Bush to Saddam: “Time’s Up”

Bush told Saddam to quit loitering, and said that after that nogoodnik’s gone, the United States will make sure Iraq is a excellent place to find cheap labor.

Tonight, President Bush addressed the nation and the world. CNN’s music was militant, the graphics prepared and by all standards available to the Proconsul on the Potomac, the nation was girded for war. He gave Iraqi president Saddam Hussein 48 hours — Thursday morning local Baghdad time — to quit his country and avoid war. No doubt Saddam will ungallantly refuse, and one can hear the echo of Bush’s father’s famous phrase: “The liberation of Kuwait has begun.”
“The day of your liberation is here.” Well, not so fast, Tex. In 15 minutes of earnest, non-sedated verbiage, not once did Bush utter the word “democracy.” Oh, he feinted at it, with near-misses like “liberty,” “freedom” and “self-governing,” Self-governing means nothing; almost every nation-state is self-governing. Liberty and Freedom, while nice, mean quite different things in different parts of the world. Chinese patriots are free to buy what they choose, but criticizing the government is asking for trouble. Are they free? Are they liberated? Not by Western standards. But most important was “peaceful,” often stressed, indicating a pacified Iraqi nation was more important than a democratic one.
Basra in the south will be an early test of liberation, that’s for sure, because video of cheering Iraqis hugging Doughboys and GIs, tossing rice (a traditional Arab gesture of welcome) and roses, will be beamed to a world in an attempt show the world the American eagle’s embrace is warm and loving, never mind the talons.
I’m not saying Iraq won’t be better off without Saddam. It very well might, as long as it doesn’t collapse into civil war and thuggery the moment the U.S. gets distracted by something else shiny.
But while liberation has not yet begun, the fallout already has. Moscow has hinted it might retaliate against the United States by not ratifying the arms reduction treaty recently signed. You know, the one that would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world?
And the business opportunities are already in the air! Instead of a Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe at the end of World War II with a combination of direct grants and loans to the amount of $13 billion (in 1948 dollars,) The Wall Street Journal reported that instead of a long-term reconstruction effort, the Bush White House envisions a one-year occupation with reconstruction contracted out to private companies (Paid reg. required.) Left out of the effort are most of the U.N. development agencies and Non-governmental organizations. With $1.5 billion (in 2003 dollars) being offered to private companies, only $50 million is set aside for groups such as CARE and Save the Children.
The Marshall Plan was an amazing example of enlightened self-interest. Direct grants (mostly) and loans administered by the Economic Cooperation Administration, a specially created bureau of the U.S. government, helped restore agricultural and industrial production, establish financial stability and expand trade (since much of the money went to buy American products and food.) Europe, led by the U.K. and France, coordinated all this through the Committee of European Economic Cooperation — later the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation. A lot of American businessmen got rich selling their products to the desperate Europeans. In the process, western Europe was aligned more closely with the United States, Communism was contained and the major military alliances — recently smashed by you-know-who — crafted.
But this plan, shocking in its optimism and, yes, naiveté, farms out the reconstruction to major U.S. companies directly answerable — and often funding — Washington. Within weeks of the end of the war, the plan envisions the administration repairing schools, roads and hospitals, revamping the country’s financial rules and handling the government payroll (Ooh, bet you some embarrassing skeletons will come out of that last one.) The Treasury Department will be “deeply involved” in overhauling Iraq’s central bank and some U.S. government officials will serve as “shadow ministers.”
The cost? Well, the White House will ask Congress for $100 billion to wage the war and pay for its aftermath. Included in this is $1.8 billion for a year of reconstruction and $800 million for relief assessment. Doesn’t sound like much does it?
Don’t worry, the Iraqis will pay for the rest!
The paper reports that Europeans, of course, and Iraqi dissidents have reacted with disbelief. Keeping the U.N. and NGO players out of the game will delay reconstruction and foster more ill-will in a part of the world that suffered from colonialism.
The best quote goes to Chris Patton, head of the EU’s external relations, who slammed the Bush plan as “maladroit.” He also suggested last week that if the United States was so keen on making a mess in Iraq, then it could bloody well clean it up itself.
Bush administration figures, leery of any kind of working-togetherness, say delays in reconstruction in Afghanistan prove that multilateralism doesn’t work. Hey, Bush, here’s a suggestion: Instead of blaming cooperation, why don’t you _fund_ the reconstruction effort and not _forget_ to put Afghanistan in your 2004 budget?
The Journal also says the U.S. officials want “credit” for reconstruction, indicating the whole thing is seen more as a PR plan than a real policy (Shades of Gen. Rove! How will happy, loyal Iraqis play in Iowa?)
“The administration’s goal is to provide tangible evidence to the people of Iraq that the U.S. will support efforts to bring the country to political security and economic prosperity,” says a U.S. contract document for up to $900 million in reconstruction work.
Not surprisingly, Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney’s company Halliburton Co., is part of a bidding consortium. All companies mentioned — Bechtel Group Inc., Parsons Corp., Louis Berger Group and Fluor Corp. — made a combined $2.8 million in political donations between 1999 and 2002, with more than two-thirds going to Republicans.
(I’m shocked — shocked!)
What’s FUBAR about this is that while the Marshall Plan made many American businessmen rich, it also made a fair number of European businessmen rich, too, as well as allowed the rehabilitation of Europe’s industrial sector thanks to access to capital and investment from the national governments. In Iraq, a state-run economy at the moment, the money will flow back to American companies rather than staying in the country. Once the reconstruction is done, where will the Iraqi industrial sector be? The roads might be laid and the schools might be running, but with Bush’s mealy-mouthed dancing about “democracy” and a plan straight out of Corporate Exploitation of Cheap Labor 101, it points to Iraq as a dependent colony of the United States, requiring heavy American investment (hmm), foreign aid with a tapestry of strings attached (hmm) and an inability to say “no” to American offers of “protection.” (Ah hah!)
Southwest Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, anyone?

