Tuesday, September 10, 2002

JP "Cassandra"

My 'Cassandra' letter to The Independent, 10 Sept. 2002:-
The Independent (London),Sep 10, 2002    Letter from John Pedler

Sir: Isn't a USattack on Iraqjust what Osama bin Laden's flagging plan requires? After 11 September it waswidely suspected that al-Qa'ida's plan was to provoke a massive ill-directed, unilateral,anti-Muslim retaliation from the United States.This would release extremist Islamic forces, destabilising the already precariousMiddle East and compromising the West's oil supply. Thatin turn would create economic and political havoc in the developed world. Whenthe dust eventually settled a new extremist Islam would face a debilitated West.

With political skill and military luck the Bushadministration avoided such a scenario with a measured, internationallyaccepted response in Afghanistan.Now though, the President is squandering the world's good will in a series ofunilateral actions. He declines to ensure stability in Afghanistan,and refuses his vital support in settling the Israel/Palestine problem on thelines now acceptable to all interested nations.

In these circumstances a war in Iraq,followed by some questionable nation-building, makes 11 September look like agamble al-Qa'ida might yet win.

Volosko, Croatia

[Six months before the invasion was launched in March 2003we had identified (thanks to the work of experts with a variety of expertise) andpassed on to correspondents on 4 September 2002 - see below - some 10 major (and mostly quite evident) reasons to opposean invasion of Iraq. See our paper of 8 Nov 2003, and others on this site, which expand on our initialassessment. The latest is of 3 August 2008- "A Blunder that Vote for "Iraq".]

Here is our 4 September 2002 analysis prepared in consultation with one of AlGore's former National Security Advisers:-

Ten reasons why Iraqmust not be invaded without UN approval:

Collecting the views of experts in the various fields whoare not involved in supporting the present U.S.administration or the U.K.government, we find the following principal objections to an invasion of Iraqwithout Security Council approval (which is unlikely to be obtainable):-

i) Afghanistan:it could well undermine success in Afghanistan.It would be folly to start a second, elective, war before Afghanistanhas been secured, a new government has won general support, warlords are tamed,and reconstruction is safely underway. Aghanistan would lose its top priorityto Iraq bothfor manpower, finance, and other resources - e.g. expertise on Islam andterrorism. Without prompt definitive success in stabilising Afghanistan,al Qaeda and the Taliban could once again return to use it.

ii) Worldwide backing: it risks losing the quite remarkableworldwide support, both political and financial, which President G W Bush hasenjoyed for the occupation of Afghanistansince Al Qaeda's  "9/11" attackson the US..Thissupport is essential to uprooting al Qaeda style international terrorism.

iii) Culture clash: the invasion of a second Muslim countrymust surely further Al Qaeda's major aim with its "9/11" attacks ofprovoking the profound clash of cultures it needs if it is to win wide Muslimsupport. Such a clash must be avoided if Al Qaeda is to be isolated within theMuslim world.  

iv) Al Qaeda's home turf: Saddam Hussein has kept Al Qaedaout of Iraq. WithSaddam gone it would surely strive to get in and cause mayhem. Once in Iraq AlQaeda would be back on its Arabic Middle Eastern homeground only one frontieraway from Saudi Arabia,its prime target for destabilisation.

v) Splitting allies: without UN approval, an invasion wouldall but certainly split NATO, Europe and the largelyunited Western presence in the UN. This would not only affect the outcome ofthe occupation in Afghanistan,but the standing and influence of the West in the Middle East and indeed, throughoutthe world.  

vi) No nuclear threat: it would be folly to invade Iraq (whichvirtually all experts agree has no nuclear weapons) in order to prevent nuclearproliferation, instead of focussing, with the riparian states, onreversing  the nuclear programme of NorthKorea which is well on the way to possessing a nuclear bomb.

vii) Iraq is fissiparous: If Saddam Hussein is removedSunnis (now dominant), majority Shi'as (repressed), Kurds (who would preferindependence) and other disgruntled groups, would all seek to protect andforward their interests risking grave civil disturbance, even iternecine strife- should any invasion not be accompanied by a carefully prepared transfer ofpower and swift departure. But it appears that the UK(whose participation the U.S.seeks) is still far from satisfied that post-invasion policy has beenmeticulously and wisely planned.

viii) American hegemony: such an invasion would be seen bymany (notably Russia and China) as an American attempt to dominate the MiddleEast and thus secure US world hegemony in the 21st century. (The "neo-conservativemovement" calls itself The Project for A New American Century. Vice-PresidentCheney and several other "neo-conservatives" are in key positions inthe G W Bush administration). Such a U.S.move for world dominance would be counter-productive. It is not the way for theUS  - the remaining superpower - to lead theworld towards the international cooperation so essential in the post-Cold Warera.       

ix) Iran,the Arabs & Israel: putting American forces to the west as well as to theeast of Iranmust lead to conflict with Iranfor influence in Iraqand strain - or end - the nascent cooperation between the US& Iran withthe overthrow of the Taliban, the common enemy. Saddam's Sunni secular Iraq(backed by the West) waged war on Iranfor 8 years with tremendous World War I style losses. Iranwill be be out to exercise all possible influence over any new regime in Iraq,and Shias in the Sunni states. This would cause tension between Shiarevolutionary Iranand Iraq's Sunnineighbours as well as with the U.S.There is a grave risk of destabilising the entire Middle East- which would gravely undermine Israel'ssecurity - and of course the Christian minorities in the Middle East.

x) Climate change, etc: The international disruption to beexpected from such an invasion of Iraqwould distract world attention from the existential threats that humanity nowfaces, including Human Rights - all of which require world cooperation. 

Conclusion: These ten objections alone make an "unapproved"invasion far too high risk to be acceptable. This could change if a) continuedworld support - military and financial - demonstrates that the reconstructionand stabilisation of Afghanistanis on the way to irreversible success, and if b) the main recruiting source foral Qaeda - worldwide Muslim bitterness at Palestinian woes - is removed by anIsrael/Palestine agreement which should now be the top priority for the Middle East. "9/11" plus the successful occupation of Afghanistanwith such worldwide backing makes an Israeli/Palestine settlement far morepossible than it has ever been before....

All these ten reasons for not now invading Iraq are clearly validand there for all to see. It is deeply disturbing that our leaders so farappear either blind to them, or are determined on an Iraq invasion regardlessof the unacceptable risk.