On September 12, 2002, President George Bush appeared at the United Nations General Assembly to present his case for actions against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. In his speech he stated that the country of Iraq has violated 16 UN Security Council resolutions over the past 10 years. These sixteen resolutions are:

  1. UNSCR 678 passed on November 29, 1990
  2. UNSCR 686 passed on March 2, 1991
  3. UNSCR 687 passed on April 3, 1991
  4. UNSCR 688 passed on April 5, 1991
  5. UNSCR 707 passed on August 15, 1991
  6. UNSCR 715 passed on October 11, 1991
  7. UNSCR 949 passed on October 15, 1994
  8. UNSCR 1051 passed on March 27, 1996
  9. UNSCR 1060 passed on June 12, 1996
  10. UNSCR 1115 passed on June 21, 1996
  11. UNSCR 1134 passed on October 23, 1997
  12. UNSCR 1137 passed on November 12, 1997
  13. UNSCR 1154 passed on March 2, 1998
  14. UNSCR 1158 passed on September 9, 1998
  15. UNSCR 1205 passed on November 5, 1998
  16. UNSCR 1284 passed on December 17, 1999
These resolutions took place over the last decade along with numerous statements made by the Security Council.

Bush also stated directly that the United Nations appeased Hussein over the years by not enforcing any of these resolutions. Bush also stated that either the United Nations can join the United States or the US will go alone.

Information came from A Decade of Deception and Defience: Sadam Hussein's Defiance of the United Nations found also at www.whitehouse.gov

Delivered before the UN General Assembly in New York, New York at 10:39 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, and ladies and gentlemen: We meet one year and one day after a terrorist attack brought grief to my country, and brought grief to many citizens of our world. Yesterday, we remembered the innocent lives taken that terrible morning. Today, we turn to the urgent duty of protecting other lives, without illusion and without fear.

We've accomplished much in the last year -- in Afghanistan and beyond. We have much yet to do -- in Afghanistan and beyond. Many nations represented here have joined in the fight against global terror, and the people of the United States are grateful.

The United Nations was born in the hope that survived a world war -- the hope of a world moving toward justice, escaping old patterns of conflict and fear. The founding members resolved that the peace of the world must never again be destroyed by the will and wickedness of any man. We created the United Nations Security Council, so that, unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes. After generations of deceitful dictators and broken treaties and squandered lives, we dedicated ourselves to standards of human dignity shared by all, and to a system of security defended by all.

Today, these standards, and this security, are challenged. Our commitment to human dignity is challenged by persistent poverty and raging disease. The suffering is great, and our responsibilities are clear. The United States is joining with the world to supply aid where it reaches people and lifts up lives, to extend trade and the prosperity it brings, and to bring medical care where it is desperately needed.

As a symbol of our commitment to human dignity, the United States will return to UNESCO. (Applause.) This organization has been reformed and America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights and tolerance and learning.

Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts -- ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable. In the Middle East, there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides. America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Like all other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices. My nation will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.

Above all, our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions. In the attacks on America a year ago, we saw the destructive intentions of our enemies. This threat hides within many nations, including my own. In cells and camps, terrorists are plotting further destruction, and building new bases for their war against civilization. And our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale.

In one place -- in one regime -- we find all these dangers, in their most lethal and aggressive forms, exactly the kind of aggressive threat the United Nations was born to confront.

Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped -- by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.

To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge -- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities -- which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime's repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents -- and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke its promise. Last year the Secretary General's high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for -- more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolution 687, demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism, and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke this promise. In violation of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments. Iraqi dissidents abroad are targeted for murder. In 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American President. Iraq's government openly praised the attacks of September the 11th. And al Qaeda terrorists escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq.

In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.

From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

United Nations' inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.

And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War. We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.

Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program -- weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year. And Iraq's state-controlled media has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.

Iraq also possesses a force of Scud-type missiles with ranges beyond the 150 kilometers permitted by the U.N. Work at testing and production facilities shows that Iraq is building more long-range missiles that it can inflict mass death throughout the region.

In 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the world imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime's compliance with Security Council resolutions. In time, Iraq was allowed to use oil revenues to buy food. Saddam Hussein has subverted this program, working around the sanctions to buy missile technology and military materials. He blames the suffering of Iraq's people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself, and to buy arms for his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.

