The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Only "Smoking Gun" Is the One Bush Is Aiming against Iraq

Feb 3, 2003

Bush, in his State of the Union speech, tried to convey the sense that the inspectors had reported finding a "smoking gun" in Iraq, when they gave their report to the U.N. the day before.

He thundered, "The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons material sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax...,materials sufficient to produce 38,000 liters of botulinum....Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve gas. He has not accounted for these materials, he has given no evidence that he has destroyed them."

In fact, the inspectors had not concluded what Bush tried to imply. They had given a short list of things they had not yet been able to verify regarding some of these materials–and the quantities of each of these things that they talked about, by the way, were less than half of what Bush claimed the next night.

Of course, Bush grossly exaggerates when he is making propaganda, which is every time he speaks "to the nation," but his exaggerations are not the main point. The main point is that he engaged in outright lies claiming or implying things about these chemical weapons that neither the current U.N. inspectors, nor the earlier ones had ever said. In the first place, most of the "missing materials" that Bush referred to are now far past their expiration dates. They degrade over time, and become harmless.

In the U.N. inspectors’ report, there was no "smoking gun"–that is, no proof of all the charges that Bush has made over the last months. And, in fact, many of the charges–such as the supposed ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, or the famous aluminum tubes for weaponizing uranium–were shown to be quite simply false, as the U.S.‘s own CIA already said.

This is not to say that the U.N. inspection report did not include some charges against Iraq. But the first thing that should be said about this is that there were actually two reports–and the one that most clearly refuted U.S. claims, the one on nuclear weapons, was not televised on the major networks.

The other part of the report, given by Hans Blix, was the only one that most people saw, if they happened to see it in the middle of the day. This report, after complementing Iraq on the way it had allowed the inspectors to do their work, then included some reproaches of Iraq: the regime had not offered complete total proof that the weapons Bush referred to had all been destroyed. As if a nation which had been submitted to intermittent bombing for over 12 years and a catastrophic blockade for almost that long, could be expected to keep absolute records on every single weapon it had ever had in its possession, even after they were destroyed. Look at the U.S.‘s own Pentagon–year after year, Congressional audits discover that the Pentagon, with all its computerized inventories, has "lost" as much as ten% of all its supplies and weapons. It loses armored vehicles, big modern tanks, even airplanes–without anyone having any idea where they went to. We might add that the anthrax that was used in the terrorist mail attack of October 2001 somehow found its way out of U.S. weapons laboratories, without anyone apparently noticing it was gone. Last year, the Pentagon reported that it had lost dozens of laptop computers with highly secret information on them.

And yet, they pretend that Iraq, in a really desperate situation, will keep track of every single liter of anthrax that it ever produced. No, Blix’s complaint that Iraq had not kept adequate records and that it was not "actively" helping the U.N. inspectors, was nothing more than a way to criticize Iraq, when they had nothing real to criticize it for. And Blix certainly knew full well that Bush would take these criticisms–and turn them into a very different accusation, making most people who heard his speech believe that the inspectors had found proof of such weapons in Iraq.

Blix also reproached Iraq for the fact that the U.N. inspectors sometimes met demonstrations of hostility toward the West by the Iraqi population. Imagine that! You live in a country, which has been bombarded and starved. You have seen your children die because of this. And then you are reproached because you do not greet people who have been involved in these attacks on you with open arms and kisses. This may not have been Blix’s biggest reproach, but the fact that he dare say that shows exactly what the U.N. is doing in Iraq. Under the pretext of remaining "scrupulously neutral," it is providing Bush with just enough implied criticism of Iraq, that Bush can take it and run.

But, as everyone knows, and the U.N. first of all, since Bush already proclaimed this when he addressed the U.N. in October–he does not need proof to go to war.

In other words, the inspections are a sham, whose only purpose might be to kill time, while the U.S. military builds up its forces in the area. Of course, the U.S. could buildup much faster than this, if it wanted to. If Bush has been dragging his feet, it’s almost certainly in order to give the Iraqi generals one last chance either to carry out a coup against Saddam Hussein or to convince him to go into the asylum that Saudi Arabia has offered him–probably with U.S. blessing.

Neither of these things would provide much respite for the Iraqi population–nor would they mean that U.S. troops would not be sent in to Iraq to quell the disorder that might jump off in such a situation.

In any case, no matter what happens, Bush is preparing to carry out a further war on the Iraqi population. If the Iraqi generals get rid of Saddam Hussein in some way, Bush will ally with them–and with all the torturers who made up Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship–against the Iraqi people. Bush has already announced that these torturers can have amnesty for what they did against the Iraqi people, if they only switch sides.

This farce of the inspections is nothing but a way to justify further destruction, in one fashion or another, in Iraq. And why? All so that the U.S., now the only superpower in the world, can demonstrate to the world, that everyone must dance to the U.S.‘s tune. That is, so that U.S. corporations can go where they want around the world, paying as low a wages as possible and draining as much wealth as possible.