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Liberal_Jihad_Cover.jpg Forward USA

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Further Thoughts on the Justification for Deposing Saddam Hussein

An answer to a reader’s criticisms.

A reader emailed me the following objections to More on “Blood for Oil”
and to The Debates: President Bush Couldn’t Assert One of the Most Important Reasons for the Iraq War:

“You seem suprisingly eager to use ‘realism’ to override any concerns about the morality of going into a war on a false pretense of a grave threat, to keep oil cheap.

Well, given that oil is over $50, it’s not a successful project from that perspective, or any other.

If it were a question of losing access to oil, then sure, it would be a strategic justification.

But oil is sold on a global market, and we can buy it at the going rate. Is the Middle East going to get taken over by a foreign power? Are they going to cut us off and supply a foreign power, instead of to us who can pay the most for the greatest quantity?

No, the biggest threat to oil supplies is instability and chaos in the Middle East. If the US invasion creates those conditions, it’s not a very bright idea. Even if the invasion had been successful, it wouldn’t [be] very cheap oil when you factor in a $200 billion military operation. Even if you choose to overlook the morality of going in and killing people to get their oil a bit cheaper.

The ‘right’ (if you can apply that label to someone who wants to run a $400b deficit to spread their vision of utopia around the world) is pretty big on morality, as long as it’s other people’s. Not very big on small sacrifices, like a slightly less gargantuan SUV, if it will make the world a safer place. But very eager to rain hell down on the other side of the world in the name of freedom and ‘realism.’

The current situation shows just how ‘realistic’ they are. Billions of dollars down the drain, and thousands dead. And higher oil prices to show for it.

Near the gas tank where every car has ‘unleaded gas only’, we should add a yellow ribbon and ‘remember our troops.’

I don’t really follow.

With Saddam in authority in Iraq, the danger of al-Qaeda taking over anywhere in the area was exactly zero. It was a police state. Nobody was going to oust Saddam, even with US support. After the first war, Saddam started giving lip service to Islam and painting himself as an Arab martyr and having the Koran written with his blood. But Iraq was still a secular state.

As for bin Laden, he agreed with Saddam about nothing but hatred for Bush. Saddam was a secular Arab nationalist, which makes him a bad Muslim and even worse in bin Laden’s eyes than the Wahabis. When Kuwait was invaded, he offered to deploy his people to defend Saudi Arabia against Saddam. Which of course they declined in favor of the Americans.  Which is why bin Laden started issuing fatwas against them and the US in the first place. If Saddam had any dealings with al-Qaeda, it would have been logistical support because the enemy of my enemy is my friend, sort of like Pat Robertson’s people currently give logistical support to Ralph Nader.

Today, there is chaos and the presence of al-Qaeda types. And the oil flow is basically denied from Iraq. And instability could spread, since the occupation and Abu Ghraib aren’t winning us any friends. So we have achieved what you say we were trying to avoid, which wasn’t a significant risk until we dropped the ball.”
My reply is the following:

Our invasion of Iraq and stationing American troops there to protect the world’s access to Middle Eastern oil reserves is nothing new.  It is a continuation of policies pursued by major European and American governments throughout the 20th century. 

An allegation by Senator Teddy Kennedy (the moral exemplar of the Democratic Party and the Hero of Chappaquiddick) in a September, 2003, CNN interview is a typical statement of liberal views: “This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud.”  His allegation, to put the kindest face on it, may reflect incipient Alzheimers disease.

Senator Kennedy apparently conveniently forgot that the United States had been officially at war with Iraq since the end of Desert Storm in 1991.  Saddam Hussein had never complied with the terms imposed by the UN at the end of the operation to eject him from Kuwait, thus the United States and its Desert Storm allies were still in a diplomatic state of war with Iraq twelve years later.  Additionally, in October, 1998, President Clinton signed the Iraqi Liberation Act authorizing the support of insurgent action against Saddam Hussein and making it a Congressionally-mandated policy to promote regime-change in Iraq.  Thereafter, until the end of the Clinton administration, American warplanes patrolled the northern no-fly zone in Iraq, where they shot down Iraqui warplanes and frequently destroyed Iraqui missile and radar sites. 

It should be noted that direct or indirect control of petroleum resources is absolutely essential to the financial support of Al Queda’s operations.  To pay for their weapons, training, communications, and other aspects of their international terror operations, they have two main sources of funds: opium and oil revenues.  Of the two, the vastly greater is oil money from sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and formerly, Iraq.  Bin Ladin was a multi-millionaire from his family’s Saudi Arabian construction businesses, all related to the oil industry there. 

In addition to protecting oil reserves in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the presence of American troops in Iraq and our demonstrated will to use overwhelming military force where necessary have pressured the Saudis to begin cutting off the oil-money spigot to Al Queda and to radical mullahs in the United States.  These same factors influenced oil-rich Libya to renounce its secret efforts to develop nuclear weapons and to move to reestablish diplomatic and commercial relations with the United States.  Deposing Saddam also ended his large-scale funding of Palestinian suicide-bomber murders of Isreali women, children, and soldiers, as well as direct training and supply support for Al Queda terrorists.

