Monday 31 March 2003

How the world got bushwhacked

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear ­ kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour ­ with the cry of grave national emergency. Always, there has been some terrible evil at home, or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it."

No, these are not the words of an Iraqi defector lashing out at the Saddam Hussein regime nor from someone making a case for political asylum.

Far from it. These words were actually uttered in 1957 by no less an authority than the celebrated American, General Douglas MacArthur, in describing the policies of the United States Government in the post-World War II era.

And MacArthur should have known. Not only was he the commander of Allied troops in the Pacific during World War II, but he also supervised the postwar occupation of Japan and led United Nations forces during the Korean War.

But, has anything changed? The General could easily have been describing the U.S. Government of today.

Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. has been trying to convince the world community since last year that Iraq poses a major threat to world peace and has to be disarmed by the use of military force.

No matter that there was hardly anything by way of evidence to support the claim, the Bush administration was adamant that Iraq possessed what it described as weapons of mass destruction and was a part of "an axis of evil."

The military strikes at Iraq started last Wednesday but the planning has been a long time in the making...yes, even before any resolution was brought before the United Nations Security Council. President Bush, in his State of the Union address last year, couldn't have been any clearer:

"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility towards America and to support terror... The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."

What President Bush did that night was to create the link between Iraq and terrorist groups, even as the American public was still traumatised by the events of September 11, 2001.

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