Anniversary of Second U.S. Iraq War
March 20, 2003
From the Party Press
Colin Powell’s “Compelling Demonstration”: “Come Under Our Dictate or Else…”
Prior to delivering his 80-minute speech to the Security Council ministerial- level meeting on February 5, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote a letter published in the Wall Street Journal on February 3 in which he promised to provide a “compelling demonstration” that Saddam Hussein “is concealing the evidence of his weapons of mass destruction, while preserving the weapons themselves.” He said he would not present a “smoking gun” but described the “evidence” he would present in the form of photographs of “mobile biological weapons installations as well as transcripts of overheard conversations among Iraqi officials.”
This is what he did. The result at first sight does not seem to have changed the equation in the Security Council in favour of the U.S. as concerns getting that body to give the U.S. a vote of confidence to launch aggression against Iraq. Views presented by all and sundry after Powell’s presentation would seem to show that the converted found his evidence “compelling” while the unconverted remain as sceptical as ever.
So, if there was no “smoking gun” and only the converted believe that the “smoking intercept”-type “evidence” is credible, what is this exercise all about? Clearly, the majority of the world’s people remain very opposed to a U.S. aggression against Iraq and a majority of countries remain sceptical to say the least. In spite of this, the big powers and others are lining up to accommodate the U.S. Why?
In Cairo, also on February 3, Richard Haas, the State Department’s director of policy and planning, referring to Colin Powell’s awaited presentation to the Security Council on February 5, told the newspaper Al-Ahram, “we will not present pictures of 30,000 stockpiled warheads which carry chemical weapons, if that is what you mean by evidence.” Ignoring that this is indeed what might pass the test of what people expect to see when one speaks of evidence he continued, “We will present more points about the activities undertaken by Iraqis from which any sensible person can deduce that these people are hiding something.” And sure enough, that is what Colin Powell did. He presented “more points” “from which any sensible person can deduce that these people are hiding something.”
So if what people understand to be evidence is not the evidence, what do the U.S. imperialists consider to be evidence?
Let us leave aside for the moment the fact that the majority of the world’s people who vigorously oppose a war of aggression against Iraq have been declared, through sleight of hand, to be not sensible people. This is a matter not lost on the likes of Tony Blair and Jean Chretien who repeatedly tell us that it is not up to the people of their countries to decide whether or not we go to war. Governments are elected to make the “hard choices” on matters which presumably we know nothing about, they say. It is “governments” which decide, not the people who they are said to democratically represent. As a result of the Party dominated system of so-called representative democracy, people exercise no control over the governments that get elected either.
Let us see, then, which “points” Colin Powell made, “from which any sensible person can deduce that these people are hiding something.”
“The points” are of two kinds. First come those which the world was led to expect would be a “smoking gun” but are instead what one analyst, referring to the audio tapes of an intercepted conversation between Iraqi officials, called a “smoking intercept.” Never mind that all those who we consider to be sensible people concluded that such things as the intercepted conversation could very well have been cooked up by U.S. “intelligence” forces. Never mind that many wondered why it is that, if the U.S. spy planes and satellites could pick up all the trucks allegedly carting off evidence of chemical weapons, they could not also inform U.N. inspectors where those trucks went with the evidence? The aim of such “points” is to sow doubt about Saddam Hussein’s credibility and, most importantly, about his intentions, especially as concerns the possibility that he could unleash a small pox epidemic or poison gas or some such similar atrocity. According to this scenario, “it is better to be safe than sorry.” Keeping in mind the underlying logic of the U.S. imperialists and their apologists – that because the Iraqis are “hiding something,” they are in “material breach” of Security Council Resolutions, this is all that is required to conclude that the use of force against them is now “legitimate.” This kind of “evidence” is thus considered most “compelling.”
In fact, this kind of reasoning should be itself considered a crime under international law. It is fear-mongering – a kind of psychological warfare aimed at intimidating people into accepting aggression against a UN member state. Furthermore, it is premised on the medieval dictum of “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” All the big powers seem to agree with this dictum since the essence of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 is that the onus is on Iraq to prove it has destroyed all weapons on mass destruction, in a situation in which the U.S. imperialists are the judges who can use impunity and have already decided that no proof will suffice.
In spite of the fact that the U.S. imperialists and their apologists consider that the “points” presented by Colin Powell which come under this category of “evidence” are “compelling,” it is not on the basis of these points alone that the U.S. presented its “case.” To draw warranted conclusions, it is necessary to also look at the second category of “points.”
The second kind of “points” were those which repeated the assertions which the U.S. imperialists are making, along with their loudest proponent, Britain’s Tony Blair – referred to by one commentator as the best minister of foreign affairs the U.S. ever had. ‘Time is running out’– or its follow-up, ‘time has run out’ – would be one example. Even Hans Blix recently stated that for Iraq it is “five minutes to midnight,” a very uncouth reference if one considers that such a thing conjures up the anticipation of a New Year’s celebration and the attendant fireworks lighting the night sky. ‘Unless you do what the U.S. is saying, the U.N. will become irrelevant’, would be another example. Tony Blair put it succinctly when he cautioned permanent members of the Security Council not to make “an unreasonable, capricious use of the veto.”
When the U.S. imperialists declare that “time is running out,” who are they addressing? When they say that unless the world community agrees to use force against Iraq, the U.N. will become irrelevant, who are they threatening? They are not threatening Saddam Hussein as such, since all evidence shows that their aim has been all along to invade Iraq no matter what. It is also clear that a UN based on double standards and the veto of the big powers is in dire need of democratic renewal such that, in its present form, the peoples of the world cannot rely on it to protect their interests. A warranted conclusion might be that the U.S. imperialists are threatening the big powers themselves, the veto-wielding big powers in the first place, and all pretenders who would dare contest U.S. hegemony, in the second. They are also threatening all other countries who they demand join their “coalition of the willing” and they are threatening the peoples of the entire world who they demand remain passive in the face of the situation.
Colin Powell’s “compelling demonstration” was to tell the world that the U.S. imperialists are now ready for invasion and they will accept no further dithering on anyone’s part. They are telling the entire world, either you buckle under the U.S. dictate and accept the New World Order in which the U.S. and the U.S. alone gets to make up the rules, or you can be snuffed out.
Here would seem to lie the answer towhat precisely we witnessed when the U.S. Secretary of Defence Colin Powell presented his “compelling demonstration” at the Security Council’s ministerial- level meeting on February 5. It is the so-called Bush doctrine “either you are with us, or you are against us.” The U.S. imperialists are telling all the other big powers as well as the peoples of the entire world: “Submit to the U.S. Dictate, or Else….”