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The Splendid Failure of Occupation Last Updated: Jan 4th, 2007 - 01:08:31

Part 40: A one-way bombardment called Gulf War
By B. J. Sabri
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 31, 2005, 00:40

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"U.S. Economy: It has always been said that the war is good for the economy, and in terms of dollars and cents that is usually the case. But much of the new uncertainty in the outlook stems from the situation in Iraq. The risks still evident there are one of the factors putting up oil and gasoline prices. Iraq is also depressing consumer confidence . . . etc." --James C. Cooper & Kathleen Madigan, War Jitters Won't Wipe Out This Recovery, BusinessWeeK, June 7, 2004, page 33. [Italics added]

Just four months before he obliterated Iraq in a one-way bombardment called Gulf War (Iraq did not shoot a single bullet on American soil), George H. W. Bush postulated how the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait provided the opportunity for the creation of a new world; meaning a unipolar world ruled by the United States. In his address to a joint session of Congress (September 11, 1990), Bush senior, described the coming birth of that world with these words: "The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective -- a new world order. . . . )

By logic of a system aiming at world domination, the U.S. bombardment of Iraq meant three things: a demonstration of American power at the "epicenter" and master of the new order; a celebration in blood and destruction for the birth of the same; and a message for those who dare to oppose it. It also announced the new regulations of the "epicenter": (1) the self-arrogation of the right to interfere in any part of the world to suit its imperialist interests, and (2) the method with which it would resolve regional disputes inside its periphery after the expected demise of the USSR: unilateral war.

But, considering the history of a power that has been thriving on pretexts and wars, it is not difficult to speculate as to why Bush senior called the invasion of Iraq, "crisis," and then elevated it to, a "rare opportunity" for new "world order." Although, technically, a crisis is a predicament requiring a resolution, in the imperialist lexicon it means an opportunity for intervention.

Since George H. Bush used the term, "crisis" in the context of opportunity, how did progressives use that term in the context of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and how is this relevant to the occupation of Iraq? To discuss this topic, I selected Noam Chomsky. Chomsky, an outstanding political thinker and a lucid critic of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, but equivocal in other regions, also employed the word "crisis" to describe the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Though, in contrast with Bush, he cogently demystified it by noting:

The crisis began with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait a year ago. There was some fighting; leaving hundreds killed according to Human Rights groups. That hardly qualifies as war. Rather, in terms of crime against peace and humanity, it falls roughly into the category of the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus, Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1978, and the U.S. invasion of Panama. In these terms, it falls well short of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and cannot remotely be compared to the near-genocidal Indonesian invasion and annexation of East Timor, to mention only two cases of aggression that are still in progress with continuing atrocities, and with the crucial support of those who most passionately professed their outrage over Iraq's aggression. [1]

As for the notion of a "rare opportunity for a new world order," this needs no explanation -- a USSR in a dissolution phase was no longer in any material position to contest U.S. objectives for war and dominance in Iraq. Thus, for his new order to be born, George H. W. Bush, a stolid war criminal in the American tradition of extermination, devastated Iraq and murdered a great number of its military personnel and civilian population with jingoistic enthusiasm and imperialist vengeance. (I shall discuss Iraq's fatalities in parts 41 and 42.)

Still, considering that Iraq refused not to withdraw its forces before negotiation, and considering that the U.S. rejected all of Iraq and Saudi Arabia's proposals for a settlement, let us assume for a moment that war was the only means to evict Iraq from Kuwait. The imposing question remains, Why the massive destruction of Iraq before liberating Kuwait? In other words, if the purpose of U.S.-U.N. resolutions was to restore the sovereignty of Kuwait, and since the United States could have easily defeated and dislodged the Iraqi occupation force stationed there, why then destroy Iraq? What was the purpose?

You may ask, "Why am I talking about a war that happened 15 years ago, while new realties -- invasion, occupation, and resistance -- should have priority?" That may be; but before addressing that, we have to remember one thing: dialectically, without the Gulf War and subsequent U.S.-U.N. resolutions that imposed further sanctions on Iraq, and tied their lifting to Iraq's compliance with an open-end disarmament process totally controlled by the United States, that invasion would have never occurred despite dramatic changes worldwide.

Conclusively, while the Gulf War was the cornerstone for the future invasion of Iraq, its aftermath transformed Iraq from a sovereign state into a hostage in the hands of the United States, and by implication, Israel and U.S. Zionists. For all practical reasons, the fate of Iraq has passed from the UN, which authorized war against it, to the United States that made of it an exclusive American issue.

