BY ROHAN PEARCE
The ruling classes of the USA, Britain and Australia are finalising their plans for the next war against Iraq. Leaked Pentagon documents reported in the July 4 New York Times propose that Iraq be attacked from the north, south and west, using land, sea and air forces. Up to 250,000 troops will be involved.
In order to carry out the "three-pronged" attack, it would be necessary for US troops to launch an attack from Jordan, or at the very least, cross through Jordanian territory. The only other country sharing Iraq's western border is Syria, a member of Bush's fanciful "axis of evil".
A July 9 report in the New York Times said that US military planners compare the possible role of Jordan in a war to that of Pakistan in the US war against Afghanistan.
The Jordanian government has denied that it will play such a role. Although King Abdullah's regime is cravenly pro-US, an attack on Iraq would enrage Jordan's population, already furious at US backing for Israel's racist war on the Palestinian people. The majority of Jordan's population is Palestinian, and any overt backing of a US war on Iraq could trigger social upheaval.
This anger would be exacerbated by economic losses from a war. In 2001, Iraq was Jordan's largest trading partner. Jordan buys 90,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq at discounted prices.
The US administration has requested US$25 million dollars to fund military equipment and, according to a congressional aide quoted in the July 7 NYT article, "upgrades for land and air base defence". The US military's central command has made these projects high priorities.
A report in the July 11 London Times said that despite public denials, "King Abdullah has consented to a limited US presence involved in defensive and humanitarian operations".
The July 12 London Financial Times reported that Britain is preparing to withdraw its occupation force from Kosova, a possible indication of preparations for a new Gulf War. Up to 25,000 British troops could participate in a US-led invasion force. According to the article: "A senior NATO official in Brussels said the Ministry of Defence in London 'was mentally preparing for new challenges'." In response to questions whether the "new challenges" meant Washington's planned "regime change" in Iraq, the official replied "Well what do you think?"
The Australian government has also begun preparing the population for war. On July 12, Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer, in Washington for a "leadership dialogue", confirmed that Canberra would support the US. "Only a fool would support a policy of appeasement and just hope that by saying nothing more or doing nothing about Iraq and Saddam Hussein the whole problem will go away", Downer told ABC Radio.
Despite backing from the British and Australian governments, the US has been unable to justify an Iraq war and has been desperately looking for an excuse to invade. The latest ploy by the US to swing public opinion has been to resurrect the case of Michael Scott Speicher, a US pilot whose F-18 was shot down during the 1991 Gulf War.
The US Navy listed Speicher as dead, until January 2001, when he was listed as "missing in action". This was despite the fact that a US pilot who witnessed Speicher's plane being hit by an Iraqi missile has said he did not see Speicher eject.
The Bush government has so far refused an offer by Iraqi officials to meet in Geneva to discuss the case. A July 11 Associated Press article reported that the Pentagon has warned against such a meeting. The Speicher case has been eagerly taken up by the US loony right, long-time campaigners for government action to bring back bogus US "prisoners" from Vietnam!
The "Speicher offensive" is part of the broader US "war on terror" propaganda push.
The Pentagon "leaks" are also part of this offensive. They enable the First World coalition which is prosecuting the "war on terror" to prepare their peoples for a bloody new war.
A July 12 USA Today article listed three areas in which the US government is "digging for dirt" on Iraq to lend credibility to a new war:
- The development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. However, the CIA has been unable to find evidence that Iraq possesses biological, nuclear or chemical weapons.
- Supporting terrorists. Even under a US regime that can manufacture "terrorist threats" from all sides, the US has not been able to link Iraq to al Qaeda or the September 11 attacks in the US.
- Resumption of weapons inspections. Iraq is refusing to readmit UN weapons inspectors until the Security Council-imposed sanctions, which have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, are lifted. According to the July 11 USA Today, "The current dispute over UN inspections falls short of what officials say Bush needs to win domestic and international support for a full-scale military attack on Iraq".
Even without a plausible excuse, Bush and his gang seem determined to launch an attack. The US military is stockpiling "smart bombs" (used with horrifying inaccuracy during the first Gulf War) and the government has been building domestic and international support for the war.
The most likely time for the US assault is early next year but some provocation may be staged in time for the November US congressional elections.
From Green Left Weekly, July 17, 2002.
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