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Empire Notes"We don't seek empires. We're not imperialistic. We never have been. I can't imagine why you'd even ask the question." Donald Rumsfeld, questioned by an al-Jazeera correspondent, April 29, 2003.
"No one can now doubt the word of America," George W. Bush, State of the Union, January 20, 2004.
A Blog by Rahul Mahajan
NOTE: The following excerpt documents that, contrary to the claims of the Clinton administration, the 1998 "Desert Fox" bombing of Iraq was not about controlling weapons of mass destruction (in fact, it was well known that the bombing would make resumption of inspections afterward difficult or impossible). It was, in fact, a trial balloon attempt at "regime change." By singling out "regime targets" (explained below) for attack, the Clinton administration hoped to encourage Iraqi military commanders to stage a coup against Saddam whil he was under attack.
Of course, Saddam's control over his own forces was far too great for this to be a serious possibility, and the regime change effort was doomed to failure. It was an extremely timid attempt at regime change, just as Bush's in 2003 was an extremely bold one, but it was one nonetheless.
Another concern claimed frequently by the Iraqis was that inspections were a cover for U.S. spying. Shortly after the Desert Fox bombings, such allegations were confirmed when the Washington Post revealed that “the United States for nearly three years intermittently monitored the coded radio communications of President Saddam Hussein’s innermost security forces using equipment secretly installed in Iraq by U.N. weapons inspectors.”83
The conduct of Desert Fox confirms the intent of said monitoring. Billed as an operation to “degrade” Iraq’s weapons-making capacity (utterly foolish because inspections were accomplishing far more than any bombings could, and it was known that inspectors would likely not be allowed back into Iraq after the bombings), it was actually aimed at “regime targets.” Of 97 sites targeted in Desert Fox, only 11 were associated with WMD. The vast majority were command and control sites, Republican Guard units, and key facilities of internal security forces.84
The operation, planned for at least a year in advance, was an attack on the regime, attempting to make use of the intelligence acquired by the aforementioned espionage before that information became "stale." During the year of planning, the United States frequently directed inspectors to behave in ways that would create provocations.
In 2002, in an interview on Swedish radio, Rolf Ekeus, head of UNSCOM from 1991 to 1997, confirmed all these conclusions. The Financial Times reported:
[Mr. Ekeus said] As time went on, some countries, especially the U.S., wanted to learn more about other parts of Iraq’s capacity.
83. "U.S. Says It Collected Iraq Intelligence Via UNSCOM," Thomas W. Lippman, Barton Gellman, Washington Post, January 8, 1999.
84. The Threatening Storm: the Case for Invading Iraq, Kenneth M. Pollack, New York: Random House 2002, p. 93.
85. "Weapons Inspections Were ‘Manipulated’," Carola Hoyos, Nick George, Roula Khalaf, Financial Times, July 29, 200.
Rahul Mahajan is publisher of Empire Notes. His latest book, “Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond,” covers U.S. policy on Iraq, deceptions about weapons of mass destruction, the plans of the neoconservatives, and the face of the new Bush imperial policies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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