Moreover, while the war ended with Iraq's surrender, it did not end with a peace pact but with a ceasefire agreement. Did the UN sign it? No. General Norman Schwarzkopf signed it on behalf of the United States; i.e., it was an American-Iraqi agreement. Since then and up to the invasion, the U.S. used the alibis that Iraq violated the terms of the agreement to launch a war of attrition lasting 13 years.

Reevaluating the objectives of the Gulf war in relation to the neocon strategy to conquer Iraq years later is, therefore, a prerequisite to understanding the multiple purposes of the ongoing occupation, its failure, and, yes, its "success" in destroying the ageless civilizations of Iraq, the imperialist deformation of its social fabric, society, economy, culture, and national character.

The need for reevaluation could never be more important. Take U.S. propaganda as an example. How many writers disputed Bush and Powell's statements that Iraq, 13 years after that war was still an aggressive state, despite the fact that Iraq, besieged by sanctions and deprived of necessities, could not move a finger against any one in the region? Not only that, but before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, all propaganda themes that accompanied the pre-Gulf War period, returned intact, but with new additions: Iraq was cheating on U.N. resolutions, and the baseless accusation of Iraq's involvement in the unresolved event of 9/11.

As you can see, the arguments on the Iraqi question from the Gulf War until present form one logical sequence. To see how this sequence works, let us go back to Noam Chomsky. In 1991, Chomsky explained the origins of the Gulf War as follows: "It is plain enough that Washington has little impact on developments and no idea what to do as the Soviet system lurches from one crisis to another. The response to Saddam Hussein's aggression, in contrast, was an operation throughout, with Britain loyally in tow, reflecting the U.S. insistence upon sole authority in the crucial energy-producing regions of the Middle East." [1] [Italics added]

Surprisingly, Chomsky's essay was not without inconsistencies. Aside from not addressing (at least, in passing) the regional conditions that preceded the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he started from the invasion as an act, but avoided a crucial argument whose treatment could have persuaded the skeptics on his firm anti-imperialist stance, and, of course, analytical neutrality in dissecting U.S. imperialistic decisions.

I am pointedly alluding to the fact that Chomsky's early years as a Zionist settler living in a kibbutz in occupied Palestine (now Israel), did not allow him to include Israel, U.S. Zionism, and their role in the war as an important factor. He just mentioned the "U.S. insistence upon sole authority in the crucial . . . etc." In essence, he excluded a plethora of irrefutable evidence that firmly point to the "Gulf War" as Israel's war by its American proxy. It is reasonable, therefore, to conclude that Chomsky's attitude toward the Iraqi question is not objective and possibly mired by ulterior motives.

Second, it is not clear why Chomsky patronized the USSR and gave the U.S. the higher ground as in his phrase, "the U.S. did not know what to do . . . etc.," and why did he refer to the Soviet Union as the "Soviet system," but referred to the American system by calling on its capital -- Washington. As a master linguist, he should have juxtaposed countries, capitals, or systems. This raises the question whether Chomsky thinks that the United States is not a system but a natural order.

Third, he sanctioned the U.S. imperialist hold on the Middle-Eastern Arab nations by calling them abstractly, "crucial energy-producing regions of the Middle East." But in writing so, Professor Chomsky reduced the lives of the Arabs to nothing more than a crucial tool to satisfy American oil consumption and imperialist whims.

Fourth, it is also not clear why Chomsky call the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, "aggression," and why did he qualify it as, "Saddam Hussein's aggression?" In my reading of Chomsky, and unless I was inattentive, I have never come across him referring to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, as, "Menachem Begin's aggression." It was always: the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Did Chomsky imply there is a distinction between aggression and invasion depending on who is the felon?

Let us clear the ground. Of course, an invasion is a form of aggression, but aggression, definitively, is not an invasion. In fact, there is a solid distinction between aggression and invasion. Aggression presupposes and is always indicative of the innocence of the invaded party who committed no provocation to warrant either aggression, or invasion. But aggression denotes an incursion on an adversary. Examples include the Israeli attack against the Iraqi nuclear reactor of Osiraq in 1981, and Reagan's attack against Libya in 1987. Protracted aggression could also evolve into an invasion or the occupation of a whole state or a part of its territory; an example is the Israeli invasion of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank.