Turkey allows U.S. troops; Saddam to Iraqis: “lock and load!”

Turkey has apparently reversed course and will now allow its territory to be used by U.S. troops. Meanwhile, ordinary Iraqis arm themselves.

Whoa. Turkey has apparently reversed course and will now allow its territory to be used by U.S. troops.
There are no details on how all this will go down yet, but the Turkish lira slid to a new low against the dollar, suggesting at least one reason for Turkey’s sudden conversion.
BlobServer.jpgMateriél and equipment has been transiting the country for weeks, but no troops other than a token contingent of “base inspectors.” Most of the boats that were always described as “idling off the Turkish coast” have split for the Suez Canal and Kuwait. What good is this reversal?
Well, as reported before, hanging back until it was too late to offer much help (except maybe overflight rights) was probably Turkey’s plan along. But now that Erdogan is Prime Minister, he’s going to do all he can to prove his intentions to Washington. Perhaps he’s reasoning that if Turkey’s help is too little, too late that can hardly be blamed on him, can it?
Meanwhile, farther south, average Iraqis are apparently arming themselves in preparation of the chaos that will surely follow the onset of hostilities, um, Wednesday? It’s apparently an old cultural tradition of Iraqis, but this time — surprise! — it’s been encouraged by the Ba’ath regime.
But the real danger is not that Iraqis will start firing on American troops but on each other. “No one knows at whom these weapons will be pointed and after a U.S. strike we might see a new Iraq, in the Lebanese or Algerian style,” an Arab diplomat said.

Bush to address the nation at 8 pm EST

President Bush will address the country at 8 pm EST tonight and call on Saddam to leave the country to avoid war.

President Bush will address the country at 8 pm EST tonight and call on Saddam to leave the country to avoid war.
Also, French ambassador says a large majority on Security Council would have voted against the resolution, not the close vote that the U.S. and the U.K. maintained would have been the result. It’s -like- likely the United States never got much more than four votes: U.S., U.K., Spain and Bulgaria.
The U.S. never wanted this resolution anyway.

Pentagon says chemical weapons will be used

CNN is reporting that the Pentagon is detecting preparations on the part of Iraq to use chemical weapons against U.S. troops. The DoD says it doesn’t know where the CW are, but that it will destroy them if it can find them.
Also, the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan instructed the its 135 or so inspectors to bug out from Iraq. CNN is reporting the U.N. can get them out in about two hours. Rumors swirl of a Bush announcement tonight. War tomorrow or Wednesday?
*UPDATE 10:09 AM EST:* Sir Jeremy Greenstock, British Ambassador to the United Nations, that the resolution will be pulled and “we will not pursue a vote.”. The diplomatic process is over. Greenstock criticized France specifically, but didn’t mention it by name. The U.S. and U.K. will pursue their own methods of disarmamemt.
U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Negroponte, called Iraq in “material breach” of 1441.

