Mr. Wright's main text




1. One of the most disgusting allegations of the war party has been its insistence that the starvation of the Iraqis was their own fault, or at least Saddam's. The horrifying Madeleine Albright, Clinton's supremely belligerent foreign minister, said in public that she thought the death of a half million or more Iraqi children was "worth it," but most war-party members of all stripes felt they had to excuse the blockade by saying that it was Saddam's fault, because he was hiding WMD from inspectors. Such an excuse is both infantile and morally grotesque — putting us in mind of the schoolyard bully who hits a smaller kid and says, "See what he made me do?"

According to the warmongers, all Saddam had to do was give in to U.S. demands to reveal and destroy the WMD, and the blockade would end. However, when Saddam later offered to allow inspectors back into the country (they had withdrawn in 1998 in anticipation of the U.S. bombing campaign) and to give them free rein, Washington changed its tune and said that even complete access to everything wouldn't be enough to end the sanctions. Saddam was a Bad Man, and so his people must be punished for the crime of being ruled by him.

After being mostly a non-issue for 12 years, the brutality inflicted on the Iraqis by the blockade has finally begun to gain some attention. And with the attention has come a new twist on the "it's Saddam's fault" song and dance. Saddam was rich, say the war apologists, and he used his money to build all those trashy-looking palaces with gold-plated bathroom fixtures. If only he had used his riches to help the Iraqi people, they wouldn't have suffered so much. Like all good lies, this one has an element of truth. But it ignores the fact that it wasn't a lack of cash that prevented items such as chlorine for water treatment plants, medical supplies and equipment, nutritional supplements, replacement parts for electrical generation facilities, and other necessities from getting into the country. It was the blockade, which the United State could have ended at any time if it chose. Or was Saddam expected to manufacture all those things from oil and sand?

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2. Or maybe not so weird. It turns out that the British sold the Iraqis an artillery observation balloon system in the late 1980s. The CIA propaganda piece on the trailers, "Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants" (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/iraqi_mobile_plants/index.html) admits that they could be used for hydrogen production, but says that they wouldn't be very efficient, and that "compact, transportable hydrogen generation systems are commercially available, safe, and reliable." That's true, they are — but not if you're Iraq. The CIA document conveniently overlooks the blockade, whose alleged purpose was to prevent the importation of anything that might be used for military purposes. Because of it, the only way the Iraqis could obtain production facilities to supply gas for their balloons was to build their own.

   Editor's note: The above link to the CIA document sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

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3. The Office of Special Plans is a Pentagon entity that was set up by Paul Wolfowitz to serve as an alternative intelligence source, bypassing the CIA. The problem was that all intelligence information received by the President was funneled through the Director of Central Intelligence. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were convinced that the spooks were a bunch of wimps, afraid to draw the necessary conclusions from the evidence at hand. Special Plans, whose name was obviously chosen as a smoke screen, provided an alternative source of interpretation of the available intelligence, producing ammunition for Rumsfeld's push for war.

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4. Okay, I must admit that calling NPR National Bolshevik Radio sounds a bit outdated now. But up until a few years ago, NPR seemed to be the haven of a cadre of ancient Bolshies, still working valiantly to tell the glorious saga of the Workers and Peasants and lovable old female Comrades who all seemed to be nicknamed "Mother." Its programming was larded with stories about coal miners, Joe Hill, the Centralia, Washington, massacre of the Wobblies, Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, the Blacklist, the Weavers, the UAW sit-down strikes, Lillian Hellman, and on and on — all the issues and personalities dear to the hearts of the 1930s-through-'50s Commies. It seemed as though one couldn't get through a week, or as much as a single burger on Labor Day, without being treated to Pete Seeger thrashing on his banjo and singing "Solidarity Forever" or "The Rueben James" or some other shopworn old-lefty favorite.

Now, apparently, all the oldsters have died out or retired, and NPR's politics seem much more in tune with the conventional left-lib establishment. However — and this is important — it does occasionally run stories far more critical of the Israeli terrorist state and U.S. depredations in the Middle East than you are likely to hear or see anywhere else in the major media, except perhaps the far-left Pacifica Radio, which hardly counts.

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