[xmca] A blast from the past

From: bb (xmca-whoever@comcast.net)
Date: Tue Dec 13 2005 - 14:58:27 PST

Straight from the lchc archives! They were once were lost, but now they are

Date: Wed, 9 Jan 91 19:46 PST
From: Randy Gobbel <gobbel@cogsci.ucsd.edu>
Subject: George Lakoff: Metaphor & War
To: xlchc@ucsd.edu

The following is extremely long, but in my opinion of sufficient
interest to warrant wide distribution. My apologies to anyone
who's already received this, I'm having a bit of trouble with my
mail program
-Randy Gobbel

   From: dst@dst.boltz.cs.cmu.edu (Dave Touretzky)
   Newsgroups: comp.ai
   Keywords: metaphor, cognitive psychology
   Date: 31 Dec 90 08:01:30 GMT
   Organization: Carnegie-Mellon University, CS/RI

   The following is posted as a favor to George Lakoff. Please address all
   correspondence to him, not to me.


   To Friends and Colleagues on the Net:

   From George Lakoff,
   Professor of Linguistics,
   University of California at Berkeley

   January 15 is getting very close. As things now stand, President
   Bush seems to have convinced most of the country that
   war in the gulf is morally justified, and that
   it makes sense to think of ``winning'' such a

   I have just completed a study of the way the war has
   been justified. I have found that the justification is
   based very largely on a metaphorical system
   of thought in general use for understanding foreign policy.
   I have analyzed the system, checked it to see what
   the metaphors hide, and have checked to the best of my
   ability to see whether the metaphors fit the situation in the
   gulf, even if one accepts them. So far as I can see,
   the justification for war, point by point,
   is anything but clear.

   The paper I have written is relatively short -- 7,000 words.
   Yet it is far too long for the op-ed pages, and January
   15 is too close for journal or magazine publication.
   The only alternative I have for getting these ideas out
   is via the various computer networks.

   While there is still time, it is vital that debate over
   the justification for war be seriously revived.
   I am therefore asking your help. Please look over the
   enclosed paper. If you find it of value, please
   send it on to members of your newsgroup, to friends,
   and to other newsgroups.
   Feel free to distribute it to anyone interested.

   More importantly, if you feel strongly about this issue,
   start talking and writing about it yourself.

   Computer networks have never before played an important
   role in a matter of vital public importance. The time has come.
   The media have failed to question what should be questioned.
   It is up to us to do so. There are a lot of us connected by
   these networks, and together we have enormous influence.
   Just imagine the media value of a major computerized debate over
   the impending war!

   We have a chance to participate in the greatest experiment
   ever conducted in vital, widespread, instantaneous democratic
   Tens of thousands of lives are at stake.
   During the next two weeks
   there is nothing more important that we can send over these
   networks than a fully open and informed exchange of views
   about the war.

   Here is the first contribution. Pass it on!


   Metaphor and War

   The Metaphor System Used to Justify War in the Gulf

   George Lakoff Linguistics Department University of California at
   Berkeley (lakoff@cogsci.berkeley.edu)

   Metaphors can kill. The discourse over whether we should go to
   war in the gulf is a panorama of metaphor. Secretary of State
   Baker sees Saddam as ``sitting on our economic lifeline.''
   President Bush sees him as having a ``stranglehold'' on our econ-
   omy. General Schwartzkopf characterizes the occupation of Kuwait
   as a ``rape'' that is ongoing. The President says that the US is
   in the gulf to ``protect freedom, protect our future, and protect
   the innocent'', and that we must ``push Saddam Hussein back.''
   Saddam is seen as Hitler. It is vital, literally vital, to
   understand just what role metaphorical thought is playing in
   bringing us to the brink of war. Metaphorical thought, in it-
   self, is neither good nor bad; it is simply commonplace and ines-
   capable. Abstractions and enormously complex situations are rou-
   tinely understood via metaphor. Indeed, there is an extensive,
   and mostly unconscious, system of metaphor that we use automati-
   cally and unreflectively to understand complexities and abstrac-
   tions. Part of this system is devoted to understanding interna-
   tional relations and war. We now know enough about this system to
   have an idea of how it functions. The metaphorical understanding
   of a situation functions in two parts. First, there is a
   widespread, relatively fixed set of metaphors that structure how
   we think. For example, a decision to go to war might be seen as
   a form of cost-benefit analysis, where war is justified when the
   costs of going to war are less than the costs of not going to
   war. Second, there is a set of metaphorical definitions that that
   allow one to apply such a metaphor to a particular situation. In
   this case, there must be a definition of ``cost'', including a
   means of comparing relative ``costs''. The use of a metaphor
   with a set of definitions becomes pernicious when it hides reali-
   ties in a harmful way. It is important to distinguish what is
   metaphorical from what is not. Pain, dismemberment, death, star-
   vation, and the death and injury of loved ones are not metaphori-
   cal. They are real and in a war, they could afflict tens,
   perhaps hundreds of thousands, of real human beings, whether Ira-
   qi, Kuwaiti, or American.

