Dear Mr. Bush,
I'm writing you this letter as a United States citizen, Navy
veteran and parent. I have several questions to ask you. I've
paid attention to what you and members of your administration
have said concerning Iraq. However, I've found considerable information
that seems to contradict much of what you've said about the necessity
of attacking Iraq. I've also found information that suggests that
your goal is something other than the disarmament of Iraq.
Let me begin with your justifications for an attack on Iraq.
In your recent State of the Union address, you said that Iraq
is committing multiple human rights abuses, including the torture
of children. You also said that, "International human rights
groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers
of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid
on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues,
and rape. If this is not evil, than evil has no meaning."
I have no doubt that these things occur in Iraq. However, shouldn't
you also tell the American people that the United States has several
allies that are also guilty of these types of abuses, including
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Colombia and Indonesia? Or maybe
you should explain to the American people why our government sends
millions of dollars to our NATO ally, Turkey, despite its horrendous
human rights record torture of children, extra-judicial
executions, rape, disappearances, and arbitrary detention.
I should also mention that Israel, the largest recipient of U.S.
foreign aid, is guilty of multiple human rights abuses. The very
fact that we support these brutal governments is sufficient to
discredit your claim that Iraq's human rights abuses justify an
attack. It seems to me that if you are concerned about human rights
abuses, the fastest way to curtail such activities would be by
discontinuing U.S. support for those governments that commit such
abuses. After all, if these acts are "evil," isn't supporting
the perpetrators of human rights abuses also evil?
You've talked at length about Iraq's violations of UN resolutions
as a justification for war. However, many of our allies are also
resolutions violators. The most egregious is Israel, which is
in violation of dozens of UN resolutions far more than
Iraq. Yet we are not threatening Israel with war for its non-compliance.
Instead, we continue to send them billions of dollars each year
that they use to murder Palestinians, destroy homes, and commit
acts of torture. Obviously, you aren't truly concerned about governments
that defy UN resolutions, so you can't honestly use resolutions
violations as a justification for war against Iraq.
You have also cited the fact that Iraq has attacked its neighbors,
Iran and Kuwait. What you have failed to remind the American public
is that Iraq received U.S. aid during its war against Iran
aid that violated both international law and U.S. law. You also
fail to mention that our own military has reported that they destroyed
the majority of Iraq's military during the Gulf War. Even before
the war, Iraq's military was a second-rate power. Iraq's military
isn't a serious threat to any country.
In the case of Kuwait, Iraq's invasion was clearly wrong. But
it was a long way from the sudden and unprovoked attack that you
usually claim. Kuwait's "artificial" borders were carved
out of Iraq by the British and were never accepted by Iraq. Iraq
has long considered Kuwait part of Iraq. Iraq and Kuwait were
also in dispute over control of oil fields and oil pricing.
Then there's the case of communist China, which has attacked
its neighbors, often threatens to attack Taiwan, and is also a
major human rights abuser. Given your supposed aversion to countries
that attack their neighbors and commit human rights abuses, it
seems strange that China enjoys Normal Trade Relations status
with the United States. Maybe its ready supply of ultra-cheap
labor that benefits U.S. corporations has something do with it.
In any case, I guess we can dispose of the idea that the threat
of Iraq attacking its neighbors justifies war.
You have continuously tried to link Iraq with the al Qaeda terrorist
network by pointing out that al Qaeda is operating in Iraq. Of
course, you've conveniently left out the fact that they are operating
in areas of Iraq that aren't controlled by Saddam Hussein. Rather,
the evidence indicates that al Qaeda activity is taking place
in Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq. So a link to al Qaeda is
not a legitimate argument for attacking Iraq.
Mr. Bush, let me make this perfectly clear. I have no love for
Saddam Hussein and I believe that he is a despicable dictator.
However, I also believe that, based on the progress made by the
UN inspectors, he can be contained and disarmed without sacrificing
American or Iraqi lives. But what is apparent to me is that you
would like the inspections to fail. Why else would you focus only
on the negative aspects of the inspector's reports while down
playing or ignoring the positive findings?
More importantly, why do you continue to supply misinformation
about the inspections to the American people? Here are a few examples.
You have repeatedly claimed that Iraq had obtained high-strength
aluminum tubes for their nuclear program. However, on January
27, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that
the tubes were unsuitable for use in a nuclear program without
substantial modifications. They said that the tubes were most
likely meant for reverse engineering of conventional rockets,
as the Iraqis claimed. Yet during your State of the Union speech
on January 28, you still claimed that the tubes were for use in
a nuclear program. Did you even read the report?
In your address you claimed that Iraqi intelligence officers
were posing as scientists for interviews with the UN inspectors.
