It‘s becoming obvious that the Bush administration is intent on having its war on Iraq no matter what: no matter that most of the world, including Iraq‘s neighbors, oppose the war; no matter that, at this point, the weapons inspectors have found nothing of substance.
The most striking aspect of the administration‘s push for war is the hypocrisy of its logic: The U.S. will attack Iraq because it MAY have weapons of mass destruction, while at the same time the U.S. is holding the world‘s largest stockpile of these very weapons.
Is it any wonder that so much of the world opposes the war or that so many Americans conclude it‘s really all about oil.
Two facts come together to support that belief. First (sadly for its people), Iraq has one of the world‘s largest oil reserves. If no oil was there, no one would likely give a care about Saddam Hussein.
The CIA has acknowledged they have no evidence that Iraq has any nuclear capabilities. Yet neighboring Pakistan, run by a military strongman, does have nuclear weapons and, in fact, has had frightening nuclear standoffs with India. Why are there no plans to attack Pakistan, or even India? I believe the answer is oil - or rather the lack of it.
Second, many members of the Bush administration from the president on down have backgrounds in, or close ties to, the oil industry. Gaining control of Iraq‘s oil reserves by American energy corporations seems to override all else. It is a conflict-of-interest of massive proportions.
Prior to the Gulf War, Iraq was a first-world country with an enviable universal health care and educational system. Following Desert Storm and the targeted bombing of the civilian infrastructure, along with the devastating effects of sanctions, Iraq is now, at best, a third-world country.
The high incidence of illness in American veterans of the Gulf War from the depleted-uranium shells used by the U.S. is magnified many times over in the Iraqi people.
Incidents of cancer and leukemia have skyrocketed and, because of the sanctions, critically needed medicines and treatments are commonly not available.
The quote from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright comes to mind: When asked by Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes if the suffering caused by sanctions, including the death by illness and hunger of about half a million Iraqi children was “worth the price,“ Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price... we think the price is worth it.“
Iraq is now a devastated country, a devastated people. The last thing they need is to be attacked by the world‘s most powerful nation.
Think of the suffering and death of innocents, of our own soldiers, the billions of dollars that could be used for good and constructive purposes for our own people, our own economy.
All of this waste and destruction is supposedly to dispose of ONE 68-year-old man who happens to have lymphatic cancer.
Will the nation‘s real conservatives stand up in protest!
John Brabenec Northport
Powell‘s dubious evidence
In Secretary of State Powell‘s speech to the United Nations he presumed to give incontrovertible evidence of Iraq‘s failure to comply with UN resolutions. As far as I could tell he provided little convincing evidence. Mr. Powell provided satellite photographs and gave his own interpretations to those photographs, where nothing out of the ordinary was evident. If they can take pictures of the weapons, why can‘t the UN inspectors find them? He substantiated these findings by citing testimony of defectors, though how their testimony was obtained or who they are is left unknown. He also provides an illustration of what a mobile weapons transport might look like as evidence.
Mr. Powell states that both intelligence agencies and inspectors have provided ample evidence of Iraq‘s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction: nuclear, biological and chemical, as well as establishing a link between Hussein and al Qaeda.
The CIA and other intelligence sources have openly disputed this, saying that the administration has distorted their intelligence for political benefit, and cited the ideological conflict between the ruling Ba‘ath party and al Qaeda. The inspectors have reported no evidence of nuclear capabilities, and Hans Blix has stated that there is no apparent cause for war. The Bush administration has both distorted the inspector‘s findings and undermined them when they ask for more time to complete their work.
As far as a link with terrorists, the finger could be more easily pointed in the direction of Saudi Arabia, where many of the 9/11 attackers did come from. A second double standard is apparent in North Korea‘s use of nukes as the “ultimate trump card.“ Mr. Powell tries his best to present an unlikely threat as imminent, conjuring fears of the worst that could happen. At the same time a massive preemptive assault is under way, which will result in a humanitarian catastrophe according to UN estimates. This is not in theory, but in the real world and very soon, but a peaceful diplomatic solution could result in a favorable situation for both sides, and ease tensions throughout this region and around the world.