                 War as Politics; Politics as Business

   Military and international relations strategists do use a cost-
   benefit analysis metaphor. It comes about through a metaphor that
   is taken as definitional by most strategic thinkers in the area
   of international politics. Clausewitz's Metaphor: WAR IS POLI-
   TICS PURSUED BY OTHER MEANS. Karl von Clausewitz was a Prussian
   general who perceived war in terms of political cost-benefit
   analysis. Each nation-state has political objectives, and war
   may best serve those objectives. The political ``gains'' are to
   to be weighed against acceptable ``costs.'' When the costs of war
   exceed the political gains, the war should cease. There is anoth-
   er metaphor implicit here: POLITICS IS BUSINESS where efficient
   political management is seen as akin to efficient business
   management. As in a well-run business, a well-run government
   should keep a careful tally of costs and gains. This metaphor
   for characterizing politics, together with Clausewitz's metaphor,
   makes war a matter of cost-benefit analysis: defining beneficial
   ``objectives'', tallying the ``costs'', and deciding whether
   achieving the objectives is ``worth'' the costs. The New York
   Times, on November 12, 1990, ran a front-page story announcing
   that ``a national debate has begun as to whether the United
   States should go to war in the Persian Gulf.'' The Times
   described the debate as defined by what I have called
   Clausewitz's metaphor (though it described the metaphor as
   literal), and then raised the question, ``What then is the
   nation's political object in the gulf and what level of sacrifice
   is it worth?'' The ``debate'' was not over whether Clausewitz's
   metaphor was appropriate, but only over how various analysts cal-
   culated the relative gains and losses. The same has been true of
   the hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where
   Clausewitz's metaphor provides the framework within which most
   discussion has taken place. The broad acceptance of Clausewitz's
   metaphor raises vital questions: What, exactly, makes it a meta-
   phor rather than a literal truth? Why does it seem so natural to
   foreign policy experts? How does it fit into the overall meta-
   phor system for understanding foreign relations and war? And,
   most importantly, what realities does it hide? To answer these
   questions, let us turn to the system of metaphorical thought most
   commonly used by the general public in comprehending internation-
   al politics. What follows is a two-part discussion of the role
   of metaphorical reasoning about the gulf crisis. The first part
   lays out the central metaphor systems used in reasoning about the
   crisis: both the system used by foreign policy experts and the
   system used by the public at large. The second part discusses how
   the system has been applied to the crisis in the gulf.

                          Part 1: The Systems

                      The State-as-Person System

   A state is conceptualized as a person, engaging in social rela-
   tions within a world community. Its land-mass is its home. It
   lives in a neighborhood, and has neighbors, friends and enemies.
   States are seen as having inherent dispositions: they can be
   peaceful or aggressive, responsible or irresponsible, industrious
   or lazy.

   Well-being is wealth. The general well-being of a state is under-
   stood in economic terms: its economic health. A serious threat
   to economic health can thus be seen as a death threat. To the
   extent that a nation's economy depends on foreign oil, that oil
   supply becomes a `lifeline' (reinforced by the image of an oil

   Strength for a state is military strength.

   Maturity for the person-state is industrialization. Unindustri-
   alized nations are `underdeveloped', with industrialization as a
   natural state to be reached. Third-world nations are thus imma-
   ture children, to be taught how to develop properly or discip-
   lined if they get out of line. Nations that fail to industrial-
   ize at a rate considered normal are seen as akin to retarded
   children and judged as ``backward'' nations.

   Rationality is the maximization of self-interest.

