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Overthrow Hussein?
by Elson Boles
13 February 2002 16:27 UTC
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Is the talk of toppling Hussein a negotiating tactic or a real plan?  And if
the latter, what do those who continue to speak of US weakness say?  Seems
the Emperor is not just wearing clothes, but a suit of armor.  Of course,
they may say, and be correct, that the political fall-out of toppling
governments at will (while US forces beat up POWs) may just unplug US
hegemony.  And it could possible lead to a North-South nuclear war.  But it
would probably also lead to more terrorism, which would likely have the
repeat effect of bringing the allies closer and tightening US power
globally.  If so, it seems that we are well within the era of the US global
Mafioso-protection racket of neo-imperialism -- which Arrighi began to
outline back in the early 1990s.

- Boles

February 13, 2002

Powell Says U.S. Is Weighing Ways to Topple Hussein

The Associated Press
Iraqi children with a picture of Saddam Hussein on Tuesday, at a
demonstration in Baghdad commemorating the 11th anniversary of the
bombardment of a civilian shelter by U.S. warplanes during the Persian Gulf

ASHINGTON, Feb. 12  Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said today that the
administration was considering a variety of options to topple Saddam
Hussein, amid indications that President Bush and his top advisers are close
to settling on a plan.

While taking an unusually tough tone toward Iraq, Secretary Powell was
careful to draw a distinction between Iraq on one hand and Iran and North
Korea on the other, three countries that President Bush had lumped together
as an "axis of evil" because of their quest for weapons of mass destruction.

"With respect to Iran and with respect to North Korea, there is no plan to
start a war with these nations," Secretary Powell said. In contrast, in
discussing Iraq, he delivered a stern message.

"With respect to Iraq, it has long been, for several years now, a policy of
the United States government that regime change would be in the best
interests of the region, the best interests of the Iraqi people," he said.
"And we are looking at a variety of options that would bring that about."

Secretary Powell's comments were made in testimony before the Senate Budget
Committee as the administration approached a decision about how to dislodge
Mr. Hussein. Senior officials said there was a consensus within the
administration that he must be overthrown and that plans to do so are being
drawn up. But there no agreement as to how precisely that should be done or
how long the United States should be prepared to wait for action. Still,
there are indications that the planning is becoming increasingly serious.

Next month, Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to visit a number of
nations that border Iraq, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey. Mr.
Cheney also plans to visit Britain, Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates,
Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, all of which might provide useful support in a
campaign against Iraq.

At the Pentagon, officials have been drawing up plans for an Iraq campaign.
The Iraqi National Congress, as the Iraqi opposition is known, has received
a much warmer reception from the administration since the State of the Union
speech, though the administration still has not agreed to provide its
members with military training. During a recent meeting at the White House,
a senior administration official told Iraqi opposition officials that
President Bush had decided that Saddam Hussein needed to be replaced.

"We were told that the president has made up his mind: Saddam has got to
go," one opposition official recalled.

At the hearing today, Secretary Powell stressed that Mr. Bush had not made
any final decisions and that military action was not imminent.

Gen. Tommy Franks, the head of the United States Central Command, which is
overseeing the campaign in Afghanistan and which would run any campaign
against Iraq, said today that a military plan had not yet been settled.

"I do not think I am at a point where a decision has been made about where
to go next, leave alone the precision of how we will be going about doing
this," General Franks said at the end of a visit to Kuwait.

One senior administration official said the Pentagon still needed several
months to end the fighting in Afghanistan and prepare for a potential
military campaign in Iraq.

Among the issues that officials are wrestling with is the possibility that
Saddam Hussein would respond to an attack by using weapons of mass
destruction against United States forces and possibly Israel; the extent to
which American ground forces would be needed, and how a post-Hussein Iraq
would be administered.

The Bush administration also needs to lay the diplomatic foundation. The
British government is still wary of an Iraq campaign, the Turks are fearful
that it could lead to an independent Kurdistan, Israel is apprehensive that
it may be targeted by Iraq's missiles, and others in the region are skittish
about a major American military operation in their backyard.

Several senior administration officials have begun to talk privately about a
two-track approach to deposing Mr. Hussein that would balance military and
diplomatic planning.

The first steps, which could take five months or more, involve working
through the United Nations to develop tighter but more focused sanctions
against Iraq and demand that it allow nuclear inspectors unfettered access
to the country.

But senior administration officials say they fully expect that such an
effort would fail, which would lay the base for a military campaign, one in
which the United States would both encourage internal rebellions against the
Iraqi leader's rule and use American military power.

"If we put smart sanctions in place in May, then it gets harder for Iraq to
make the case that it should not allow weapons inspectors," a senior
official said. "But we know that it is only matter of time before the
weapons inspections get stopped and we have yet another bit of proof that
Saddam will never give up."

Discussing the diplomatic approach, Jack Straw, the British foreign
secretary, said after a recent meeting with Secretary Powell that he
expected that when the United Nations Security Council met in May to renew
economic sanctions against Iraq, the United States and Britain could issue
an "ultimatum" to Mr. Hussein to let in the weapons inspectors. Mr. Straw
said he hoped that Russian pressure would persuade Iraq to cooperate, but
unlike hard- liners in the Bush administration, he did not say what action
should be taken if Iraq refused to comply.

Though some Bush officials consider that a likely scenario, one senior
official said the military and diplomatic tracks were still being developed

Secretary Powell's appearance today was significant because he has long been
considered the most cautious member of the administration when it comes to
confronting Iraq. By making his statements in a Congressional hearing and
making them in a more strongly worded fashion than in similar testimony he
gave last week, the secretary of state demonstrated his loyalty to the
president and thus gave himself an opportunity to influence the outcome as
deliberations continue within the administration. But his comments also
indicated that the deliberations over Iraq have a new sense of urgency.

Senior officials said a consensus was emerging that it is important to take
on the Iraqi leader, with the help of allies if possible, and without them
if necessary.

Secretary Powell's comments today marked the first time he drew a sharp
distinction between the administration's strategy with Iraq and its strategy
with the two other countries Mr. Bush called part of an "axis of evil" in
his State of the Union address last week.

In Iraq, he continued, "we are always examining options for regime change."
Mr. Bush, he added, using a curious time element, "does not have a
recommendation before him that would involve an armed conflict tomorrow."

Elson Boles
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Sociology
Saginaw Valley State University
University Center
Saginaw MI, 48710

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