In 1991, Iraq promised U.N. inspectors immediate and unrestricted access to verify Iraq's commitment to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Iraq broke this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading, and harassing U.N. inspectors before ceasing cooperation entirely. Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security Council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors, condemning Iraq's serious violations of its obligations. The Security Council again renewed that demand in 1994, and twice more in 1996, deploring Iraq's clear violations of its obligations. The Security Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing flagrant violations; and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq's behavior totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.

As we meet today, it's been almost four years since the last U.N. inspectors set foot in Iraq, four years for the Iraqi regime to plan, and to build, and to test behind the cloak of secrecy.

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.

Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than patient. We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot of oil for food, and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has a -- nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.

The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?

The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful, and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime. Our partnership of nations can meet the test before us, by making clear what we now expect of the Iraqi regime.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis -- a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally supervised elections.

The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.

We can harbor no illusions -- and that's important today to remember. Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians, and 40 Iraqi villages.

My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.

Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.

If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.

Neither of these outcomes is certain. Both have been set before us. We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind. By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand, as well.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Speech ended at 11:04am

"One of the delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory."
—Zhou Enlai

A history lesson for the president....1

On 12 September 2002 (not coincidentally the day following the one year anniversary of the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks) President George Bush II presented what had been promised to be a strong case for going to war with Iraq (though the administration continued to do all it could to pretend that "war" was not the intent). Rather than that offering what has been promised or any actual "new" evidence, people were subjected to a long version of the same two or three speeches and recycled old evidence and conjecture as has been pouring out of the White House as of late. The only thing that seems to have been left out was an "or else."

And all the while showing a gross ignorance or deliberate ignoring of the historical record.

He spoke about the United Nations gaining legitimacy and credibility by capitulating to US demands for action—not in those words, his speech writers are smarter than that. This of course, from a country that has a shaky hold on that sort moral high ground (no matter how conservatively evangelical Attorney General John Ashcroft is). The man who claimed Jesus Christ was his favorite "political philosopher" spoke of how "After generations of deceitful dictators and broken treaties and squandered lives, we dedicated ourselves to standards of human dignity shared by all, and to a system of security defended by all," apparently without any sense of knowing that many of them were funded and supported by the US.

Every one of these individuals or groups was at one time getting overt or covert paychecks and usually arms from the US, all while repressing their people, usually violently, stripping them of their freedoms and compromising hope of anything resembling "democracy": successions of brutal Guatemalan dictators (after the US fomented a coup that toppled the democratic and democratically elected government in 1954—it was time for a regime change), Augusto Pinochet, Ferdinand Marcos, Manuel Noriega, a corrupt and brutal government in El Salvador, the Contras (who were terrorists, themselves), Mohammed Siad Barre (Somalia), Francois Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier (Haiti), Hissène Habré (Chad), Idi Amin, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge (after 1978), Anastazio Somoza (Sr. and Jr.; Nicaragua), Suharto (Indonesia), Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina (Dominican Republic), Mohammad Reza Pahlevi (the Shah of Iran whose repression and brutality led to the rise of extremism and the Ayatollah Khomeini—in turn leading to the storming of the US Embassy and the taking of hostages), numerous heads of state in Africa and elsewhere. The combined body count (not to mention the pain and suffering and psychological damage) of these and others is larger than that of the Holocaust (this is merely a comparison of numbers).

And don't forget to add one other name to the list: Saddam Hussein.

When the question comes up "why do they hate us?" it rarely gets mentioned that supporting such tyrants might be part of the equation. Since 1946, the US has run the infamous School of the Americas (often referred to as "School of Assassins" for good reason) where it has taught over 60,000 Central and South American soldiers in "counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics" (School of the Americas Watch: www.soaw.org). Basically, they were taught how to conduct state-run terrorism against their own people. Started in Panama, it has been at Fort Benning, Georgia since 1984. On American soil. Trained for export to other countries.

People who graduated went on to careers in harassment, beating, torture, rape, murder, and massacre. Targets including women and children, the clergy, aid and human rights workers, and labor organizers. Some of the leaders of the "elite" unit that perpetrated the massacres at and around El Mozote were graduates. Several of those that were part of Pinochet's notorious intelligence agency were graduates. Other graduates of the program from El Salvador were connected to or took part in both the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the rape and murder of three Catholic nuns and a layworker (all Americans; the crimes became noticed mainly because the families refused to accept the "official" version of what happened given by the Salvadoran government, which was accepted by the US government). A name from above reappears: Manuel Noriega. Since 2001, it has been run under a new name: the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. But not under new management.

