the Blitzkrieg Begin?
By Michael I. Niman ArtVoice 2/3/03
growing more probable by the day, many people are starting to visualize the
unimaginable – the most sophisticated killing machine that history has ever
known unleashed upon a crowded urban area. According
to Pentagon plans reported by CBS, day one will look something like this:
Three to four hundred cruise missiles, an amount equal to all those used
in the entire 1991 Gulf War, will be launched against
as an opening salvo. On day two,
will launch another volley of three to four hundred missiles, all aimed at
“Shock & Awe”
will not be a safe place in
… The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated
military official boasted to CBS News as he described what the Pentagon has
termed the “Shock and Awe” plan. Under
Shock and Awe, the fireworks show opens up with the Grand Finale.
According to Harlan Ullman, who helped to develop the plan, the
devastation will be instantaneous, creating chaos and destruction, “rather
like the nuclear weapons at
, not taking days or weeks but in minutes."
Pentagon’s ultimate plan is to shock and terrorize the Iraqis into quick
submission before the first American soldier even enters
. Ullman explains, “You get rid of
their power, water. In two, three, four, five days they are physically,
emotionally and psychologically exhausted…”
This Blitzkrieg plan, however, is not new, being as old as war itself.
Invading armies have always used any means at their disposal to terrorize
targeted peoples. That’s the
nature of an invasion. The only new twist is that technology now allows mass
mayhem and destruction to be administered safely from afar, like a cowardly
sniper’s bullet targeted upon an unsuspecting victim standing in a gas station
or mall parking lot.
strategy is called terrorism – terrorizing a civilian population by exposing
them to vulnerability, loss, and ultimately, to death.
It’s what the terrorists did to us on September 11th and it
should have no place in the 21st Century.
No doubt xenophobes will give me grief for comparing
, but the comparison is imperative.
after the first Gulf War began, I picked up a 1985 (January) copy of National
Geographic for a quarter in a used book store.
What caught my eye was a teaser on the cover, “The New Face of
Baghdad.” In true Orwellian style,
propaganda changes with the times. In
1991, the Iraqis were demons, with myths about them eating zoo animals and
tossing premature babies from their incubators being spread far and wide by the
commercial media. In 1985, however,
they were our friends, as the Reagan/Bush Administration armed Saddam
Hussein’s government with chemical and biological weapons for use against
. If the National
Geographic can be counted on to do one thing, that’s tow the official line
– and no doubt the 1985 issue would show a modern secular
that had all but disappeared from our 1991 media.
it did. The article, written by
William Ellis, shows a modern and prosperous city of new hotels, housing
developments and shopping malls such as the Thulatha Market, where 30,000
shoppers each day engaged in the American passion of conspicuous consumption.
It wasn’t just the architecture that was “normal” by American
standards. It was the culture as
well. Conspicuously absent from the article was any mention of Saddam
Hussein’s vicious use of American-supplied chemical weapons against
’s own ethnic minorities. Instead,
we were treated with passages that supported cultural kinship between Americans
and Hussein’s government, as it waged a secularist battle against the
demonized fundamentalist Iranians. Ellis
They attend universities and hold some of the highest offices in the
land. There are women engineers
here, and woman pilots, doctors, architects, and lawyers.
Overall, nationally, women now account for 25 percent of the work force.
It is official doctrine of the Baath Party that women have full equality
with men. On the other side is
, where it is reported, lipstick is
removed from women by a swipe of cotton in which a razor blade is embedded.”
contrast to evil
, Ellis described Saddam Hussein’s
as containing new neighborhoods rising up around the ancient city, such as
with its “schools, clinics, parks, and entertainments centers, “built by
“contractors from many nations.” He
described superhighways so modern that, “Indeed, a motorist here might imagine
…” Ellis made much of the
fact that unlike “other large cities of the
,” bus passengers “ride inside the buses,” where were British built
style double deckers. Soon, he
promised, they’d be whisked along in a new modern subway system.
For me, these signs of normalcy past now provide a vibrant image of
horror – of a modern city bombed, in 1991, into what the
media has termed, “the stone age.” Most
upsetting was this caption, placed next to a photo of a woman engineer holding
blueprints and wearing a short sleeve shirt and a hard hat, giving direction to
a construction foreman. It read:
York on the Tigris,
and its building boom have attracted
top-rate architects from
, who have reshaped the skyline.
New construction includes the Haifa Street housing project, a community
of nearly 2,000 high-rise units; the 312 room Sheraton Hotel, one of five luxury
hotels built in the past five years; and housing project Number 10, one of
several new developments that will provide low-rent living space.”
is quick to point out that while
seems like an American city, it is set apart primarily by its rich archeology
stemming from its 1,200 year history as a major center of trade.
“There are other
reminders – subtle to be sure – that this is, after all,
is not unusual for workers to uncover ancient and valuable artifacts while
excavating for one of the many new buildings…”
these images still fresh in mind, think again about 800 cruise missiles,
collectively forming possibly the most powerful weapon of mass destruction ever
used in warfare, raining down upon this urban area, upon these human beings.
consider this tidbit from the L.A. Times, running under the headline, “U.S.
Weighs Tactical Nuclear Strike on
.” The article cites military
sources and their plans to use “tactical” nuclear weapons either as possible
retaliation for a biological or chemical attack, “or to preempt
one.” The article talks about
the potential use of nuclear weapons to attack command bunkers, such as those
. Now as you imagine the images of
nuclear weapons exploding in or near
, think about George W. Bush describing the upcoming war as a war of liberation
for the Iraqi people.
the images of 800 Cruise missiles or maybe a nuke or two haven’t horrified
you, think about how those images will be perceived in our increasingly
interconnected global community. Think
about how the Muslims will perceive the image of a massive state-sponsored
terror attack against what was the Islamic world’s richest city.
