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Toronto, Canada, March 2, 2003

Bush's war is not about democracy

Contributing Foreign Editor

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- President George Bush claimed last week his impending war against Iraq would bring peace and democracy to the Middle East, and liberate Iraqis from repression.

At the same time, in a move clearly aimed at intimidating the media, the White House denounced a CBS News interview with Saddam Hussein, in which the Iraqi leader asserted his nation had nothing to do with 9/11 or al-Qaida, as "propaganda."

Now, I have no love for Saddam's sinister, brutal regime. The last time I was in Baghdad, in late 1990, the Iraqi secret police threatened to hang me as a spy after I discovered a group of technicians and scientists who had been secretly sent by the British government to produce anthrax and other germ warfare weapons for Iraq to use against Iran.

But what I dislike even more than Saddam's nasty regime are government lies and propaganda.

Since 9/11, Americans have been subjected to the most intense propaganda campaign from their government since World War I. Much of the mainstream U.S. media have been intimidated by the Bush administration into unquestioningly amplifying its party line.

Or, in the worst tradition of yellow, jingoist journalism, they act as cheerleaders for war.

I am reminded of the sycophantic Soviet media during the days of Chairman Leonid Brezhnev.

US PresidentThe American public, often wobbly about geography, history and international affairs, has been alternatively terrified and enraged by bare-faced lies that Iraq was about to attack America with nuclear weapons or germs, and was a secret ally of al-Qaida.

A shocking two-thirds of Americans mistakenly believe Iraq staged the 9/11 attacks.

A surging wave of anti-Islamic hate, promoted in part by Bush's allies on the loony far right, and administration repression of Muslims, frighteningly recalls Europe's growing anti-Semitism of the early 1930s.

These are the reasons why a majority of Americans still support a war of aggression against Iraq, though more and more question the president's motives.

A frightening claim

It's frightening to see Bush claim with a straight face his war against Iraq will bring democracy and peace to the Mideast, and save Iraqis from repression.

Why didn't he begin by saving Palestinians from the repression by his alter-ego, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon? If Bush really cared about Mideast democracy, he's had two years to do something about U.S.-sponsored dictatorships like Egypt and Pakistan, or medieval autocracies such as Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and America's Gulf protectorates.

When Bush says he will bring democracy to benighted Iraqis, what he really means is U.S. rule.

In Bush-speak, "democracy" has been perverted to mean U.S. imperial hegemony: nations run by puppet rulers who make all the right noises, like Afghanistan's U.S.-installed figurehead, Hamid Karzai, while following Washington's orders to the letter.

Bush's war is not about democracy, weapons of mass destruction, human rights, or terrorism. It has two main motivations. First, the Manifest Destiny crowd in Washington, led by VP Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The terrible events of 9/11 have seemed to produce an almost psychotic reaction in these good, patriotic Americans, transforming them into 19th century imperialists.

Their intention is perfectly clear: 1) prevent any nation ever challenging U.S. global hegemony; 2) dominate oil. The aggression against Iraq is not about oil per se, it is about control of oil. Before the Iraq crisis, the U.S. imported about $18 billion of crude oil annually from the Mideast, but spent $31 billion keeping military forces there. Why? Control of Mideast oil gives the U.S. domination over Europe and Japan, which draw most of their oil from the region.

Domination of the Mideast and Caspian Sea oil will assure the U.S. a permanent stranglehold over China and India, as well as Europe and Japan.

The second driving force is Israel's far-right Likud government, many of whose ideas have come to dominate Bush administration policy and U.S. media commentary on the Mideast.

The Clinton administration was close to Israel's moderate Labour Party; Bush's camp is totally aligned with Israel's aggressive far right and mirrors its views and policies to a remarkable, unprecedented degree.

Likud and its powerful American supporters want the U.S. to crush Iraq into pieces. The principal beneficiary of the war against Iraq will be Israel.

Many Americans simply don't understand their leadership is about to plunge the nation into an open-ended, dangerous colonial war. All the propaganda about democracy, human rights and regional stability is the same kind of double-talk used by the 19th century British and French imperialists who claimed they were grabbing Africa and Asia to bring the benefits of Christian civilization to the heathens.

A veteran U.S. diplomat, John Kiesling, who just resigned from the State Department in protest over Iraq, eloquently described the damage inflicted on America by the run-amok Bush administration:

"Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offence and defence since the days of Woodrow Wilson." Amen.

Misery loves company. An American-occupied Iraq looks destined to join the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza as another human, political and moral disaster for all concerned.

Concerned presidentEric can be reached by e-mail at
Letters to the editor should be sent to


Eric Margolis: The hijacking of America
Richard Perle told German chancellor Schröder to resign
The Israeli lobby's influence: appointments of advisors to White House and Executive Branch
A disturbing Beirut report on Douglas Feith, Bush's new "Dr Goebbels"
Pentagon hawks make haste
Robert Fisk exposes President Bush and his pro-Israel lobby by name
The Guardian also unmasks Richard Perle and his gang: "When he is not too busy at the Pentagon, or too busy running Hollinger Digital -- part of the group that publishes the Daily Telegraph in Britain -- or at board meetings of the Jerusalem Post, Mr Perle is "resident fellow" at one of the thinktanks -- the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)."
The Guardian exposes a US "Arab" news agency as a clandestine Israeli Intelligence operation
Time To Get The Facts Right, By David Welch (Ambassador of the United States of America
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