Why Bush Wants To Get Rid of Saddam Hussein, The Attack On the French Tanker Limburg Off Yemen, and the Supreme Court's Refusal to Intervene in the New Jersey Senate Race Fiasco
US - Iraqi Relations, in brief
Iraq was not a country until after World War I. Before that, for four hundred years, it was just a collection of provinces in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The Turks allowed a lot of local autonomy to their subjects. In other words, the whole Middle East, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq belonged to Turkey.
The Turks sided with the Germans in World War I and lost. In the aftermath, Turkish possessions were taken over by the League of Nations and given as Mandates to the victors. The national boundaries in the Middle East were drawn by the League of Nations. Some tribes won their own countries, and some tribes, like the Kurds, lost. In this case, Great Britain got Iraq, Palestine and Trans-Jordan, the French got Syria and Lebanon.
In essence, Iraq remained a British colony until the revolution in 1958. "The Iraqi monarchy was a British creation. The king, ostensibly, made and broke prime ministers, but behind the scenes the British were present, directing the play." [From IRAQ UNDER GENERAL NURI, My Recollections of Nuri Al-Said, 1954 - 1958 By Waldemar J. Gallman, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1964] The Iraqi army was not founded until January 6, 1931. Iraq's borders were drawn so that it was almost a landlocked country. It's natural outlet to the sea, Kuwait, was made an independent country and a British protectorate. The Bush family oil company did a lot of work for and has close ties with Kuwait.
The story of US relations with Iraq really being in 1979 with the fall of the Shah of Iran. In the early years of the 20th century Iran, or Persia, had a Shah, but was basically run by Britain. After World War II, the Iranians had a republic and elected a Prime Minister named Mohammed Mossadegh who promptly nationalized the assets of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.
This could not stand, so the CIA overthrew Mossadegh and installed the grandson of the former Shah, Shah Reza Khan Pahlevi. In those more genteel times, the deposed Mossadegh retired to live in Parisian exile.
The Shah, a modernizer, was installed as the American puppet and he ruled over an anti-democratic police state until the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when the American Embassy was seized and the occupants held hostage for 444 days. Many secret documents detailing American meddling in Iran and other Middle Eastern nations fell into unfriendly hands after the seizure of the embassy. The Iranian hostage crisis destroyed the presidency of Jimmy Carter (who had actually visited the Shah in Tehran and toasted him in the Peacock Palace) and brought to power Ronald Reagan and the former head of the CIA, Vice-President George H. W. Bush.
To get back at Iran for the humiliation of the hostage crisis, in the waning days of the Carter Administration, Iraq was urged to attack Iran under the pretext of "regaining" the Shatt al-Arab waterway which divided Iraq from Iran thereby improving Iraqi access to the Persian Gulf. Saddam Hussein, who had just become President of Iraq, was, like the Shah of Iran, a modernizer. The Islamic Revolutionaries who had seized Iran saw the West and modern western culture as the "great Satan" and vowed to export their revolution.
Although the reason for the Iraqi attack was better access to the sea, it could be justified as self-defense against the Islamic threat to export its revolution. Consequently, the United States saw its national interested served by ensuring that Iraq did not lose to the bigger, more powerful, Iran. The United States provided Iraq with satellite intelligence photos and financing for the war through government guaranteed agricultural credits for food imports through the Atlanta branch of the Bank Nationale di Livorno, which were ultimately diverted to arms acquisition. The United States also turned a blind eye to the Iraqi use of chemical weapons against its own people.
Israel was profoundly disturbed by the American tilt toward Iraq, which had helped fight against the Israelis in 1948, 1967, and 1973. So, on June 7, 1981, American supplied Israeli F-16's attacked and destroyed the Osirik nuclear reactor which Iraq was building with French assistance. After the attack on Iraq, Israel invaded Lebanon in a final push to destroy the PLO and Yasser Arafat. Ariel Sharon laid siege to Beirut, but United States intervention allowed Arafat and some of his fighters to go to Tunisia.
As part of the deal to let Arafat go, the United States agreed to send troops to help promote peace in Lebanon (as it had in 1958.) The troops remained until a 12,000 lb. truck bomb blew up the Marine Barracks on October 23, 1983, killing 242 Americans and wounded another 80. Simultaneously with the explosion of the bomb at the Marine barracks, a 400 lb. truck bomb killed 58 French soldiers at a French base. These bombings followed an attack on the American Embassy on April 18, 1983 which killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, and injured another 120. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for these bombings.
The Israeli policy toward the Iran - Iraq war was "to keep it going." Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said, "it's too bad they both can't lose."
