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Target Iraq: U.S. Plans for Major War
By Larry Everest

"Tens of thousands of marines and soldiers [will invade Iraq] from
Kuwait. Hundreds of warplanes based in as many as eight countries,
possibly including Turkey and Qatar, would unleash a huge air assault
against thousands of targets, including airfields, roadways and
fiber-optics communications sites. Special operations forces or covert
CIA operatives would strike at depots or laboratories storing or
manufacturing Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction and the
missiles to launch them." New York Times , July 5, 2002

This isn't a fictional scenario from a Tom Clancy novel. It's a real
scenario from "CentCom Courses of Action"--the latest U.S. plan for war
on Iraq.

Leaked to the New York Times, the plan calls for attacks on Iraq by U.S.
air, land, and sea- based forces from the north, south, and west, in
coordination with covert operations inside Iraq by the CIA and various
Iraqi groups. As many as 250,000 U.S. troops could be involved. The
goal: to overthrow the Iraqi government and install a pro-U.S. regime.

In the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S.-led coalition killed between 100,000 and
200,000 Iraqis. A new U.S. war carried to Baghdad could make that
bloodbath pale in comparison.

The Central Command plan reveals the rulers' determination to wage war
on Iraq, and how advanced their planning is. Yet the establishment
treated their disclosure as routine -- as if the U.S. has an undisputed
right to openly plot wars on whomever, whenever.

No big outcry came from Congress -- leading Democrats vocally support
"regime change" in Iraq. One Republican backed congressional hearings
"as a way of building public support for potential military action."
Mainstream editorials focused on tactics and timing - not justice.


Military Preparations Underway

Since September 11 there has been intense discussion within the ruling
class over how to seize upon the attacks to advance U.S. global
interests. Much of this discussion has focused on Iraq - most of it
behind closed doors.

The options reportedly being considered include a CIA-organized coup
against the Hussein regime; a campaign--modeled after the U.S. war in
Afghanistan--involving a combination of air strikes, a limited number of
U.S. Special Forces, and anti-Hussein forces in Iraq; a full-scale U.S.
invasion; and various combinations of all three.

The New York Times notes that "Courses of Action" may indicate that war
planners favor a large-scale invasion: "Most military and administration
officials believe that a coup in Iraq would be unlikely to succeed, and
that a proxy battle using local forces would not be enough to drive the
Iraqi leader from power."

Meanwhile, the U.S. has been actively preparing for battle. The
Washington Post (6/16) reports that earlier this year, Bush "signed an
intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake a comprehensive,
covert program to topple Saddam Hussein, including authority to use
lethal force to capture the Iraqi president." One official told the Post
that these plans were not a substitute for war but "should be viewed
largely as `preparatory' to a military strike."

In the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. built up an extensive network
of military bases throughout the region. Today there are some 20,000
U.S. troops in Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait and another 5,000 in
Saudi Arabia. These bases are being beefed up, expanded, and readied.

The New York Times reports, "Thousands of marines from the First Marine
Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif., the marine unit
designated for the Gulf, have stepped up their mock assault drills," and
the "Air Force is stockpiling weapons, ammunition and spare parts, like
airplane engines, at depots in the United States and in the Middle
East." Troops are reportedly arriving in Turkey, and military aid to
Jordan is being increased.

U.S. officials have been touring the pro-U.S. regimes in the area to
line up support--Defense Secretary Rumsfeld visited Kuwait, Bahrain and
Qatar in June. In April the CIA brought officials from Kurdish groups
based in northern Iraq to the U.S. for secret meetings. Some 70 former
Iraqi military officers met in London during the week of July 8 to
discuss their role in a U.S. war. And U.S. support for Israel's brutal
invasions of the West Bank and Gaza--as well as hypocritical and empty
words about a Palestinian "state"--are aimed at extinguishing the fires
of the Palestinian uprising in preparation for war against Iraq.

According to the New York Times (7/10), "Once a consensus is reached on
the concept, the steps toward assembling a final war plan and the
element of timing for ground deployments and launching an air war
represent the final decisions for President Bush to make." The Times
also reports (7/5) that "senior administration officials continue to say
that any offensive would probably be delayed until early next year,
allowing time to create the right military, economic and diplomatic
conditions." Of course, such timetables are speculative and subject to
change by global events.


