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(This commentary piece also appears in THE VETERAN, Fall 2002 (Volume 32, Number 2).)

No War with Iraq No Blood for Oil or Ego

By Barry Romo, Dave Curry & Joe Miller

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It looks like those courtiers, known as advisers, who want a war with Iraq, have Bush's ear. From his speech before the United Nations in September, it is clear that the boy wants to finish daddy's war from 1990-91 and be a big hero himself. However, in addition to little things like the Constitution and international law stands the reality of a "war too far" in their never-ending war on terrorism.

The war in Afghanistan is not over. American troops will be there a long time and in great numbers, as in Korea, with no end in sight. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are not eliminated. Afghanistan is supplying 80% of Europe's heroin, and our allies there admit they cannot, or will not, stop it. President Karzai is so weak that he cannot get his own bodyguards and must be guarded by U.S. forces. Our allies are committing war crimes (as exposed by Newsweek). We are killing civilians and making blood enemies in a country that has lots of time for revenge. Finally, that poor country is still not getting the aid promised.

One would think with all this turmoil, the U.S. government would want to clean up this mess before moving on to other targets, but U.S. forces now are in nearly 150 out of the 189 member states of the United Nations. What other member state has its forces stationed in so many countries? What is the purpose of such an "imperial" stretch?

We've now expanded into the Islamic former republics of the Soviet Union, anchoring these from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea with U.S. troops. These strategic and oil-rich countries are a side prize to Bush's never-ending war.

With all the condemnations of Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, you would never guess that he was one of the best friends of both Reagan's and Daddy Bush's administrations. U.S. taxpayers contributed billions of dollars in loans and aid to prop him up. When he invaded Iran we supported him with naval forces in the Persian Gulf, as well as with food and strategic satellite information. Not a word was said when he used poison gas on Iranian forces. Bush/Reagan even said that there was no credible evidence when he massacred Kurds in northern Iraq.

In fact, in each instance where Saddam Hussein invaded his neighbors and used weapons of mass destruction, he did so as an ally of the United States.

Of course, like a lot of our former allies - Bin Laden and Noriega to name two - Hussein became our enemy. In his case, he got greedy and wanted all of Kuwait.

A review of the first Gulf war would take too much space here, so suffice it to say we had the rest of the world on board. Iraq was surrounded by enemies, and the United States and its allies could invade from Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia. and the Gulf. We didn't even have to pay for it. The tab was picked up almost entirely by Japan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

This time will be much different. Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar all say no! So we'll need to invade from Turkey in the north, with parachute drops in the desert and amphibious landings at the tip of Iraq in the Persian Gulf with the help of Turkey (who'll probably kill more Kurds than Republican Guards, as has been their practice) and Great Britain. And Israel, but more on that later. In mid September Rumsfeld claimed that more countries had "quietly" committed themselves to aid with the invasion, but who really believes much of anything coming from this Bush administration?

This time our fields of maneuver and support are much smaller, and the Iraqi regime knows from Bush's statements that this time it's for keeps. That means that there will be no incentive for restraint on the part of Hussein, if he has weapons of mass destruction. (If he doesn't, what absolute liars and tyrants we will be seen as by the world, sort of like what Saddam was seen as when he invaded Kuwait!) That means more American casualties and Iraqi civilian deaths.

Add to this the war cost of about $100 billion during these bad economic times; the cost of oil, as it will surely rise with this conflict; and, finally, the effort to hold Iraq together (or not), but with a long term occupying force of U.S. troops and U.S. aid.

Then there is the Middle East and Israel and the Palestinians. Any invasion of Iraq while the Palestinians are denied basic human and national rights will lead to incredible turmoil throughout the region, no matter what Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle claim. Now, with Israel promising to get in on the action, who knows where it will all end?

Iran is even making up with Iraq, regardless of the fact that they were invaded and suffered millions of casualties from Saddam's military. Why? Well, Bush's "Axis of Evil," of course! They probably think they may be next. And, why not, with a quarter-million U.S. troops right next door? We should not forget, or take lightly, Bush's pledge to use nuclear weapons first, if he wants to.

And so what do we do? We must all speak out: we don't want war. It's election year, so surprise your representatives and senators with a visit. Join forces with others in pickets and demonstrations that cannot be hidden.

On this Veterans Day all VVAW members and supporters should remind the country that we continue to demand decent benefits for all veterans and victims of war. No more cannon fodder!

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