Oil prices have reached levels that are high, but they are well below the $70 per barrel inflation-adjusted level hit under Democratic liberal President Peanut Carter. 

My critic contends: “Today, there is chaos and the presence of al-Qaeda types. And the oil flow is basically denied from Iraq. And instability could spread, since the occupation and Abu Ghraib aren’t winning us any friends. So we have achieved what you say we were trying to avoid, which wasn’t a significant risk until we dropped the ball.”

This presumes that the only actual or potential disruptive influence on oil prices, and the only reason for Al Queda’s presence in Iraq, is our military action.  This overlooks the continued disruptions of oil exports from Venezuela and the soaring world demand for oil, particularly from China.  Iraq is exporting almost the same quantity of oil today as was permitted under UN sanctions before Saddam’s fall.

It is likewise questionable to contend “with Saddam in authority in Iraq, the danger of al-Qaeda taking over anywhere in the area was exactly zero.”  The Shah’s regime in Iran was also apparently an impregnable police state, but Ayatollah Khomeni’s radicals toppled him within days.

Why else had Saddam begun to rehabilitate Islam within his Baathist-socialist state?  Why else had he established extensive relations with Al Queda, setting up training camps for them in Iraq?  In fact, fearing to be on the wrong side of Al Queda, Saddam had begun actively cooperating with them.  See website, from which the following specifics come:

In the Fall of 1993, Bin Ladin’s top lieutenant Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri was in Somalia acting as field commander of the “Afghan Arabs,” coordinating them, Iraqi fighters, Iranian intelligence, and the various Somali warlords against the US/UN forces.  The Iraqis organized the heavy weapons, mainly the dual-use 23mm guns and RPG-7s, which were used primarily against the U.S. helicopters. The Iraqis were also instrumental in running the external perimeter, blocking repeated U.S.-U.N. attempts to relieve the beseiged force in the defensive perimeter.

In June 1994 Bin Ladin met with Iraqi Director of Intelligence Services Farouq Hijazi in Khartoum to discuss Al Queda’s working more closely with Iraq.

Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi was sent to Iraq by Bin Laden several times between 1997 and 2000 in successful missions to purchase poison gases.

Ayman al Zawahiri, Al Queda’s No. 2 leader, visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi Vice President on February 3, 1998. The purpose was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and Bin Ladin and to establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz.  As a result, an Ansar Al Islam terrorist training camp was set up in Northern Iraq under the direction of Mohammed Al Zarqawi, Al Queda’s chemical and biological weapons specialist.  Zarqawi today heads the Al Queda terrorist operations in Iraq.

As a pay-off, on February 23, 1998, Bin Ladin and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued a famous fatwa defending Iraq and calling on all Muslims to kill Americans wherever they found them.  It reads in part:

“First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.

If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.

Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million… despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.

Third, if the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel’s survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula. “

On August 5, 1998, contrary to fact, Saddam proclaimed “Suspension Day,” declaring that Iraq had fulfilled all of its obligations required to lift the UN economic blockade.  He would allow UNSCOM inspectors to remain in Iraq, but forbade all further inspections until the economic sanctions had been lifted.  The United States rejected this assertion.

As a retaliatory warning, two days later Al Queda suicide bombers blew up the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  224 people were killed and almost 5,000 were injured.

In an interview published in the 15th issue of Nida’ul Islam magazine, October - November 1996 , Bin Ladin made clear that Al Queda’s intention is to unify all Middle Eastern regimes, from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, under Islamic radicalism:

” In addition to this is the behaviour of the Americans with crudeness and arrogance with the Saudi army and their general behaviour with citizens, and the privileges which the Americans enjoy in distinction from the Saudi forces.

These missions also paved the way for the raising of the voices of opposition against the American occupation from within the ruling family and the armed forces; in fact we can say that the remaining Gulf countries have been effected [sic] to the same degree, and that the voices of opposition to the American occupation have begun to be heard at the level of the ruling families and the governments of the Cooperative Council of Gulf countries. The differences in outlooks between the Americans and the Gulf states has appeared for the first time since the second Gulf war. This was during the conference of the ministers of external affairs of the countries of the cooperative council of Gulf states which was held in Riyadh to look into the American missile aggression against Iraq.”

Al Queda has made no secret of its intention to drive western influences out of Saudi Arabia, take control of that country’s oil reserves in the name of Allah, and drive oil prices up.  Seven years ago, in a March 1997 interview with Bin Ladin by CNN’s anti-American reporter Peter Arnett, there was the following exchange:

“ARNETT: Mr. Bin Ladin, if the Islamic movement takes over Saudi Arabia, what would your attitude to the West be and will the price of oil be higher?

BIN LADIN: We are a nation and have a long history, with the grace of God, Praise and Glory be to Him. We are now in the 15th century of this great religion, the complete and comprehensive methodology, has clarified the dealing between an individual and another, the duties of the believer towards God, Praise and Glory be to Him, and the relationship between the Muslim country and other countries in time of peace and in time of war. If we look back at our history, we will find there were many types of dealings between the Muslim nation and the other nations in time of peace and in time of war, including treaties and matters to do with commerce. So it is not a new thing that we need to come up with. Rather, it already, by the grace of God, exists. As for oil, it is a commodity that will be subject to the price of the market according to supply and demand. We believe that the current prices are not realistic due to the Saudi regime playing the role of a US agent and the pressures exercised by the US on the Saudi regime to increase production and flooding the market that caused a sharp decrease in oil prices. .......

