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Deterring Democracy

By Noam Chomsky

VI. Nefarious Aggression

1. Our Traditional Values

2. Framing the Issues

3. Paths away from Disaster

4. Steady on Course

5. The U.N. Learns to Behave

6. Moderates and Nationalists

7. The Diplomatic Track

8. Safeguarding our Needs


From Z Magazine, October 1990.

The second act of aggression of the post-Cold War era took place on August 2, 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait, later annexing it outright after international sanctions were imposed. Any Middle East crisis at once assumes ominous proportions because of the incomparable energy reserves of the region. The events of August were no exception.

The reaction to Saddam Hussein's aggression followed two distinct paths, uneasily related. The U.N. Security Council at once condemned the invasion and called for economic sanctions; implicit in this approach is a diplomatic track to arrange a negotiated withdrawal. This option offered unusually high prospects for success, for one reason, because the regular violators of sanctions (the U.S., Britain, France, and their allies) strongly supported them in this particular case. The U.S. and Britain followed a different course, preparing for a military strike against Iraq and its occupying forces in Kuwait. The divergence is understandable, in the light of history and the distribution of power in the contemporary world. 1

Middle East oil was initially in the hands of England and France, joined later by the United States, an arrangement formalized in the Red Line agreement of 1928. After World War II, France was excluded by legal chicanery and the U.S. took over the dominant role. 2 As discussed earlier, it has always been a guiding policy that Middle East oil should be under the control of the United States, its allies and clients, and its oil corporations, and that independent "radical nationalist" influences are not to be tolerated. This doctrine is a corollary to the general hostility to independent Third World nationalism, but one of unusual significance.

The U.S. and its British ally reacted vigorously to Iraq's challenge to their traditional privilege. The political leadership and ideological managers professed great indignation that a powerful country would dare to invade a defenseless neighbor. The matter was raised to cosmic significance, with eloquent rhetoric about a New World Order based on peace, justice, and the sanctity of international law, at last within our grasp now that the Cold War has ended with the triumph of those who have always upheld these values with such dedication. Secretary of State James Baker explained that

We live in one of those rare transforming moments in history. The Cold War is over, and an era full of promise has begun... And after a long period of stagnation, the United Nations is becoming a more effective organization. The ideals of the United Nations Charter are becoming realities... Saddam Hussein's aggression shatters the vision of a better world in the aftermath of the Cold War... In the 1930s, the aggressors were appeased. In 1990, the President has made our position plain: This aggression will not be appeased. 3

The analogy to Hitler and Munich became a virtual cliché. Though unable to defeat Iran even with the backing of the U.S., USSR, Europe, and virtually the entire Arab world, Iraq was now poised to take over the Middle East and control the world. The stakes were high; the course of history would be determined by our willingness to avenge Saddam Hussein's invasion of a weak and defenseless country, an unprecedented atrocity, and to destroy the new Hitler before it is too late.

The U.S. at once dispatched a huge expeditionary force, virtually doubled after the November elections. While a deterrent force could be kept in the desert and offshore, hundreds of thousands of troops could not be maintained in place for long. The predictable effect of this decision was to undercut the reliance on sanctions, which would only have an impact over an extended period. The U.S. also made it clear and explicit that diplomacy would not be tolerated. Contacts with Iraq would be limited to delivery of an ultimatum; this flat rejection of diplomacy is what the President called "going the extra mile" to explore all peaceful means; with the rarest of exceptions, articulate opinion followed the leader. To justify this unprecedented rejection of diplomacy, the U.S. claimed to be upholding immutable high principles, a rhetorical stance that successfully undercut any form of diplomacy (sometimes called "linkage") and also barred withdrawal of the expeditionary force without Iraqi capitulation. The rhetorical stance cannot survive a moment's scrutiny, but that caused no problem, because it was subjected to none within the mainstream. Debate continued, but on narrow tactical issues, a framework in which the administration was sure to prevail. From almost the first moment, then, the options were successfully narrowed to the threat or use of force.

  1. Our Traditional Values

The fundamental issue was clearly articulated by a distinguished Cambridge University Professor of political theory:

Our traditions, fortunately, prove to have at their core universal values, while theirs are sometimes hard to distinguish with the naked eye from rampant (and heavily armed) nihilism. In the Persian Gulf today, President Bush could hardly put it more bluntly... 4

One who fails to grasp this principle might find it hard to distinguish Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait from many other crimes, some far worse than his, that the West has readily tolerated, or supported, or perpetrated directly, including one case only a few months before, with its lessons about the New World Order.

Our traditions and the values at their core had long been evident in the Gulf. Keeping just to Iraq, they were illustrated during the insurrection of 1920 against British rule, one episode of "a contagion of unrest afflicting the British Empire from Egypt to India." 5 British sensibilities were deeply offended by this rampant nihilism, a stab in the back at a time when the empire had been weakened by the World War. Sir Arnold Wilson fumed that "To kick a man when he is down is the most popular pastime in the East, sanctioned by centuries of precept and practice." The India office traced the Iraqi revolt to local "ultra-extremists," who desired the "abolition of European control of all sorts throughout the East." Winston Churchill agreed, calling the revolt "only part of a general agitation against the British empire and all it stands for."

Plainly, the situation called for strong measures. In India a year before, British troops had fired on a peaceful political assembly at Amritsar, leaving nearly 400 dead. Lacking ground forces in Iraq, Britain turned to air power to bomb native villages, but as part of a larger strategy. Churchill, then Colonial Secretary, observed that "sheer force" would not suffice for "holding Mesopotamia." What was needed was a Government and Ruler who would be "freely accepted" by the people of Iraq and -- just to assure that none would stray from that free acquiescence -- "supported by the [British] Air Force, and by British organised levies, and by 4 Imperial battalions." The tactic had its problems. Commenting on "the means now in fact used" -- namely, "the bombing of the women and children of the villages" -- the Secretary of State for War warned that "If the Arab population realize that the peaceful control of Mesopotamia ultimately depends on our intention of bombing women and children, I am very doubtful if we shall gain that acquiescence" for which Churchill hoped. Britain proceeded to establish a puppet regime while the RAF conducted terror bombing to overcome "tribal insubordination" (as explained by the Colonial Secretary of the Ramsay MacDonald Labour cabinet in 1924) and to collect taxes from tribesmen who were too poor to pay.

As Secretary of State at the War Office in 1919, Churchill had already had opportunities to articulate our traditional values. He was approached by the RAF Middle East command for permission to use chemical weapons "against recalcitrant Arabs as experiment." Churchill authorized the experiment, dismissing objections by the India office as "unreasonable":

I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas... I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes... It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses; gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.

Churchill added that "we cannot in any circumstances acquiesce in the non-utilisation of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier." Chemical weapons were merely "the application of Western science to modern warfare." They had in fact already been used by the British air force in North Russia against the Bolsheviks, with great success, according to the British command. The common belief that "the taboo against the use of chemical weapons which has held sway since the First World War has now lost much of its force" because of Iraqi actions and threats is hardly accurate, even if we put aside the massive resort to chemical warfare by the U.S. in South Vietnam with its terrible human toll, of no interest to the guardians of our traditional values. 6

In the aftermath of World War I, chemical weapons were regarded much as nuclear weapons were after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It thus comes as no real surprise that even before the 1948 Berlin blockade, Churchill privately urged the U.S. government to threaten the Soviet Union with nuclear attack unless the Russians withdrew from East Germany. 7

In July 1958, a military coup by nationalist officers in Iraq threatened U.S.-British control of the oil-producing regions for the first time (a threat by the conservative nationalist government of Iran had been aborted by the U.S.-British intervention to restore the Shah five years earlier). The coup set off a wide range of reactions, including a U.S. Marine landing in Lebanon. In an analysis of the crisis based on the public record, William Quandt concludes that the U.S. "apparently agreed to help look after British oil interests, especially in Kuwait," while determining that an Iraqi move against Kuwait, infringing upon British interests, would not be tolerated, though it seemed unlikely. Quandt takes President Eisenhower to have been referring to nuclear weapons when, in his own words, he ordered Joint Chiefs Chairman General Twining to "be prepared to employ, subject to [Eisenhower's] approval, whatever means might become necessary to prevent any unfriendly forces from moving into Kuwait." The issue was "discussed several times during the crisis," Quandt adds. The major concern at the time was Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser -- the Hitler of the day -- and his Arab nationalism. 8

Recently declassified documents add more information, though the U.S. record is defective because of heavy censorship, presumably reflecting the Reagan-era commitment to protect state power from the public. After discussions in Washington immediately after the Iraqi coup, British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd sent a secret telegram to the Prime Minister in which he considered two options with regard to Kuwait: "immediate British occupation" of this semi-dependency, or moves towards nominal independence. He advised against the harsher choice. Though "The advantage of this action would be that we would get our hands firmly on the Kuwait oil," it might arouse nationalist feelings in Kuwait and "The effect upon international opinion and the rest of the Arab world would not be good." A better policy would be to set up "a kind of Kuwaiti Switzerland where the British do not exercise physical control." But "If this alternative is accepted, we must also accept the need, if things go wrong, ruthlessly to intervene, whoever it is has caused the trouble." He stressed "the complete United States solidarity with us over the Gulf," including the need to "take firm action to maintain our position in Kuwait" and the "similar resolution" of the U.S. "in relations to the Aramco oilfields" in Saudi Arabia; The Americans "agree that at all costs these oilfields [in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar] must be kept in Western hands." Six months before the Iraqi coup, Lloyd had noted that "Minor changes in the direction of greater independence are inevitable" for Kuwait, such as taking over postal services. He also summarised "The major British and indeed Western interests in the Persian Gulf" as:

(a) to ensure free access for Britain and other Western countries to oil produced in States bordering the Gulf; (b) to ensure the continued availability of that oil on favourable terms and for sterling; and to maintain suitable arrangements for the investment of the surplus revenues of Kuwait; (c) to bar the spread of Communism and pseudo-Communism in the area and subsequently beyond; and, as a pre-condition of this, to defend the area against the brand of Arab nationalism under cover of which the Soviet Government at present prefers to advance. 9

