Talking Points on Iraq
From the Campaign to End the Cycle of Violence (North Carolina)
January 31, 2003
1) Saddam Hussein & Weapons of Mass Destruction:
There is no credible evidence that Iraq has nuclear weapons (this was confirmed this week by the Jan. 27 report to the UN Security Council) or is engaged in reviving its nuclear program. Saddam Hussein may have hidden chemical or biological weapons (most of it originally supplied by US and other western nations), but no means to deliver them (the longest range of any discovered missiles is 180 or so kilometers, about 120 miles). There is no evidence that Saddam Hussein has the will or the capacity to attack the US. Iraq is a battered, weak nation after being routed in the Gulf War and under embargo since. UN inspectors destroyed a large percentage of Iraq’s military capacity during the 1990s.
There is no credible evidence of Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda, despite Bush Administration allegations. Al Qaeda considers Saddam Hussein to be an enemy, a secularist who has betrayed Islam.
Saddam Hussein is certainly a cruel dictator, who was just as cruel when the US supported him in the brutal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s.
2) Most of the world is against and is frightened by this war – as indicated by huge demonstrations and polls – despite the tremendous amount of pressure put on nations by the Bush Administration. Even more people are opposed (including inside the US) to the US acting without UN approval. In the United States, the Catholic bishops and every mainline Protestant denomination have gone on record declaring that a U.S. invasion would not constitute a just war, a sentiment echoed by religious leaders around the world.
3) So why does Bush want this war?
Is this war to divert attention from Bush’s disastrous, corporate-friendly, economic policy? Is this a war to establish the unchallengeable right of the US to attack any nation at any time? Is this a war to destroy any authority to international law? Is this really a war for control of huge oil reserves that lie underneath Iraqi territory—a war for control of world petroleum reserves?
Bush wants to legitimize America’s right to attack any nation at any time; the right to preemptive war.
Bush wants to place US military power on the ground in the Middle East to ensure access/control over oil and to ensure American domination of the region.
4) The Dangers:
a. If the US has the right to stage a pre-emptive war (not a war of self-defense), then any nation can claim the right to do so! We will thereby become an outlaw nation.
b. A war with Iraq will fulfill Bin Laden’s goal of provoking a war between Western powers and the Islamic and Arab world
c. Making war a normal way of acting in the world, of responding to international problems, as in the never-ending “war on terror”
d. The US is aiming to become the new Rome, an empire unaccountable to people in the US and the world; that the world will be totally dominated by big corporations and more and more militarized
5) The Costs:
a. In a depressed economy, with unemployment growing, with severe educational needs, health care collapsing, health insurance soaring, states with huge budget deficits – why waste precious resources on an unnecessary, foolhardy war? As Martin Luther King said, “War is the enemy of the poor.”
b. War is the enemy of civil rights and basic freedoms – for immigrants, on the Internet, for those who question the war, for those who want to build movements for change.
c. The end of any possibility for international law – if nations cannot be kept from launching unprovoked attacks, there can be no international law. If the UN is merely a rubber stamp for US policy, there is no hope for international cooperation.
6) The Alternative:
a. Monitor Iraqi compliance with its obligations not to develop weapons of mass destruction BUT end the barbarous sanctions on Iraq, which only means hardship and death for the Iraqi population. This is practical. In fact, UN inspectors in the 1990s destroyed large stocks of Iraqi weaponry. Currently UN inspectors are requesting more time to complete thorough inspections.
b. Demilitarize the whole Middle East region, in part by ending US and other nations’ arms sales and declare the area a nuclear-free zone (including Israel). The Bush Administration has so far rejected calls for a nuclear-free Middle East.
c. Work for social justice and economic power here at home. Fight Bush’s “soak the poor and reward the rich” catastrophic economic policies. Make all people’s welfare a priority in our society.
d. Link with and support struggles around the world for grassroots democracy, economic empowerment and immigrant rights -- which means opposing the domination of other peoples by large corporations or international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Addressing the needs of people for decent and just lives will be more effective in isolating terrorism and promoting peace than gross displays of military power.
e. Pressure the US to be accountable to progressive international agreements, whether it be Kyoto Environmental Agreements, banning of land mines, the World Court, or international agreements on women’s’ rights – including full rights to reproductive freedom.
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