Cliff Kubiak via email
Cartoonist on the ropes
This is a real bummer, but...
I have cancer.
Monday I worked all afternoon on some bookshelves in the living room. Took a shower and to my alarm noticed a prune-sized swelling on the side of my neck. We decided to go to the emergency room just to play it safe. A CAT scan later and the doc came in with the bomb. A 2-inch mass in my chest. Probable lymphoma.
The good news: It‘s very treatable. It‘s Hodgkin‘s, the easiest to treat.
Chemo, yes... and maybe radiation. But I‘m relatively young, extremely healthy otherwise (so the docs tell me) and in good shape. We also caught it early.
The bad news, of course: it‘s f**king cancer.
I‘m ok. It was a blow, of course, especially coming out of the blue. But I‘m not in despair. I‘ll start the treatment program, get better and deal with it.
I‘ll keep working and the strip will continue. I‘ll try to build a stockpile of strips that I can dip into during “bad“ weeks. I may not be able to be as topical as I would like. For example, that‘s why last week you got a strip about friggin‘ Haitian shoe sweatshops instead of something more relevant. I was being wheeled about on a gurney when I should‘ve been home drawing. Hopefully, I‘ll get into a routine of work and treatment... and you‘ll get the same semi-professional cartoons you‘ve all come to
expect from me. By summer I hope to be healthy and cancer free.
Just wanted to be up front about it.
And now... I‘m going to go finish those damn bookshelves.
derf THE CITY comic strip
Media failing its role
I just finished reading a letter in your January 23 edition of the Northern Express by Dave Forbush. I generally agree with his observation that our criminal justice system does little more than foster even further alienation and antisocial behavior. Prisons are the most degrading and dehumanizing institutions known to humanity. Yes some people do belong there, but many do not and find themselves incarcerated because of inadequate counsel, prejudiced judges, and police and prosecutors who will do anything, legal or otherwise, to obtain a conviction.
One factor left out in the Forbush letter was the role of the news media in all of this. Isn‘t the news media supposed to act as some sort of restraint upon the powers of government? Yet we seem to be living in an age where the mainstream press seems to view its role as merely another branch of government.
I happened to turn on Fox News the other morning only to see one of their reporters at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, scaling down a wall, supposedly to demonstrate how our invincible military will quickly roll over any opposition. A few minutes later, again on Fox, a discussion ensued with panelists from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. This “interview“ quickly became a free-for-all with the journalists joining in a chorus of accolades for the United States military and how all of the world‘s opposition to this looming war will quickly disappear once good ole Uncle Sam distributes the booty from Iraq.
Any pretense at journalistic integrity or independence was quickly overcome with a boisterous frat boy party atmosphere. I was embarrassed not only as a viewer but as an American. While this particular episode concerned an issue of foreign policy, everything is ultimately linked. Every political, legal, or social issue is impacted by this rampant conservatism among the contemporary mainstream press.
Am I the only one bothered by this seeming lack of journalistic independance? Where is the mainstream press when members of either law enforcement, prosecutors, or members of the judiciary get out of line? We don‘t need to live in a nation where the line between the news media and those in law enforcement is too blurred. Freedom and the rule of law requires some element of distance.
Most mainstream media outlets will never tell you about the crooked cop, or the judge who is corrupt, or the prosecutor who targets blacks, gays, or others who are generally powerless to defend themselves. It‘s always the “criminal,“ meaning the average citizen who is the target. We have already lost much of our freedom due to this attitude. There are very few instances in which a warrant is required to search a person‘s home, car, or even bodily cavities. All an FBI agent needs to search your home or confiscate your computer is some vague suspicion that a crime might possibly be committed. The traditional legal standard of probable cause that a crime has been committed has generally been abolished. This may seem like semantics to those without a legal background, but it makes a great difference whether the state can invade your privacy based upon a mere suspicion of criminal activity, or actual probable cause.
Freedom and the rule of law require that those entering the field of journalism do so with pure motives and not a desire to exact ideological revenge upon the powerless. It seems that we are witnessing, in our time, a rabid resurgence of a pseudo fascist mentality.
Brian Morgan Gaylord