Hizbollah, which was considered a tool of the Iranians, was holding kidnapped Americans hostage in Lebanon. So people in the Reagan White House decided to try and win their release and, in violation of Reagan's stated policy of "not negotiating with terrorists", sent Colonel Oliver North to Tehran to try and negotiate the release of the American hostages in Lebanon.
Thus was born the Iran - Contra scandal, where the proceeds from over-priced arms sales to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels were used to buy TOW anti-tank missiles for the Iranians.
At this point the Iran - Iraq war had turned into a bloody war of attrition. Having failed to make headway on the ground, both side turned to attacking the others' shipping and oil installations. This led to the tanker war which the United States and Russia tried to influence by reflagging some tankers and sending warships to the Persian Gulf.
So one morning Saddam Hussein wakes up to find his tanks being destroyed by TOW missiles supplied to his enemy, Iran, by his putative friend, the USA. This is after his atomic reactor has been destroyed in a pre-emptive attack by Israelis using US supplied arms. Naturally, Iraq was unhappy about this, but at that time the Iran - Contra scandal was still secret.
To show its displeasure, on May 17, 1987, the Iraqis "accidentally" fired two Exocet missiles from French supplied Mirage F-1's into the guided-missile frigate USS Stark. The first missile penetrated the Stark's hull on the port side approximately 35 degrees off the bow and traveled 80 feet and exited the ship on the starboard side. Although this Exocet's warhead failed to detonate, the missile still did great damage. It spewed deadly burning propellant and ruptured the main system carrying water for firefighting crews.
The second Exocet struck eight feet from its sister missile and detonated three to five feet inside the hull, ripping a gaping hole in the side of the ship. Thirty-seven sailors were killed.
The United States got the message and soon thereafter accidentally shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, thus ending the Iran - Iraq war. The point is that when Saddam Hussein was a US ally during the Reagan-Bush administration, he learned a lot about the secret illegal activities of the United States. He knows where many of the bodies are buried. This is why Iraq thought it could get away with the attack and annexation of Kuwait. This is why President Bush waged war to expel Iraq from Kuwait and why George W. Bush is so desperate to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein knows what crooks and liars the Bush family breeds.
And that is why the George W. Bush administration is packed with the key players from the Iraq war fought by his father. Secretary of State Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs during Desert Storm. Vice-President Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense. Saddam Hussein knows more about how the United States government operates than the Congress or the American people. George W. Bush wants to get rid of Hussein to make sure they don't find out.
The French Connection
But for Bush to attack Iraq, he needs the approval of the United Nations Security Council's five permanent members, of which France is one. France is reluctant to support the war against Iraq. So suddenly, surprise surprise, the French tanker Limburg is attacked off the coast of Yemen.
The US has been investigating and arresting Yemenis, even in Lackawanna, New York. Osama Bin Laden's family is from Yemen, and he hung out there before he went to Afghanistan. The United States also has 400 troops stationed in Djbouti across the narrow Bab el Mandeb from Yemen, waiting for the word to go in and find Al Queda operatives in the rugged northern mountains.
Clearly, the United States must have Yemen under surveillance if it has soldiers stationed on its border ready to strike. So how likely is it that the United States, which is looking for terrorists in Yemen, would be unaware of a potential attack on a French oil tanker? The attack on the French tanker, if not carried out by America's allies in Yemen, at least might have been assisted by US silence. It might have been a provocation. Or even worse, American intelligence is so bad that it did not see this attack coming.
This is George W. Bush playing hardball to get French cooperation in the United Nations for the attack on Iraq. Of course, because Bush is a gangster who stole his election, killing and bully tactics are the only arrows in his quiver.
This scenario is not far fetched because Yemen is just barely out of the middle ages. It is a very poor country, where slavery was legal until after World War II. Once slavery was abolished, it did not disappear in fact, because to be turned out of one's position was to be destitute, so many former slaves just stayed on. Hostage taking is also considered a completely legitimate tool of government.
"Imam Yahya, who ruled Yemen until his death in 1948, relied heavily on the hostage system. It is believed that at the time of his death he held about 4,000 of them, mostly his own relatives, sons of provincial governors, Seiyid families and tribal sheikhs, even representatives from the smaller and semi-nomadic Bedu tribes, who were seized as a surety for the good and loyal behavior of their parents. Some hostages had been kidnapped from rulers in the Aden Protectorate in order to exert pressure on them. If any of the parents proved to be disloyal or were suspected of plotting against the Imam, the hostage was executed and often tortured into the bargain." [From The War in Yemen, by Edgar O'Ballance, Archon Books, 1971, page 28.]