   There is an implicit logic to the use of these metaphors: Since
   it is in the interest of every person to be as strong and healthy
   as possible, a rational state seeks to maximize wealth and mili-
   tary might. Violence can further self-interest. It can be
   stopped in three ways: Either a balance of power, so that no one
   in a neighborhood is strong enough to threaten anyone else. Or
   the use of collective persuasion by the community to make
   violence counter to self-interest. Or a cop strong enough to
   deter violence or punish it. The cop should act morally, in the
   community's interest, and with the sanction of the community as a
   whole. Morality is a matter of accounting, of keeping the moral
   books balanced. A wrongdoer incurs a debt, and he must be made to
   pay. The moral books can be balanced by a return to the situation
   prior to the wrongdoing, by giving back what has been taken, by
   recompense, or by punishment. Justice is the balancing of the
   moral books. War in this metaphor is a fight between two people,
   a form of hand-to-hand combat. Thus, the US might seek to ``push
   Iraq back out of Kuwait'' or ``deal the enemy a heavy blow,'' or
   ``deliver a knockout punch.'' A just war is thus a form of combat
   for the purpose of settling moral accounts. The most common
   discourse form in the West where there is combat to settle moral
   accounts is the classic fairy tale. When people are replaced by
   states in such a fairy tale, what results is a scenario for a
   just war.

                    The Fairy Tale of the Just War

   Cast of characters: A villain, a victim, and a hero. The victim
   and the hero may be the same person. The scenario: A crime is
   committed by the villain against an innocent victim (typically an
   assault, theft, or kidnapping). The offense occurs due to an im-
   balance of power and creates a moral imbalance. The hero either
   gathers helpers or decides to go it alone. The hero makes sacri-
   fices; he undergoes difficulties, typically making an arduous
   heroic journey, sometimes across the sea to a treacherous ter-
   rain. The villain is inherently evil, perhaps even a monster, and
   thus reasoning with him is out of the question. The hero is left
   with no choice but to engage the villain in battle. The hero de-
   feats the villain and rescues the victim. The moral balance is
   restored. Victory is achieved. The hero, who always acts honor-
   ably, has proved his manhood and achieved glory. The sacrifice
   was worthwhile. The hero receives acclaim, along with the grati-
   tude of the victim and the community.

   The fairy tale has an asymmetry built into it. The hero is moral
   and courageous, while the villain is amoral and vicious. The hero
   is rational, but though the villain may be cunning and calculat-
   ing, he cannot be reasoned with. Heroes thus cannot negotiate
   with villains; they must defeat them. The enemy-as-demon metaphor
   arises as a consequence of the fact that we understand what a
   just war is in terms of this fairy tale. The most natural way to
   justify a war on moral grounds is to fit this fairy tale struc-
   ture to a given situation. This is done by metaphorical defini-
   tion, that is, by answering the questions: Who is the victim? Who
   is the villain? Who is the hero? What is the crime? What counts
   as victory? Each set of answers provides a different filled-out
   scenario. As the gulf crisis developed, President Bush tried to
   justify going to war by the use of such a scenario. At first, he
   couldn't get his story straight. What happened was that he was
   using two different sets of metaphorical definitions, which
   resulted in two different scenarios: The Rescue Scenario: Iraq is
   villain, the US is hero, Kuwait is victim, the crime is kidnap
   and rape. The Self-Defense Scenario: Iraq is villain, the US is
   hero, the US and other industrialized nations are victims, the
   crime is a death threat, that is, a threat to economic health.
   The American people could not accept the second scenario, since
   it amounted to trading lives for oil. The administration has
   settled on the first, and that seems to have been accepted by the
   public, the media, and Congress as providing moral justification
   for going to war.

                     The Ruler-for-State Metonymy

   There is a metonymy that goes hand-in-hand with the State-as-
   Person metaphor:

                    THE RULER STANDS FOR THE STATE

   Thus, we can refer to Iraq by referring to Saddam Hussein, and so
   have a single person, not just an amorphous state, to play the
   villain in the just war scenario. It is this metonymy that is in-
   voked when the President says ``We have to get Saddam out of
   Kuwait.'' Incidentally, the metonymy only applies to those
   leaders perceived as rulers. Thus, it would be strange for us,
   but not for the Iraqis, to describe an American invasion of
   Kuwait by saying, ``George Bush marched into Kuwait.''