There was no indication of this in the inspectors' reports and
the inspectors announced the next day that this was not correct.
You have claimed that you have evidence of proscribed activities
taking place at various sites in Iraq, but when the sites have
been visited multiple times by the inspectors, they have found
no such evidence. You also have claimed that the Iraqis have sanitized
sites ahead of the inspectors' arrival. According to the inspectors,
this is simply not true. During his briefing to the UN Security
Council on February 14, the head of the inspection team, Hans
Blix, said, "Since we arrived in Iraq, we have conducted
more than 400 inspections covering more than 300 sites. All inspections
were performed without notice, and access was almost always provided
promptly. In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the
Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming."
While it is true that the inspectors have said that the Iraqis
need to be more proactive in their cooperation, the inspectors
have also said that the situation is improving and that the process
of disarmament is going forward. In addition, the IAEA has repeatedly
reported that Iraq's nuclear program was "neutralized"
by the time inspectors were withdrawn in 1998. Regarding the current
set of inspections, the IAEA has said that there are some issues
to be resolved, but that "We have to date found no evidence
of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear related-activities in
As you can see, your arguments for war based on Iraqi human rights
abuses, violations of resolutions, threats to its neighbors, alleged
links to al Qaeda, existence of an active nuclear program, and
lack of cooperation with the inspection process is questionable,
at best. It is more likely just dishonest. Based on the progress
made by the inspectors, it appears that it is quite possible to
disarm and contain Iraq without war. So why are you so attached
to invading Iraq?
I believe that we both know that the answer is that you desire
to occupy and control Iraq through a puppet government for the
benefit of U.S. oil corporations. Why would this be the case?
Let's start with The National Energy Policy Report (the "Cheney
Report"). The report indicates that by 2020, 67% of our oil
will come from foreign sources. The report also says that the
majority of foreign oil must come from the Persian Gulf and that
the United States should take steps to secure access to this oil.
In addition, a report prepared by the Council on Foreign Relations
and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy points
out the possible need for military intervention to secure U.S.
access to oil in the region.
While the average person would probably figure that U.S. oil
corporations would gain access to this oil if the situation with
Iraq is ended peacefully, that isn't quite the case. The reality
is that, according to the Observer (UK), several European
countries have standing contracts with Iraq for oil that can go
into effect once the sanctions are lifted. If this happens, it
is expected that U.S. and British oil companies will lose out
on Iraq's oil wealth. On the other hand, should the United States
and Great Britain manage to occupy Iraq and put in place a puppet
government, U.S. and British oil companies will profit handsomely.
Indeed, according to Foreign Policy in Focus, these oil corporations
have already begun to negotiate with Iraqi opposition leaders.
Mr. Bush, why might that be important to you and Mr. Cheney?
Maybe because, according to Professor David Boje of New Mexico
State University, energy corporations contributed $1.7 million
to your presidential campaign, and a total of $26 million to all
Republican candidates combined. Then there are your administration's
other ties to oil corporations. For instance, Condoleeza Rice
is a former Chevron board member. Plus, according to Foreign Policy
in Focus, 41 members of your administration were "former
oil company executives or have substantial holdings or other financial
ties to the industry."
Oil corporations won't be the only ones to benefit. Halliburton,
the country's fifth largest military contractor and the world's
largest supplier of oil-related equipment and services, also stands
to do quite well. Until he left to be the vice-presidential candidate,
Cheney was CEO of Halliburton. According to Boje, Cheney received
$65 million in stock and salary during his five years as CEO.
His retirement package was $34 million. Does it seem at all possible
that Halliburton expects a return on that $34 million? Of course,
they might also want a return on the $422,688 that they invested
during the 2000 election year cycle -- 98% of which went to Republican
Mr. Bush, what seems obvious to me is that if your true goal
is to disarm and neutralize any threat from Iraq, the proper thing
for you to do is support and strengthen the ongoing UN inspections.
You should provide accurate intelligence assistance rather than
grandstanding for the American public. Unfortunately, it is also
obvious to me and millions of others that your real goal is the
control of Iraqi oil through military conquest and the establishment
of a puppet government.
Should you go forth with your planned military imperialism, you
and your oil corporations may see a short-term gain. But the long-term
quest by the American people and all of humanity for a peaceful
and just world will suffer a setback of decades, if not the permanent
elimination of hope. Perhaps the words of Mohandas K. Gandhi will
reach through to whatever modicum of human decency you may possess:
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good,
the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."
Ray Wolf is a COMD member and columnist for Mount Shasta
Live, where an expanded version of this open letter originally
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter
of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org)