Reading the Fine Print

Rating: NNNNNAs the relentless motion toward war with Iraq presses along, here are some of the terrible truths the Canadian.

Rating: NNNNN

As the relentless motion toward war with Iraq presses along, here are some of the terrible truths the Canadian media are underplaying.

The self-declared monitor of mass- destruction weapons may need a little monitoring of its own. The Bush administration has strangely abandoned an international effort to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention against germ warfare, advising its allies that it wants discussions delayed until 2006. The 1972 convention bans the production of germ warfare but has no enforcement mechanism — exactly what the U.S. wants to put off resolving.

Peter Slevin, Washington Post

The moral forecast may look pretty gloomy, but then, so does the economic one. “Our forecasts assume that the United States does attack Iraq, and that the Middle East oil producers oppose the U.S. action and team up to cut oil production thereby pushing the oil price to, say, $70 U.S. a barrel or more. That would deliver a massive supply-side shock to the global economy and probably trigger a massive recession, similar to the oil shocks in the 1970s.’

Robin Bew, chief economist of the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Economist

Veterans of the Persian Gulf War, even those who support the current U.S. prez, it turns out, are pretty leery of a second foray into the region. About 700,000 American troops served during Operation Desert Storm. Of those, 148 were killed in action and 467 wounded. But since the end of the war, nearly 7,800 Desert Storm veterans have died and nearly 200,000, have filed claims for medical problems. Veterans cite exposure to biological and chemical weapons, depleted uranium from ammunition, pesticides and smoke from oil well fires. In addition, they say, the effects of various vaccines including inoculations for anthrax, have not been fully investigated.

Ron Martz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Who is going to get the cleanup contracts after the U.S. devastates Iraq? Well, we know who did last time. In 1998, after the UN relaxed its sanctions, it was Halliburton, the company headed by CEO Dick Cheney, none other than the current vice prez, who was enlisted to repair damage to Saddam Hussein’s oil pipes. Two Halliburton subsidiaries did business worth almost $24 million with the brutal dictator. When he was elected, Cheney severed ties with his former employer and cashed in on $35 million in stock options.

Andrew Gumbel, the Independent

For all the current talk about biological and chemical warfare, it’s easy to forgetthat in 1983, Donald Rumsfeld, the current U.S. Defence Secretary, had a cordial rendezvous with Saddam Hussein, despite the fact that the U.S. knew from its own satellite imagery that Saddam was using chemical weapons against Iranian troops. When Saddam bombed Kurdish civilians with poison gas, there was only token official protest, as the U.S. was much more concerned with protecting Iraqi oil from attacks by Iran.

Christopher Dickey, Evan Thomas, Newsweek

With all the spinning, it’s hard to get clarity about the true habits of the psychotic Saddam. “Iraq’s dictatorial leadership is brutal and unprincipled, but in its international relations it adjusts to miscalculations in a rational, self-serving manner. It accepted a stalemate with Iran after nine years of warfare without fighting on. It withdrew from Kuwait and faced with defeat it accepted the terms of a humiliating ceasefire. Iraq has been careful for more than a decade not to be linked to international terrorist activities.’

Richard Falk, L.A. Weekly

“Of course, Saddam is as bad as they come. So was Suharto of Indonesia, whose rule caused the death of a million of his countrymen. Surprisingly, neither Britain nor the U.S. demanded a regime change. Instead, he was supported with trade and arms deals until the bitter end. If weapons are the issue, then Israel should be first in the dock, since it possesses far more than any regime in the area. Indeed, if all are equal before the law, should not the UN send inspectors to all countries with these weapons, including Britain and the U.S.?’

Ken Loach, The Observer

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