From the past until the present America has been a central haven for maintaining a fair and democratic government. Society assumes that the government




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The Truth Can Hurt


From the past until the present America has been a central haven for maintaining a fair and democratic government. Society assumes that the government officials and leaders they elect will make decisions in favor of the best interests of the entire population. As individuals living in a democratic society, one assumes that the population will receive information and intelligence that is an accurate reflection of what is going on within our country. Unfortunately within the past years, US citizens have been subjected to anything but the truth. Opposing viewpoints from the administration, intelligence agents, and the media have left US citizens to distinguish for themselves the truth and untruth. These oppositional viewpoints have become especially prevalent within the US since attacking Iraq in 2003. The current opposing viewpoints stem from debate about when the conflict between the US and Iraq first began. Some of the administration uses the September 11th attacks on the US as the prime reason for attacking Iraq. Other government employees, such as the CIA, attribute the attack on Iraq to the long-term conflict that began in 1991 under George H.W. Bush. In analyzing the historical relations between the US and Iraq from the early 90’s until the present, the presence of a hidden agenda on behalf of the US as well as many misperceptions regarding the Iraq and US conflict are unraveled. With a strong influence of Neoconservatives within the government the decision to invade Iraq was based on their strong desire to remain a world superpower as well as achieve power through the attainment of Iraqi oil reserves and breakdown and control of Iraqi’s means of self-defense.

The current U.S./Iraqi conflict can be traced back to the early 1990’s under the first Bush administration. Although many individuals believe that the September 11th attacks on the US were the cause for the current war, blueprints were being made about 15 years ago. With Dick Cheney as secretary of defense and Paul Wolfowitz, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Planning Board, future US military plans were already being outlined. Wolfowitz was assigned the task of writing the next Defense Planning Guidance which should be “nothing less than a blueprint for world domination” in which he argued that the US “maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from aspiring to a larger regional or global role” (qtd. in Tyler). Wolfowitz’s document leaked to the New York Times sparking questions in regards to the controversial claims made within this document. When the Bush administration lost election the document was discarded. Although the document was discarded, it remained apparent in the early 1990s that the U.S. maintained a goal to achieve military supremacy (Tyler, 1992).

In 1991 with George H.W. Bush as the nation’s president, the US became involved in Iraqi foreign policy which initiated a series of events that would affect the US and Iraq for years to come. In the early 1990s Iraq invaded Kuwait due to religious conflict between the Shiite Muslim Arabs and the ethnic Kurds, which caused upset in the Middle Eastern nations. With the help of the United Nations (UN), Bush headed the removal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait (Dudley 2004). In 1991 after the US invasion, Saddam Hussein agreed to peace terms but later failed to adhere to these terms, which included pledges to destroy nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. As a result of Saddam’s noncompliance, the UN imposed economic sanctions on the nation (Dudley, 2004). Although the UN insists that weapons remain in Iraq, Hussein Kamol, Saddam’s son-in-law, told officials that he believed all weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed in 1991 (Greenwald, 2006). Despite this fact allegations continued to be made by the US government that these weapons still existed.

Initially Iraq maintained biological weapons and denied having them. But by the end of 1991, Iraq destroyed all of its weapons, submitted a declaration in 1992 stating that everything was destroyed, and turned in everything that remained in their possession in 1995. In regards to this possession of weapons officials remarked, “we could account for 90-95% (of the weapons), and maintained no evidence of a retained capability nor evidence that Iraq was reconstituting” (Greenwald, 2006). The US had proof because Iraq’s industrial infrastructure was under “the most technologically advanced, intrusive arms control regime in the history of arms control” (Scott Ritter, 2005). Also, despite this information the administration knew that if they accepted the fact that Iraq maintained no weapons of mass destruction this notion could backlash on them in the future. By not accepting the fact that there were no longer any weapons in Iraq, and instead maintaining the idea that Iraq contains weapons of mass destruction, the US was able to maintain a notion that would provide them with an advantage in the future.

