Oklahoma City Catholic Worker + The just have a care for the rights of the poor, Proverbs 29 + Fall 2002 + Page 9

Iraq: Claims vs. Reality

From a statement by ProLife Republican Congressman Ron Paul, MD, in the US House of Representatives, October 8, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this resolution. . . this resolution transfers the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional authority to declare wars to the executive branch. This resolution tells the president that he alone has the authority to determine when, where, why, and how war will be declared. . . This is exactly what our Founding Fathers cautioned against when crafting our form of government: most had just left behind a monarchy where the power to declare war rested in one individual. It is this they most wished to avoid. As James Madison wrote in 1798, "The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has, accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.". . .

Mr. Speaker, for the more than one dozen years I have spent as a federal legislator I have taken a particular interest in foreign affairs and especially the politics of the Middle East. From my seat on the international relations committee I have had the opportunity to review dozens of documents and to sit through numerous hearings and mark-up sessions regarding the issues of both Iraq and international terrorism.. . .

Mr. Speaker, consider some of the following claims presented by supporters of this resolution, and contrast them with the following facts:

Claim: Iraq has consistently demonstrated its willingness to use force against the US through its firing on our planes patrolling the UN-established "no-fly zones."

Reality: The "no-fly zones" were never authorized by the United Nations, nor was their 12 year patrol by American and British fighter planes sanctioned by the United Nations. Under UN Security Council Resolution 688 (April, 1991), Iraq's repression of the Kurds and Shi'ites was condemned, but there was no authorization for "no-fly zones," much less air strikes. The resolution only calls for member states to "contribute to humanitarian relief" in the Kurd and Shi'ite areas. Yet the US and British have been bombing Iraq in the "no-fly zones" for 12 years. While one can only condemn any country firing on our pilots, isn't the real argument whether we should continue to bomb Iraq relentlessly? Just since 1998, some 40,000 sorties have been flown over Iraq.

Claim: Iraq is an international sponsor of terrorism. Reality: According to the latest edition of the State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism, Iraq sponsors several minor Palestinian groups, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). None of these carries out attacks against the United States. As a matter of fact, the MEK (an Iranian organization located in Iraq) has enjoyed broad Congressional support over the years. According to last year's Patterns of Global Terrorism, Iraq has not been involved in terrorist activity against the West since 1993: the alleged attempt against former President Bush.

Claim: Saddam Hussein will use weapons of mass destruction against us; he has already used them against his own people (the Kurds in 1988 in the village of Halabja).

Reality: It is far from certain that Iraq used chemical weapons against the Kurds. It may be accepted as conventional wisdom in these times, but back when it was first claimed there was great skepticism. The evidence is far from conclusive. A 1990 study by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College cast great doubts on the claim that Iraq used chemical weapons on the Kurds. Following are the two gassing incidents as described in the report:

(Begin War College report): In September 1988, however, a month after the war (between Iran and Iraq) had ended, the State Department abruptly, and in what many viewed as a sensational manner, condemned Iraq for allegedly using chemicals against its Kurdish population. The incident cannot be understood without some background of Iraq's relations with the Kurds...throughout the war Iraq effectively faced two enemies: Iran and elements of its own Kurdish minority. Significant numbers of the Kurds had launched a revolt against Baghdad and in the process teamed up with Tehran. As soon as the war with Iran ended, Iraq announced its determination to crush the Kurdish insurrection. It sent Republican Guards to the Kurdish area, and in the course of the operation - according to the U.S. State Department - gas was used, with the result that numerous Kurdish civilians were killed. The Iraqi government denied that any such gassing had occurred. Nonetheless, Secretary of State Schultz stood by U.S. accusations, and the U.S. Congress, acting on its own, sought to impose economic sanctions on Baghdad as a violator of the Kurds' human rights.

Having looked at all the evidence that was available to us, we find it impossible to confirm the State Department's claim that gas was used in this instance. To begin with, there were never any victims produced. International relief organizations who examined the Kurds in Turkey where they had gone for asylum failed to discover any. Nor were there ever any found inside Iraq. The claim rests solely on testimony of the Kurds who had crossed the border into Turkey, where they were interviewed by staffers of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee...

It appears that in seeking to punish Iraq, the Congress was influenced by another incident that occurred five months earlier in another Iraqi-Kurdish city, Halabjah. In March 1988, the Kurds at Halabjah were bombarded with chemical weapons, producing many deaths. Photographs of the Kurdish victims were widely disseminated in the international media. Iraq was blamed for the Halabjah attack, even though it was subsequently brought out that Iran too had used chemicals in this operation and it seemed likely that it was the Iranian bombardment that had actually killed the Kurds. Thus, in our view, the Congress acted more on the basis of emotionalism than factual information, and without sufficient thought for the adverse diplomatic effects of its action. (End War College quotes)

Claim: Iraq must be attacked because it has ignored UN Security Council resolutions; these resolutions must be backed up by the use of force.

Reality: Iraq is but one of the many countries that have not complied with UN Security Council resolutions. In addition to the dozen or so resolutions currently being violated by Iraq, a conservative estimate reveals that there are an additional 91 Security Council resolutions by countries other than Iraq that are also currently being violated. Adding in older resolutions that were violated would mean easily more than 200 UN Security Council resolutions have been violated with total impunity. Countries currently in violation include: Israel, Turkey, Morocco, Croatia, Armenia, Russia, Sudan, Turkey-controlled Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Indonesia. None of these countries have been threatened with force over their violations.

Claim: Iraq harbors al-Qaeda and other terrorists.

Reality: The administration has claimed that some Al-Qaeda elements have been present in Northern Iraq. This is territory controlled by the Kurds - who are our allies - and is patrolled by U.S. and British fighter aircraft. Moreover, dozens of countries including Iran and the United States are said to have al-Qaeda members on their territory. Of the other terrorists allegedly harbored by Iraq, all are affiliated with Palestinian causes and do not attack the U.S.

Claim: President Bush said in his speech on 7 October 2002: " Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem..."

Reality: An admission of a lack of information is justification for an attack?

Upcoming Catholic Worker activities:

Sunday, Nov. 24th, evening prayer & discussion, 1524 NW 21st, 6 PM |Wed., Friday, Saturday, December 18, 20, 21, Ember days of fasting and prayer.

Sunday, December 29th, evening prayer & discussion, call for location | Saturday, April 26, 2003, Catholics & Creation conference, Epiphany parish. Every Saturday, 9 AM, bag groceries for distribution, 2120 N. McKinley.

10 Reasons Not to Invade Iraq

1. Iraq poses no clear and present danger to other countries, especially the U.S.

2. According to a 2002 CIA report, Iraq poses less of a threat to the world than at any time in the last decade.

3. An invasion will make it easier, not harder, for Al Queda to recruit terrorists, leading to an increase in terrorism in the US.

4. No link has been established between Iraq and the al Queda terrorist network.

5. An invasion will inflame a region where tensions are already high.

6. An unprovoked attack is an unnecessary and immoral act. Regime change is not an acceptable justification.

7. An invasion would likely cause massive civilian casualties.

8. The war and long term occupation of Iraq may consume hundreds of billions of dollars.

9. Our invasion may be cited as a justification for other wars and invasions.

10. Conservation is cheaper than invasion.

Compiled from various sources.