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From Draft NOtices, March - April 2003

Open Letter to George W. Bush

-— Ray Wolf


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 Iraq."

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 candidates.

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 appeared (

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (


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