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I'm not sure if the excerpt from Chomsky really addresses the matter of why
the US and other countries wanted to have a war against Iraq. The segment
seems to suggest that stock prices might have been a motive, or that
territory was a motive. And the oil motive almost does not need to be
mentioned to be suspect, even if there is no clear reason why the US would
prefer to buy from Kuwait than from an expanded Iraq.
Yet a far graver threat was posed by Iraq through its nuclear weapons
program. That weapons program was explicitly announced by Saddam Husein
himself during the Iran-Iraq war. A nuclear reactor capable of producing
fissile materials for atomic bombs was being built by a French company in
Iraq at the time. Iraq had been using chemical weapons against the Iranians,
but the Iranians were clearly afraid of the nuclear threat. So they tried to
attack Iraq's reactor from the air, but unsuccessfully. Then Hussein made a
mistake by announcing that the weapons to be produced were not for use
against Iran, but rather, for use against Israel. So Israel sent in a
squadron of advanced US fighter-bombers armed with "smart bombs" and
disguised as Jordanian aircraft. They then made short work of the Iraqi
reactor. But Iraq continued its efforts to build an atomic bomb. Whether you
want to call the weapons ideas "memes" or "thought contagions" or whatever,
the basic ideas behind nuclear weapons had clearly proliferated to Iraqi
weapons scientists even as the weapons themselves had not--at least not yet.
After the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein even held up some
high-performance capacitors capable of dumping their charge very quickly into
the plastic explosives that initiate a fusion bomb. Such capacitors would
have had very high capacitance, high voltage, low parasitic inductance, and
low parasitic resistance as a result of modern materials science advances.
Hussein was, in effect, threatening to use nuclear weapons against the United
States or any other country that might reverse his conquest of Kuwait.
According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,
(http://www.bullatomsci.org/issues/1992/jf92/jf92.albright.html), the Gulf
War was therefore "the non-proliferation measure of last resort." By the
implications of that assessment, a negotiated withdrawal from Kuwait really
would have been a "nightmare scenario."
Some might say that we should not worry if Iraq should become just another
member of the nuclear club. Yet each new "member," poses a very serious risk
to us all, especially if the country or organization is strongly oriented
toward initiating conquest and warfare. The problem is not so much that one
or two fission bombs would destroy a country such as the USA, although such
weapons would certainly put to shame all the present talk of "Ground Zero" at
the World Trade Center in New York. The real problem is that with just a few
atomic bombs, someone who is really determined to start a new empire could
smuggle fission bombs into some major cities of a country such as the USA or
Russia. Then they could use nuclear blackmail to attempt to extort an arsenal
of advanced hydrogen bombs. Along with millions of others, Noam Chomsky could
have been relieved of his electrons by the likes of Saddam Hussein.
In a message dated 9/30/2001 2:18:11 PM Central Daylight Time,
> Subj: RE: state of memes
> Date: 9/30/2001 2:18:11 PM Central Daylight Time
> From: email@example.com (Lawrence DeBivort)
> Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Reply-to: email@example.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Thanks Ted.
> I don't remember the specifics around that time, but assuming Chomsky is
> reporting this accurately, I would not characterize Saddam's Aug 12 offer
> legitimate, given that they involve issues (Syria/Lebabon and Palestine)
> that have nothing to do with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Perhaps Saddam
> thought he could hold Kuwait hostage to force others (the US, Syria, and
> Israel to name only those that come first to mind) to do what he wishes.
> The offer of the 19th, of course, would have been greatly welcomed but
> have been something he could do without reference to the US. All he had to
> do was sit down with the government of Kuwait and then withdraw. Could have
> been done in a couple of hours.
> The December 4th offer, if it is accurately reported, might from the US
> point of view been a real offer, but the question that remains open and
> critical is whether Saddam in fact proposed discussions about this with the
> government of Kuwait. And if the Kuwaitis declined to discuss the status of
> any or all of their territory, then there was nothing left to discuss and
> the Iraqi seizure invasion, prolongued any further would have been doubly
> illegal. Please remember that the initial invasion itself was fully
> Thus the real and only obligation was for Iraq to leave Kuwait, and pay
> reparations for the damage they created. There is no obligation on those
> invaded -- or their allies -- to negotiate with the invader. Invasion
> creates no rights or benefits under international law. There cannot really
> be a 'reasonable' offer when only unconditional withdrawal is required. The
> US was under no obligation (nor were any of the other allies of Kuwait) to
> delay at all to give Iraq additional time. All Iraq had to do was withdraw
> and pay damages. Sometimes, life IS simple.
> I'm surprised that Chomsky would suggest anything else.
> Having said all of that, I do believe that it would have been possible to
> influence Saddam so that he would withdraw from Kuwait without the
> of war, but I think that the required level and type of influence was
> the capabilities or knowledge of the governments involved. But that's
> another story, as they say....
> Thanks again for the citations -- very helpful.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of
> > Dace
> > Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2001 2:14 PM
> > To: email@example.com
> > Subject: Re: state of memes
> > Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, 1992, South End Press, Chapter 6: Nefarious
> > Aggression.
> > On August 12, 1990, Iraq offered to withdraw from Kuwait if Syria would
> > withdraw from Lebanon and Israel gave up the Occupied Territories. On
> > 19th, Iraq suggested that disputes between Arab states should be decided
> > among Arabs themselves, in the absence of outside intervention. This is
> > akin to the US view that disputes in the Americas should be handled
> > exclusively by American nations. On December 4, Iraq offered to
> > withdraw on
> > the sole condition that Kuwait discuss the status of a couple of
> > islands in
> > the Gulf. This offer was so reasonable that there was widespread
> > fear that
> > war would be averted. Stock prices plummeted. But the US stuck to its
> > insistence on unconditional surrender, and the "nightmare scenario" of a
> > negotiated resolution never came to pass.
> > > Interesting. Do you have a source for this? Thanks.
> > >
> > > >Yet Hussein
> > > > was perfectly willing to relinquish Kuwait through negotiations. No
> > > > military buildup was necessary.
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