U.S. documents of the same period outline British goals in similar terms: "the U.K. asserts that its financial stability would be seriously threatened if the petroleum from Kuwait and the Persian Gulf area were not available to the U.K. on reasonable terms, if the U.K. were deprived of the large investments made by that area in the U.K. and if sterling were deprived of the support provided by Persian Gulf oil." These British needs, and the fact that "An assured source of oil is essential to the continued economic viability of Western Europe," provide an argument for the U.S. "to support, or if necessary assist, the British in using force to retain control of Kuwait and the Persian Gulf." The counterargument is that force will lead to confrontation with "radical Pan-Arab nationalism" and "U.S. relations with neutral countries elsewhere would be adversely affected." In November 1958, the National Security Council recommended that the U.S. "Be prepared to use force, but only as a last resort, either alone or in support of the United Kingdom," to insure access to Arab oil. Six months before the Iraqi coup, the National Security Council had advised that Israel might provide a barrier to Arab nationalism, laying the basis for one element of the system of control over the Middle East (called "security" or "stability"). 10

The concern that Gulf oil and riches be available to support the ailing British economy was extended by the early 1970s to the U.S. economy, which was visibly declining relative to Japan and German-led Europe. Furthermore, control over oil serves as a means to influence these rivals/allies. Capital flow from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Gulf principalities to the U.S. and Britain has provided significant support for their economies, corporations, and financial institutions. These are among the reasons why the U.S. and Britain have often not been averse to increases in oil price. The issues are too intricate to explore here, but these factors surely remain operative. 11 It comes as no great suprise that the two states that established the imperial settlement and have been its main beneficiaries and guarantors are now girding for war in the Gulf, while others keep their distance.

  2. Framing the Issues

While the first two acts of aggression of the post-Cold War era are similar by the criteria of principle and of law, inevitably there are also differences. The most significant disparity is that the U.S. invasion of Panama was carried out by our side, and was therefore benign, whereas the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait ran counter to critical U.S. interests, and was therefore nefarious, in violation of the most august principles of international law and morality.

This array of events posed several ideological challenges. The first task was to portray Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as a vicious tyrant and international gangster. That was straightforward enough, since it is plainly true.

The second task was to gaze in awe at the invader of Panama and manager of "the unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua as he denounced the unlawful use of force against Kuwait and proclaimed his undying devotion to the United Nations Charter, declaring that "America stands where it always has, against aggression, against those who would use force to replace the rule of law"; "If history teaches us anything, it is that we must resist aggression or it will destroy our freedoms" (August 20, 7, 1990).

It might seem that this task would prove a shade more difficult than the first. Not so, however. The president's steely-eyed visage graced the front pages along with his inspiring words on the need to resist aggression, highlighted so that all would honor his valor and dedication to the ideals we cherish. Even his invocation of the "vivid memories" of Vietnam as a lesson in the need to resist aggression and uphold the rule of law passed without a clamor -- even a whisper -- of condemnation, a mark of true discipline. The press solemnly observed that "Bush has demonstrated that the United States is the only superpower...[able] to enforce international law against the will of a powerful aggressor," and otherwise reiterated our unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the sanctity of borders. 12

Across the spectrum, there was acclaim for this renewed demonstration of our historic advocacy of the ways of peace -- though a number of old-fashioned right-wingers asked why we should do the dirty work. 13 At the outer limits of dissidence, Mary McGrory wrote that while Hussein "may have a following among have-not Arabs," Americans "are emotionally involved in getting rid of the beast" by one means or another. She considered bombing Baghdad, though it might be unwise because of possible retaliation against Americans. The Washington Post leaked a White House plan to eliminate the beast, approved by the President when he was informed by CIA director William Webster "that Hussein represented a threat to the long-term economic interests of the United States." 14

That these economic interests were driving policy decisions was acknowledged by the White House and political commentators generally. The U.S. sent major military forces to Saudi Arabia and helped organize an international embargo and virtual blockade, with the notably tepid support of most of its allies, who doubtless would prefer the U.S. and its clients to Saddam Hussein as a dominant influence over the administration of oil production and price, but appeared reluctant to risk or spend much to achieve this end. And, needless to say, they share with Washington the high principle that Might does not make Right -- except when we want it to.

U.S. aggression was not entirely overlooked. "This isn't Panama or Grenada here," former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff William Crowe somberly declared, warning of the hazards of our current mission. "The costs and risks are momentous," the New York Times editors added in agreement, "going well beyond U.S. military operations in Lebanon, Grenada and Panama." Former Times military correspondent Bernard Trainor, now director of the national security program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, described Saddam Hussein as "the Noriega of the Middle East. Like his Panamanian counterpart, he has to go." In reality, the comparison between Noriega and Hussein extends about that far. 15

The parallels, then, did not pass unnoticed: in all cases, the U.S. was acting in self-defense, in the service of world order and high principle -- another of those truths of logic that floats blissfully over the world of fact.

The editors of the liberal Boston Globe praised Bush for standing up for our fundamental values and drawing a line in the sand before the raging beast. "The line is clearer than that drawn in Korea, Vietnam and Lebanon," they observed. Others too made reference to such past proofs of our willingness to face any burden to discipline those who resort to force, or otherwise depart from our traditions of nonviolence and commitment to the rule of law. 16

Letters to the editor, in contrast, made frequent reference to the hypocrisy of the pose, asking "what is the difference between our invasion of Panama and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait?," among many other cases of benign aggression. The dramatic difference between letters and professional commentary again illustrates the failure of the ideological offensive of the past years to reach beyond educated elites to all sectors of the general public. Overseas, simple truths could be perceived outside of the major power centers, where deviation from established truths is too dangerous. A lead editorial in the Dublin Sunday Tribune, headlined "Moral Indignation is Pure Hypocrisy," recalls the Western reaction to Iraq's invasion of Iran, the U.S. invasion of Grenada and Panama, Israel's invasion of Lebanon, and "the injustice done to the Palestinians [which] is a continuing cause of justifiable anger in the Middle East" and will lead to "continued turmoil." Irish Times Washington correspondent Sean Cronin, noting the impassioned words of U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering in support of the Security Council resolution condemning Iraq, recalled some events just eight months before: the December 23 U.S. veto of a Security Council resolution condemning the invasion of Panama (with British and French assistance, in this case); and the December 29 General Assembly resolution demanding the withdrawal of the "US armed invasion forces from Panama" and calling the invasion a "flagrant violation of international law and of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states." 17

But respectable commentators at home never flinched. The parallels to the Panama invasion were ignored with near unanimity, while the more audacious, recognizing that attack is the best defense, went so far as to compare George Bush's actions in Panama with his dispatch of troops to Saudi Arabia, not to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Grenada, Vietnam, and Lebanon were also regularly invoked as precedents for our defense of the principle of nonintervention. 18

With comparable unanimity, responsible commentators failed to recall Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, with the goal of establishing a puppet regime in a "New Order" subordinated to Israel's interests and bringing to a halt the increasingly irritating PLO initiatives for a peaceful diplomatic settlement -- all of this frankly discussed within Israel from the first moments, though kept from the American audience. That act of aggression, conducted by a client state, qualifies as benign. It therefore benefitted from the active support of the Reagan administration, which was condemned by Democratic liberals, and others farther to the left, for not exhibiting proper enthusiasm for this merciless assault, which left over 20,000 dead, overwhelmingly civilians. Also notably lacking was a comparison to Israel's continued occupation of territories conquered in 1967 and annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, and the U.S. reaction. Syria's bloody intervention in Lebanon (with U.S. backing in the early stages, when it was aimed at the Palestinians and their Lebanese allies) was also overlooked. Also forgotten was Turkey's conquest of northern Cyprus, with thousands of casualties and hundreds of thousands of refugees after an orgy of killing, torture, rape and pillage to extirpate the last remnants of Greek culture back to classical antiquity; George Bush praised Turkey for serving "as a protector of peace" as it joined those who "stand up for civilized values around the world." Few could recall the U.S.-backed Moroccan invasion of the Western Sahara of 1976, justified by Moroccan authorities on the grounds that "one Kuwait in the Arab world is enough"; it is unjust for such vast resources to be in the hands of a tiny population. 19 Outside the region, the decisive U.S. (also French, British, Dutch, etc.) support for Indonesia's near-genocidal invasion of East Timor, still underway, was also easily overlooked, among many other obvious parallels.

The missing comparisons were drawn by Arabs and other Third World observers sampled in the press. But the matter was left at that, without further analysis, or they were chided for their visceral anti-Americanism, emotionalism, or simple naiveté. In a New York Times report on Arab-American reactions, Felicity Barringer reminds the Arab spokesmen she interviews that the comparison they draw with Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon "does not take into account a crucial difference: that Kuwait had not attacked Iraq, while southern Lebanon was home to Palestinian bases that had repeatedly shelled Israeli territory."

Barringer's gentle admonition suffers from only one flaw: the facts. In brief, Israel had subjected southern Lebanon to violent and murderous attacks from the early 1970s, often without even a pretense of provocation, killing thousands of people and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes. The purpose, as formulated by Israeli diplomat Abba Eban, was to hold the whole population hostage under the threat of terror, with the "rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled" that "affected populations" would bend to Israel's demands. After its 1978 invasion of Lebanon, which left the southern sector under Israeli control, Israel carried out extensive bombardment of civilian targets. A rash of unprovoked Israeli attacks in 1981 led to an exchange in which six Israelis and hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese were killed when Israel bombed densely populated areas. A U.S.-initiated cease-fire was observed by the PLO, but repeatedly violated with many civilian casualties by Israel, which was desperately seeking to provoke some PLO action that could serve as a pretext for the long-planned invasion. After the 1982 invasion, Israel returned to the traditional practice of bombing Lebanon at its pleasure, with ample terror in its southern "security zone."

