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US American foreign policy on Iraq
Article added on March 26, 2003
 
Is the US-led intervention in Iraq a violation of international law? Yes, in the sense that the United Nations Charter does not allow a preventive war. However, in Kosovo, the West intervened without a UN resolution. Furthermore, Iraq has not complied with more than a dozen UN resolutions over the past twelve years. Saddam Hussein clearly lacks the will to cooperate. Mass protests in Western streets, petitions, UN resolutions and UN weapon inspectors may impress democratic regimes, but not a ruthless dictator, be it Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic. Tyrants only understand the use or possible use of force.
 
However, Iraq and Saddam Hussein are unlikely to be linked to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda and they are currently no threat to the US or Israel, but "only" to Iraq's direct neighbors.
 
The United Nations is not in danger because of the de facto unilateral action led by the US and UK forces, the UN has lost its credibility before because it did not effectively sanction the Iraqi disregard for some seventeen UN resolutions which often were and are not worth the paper they are written on (not only in the case of Iraq).

A few hundred weapon inspectors more and a few months more of inspection time would not resolve the Iraqi problem either. What is this? It is as if I told you today that tomorrow I would have a look in your cupboard to find out whether you were hiding weapons in there. This cannot be serious. In any event, the problem is not the existence of weapons of mass destruction, but Saddam Hussein. Only regime change can bring durable peace to the region. After the 1993 disaster in Somalia, Clinton lacked the courage to intervene in Iraq. But the US Congress realized its necessity as early as 1998, when it adopted a resolution saying that as long as the dictator is in place, there can be no solution to the Iraqi problem. During their electoral campaigns, both George W. Bush and Al Gore committed themselves to put this policy into practice, as they both backed regime change by removing the dictator.
 
Why is there a war against the Iraqi regime but not against other bloody regimes and dictators? Oil? Sure. Iraq has the world's second largest oil resources. The war can be seen as an important step in the worldwide battle for energy. As soon as we see the end of the world's oil resources, fierce wars may start for the last oil reserves - as long as we do not find an alternative source of energy to durably substitute oil.
 
Oil? Sure. Bush's electoral campaign was largely financed by the energy lobby. More than one member of his government and staff comes from the energy industry (check politics). This resulted in an energy plan which concentrates on increased production and consumption rather than on possibilities to save energy as well as find and develop alternative energy resources. 
 
Oil? Sure, because it gives Saddam Hussein and his regime the possibility to acquire new weapons (of mass destruction and conventional ones). As long as the dictator is in place, there is danger.

Oil? Sure, because only a country like Iraq represents an interest as vital enough for the US taxpayers to be ready to spend some $75 billion or more to chase out a dictator. If Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator in a poor African state with no important resources, (almost) nobody would care. It's a shame but that's the way it is.
 
Oil? Sure. The energy resources are also a guarantee for a future in prosperity since, after a few dozen billions of dollars of investments by the West in the production infrastructure, they can be used to rebuild the country.
 
However, is the US American foreign policy coherent and credible? No. As Le Monde wrote on March 8, 2003, after 1979, the end of the regime of the Shah in Iran, the US slowly began to change its position towards Iraq. Europeans had already delivered weapons and more during the 1970s. In 1979, Iraq was already heavily armed. The US began to consider Iraq as the lesser evil compared with Iran. In 1982, the US removed Iraq from the list of countries supporting terrorism. In December of 1983, after a series of trips to Baghdad during the year, Donald H. Rumsfeld, today's Secretary of Defense and then Ronald Reagan's special envoy to Iraq, concluded a treaty of military cooperation with Saddam Hussein, at a time when it was already clear to the US administration that Iraq had used chemical weapons in its war against Iran. In November 1984, the US re-established its diplomatic relations with Iraq. In a covert operation, the CIA sent fragmentation bombs via a Chilean company to Iraq. The US also provided chemical components, computers and more things of so-called dual-use, civilian and military, to Saddam Hussein. In 1987 and 1988, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurdish population. In 1991, after the First Gulf War, equipment sent by US companies such Union Carbide and Honeywell was found. A US Senate Banking Commission revealed in 1994 that Iraq got material for the construction of biological weapons, e.g. anthrax, from the US.
 
Regarding coherence and credibility of US foreign policy, what about an intervention in Iran? It has oil, a bloody regime and recently declared its intention to build a nuclear plant. Iran only may not have (yet) started a war against its neighbors; it was Saddam Hussein who started the Iran-Iraq war. What about North Korea? Maybe one or two nuclear warheads or at least the capability to get them in a short period of time as well as the possession of long range missiles which can not only threaten South Korea's capital Seoul, but which have already been tested flying as far as over Japan, leaving the country of the rising sun with some worries.
 
Above all, US American foreign policy is not coherent and credible as long as a friend and ally of the United States such as Saudi Arabia has a disgusting, anti-democratic regime. Some of Saudi Arabia's citizens provided and provide funds to terrorists and, last but not least, most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi citizens. This country also needs a regime change. Furthermore, in the eyes of many Arabs, Saudi Arabia is not only seen as a regime of villains, but as an American ally. No wonder the credibility of US foreign policy and of "American values" do not find much of a positive echo in the Arab world.

In other words, less hypocrisy and more coherent US strategies and actions in the military, political, diplomatic and economic fields would be wise. To be more specific, to tolerate and (at least indirectly) support dictators and corrupt regimes in former Soviet Republics and in Pakistan just because they are direct or close neighbors to Afghanistan is not only unwise in the long run, but a betrayal of American values. To fight a war in Iraq, as Bush senior did, in which tens of thousands of innocent people as well as soldiers had to die, to encourage Kurds and Shiites to stand up against the dictator, but in the end leave the dictator in place and let down the courageous Kurds and Shiites to preserve the regional balance is not only shortsighted, it is obscene.
 
Click here for part 2: US American foreign policy on Iraq.





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