|Filed October 15, 2002 By Jeremy Scahill
|BAGHDAD▄Don Corleone once ordered
his emissary to make someone an offer he couldn't refuse. Later this
week George W Bush is going to push ahead with a UN Security Council
resolution Saddam Hussein couldn't possibly accept. And what's becoming
abundantly clear is that that's precisely the point.
What's unfolding now is so cliché that it shouldn't even be necessary
to spell it out. At the end of the day, Saddam Hussein is going to
reject peace. He will reject diplomacy. He will invite upon "his own
people" a massive US attack and possible ground invasion. He will
once again spit in the face of the "international community" that
Bush has recently discovered (you know the insignificant folks that
make up that soon to be debating society).
From his prison cell at the Hague, former Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic must be feeling Saddam's pain. He knows what it's like to
reject America's peace pipe. When Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright
and company decided it was time to attack Yugoslavia in 1999, they
gave Milosevic one last chance. At the talks at Rambouilet prior to
the 78-day bombing, Yugoslavia was presented with a document that
read like an occupation agreement. It said that NATO troops could
deploy in Serbia and, along with their planes and vessels, would enjoy
"free and unrestricted access throughout all of the Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia," and not just Kosovo. It said that NATO troops would
be immune from prosecution for crimes committed during their presence
in the country.
But back then, when it came time for "good reporters" to do their
duty, they told it like it was: Milosevic had rejected peace.
Fast forward to this week. Iraq is facing the possibility of a US-forced
security council resolution that says that if weapons inspectors return,
the "teams shall be accompanied at their bases by sufficient UN security
forces to protect them, shall have the right to declare for the purpose
of this resolution no-fly/no-drive zones, exclusion zones, and/or
ground and air transit corridors, (which shall be enforced by UN security
forces or by member states;) shall have the free and unrestricted
use and landing of fixed and rotary winged aircraft, including unmanned
Recent reports in the press have indicated that the Bush administration
is developing plans to impose a military governor on Iraq. This resolution
would certainly hurl the country in that direction. General Tommy
Franks is probably trying on the UN fatigues as you read this.
The resolution then "Decides further that Iraq shall immediately cease,
and shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative
or personnel of the United Nations÷"
From reading this, one would think that peacekeepers are being gunned
down in Iraq, taken for ransom▄that UN buildings are being stormed
by the natives and firebombed. But in the 11 years since the Gulf
War ended, Bush▄or for that matter anyone▄would be hard-pressed to
name an incident in which any UN personnel came under attack from
the Iraqis, including the time in 1998 when Baghdad uncovered that
the US had infiltrated the weapons inspections regime with CIA spies.
These days most UN officials here, while deriding the infamous Iraqi
bureaucracy, speak of deep collaboration with the government in attempting
to deal with the devastating impact of the US-led sanctions.
Of course, no resolution put forth by the Bush administration would
be complete if it didn't include that well-known bedrock of international
law▄using UN resolutions to conduct espionage. The remarkable thing
about this resolution is that Washington is actually spelling it out
in the draft: "÷any permanent member of the Security Council [i.e.
America, i.e. the Pentagon, i.e. the CIA] may request to be represented
on any inspection team with the same rights and protections accorded
other members of the team, shall have unrestricted, and immediate
movement to and from inspection sites, and the right to inspect any
sites and buildings, including unrestricted access to presidential
And then there is the issue of interviewing any Iraqi the US, pardon
me, the UN sees fit. A shrewd Iraqi friend, who was educated in the
US and trained as an engineer often says: "I could have a great life
abroad. All I would have to do is 'escape' to Europe and claim to
be a former technician on Iraq's covert weapons program." Parts of
the US draft resolution read like a premeditated kidnap doctrine.
It mandates "immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted and private access
to all officials and other persons," saying that the inspectors may
"at their discretion conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq,
facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside
of Iraq÷" It doesn't mention in the draft resolution whether those
individuals or their families would have any choice in the matter.
Call it forced defection.
The inner circle in Iraq seems to be resolved to the idea that a massive
attack is a fait accompli and that this resolution could well be the
highly choreographed trigger. This resolution will ultimately constitute
a sprawling text of fine print that most journalists won't bother
to read and most newspapers won't bother to print. What matters is
that it will be Saddam who has rejected peace. Bush and his cronies
need not worry about any uproar from the media on this one. They know
very well that you don't need to read the manual of a product you
know quite well how to use.
Scahill is an independent journalist, who reports for the nationally
syndicated Radio and TV show Democracy Now! He is currently based
in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and filmmaker Jacquie
Soohen are coordinating Iraqjournal.org,
the only website providing regular independent reporting from the
ground in Baghdad.
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