A guessing game

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Iraq Views: 1072

Do President Bush's most recent statements, as interpreted in the American press, suggest that the war on Iraq is now on hold? Or do they mean the opposite? Perhaps the only certain thing is that we will spend a great deal more time making "informed" guesses about the likelihood, or not, of war.

The whole process is based on leaks to the press by senior figures in the Pentagon and other relevant departments or agencies. So systematic are the leaks, so ubiquitous their reporting, that one can only assume they have themselves become a policy tool. Their real purpose is to manipulate the psychological and political climate inside and outside Iraq. This plethora of press leaks outlining battle plans and military exercises aims at inducing Iraq to behave in a way the US might use as an excuse to attack and invade. If the war against Iraq is certain, then it is in Washington's interest to pressure Iraq to behave in such a way as might serve American war plans.

One of the spin-off benefits of the leaks, from the Pentagon's point of view, is that they might also deceive the Iraqis, serving as a cover for the real invasion plan, forcing Iraq to deploy its forces in the way America's military planners want. A secondary, but no less important goal, is to ready regional and international actors to jump on the war bandwagon. Taking the hidden agenda of the leaks, as well as official statements, into account, it would be foolhardy to leap to definitive conclusions.

Such is the confusion that a recent, informal meeting in Washington of Arab observers, including ambassadors and seasoned reporters, was split down the middle between those convinced that war is inevitable and those who rule out or play down any impending American aggression.

From those who see war as inevitable came the following arguments: the Bush administration is infatuated with the idea of launching a war to oust Saddam Hussein; the long preparation of American public opinion for war is unlikely to have been for nothing; the administration has taken a strategic decision to curb Arab radicalism once and for all; the most recent polls reveal 70 per cent support for the idea of war against Iraq; the hawks within the administration are in the ascendant, not only on the issue of Iraq but also on Iran and Palestine, while those hostile to the idea of war against Iraq are now a minority within Congress.

A formidable list of points. Those less sure, though, argue that there is no guarantee of an easy military victory against Iraq and that, should there be any question of Iraq actually possessing weapons of mass destruction then any invasion could cost a vast number of American lives.

It is this latter point, along with other, logistical considerations, that is reported as being the reason the American military remains cool about any invasion. Yet Iraq's assumed possession of weapons of mass destruction is the argument most used by the pro-war camp both inside and outside the administration.

Social and economic factors may also conspire to make war less, rather than more likely. It is argued, for example, that the cost of the war, especially one that lacks any clear exit strategy, may wreck the fragile American economy. The factionalism and weaknesses of the Iraqi opposition are also well known, and the recent meetings between the opposition and state department planners merely served to reinforce such impressions.

Perhaps the most important argument, politically speaking, made by those who remain unsure about the inevitability of an attack, is the lack of any legitimate reason for invading Iraq and ousting Saddam. Certainly, growing opposition to the war within the Labor Party in the UK- the British government's own lawyers have advised that any invasion of Iraq would be illegal under international law- has caused alarm bells to ring among American experts. And certainly no one has yet been able to produce any conclusive proof linking Iraq with international terrorism.

Yet if the arguments bandied by the Arab observers who met are difficult to choose between, there can be no denying that within the American press, in the nation's op-ed columns, there has been a snowball effect with the idea of launching a war against Iraq having steadily gained momentum since the toppling of the Taliban, however false the premises that the writers use are.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration remains in desperate need of a convincing political frame for any invasion decision, which is why it has been reduced to using systematic leaks as a policy tool. The ploy will pay-off if the Iraqi regime is goaded into behaving foolishly, either within Iraq or beyond its borders, thus providing Washington with the excuses it is seeking to invade, and to make that invasion palatable to its more hesitant partners.

Dr. El-Sayed Said is the deputy director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Cairo, Egypt. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Arab Strategic Report since 1994, and the editor-in-chief of Rwaq Arabi (a periodical specialized in human rights).

Source: www.ahram.org.eg/weekly

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Iraq
Views: 1072

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:

You wrote:
His latest reference to Saddam as Hitler, is strange since the US did not even enter WWII until the last year, but then maybe he was referring to the Holocaust the US was going to commit in Iraq.

The United States entered World War II December 8, 1941. The War was over on August 14, 1945. You can find a WWII timeline at:


This war is not about Saddam Hussein being a "threat" to anyone, its about installing a more complacent thug who'll give America OIL.
Lots of it at bargain prices.

And after bombing Iraq and killing or injuring millions, American troops will honorably stay beind for decades to "rebuild" what saddam did to Iraq.

Not surprisingly Sharon and Israel are the only country in the world who are actively insisting Iraq must be punished. They suddenly have "new evidence" that Iraq has nuclear weapons.
Didnt Israel bomb Iraq's nuclear plant in the 80s?
And US Marine Scott Ritter, a UN weapons inspector has repeatedly confirmed that Iraq was effectively unarmed as of 1998, and actually never had a biological weapons capacity, the US/Israel adamantly claims it does.

The sanctions on Iraq plus the repeated bombings have already killed 500,000 Iraqi children and malnourished millions.
How much more "collateral damage" will it take?

The only reason there are no "collateral damage" numbers from Afghanistan in the North American media is because the numbers are too high.
It'll be far worse in Iraq.

Rumsfeld needs to stop spreading his lies (he told reporters in India that he had proof of "Al-Quaida" in pakistan and then recanted his story.
He's also tried to link iraq with Al-Quaida, but the world isnt has stupid as Bush.
His latest reference to Saddam as Hitler, is strange since the US did not even enter WWII until the last year, but then maybe he was referring to the Holocaust the US was going to commit in Iraq.

To oust one man in Iraq, we will lose 1,000's innocent life here in US and also innocent civilian in Iraq.