Calcium and bribes, US ready for war
NEW YORK- Ralph Nader, a former presidential aspirant and
one of America's foremost consumer advocates, once remarked that
the real "weapons of mass destruction" are double cheeseburgers
served in fast food restaurants which are primarily responsible
for the growing obesity among Americans.
a far cry from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons which the
US is relentlessly pursuing in Iraq- but not in India, Pakistan
Last week a
full-page ad in the New York Times, replete with hundreds of signatures,
proclaimed in bold headlines that the impending US war with Iraq
was President George W. Bush's "Weapon of Mass Distraction."
The ad said
that the Bush administration is pushing for a new conflict in the
Middle East because it will "take our minds off our failing
economy, our broken education system, the environmental meltdown,
the healthcare emergency, the raids on social security, the corporate
scandals and the new $157 billion budget deficit."
said: "We the people of the United States, are not willing
to send our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and
wives, to die for politics or oil."
The war is inspired essentially by a domestic agenda for an upcoming
election. And both politics and oil are right on top of that agenda.
So far, the US and Britain appear to be the only two countries determined
to wage a war that could result in the deaths of hundreds and thousands
of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers.
has estimated that in a ground war involving about 250,000 US soldiers,
there is a probability of about 10 percent casualties on the American
If US forces
enter Baghdad, the civilian casualties on the Iraqi side could be
By all reckoning,
it is a heavy price to pay for the elimination of a single obdurate
head of state who continues to defy the US while sitting on top
of the world's second largest reserves of oil: a commodity the Americans
are willing to die for.
At the United
Nations, the remaining three veto-wielding permanent members of
the Security Council - France, China and Russia - are standing tough.
A visibly annoyed Bush lashed out at the world body last week when
he said that the United Nations lacks backbone - because it is not
willing to play the game by his rule book.
will work with members of the Security Council to put a little calcium
in the backbone, so this organisation is able to more likely to
keep the peace as we go on down the road," he added.
closed doors, the horse-trading has begun as Americans exert pressure
on Council members. The Russians are seeking guarantees of profitable
commercial deals if Iraq falls into the hands of the US or in the
alternative they want American silence over Russian atrocities in
are willing to abstain if the Americans will keep their traps shut
on human rights violations and suppression of a Muslim uprising
in China. France wants to ensure that a newly-democratic Iraq under
a US command - Afghanistan-style - will help the French get back
their onetime prolific arms market in Baghdad.
As it seeks
the blessings of the "international community," the US
is desperately in need of a Security Council resolution.
To get this,
the US needs nine positive votes in the 15-member Council - and
no vetoes. Besides the five veto-wielding members, the Council also
has 10 non-permanent members with no vetoes.
Of the 10 non-permanent
members, the US is expected to receive support from Norway, Bulgaria,
Singapore, Colombia and Ireland. The other five non-permanent members,
namely Mexico, Mauritius, Cameroon, Guinea and Syria, are being
heavily lobbied by the US, mostly in their respective capitals.
Fellow of the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies, says
the US effort to win support in the Security Council is already
leading to the kind of over-the-top bribes and threats that characterised
the run-up in 1990 to the passage of resolution 678 authorising
war against Iraq.
At that time,
she said, every impoverished country on the Security Council, including
the former Zaire, Ethiopia and Colombia, were offered free or extra-cheap
oil, courtesy of Saudi Arabia and the exiled Kuwaiti royals, orchestrated
by the United States.
Colombia were also offered new arms packages, after years of being
denied military aid, because of war and human rights violations.
The only two
countries that voted against the 1990 resolution authorising a war
against Iraq were Cuba and Yemen. But minutes after Yemen said "no'',
the US ambassador turned to the Yemeni diplomat in the Security
Council chamber, and said: ''That will be the most expensive vote
you would ever cast.'' Three days later, said Bennis, the US slashed
its $70 million aid budget to Yemen.