[Citizens for Legitimate Government, a pro-democracy activist group established to expose the Bush Coup d'Etat and oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.]


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Iraq and September 11 -- by Dan Bednarz, Ph.D.


As best we know, none of those responsible for September 11 has been apprehended, and most of the Al Qaeda who were in Afghanistan remain at large as that country is at risk of reprising the nineteen eighties trauma of government controlled cities with the countryside the domain of drug-running warlords. Despite this unsettled situation our government wants to invade Iraq as the next step in the war on terror.


But what is the connection to September 11 that justifies a military attack?


Following the September strike, sundry experts insisted that Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, was behind them. This allegation has faltered, first, for want of solid proof (the perpetrators were not Iraqi nationals, or, as far as we know, connected to Hussein), and, second, because it became common knowledge that bin Laden and Hussein are unlikely allies, even against the "Great Satan." The "eliminate Saddam" lobby has shifted its emphasis from an inquiry with legal precedent: was he involved in September 11? to the
closed logic of Dr. Strangelove: let's get him before he gets us. Guilty or not guilty, it comes out the same: eliminate Hussein.


The distinctions quashed by such thinking merit an airing. The Al Qaeda threat emanates from stateless people who feel directly inspired by God and have a nearly thorough mythological experience of the social world. Their beliefs render them self-righteous and volatile; hence the "senseless" and horrific murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and September 11 itself. In short, Al Qaeda beatifies "sacrificial" death, especially when its "warriors" slaughter our civilians.


In contrast, Hussein controls a state, and his proclaimed motto, "If I survive in power, I win," hardly betrays the self-concept of a would-be hero waiting for his chance to attack other nations. What if he strikes surreptitiously by aiding terrorists such as Al Qaeda? To do so he would have to know that:
1) he could with absolute certainty conceal his involvement, or 2) the attack would be so devastating that no significant military
response could be mounted.
Both conditions are improbable. Hussein is --though brutal, cunning, vengeful, and loathsome-- a weak candidate for direct or indirect mass-terror because he values his corporeal existence.


The stark truth is that a military assault on Iraq will do nothing to bring to justice, or protect us from further attacks by, those responsible for September 11. While the military is fully capable of purging Hussein, it is ill suited to eliminating terrorists like Al Qaeda, and doing the former to achieve the latter exemplifies "magical thinking."


So why attack Iraq now? Some say "oil," the arrogance of unilateralism, or opportunism by gung-ho militarists seeking redemption for George Bush, Sr.'s abandonment of those he encouraged to rebel against Hussein during the Gulf War. These are at best ideologically tinged and incomplete answers.

The wish to "take out Saddam" is, I speculate, a combination of revenge (which often is not directed at the perpetrator) and the ancient belief that "righteous" violence can purify the world, once and for all vanquishing evil-personified these days by Saddam, who sits in Baghdad taunting us, and bin Laden, whose whereabouts are unknown, as if he were in the netherworld waiting to strike.

In sum, Hussein is a convenient sinkhole of the collective anxieties created by September 11; he is a tangible, geographically fixed, destroyable target. In contrast, Al Qaeda -who, it seems, actually committed September 11-- poses an amorphous, dangerous threat.

In this respect, the "Axis of Evil," which goofily conflates the interests of communist North Korea, theocratic Iran and totalitarian Iraq, reveals our leaders' psychological turmoil and their failure to grasp political realties.


Indeed, it is as if Iran and Iraq never fought a carnage-filled war in the eighties that ended when they ran low on teenagers to dispatch to the battlefront. (Indicatively, this "Axis" is as geographically off center as it is conceptually.)


Politically, a preemptive military attack mocks democracy and our claims about the moral superiority of Western civilization (to be civilized means to forswear certain acts -even in war-- as barbarous). Specifically, a military offensive based on supposition, not acts of war, corrupts the rule of law, the fundamental embodiment and symbol of what distinguishes a terrorist from a democratic mentality; it also betrays a colossal callousness for life - regardless of the guarantees of "light" casualties and the "limited" and "strategic" use of nuclear weapons.


There is hope, however, that rough wisdom will prevail over recklessness. Almost all our allies refuse to be bought off or cajoled --they oppose invading Iraq unequivocally. Here at home, recent polls indicate that Americans may be queasy about Bush II's expansion of this war on terror.


If this uneasiness proves accurate, we will have invigorated democracy, the only long-term solution to terrorism.


Dan Bednarz, Ph.D.
March 26, 2002


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