Invasion in the modern use, on the other hand, is a calculated move in response to disputes mostly among adjacent states. Strength but not size is the only factor that determines who initiates the invasion. But in no case, is the size of a country an indication of its innocence or lack of aggression (Israel is tiny, but it had invaded four adjacent states, and its aggressiveness is boundless.) Examples of invasion include the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasions of Iran and Kuwait, and the American invasions of Panama and Iraq -- both countries are not adjacent to the U.S., thus indicating the global imperialist nature of both invasions.

Since he chose to write, "Saddam Hussein's aggression," Chomsky insinuated the perfidy of Saddam Hussein (thus his demonization), as opposed to the innocence of the Emir of Kuwait. Although I firmly opposed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait as a way to resolve outstanding matters between the two countries, I also firmly believe that no one has the right to claim the innocence of Kuwait without knowing historical facts. Kuwait (an Iraqi territory severed by Britain in 1921), was always aware of Iraq's claim over it, has been constantly involved in anti-Iraqi activities since the 1960s, that is, even before the advent of Saddam Hussein coming to power.

By branding Iraq as an aggressor, Chomsky overlooked Kuwait's intransigence toward Iraq, pre-invasion disputes, Kuwaiti financing of Kurdish militia to harass the Iraqi central government, and Kuwait's close work with the CIA to overthrow the Iraqi regime. He only aimed at declaring Iraq as the sole culpable party for that invasion by calling it "aggressor." This is fine, except we need to establish culpability after investigating the case. To issue a judgment solely based on the reputation assigned by the United States to Saddam Hussein, while dismissing Iraq as a country and people, was a basic U.S. strategy. The similarity between U.S. policy and Chomsky's conclusion appears striking . . .

To delve inside the argument of Iraq's devastation, however, and to give you a wider picture on how imperialist propaganda finds its way (either by choice -- scholars of history should search the archives before putting forward opinions -- or by limitations imposed by the writer on the breadth of investigation) to progressive writers, I have to add one more thing. In the same essay, Chomsky made two more statements: one was right, and the other was pure disinformation.

You recall that Chomsky stated, "There was some fighting; leaving hundreds killed according to Human Rights groups." This statement is most likely correct. According to several sources, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait had possibly cost the lives of about 380 Kuwaitis and over 120 Iraqis. In addition, Chomsky correctly qualified the body count with the phrase, "according to," which, to a certain extent, is an acceptable approximation of probable statistics in the absence of official data.

Oddly, in the following sentence, Chomsky hastily abandoned his caution and embraced U.S. and Israeli propaganda on Kuwaiti fatalities without modifying an iota. In effect, he became a posteriori, an apologist and a voluntary mouthpiece for U.S. imperialism, as when he stated, "During the subsequent months, Iraq was responsible for terrible crimes against Kuwait, with several thousand killed and many tortured. But that is not war, rather state terrorism, of the kind familiar among U.S. clients." The salient aspect of this statement is that Chomsky did not specify the nature of these "terrible" crimes, and his statement of "several thousand" killed and "many" tortured, sounded, decidedly, unrealistic considering that immediately after the invasion, there had not been any resistance against the occupation, hence no reprisals by the occupiers.

To inform the reader, not even a few weeks into the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, an anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, Alabaman Zionist, named Jean P. Sasson, published a small propaganda booklet detailing flagrantly false accounts on Iraq's atrocities in Kuwait and the thousands of Kuwaitis that Iraqis killed. She called her mound of lies, "The Rape of Kuwait: the True Story of Iraqi Atrocities against a Civilian Population." Sasson's Zionist propaganda blitzkrieg baptized under the adjective, "true story," inundated media and cluttered the mouths of all talking heads of the United States. Of course, I did not hear that Sasson has ever written any book about the Zionist rape of Palestine, Sharon's ordered massacres of Sabra and Shatila, the American rape of Iraq, or Abu Ghraib prison atrocities.)

By force of similar words and concepts, I submit that Chomsky's long phrase, "Iraq was responsible for terrible crimes against Kuwait," echoes Sasson's subtitle, "The True Story of Iraqi Atrocities against a Civilian Population." Consequently, it seems that we have a problem: Chomsky, as Sasson, talked about the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, but without corroborating or providing the sources as to where he obtained all the information on those "terrible crimes" and those "several thousand" killed and "many" tortured.

Further note, in my research of the Gulf War, the only sources that provided disinformation on Iraqi atrocities, incubators, and the Kuwaitis that Iraq abducted and took to Iraq were Zionist-controlled U.S. media to increase the disposition of the American public for war. (Before the invasion of Iraq, Chomsky wrote another masterpiece of imperialist literature, so convoluted, so arcane, so insidious, that after publishing it, Znet hurried to reclassify it, as "a satire." I shall discuss that article in the upcoming parts.)