Preparing Pretexts

War preparations are also well underway on the propaganda front. At his
July 8 press conference, Bush declared, "The world would be safer, more
peaceful if there is a regime change" in Iraq. The U.S. accuses Iraq of
possessing or developing "weapons of mass destruction." Yet a number of
former UN arms inspectors say that Iraq has largely been disarmed, and
even Pentagon officials admit that Iraq's current military is only
one-third its 1990 size.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is boosting its already staggering military budget
by another $50 billion, and now embraces preemptive wars and first use
of nuclear weapons. The U.S. has troops stationed in every corner of the
globe and is at this moment bombing Afghanistan, organizing
counterinsurgency campaigns in the Philippines and elsewhere, and
backing Israel's murderous assaults on Palestinians.

The Bush administration demands that Iraq accept intrusive,
U.S.-controlled arms inspections - in other words spies must be allowed
to roam throughout Iraq as the U.S. prepares its war. After talks
between Iraq and the UN on return of arms inspectors recently broke off,
the State Department called Iraq "a threat to regional security, to the
nations in the region."

Iraq argues that any agreement on arms inspection must be part of an
overall agreement on exactly what constitutes compliance with all UN
resolutions. Such terms have never been clearly spelled out -- allowing
the U.S. to claim Iraq is "non-compliant" no matter what steps it takes.

This is the prime U.S. excuse for maintaining sanctions, which were
extended again in May. In 1999, UNICEF found that one Iraqi child in
seven dies before the age of 5. This means that 5,000 more children in
Iraq die each month today than before the U.S. war and sanctions. UNICEF
also reported that 22 percent of Iraq's young children are chronically
malnourished.


An Imperialist Agenda

After September 11, the U.S. rulers aggressively pushed forward their
pre-existing agenda of recasting global relations to extend and solidify
U.S. global dominance. And waging war on Iraq has been central to this
whole vision.

The Wall Street Journal (6/14) revealed that within days of the
September attacks, top Bush advisers "argued over whether to launch a
strike on Iraq"-- even though there was "no real evidence that Saddam
Hussein's regime had anything to do with the terror attacks."

In the view of those running the empire, Iraq's defiance undermines U.S.
hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East and tarnishes its standing as the
world's dominant superpower.

By toppling the current Iraqi government and installing a pro-U.S.
regime, the U.S. hopes to tighten its grip on Persian Gulf oil--and all
who depend on it. These global predators view war on Iraq as key to
redrawing the region's political map and intimidating anti-U.S.
resistance. According to the New York Times, top officials argue that
"an Iraq under new governance could become a new Western ally, helping
to reduce American dependency on bases in Saudi Arabia, to secure
Israel's eastern flank and act as a wedge between Iran and Syria."

Waging war on Iraq is also seen as a crucial test of the so-called "Bush
doctrine" of pre-emptive wars against any the U.S. considers a threat.
Those running the empire are determined to show the world that the U.S.
is willing and able to crush any challenger, or sweep away any
impediment to its power.

U.S. plans for war against Iraq--and the whole "Bush doctrine"--have
nothing to do with "protecting the world" or "saving the lives of
American people." They're about naked imperialist power
politics--gangsterism on a global scale.

In 1991, on the eve of "Operation Desert Storm," George Bush Sr.
declared, "We have no argument with the people of Iraq; indeed, we have
only friendship for the people there." Eleven years later, over one
million Iraqis are dead thanks to U.S. bombs and sanctions.

Any new U.S. war on Iraq will no doubt be undertaken in the name of
helping Iraq's people. But such a war will once again inflict enormous
destruction, suffering, and death on ordinary Iraqis.

People around the world -- especially those of us who live in the U.S.
itself -- must oppose such an unjust and cruel war with all our hearts.


***

Larry Everest is a correspondent for the Revolutionary Worker newspaper
and the author of Behind the Poison Cloud: Union Carbide's Bhopal
Massacre. He traveled to Iraq in 1991 and shot the video Iraq: War
Against the People. His articles can be found at www.rwor.org and he can
be reached at [EMAIL PROTECTED]




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