Osama Bin Laden's family comes from Yemen. Clearly, the Al Queda fighters are using modern weapons and technology with medieval tactics. And soldiers are drafted into the Yemeni army for life. Soldiers are so poor, they can not afford to marry. For example, after the Imam Yahya's assassination on February 17, 1948; the brother of the crown prince raised an army to fight the usurper by "promising them a week's pillaging in Sana (the capital) if they seized the city for him."
Long story short, he captured the city and took control of the government, but never returned to Sana because he was hated for the destruction he had caused during the seige.
The Supreme Court Does A Flip-Flop on Election Deadlines
Of course, medieval is the only term that accurately describes the state of democracy in the United States. The highest political offices have been hereditary family feifdoms or available only to the rich.
In New Jersey, the Democratic candidate for the Senate, Robert Torricelli, decided to quit the race. New Jersey law provides for the resignation of candidates and the substitution of new candidates up to 51 days before the election.
Torricelli quit the race 36 days before the election, when absentee ballots had already been printed and 1,600 had been mailed out.
Now, the Democrats had two legal options. They could have continued to run with Torricelli, but had him promise to resign if elected and Governor McGreevey would appoint former Senator Lautenberg (who is 78 years old). In other words, there was a political solution within the law. This would have been a good option, because the appointment would have been for only two years, until a special election would be held to fill the balance of the six year term in 2004.
The other option would have been for the Democrats to run a write-in campaign for Lautenberg with Torricelli's name on the ballot. Now, both of these options would have presented many tactical difficulties, but they would have been legal.
Instead, the Democrats asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to allow them to ignore the deadline and allow them to substitute Frank Lautenberg's name on the ballot..
In 1997, in Neptune Township, New Jersey, the same thing happened. Richard Murphy, a Republican candidate for township committee, was indicted for soliciting bribes in a school bus contract. He decided to quit the race, coincidentally on September 30th, just like Torricelli, after the 51 day deadline had passed.
The Republican Party went to court to try and substitute the name of a new candidate, Tyrone Bottani. In the end, an honest Superior Court Judge named Lawrence Lawson, prohibited the substitution.
All the arguments made in the Torricelli case were made in the Murphy case. The voters are entitled to a "choice." Well, substituting after the deadline means that the New Jersey Supreme Court bought the argument that third party candidates and write-in votes do not constitute a sufficient choice. The New Jersey Supreme Court said the purpose of the election laws is, "to preserve the two party system," which means, in effect, preferential treatment for Republicans and Democrats.
Democrat and Republican candidates can now just ignore the deadlines. The opportunities for chicanery are endless. It is an especially bad decision in light of the United States Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore which said that statutory deadlines are more important than the right to have one's vote counted.
Now, less than two years later, the New Jersey Supreme Court says that statutory deadlines can be ignored and the United States Supreme Court allows it to stand.
But Judge Lawson pointed out a bigger problem. If courts can order candidates on to the ballot after the 51 day statutory deadline has passed because voters are entitled to a "choice" under the New Jersey Constitution, then what does that do to races where one party declines to field a candidate?
For example, the Republican Party in Princeton, New Jersey, where I live, did not nominate any candidates for Borough Council. There are two Green Party candidates on the ballot, but under the New Jersey Supreme Court decision, third party and write-in votes are not considered to be viable choices.
So, does that now mean that uncontested races are illegal in New Jersey? Can the court now just order that someone's name be printed on the ballot so that voters have a choice in the election and are not faced with just one name, or just one major party candidate? Twenty percent of the United States House of Representatives runs without a major party opponent, 30% of the State Senators and 40% of the State Representatives have no major party opponent, too. So how can the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court be justified?
The decision to allow the substitution of a candidate after the voting has already begun is so outrageous that it is difficult to believe that it was not motivated solely by partisan political advantage. But the long term effect is that the nation is slipping into anarchy and chaos.
The people who have won the elections by rigging the process are concentrating so hard on toppling Saddam Hussein (although people who choose their president by not counting votes and their senators by allowing candidate substitutions after the deadline are delusional if they think they are going to bring democracy to Iraq) that they are not noticing that there have been two incidents of random mass murder in the past month: once in Nebraska and the other in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
People are freaking out because the products of this rigged political system, the Republicans and the Democrats, and concentrating on Iraq and the Middle East while people are losing their jobs, their life savings, their pensions, while the markets decline, and the government just keeps talking about the threat from Iraq.
The United States is in a serious political crisis which started in December 1998 when, on the heels of loses in the mid-term election, the Republicans went ahead and tried to impeach President Clinton anyway. Two years later, Bush lost the election but won the White House because the Supreme Court ruled that voters have no right to vote for president under the United States Constitution (but they do have the right to be drafted and to die restoring democracy to Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.)
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf