What would happen if Iraqi militants bombed an American oil company, lets say based in the southern US, in Texas maybe, and killed eight Americans and seriously wounded 20 more?
Would the US immediately strike Iraq? Would the UN convene, and unleash a chain of condemnations, denouncing the "barbaric terrorist aggression". Would it be described as the final piece of evidence to prove that Iraq is not the least interested in peace or in becoming a viable member of the international community?
But what if Iraq defended the attack on Texas, saying it was a legitimate act, only meant to deter American security forces from targeting Iraqi spies in the United States?
Would the American media then demand anything less than overthrowing the Iraqi government and its President, Saddam Hussein?
How arrogant can Iraq get. Not only murdering innocent Americans in their own homeland, but having the gall to defend such a criminal action at a time when grieving Texans bury the burnt corpses of their loved ones, consumed with fear that the undeterred Iraqis might once again bomb their city?
Don't be disheartened. No Americans were killed at the hands of Iraqi militants, nor is such a possibility minutely feasible, at least at any time soon. To the contrary, the eight killed and twenty wounded were Iraqis, poor laborers for the Southern Oil Company in Basra.
The Iraqis were killed in a joint American-British attack on Iraq on Sunday, Dec. 1. The heavy bombardment wounded many passersby, as shattered glass and debris turned the already battered facilities into a fireball and columns of smoke.
Need I state the obvious? No UN condemnation was issued; the US and British governments justified the attack, the same way they justified every air strike in the last 10 years: the allies' warplanes were intercepted by Iraqi radar in the "no fly zone".
How many American or British soldiers were killed in the last decade as a result of alleged Iraqi radar interceptions?
How many American and British airplanes were downed as a result of Iraqi ground defenses firing?
Does the US or Britain have a UN mandate to declare most of the Iraqi territories, "no fly zones" and to see into it that no Iraqi airplanes, no radar, nothing is allowed within the country's airspace?
On the other hand, how many Iraqis, civilians, or government workers or officers were killed as a result of the US and British warplane "retaliation" in the last few years?
The UN Security Council recently passed UNSC Resolution 1441, using the strongest language possible in commanding Iraq to allow unhindered access to the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), to search for alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq was threatened of "serious consequences" if it failed to abide by the newest of many UN resolutions, often championed by the United States and often passed after their first draft.
But things have worked out well so far. Hans Blix, the head of UNMOVIC seems to be pleased with the Iraqi's cooperation. The Iraqis seem confident that their account will be cleared this time. Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is becoming less tense about the matter, and he too is expressing hopefulness and optimism.
So why now? Why ruin such progress on the issue of weapons of mass destruction's dismantlement, and bomb unsuspected oil workers, (with an average pay of 20 American dollars per month), and turn a routine day in the holy month of Ramadan into a massacre?
Why bomb Musil, another Iraqi city, this time in Northern Iraq, the next day?
Why use the first five days of inspections to shower southern Iraq with over 500,000 leaflets, calling on Iraqis not to fight back and threatening them with death if they do?
But again, this is not Texas, it's Basra and Musil. Those dead are not American victims of Iraqi "terrorism", but Iraqi victims of America. Apparently, they don't count.
On the same day that Iraqis were recovering burnt corpses from under the heavy concrete, London was on guard, accusing Saddam Hussein of widespread torture and human rights abuses.
It was rather suspicious to think that an official human rights report on Iraq, announced by the British government and defended by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was genuine, or that Straw has in fact lost sleep over the plight of the Iraqis. If he did, he would have first denounced the deadly sanctions that left over a million Iraqis dead. He would have confronted the twisted logic of the "no fly zone". He would have worked for a peaceful solution of the Iraqi crisis, not a war, that if fought, according to Medact, a respected British health organization, would lead to the deaths of at least half a million Iraqis in the first three months.
One can't help but wonder if the ball is truly in Iraq's court now that inspections are in progress, or if the inspectors or the UN really have the final say of war and peace in the sanctions-devastated country. If they do, then why is the US bombing Iraqis while the inspectors are getting their work done, according to plan and without any obstructions?
The US and Britain are putting on a silly show, and few are impressed - bombing Iraqi civilian facilities, south and north, carrying out a massive physiological warfare, while in the meantime, championing Iraqi human rights, and accusing Saddam Hussein of violating them.
Iraq recently accused the US of striving to find a pretext to unleash war. "Their aim is not to verify that Iraq no longer has these weapons (of mass destruction) but to find any excuse to attack," the Iraqi newspaper Ath-Thawrah said following the Basra bombing.
I wish one could easily dismiss such accusations as mere Iraqi propaganda. But unfortunately, one cannot.
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