Bush II discussed the series of ignored or broken UN Security Council resolutions. He asked "Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence?" This is important, since the implication is that any country that regularly defies Security Council resolutions must be a rogue state (unless it's Israel, which has also benefited from the US permanent member veto on more than 30 occasions). In 1984, Nicaragua filed a case against the US for violations of international law (and the UN Charter and the Organization of American States charter, both of which according to Article VI of the US Constitution—as ratified treaties—are considered the "supreme law of the land") regarding its support of the Contras and actual actions (sabotage and mining a harbor, among others) taken by operatives of the US.

(The ensuing Iran-Contra scandal demonstrated just how well a nation can whitewash its sins when policing itself.)

The World Court ruled in favor of Nicaragua. Rather than dispute the evidence, the US simply ignored it. Nicaragua took the case to the Security Council where the US (predictably) used its veto to stop a resolution calling for states to observe international law. It fell 11-1, 3 abstentions. In 1987, the General Assembly voted on a resolution against terrorism. It was nearly unanimous. One abstention, two vetoes. The US was one of those (Israel was the other).

This is also the country that took decades to ratify both the Genocide Convention and protocol to the Geneva Convention prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons (the former accompanied by "reservations" and "declarations" making it meaningless). This is the country that has refused to sign/ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (the only other being Somalia), the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and others. That unilaterally broke out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and the Kyoto Protocol on global warming (the US being the world's biggest polluter).

The same country that is trying to muster coalition support for its war enterprise, yet refused to vote for the creation of the International Criminal Court. A country seeking the UN's imprimatur, yet refuses to pay off its millions of dollars in debt to the organization from which it is trying to get support.

He discussed UN Human Rights reports about the gross violations committed by Hussein's government. Again, this is selective memory or sheer ignorance. None of the reports on the United Front (Northern Alliance) seemed important enough to cause concern. Not that their violations were mostly the same as those of the Taleban (though on a smaller scale). Even though it's becoming clear that the former warlords have not changed their ways in many respects and that shortly after the beginning of the "war" in Afghanistan, reports began to filter out of summary executions of prisoners (more violations of international law). These reports are starting to be substantiated. Bombings, assassination attempts (and successes) still go on.

Some places report conditions that are virtually the same as under the Taleban in the treatment and subjugation of women, religious persecution (both persecution of religion and by religion), and general lawlessness. Opium production and drug use, which were held at significantly low levels under the Taleban, are making a strong comeback.

This isn't surprising, the US has long ignored human rights violations in many of its allies: Turkey, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Nicaragua (under the Somoza regime—which conveniently changed when they were ousted by the Sandinistas), Egypt (after Israel, the nation receiving the largest amount of US foreign aid—two-thirds of all US foreign aid goes to those two countries), Saudi Arabia...the correlation between regimes the US supports and human rights abuses is striking. But the reports only matter when they serve a purpose. In this case, going to war against Iraq.

The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM, better known as the weapons inspectors) is mentioned. And while it is undeniable that Iraq cooperated as little as possible, lied, and misled, the fact that the US was undermining the effectiveness of the team by using it to spy on potential military targets—something that was denied, later turning out to be true—goes unmentioned. And when the team finally pulled out (voluntarily—not having been kicked out as the "official" version goes), they did so just ahead of bombing attacks that used the intelligence gathered by their spies.

There was also the case of an unofficial promise to limit access to certain chosen sites (mainly a matter of allowing fewer members of the team). It led to further breakdowns and denial of access to American inspectors. A reluctance to allow them back would be understandable if they feared more bad faith and covert business possibly leading to more attacks (which in the current climate is almost a certainty). When those sites were later examined, they were clean (maybe there were weapons there, maybe not).

That fact that more than one of the members of the team has stated that as much as 90% of Hussein's capacity to create the weapons of mass destruction was disabled (had they been allowed to do their job by both sides, things may have been different). Of course, the main fact is that there is no evidence that Hussein either has or has not stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. It is being assumed that he has. While very likely true, it seems a poor way to "make a case" for war.

