I think we in the anti-war movement need to say also what we are FOR. International law, obviously. And Saddam Hussein? The best way to get rid of him is to support the real democratic Iraqi opposition (not the puppets that Bush parades in front of us).
BBC below reports on a Saddam-hating Iraqi detector who is AGAINST a war, and says if helped they could get rid of Saddam themselves (and without the kind of US bombing that would kill untold thousands of civilians) Below it, an excerpt from a well footnoted article by Noam Chomsky, written back around 1991, documeting how the door was slammed in the face of the Iraqi democratic opposition by Bush Sr...because they wanted to replace Saddam with an "obedient dictator" rather than with democracy in Iraq. So I think the peace movement's answer today can be: if we stopped insisting a "yes man" puppet, we could support real opponent who would get rid of him... If you don't have such info at your fingertips already I urge you to read it. Peace, Harel
= = = How to Get Rid of Saddam without a War:
BBC ran a story about one of the most senior Iraqi defectors -- a passionate hater of Saddam -- and his opposition to the murderous military assault preferred by Washington. Below is a short excerpt, followed by information ( mostly hidden from the eyes of Americans) about the history of Washington's past actions towards the anti-Saddam Iraqi opposition groups (namely preferring another Saddam like dictator -- only more obedient this time -- to the anti-Saddam democratic Iraqi opposition):
BBC: One of Iraq's most senior defectors has told the BBC that an American-led invasion would spell a "very dark future for all".
General Nizar al-Khazraji, who led the army during the Gulf War, said the Iraqi people would gladly overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime themselves but feared a foreign intervention would make things "even worse".
For a rebellion to succeed, he said, the West needed to give clear assurances that a post-Saddam Iraq would be democratic while retaining its independence and territorial integrity.
General Khazraji said the international community should focus on "moral and diplomatic" support for ordinary Iraqis, rather than military help.
He offered his own services to lead any Iraqi rebellion against Saddam although appeared to rule out a political role for himself.
The former commander said Iraq's armed forces remained the best hope of bringing down Saddam and he was willing to lead a rebel army into the country.
Iraqis, he said, would gladly oust Saddam but they were receiving "mixed" signals from the international community and needed guarantees.
"I'm sure if the armed forces, if the people inside Iraq believe that the West will help the Iraqis in lifting the sanctions, promising too to help the Iraqis in the future, to keep the country unified, to keep Iraq independent - that will encourage us to overthrow the regime."
[End BBC excerpts] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2275446.stm
This is exactly what so many of patriotic anti-war dissidents have been saying. Only it goes even further: it's not just that there have been "mixed signals" from the US; in fact, the signals from the US have been *against* the Iraqi democratic opposition overthrowing Saddam, simply because a democratic Iraq is going to put the welfare of Iraq's people first, while Washignton's wishes are to replace Saddam with someone like Saddam with the one exception that they "run" Iraq with obedience to Washington's demands.
Consider this highly revealing excerpt from Deterring Democracy, written around 1991, and surveying what happened just before and after the Gulf War -- revealing a history of the Iraqi democratic opposition being rebuffed -- with candid admission as to why:
[Begin Excerpt:] Iraqi opposition forces have always been given short shrift in Washington, hence ignored in the media. They were rebuffed by the Bush Administration in February 1990, when they sought support for a call for parliamentary democracy. The same was true in Britain. In mid-August, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani flew to Washington to seek support for guerrilla operations against Saddam's regime. Neither Pentagon nor State Department officials would speak to him; he was rebuffed again in March 1991. The likely reason was concern over the sensibilities of the Turkish "defender of civilized values," who looked askance at Kurdish resistance.11
The Iraqi democratic opposition was scrupulously excluded from the mainstream media throughout the Gulf crisis, a fact readily explained when we hear what they had to say.
On the eve of the air war, the German press published a statement of the Iraqi Democratic Group reiterating its call for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein but also opposing "any foreign intervention in the Near East," criticizing US "policies of aggression" in the Third World and its intention to control Middle East oil, and rejecting UN resolutions "that had as their goal the starvation of our people." The statement called for the withdrawal of US-UK troops, withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, self-determination for the Kuwaiti people, "a peaceful settlement of the Kuwait problem, democracy for Iraq, and autonomy for Iraq-Kurdistan."
A similar stand was taken by the Teheran-based Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (in a communique from Beirut); the Iraqi Communist Party; Mas'ud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party; and other prominent opponents of the Iraqi regime, many of whom had suffered bitterly from Saddam's atrocities. Falih 'Abd al-Jabbar, an Iraqi journalist in exile in London, commented: "Although the Iraqi opposition parties have neither given up their demand for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait nor their hope of displacing Saddam some time in the future, they believe that they will lose the moral right to oppose the present regime if they do not side with Iraq against the war." "All the opposition parties are agreed in calling for an immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait," British journalist Edward Mortimer reported, "but most are very unhappy about the military onslaught by the US-led coalition" and preferred economic and political sanctions.