                        The Experts' Metaphors

   Experts in international relations have an additional system of
   metaphors that are taken as defining a ``rational'' approach.
   The principal ones are the Rational Actor metaphor and
   Clausewitz's metaphor, which are commonly taught as truths in
   courses on international relations. We are now in a position to
   show precisely what is metaphorical about Clausewitz's metaphor.
   To do so, we need to look at a system of metaphors that is
   presupposed by Clausewitz's metaphor. We will begin with an
   everyday system of metaphors for understanding causation:

                      The Causal Commerce System

   The Causal Commerce system is a way to comprehend actions intend-
   ed to achieve positive effects, but which may also have negative
   effects. The system is composed of three metaphors:

   Causal Transfer: An effect is an object transferred from a cause
   to an affected party. For example, sanctions are seen as ``giv-
   ing'' Iraq economic difficulties. Correspondingly, economic dif-
   ficulties for Iraq are seen as ``coming from'' the sanctions.
   This metaphor turns purposeful actions into transfers of objects.
   The Exchange Metaphor for Value: The value of something is what
   you are willing to exchange for it. Whenever we ask whether it
   is ``worth'' going to war to get Iraq out of Kuwait, we are using
   the Exchange Metaphor for Value plus the Causal Transfer meta-
   phor. Well-being is Wealth: Things of value constitute wealth.
   Increases in well-being are ``gains''; decreases in well-being
   are ``costs.'' The metaphor of Well-being-as-Wealth has the ef-
   fect of making qualitiative effects quantitative. It not only
   makes qualitatively different things comparable, it even provides
   a kind of arithmetic calculus for adding up costs and gains. Tak-
   en together, these three metaphors portray actions as commercial
   transactions with costs and gains. Seeing actions as transac-
   tions is crucial to applying ideas from economics to actions in


   A risk is an action taken to achieve a positive effect, where the
   outcome is uncertain and where there is also a significant proba-
   bility of a negative effect. Since Causal Commerce allows one to
   see positive effects of actions as ``gains'' and negative effects
   as ``costs'', it becomes natural to see a risky action metaphori-
   cally as a financial risk of a certain type, namely, a gamble.

                           Risks are Gambles

   In gambling to achieve certain ``gains'', there are ``stakes''
   that one can ``lose''. When one asks what is ``at stake'' in go-
   ing to war, one is using the metaphors of Causal Commerce and
   Risks-as-Gambles. These are also the metaphors that President
   Bush uses when he refers to strategic moves in the gulf as a
   ``poker game'' where it would be foolish for him to ``show his
   cards'', that is, to make strategic knowledge public.

                   The Mathematicization of Metaphor

   The Causal Commerce and Risks-as-Gambles metaphors lie behind our
   everyday way of understanding risky actions as gambles. At this
   point, mathematics enters the picture, since there is mathematics
   of gambling, namely, probability theory, decision theory, and
   game theory. Since the metaphors of Causal Commerce and Risks-
   as-Gambles are so common in our everyday thought, their metaphor-
   ical nature often goes unnoticed. As a result, it is not uncom-
   mon for social scientists to think that the mathematics of gam-
   bling literally applies to all forms of risky action, and that it
   can provide a general basis for the scientific study of risky ac-
   tion, so that risk can be minimized.

                            Rational Action

   Within the social sciences, especially in economics, it is common
   to see a rational person as someone who acts in his own self-
   interest, that is, to maximize his own well-being. Hard-core ad-
   vocates of this view may even see altruistic action as being ones
   self-interest if there is a value in feeling righteous about al-
   truism and in deriving gratitude from others. In the Causal Com-
   merce system, where well-being is wealth, this view of Rational
   Action translates metaphorically into maximizing gains and minim-
   izing losses. In other words:

                  Rationality is Profit Maximization

   This metaphor presupposes Causal Commerce plus Risks-as-Gambles,
   and brings with it the mathematics of gambling as applied to ri-
   sky action. It has the effect of turning specialists in mathemat-
   ical economics into ``scientific'' specialists in acting ration-
   ally so as to minimize risk and cost while maximizing gains.
   Suppose we now add the State-as-Person metaphor to the
   Rationality-as-Profit-Maximization metaphor. The result is:

