Thursday, December 29, 2011

Four Key Gulf War I Stories

I was talking with a colleague about Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and I realized that there are certain critical facts that are just unknown to most Americans about this war. I talk with people all the time and almost nobody knows anything about this until I tell them.

1-Just prior to the invasion the US Ambassador to Iraq gave Saddam an effective green light to invade. April Glaspie (shown meeting Saddam to the right) questioned Saddam regarding the troops he was amassing at the border. It was well known that Saddam regarded the border as illegetimate. It blocks his access to the sea and deprives him of certain oil rich regions. It was intended to prevent one state from having too much power in his view. Following the Iran/Iraq War, which Saddam probably entered at the behest of the US, the treasury was drained and he thought he could resolve this by eliminating the border and conquering Kuwait. After questioning Saddam about the troops Glaspie informed him that the US has no position on Arab-Arab conflicts and Secretary Baker asked her to emphasize this instruction. This was probably taken by Saddam as tacit permission to invade.

2-Public opinion in the US was not strongly in favor of US involvement in a war. The President was seeking Congressional approval and it wasn't obvious that he would get it. Then came testimony from a Kuwaiti girl that claimed Iraqi soldiers were removing sick babies from their incubators at Kuwaiti hospitals and the result was the death of these babies. George Bush would repeat this story multiple times to achieve maximum exposure in the media. Seven Senators cited this testimony in their speeches explaining their ultimate support for the war effort, which passed by a mere 5 votes. After the war was over some facts started to emerge. The girl was the daughter of the Kuwait ambassador to the US. She had been coached in her presentation and possibly in her testimony by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton, a group that in the past had worked for the tobacco industry attempting to convince people that there were no verfiable links between smoking and lung cancer. The story is a concocted fraud.

3-Prior to the initiation of hostilities with the US, Iraq repeatedly offered peaceful withdrawal proposals. Those offers were ignored, both by the US government and the major media.

4-In an effort to help remove Saddam from Kuwait President Bush called on the Shiites in Iraq to rise up and rebel against the dictator. So they did. And when Saddam withdrew from Kuwait Bush then assisted Saddam's efforts to crush the rebellion because he preferred that Saddam remain in power. The result was the death of 300,000 people. The mass graves were discovered after the 2003 invasion.

I believe these are 4 of the key facts everyone that wants to understand this war should know. And in the US most Americans know of none of them. It's the kind of event that left these Chinese students perplexed when they visited the US in 1979. What they really wanted to understand was how the party secretary of New York controls the NY Times. When they are told that no party controls the NY Times they were incredulous and confused.

Propaganda in the US is much more sophisticated than control by force or on command. And quite a bit more effective.

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