More DU used in Iraq?

In the process of saving Iraq from Saddam by thoroughly bombing large cities, the United States may be upping the depleted uranium (DU) used in munitions for this war.

In the process of saving Iraq from Saddam by thoroughly bombing large cities, the United States may be upping the depleted uranium (DU) used in munitions for this war.
As the Federation of American Scientists say:

In military applications, when alloyed, Depleted Uranium [DU] is ideal for use in armor penetrators. These solid metal projectiles have the speed, mass and physical properties to perform exceptionally well against armored targets. DU provides a substantial performance advantage, well above other competing materials. This allows DU penetrators to defeat an armored target at a significantly greater distance. Also, DU’s density and physical properties make it ideal for use as armor plate. DU has been used in weapon systems for many years in both applications.
Depleted uranium results from the enriching of natural uranium for use in nuclear reactors. Natural uranium is a slightly radioactive metal that is present in most rocks and soils as well as in many rivers and sea water. Natural uranium consists primarily of a mixture of two isotopes (forms) of uranium, Uranium-235 (U235) and Uranium-238 (U238), in the proportion of about 0.7 and 99.3 percent, respectively. Nuclear reactors require U235 to produce energy, therefore, the natural uranium has to be enriched to obtain the isotope U235 by removing a large part of the U238. Uranium-238 becomes DU, which is 0.7 times as radioactive as natural uranium. [Other sources list it as 60-65 percent — Ed.] Since DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, there is very little decay of those DU materials.

In addition to the radioactivity, DU is chemically toxic, pyrophoric — meaning it burns fiercely on penetration — and usually spreads aerolisized particles over a large area on impact. The particulates can be carried on the wind up to 26 miles and enter the human body through ingestion, inhalation or through openings in the skin.
ktank.jpgThere has been no link proved between DU munitions and Gulf War Syndrome, which has affected about 100,000 veterans of that conflict, or the increased rate of childhood cancers in southern Iraq. The Pentagon has denied any danger from DU (well, apart from being used in bombs, of course.) Former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen once compared it to lead paint.
“Where it’s unsafe, it’s like leaded paint,” Cohen said. “Leaded paint does not pose a problem to you unless it starts to peel and then children or others ingest it.”
I’m a little slack-jawed at this comment. Lead paint was banned in U.S. homes in 1978 due to its extreme toxicity.
Overall, I’m personally dubious. While the Pentagon has played down the dangers of DU, this is also the agency that furiously denied for years that Gulf War Syndrome existed at all, regardless of the causes. And while DU in an unexploded munition might be relatively harmless, burned and aerosolized DU will be spread over a much larger area and could enter the soil and water table of the environment. How many studies have been done? Why are NATO allies nervous about exposing their troops to American munitions?
Perhaps DU really is as harmless as the DoD contends. But in a world in which the U.S. has _lost_ a PR battle with Saddam Hussein, is it really a wise move to use munitions that many believe increases the risk of childhood cancers? (Irony alert: The U.S. will open itself up to charges that it used a weapon against an enemy who may have used aflatoxins, which can cause liver cancer in children, against the Kurds of Halabja.) My point is not that there’s a moral equivalence between Saddam’s regime and the United States government — there’s not one, and I strongly disagree with people who make that argument — but that the United States shouldn’t be _looking_ for more reasons to have the world suspicious of its actions and/or motives.
I know that in any war soldiers should use the best weapons available to them; these weapons could end the war more quickly. But heavy use of DU weapons in a “shock and awe” campaign strikes me as yet one more reason to oppose Mr. Bush’s Splendid Little War.
*Correction:* Earlier, I referred to José María Aznar as the Spanish _prime minister_ but a Spanish reader has informed me he’s Spain’s _president_. The CIA World Factbook 2002 also refers to him as the president. Oops! (In my defense, however, almost every English-languag media I’ve seen refers to him as prime minister.)