                  International Politics is Business

   Here the state is a Rational Actor, whose actions are transac-
   tions and who is engaged in maximizing gains and minimizing
   costs. This metaphor brings with it the mathematics of cost-
   benefit calculation and game theory, which is commonly taught in
   graduate programs in international relations. Clausewitz's meta-
   phor, the major metaphor preferred by international relations
   strategists, presupposes this system. Clausewitz's Metaphor: War
   is Politics, pursued by other means. Since politics is business,
   war becomes a matter of maximizing political gains and minimizing
   losses. In Clausewitzian terms, war is justified when there is
   more to be gained by going to war than by not going to war.
   Morality is absent from the Clausewitzian equation, except when
   there a political cost to acting immorally or a political gain
   from acting morally. Clausewitz's metaphor only allows war to be
   justified on pragmatic, not moral, grounds. To justify war on
   both moral and pragmatic grounds, the Fairy Tale of the Just War
   and Clausewitz's metaphor must mesh: The ``worthwhile sacri-
   fices'' of the fairy tale must equal the Clausewitzian ``costs''
   and the ``victory'' in the fairy tale must equal the Clausewitzi-
   an ``gains.'' Clausewitz's metaphor is the perfect expert's meta-
   phor, since it requires specialists in political cost-benefit
   calculation. It sanctions the use of the mathematics of econom-
   ics, probability theory, decision theory, and game theory in the
   name of making foreign policy rational and scientific.
   Clausewitz's metaphor is commonly seen as literally true. We are
   now in a position to see exactly what makes it metaphorical.
   First, it uses the State-as-Person metaphor. Second, it turns
   qualitative effects on human beings into quantifiable costs and
   gains, thus seeing political action as economics. Third, it sees
   rationality as profit-making. Fourth, it sees war in terms of
   only one dimension of war, that of political expediency, which is
   in turn conceptualized as business.

                         War as Violent Crime

   To bear in mind what is hidden by Clausewitz's metaphor, we
   should consider an alternative metaphor that is _ n_ o_ t used by pro-
   fessional strategists nor by the general public to understand war
   as we engage in it. WAR IS VIOLENT CRIME: MURDER, ASSAULT, KID-
   NAPPING, ARSON, RAPE, AND THEFT. Here, war is understood only in
   terms of its moral dimension, and not, say, its political or
   economic dimension. The metaphor highlights those aspects of war
   that would otherwise be seen as major crimes. There is an Us-
   Them asymmetry between the public use of Clausewitz's metaphor
   and the War-as-Crime metaphor. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is
   reported on in terms of murder, theft and rape. The planned Amer-
   ican invasion is never discussed in terms of murder, assault, and
   arson. Moreover, the US plans for war are seen, in Clausewitzian
   terms, as rational calculation. But the Iraqi invasion is dis-
   cussed not as a rational move by Saddam, but as the work of a
   madman. We see US as rational, moral, and courageous and Them as
   criminal and insane.

                       War as a Competitive Game

   It has long been noted that we understand war as a competitive
   game like chess, or as a sport, like football or boxing. It is a
   metaphor in which there is a clear winner and loser, and a clear
   end to the game. The metaphor highlights strategic thinking,
   team work, preparedness, the spectators in the world arena, the
   glory of winning and the shame of defeat. This metaphor is taken
   very seriously. There is a long tradition in the West of train-
   ing military officers in team sports and chess. The military is
   trained to win. This can lead to a metaphor conflict, as it did
   in Vietnam, since Clausewitz's metaphor seeks to maximize geopol-
   itical gains, which may or may not be consistent with absolute
   military victory. The situation at present is that the public has
   accepted the rescue scenario of the just war fairy tale as pro-
   viding moral justification. The president, for internal political
   reasons, has accepted the competitive game metaphor as taking
   precedence over Clausewitz's metaphor: If he must choose, he will
   go for the military win over maximizing geopolitical gains. The
   testimony of the experts before Congress falls largely within
   Clausewitz's metaphor. Much of it is testimony about what will
   maximize gains and minimize losses. For all that been questioned
   in the Congressional hearings, these metaphors have not. It im-
   portant to see what they hide.

                         Is Saddam Irrational?