The uncertainty of the US in regards to the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq continued through Bill Clinton’s presidency (1992-2000). Clinton continued the effort of the UN by maintaining economic sanctions on Iraq and sporadic attacks on the nation when Saddam refused to cooperate. “Saddam began to refuse them (UN) access to weapons sites and the Clinton administration responded with cruise missile attacks in December 1998; then Saddam shut the door behind the inspectors and locked it” (Packer, p.10-11, 2005). These cruise missile attacks lasted four days, were called the Desert Fox bombing raids, and were intended to destroy any of Saddam’s remaining weapons (Gordon and Trainor, 2006). Although these raids were intended to destroy Iraq’s weapon reserves, intelligence officials stated that most of Iraq’s chemical warfare facilities had not been destroyed. Officials predicted that stockpiles of poison gas remained as well as the ability to quickly reproduce chemical weapons (Gordon and Trainor, 2006). By 2001, the Clinton administration no longer had access to information regarding weapons of mass destruction (via intelligence officials) in Iraq. Because Clinton took no further action against Iraq, Packer claimed that “the lame-duck President Clinton showed no sign of wanting to deal once and for all with a defiant Iraq” (Gordon and Trainor, p.36, 2005). This strong desire to take final action against Iraq became prominent during the George W. Bush administration.

Gordon and Trainor also provided information from a conversation between Clinton and Bush as to the advice Clinton gave Bush regarding foreign affairs. Bush initially stated that his two priorities were the national missile defense and Iraq. “Clinton proposed a different set of priorities, which included Al Qaeda, Middle East diplomacy, North Korea, the nuclear competition in South Asia, and, only then, Iraq. Bush did not respond” (Gordon and Trainor, p. 14, 2006). Gordon and Trainor further explain that the Clinton administration felt that Saddam was a “manageable nuisance” (p.14, 2006). The new Bush team, however, felt that something did need to be done about Saddam and the situation in Iraq; however, they did not have “a preconceived plan on how to deal with Saddam’s regime or a timetable for action” (Gordon and Trainor, p.14, 2006). In accordance with the advice of Clinton, Bush did not focus on Iraq during his first six months of presidency. When the Bush administration first chose to focus on the issues with Iraq, their plan of action was unclear. The administration had four possible options: “continuing the current containment strategy, continuing containment while actively supporting Saddam’s opponents, setting up a safe haven for insurgents in southern Iraq, and planning a U.S. invasion” (Gordon and Trainor, p.14., 2006). At this point, the administration had not yet decided which of these paths it wanted to follow in dealing with Iraq.

With the change in administration from Clinton to George W. Bush, a new foreign policy was slowly implemented, because George W. Bush’s decision making was gradually influenced by neoconservative thought. The neoconservatives are a group whose emphasis is on the defense and prevention of countries who pose a threat to American power. The individuals were highly reflective of this desire during the second Bush Administration. “Iraq became the neoconservatives’ leading cause because the Clinton policy of sanctions and occasional missile attacks seemed to be failing, but for a larger reason, too: They saw Iraq as the test case for their ideas about American power and world leadership. Iraq represented the worst failure of the nineties and the first opportunity of the new American century” (Packer, p. 36, 2005). September 11th, 2001 would provide the gateway to act upon the opportunity that the US had been waiting for. As the Twin Towers were demolished and thousands of American civilians were killed, George W. Bush and the administration charged these acts as those of terrorism. This accusation was the initiator to what would become (thus far) a three and a half year war. Terrorism quickly became the main source of justification to begin a war with Iraq. A detailed address by Secretary of State Colin Powell on February 5, 2003 is a prime example of the accusations against Iraq that were being made. Colin Powell addressed the U.N. Security Council stating that the U.S. was aware of Iraq’s involvement in terrorism and containment of weapons of mass destruction. In this address Colin Powell presented information to back his claim one in which included a picture of a weapons munitions facility in the Iraqi city of Taji. He claimed that the facility housed chemical munitions and that Iraq had come up with four chemical weapons shells at this site. To prove this he showed a picture of fifteen supposed chemical muniton bunkers and pointed out a truck, “a decontamination vehicle in case something goes wrong”, that was adjacent to the bunkers (Greenwald, 2006). Yet, according to Scott Ritter, United Nations weapon instructor in Iraq (1991-1998), “there were never any chemical weapons in that facility” and “the UN weapons inspectors knew that the truck shown by Colin Powell in those photographs were fire trucks, not decontamination trucks” (Greenwald, 2006). Not only was Colin Powell’s address in contradiction with the truth according to Scott Ritter, but also in contradiction with his own previous words. In 2001, prior to this UN address, Colin Powell had claimed that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no threat (Pilger, 2006). Obviously, Colin Powell was distorting the truth by making up and modifying existing information to support entering into a war with Iraq.