A delegation of the Kuwaiti democratic opposition in Amman in December 1990 had taken the same position. On British television, anti-Saddam Arab intellectuals, including the prominent Kuwaiti opposition leader Dr. Ahmed al-Khatib -- who had already, in October 1990, strenuously opposed military action -- were unanimous in calling for a cease-fire and for serious consideration of Saddam's February 15 withdrawal offer.
THE SILENCE HERE WAS DEAFENING, AND INSTRUCTIVE. UNLIKE BUSH AND HIS ASSOCIATES, THE INTERNATIONAL PEACE MOVEMENT AND IRAQI DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION HAD ALWAYS OPPOSED SADDAM HUSSEIN. BUT THEY ALSO OPPOSED THE QUICK RESORT TO VIOLENCE TO UNDERCUT THE POSSIBILITY OF A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT. Such an outcome would have avoided the slaughter of tens of thousands of people, the destruction of two countries, harsh reprisals, an environmental catastrophe, further slaughter by the Iraqi government and the likely emergence of another murderous US-backed tyranny there. But it would not have taught the crucial lesson that "What we say goes." [Bush Sr preferred, as Washington does generally, to have all international matters settled not by diplomacy but in the arena of force, where it has virtual monopoly]
With the mission accomplished, the disdain for Iraqi democrats continued unchanged. A European diplomat observed that "the Americans would prefer to have another Assad, or better yet, another Mubarak in Baghdad," referring to their "military-backed regimes," Assad's being particularly odious [and nasty]. A diplomat from the US-run coalition said that "we will accept Saddam in Baghdad in order to have Iraq as one state." A State Department official told a European envoy that the US would be satisfied with "an Iraqi Assad," "a reliable and predictable enemy."
In mid-March, Leith Kubba, head of the London-based Iraqi Democratic Reform Movement, ALLEGED THAT THE US INSISTENCE THAT "CHANGES IN THE REGIME MUST COME FROM WITHIN, FROM PEOPLE ALREADY IN POWER," AMOUNTED TO A CALL FOR MILITARY DICTATORSHIP.
Another leading activist, banker Ahmad Chalabi, observed that the US was "waiting for Saddam to butcher the insurgents in the hope that he can be overthrown later by a suitable officer," an attitude rooted in the US policy of "supporting dictatorships to maintain stability." ["stability" being a euphemism for: US hegemony and control; it's not called "stability" when Russia or China do the same...so "stability" is hardly an honest word for it -HB] Official US spokesmen confirmed that the Bush Administration would have no dealings with Iraqi opposition leaders: "We felt that political meetings with them...would not be appropriate for our policy at this time," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated on March 14, as Saddam's "iron fist" was decimating the opposition.
Kuwaiti democrats too discovered that Bush would lend them no support. The reason offered was the President's commitment to the principle of noninterference in internal affairs, so profound, officials explained, that he could not mention the word "democracy" even in private communications to the Emir. "You can't pick out one country to lean on over another," one official said. [an absurd statement as Chomsky notes ironically:] Surely we will never find the US "leaning on" Nicaragua or Cuba, for example, or moving beyond the narrowest interpretation of international law. As human rights abuses mounted in postwar Kuwait, Bush became "the foremost apologist for the perpetrators," observed Aryeh Neier, director of Human Rights Watch, noting that Bush's apologetics for repression were featured on the front page of the Kuwait government daily.
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY ALSO TOOK THE USUAL LICKING. POLLS A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE MID-JANUARY BOMBING SHOWED ABOUT 2-1 SUPPORT FOR A PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT BASED ON IRAQI WITHDRAWAL ALONG WITH AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE ISRAEL-ARAB CONFLICT. Few if any of those who expressed this position had heard any public advocacy of it; the media had been virtually uniform in following the President's lead, dismissing "linkage" as an unspeakable crime, in this unique case. It is unlikely that any knew that their views were shared by Iraqi democratic forces; or that an Iraqi proposal in the terms they advocated had been released a week earlier by US officials, who found it reasonable, and flatly rejected by Washington; or that an Iraqi withdrawal offer had been considered by the National Security Council as early as mid-August, but dismissed, and effectively suppressed, apparently because it was feared that it might "defuse the crisis," as the Times diplomatic correspondent reported Administration concerns.12
Suppose that the crucial facts had reached the public and the issues had been honestly addressed. Then support for a diplomatic settlement would have been far higher, and it might have been possible to avoid the huge slaughter preferred by the Administration for its particular purposes: to establish the efficacy of violence and teach lessons in obedience, to secure the dominant role of the US in the Gulf, and to keep domestic problems in the shadow.
[http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/dd/dd-after-s04.html] Full footnotes are in these links.
