US American foreign policy
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
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
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
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.
here for part 2: US American foreign policy on Iraq.