ARNETT: Let’s go to the bombings of United States troops in Riyadh and Dhahran. Why did they happen and were you and your supporters involved in these attacks?

BIN LADIN: We ask about the main reason that called for this explosion. This explosion was a reaction to a US provocation of the Muslim peoples, in which the US transgressed in its aggression until it reached the qibla of the Muslims in the whole world. So, the purpose of of the two explosions is to get the American occupation out. So if the U.S. does not want to kill its sons who are in the army, then it has to get out. .............

ARNETT:  Do you think there will be more bombing attacks on American troops in Saudi Arabia? or attacks on American civilians in Saudi Arabia? or will there be assassination attempts on the Saudi Arabian ruling family?

BIN LADIN: It is known that every action has its reaction. If the American presence continues, and that is an action, then it is natural for reactions to continue against this presence. In other words, explosions and killings of the American soldiers would continue. These are the troops who left their country and their families and came here with all arrogance to steal our oil and disgrace us, and attack our religion. As for what was mentioned about the ruling (Saudi) family those in charge, do bear the full responsibility of everything that may happen. They are the shadow of the American presence. The people and the young men are concentrating their efforts on the sponsor and not on the sponsored. The concentration at this point of Jihad is against the American occupiers.”

That policy proclaimed seven years earlier, was implemented at the end of May, 2004, when Al Queda terrorists attacked the offices of a Saudi oil company in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, taking foreign oil workers hostage and killing 22 people, including one American.  As India Daily newspaper reported it:


Al-Queda?s recent terrorist acts are targeted towards Saudi Oil industry interest. Saudi Arabia is the primary nation that has the capability to put a lid on escalating oil prices.”

Turning back to liberals’ allegations, far from being a secret deal cooked up by Republicans to enrich so-called fat-cat corporations like Halliburton, our action to depose Saddam Hussein has long historical precedents.

The whole Middle East region, along with the Caspian Sea petroleum basin to the north in what was part of the Soviet Union, has been in play for a century, with European nations vying to control its vast oil reserves.  The USSR, France, England, Germany, and the United States have all staked claims there, or attempted to do so, and supported governments that would be of friendly disposition.  Indeed, the present-day map of the Middle East is a concoction of Allied map-makers at the Paris peace settlement after World War I for that purpose. 

In 1914, the Ottoman Empire, a supporter of Germany in the war, was the successor to the original Islamic hegemony that covered southern France, Spain, Portugal, all of North Africa, the Balkans, southern Russia, and the Middle East, with the exception of Persia (now Iran).  The Ottoman Empire’s territory was reduced to modern-day Turkey, while the map-makers carved out its other territory as the states of Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq.  These newly-minted nations both satisfied Woodrow Wilson’s idealistic ideas of “national self-determination” and also formalized access of European allies to oil territories by giving them mandates to supervise the new nations.

During World War II, because of their vital importance to the Allied forces, and because of the strategic need to deny them to Nazi Germany, the oil fields and terminals of Iran and Iraq were occupied by Allied troops.

In the 1951, the Soviet Union backed the communist-led Iranian administration of Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadaq when he nationalized Iran’s oil industry and moved to expel British and American oil companies.  Under the Democratic administration of President Harry Truman, the CIA and British intelligence worked to foment a counter-revolution that ousted Mossadaq and installed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

In 1979, an entirely new factor appeared in the regional maneuvering for access to oil.  The Shah was deposed in a jihad led by radical Ayatollah Khomeni. 

In November of that year, militant Islamists besieged the United States Embassy in Teheran and for 444 days held 66 U.S. citizens hostage.  They demanded that the Unites States turn the Shah over to them and apologize for “war crimes against the Iranian people.”

From the beginning, Khomeni denounced the United States as “the Great Satan” and an enemy of Islam.  To believe that our deposition of Saddam Hussein caused his enmity is naive, to say the least.  Having U.S. troops stationed next door in Iraq for immediate retaliation is one of our most effective deterrents to foolhardy Iranian action.

What transpired in Iran was replayed subsequently, from the Sudan, to Afghanistan, to Saudi Arabia, by Al Queda’s Islamic radicals.  Ayatollah Khomeni attacked the Shah’s government because it had westernized Iranian society, educating women and allowing them to move freely in social and business environments.  Fidelity to Islamic radicals’ sharia requires that women remain uneducated and hidden under head-to-foot burkhas, acting as silent slaves to jihad terrorists.

Proclaiming exactly the same aim, Osama Bin Ladin and his Al Queda followers went to Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, drove the Soviets out, and installed the Taliban to de-westernize society and impose sharia.

Knowing that he could be next, Saddam Hussein demonstrably was cooperating with Al Queda and would have followed Bin Ladin’s policy of curtailing oil exports to jack up world prices or to shut off the United States altogether.