Hey! Let's Bomb Baghdad!
Jude Wanniski
August 10, 1998


Memo To:Important Editors & Columnists
From: Jude Wanniski
Re:  A New Manufactured Crisis

Because the Baghdad government now says once again it will not cooperate with the UNSCOM inspectors, we seem to be headed toward another manufactured crisis. By “manufactured,” I mean that it is the United States government that has been goading Baghdad into a confrontation in order to find an excuse for military intervention. Some may be too dense to see that, but I believe most of you seasoned journalists are smart enough to know that our political establishment has never had the slightest intention of lifting the economic embargo we imposed in 1991 at the end of the Gulf War. You also know, but cannot openly admit it, that our government is blatantly lieing about the situation in Iraq because it has run out of credible excuses for its actions. We have reached a point where principal leaders of both political parties are publicly advocating the overthrow of the Iraqi government and the installation of a puppet regime which will be run by our government (until we get tired of the trouble and expense.) 

To publicly allocate funds for the overthrow of a foreign government would of course be a unilateral act of war on our part, as the United Nations would not sanction such action when every government in the world knows Iraq has done everything that is humanly possible to comply with the 1991 strictures. Several of you have endorsed recognition of this puppet regime editorially, knowing it is meant to deny Saddam Hussein’s government access to its seat in the United Nations, which we could do unilaterally by controlling access to New York City -- and by being the Big Cheese of the world.

In your editorials and news accounts, you cite the reasons why Iraq still does not deserve to have the embargo lifted after seven years of UNSCOM inspections. The reasons are so transparently trivial that they leave no doubt others of a similar nature can be contrived at will. In all but one case, they involve disagreements over paper documentations that precede the Gulf War. The one argument of substance concerns VX nerve gas, specifically the contention by UNSCOM that earlier this year shell fragments found at a site where weapons had been destroyed in 1991 yielded a sample determined to contain traces of VX. For the United States to argue its case on this evidence is worthy of ridicule.

1. Since the end of the Gulf War, every ounce of weapons material confiscated or destroyed in Iraq was the result of the Baghdad government taking UNSCOM inspectors to the relevant sites. There have been no sites or weapons discovered by UNSCOM by its own devices. This was the methodology agreed upon at the end of the Gulf War, as it was obvious that a handful of inspectors could not cover terrain 10,000 square miles bigger than the state of Texas. Not one weapon or ounce of material has been found, confiscated or destroyed since November 1991. Since then, all the arguments have been about paper documentations.

2. The site which contained the fragment that allegedly showed traces of VX had been inspected by UNSCOM in 1991, when the Iraqi government showed it to the UN team and invited laboratory tests of anything the inspectors wished. In other words, UNSCOM could have chosen shell fragments from the site for the last seven years, but only chose to do so early this year when it was looking for reasons to make it appear that Iraq continues to hide weapons of mass destruction.

3. After the Gulf War, Iraq never denied that it had development programs of nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry. These were all undertaken during the Iran/Iraq war, when Baghdad faced a population three times its own size and an Iranian military that was being supplied chemical and biological weaponry by the Soviet Union. Iraq’s chemical and biological programs were fed by the United States, which was supporting Iraq against the Islamic fundamentalists of Tehran. Iraq readily acknowledged that it had attempted to develop a VX program capable of missile delivery, but that it had failed.

4. There is no logical reason for it to have lied when it readily admitted all its other weapons programs. UNSCOM has found no documentation that suggests otherwise. Nor does any American journalist sought to inquire why, suddenly, the UNSCOM team decided to return to a site available to it since 1991 and root around in it until it found a shell fragment that it suspected of having traces of VX. The announcement that the fragment contains traces of VX came from a laboratory under the control of the U.S. government. No other national laboratory has reported traces of VX.

5. If there were genuine traces of VX, and not contrivances of our government, what difference would it make anyway? How does evidence of a weapon that has been under UNSCOM control since 1991 mean that the 7-year embargo should remain in place? How is it possible for Baghdad to ever prove that there were no VX traces if they were contrived? If by some amazing coincidence, the shell fragment that UNSCOM inspectors put their finger on this year indicates there was VX on it in 1991 when the government says its VX experiments had failed, what relevance does this have the aim of keeping the embargo on until the UN is satisfied that Iraq is no longer a threat to its neighbors?

6. The previous head of the UNSCOM team, Sweden’s Rolf Ekeus, had argued throughout his tenure that Baghdad had to be able to see light at the end of the tunnel, an end to the inspection program and a lifting of the sanctions so that the 20 million people of Iraq could go back to rebuilding their economy. Ekeus, who is now Sweden’s Ambassador to the U.S., was replaced by Australia’s Richard  Butler, who now has put UNSCOM in a position of maintaining its bureaucratic life for the indefinite future. There can be no light at the end of the tunnel whe UNSCOM insists that Iraq prove that it does not have any weapons, anywhere on its vast terrain. There is of course no way Iraq can prove that it has nothing if it has nothing. Butler tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that they cannot lift sactions unless Baghdad provides him with evidence that they have no more weapons!!! If Butler said Wanniski would be starved until he provided evidence that he had no hidden weapons, I would of course starve to death if I had no weapons, because I could then provide no evidence. Get it? Of course you do.

7. I submit it is not the reponsibility of the Fourth Estate to act as the agents of the U.S Political Establishment. Just because Republican and Democratic political leaders are prepared to hide behind a general consensus that bad faith is in the interests of our government does not mean that you have to fall into line. Under normal circumstances, there would have been a political debate over Iraq, but it has been the practice the Clinton administration to defer to Republican hardliners, who insist the embargo not be lifted for any reason. As far as I can tell, this was Richard Nixon’s advice to his followers before he died.

8. I’m prompted to write this memo to you on the day after US embassies were blown up in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam with great loss of life. You and your reporters will of course spare no time and expense in trying to determine who did it. I’m not nearly interested in who did it, but in why. We can predict that whoever committed this act of terrorism did so because of the way our government conducts its affairs these days, as the Big Cheese of the world, the new Global Sovereign that is permitted to use all its economic and military prowess on behalf of policies that are inherently unjust and, in the case of Iraq, conducted with brazen impunity.

9. As the United Nations has reported, more than 1.4 million Iraqi citizens have died of malnutrition or disease since the end of the Gulf War, because of our evil policy of starving a population in hopes that it will change its government to suit us. How many more Iraqis will die because Richard Butler’s UNSCOM team has found another piece of paper that says there was another kilo of anthrax that can’t be located in the bureaucratic files? Our Defense Secretary Bill Cohen says on the Sunday talk shows that “Saddam must make full disclosure before the sanctions are lifted.” And not one reporter asks the obvious question: “He says now that he has made full disclosure and we haven’t found anything new since 1991. How can we ever be satisfied that he has made full disclosure, Mr. Secretary?”

10. Thank goodness for Kofi Annan. If it were not for the intercedence of the UN Secretary General early this year when it appeared the bombs were about to fall on Baghdad, we would now have American embassies being demolished in every city in the world. As Zbigniew Brezinski put it at a recent dinner party where he spoke, “Kofi Annan saved our ass.” We have to pray that he does so again, because there does not seem to be any energy in the Fourth Estate to seriously question the policymakers in the Clinton administration and in the Republican Congress -- who have not been telling the truth for several years and are obviously dissembling again. Don’t kid yourself: The price we will pay for these lies will be continued escalation in terrorist acts against U.S. citizens and institutions.