As we corner
the curve to an imminent war, we run headlong into a story attributed
to St. Augustine. He is reported to tell the tale of a pirate who
was brought before the emperor. "Why do you molest the seas,"
inquired the emperor. Retorted the pirate: "When you molest the
seas, they call you emperor; when I molest the seas they call me a
alludes to the fact that retaining control of the seven seas is the
reserve of realpolitik, that ultimate end-game of power whose political
tools are endless. They range from diplomatic sleight of hand to outright
subterfuge. No one's the wiser, usually, until years later when brave
souls like Daniel Ellsberg, the former marine who leaked documents
that exposed the duplicity of successive US administrations and ultimately
ended the Vietnam war, come forward and speak.
the way, lists oil as the main reason for the present war and anticipates
an 'incident' that will be used as a rationale for the first US strike.
His predictions are not entirely improbable either, if the past is
taken as a guide. Indeed, the first Gulf War provides a rather mind-numbing
benchmark for the capacity of emperors to flip reality on its head.
In particular, three gnawing revelations come to mind.
case of the invisible troops massing on the Saudi Arabian border?
Maggie O'Kane, European journalist of the year, reminds us that just
before the Gulf war, the Pentagon insisted that Saddam was poised
to invade Kuwait with 265 000 troops. Satellite photos were personally
conveyed to the Saudis to bring them onside. The ruse worked. The
Saudis acquiesced. The world bought it hook, line and sinker. Later,
however, declassified documents and satellite photos (bought by 5-time
Pulitzer nominated journalist Jean Heller) taken by a Russian commercial
satellite, the Soyuz Karta, verified that there were no amassing troops
at all. The images were false.
and gruesome, revelation included the testimony of Nayirah al-Sabah
before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She testified on the
eve of the war that she had witnessed Iraqis looting incubators in
a Kuwaiti hospital and leaving some 15 babies to die. The story eventually
broke apart and was exposed on CBC's Fifth Estate in a program called
"Selling the War." The story was also discounted by Amnesty
International and Middle East Watch. It turned out that Ms. al-Sabah
was the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the U.S. She fabricated
the entire story with the complicity of that venerable public relations
giant, Hill & Knowlton.
stories appeared at the UN a few weeks later. "Witnesses,"
coached by Hill & Knowlton, offered testimony about atrocities
in Iraq. The Christian Science Monitor reported that the seven witnesses
used false names and even identities in one case. In an unprecedented
move, the US was even allowed to present a video created by Hill &
Knowlton to the entire security council.
Lastly, who could
forget the transcripts of that fateful meeting between April Glaspie
and Saddam Hussein. Glaspie, then U.S. ambassador to Iraq, met at
the behest of Hussein on July 25, 1990. Hussein wanted clarification
regarding US intentions should Iraq attack Kuwait. Saddam complained
to Glaspie regarding the serious economic conditions facing Iraq and
reiterated his grievances regarding Kuwait. For her part, Glaspie
indicated to Hussein that the US had 'no opinion on the Arab-Arab
conflicts, like your border agreement with Kuwait.' In fact, after
the invasion, Glaspie herself admitted in the New York Times that
she knew of the Hussein's intention to invade Kuwait, stating, "Obviously,
I didn't think - and nobody else did - that the Iraqis were going
to take all of Kuwait…" The operative word, of course, being
The CIA's former
head of counter terrorism recently informed us that "cooked information
is working its way into high-level pronouncements" regarding
Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction.
As you read this,
U.N. weapons inspectors continue their work in Iraq while U.S. troops
are amassing in distant theatres of the world.
All the world's
a stage. But we've seen this plot before. The climax will not be the
declaration of war; it will probably be not too distant revelations
of more abuse of power. If only this were a play, we might, as concerned
global citizens, close the curtain on this ridiculous charade.