By Katerina Lecchi, Victorian Peace Network (11 November 2002)
History may well record UN Security Council resolution 1441 as one more step in the Bush administrations often articulated desire for regime change in Iraq.
Already there are wide concerns that the resolution is so sweeping in its demands, its timelines so short, and its inspections regime so demanding, that Iraq would not be able to fully concur with every letter of the text. If this is the case, the question must be asked: is it a resolution designed to fail?
While some Security Council members may genuinely view the resolution as only being about weapons of mass destruction, there is little to suggest that the United States has put aside its goal of regime change. US Secretary of State Colin Powell has made it clear that the USA views this resolution as a sufficient trigger for its planned invasion early next year. Behind the differing motivations and interpretations of the various Security Council players, it seems reasonable that the United States may well be saying in a couple of months: Dont wait for another Security Council resolution legalising war on Iraq, it was passed on 8 November!
An attack on Iraq is now inevitable said Strategic Forecasting Ltd in analysing the US mid-term election result last week. Certainly, if one looks at the overall tenor of statements by the US administration over the last three months, and its new unilateral strategic policy adopted in September, there is plenty of evidence on the public record that the Bush administration wants to attack Iraq regardless of Iraqs compliance with the UN resolution. Disarmament looks like an excuse for a war.
Despite the claims, there is little evidence that Iraq presents a clear and present danger to any nation, nor that it is close to having nuclear weapons. Its economy has been devastated by sanctions, and its military is weak. No evidence has been produced of claimed links to the September 11 bombings. Recently, CIA Director George Tenet predicted that, if cornered, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was more likely to resort to weapons of destruction the very outcome a proposed invasion of Iraq is meant to ward off!
It is hypocritical to demand disarmament of Iraq when most Security Council permanent members continue to profit from a Middle East arms race, and when those same permanent members display absolutely no consistent intention of implementing scores of other Security Council resolutions. Real concern about weapons of mass destruction means working for a world-wide reduction in armaments and arms sales, not the big powers directing three-quarters of the worlds arms sales into the Middle East.
UN resolutions on disarmament and human rights will only work if they are applied without fear or favour, and widened so that all the nuclear powers and Middle East states abolish their stocks of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Interestingly, Resolution 1441 should have recalled a previous resolution on Iraq, calling for a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, but it failed to do so. Effective disarmament must be multilateral, advocated by nations who lead by example, rather than those whose defence budgets soar while demanding disarmament of others!
The 1991 Gulf War was responsible for the deaths of at least 200,000300,000 Iraqis during and within twelve months of it finishing. At least 110,000 of those killed were civilians, mainly as a result of bombing facilities essential to provide clean water to the Iraqi people. Another war will mean environmental devastation, and a flood of new refugees. And another war on Iraq may have devastating consequences, igniting regional political instability and providing further evidence to support the view widely held across the Arab and Muslim worlds that the West, and the USA in particular, wants to militarily and economically dominate the Middle East, while giving largely uncritical support to Israels continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Political violence, whether used by governments to intimidate their own populations, or used by small groups to create fear or economic loss, is abhorrent. But concern about tragic events such as Bali should not be a cry for war that will kill more innocent people in Iraq. The response must be to target only those responsible. The international community must strive to understand and combat the underlying causes of war, the lack of democratic rights and the global injustices and imbalances between rich and poor which are at the heart of many conflicts today. A recent CIA report on terrorism noted that "Several troublesome global trends especially the growing demographic youth bulge in developing nations whose economic systems and political ideologies are under enormous stress will fuel the rise of more disaffected groups willing to use violence to address their perceived grievances."
War on Iraq is not the answer. It may well have the effect of making the world less secure.