It would be unfair, however, to fault Barringer for turning the facts on their head. The fairy tales she recounts are the standard version offered in the New York Times and elsewhere, and few would think to question established dogma. Inversion of the facts in this case is, in any event, only a minor triumph when compared to really significant achievements of the propaganda system, such as the conversion of the U.S. attack against South Vietnam into a noble effort to defend it from aggression. 20

We may say the same about other irate commentators who bitterly denounce Arabs for drawing a parallel to the 1967 war, condemning as well the "gullibility and ignorance" of TV anchormen and journalists who allow them to speak such nonsense (Henry Siegman, Executive Director, American Jewish Congress); in both cases, Siegman explains to these gullible fools, "Arab countries invaded a peaceful neighbor without provocation," though "the primary aggressors" in 1967 "were Egypt, Syria and Jordan," not Iraq. The Times editors added their endorsement, denouncing Moscow and other miscreants for trying to "legitimize Baghdad's argument that its takeover of Kuwait is in any way comparable to Israel's occupation of the West Bank," a gambit that is "absurdly wrong and diversionary" because the occupation of the West Bank "began only after Arab armies attacked Israel." It is not even controversial that in 1967 Israel attacked Egypt. Jordan and Syria entered the conflict much as England and France went to war when Germany attacked their ally Poland in 1939. One might argue that the Israeli attack was legitimate, but to convert it into an Arab invasion is rather audacious -- or would be, if the practice were not routine. 21

The Times editorial is carefully crafted. It refers to the West Bank, not Gaza and the Golan Heights. Gaza is best overlooked because, uncontroversially, Israel attacked Egypt, taking over Gaza. The case of the Golan Heights is also difficult, not only because Israel annexed this Syrian territory (and was unanimously condemned by the U.N. Security Council for doing so, though a U.S. veto blocked sanctions), but because Israel attacked and conquered it in violation of the cease-fire. In the case of the West Bank, the editors could claim in their defense that Israeli troops took it over after Jordan had entered the war -- honoring its alliance with Egypt, already attacked by Israel.

Throughout, we see how important it is to take possession of history and to shape it to the purposes required by the powerful, and how valuable is the contribution of the loyal servants who do their bidding.

  3. Paths away from Disaster

There was a brief threat that the Israeli connection might come to the fore when Saddam Hussein proposed a settlement on August 12, linking Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait to withdrawal from other occupied Arab lands: Syria from Lebanon, and Israel from the territories it conquered in 1967. The London Financial Times felt that, although his offer does not reduce the imminent dangers, it "may yet serve some useful purpose," offering "a path away from disaster...through negotiation." Furthermore, he "may well have a point" in "citing Israel's refusal to relinquish its control of occupied territories as a source of conflict in the region." In linking Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait to Israeli "withdrawal from Palestinian and Syrian territory, Mr Saddam has said something with which no Arab leader or citizen, no matter how pro-American, can disagree," and the refusal to consider the matter might "bring closer the risk of an all out Middle East war involving the Jewish state." The "immediate issue" is for "Iraq to get out of Kuwait"; but in the light of Iraq's proposal, however unsatisfactory it may be as it stands,

The onus is now on everyone involved, including Middle Eastern and western powers, to seize the initiative and harness diplomacy to the show of political, military and economic force now on display in the Gulf. 22

The U.S. reaction was different. In official response and general commentary, there was no thought that the proposal might be explored to find a peaceful resolution for a very serious crisis. There was not even a ritual bow to the possibility that there might be a valid point buried somewhere in the suggestion. Rather, the proposal was dismissed with utter derision. Television news that day featured George Bush the dynamo, racing his power boat, jogging furiously, playing tennis and golf, and otherwise expending his formidable energies on important pursuits, far too busy "recreating" (as he put it) to waste much time on the occasional fly in Arab garb that he might have to swat. As the TV news clips were careful to stress, the president's disdain for this irritant was so great that he scarcely even broke his golf stroke to express his contempt for what the anchorman termed Hussein's "so-called offer," not to be regarded as "serious." The proposal merited one dismissive sentence in a news story on the blockade in the next day's New York Times.23

The danger that the issues might be addressed was quickly extinguished. The media also quietly passed over the fact that two days before, the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture had published full-page statements in newspapers saying that "It is difficult to conceive of any political solution consistent with Israel's survival that does not involve complete, continued Israeli control of the water and sewerage systems [of the occupied territories], and of the associated infrastructure, including the power supply and road network, essential to their operation, maintenance and accessibility." A grant of meaningful self-determination to the Palestinians would "gravely endanger...Israel's vital interests," the statement emphasized. The "continued existence" of Israel is at stake in ensuring Israeli control over the West Bank. 24

In short, no meaningful withdrawal from the conquered territories or recognition of Palestinian national rights is conceivable, the consistent position of U.S.-Israeli rejectionism, which, for twenty years, has posed the primary barrier to any diplomatic resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict. The facts have been rigorously excluded from U.S. commentary, including the current U.S. position: support for the Shamir-Peres plan, which declares Jordan to be the Palestinian state; bars any change in the status of the Israeli-occupied territories except in accord with the guidelines of the Israeli government, which preclude any meaningful self-determination; rejects negotiations with the PLO, thus denying Palestinians the right to choose their own political representation; and calls for "free elections" under harsh Israeli military control with much of the Palestinian leadership rotting in Israeli jails. Small wonder that the terms of the U.S. position, while designated "the peace process" and "the only game in town," do not seem ever to have been published in the mainstream media. 25

Another possible problem arose when Saddam Hussein proposed on August 19 that the matter of Kuwait be left an "Arab issue," to be dealt with by the Arab states alone, without external interference, in the manner of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and Morocco's attempt to take over the Western Sahara. 26 The proposal was dismissed on the reasonable grounds that, in this arena, Hussein could hope to gain his ends by the threat and use of force. One relevant fact was overlooked: the Iraqi dictator was again stealing a leaf from Washington's book. The traditional U.S. position with regard to the Western hemisphere is that "outsiders" have no right to intrude. If the U.S. intervenes in Latin America or the Caribbean, it is a hemispheric issue, to be resolved here, without external interference. The message is: strangers keep out; we can handle our own affairs -- in an arena in which the regional hegemon can expect to prevail.

To mention only one example, clearly pertinent here, on April 2, 1982, the U.S. set a precedent by vetoing two Security Council resolutions on two different topics the same day. The first called for Israel to reinstate three elected mayors who were recent targets of Jewish terrorist attacks. The second called upon the Secretary-General to keep the Security Council informed about the Central America crisis, naming no names and making no charges, but implicitly directed against U.S. intervention in Nicaragua. The U.S. delegation objected to the resolution on the grounds that it "breeds cynicism," "mocks the search for peace," and "undermines the Inter-American system" which should deal with these matters without U.N. interference; a more extreme variant of Saddam Hussein's position today. 27

On August 23, a former high-ranking U.S. official delivered another Iraqi offer to National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. The proposal, confirmed by the emissary who relayed it and by memoranda, was made public by Knut Royce in Newsday, on August 29. According to sources involved and documents, Iraq offered to withdraw from Kuwait and allow foreigners to leave in return for the lifting of sanctions, guaranteed access to the Gulf, and full control of the Rumailah oil field "that extends slightly into Kuwaiti territory from Iraq" (Royce), about 2 miles over a disputed border. Other terms of the proposal, according to memoranda that Royce quotes, were that Iraq and the U.S. negotiate an oil agreement "satisfactory to both nations' national security interests," "jointly work on the stability of the gulf," and develop a joint plan "to alleviate Iraq's economical and financial problems." There was no mention of U.S. withdrawal from Saudi Arabia, or other preconditions. An Administration official who specializes in Mideast affairs described the proposal as "serious" and "negotiable." 28

The reaction was, again, illuminating. Government spokesmen ridiculed the whole affair. The New York Times noted the Newsday report briefly on page 14, the continuation page of an article on another topic, citing government spokespersons who dismissed it as "baloney." After framing the matter properly, the Times concedes that the story was accurate, quoting White House sources who said the proposal "had not been taken seriously because Mr. Bush demands the unconditional withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait." The Times also noted quietly that "a well-connected Middle Eastern diplomat told the New York Times a week ago [that is, August 23] of a similar offer, but it, too, was dismissed by the Administration." That news had not been published, though it could not be ignored entirely once it was leaked a week later to the suburban journal Newsday, which is prominently displayed on New York City newsstands -- suggesting a certain hypothesis about what happened. 29 Others disposed of the problem in a similar manner.

Several features of the media system are illustrated here. Deviations from the propaganda line can occur, more readily, as in this case, out of the national spotlight. That raises the problem of damage control. A standard journalistic device to suppress unwanted facts that have unfortunately come to light is to report them only in the context of government denials. More generally, to satisfy the conditions of objectivity, a news story must be framed in accordance with the priorities of power. In this case, the Times news report -- the one that enters History -- takes its lead from government authorities. The unwanted facts are first dismissed as "baloney," then conceded to be accurate -- but irrelevant, because Washington isn't interested. We also learn that the journal has suppressed earlier offers that are "baloney" for the same reason. That ends the matter. We can breathe easily, the threat that there might be "a path away from disaster through negotiation" having been averted.

  4. Steady on Course

Some problems arose in dealing with the fact that U.S. allies are not a particularly attractive lot; there is, after all, little to distinguish Saddam Hussein from Hafez el-Assad apart from current services to U.S. needs. An inconvenient Amnesty International release of November 2 reported that Saudi security forces tortured and abused hundreds of Yemeni "guest workers," also expelling 750,000 of them, "for no apparent reason other than their nationality or their suspected opposition to the Saudi Arabian government's position in the gulf crisis." The press looked the other way, though in the case of Arab states, there is no shortage of commentators to denounce their evil nature. 30

The alliance with Turkey -- the "protector of peace" in Cyprus (see p. 188) -- also required some careful handling, in particular, because of the question of the Kurds in northern Iraq. It was difficult not to notice that Iraqi forces facing U.S. troops would be severely weakened if the U.S. were to support a Kurdish rebellion. Washington rejected this option, presumably out of concern that a Kurdish rebellion in Iraq might spread to Eastern Turkey, where the huge Kurdish population (not recognized as such by the Turks) suffer brutal oppression. In a rare notice of the issue in the press, the Wall Street Journal observed that "the West fears that pressing the `Kurdish question' with Turkey, Syria and Iran... could weaken the anti-Iraq alliance." The report adds that "the U.S. administration pointedly refused to meet with an Iraqi Kurdish leader who visited Washington in August" to ask for support, and that "Kurds say Ankara is using the Gulf crisis and Turkey's resulting popularity in the West as cover for a crackdown." 31

Even on this dramatic issue discipline was maintained. Hardly a word was to be found (perhaps none at all) on the willingness of the Bush administration to sacrifice many thousands of American lives -- even putting aside the plight of the Kurds, who have been exploited with the most extraordinary cynicism by the government and the media. 32

It was also necessary to deal somehow with the fact that prior to Hussein's attack on Kuwait, the Bush administration and its predecessors treated this murderous thug as an amiable friend, encouraging trade with his regime and credits to enable it to purchase U.S. goods. Before that, Washington had supported his invasion of Iran, and then tilted so far towards Iraq in the Gulf War that military forces were sent to "protect shipping" from Iran (the main threat to shipping having been Iraqi), persisting in this course even after the USS Stark was attacked in 1987 by Iraqi aircraft. As the nation rallied to destroy the beast, Texas congressman Henry Gonzalez, chairman of the House Banking Committee, charged that one Atlanta-based bank alone extended $3 billion in letters of credit to Iraq, $800 million of it guaranteed by the Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation, which underwrites bank loans to finance exports of U.S. farm products. Gonzalez charged further that there is clear evidence that armaments, possibly including chemical weapons, were obtained by Iraq under the deal. "There is no question but those $3 billion are actually financing the invasion of Kuwait," he said. "There is no question that the greater portion of that was dealing with armaments." 33 The new initiatives of the Bush administration to bolster Saddam Hussein that were announced as Operation Just Cause was launched to defend the world from Manuel Noriega's iniquity, and the lack of notice or reaction, have already been discussed.

This unpleasant matter was difficult to evade entirely. On August 13, the New York Times finally acknowledged that Iraq had reached its heights of power "with American acquiescence and sometimes its help," including "a thriving grain trade with American farmers, cooperation with United States intelligence agencies, oil sales to American refiners that helped finance its military and muted White House criticism of its human rights and war atrocities." From 1982, Iraq became one of the biggest buyers of U.S. rice and wheat, "purchasing some $5.5 billion in crops and livestock with federally guaranteed loans and agricultural subsidies and its own hard cash." It also received about $270 million in government-guaranteed credit to buy other U.S. goods, despite loan defaults. According to 1987 data, the latest available, over 40% of Iraq's food was imported from the United States, and in 1989 Iraq received $1 billion in loan assurances, second only to Mexico. The U.S. became the main market for Iraqi oil, Charles Glass reports, "while the U.S.-Iraqi Business Forum, headed by prominent American businessmen and former diplomats, were praising Saddam's moderation and his progress towards democracy." The Reagan and Bush administrations scarcely reacted when Iraq purchased U.S. helicopters and transferred them to military use in violation of promises, used poison gas against Iranian troops and its own Kurdish citizens, and relocated half a million Kurds and Syrians by force, among other atrocities. 34

Just a mistake in judgment, one of those ironies of history, according to the official story. Nothing is said about why the Times is reporting this now, after Washington had turned against Iraq, not before -- for example, at the moment of the Panama invasion -- when the evidence was readily available and might have helped fend off what has now taken place.

Another assignment was to suppress the fact that Iraq's excuses for its flagrant violation of international law bear comparison to those accepted -- even lauded -- by the media in the case of benign aggression by the U.S. and its clients. Iraq alleged that its economic health was severely threatened by Kuwait's violation of the OPEC agreement on oil production quotas, harming Iraq's attempt to recover from the war with Iran. That these violations were extremely harmful to Iraq is not disputed. Iraq's complaints on this score were largely ignored, along with its charge, prior to its attack, that Kuwait's drawing oil from fields at the border, allegedly draining Iraq's own fields, constituted "theft tantamount to military aggression." This seems not to have been reported at the time, though a month later there was a belated recognition that "whether [Saddam Hussein] is Hitler or not, he has some reason on his side" and from Iraq's viewpoint, the Kuwait government was "acting aggressively -- it was economic warfare." 35

These Iraqi protestations surely have a familiar ring. The right to "defend our interests" by force is conferred upon the United States by the U.N. Charter, according to the official view presented in justification of the invasion of Panama (see p. 147). Israel's attack on Egypt in 1967 was in large measure motivated by the economic problems caused by the mobilization of the reserves during a period of crisis and tension. A potential threat to U.S. economic interests was invoked by the United States to justify its steps to counter Iraqi aggression, as in many cases of intervention and subversion. The threat posed by Kuwait's actions to Iraq's interests was not potential.

More broadly, the Iraqi dictator justified his aggression as a noble act "in defense of the Arab nation," charging that Kuwait was an artificial entity, part of the legacy of European colonialists who carved up the Arab world for their own selfish interests. These machinations ensured that the vast oil wealth of the Arab world would benefit not the Arab masses, but the Western industrial powers and a tiny domestic elite linked to them. Despite the utter cynicism of Saddam Hussein's posturing, the charges themselves are not without merit, and have considerable popular appeal, not least among the 60% non-Kuwaiti population that did the work that enriched the native minority, though not their "Arab brothers."

Hatred for the United States in the Arab world was noted, but without any serious analysis of why this should be the case. The standard reflex is to attribute the antagonism to the emotional problems of people who have been bypassed by the march of history because of their own inadequacies. It would have been next to impossible to offer a rational account of such central matters as the U.S.-Israel-Palestine interactions, since the long and very successful U.S. efforts to bar a peaceful political settlement have been excised from history with such admirable efficiency. 36 The deep strain of anti-Arab racism in the dominant culture facilitates the familiar gambit of attributing antagonism to the United States to the faults of others.

The undercurrent is that the Arabs basically have no right to the oil that geological accident happened to place under their feet. As Walter Laqueur put the matter in 1973, Middle East oil "could be internationalized, not on behalf of a few oil companies but for the benefit of the rest of mankind." This could only be done by force, but that raises no moral problem because "all that is at stake is the fate of some desert sheikdoms." It is only necessary to decode slightly. For "internationalization," read: "control by the U.S. and its clients" (as long as they remain firm supporters of Israel). For "few oil companies," read: "undeserving Arabs." The logic is that of the Moroccans conquering the Sahara: "one Kuwait is enough"; it is unfair for rich resources to be in the hands of the unimportant people when the rich men who run the world need them. The vision of the West, of course, is much vaster than that of Morocco, covering the whole region and its resources, in fact, the resources of the entire world.

Correspondingly, the uplifting concern "for the benefit of mankind" expressed by Laqueur and others does not lead them to suggest that North American and Middle East oil should have been internationalized during the postwar years when the West (with the U.S. well in the lead) had effective control over energy resources, nor does it lead them to draw the same conclusion for the industrial, agricultural, and mineral resources of the West, happily exploited by and for the rich and satisfied nations. The distinction, as always, rests on the scale of "significance." 37

It is worth recalling how little is new in any of this. Recall the earlier explanations of why the "miserable, inefficient" Mexicans have no right "to control the destinies" of their rich lands. At the turn of the century, the influential strategist and historian Admiral Alfred T. Mahan, known for his devotion to Christian values and the doctrine of natural rights, argued that these rights had to be modified in the case of "inefficient" countries such as China, which must be administered "in such a manner as to insure the natural right of the world at large that resources should not be left idle," or misused. The rights of humanity transcend those of the Chinese, who are "sheep without a shepherd" and must be led, their country partitioned, taught Christian truths, and otherwise controlled by Western policies of "just self-assertion" -- not for selfish motive, but "for the welfare of humanity." Great thoughts have a way of reappearing in every age. 38

  5. The U.N. Learns to Behave

The United Nations came in for some unaccustomed praise. Under the headline "The UN's coming of age," the editors of the Boston Globe hailed "a signal change in the history of the organization," a new mood of responsibility and seriousness as it backed U.S. initiatives to punish the aggressor. 39 Many others also lauded this welcome departure from the shameful pattern of the past.

The salutary change in U.N. practices was attributed to the improved behavior of the Soviet enemy and the U.S. victory in the Cold War. A Globe news report states that "Moscow's quick condemnation of the [Iraqi] invasion freed the UN Security Council, long paralyzed by superpower rivalry, to play a critical role" in responding to the aggression. Times correspondent R.W. Apple writes that Washington is "leaning harder in its policy-making on the United Nations, now more functional than in decades because of the passing of the cold war." A Times editorial hailed the "wondrous sea change" as the U.N. finally gets serious, silencing "most of its detractors" and allowing President Bush to pursue his noble effort to create a "new world order to resolve conflicts by multilateral diplomacy and collective security." In the Washington Post, John Goshko reviewed the background for this "rare moment for the United Nations," which "is suddenly working the way it was designed to," "transformed" into an agency for world peace "after years of being dismissed as a failure and a forum for Third World demagoguery" during "the long Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union and their allies." The original conception of the U.N. as guardian of a peaceful world "was thwarted from the outset by the bitter Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In those early years, the images of the United Nations that became engraved on the world's consciousness were of grim-faced Soviet ambassadors casting vetoes or storming out of Security Council meetings," while the new Third World members "turned the [General] Assembly into a forum for frequently shrill, anti-Western rhetoric." "Then, about two years ago, a change began to set in as the result of the détente-oriented changes in Soviet foreign policy." The Post's leading political commentator, David Broder, added his imprimatur:

During the long Cold War years, the Soviet veto and the hostility of many Third World nations made the United Nations an object of scorn to many American politicians and citizens. But in today's altered environment, it has proved to be an effective instrument of world leadership, and, potentially, an agency that can effect both peace and the rule of law in troubled regions.

A critical analysis of Administration policy in the New York Review by George Ball opens: "With the end of the cold war and the onset of the Gulf crisis, the United States can now test the validity of the Wilsonian concept of collective security -- a test which an automatic Soviet veto in the Security Council has precluded for the past forty years." In a BBC report on the U.N., editor Mark Urban says: "Time and again during the Cold War, the Kremlin used its veto to protect its interests from the threat of UN intervention. As long as the answer was `Nyet,' Council debates remained adversarial." But now "the Soviet attitude is quite different," with the economy facing collapse and "with a leader who believes in cooperation." 40

We are to understand, then, that superpower rivalry, Russian obstructionism and the persistent Soviet veto, and the psychic disorders of the Third World had prevented the U.N. from meeting its responsibilities in the past.

These themes were sounded in dozens of enthusiastic articles, all with one notable feature: no evidence was adduced to support what are, apparently, to be understood as self-evident truths. There are ways to determine why the U.N. had not been able to function in its peacekeeping role. It is only necessary to review the record of Security Council vetoes and isolated negative votes in the General Assembly. A look at the facts explains quickly why the question was shelved in favor of self-serving political theology.

The U.S. is far in the lead since 1970 in vetoing Security Council resolutions and rejecting General Assembly resolutions on all relevant issues. In second place, well behind, is Britain, primarily in connection with its support for the racist regimes of southern Africa. The grim-faced ambassadors casting vetoes had good English accents, while the USSR was regularly voting with the overwhelming majority. 41 U.S. isolation would, in fact, have been more severe, were it not for the fact that its enormous power kept major issues from the U.N. agenda. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was bitterly and repeatedly censured, but the U.N. was never willing to take on the U.S. war against Indochina.

The U.N. session just preceeding the "wondrous sea change" (Winter 1989-90) can serve to illustrate. Three Security Council resolutions were vetoed: a condemnation of the U.S. attack on the Nicaraguan Embassy in Panama (U.S. veto, Britain abstained); of the U.S. invasion of Panama (U.S., U.K., France against); of Israeli abuses in the occupied territories (U.S. veto). There were two General Assembly resolutions calling on all states to observe international law, one condemning the U.S. support for the contra army, the other the illegal embargo against Nicaragua. Each passed with two negative votes: the U.S. and Israel. A resolution opposing acquisition of territory by force passed 151 to 3 (U.S., Israel, Dominica). The resolution once again called for a diplomatic settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict with recognized borders and security guarantees, incorporating the wording of U.N. resolution 242, and self-determination for both Israel and the Palestinians in a two-state settlement; the U.S. has been barring such a settlement, virtually alone as the most recent vote indicates, since its January 1976 veto of this proposal, advanced by Syria, Jordan, and Egypt with the backing of the PLO. The U.S. has repeatedly vetoed Security Council resolutions and blocked General Assembly resolutions and other U.N. initiatives on a whole range of issues, including aggression, annexation, human rights abuses, disarmament, adherence to international law, terrorism, and others. 42

In its new-found zeal for international law and the United Nations, the New York Times repeatedly turned to one heroic figure: Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He was brought forth as an expert witness on "the new spirit of unanimity at the United Nations," explaining that there were "some pretty egregious violations of international law in the past," but now "the major powers have convergent interests and the mechanism of the U.N. is there waiting to be used." His "firm espousal of international law" was lauded in a review of his study The Law of Nations. The reviewer took note of his "sardonic, righteous anger," which recalls "the impassioned professor who suspects no one's listening" while he is "clearly fuming that an idea as morally impeccable as international law is routinely disregarded as disposable and naive." In a Times Magazine story, we learn further that Moynihan is "taking particular delight" in being proven right in his long struggle to promote international law and the United Nations system, "abstractions" that "matter dearly" to him. At last, everybody is "riding Moynihan's hobbyhorse" instead of ignoring the principles he has upheld with such conviction for so many years. No longer need Moynihan "revel in his martyrdom." Now "history has caught up with him." 43

Omitted from these accolades was a review of Moynihan's record as U.N. Ambassador, when he had the opportunity to put his principles into practice. In a cablegram to Henry Kissinger on January 23, 1976, he reported the "considerable progress" that had been made by his arm-twisting tactics at the U.N. "toward a basic foreign policy goal, that of breaking up the massive blocs of nations, mostly new nations, which for so long have been arrayed against us in international forums and in diplomatic encounters generally." Moynihan cited two relevant cases: his success in undermining a U.N. reaction to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor and to Moroccan aggression in the Sahara, both supported by the U.S., the former with particular vigor. He had more to say about these matters in his memoir of his years at the United Nations, where he describes frankly his role as Indonesia invaded East Timor in December 1975:

The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.

He adds that within a few weeks some 60,000 people had been killed, "10 percent of the population, almost the proportion of casualties experienced by the Soviet Union during the Second World War." 44

The U.N. episode, briefly sampled here, gives no little insight into the intellectual culture. The U.N. is "functional" today because it is (more or less) doing what Washington wants, a fact that has virtually nothing to do with the end of the Cold War, the Russians, or Third World maladies. The "shrill, anti-Western rhetoric" of the Third World has, very often, been a call for observance of international law. For once, the U.S. and its allies happen to be opposed to acts of aggression, annexation, and human rights violations. Therefore the U.N. is able to act in its peacekeeping role. These truths being unacceptable, they do not exist. They belong to the domain of "abuse of reality" (actual history), not reality itself (what we prefer to believe). 45

These are basic elements of our traditional intellectual values. Our traditional moral values were also illustrated throughout, notably as elite opposition to the U.S. war plans began to crystallize. An early sign was an interview with the commander of the U.S. forces, General Norman Schwartzkopf, featured in a front-page story in the New York Times that opened as follows:

The commander of the American forces facing Iraq said today that his troops could obliterate Iraq, but cautioned that total destruction of that country might not be "in the interest of the long-term balance of power in this region."

His warning was elaborated by others. In a typical example, Times Middle East specialist Judith Miller, under the heading "Political Cost of Victory Questioned," wrote:

There are few who doubt that if there is a war in the Persian Gulf, the United States and its allies can "turn Baghdad into a parking lot," as an American diplomat in the Middle East recently put it. But many analysts are increasingly concerned about the probable effect of such a victory on longer-term American interests in the region. William Crowe, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned last week that "many Arabs would deeply resent a campaign that would necessarily kill large numbers of their Muslim brothers..."

In short, we could slaughter 17 million people and wipe a country off the face of the earth, but mass extermination might be tactically unwise, harmful to our interests. The issues were thoughtfully discussed in many articles, which were notable for the lack of any signs of the "squeamishness" exhibited by the India office in 1919 over the use of poison gas against "uncivilised tribesman." Those who have expressed concern over the decline of our traditional values may rest assured. 46

  6. Moderates and Nationalists

Largely missing from the story was the usual reflex, the Soviet threat, now lost beyond redemption. The President's inability to articulate exalted goals received much criticism, but the reasons for his floundering were left unexamined. The criticism was surely unfair. One could hardly expect the truth, any more than in the past, and the standard pretexts were not available. One try followed another, tracking the public opinion polls with the information they provided about what might sell. Occasionally, some voices even conceded the usually inexpressible reality: that Third World intervention is motivated by U.S. "strategic" and economic concerns, in this case, "to support the OPEC country that is more likely to cater to Washington's interests." 47

Iraqi influence over the world's cheapest and most abundant source of energy is seen, correctly, as extremely threatening. U.S. influence over the resources of the Arab world is, in contrast, taken to be benign -- to be sure, not for the majority of the people living in Kuwait or the region generally, or others like them elsewhere, 48 but rather for the important people. Always we see the same fundamental principle: the resources and government of the world must be in the hands of the "rich men dwelling at peace within their habitations." The hungry and oppressed must be kept in their place.

On the same Churchillian assumptions, the rich men who do our bidding in the Arab world are "moderates," joining the ranks of Mussolini, Suharto, the Guatemalan generals, and others like them. Expounding the consequences of the Iraqi invasion, the New York Times reports that "the Middle East has now split into a clearly moderate pro-Western camp" and "a fiercely nationalistic anti-Western constellation," which includes "the Arab man in the street," a major Tunisian daily observes, commenting on the "growing pro-Iraqi stand among Arabs in poorer countries." If Saddam Hussein were to fulfill "his threat to scorch" Israel, Bernard Trainor adds, "it would generate further support from millions of disfranchised Arabs who lionize him and who could ignite civil disorder in the conservative and moderate Arab states" -- those ruled and managed by princes and business school graduates who, in the eyes of these millions of Arabs, are Western businessmen who happen to pray to Allah, while worshipping Mammon. 49

Note that Trainor follows convention in denouncing Hussein as a Hitlerian maniac on grounds of his threat to scorch Israel -- in retaliation for Israeli aggression, a fact completely overlooked as in this case, or simply dismissed as irrelevant. In contrast, a murderous Israeli reaction to Iraqi aggression, surely to be anticipated, would be regarded as a righteous act of self-defense. Note also that the phrases "moderate pro-Western" and "fiercely nationalistic anti-Western" are redundant. "Pro-Western" implies "moderate"; "anti-Western" implies "fiercely nationalistic," that is, evil and fanatical.

  7. The Diplomatic Track

By mid-August, it was clear that the U.S. was not exactly leading a rousing chorus at the United Nations as it attempted to mobilize support for the use of force in the Gulf. Despite threats, pleas, and cajolery, U.S. travelling diplomats were unable to rally more than token participation in anything beyond sanctions of the kind that the U.N. has attempted to impose in other cases of aggression, often to be blocked by the U.S. The isolation of the United States in the Saudi deserts (apart from Britain) could hardly be overlooked, but there was little questioning of the official line that when the world is in trouble, it calls for the sheriff, and we are the only ones honorable and tough enough to shoulder the burden.