   The villain in the Fairy Tale of the Just War may be cunning, but
   he cannot be rational. You just do not reason with a demon, nor
   do you enter into negotiations with him. The logic of the meta-
   phor demands that Saddam be irrational. But is he? Administra-
   tion policy is confused on the issue. Clausewitz's metaphor, as
   used by strategists, assumes that the enemy is rational: He too
   is maximizing gains and minimizing costs. Our strategy from the
   outset has been to ``increase the cost'' to Saddam. That assumes
   he is rational and is maximizing his self-interest. At the same
   time, he is being called irrational. The nuclear weapons argument
   depends on it. If he is rational, he should follow the logic of
   deterrence. We have thousands of hydrogen bombs in warheads. Is-
   rael is estimated to have between 100 and 200 deliverable atomic
   bombs. It would take Saddam at least eight months and possibly
   five years before he had a crude, untested atomic bomb on a
   truck. The most popular estimate for even a few deliverable nu-
   clear warheads is ten years. The argument that he would not be
   deterred by our nuclear arsenal and by Israel's assumes irra-
   tionality. The Hitler analogy also assumes that Saddam is a vil-
   lainous madman. The analogy presupposes a Hitler myth, in which
   Hitler too was an irrational demon, rather than a rational self-
   serving brutal politician. In the myth, Munich was a mistake and
   Hitler could have been stopped early on had England entered the
   war then. Military historians disagree as to whether the myth is
   true. Be that as it may, the analogy does not hold. Whether or
   not Saddam is Hitler, Iraq isn't Germany. It has 17 million peo-
   ple, not 70 million. It is economically weak, not strong. It
   simply is not a threat to the world. Saddam is certainly im-
   moral, ruthless, and brutal, but there is no evidence that he is
   anything but rational. Everything he has done, from assassinat-
   ing political opponents, to using poison gas against his politi-
   cal enemies, the Kurds, to invading Kuwait can be see as further-
   ing his own self-interest.

                           Kuwait as Victim

   The classical victim is innocent. To the Iraquis, Kuwait was any-
   thing but an innocent ingenue. The war with Iran virtually ban-
   krupted Iraq. Iraq saw itself as having fought that war partly
   for the benefit of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where Shiite citizens
   supported Khomeini's Islamic Revolution. Kuwait had agreed to
   help finance the war, but after the war, the Kuwaitis insisted on
   repayment of the ``loan.'' Kuwaitis had invested hundreds of bil-
   lions in Europe, America and Japan, but would not invest in Iraq
   after the war to help it rebuild. On the contrary, it began what
   amounted to economic warfare against Iraq by overproducing its
   oil quota to hold oil prices down. In addition, Kuwait had
   drilled laterally into Iraqi territory in the Rumailah oil field
   and had extracted oil from Iraqi territory. Kuwait further took
   advantage of Iraq by buying its currency, but only at extremely
   low exchange rates. Subsequently, wealthy Kuwaitis used that
   Iraqi currency on trips to Iraq, where they bought Iraqi goods at
   bargain rates. Among the things they bought most flamboyantly
   were liquor and prostitutes-widows and orphans of men killed in
   the war, who, because of the state of the economy, had no other
   means of support. All this did not endear Kuwaitis to Iraqis,
   who were suffering from over 70% inflation. Moreover, Kuwaitis
   had long been resented for good reason by Iraqis and moslems from
   other nations. Capital rich, but labor poor, Kuwait imported
   cheap labor from other moslem countries to do its least pleasant
   work. At the time of the invasion, there were 400,000 Kuwaiti ci-
   tizens and 2.2 millions foreign laborers who were denied rights
   of citizenry and treated by the Kuwaitis as lesser beings. In
   short, to the Iraqis and to labor-exporting Arab countries,
   Kuwait is badly miscast as a purely innocent victim. This does
   not in any way justify the horrors perpetrated on the Kuwaitis by
   the Iraqi army. But it is part of what is hidden when Kuwait is
   cast as an innocent victim. The ``legitimate government'' that
   we seek to reinstall is an oppressive monarchy.

                           What is Victory?