****************************** Perhaps surprisingly, Washington's reasons for the constant rebuffing of Iraqi democratic opposition which hates Saddam and its preference for another thug in Iraq, only a more obedient one this time, was candidly admitted by the chief diplomatic correspondent of the New York Times (and obedient virtual spokesman for the administration) Thomas Friedman, notes Chomsky:
** The goal of the attack on the civilian society was no secret: the population was to be held hostage to induce the military to overthrow Saddam and wield the "iron fist" as he himself had done with US support before stepping out of line. Administration reasoning was outlined by New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman. If Iraqis suffered sufficient pain, some general might topple Mr. Hussein, "AND THEN WASHINGTON WOULD HAVE THE BEST OF ALL WORLDS: AN IRON-FISTED IRAQI JUNTA WITHOUT SADDAM HUSSEIN," A RETURN TO THE HAPPY DAYS WHEN SADDAM'S "IRON FIST...HELD IRAQ TOGETHER, MUCH TO THE SATISFACTION OF THE AMERICAN ALLIES TURKEY AND SAUDI ARABIA," not to speak of the boss in Washington.6 **
[See http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/dd/dd-after-s02.html with footnotes] ..this "satisfaction" being a sharp contrast to the cold shoulder treatment given to the true anti-Saddam Iraqi opposition (who unlike Bush were not in bed with Saddam for years on end) who have just one "disadvantage", namely, a democratic Iraq would be a "threat" to control of Iraq by US elites.
Real democracy in the US, including real democratic media which tell the truth, would be a similar "threat" -- a "threat" we would be wise to help bring about if future adventures in mass-murder abroad, smashed democracy and worker rights at home, and environmental omnicide on earth, are to be prevented.
The above also does not mention another key element, and how a very major anti-Saddam uprising that could have overthrown him was allowed by Bush to be crushed, "by mistake":
Any regime change in Iraq has to be carried out in a way which ensures that it is not even marginally democratic, and there's a good reason for that. The majority of the population of Iraq is Shi'ite, and if they have any voice in a new regime, they might draw Iraq closer to Iran, which is the last thing the United States wants. The Kurds are going to press for some kind of autonomy, so that can't be allowed. It will drive Turkey berserk.http://www.american-buddha.com/talk.for.chomsky.htm ; (which is a transcript of a talk; the mostly uncontroversial but little known facts can be found with extensive detailed footnoting, of this and more, in Chomsky's "Deterring Democracy".)
And therefore the new regime, whatever it is, has to be ruled by Sunni generals, military force. That's why the C.I.A. and State Department are now convening meetings of generals who are defectors from the Iraqi army in the 1990s. Unfortunately, their favorite according to the press, General Khazraji, can't come, he's being detained in Denmark where he's under investigation for participation in the Halabja massacre, the chemical attack on the Kurds, so he can't come, even though he's the guy we really want.
But that's the kind of regime that they'll kind of somehow impose. Again, none of this is secret, and we can thank Thomas Friedman once again for having explained it all. You may recall, in March 1991, right at the end of the Gulf War when the U.S., of course, had total control over the whole area, there was a rebellion, in the south, a major rebellion, a Shi'ite rebellion, which could well have overthrown the monster, probably would have, except for the fact that the U.S. authorized Saddam to use his air force helicopters, planes, military helicopters to devastate the resistance. In fact, there were probably more people killed then, more civilians, than during the war.
This is all while General Stormin' Norman Schwartzkopf was sitting there, watching it. He later said that the Iraqis had fooled him, when they asked him for authorization to use helicopters, he didn't really understand that they were going to use them. As he put it, he was "suckered by the Iraqis", these deceptive creatures, and therefore he didn't realize, and they sort of destroyed the resistance while he was looking the other way.
At that point, it was so obvious, you just couldn't refuse to report it. And it was reported. Thomas Friedman who was chief diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times, then. Chief diplomatic correspondent means State Department spokesperson at the New York Times. You have lunch with somebody in the State Department, he tells you what to write, that sort of thing. He had a column, a good column, in which he explained the US position. He said, we just had to allow Saddam to smash the opposition, and then he explained, and it still holds, that "the best of all worlds" for the United States would be "an iron-fisted military junta" that would rule Iraq the same way Saddam did, and with the support of Saudi Arabia and Turkey and of course the United States. That's the best of all worlds, and we'll try to achieve it somehow. It's best if the name of the head is not Saddam Hussein, that's a little embarrassing, but some clone will do. That's what we have to aim at. And that's not easy to achieve.
So the short answer, if we had a time machine is "don't fund, arm, and support Saddam in the first place" but the practical one is that the US can do today what Bush Sr and Jr have refused to do:
Support civil Iraqi society, first of all. Instead of starving them hoping that another brutal general will overthrow Saddam (leading to increased Iraqi support for their protector Saddam -- a brutal protector, but a protector still -- support them, and they will help democratize the country and weaken Saddam, especially given the other half. The other half is to not slam the door in the face of the Iraq democratic opposition groups -- the real ones -- not the ones who'll agree to be puppets for a temporary seat at the table until Bush puts in who he really wants. As General Nizar al-Khazraji, pointed that alone would make Saddam's days numbered. As explained elsewhere, democracy in Iraq isn't acceptable to Bush however: wanting to control the oil, wanting to be a hegemonic power in the region, wanting not to offend Turkey by having the Iraqi Kurds gain rights in the new Iraq, and so on...