Germany announced that it would not help finance U.S. military operations because the arrangement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia was bilateral, not authorized by the U.N. The European Community took the same position. Commenting on the EC decision not to support U.S. operations in the Gulf, while contributing some $2 billion for 1990-91 (15% of the estimated cost) to countries suffering from the embargo, the Italian Foreign Minister stated that "The military action of the United States was taken autonomously. Don't forget the principle of no taxation without representation." Japan politely agreed to do very little, while South Korea pleaded poverty. The Third World reaction was muted, with little enthusiasm for the U.S. effort and often much popular antagonism. The Arab states generally kept their distance. In pro-western Tunisia, a poll showed 90% support for Iraq, with many condemning the "double standard" revealed by the U.S. attitude toward Israeli aggression, annexation, and human rights abuses. Commentators occasionally noted that support for the U.S. military initiative was least in the governments that had "nascent democratic movements": Jordan, Algeria, Yemen, and Tunisia (Judith Miller). Administration analysts expressed concern that if U.S. troops were kept in place too long the "Islamic religious periods" (the Hajj and Ramadan) would allow more expression of popular feelings and "could set off protests and perhaps coups" that "could topple western-oriented governments in the region and cut the diplomatic ground out from under US-led troops facing Iraq" (Peter Gosselin, who also reported accurately that no congressional critic questions Bush's "first principles: that the Persian Gulf is crucial to the United States and that the United States therefore must defend its interests with military force" -- a "first principle" that Saddam Hussein could easily appreciate). Brookings Institution Middle East specialist Judith Kipper said that "To me, the gut issue is the regimes versus the people, because none of the Arab regimes represent their people, and this is why there is such cheering in the streets" for Saddam Hussein, seen to be defending the interests of the Arab masses against the ruling clique that used the oil wealth of the Arab nation to enrich themselves and the Western world. There was little comment on the significance of the fact that insofar as elements of pluralism exist in the Arab world, the governments cannot line up in the U.S. cause. 50

The press tried to put a bold face on all of this, stressing the amazing unanimity of world opinion in support of the U.S. stand and finessing the details as best possible. The kinds of problems faced were captured in an AP summary of the top stories of the day: "Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady is declaring his global fund-raising effort a success even though he received no specific pledges of new assistance to help pay." Columnists and editors, however, denounced Japan (and occasionally Germany) as "fair-weather allies" who are refusing "to contribute their full and fair share to the common effort to contain Iraq." There was little effort, however, to explore the odd refusal to "get on board" on the part of those who were, in theory, the main beneficiaries of the U.S. actions. 51

Such problems led to a noteworthy account (and endorsement) of the militant U.S. stance in the New York Times, in a front page article by Thomas Friedman. He attributed the Administration's refusal even to consider "a diplomatic track" to its concern that negotiations might "defuse the crisis" and restore the previous status quo at the cost of "a few token gains in Kuwait" for the Iraqi dictator (perhaps "a Kuwaiti island or minor border adjustments," all matters long under dispute). Thus, anything short of a total victory for U.S. force is unacceptable, even if it means a catastrophic war, with unpredictable consequences. As for the possibility that diplomacy might defuse the crisis, leaving such fateful and long-neglected questions as proliferation of lethal weaponry in the region (not just Iraq) to be approached calmly through diplomatic means -- that is a disaster to be avoided, not an option to be explored. 52

The Times chief diplomatic correspondent went on to attribute the pressure for negotiations to Jordan and the ever slimy PLO, whose effort to mediate is their "only way to justify their support for President Hussein's invasion." Jordan had not supported the invasion, though it also did not support the U.S. response to it; as British correspondent Martin Woollacott reports more accurately from Amman, the King's "efforts since the crisis began have been aimed at putting the genie back in the bottle, bringing about a withdrawal from Kuwait, and in general restoring the status quo." And even though the Times judged the fact unfit to print, it is hard to believe that its leading Middle East specialist was unaware that a few days before he wrote, the PLO had issued its first official declaration on the crisis, which called for a solution that would "safeguard the integrity and security of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, of the Gulf and the whole Arab region" (my emphasis; carried by wire services). Placing the blame on "the Palestinian interpretation of events," and on the bad behavior of Jordan is another notable contribution to establishing the U.S.-Israel propaganda line. 53

Little solid information was available on the Jordanian and PLO positions. The Israeli press quoted a PLO plan read by Palestinian activist Faisal Husseini in Jerusalem, calling for immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, peace talks between Iraq and Kuwait on borders and oil policy, and the right of the Kuwaiti people "to choose the central government in their land, with no foreign influence, either Arab or other." According to PLO sources, Jordan and the PLO advanced a plan under which the U.N. would introduce a peace-keeping force and coordinate talks on the future government of Kuwait, possibly calling for a plebiscite in Kuwait. Like other proposals for a diplomatic track, these were ignored or quickly dismissed by the White House, Congress, and the media. 54

While warning against the temptations of the diplomatic track, the Times also called for diplomacy in preference to the immediate resort to force. But as already noted, "diplomacy" meant delivery of an ultimatum: capitulate or die. In reality, diplomatic options were undcut from the outset, along with the sanctions option.

One should bear in mind that the U.S. government, like any actor in world affairs, will always be publicly advocating diplomacy, not force. That was the U.S. stance while seeking to bar negotiations and political settlement in Vietnam and Central America, and has always been the public posture with regard to the Israel-Arab conflict, even as the U.S. has been leading the rejectionist camp. Whatever the U.S. position may be, the media depict it as a yearning for diplomacy and peaceful means. Thus we read of "the American effort to keep attention focused on diplomacy and sanctions, not the drums of war" 55 -- when in fact the effort is to block the diplomatic track, reject negotiations, and keep to force and coercion, under an international cover if possible, otherwise alone. As in other cases, it is a point of logic, immune to fact, that Washington is seeking to resolve the problem peacefully, without the use of force.

Several early openings for a "diplomatic track" have been mentioned: the August 12 Iraqi proposal concerning withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands; the August 19 proposal that the status of Kuwait be settled by the Arab states alone; the August 23 offer published by Newsday, and a "similar offer" (or perhaps this one) that the Times kept under wraps at the same time; and the reported Jordanian and PLO proposals. Others continued to surface, receiving similar treatment. The business pages of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported a "near-panic of stock buying late in the day" on December 4, after a British TV report of an Iraqi offer to withdraw from Kuwait apart from the Rumailah oil fields, with no other conditions except Kuwaiti agreement to discuss a lease of the two Gulf islands after the withdrawal. Wire services carried the story, but not the news sections. News reports did, however, express uneasiness that proposed discussions with Iraq (actually, delivery of an ultimatum, according to the White House) "might encourage some European partners to launch unhelpful peace feelers..." 56

In late December, Iraq made another proposal, disclosed by U.S. officials on January 2: an offer "to withdraw from Kuwait if the United States pledges not to attack as soldiers are pulled out, if foreign troops leave the region, and if there is agreement on the Palestinian problem and on the banning of all weapons of mass destruction in the region." 57 Officials described the offer as "interesting" because it dropped the border issues, and "signals Iraqi interest in a negotiated settlement." A State Department Mideast expert described the proposal as a "serious prenegotiation position." The U.S. "immediately dismissed the proposal," the report notes. It passed without mention in the national press, and was barely noted elsewhere.

The New York Times did, however, report on the same day that Yasser Arafat, after consultations with Saddam Hussein, indicated that neither of them "insisted that the Palestinian problem be solved before Iraqi troops get out of Kuwait." 58 According to Arafat, the report continues, "Mr. Hussein's statement Aug. 12, linking an Iraqi withdrawal to an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was no longer operative as a negotiating demand." All that is necessary is "a strong link to be guaranteed by the five permanent members of the Security Council that we have to solve all the problems in the Gulf, in the Middle East and especially the Palestinian cause."

Two weeks before the deadline for Iraqi withdrawal, then, it seemed that war might be avoided on these terms: Iraq would withdraw completely from Kuwait with a U.S. pledge not to attack withdrawing forces; foreign troops leave the region; the Security Council indicates a serious commitment to settle other major regional problems. Disputed border issues would be left for later consideration. The possibility was flatly rejected by Washington, and scarcely entered the media or public awareness. The U.S. and Britain maintained their commitment to force alone.

The strength of that commitment was again exhibited when France made a last-minute effort to avoid war on January 14, proposing that the Security Council call for "a rapid and massive withdrawal" from Kuwait along with a statement that Council members would bring their "active contribution" to a settlement of other problems of the region, "in particular, of the Arab-Israeli conflict and in particular to the Palestinian problem by convening, at an appropriate moment, an international conference" to assure "the security, stability and development of this region of the world." The French proposal was supported by Belgium, a Council member, and Germany, Spain, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and several non-aligned nations. The U.S. and Britain rejected it (along with the Soviet Union, irrelevantly). U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering stated that the proposal was unacceptable, because it went beyond previous U.N. resolutions on the Iraqi invasion. 59

The Ambassador's statement was technically correct. The wording of the proposal is drawn from a different source, namely, a Security Council decision of December 20, adjoined to Resolution 681, which calls on Israel to observe the Geneva Conventions in the occupied territories. In that statement the members of the Security Council called for "an international conference, at an appropriate time, properly structured," to help "achieve a negotiated settlement and lasting peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict." The statement was excluded from the Resolution itself to prevent a U.S. veto, and left as a codicil. Note that there was no "linkage" to the Iraqi invasion, which was unmentioned.

We cannot know whether the French initiative might have succeeded in averting war. The U.S. feared that it might, and therefore blocked it, in accord with its zealous opposition to any form of diplomacy, and, in this case, its equally strong opposition to an international conference. In this rejectionism, George Bush was joined by Saddam Hussein, who gave no public indication of any interest in the French proposal, though doing so might possibly have averted war.