   In a fairy tale or a game, victory is well-defined. Once it is
   achieved, the story or game is over. Neither is the case in the
   gulf crisis. History continues, and ``victory'' makes sense only
   in terms of continuing history. The president's stated objec-
   tives are total Iraqi withdrawal and restoration of the Kuwaiti
   monarchy. But no one believes the matter will end there, since
   Saddam would still be in power with all of his forces intact.
   General Powell said in his Senate testimony that if Saddam with-
   drew, the US would have to ``strengthen the indigenous countries
   of the region'' to achieve a balance of power. Presumably that
   means arming Assad, who is every bit as dangerous as Saddam.
   Would arming another villain count as victory? If we go to war,
   what will constitute ``victory''? Suppose we conquer Iraq, wip-
   ing out its military capability. How would Iraq be governed? No
   puppet government that we set up could govern effectively since
   it would be hated by the entire populace. Since Saddam has wiped
   out all opposition, the only remaining effective government for
   the country would be his Ba'ath party. Would it count as a victo-
   ry if Saddam's friends wound up in power? If not, what other
   choice is there? And if Iraq has no remaining military force, how
   could it defend itself against Syria and Iran? It would certainly
   not be a ``victory'' for us if either of them took over Iraq. If
   Syria did, then Assad's Arab nationalism would become a threat.
   If Iran did, then Islamic fundamentalism would become even more
   powerful and threatening. It would seem that the closest thing
   to a ``victory'' for the US in case of war would be to drive the
   Iraqis out of Kuwait; destroy just enough of Iraq's military to
   leave it capable of defending itself against Syria and Iran;
   somehow get Saddam out of power, but let his Ba'ath party remain
   in control of a country just strong enough to defend itself, but
   not strong enough to be a threat; and keep the price of oil at a
   reasonably low level. The problems: It is not obvious that we
   could get Saddam out of power without wiping out most of Iraq's
   military capability. We would have invaded an Arab country,
   which would create vast hatred for us throughout the Arab world,
   and would no doubt result in decades of increased terrorism and
   lack of cooperation by Arab states. We would, by defeating an
   Arab nationalist state, strengthen Islamic fundamentalism. Iraq
   would remain a cruel dictatorship run by cronies of Saddam. By
   reinstating the government of Kuwait, we would inflame the hatred
   of the poor toward the rich throughout the Arab world, and thus
   increase instability. And the price of oil would go through the
   roof. Even the closest thing to a victory doesn't look very vic-
   torious. In the debate over whether to go to war, very little
   time has been spent clarifying what a victory would be. And if
   ``victory'' cannot be defined, neither can ``worthwhile sacri-

                          The Arab Viewpoint

   The metaphors used to conceptualize the gulf crisis hide the most
   powerful political ideas in the Arab world: Arab nationalism and
   Islamic fundamentalism. The first seeks to form a racially-based
   all-Arab nation, the second, a theocratic all-Islamic state.
   Though bitterly opposed to one another, they share a great deal.
   Both are conceptualized in family terms, an Arab brotherhood and
   an Islamic brotherhood. Both see brotherhoods as more legitimate
   than existing states. Both are at odds with the state-as-person
   metaphor, which sees currently existing states as distinct enti-
   ties with a right to exist in perpetuity. Also hidden by our
   metaphors is perhaps the most important daily concern throughout
   the Arab world: Arab dignity. Both political movements are seen
   as ways to achieve dignity through unity. The current national
   boundaries are widely perceived as working against Arab dignity
   in two ways: one internal and one external. The internal issue is
   the division between rich and poor in the Arab world. Poor Arabs
   see rich Arabs as rich by accident, by where the British happened
   to draw the lines that created the contemporary nations of the
   Middle East. To see Arabs metaphorically as one big family is to
   suggest that oil wealth should belong to all Arabs. To many
   Arabs, the national boundaries drawn by colonial powers are il-
   legitimate, violating the conception of Arabs as a single
   ``brotherhood'' and impoverishing millions. To those impover-
   ished millions, the positive side of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait
   was that it challenged national borders and brought to the fore
   the divisions between rich and poor that result from those lines
   in the sand. If there is to be peace in the region, these divi-
   sions must be addressed, say, by having rich Arab countries make
   extensive investments in development that will help poor Arabs.
   As long as the huge gulf between rich and poor exists in the Arab
   world, a large number of poor Arabs will continue to see one of
   the superstate solutions, either Arab nationalism or Islamic fun-
   damentalism, as being in their self-interest, and the region will
   continue to be unstable. The external issue is the weakness.
   The current national boundaries keep Arab nations squabbling
   among themselves and therefore weak relative to Western nations.
   To unity advocates, what we call ``stability'' means continued
   weakness. Weakness is a major theme in the Arab world, and is
   often conceptualized in sexual terms, even more than in the West.
   American officials, in speaking of the ``rape'' of Kuwait, are
   conceptualizing a weak, defenseless country as female and a
   strong militarily powerful country as male. Similarly, it is
   common for Arabs to conceptualize the colonization and subsequent
   domination of the Arab world by the West, especially the US, as
   emasculation. An Arab proverb that is reported to be popular in
   Iraq these days is that ``It is better to be a cock for a day
   than a chicken for a year.'' The message is clear: It is better
   to be male, that is, strong and dominant for a short period of
   time than to be female, that is, weak and defenseless for a long
   time. Much of the support for Saddam among Arabs is due to the
   fact that he is seen as standing up to the US, even if only for a
   while, and that there is a dignity in this. If upholding dignity
   is an essential part of what defines Saddam's ``rational self-
   interest'', it is vitally important for our government to know
   this, since he may be willing to go to war to ``be a cock for a
   day.'' The US does not have anything like a proper understanding
   of the issue of Arab dignity. Take the question of whether Iraq
   will come out of this with part of the Rumailah oil fields and
   two islands giving it a port on the gulf. From Iraq's point of
   view these are seen as economic necessities if Iraq is to re-
   build. President Bush has spoken of this as ``rewarding aggres-
   sion'', using the Third-World-Countries-As-Children metaphor,
   where the great powers are grown-ups who have the obligation to
   reward or punish children so as to make them behave properly.
   This is exactly the attitude that grates on Arabs who want to be
   treated with dignity. Instead of seeing Iraq as a sovereign na-
   tion that has taken military action for economic purposes, the
   president treats Iraq as if it were a child gone bad, who has be-
   come the neighborhood bully and should be properly disciplined by
   the grown-ups. The issue of the Rumailah oil fields and the two
   islands has alternatively been discussed in the media in terms of
   ``saving face.'' Saving face is a very different concept than up-
   holding Arab dignity and insisting on being treated as an equal,
   not an inferior.

