Saddam Hussein was right: the U.N. teams inspecting Iraq did contain U.S. spies. His expulsion of the teams was legitimate, and the U.S. bombing that followed was farce.
Karl Marx once wrote: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” We’re seeing that today, with each successive military action by the U.S. against Iraq becoming ever more transparent and ridiculous.
Perhaps you haven’t heard the news. It was conveniently released the day before President Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial was to begin and the major American news networks didn’t give it much attention. They were too busy with segments on how the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice designed his own robes. With hooks like fashion and sex attending the impeachment trial, how could they be blamed for under-reporting more Iraq news.
But on January 7th, the New York Times confirmed rumors that United States planted spies on the United Nations: “United States officials said on Wednesday that American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors ferreting out secret Iraqi weapons programs.” The Washington Post and Boston Globe further reported that the operation was aimed at Saddam Hussein himself. NBC News reported that U.N. communication equipment was used by U.S. intelligence to pass along intercepted Iraqi messages.
This is exactly what Saddam Hussein has been charging the U.N. teams with. He has long claimed that the teams, run by the United Nations Special Commission or UNSCOM, were full of “American spies and agents.” It was for this reason that he denied the inspectors access to sensitive sites. And it was this refusal that prompted President Clinton to attack Iraq last month.
So what’s going on here? Senior U.S. officials told NBC News that the main targets of last month’s attack weren’t military but economic. The cruise missiles weren’t aimed at any alleged nuclear or biological weapons factories but instead at the oil fields. Specifically, one of the main targets was the Basra oil refining facilities in southern Iraq.
In a separate article, NBC quoted Fadhil Chalabi, an oil industry analyst at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London, as saying Iraq’s oil producing neightbors are “hoping that Iraq’s oil installations will be destroyed as a result of American air strikes. Then the [U.N.-mandated] oil-for food program would be paralyzed and the market would improve by the disappearance of Iraqi oil altogether.”
Since the start of the Gulf War, Iraq has produced relatively-little oil because of a combination of the U.N. sanctions and an infrastructure destroyed by years of war. A report by the United States Energy Information Administration back in the summer of 1997 stated Iraq’s per capital Gross National Product was at levels not seen since the 1940s.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have picked up this slack in production and made out like bandits. Before the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia was only allowed to pump 5.4 millions barrels a day under it’s OPEC quota. Today it produces 8 million barrels a day, a fifty percent increase that translates into billions of dollars a year in profit. If the sanctions against Iraq were lifted, Saudi production would once more have to be limited and the Anglo-American oil companies running the fields would lose ten billion dollars a year in revenue.
t’s time to stop kidding ourselves. This is a war over money. The U.S. and Britain are getting rich off of Saudi Arabia’s increased oil production and don’t want anyone muscling in on their oil profits. It is in the economic interest of the U.S. and Britain to maintain Iraqi sanctions indefinitely and their foreign policy seems to be to set off periodic crises with Iraq. France and Russia meanwhile both stand to get lucrative oil contracts with a post-sanctions Iraq so they routinely denounce any bombing raids and just as routinely call for a lifting of sanctions.
Saddam Hussein is also making out in the current state of affairs. A economically-healthy Iraqi population wouldn’t put up with his tyranny. He currently rules Iraq like a mob boss, siphoning off what oil profits there are to pay for fancy cars and presidential palaces. He gets to look tough in front of the TV cameras and then retreats to safe underground bunkers when the bombs start falling on the Iraqi people.
It is time to stop all of the hypocrisy. It is estimated that over a million Iraqis have died as a results of the post-Gulf War sanctions. These oil profits are blood money and it is long past time that they end.