Another contributing factor in the push for war against Iraq was from the vice president of the new Bush administration. Vice President Dick Cheney was a huge advocate of war in Iraq. Cheney served as the secretary of defense of George H.W. Bush, “which included the 1991 Gulf War, and he harbored a deep sense of unfinished business about Iraq. In addition, Iraq was the only country the United States regularly, if intermittently, bombed these” (Woodward, p.21, 2004). Cheney was also an advocate of utilizing the law passed by Congress and signed by Clinton in 1998. This law allotted $97 million in military assistance to Iraqi opposition forces in order to remove Saddam’s regime and to help Iraq build a democratic nation (Woodward, 2004).

Not only was Cheney an advocate of instilling opposition forces in Iraq, he also strongly believed that weapons of mass destruction remain in Iraq regardless of the evidence given to him. Vice President Cheney declared that there “is no doubt” that Saddam Hussein “has weapons of mass destruction” and that “we do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon” (Bamford, 2004). He even claimed that Saddam’s son-in-law Hussein Kamel admitted to his own father-in-law’s “resumed efforts to acquire nuclear weapons”. Yet, what Kamel told interrogators was in total opposition of Cheney’s claim. On August 22, 1995 during a debriefing by officials from the US, the UN and Jordan, Kamel stated that all uranium-enrichment programs had ended since the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War and that “all weapons- biological, chemical, missile, nuclear” had been destroyed. (Bamford, p.319-320). Despite Cheney’s new awareness of the lack of uranium and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he kept the same story and continued to misinform the American public of the presence of such deadly weapons. In doing so, fear of safety was instilled into the American people, a fear that could only be partially alleviated by supporting the war.

Above all, the desire for power is still driving these administrative officials to make decisions regarding foreign policy. During Reagan’s presidency many of the current neoconservatives served at the middle levels where they embraced his idealism. “The fall of communism and the emergence of the United States as the world’s only superpower had given them a sense of historical victory” (Packer, p.38, 2005). Individuals of the United States felt as if they had world power. However, this feeling slowly diminished after George H.W. Bush and Clinton crushed Reagan’s triumph. With the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, these individuals felt that they had the ability to re-gain this feeling of power. Packer writes, “Now they were coming back to power as insurgents, scornful of the entrenched bureaucracy, the more cautious moderates in their own party (including the new secretary of state, Colin Powell), and the tired, defeated Democrats. They were supremely confident; all they needed was a mission” (p.38, 2005). The September 11th attacks on the United States were a perfect excuse to begin this mission.

Even through Wolfowitz and Cheney’s (the neoconservative) strong desire to gain world power, Wolfowitz maintains that some things need to be remembered about the Cold war. Wolfowitz encouraged the administration to hold back on some of its power and to look to past experiences as an example of the way to handle war. Wolfowitz, a leader of the neoconservative movement, believed that the U.S. should apply principles learned from the Cold War to its current conflicts (Packer, 2005). The following quote emphasizes the need of US officials to work with Iraq in creating a new democracy and not in be a dictative power. He states:

We cannot ignore the uncomfortable fact that economic and social circumstances may better prepare some countries for democracy than others….Oddly, we seem to have forgotten what Vietnam should have taught us about the limitations of the military as an instrument of ‘nation-building.’ Promoting democracy requires attention to specific circumstances and to the limitations of U.S. leverage. Both because of what the United States is, and because of what is possible, we cannot engage either in promoting democracy or in nation-building as an exercise of will. We must proceed by interaction and indirection, not imposition. In this respect, post-World War II experiences with Germany and Japan offer misleading guides to what is possible now, even in a period of American primacy (Packer, p.37, 2005).

Some individuals believe this is one more example in which the American public was being misled. Wolfwitz was saying one thing to the American public, promoting intervention without force, while actually creating other plans and encouraging power by any means.

The influence of the Neoconservative agenda to promote US power within world and especially in Iraq, can also be directly related to a desire to gain world power through the acquirement of oil. It is evident that oil is not only central to the US economy but also to the availability of the US to function as a world power. Oil is used for transportation, as a heat source, fuel for industrial and farm equipment, and several other means as well. Warfare also has a strong dependence on oil as oil provides the energy source for oil fired ships, fighter jets, and other vehicles of defense and national security measures. Being utilized and needed as a main energy source, oil is also a main source of profitability. The economic importance of oil as well as its central role in war is enough to provide the US with a huge incentive and motive to attack Iraq. With the loss of such an energy source, the downfall of a nation over time, as well as the loss of a country’s position as a superpower could eventually occur. US control over Iraq would disrupt one of the world’s largest oil reserves and grant the US one of the central sources of power. This motive shows a more than greedy and selfish United States. In this regard oil equals power and in invading Iraq many American government officials’ motives would be achieved.