The UN sanctions were brought up. Sanctions that are contributing to the misery and deaths of large numbers of Iraqi civilians (as did the targeting of civilian infrastructure during the Gulf Warsanitation, water treatment plants, power facilities—another violation of the Geneva Convention and one that was also practiced in Bosnia). Sanctions that Hussein flaunts. Rather than altering them or halting them and searching for another solution (unless one agrees going to war is a "solution"), they are continued, pressed on by the US. Since the consequences and human costs of the continuing sanctions are clear, the US and UN are partially culpable in those consequences.

There is so much in this paragraph alone:

We can harbor no illusions—and that's important today to remember. Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians, and 40 Iraqi villages.

Illusions indeed. How soon "we" forget. Hussein's attack of Iran was supported by the administration. There were no condemnations (beyond some mild statements, quickly said then dumped into Orwell's memory hole) when he used chemical weapons against the Iranian army—not just a violation of international law but a de facto war crime—weapons that were largely created through the help of sales from US pharmaceutical and chemical companies, licensed to sell to Iraq by the US Commerce Department. The anthrax and botulism germ agents found by UN inspectors matched those sold by US companies. Companies that are on the record as having sold same to Iraq.

When the news broke of the evidence of these crimes, current Secretary of War (let's be honest and call it by its true name) Donald Rumsfeld—then-President Ronald Reagan's Middle East envoy—was in Iraq. Support for Hussein and sales of chemical, biological agents, helicopters, and materiel continued. It was well known that Hussein had the weapons and had used them. Computer equipment and other electronics that were widely known to have dual purpose uses (i.e., both commercial/civilian and military use) were also sold to Iraq. Components and systems that could be put to use building missile systems. None of this was a matter of concern.

Iran was an official enemy and Iraq's war against them was a "good" thing as far as the administration was concerned. Hence, no one cared that chemical weapons were used. No one cared that missiles were fired and villages destroyed. At least until it became convenient as fodder for the drums of war.

In fact, it's been reported that US military and intelligence agencies gave Iraq intelligence pertaining to Iranian troop movement, deployment, information that aided in bomb strikes and likely helped to maximize the effectiveness of the mustard gas, VX, and sarin he had developed with the help of "you know who." According to a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) source, the Pentagon "wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas. It was just another way of killing people—whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference." According to another intelligence officer, "The use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern" (New York Times, 18 August 2002). Until now.

And when Hussein gassed those Kurds (of the infamous "gassed his own people" mantra) support continued. For at least another year. Despite an estimated casualty count of 2,500 to 5,000. That many dead only count if they are Americans. One wonders just how much concern the US has for the Kurds, given the way it allows Turkey to repress them, up to and including violence. Hundreds of millions of dollars in US weapons are being used for that. Or given that the US told its soldiers to stand down and do nothing when shortly after the Gulf War, Hussein had his soldiers massacre them in large numbers.

Where was the concern then? Or since? Repression of Kurds in areas under Hussein's control has gone on all along. Before, when he was armed and supported, while there was the "war" by technicality, and in the interim. Only now this becomes an issue. Only now those deaths have any meaning as far as the administration is concerned.

And that same Rumsfeld, who was having meetings with Hussein during the period when he was committing war crimes with tacit approval of the US, within a few hours of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center, was asking aides to draw up plans to attack Iraq—at a time when evidence confirming that it was al-Qaeda responsible was not yet available. Notes from an unnamed aide (courtesy of CBS News) had Rumsfeld a few hours later asking for "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." (Saddam Hussein) - "at same time. Not only UBL" (bin Laden—his first name is sometimes transliterated as Usama). Regardless of a lack of evidence implicating Iraq in the attacks (none has yet been uncovered), he was to looking for an excuse to "go massive," and to "Sweep it all up. Things related and not" (CBS Evening News broadcast, 4 September 2002).

Another news story that has silently been swept under the rug and forgotten.

Iraq has never used its weapons of mass destruction except on Iran (again, with the tacit approval of the US—and arguably with its encouragement) and its own people (Kurds). It has never attacked the US nor fired upon a US citizen prior to being, itself, attacked. And those actions took place within Iraq. But the preemptive strike plan favored—championed—by the current administration (and in violation of international law as well as the UN Charter) is set so that all that is "necessary" to attack another sovereign state is the suspicion that it might at some time possibly commit attacks of military or terroristic nature. "Self-defense" stretched virtually forever.

This is not what the UN was set up to do and it is this sort of unilateral action based on conjecture or simple fear that the UN and the Security Council are supposed to guard against.