Then think about how Americans will be perceived around the world and
what our role in this new world would be? And
think about how these images will affect the disaffected, the hopeless, the next
generation of suicidal terrorists. Or
maybe just think. Historically such horror has never gone unpunished.
while you are thinking about how
will be perceived in the world, consider this recent report from The
. They report that the
recently doubled its purchases of Iraqi oil, legal under the U.N. weapons for
food program, in an attempt to contend with
’s worst shortage in oil stocks for 27 years.
The oil shortage, brought on by
’s oil strike, is all but invisible to a
awash in S.U.V. advertising. The irony of the U.S. buying Iraqi oil to stave
off an energy crisis at the same time it is preparing to lob 300-400 Cruise
missiles per day at Baghdad didn’t escape The
Observer, who termed the trade “bizarre.”
bizarre trade, however, shows
dependency on cheap and easily extractable Iraqi oil and foreshadows what many
people around the world see as a
’s oil fields. Current Pentagon
war plans outlined in the American press call for the U.S, military to seize
Iraqi oil fields early on in the war. Bush
Administration Under Secretary of Commerce, Grant Aldona, cited in the British
press, could hardly contain his jubilation, explaining how the upcoming war
“would open up this spigot on Iraqi oil which would have a profound effect in
terms of the performance of the world economy for those countries that are
manufacturers and oil consumers.”
President Dick Cheney recently hosted meetings with representatives of
ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips and the company he formally led before
being elected to the Vice Presidency, Halliburton.
The topic of discussion was post-war oil concessions in a
. Richard Lugar, chair of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, has already threatened nations such as
, who oppose the Bush Administration’s war, with being cut out of post-war
Iraqi oil contracts. Those nations
who support the war, by contrast, will share in the booty.
The global business community is already making book on the war.
The Observer cites a recently
leaked Deutsche Bank analyst report that puts ExxonMobil, the 11th
largest campaign contributor to the Republican Party, in a “pole position in a
CEO of Halliburton, Dick Cheney urged then President Bill Clinton in 1998 to
launch an invasion of
. He was joined in his letter by now
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his assistant Paul Wolfowitz, former CIA
Director James Woolsey and a host of Republicans such as Elliot Abrams and
William Bennett. Their invasion,
part of a grand Pax Americana scheme they call “The Project for a New American
Century,” was dismissed in the 1990s as a radical call for empire by political
extremists. Today they are running
the government and their crazy plan for world domination is moving into gear.
The Sober Hawks
being opposed not just by the predictable clergy and movement for social
responsibility, but by some of their more sober former comrades such as General
Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of the first Gulf War, who wants to let the
inspectors have more time before jumping into war.
He told The Washington Post,
"Candidly, I have gotten somewhat nervous at some of the pronouncements
Rumsfeld has made," he explained, adding, "He almost sometimes seems
to be enjoying it." General
Brent Scowcroft, the former National Security Advisor, told the BBC and London
Times that the upcoming war might unleash "an Armageddon in the
." U.S. Middle East Envoy
General Anthony Zinni recently rebuffed pro-war forces who predicted that a U.S.
Iraq war would lead to a more stable planet, telling the B.B.C., “I don’t
know what planet they’re on.” Zinni
thinks Hussein would draw
into the war. What would happen
next is anyone’s guess, or nightmare.
the C.I.A., in their October threat letter, warned that "Should Saddam
conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would
become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions." Former
Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Richard Butler argued, "The spectacle of the
United States, armed with its weapons of mass destruction, acting without
Security Council authority to invade a country in the heartland of Arabia and,
if necessary, use its weapons of mass destruction to win that battle, is
something that will so deeply violate any notion of fairness in this world that
I strongly suspect it could set loose forces that we would deeply live to
is clear evidence that while ExxonMobil and the American oil and automobile
industries might want a war, much of the American business class has joined the
more traditional peaceniks in opposing such immoral insanity.
In a full page advertisement in the January 14th edition of The
Wall Street Journal, a group of Republican business leaders wrote:
be clear: We supported the Gulf War. We supported our intervention in
. We accept the logic of a just war. But
Mr. President, your war on
does not pass the test. It is not a just war. The candidate we
supported in 2000 promised a more humble nation in our dealings with the world.
We gave him our votes and our campaign contributions. That candidate was you. We
feel betrayed. We want our money back. We want our country back.”
few months ago I went to hear another prominent Republican speak out against the
war. That was former U.S. Marine,
intelligence operative, and U.N. Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter.
He began his talk by talking about the mechanics of killing, giving a
detailed description of how a bullet or a piece of shrapnel rips a human apart.
He talked about the
military as being the most powerful
killing machine the world has ever known. And
he explained how he was proud to have been part of that machine.
How he was ready to lay his life down to defend the ideals of
kill or be killed, if necessary. And he explained how Saddam Hussein is a lying
murderous bastard who could never be trusted.
But he also explained that Hussein is contained.
There is no evidence that he poses a threat any more.
And certainly no evidence that he poses an immediate threat to us or
anyone else. Then Ritter asked,
“If you support this war, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if
you are willing to lay your life down to fight it?
And if the answer is no, how can you ask someone else to?”
being lead into war by a band now known as “The Chicken Hawks.”
To a tee, they have all evaded military service.
Yet they want to hijack the American military to kill and to die.
They want to hijack it away from its ostensible goal to defend American
values and use it as a tool of empire – corporate empire no less.
And they want to commit crimes against humanity in our name.
Michael I. Niman’s previous columns are archived online at http://mediastudy.com.
2003. For reprint info see articles index