The unwavering U.S. position was expressed with great clarity by President Bush in the letter that he wrote to Saddam Hussein on January 5, rejected by Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz when it was presented to him by Secretary of State James Baker, on the grounds that its language was inappropriate for correspondence between heads of state. In this letter, Bush stated: "There can be no reward for aggression. Nor will there by any negotiation. Principle cannot be compromised." He merely "informed" Saddam Hussein that his choice was to capitulate without negotiation, or be crushed by force. 60 Diplomacy is not an option.

One might fairly question how serious or promising these options were. To ignore them or dismiss them as "baloney" is to demand a resolution through the threat or use of military force, whatever the consequences, which could be horrendous. The significance and longer-term import of these facts should not be obscured.

Given the current U.S. concern to ensure that Iraq's non-conventional weapons capacity be destroyed, it is worth recalling another rejected Iraqi offer. On April 12, 1990, Saddam Hussein, then still a friend and ally, offered to destroy his arsenal of chemical and other non-conventional weapons if Israel agreed to eliminate its chemical and nuclear weapons. Again in December, the Iraqi Ambassador to France stated that "Iraq would scrap chemical and mass destruction weapons if Israel was also prepared to do so," Reuters reported. Responding to the April offer, transmitted by a group of U.S. Senators, the State Department said it welcomes Iraq's willingness to destroy its arsenals but opposes the link "to other issues or weapons systems" (State Department spokesman Richard Boucher). 61 Note that the other weapons systems are left unmentioned; the phrase "Israeli nuclear weapons" cannot be pronounced by any U.S. official, because acknowledgement of their existence would raise the question why all U.S. aid to Israel is not illegal under amendments to the foreign aid act from the 1970s barring aid to any country engaged in clandestine nuclear weapons development.

It is not the threat of mass destruction and the capacity to coerce that disturbs us; rather, it is important that it be wielded by the proper hands, ours or our client's.

The general contours of a possible diplomatic settlement were evident by August, involving arrangements concerning Iraqi access to the Gulf, perhaps by lease of two uninhabited islands; a settlement of the dispute over the Rumailah oil field; the opening of steps towards a regional security settlement; perhaps some mode for determination of public opinion within Kuwait. The U.S. adamantly opposed all such steps from the first moment, arguing that "aggression cannot be rewarded," that "linkage" is in conflict with our high moral stand, and that we cannot enter into lengthy negotiations. Rather, Iraq must at once capitulate to the U.S. show of force, after which maybe -- maybe -- Washington will permit discussion of other issues. The rejection of "linkage" derives from the unspeakable truth that the U.S. is opposed to a diplomatic settlement of all of the "linked" issues. In particular, it has long been opposed to an international conference on the Arab-Israel conflict, because such efforts could only lead to pressures to achieve the kind of peaceful diplomatic settlement that the U.S. has successfully barred by means of what is called "the peace process" in conventional ideology.

In numerous similar cases, the U.S. has been quite happy to reward aggression, conduct lengthy negotiations, and pursue "linkage" (even putting aside those cases in which the criminal acts are approved). In the case of Namibia, for example, the U.N. condemned South Africa's occupation of the territory in the 1960s, followed by a World Court judgment calling for South Africa's exit. The U.S. pursued "quiet diplomacy" and "constructive engagement" while South Africa looted and terrorized Namibia and used it as a base for its murderous attacks against its neighbors (on the estimated human and material cost, see p. 239, below). Secretary of State George Shultz's "peace plan" for Lebanon in 1983 cheerfully "rewarded the aggressors." The plan in effect established a "Greater Israel," as the passionately pro-Israel New York Times conceded, while Syria was simply ordered to conform to the U.S.-Israeli dictates (as, predictably, it refused to do); an extreme form of linkage. 62 Israel was also "rewarded" for its invasion of Egypt in 1956. U.S. clients or the master himself are not expected to slink away from aggression and terror without satisfaction of their "needs" and "wants." The pattern is general, as Third World commentators commonly observe, with little effect on the well-disciplined Western political culture.

It is entirely reasonable to take the position that Iraq should withdraw forthwith, unconditionally, with no "linkage" to anything, and that it should pay reparations and even be subjected to war crimes trials; that is a tenable position for people who uphold the principles that yield these conclusions. But as a point of logic, principles cannot be selectively upheld. As a point of fact, among those who publicly espouse the standard position, very few can claim to do so on grounds of principle, as the most elementary inquiry will quickly show.

The rejection of "linkage," accepted with striking unanimity by elite opinion, is particularly noteworthy in this case because it is combined with the demand that the security problems of the region must be settled as part of the Iraqi withdrawal. Now that Iraq has shown itself to be an enemy, not a reliable client as was supposed, it cannot be left with its ominous military capacities intact. But the "long-term balance of power in the region" requires that it remain as a barrier to Iran, as General Schwartzkopf indicated. And it is hardly realistic to expect the Arab world to observe passively while the major U.S. client in the region not only occupies Arab territory and subjects the population to harsh repression, but also expands its nuclear arsenals and other military advantages. Clearly, the questions of "security" and "stability" require consideration of regional issues, the dread "linkage." Being opposed to diplomatic settlements generally, for reasons of its political weakness, the U.S. (and educated opinion) must, however, oppose "linkage" on the grand principle that "aggressors cannot be rewarded" -- in this case.

Three days after reporting and justifying U.S. fears that others might be tempted by the "diplomatic track," the Times editors, outraged that Saddam Hussein had surrounded foreign Embassies with troops, denounced him for "lash[ing] out at diplomacy itself." 63 As noted earlier, this extreme defiance of international law impelled the Times editors to demand that Hussein be treated as a war criminal under the Nuremberg principles.

The editors charged Hussein with such crimes as "initiating a war of aggression in violation of international treaties," citing the invasion of Iran in 1980; "the ill treatment of civilian populations in occupied territories"; stripping people of their citizenship and abusing innocent civilians; and this new outrage against "diplomats whose special status is protected by the Vienna Conventions." The charges are all accurate, and the Nuremberg Principles do indeed apply. The worst crimes, by far, are from the period when the editors pretended not to see U.S. government support for its Iraqi friends. And one can think of some other countries that have recently been engaged in similar crimes, including one regularly hailed by the Times as the noble guardian of world order and human rights, and another that it praises as the very "symbol of human decency," "a society in which moral sensitivity is a principle of political life." 64 But the editors did not see fit to lead their readers through the byways of historical irrelevance.

  8. Safeguarding our Needs

By any standards, Saddam Hussein is a monstrous figure, surely in comparison to the minor criminal Manuel Noriega. But his villainy is not the reason for his assumption of the role of Great Satan in August 1990. It was apparent long before, and did not impede Washington's efforts to lend him aid and support. And few words need be wasted on our traditional commitment to resist aggression and uphold the rule of law. Hussein became a demon in the usual fashion: when it was finally understood, beyond any doubt, that his independent nationalism threatens U.S. interests. His record of hideous atrocities then becomes available for propaganda needs, but beyond that, it has essentially nothing to do with his sudden transition in August 1990 from cherished friend to new incarnation of Genghis Khan and Hitler.

The military occupation of Kuwait -- which, if successfully maintained, would make the Iraqi dictator a major player on the world scene -- does not raise the threat of superpower confrontation and nuclear war, as did earlier conflicts in the region. That not insignificant fact reflects, of course, the collapse of the Soviet system, which leaves the U.S. unchallenged in military force and under strong temptation to demonstrate the efficacy of the instrument that it alone wields. That strategic conception is by no means unchallenged, even in elite circles, where a conflict began to emerge within several months, along familiar lines. 65 The global strategy of world control through the threat or use of force runs into conflict with the goals of maintaining economic health and international business interests, by now very serious problems, and hard to address without significant changes in social policy at home. The shape of the New World Order will depend, to no small degree, on which of these conceptions prevails, not only in this case.


1 On the latter, see the introduction.

2 See chapter 1, pp. 53f., and sources cited.

3 "Why America is in the Gulf," Address by James Baker to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Oct. 29, 1990; U.S. Department of State.  

4 John Dunn, "Our insecure tradition," Times Literary Supplement, Oct. 5, 1990.

5 William Stivers, Supremacy and Oil (Cornell U., 1982), from which the following is drawn (pp. 34ff.; 74ff.)

6 Andy Thomas, Effects of Chemical Warfare (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Taylor & Francis, 1985), chap. 2; taboo, Victor Mallet, Financial Times (London), Dec. 18, 1990. On the effects of U.S. chemical warfare, years after the war ended, see Necessary Illusions, 38f. and sources cited.  

7 Marc Trachtenberg, International Security, Winter 1988/9.

8 Quandt, "Lebanon, 1958, and Jordan, 1970," in Barry Blechman and Stephen Kaplan, eds. Force without War (Brookings Institution, 1978), 247, 238. Emphasis Eisenhower's.

9 Telegram no. 1979, July 19, 1958, to Prime Minister from Secretary of State, from Washington; File FO 371/132 779. "Future Policy in the Persian Gulf," Jan. 15, 1958, F0 371/132 778.

10 Undated sections of NSC 5801/l, "Current Policy Issues" on relations to Nasser-led Arab Nationalism, apparently mid-1958; NSC 5820/1, Nov. 4, 1958. See chapter 1, pp. 53f.; Fateful Triangle, chapter 2. I am indebted to Kirsten Cale and Irene Gendzier for the British and U.S. documents, respectively. For excerpts and discussion, see Cale "`Ruthlessly to intervene,'" Living Marxism (London), Nov. 1990; Gendzier, "The Way they Saw it Then," ms., Nov. 1990.

11 For some discussion in the 1970s, see Towards a New Cold War, chapters 2, 11; Christopher Rand, Making Democracy Safe for Oil (Little, Brown and Co., 1975).  

12 BG, Aug. 8, 1990, and the media generally. Pamela Constable et al., BG, Aug. 20, 1990.

13 For a few exceptions, well outside the mainstream, see Alexander Cockburn's columns in the Los Angeles Times and Nation, Sept. 10; Erwin Knoll, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 17, 1990.