No matter how corrupt, brutal, repressive a government is. No matter how despicable its leader is. The UN is set up to find solutions that don't involve the kind of war that is being actively pursued. Like the bitter conflicts that tore apart the many nations in Europe and elsewhere in the past. Looking at history shows the utter hypocrisy and arrogance of the stance being taken by the US.

But history is irrelevant to foreign policy and (irony noted) there is a long history of that. George Orwell wrote that "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." Pretending that the past does not exist (at least not the embarrassing or incriminating historical record) is a full time job in Washington, D.C. Sadly, the mainstream media follows along.

Bush asked if the UN will "serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?" This from a country that has spent a lot of time taking actions and implementing policies that make the UN irrelevant. And "serve the purpose of its founding," here clearly means "do what the US wants."

"Do as I say, not as I have done for decades."

"Or else."

1Sadly, it is necessary to point out that this is not an apologetic for Iraq or Saddam Hussein. It is an attempt to put some things into a historical context that is almost completely absent in the mainstream media and certainly in the rhetoric of those in power who are pushing for this "action." Historical events do not occur in a vacuum and actions have consequences. When those consequences result in the loss of innocent lives, it is intolerable. But to suggest the best solution is to take more human life, it will only make more problems. And acting on that suggestion will create problems that all the flags fluttering from mini-vans in the world cannot protect us from.

As a US citizen, my government has already smeared more than enough blood on my hands. More will not make the world any safer, any more secure.

For further reference and additional sources, some related work:
El Mozote
Declarations and Reservations to the Genocide Convention
UN resolutions relating to Israel vetoed by the US
Northern Alliance
Saddam Hussein
Iran-Contra Scandal
Hissène Habré
Rio Negro massacres (Guatemala; three part writeup): 1, 2, 3
Khmer Rouge
War on Iraq 2002

I appreciate sid's contribution for providing some sadly accurate context for the Iraq issue, but I feel sid fails to mention the motivations behind many of the U.S. actions he describes and distracts from the central question Mr. Bush was addressing in his speech. While there can be no justification for many atrocities he has described, the culture that allowed them to happen had a purpose. Furthermore, the fact that the U.S. was responsible for many of the intolerable situations present around the world today gives the U.S. an obligation to try to repair them.

The corrupt and murderous regimes supported by the U.S. did not exist in a vacuum. Those leaders sid have listed above, some he hasn't, and of course Osama bin Laden and the mujaheddin were installed, trained, supplied, and defended as part of the Cold War. I would not be so cold and trite to say that the means justify the ends, or that you have to get your hands dirty to play in the big leagues. Nothing can excuse the actions described, but the excited and urgent atmosphere produced by the Communist threat gave rise to excesses that produced these crimes. Fortunately, no one writing here on E2 must choose between living under Ceausescu and Pinochet or Suharto and Mao. The U.S. was put in a difficult situation, whether to make a deal with the devil or watch tyrants take control. Similarly, Saddam Hussein was supported to try to stop Iran's spread of fundamentalism which at the time threatened to take over the entire region, a problem not only for the oil companies, but for anyone who believes in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I find many activists, especially Noam Chomsky would gain credibility if they acknowledged that U.S. policy has not been dictated solely by corporate interests, but at least occasionally by valid moral and legal imperatives.

I believe that ultimately the issue of past support for corrupt regimes is irrelevant to the current debate on Iraq policy. Saddam Hussein is yet another mess that the U.S. is responsible for nurturing and sustaining. This responsibility gives us more of an obligation to resolve the problem, not less. What kind of global citizen would we be if we didn't clean up our own mess? I agree with sid that we should seek to resolve problems without taking human life. This may be possible in some circumstances, if not politically acceptable, through a number of measures including alternative energy (Mideast, Nigeria, Indonesia), drug legalization (Colombia, Burma, Mexico), and technology transfer/financial support (Africa). There are some problems, like the North Korean regime, that may require a military option.

We have recently overthrown a tyrant in Milosevic and tried to do the right thing and failed in Somalia. We should have intervened in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. There are obviously situations where military force is required and justified. Personally, I am not convinced that Iraq is one of these situations and I find the corporate interests very disturbing. But I feel the history of these conflicts should be a non-factor to the choices of foreign policy today. If we are doing something that is right and necessary, why let the past stay our hand? How are we to show the world we have changed if not by doing the right thing?

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