Washington had no problem with biological weapons when Iraq used them against Iranian troops in the 1980-88 war and against Kurds in 1988.
Related Gully Coverage
Why Everyone Should Oppose It
by Andy Thayer
SEPTEMBER 5, 2002. The United States is poised to launch another war against Iraq. The last one killed as many as 100,000 soldiers and 35,000 civilians. Another 227,000 children were killed, according to UNICEF, by preventable diseases brought on by sanctions formally imposed by the UN, but actively enforced by the U.S. People from all communities, including lgbt people, should be appalled at the prospect of another wholesale slaughter.
The Official Justification
Furthermore, their possession now is questionable. While during post-Gulf War inspections the UN found traces or stockpiles of anthrax, VX nerve gas, mustard gas, and botulinum toxin, the war destroyed a great many. The1998 operation Desert Fox, a joint U.S.-British bombing spree, further crippled Iraq's capacity to develop chemical and biological weapons.
Rolf Ekeus, head of United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991-1997, and former UN humanitarian aid coordinator for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, have come forward to offer their own eyewitness testimonies that Iraq's capability to produce biological weapons was significantly destroyed.
Even if Iraq does have those weapons, the Bush administration has not provided any evidence that Saddam is now willing to use them against the sole remaining superpower. Iraq had chemical weapons during the Gulf War, but it did not use any of its arsenal, even when its army was fleeing advancing U.S. troops. This shows some political acumen and restraint on Saddam's part (had he used them then, it's likely Bush Sr. would have given the order to advance to Baghdad.)
A political survivor, Saddam knows that unleashing such weapons would only prompt an immediate, overwhelming U.S. response and spell the end of his regime. The Bush administration already has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iraq and other nations. In this context, it is likely that the only circumstance in which Saddam would use such weaponry outside his borders would be in a "doomsday" scenario: if his personal survival and that of his regime were at stake as the United States was set to roll into Baghdad. Such a situation could be produced by the very war the U.S. says it must start to prevent such slaughter.
Oil At the Heart
Millions of people around the world realize that another U.S. war on Iraq will not be about anything as noble as stopping weapons of mass destruction. Instead, they rightly see it as aimed at increasing U.S. domination of a region already resentful about our government's heavy-handed presence there.
Bush and his allies in both political parties don't want peace: they want to control Middle Eastern oil. While the U.S. gets most of the oil it consumes from other sources, many of the nation's largest firms profit enormously from their preferential access to the region's markets, leveraging U.S. political alliances with local dictatorships.
More importantly, by controlling the main source of oil consumed by Europe and Japan, the U.S. helps maintain its overwhelming dominance in world politics at the expense of its main economic competitors. Most leaders both in Europe and in Japan aren't thrilled by this economic dagger hanging over their necks, and are alarmed that another large chunk of the region's oil resources, Iraq, might be forcibly drawn into the U.S. orbit.
Counting the Cost
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the cost of the last Gulf War to the allies was $61 billion (in 1992 dollars, $80 billion in 2002 dollars), although other sources say it cost as much as $71 billion (in 1992 dollars). U.S. allies picked up the lion's share of the tab, $48 billion from mainly the Gulf states and Japan.
A more protracted urban war in Iraq, which is the likely scenario now, would make it even more expensive. Don't forget that the cost of the previous war did not include reconstruction costs. And that, unlike the previous Gulf War, there's little prospect that other countries will pick up any of the tab.
Impact on the Queer Community
Take Chicago as an example. In this city, three AIDS service providers recently collapsed into one. Two other leading gay-oriented social service agencies, Horizons and Howard Brown Health Center, recently garnered headlines in the local gay press as they both announced big cutbacks. Even as new AIDS cases disproportionately hit African Americans, the State of Illinois wiped out $2.5 million previously designated for AIDS minority outreach. Examples of cutbacks like these that will hurt or cause the premature deaths of people in our community are being repeated around the nation.
No lgbt person or organization can, in good conscience, decry these cutbacks without denouncing the barbarous waste of the military budget used to fight these wars. The latest increase in U.S. "defense" spending, $44.4 billion, is, by itself, greater than the military spending of every other nation in the world. Total U.S. military spending is greater than that of the combined military spending of the next 16 largest powers.
A generation ago, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s early opposition to the Vietnam War brought on him the scorn not just of conservative hawks, but most liberal leaders as well. But it was the right thing to do. King realized he could not win desperately needed anti-poverty programs at home if the United States continued to pay to fight the war in Vietnam. But then, the more he examined the U.S. war to dominate Southeast Asia, the more he saw that the war was immoral in its own right. King saw a war fought to extend U.S. power in the world at the expense not only of the Vietnamese, but of most Americans.
Taking a Stand
A generation ago, the world mobilized to stop another U.S. power grab in Southeast Asia. Today, the launching of the second U.S. war on Iraq has been delayed several months, in large part due to the fact that most citizens in the Middle East and Europe are opposed to it, and have forced their governments to at least verbally stand up to the Bush administration.
As people living in the country preparing to launch this new war, we in the United States have a particular responsibility to join the worldwide movement against it. We in the lgbt community need to join forces with local anti-war organizations to spread the word. For instance, The Chicago Anti-Bashing Network mobilized The Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism for a large anti-racist/anti-war contingent in this year's Gay Pride Parade.
We must also enlist our lgbt organizations in opposing the military spending that drains the funding out of a host of urgently needed services. This new war would be against the interests of most people in this country, lgbt and otherwise, and of those abroad too. And as in King's time, opposing it is the right thing to do.
Andy Thayer is co-founder of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered direct-action, rights and liberation group.
For the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, CABN.
For No Rush to War The Nation's resources to oppose a new U.S. war in Iraq.
For the New York Times' dollars and cents assessment of an Iraq war.
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