Did Chomsky report facts or "Necessary Illusions" just to write an essay? Beyond that, Chomsky, made the matter worse, as when he, to reinforce his reports of those "several thousands killed . . . etc.," added, "But that is not war . . . etc."

Implication: Chomsky decided to attribute those "several thousand" killed by Iraq to state terrorism. Arguably, while state terrorism could be the right definition to describe aggression, the concept presented by Chomsky is sternly equivocal: while it provides hearsay as proof that the Iraqi invaders killed all those Kuwaitis, it decidedly, but obliquely, implied that Iraq is a terrorist state. A denomination so much cherished and used by U.S. ruling circles, it made the propaganda war that preceded U.S. wars against Iraq up to its invasion flow easier, and transformed the bombardment of the Iraqi population into an inaudible rumble inside American homes.

One may rebut that this is an article about Chomsky, and that I put him unnecessarily on trial because of drifting semantics. Two points: (1) semantics is not the shell but the core of thought, and (2) by addressing the political thought of Chomsky in relation to the Iraqi question, I am attempting to point out a structural "crisis" within the anti-imperialist camp.

To sum up, it is unsettling to see countless writers of all progressive persuasions compete to highlight the excesses of the Saddam's regime without addressing the historical conditions of Iraq or verifying claims. Inevitably, this contributes, indirectly or directly, to the amplification of the ideological wave to invade Iraq and a latent justification for the same. . . . After the invasion, most of the progressive crowd ran to denounce the empire, the cloths of the emperor, and the machinations of the coterie . . .

Having established the general debate on the Gulf War, was the bombardment of Iraq really an inaudible rumble?

Weapons Used

In his outstanding essay, "The Myth of Surgical Bombing in the Gulf War" (which first appeared in "War Crimes," edited by Ramsey Clark and others), Paul walker gives an exhaustive account of the weapons the United States used against the Iraqi people:

  • Some 88,500 tons of bombs have been dropped in over 109,000 sorties flown by a total of 2,800 fixed-wing aircraft.

  • The total number of bombs dropped by allied forces in the war comes to about 250,000, of these only 22,000 were the so-called "smart bombs" or guided bombs. About 10,000 of these guided bombs were laser-guided and about 10,000 were guided anti-tank bombs. The remaining 2,000 were radiation-guided bombs directed at communication and radar installations.

  • 2,095 HARM missiles

  • 217 Walleye missiles

  • 5,276 guided anti-tank missiles
  • 44,922 cluster bombs and rockets

  • 136,755 conventional bombs

  • 4,077 guided bombs

Were these all the weapons the U.S. used to destroy Iraq as a nation? What was the strategy behind the bombing? Was the targeting of Iraq's infrastructures accidental? Did U.S. military planners predict the aftermath of bombardment? To answer these and other questions, I shall quote more of Paul Walker's article, bringing in other authors and sources, and discuss Iraq's casualties, fatalities, health conditions, and related matters.

Next: Part 41: The choice: obedience or annihilation


(1) City Lights Books, War After War, 1992; Noam Chomsky/Essay: The Gulf War in Retrospect, Page 13

B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American antiwar activist. Email:

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The Splendid Failure of Occupation
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Part 45: How the U.S. engineered the Iraqi holocaust
Part 44: Burning the cradle of civilization
Part 43: The scheme behind the bombardment of Iraq
Part 42: Postwar aftermath or imperialist mutatis mutandis?
Part 41: The choice: obedience or annihilation
Part 40: A one-way bombardment called Gulf War
Part 39: Iraq: The second stage of conquest
Part 38: Inside America's lab of horror
Part 37: Iraq, America�s Lab of Horror
Part 36: George Bush occupies Iraq
Part 35: When an American Hulagu invades Mesopotamia
Part 34: Iraq, another chapter of American fascism, colonialism, and extermination
Part 33: Facing East: Iraqi hating and empire building*
Part 32: From Alexander Hamilton and Iroquois to George Bush and Iraqis
Part 31: Achtung! We can invent a pretext to conquer you
Part 30: Iraq Occupation, pretext, encroachment, and colonialism
Part 29: Iraq Occupation, anatomy of pretext
Part 28: Imperialist expansions and 9/11
Part 27: Demystifying 9/11
Part 26: Dick Cheney, numbers and the metaphysics of 9/11