Precise Predictions

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 1:17 PM

It is not like Bush Jr. and his crowd were not warned. They were, in the clearest of terms. Here below is an important article from Middle East expert and Council of Foreign Relations fellow, Y. M. Ibrahim, published in November 2002. We all know now what Ibrahim knew then.

There was a handful of other whistle-blowers. They too were ignored and ridiculed. Major Scott Ritter and the wise old man of the Senate, Robert Byrd of West Virginia come to mind. At the Pentagon, the warnings of top Army commanders were likewise not taken seriously. Bush and his "neoconservative" blockheads, backed up by civilian Likud operatives running the Defense Department and assisted by a full court press of the Israeli Lobby in Congress--all of these characters got the job done. You see the results.

Please consider this: when presumably very smart people go out of their way to perform apparently stupid and unnecessary acts, the question which begs to be answered is why. There are two possibilities.  Either (a) they are not smart after all or (b) they are smart, and the entire operation is a cover for or a diversion from something else.
Bush's Iraq adventure is bound to backfire
Youssef M. Ibrahim, International Herald Tribune

Friday, November 1, 2002

Marching into a trap...
NEW YORK || Let us not be fooled: The upcoming war against Iraq has nothing to do with the war against terror. President George W. Bush's war is fueled by two things: bolstering the president's popularity as he attempts to ride on the natural wave of American patriotism unleashed by the criminal attacks of Sept. 11; and a misguided temptation to get more oil out of the Middle East by turning a ''friendly" Iraq into a private American oil pumping station.

Both will backfire and may indeed cost this president and his warmongering cabinet their sought-after second term. To begin with, the emperor is naked because the real war on terror is far from finished. If anything it is falling apart. In Afghanistan, where it all started, things are so bad that the puppet president the United States installed, Hamid Karzai, is now guarded by U.S. special forces because he cannot trust his life to his own people.

Al Qaeda, according to the CIA and the Pentagon, is reconstituting itself. In fact every Middle East and Muslim affairs expert is saying that Al Qaeda's ranks will be fattened by new recruits right now and will have more of them when the United States attacks Iraq. Those joining are no longer Muslim religious fanatics. They now include secularist young men and women angry at the impact of U.S. policies on the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.

In other words, a new Al Qaeda, far more dangerous than the existing one, is in the making. Witness the attack on the tourist resort of Bali, on U.S. Marines in Kuwait and on a French oil tanker off Yemen. In Afghanistan the United States' main enemies, Osama bin Laden's cadre of leadership, has disappeared, while his shock troops, the Taliban, are there in their homes and villages sitting on their weapons, patiently waiting for the right moment to go back into action when America gets busy attacking Iraq.

Thus far, all the arguments presented for sending American boys and girls into one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods are half-truths, spurious assumptions and utter nonsense. Washington simply cannot prove the case that Iraq is tied to Al Qaeda. Saddam Hussein has neither nuclear weapons nor the means to deliver them on missiles or in suitcases to America. His immediate neighbors, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, feel he is better contained than aroused. Indeed they have all publicly and privately told the administration that attacking Iraq would open a Pandora's box.

If this is how they feel, why is America afraid of Saddam? For my money, North Korea is a far clearer and more present danger. It has just announced it does have missiles and nukes and that it will expand its arsenal further. So why isn't the United States going to war against North Korea? The fact that Saddam Hussein tortures, jails and oppresses his people, which Bush keeps repeating in every speech, has been going on for 30 years without disturbing Americans. Many countries, including the Russians in Chechnya , the Chinese in Tibet and elsewhere, and scores of American friends and allies including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, to mention just a few, repress their people's freedom.

When Saddam took on Iran in 1980 the United States joined in attacking the Iranian navy and destroyed Iranian off-shore oil platforms, crippling Iran's economy and making sure he survived the war he started. In 1991, the first President Bush saved Saddam again when the uprising against him turned into an uncontrolled civil war. So all the talk about spreading democracy and changing the whole Middle East, starting with Iraq, does not hold water. The United States, obsessed with oil and something called "regime change," wants to create a totally pro-American Middle East. The problem is that it will not work. You don't impose democracy by installing an occupying power in a region that has no tradition for it.

What's more ominous is not the 100,000 people who demonstrated in Washington against the war the other day, nor the fact that the United States will go ahead with or without allies, with or without a UN seal of approval. Rather it is that the suits in the Pentagon are ignoring a significant number of senior military commanders, serving and retired, who have warned the president that U.S. forces are marching into a deadly trap with no exit strategy. Most commanders of the previous Gulf War and many inside the army now are saying that Washington is about to place American men and women in one of the world's most anti-American regions. Why? Things are very different from 1990, when the United States had a vast Arab and international coalition with it and much of the Arab and Muslim world looked to America with love and admiration.

Iraq's 22 million people would welcome the death of Saddam Hussein, his family and his Ba'ath Party troops, but it does not follow that they will welcome Americans with open arms. Eleven years of American-inspired economic sanctions have embittered Iraqis. Their standard of living has collapsed, while Saddam and his clique of 100,000 have lived very well indeed. Yet America hangs on to those sanctions. When Iraqis finish settling their very bloody internal account with Saddam's folks, they will turn against America's troops and against one another. Next door, for 11 years Iran has been training 40,000 Shiite Iraqi fighters for just this moment, when American troops are about to become sitting ducks.

Remember Hezbollah and Beirut? The United States lost 240 Marines there. This year the president declared Iran part of the "axis of evil." The Iranians are waiting to settle some scores with us-this time on their own ground. Finally, it is almost a certainty that a U.S. attack will trigger a wider regional war that will drag in Israel, Lebanon and Syria. Hezbollah in Lebanon, another Iranian creature, will start this one, or Israel, America's best friend and ally in the region, will do it if attacked by Iraq.

It is a disgrace that Congress has failed in its duty to debate properly the Tonkin-like resolution that Bush has been given. Americans' elected representatives will have to explain themselves when the body bags begin to come back. U.S. forces, caught in a bloody civil war in Iraq, will become the target of attacks by Iranian and Iraqi guerrillas. For any president, 60 percent popularity ratings are not worth paying such a price: This president is wrapping himself in the American flag for the wrong reason.

The war on terror so far is a failure. This administration has confiscated the civil rights of millions of people in America, encouraged Americans to spy on one another, alienated America's Arab and Muslim friends and let Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda's top lieutenants slip through its fingers. I hope wisdom prevails before the United States jumps into the Iraqi inferno.

The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, covered the Middle East for 30 years for The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He contributed this comment to the International Herald Tribune.