14 McGrory, BG, Aug. 8; Mary Curtius and Stephen Kurkjian, BG, Aug. 6, 1990, citing the Washington Post.

15 Crowe, Peter Gosselin and Stephen Kurkjian, BG, Aug. 8; Trainor, "Saddam Hussein, Mideast's Noriega, Has to Go," NYT Op-Ed, Aug. 12, 1990.

16 Editorials, BG, NYT, Aug. 9, 1990.

17 Michael Carlin, letter, BG, Aug. 9, and many others; editorial, Dublin Sunday Tribune, Aug. 12; Cronin, Irish Times, Aug. 11, 1990.  

18 By November, a division among elites began to develop with much clarity. Discussion broadened in the usual manner to include this spectrum of tactical judgment.

19 Christopher Hitchens, Cyprus (Quartet, 1984); Bush, Reuters, Sept. 26, 1990; for a rare exception to the general evasion of the Turkish invasion, see Walter Robinson, BG, Oct. 7, 1990. Thomas Franck, "The Stealing of the Sahara," American J. of International Law, vol. 70, 1976, 694f.

20 Barringer, NYT, Aug. 16, 1990. On the facts, and the version of them crafted by the propaganda system, see Fateful Triangle, chapter 5, secs. 3,4; Pirates and Emperors, chapter 2; Necessary Illusions, 275-7 and Appendix III. For a recent update on Israeli terror in Lebanon, see my "Letter from Lexington," Lies of Our Times, August, 1990. For a knowledgeable though apologetic Israeli perspective, see Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari, Israel's Lebanon War (Simon & Schuster, 1984).

21 Siegman, letter, NYT, Aug. 26, 1990; editorial, NYT, Sept. 7, 1990. On the 1967 war, see, among others, Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem (Simon & Schuster, 1984).  

22 Editorial, Financial Times, Aug. 13, 1990.

23 Tom Brokaw, NBC News, 6:30 PM, Aug. 12; Michael Gordon, NYT, Aug. 13, 1990. Excerpts from the Iraqi statement appear on an inside page without comment.

24 Jerusalem Post, Yediot Ahronot, Aug. 10, 1990. Reuters, BG, Aug. 11, 1990, p. 40, 90 words; zero in the Times. On the undermining of any diplomatic resolution as the process unfolded, and the refraction of the facts through the ideological prism, see the essays collected in Towards a New Cold War, and Fateful Triangle. See Necessary Illusions, and my article in Z magazine, January 1990, on the impressive success in suppressing and distorting the record in the current period.

25 Ibid. for the unpublishable facts, and references of preceding note for earlier background.

26 "Proposal by Iraq's President Demanding U.S. Withdrawal," NYT, Aug. 20, 1990.

27 See Fateful Triangle, 114.

28 Royce, Newsday, Aug. 29, 1990.

29 R.W. Apple, NYT, Aug. 30, 1990.  

30 AI, AP, Nov. 2, 1990.

31 Tony Horwitz, "Gulf Crisis Finds Kurds in Middle Again," WSJ, Dec. 3, 1990.

32 See Necessary Illusions, 286f.

33 AP, BG, Aug. 5, 1990.

34 Michael Wines, "U.S. Aid Helped Hussein's Climb," NYT, Aug. 13; 1987 data, Larry Tye, "Food embargo may be an effective weapon," BG, Aug. 22; Glass, Spectator, Aug. 25, 1990.

35 Liesi Graz, Middle East International, Aug. 3; Thomas Hayes, NYT, Sept. 3, 1990, quoting energy specialist Henry Schuler. See also Laurent Belsie, CSM, Aug. 9, noting that "Kuwait was one of the most flagrant violators of the quota system, oil analysts say." Iraq also condemned Kuwait for insisting that Iraq pay the huge costs of defending the Arab world, including the Kuwaiti elite, from Iran.  

36 See references of note 21.

37 Laqueur, NYT Magazine, Dec. 16, 1973. For further comment, see my Peace in the Middle East (Pantheon, 1974), introduction.

38 See chapter 1, p. 35f.; Marilyn B. Young, Rhetoric of Empire: American China Policy, 1985-1901 (Harvard, 1968).  

39 Editorial, BG, Aug. 8, 1990.

40 Pamela Constable et al., BG, Aug. 20; Apple, NYT, Aug. 21; editorial, NYT, Sept. 24; Goshko, Broder, WP weekly, Sept. 3; Ball, NYRB, Dec. 6; BBC "Newsnight," Nov. 29, 1990, circulated by M.T.S. (Defence Information), Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside.

41 From 1970 through 1989, the U.S. vetoed 45 Security Council resolutions alone, 11 others with the U.K., four with the U.K. and France. Britain had 26 negative votes (11 with the U.S., 4 with the U.S. and France). France had 11 (7 alone) and the USSR 8 (one with China). Records obtained by Norman Finkelstein. In 1990, the U.S. added two more vetoes: on Panama (see chapter 5, note 19), and on Israeli abuses in the occupied territories (May 31). Thus 58 "Noes" from 1970 through 1990.

42 See chapter 3, section 4; chapters 2, 5; my article in Z magazine, January 1990. For further discussion, see Necessary Illusions, 82ff. and Appendix IV, sec. 4; Norman Finkelstein, Z magazine, Nov. 1990; Cheryl Rubenberg, Arab Studies Quarterly, Fall 1989; Nabeel Abraham, American-Arab Affairs, Winter 1989-90.  

43 Elaine Sciolino, "Peacekeeping in a New Era: The Superpowers Act in Harmony," @u{NYT}, Aug. 28; Roger Rosenblatt, "Give Law a Chance," lead review, NYT Book Review, Aug. 26; James Traub, @u(NYT Magazine), Sept. 16, 1990.

44 NYT, Jan. 28, 1976; Moynihan, A Dangerous Place (Little, Brown, 1978).

45 See p. 19.

46 Youssef Ibrahim, NYT, Nov. 2; Judith Miller, NYT, Dec. 6, 1990. General Schwartzkopf did inform the "Iraqi people" that "our argument is not with" them, and that we would prefer to avoid the "thousands and thousands of innocent casualties."  

47 Thomas Friedman, NYT, Aug. 12, 1990.

48 Merely to note one issue, a case can be made that for the longer term interests of the people of the region, oil should be held back from the market, keeping prices higher now and preserving the resources for the future, instead of leaving hundreds of millions of people with no future but death and starvation in several generations, when their only resource is exhausted, wasted for the benefit of the West and local elites.

49 Youssef Ibrahim, "The Split Among Arabs Unleashes a People's Anger," NYT, Aug. 12, 1990; Trainor, op. cit. The facts are more complex; it is the interpretation and its doctrinal significance that we consider here.

50 "Bonn says it won't fund US buildup," WP-BG, Sept. 6; Serge Schmemann, "Bonn's Iraq-Embargo Aid," NYT, Sept. 7; Alan Riding, Thomas Friedman, NYT, Sept. 8; James Sterngold, "Brady finishes Tour, NYT, Sept. 8; James Clad, Ted Morello, Far Eastern Economic Review, Sept. 6; Friedman, Reuters, NYT, Sept. 7; Edward Schumacher, "Tunis, Long Friendly to West, Bristles With Hostility to U.S. Gulf Moves," NYT, Sept. 6; AP, Sept. 7; Michael Gordon, "Combined Force in Saudi Arabia Is Light on Arabs," NYT, Sept. 5; Miller, NYT, Dec. 6; Gosselin, BG, Nov. 26, 27; Kipper, John Kifner, NYT, Aug. 12, 1990. The real picture is again more complex; it is the interpretation that is relevant here.

51 AP, Sept. 7; Tom Wicker, Editorial, NYT, Sept. 6, 1990.  

52 Friedman, "Behind Bush's Hard Line," NYT, Aug. 22, 1990.

53 Ibid.; Woollacott, Manchester Guardian Weekly, Aug. 26; "PLO says it favors integrity of Kuwait," Reuters, BG, Aug. 20, 1990.

54 Yehuda Litani, Hadashot, Aug. 17 (The Other Front, Jerusalem, Aug. 23). UPI, BG, Aug. 26; compare the proposals in the Times editorial the same day. See also Paul Lalor, Middle East International, Aug. 31, 1990.

55 Andrew Rosenthal, NYT, Sept. 3, 1990.

56 AP, Dec. 4; WSJ, sec. C, p. 2, Dec. 5; NYT, business section, Dec. 5; Gerald Seib, WSJ, Dec. 3, 1990.

57 Knut Royce, Newsday, Jan. 3, 1990.  

58 Patrick Tyler, NYT, Jan. 3.

59 Trevor Rowe, Boston Globe, Jan. 15; Paul Lewis, NYT, Jan. 15; AP, Jan 15, 1991.

60 AP, Jan. 14, 1990.

61 AP, April 13, 1990. Reuters, BG, April 14; Financial Times, Dec. 18, 1990.  

62 See Fateful Triangle, 425f.

63 Editorial, NYT, Aug. 25, 1990. See above, p. 160.

64 NYT, Aug. 25, 1990. For these and numerous other examples of Times gushing over Israel, see Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle, and Necessary Illusions.

65 For some other examples, see chapter 12, section 5; also introduction

Table of Contents ] Introduction ] I. Cold War: Fact and Fancy ] II. The Home Front ] III. The Global System ] IV. Problems of Population Control ] V. The Post-Cold War Era ] [ VI. Nefarious Aggression ] VII. The Victors ] VIII. The Agenda of the Doves: 1988 ] IX. The Mortal Sin of Self-Defense ] X. The Decline of the Democratic Ideal ] XI. Democracy in the Industrial Societies ] XII. Force and Opinion ] Afterword ]

 ] Deterring Democracy ] Necessary Illusions ] The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many ] Keeping the Rabble in Line ] Rethinking Camelot ] Powers and Prospects ] Year 501 ] Secrets, Lies and Democracy ] What Uncle Sam Really Wants ] Interviews, Debates and Talks ] About Noam Chomsky ]


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