Gordon and Trainor explain that Wolfowitz, a leader of the neoconservative movement, initially proposed a plan to President Bush to invade Iraq from the south in order to control Basra, where a large portion of the nation’s oil reserves were located. They would utilize Kuwait in order to enter from there and take over this area. Once they established power in this area, the US troops would be able to move into northern Iraq and slowly take power of the Iraqi economy and eventually take over Baghdad as well. This plan was devised by a group of the neoconservatives (p. 16, 2006). This plan that Wolfowitz proposed to Bush was further support of the desire for world power and control. One of the first steps in gaining that power and control was to obtain control of some of the world’s major oil reserves. Finally, this supports the assertion that the neoconservatives are behind many of the decisions made by President Bush.

The decision to invade Iraq is a twenty-first century event that will never be forgotten and that will continue to leave an everlasting impact on the lives of many. Realizing the vast amount of innocent casualties, killed out of vain, is disheartening. According to studies done by John Hopkins University, MIT, and Baghdad’s Al Mustansiriya University, since 2003, 600,000 Iraqi civilian fatalities have occurred. On the other hand, Bush states that 30,000 civilians have been killed by military intervention in Iraq (Ephron, 2006). It must be recognized that both quantitative data measurements of the human cost of the occupation are estimates, as the actual number of civilian casualties well never be able to be deciphered. However, whether 30,000 or 600,000 the amount of innocent individual’s lives that have been taken away is astounding. In discovering the truth behind the Iraqi war and the hidden agenda on behalf of the U.S. government it is overwhelming to think that many of the U.S. military attempts have been to support a government’s motives.

Although we may never know the real reasoning behind the U.S./Iraqi conflict we can suspect that it is due to oil reserves, neoconservative thought to achieve world power, and U.S. feelings of dictatorship on who should and shouldn’t be allowed to have weapons as well as how the governments of other countries should be run. The US/Iraqi conflict serves as a prime example of the tremendous impact that imposed self-interest motives have on destroying a country. As explained by the contradictory and false information presented on behalf of various US government officials to U.S. citizens during the Iraqi conflict, the words of government officials cannot be taken verbatim. It is left up to the individual to comprehensively evaluate the vast amount of information presented in order to decipher the truth to one’s best ability.


References


Bamford, James. A Pretext For War. 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence

Agencies. New York: Random House Inc., 2004.


Barnett, Thomas P.M. The Pentagon’s New Map: Blueprint for Action, a Future Worth Creating. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005.


Bodansky, Yossef. The Secret History of the Iraq War. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2004.


Carlisle, Rodney P. Iraq War. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005.


Chomsky, Noam. Imperial Ambitions. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005.


Danner, Mark. The Secret Way to War. New York: New York Review Books, 2006.


Dudley, William, ed. Iraq: Opposing Viewpoints. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2004.


Ephron, Dan. Newsweek: “A Growing Body Count”. October 2006. Vol. 148, Issue 17.


Gordon, Michael R., and General Bernard E. Trainor. Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. New York: Pantheon Books, 2006.


Greenwald, Robert. UNCOVERED: The War on Iraq. (online movie) 27 April 2006.


Packer, George. The Assassin’s Gate. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. 2005.


Pliger, John. Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror. (online movie) 13 July 2006.


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Woodward, Bob. Plan of Attack. Wheeler Large Print, 2004.


Online Article: No author. “Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter on Iraq, WMDs and the Role of the Clinton Administration in the 1990s”. 2005 Oct 21.




Online article: Leaman, George. “Iraq, American Empire, and the War on Terrorism.” Metaphilosophy, Volume 35, Number 3. April 2004. p.234-248. Metaphilosophy LLC and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2004.


Online article. Lanham, Fritz. “It’s our war. We at least ought to understand it.” 30 April 2006. The Houston Chronicle, 2 Star Edition. LexisNexis Academic Universe.

<http://web.lexisnexis.com/universe/document?_m=c7ba16e5ebb70d160ecfd92e64c9973a&_docnum=25&wchp=dGLzVzzzSkVA&_md5=58b578ce3e14212305794959a9489db1>


Online article: Tyler, Patrick E. New York Times. “US Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop a One-Superpower World.” 8 March 1992. 24 October 2006.

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