            What is Hidden By Seeing the State as a Person?

   The State-as-Person metaphor highlights the ways in which states
   act as units, and hides the internal structure of the state.
   Class structure is hidden by this metaphor, as is ethnic composi-
   tion, religious rivalry, political parties, the ecology, the in-
   fluence of the military and of corporations (especially multi-
   national corporations). Consider ``national interest.'' It is in
   a person's interest to be healthy and strong. The State-as-Person
   metaphor translates this into a ``national interest'' of economic
   health and military strength. But what is in the ``national in-
   terest'' may or may not be in the interest of many ordinary ci-
   tizens, groups, or institutions, who may become poorer as the GNP
   rises and weaker as the military gets stronger. The ``national
   interest'' is a metaphorical concept, and it is defined in Ameri-
   ca by politicians and policy makers. For the most part, they are
   influenced more by the rich than by the poor, more by large cor-
   porations than by small business, and more by developers than
   ecological activists. When President Bush argues that going to
   war would ``serve our vital national interests'', he is using a
   metaphor that hides exactly whose interests would be served and
   whose would not. For example, poor people, especially blacks and
   Hispanics, are represented in the military in disproportionately
   large numbers, and in a war the lower classes and those ethnic
   groups will suffer proportionally more casualties. Thus war is
   less in the interest of ethnic minorities and the lower classes
   than the white upper classes. Also hidden are the interests of
   the military itself, which are served when war is justified.
   Hopes that, after the cold war, the military might play a smaller
   role have been dashed by the president's decision to prepare for
   war. He was advised, as he should be, by the national security
   council, which consists primarily of military men. War is so aw-
   ful a prospect that one would not like to think that military
   self-interest itself could help tilt the balance to a decision
   for war. But in a democratic society, the question must be asked,
   since the justifications for war also justify continued military
   funding and an undiminished national political role for the mili-

                             Energy Policy

   The State-as-Person metaphor defines health for the state in
   economic terms, with our current understanding of economic health
   taken as a given, including our dependence on foreign oil. Many
   commentators have argued that a change in energy policy to make
   us less dependent on foreign oil would be more rational than go-
   ing to war to preserve our supply of cheap oil from the gulf.
   This argument may have a real force, but it has no metaphorical
   force when the definition of economic health is taken as fixed.
   After all, you don't deal with an attack on your health by chang-
   ing the definition of health. Metaphorical logic pushes a change
   in energy policy out of the spotlight in the current crisis. I
   do not want to give the impression that all that is involved here
   is metaphor. Obviously there are powerful corporate interests
   lined up against a fundamental restructuring of our national en-
   ergy policy. What is sad is that they have a very compelling sys-
   tem of metaphorical thought on their side. If the debate is
   framed in terms of an attack on our economic health, one cannot
   argue for redefining what economic health is without changing the
   grounds for the debate. And if the debate is framed in terms of
   rescuing a victim, then changes in energy policy seem utterly be-
   side the point.

                         The ``Costs'' of War

   Clausewitz's metaphor requires a calculation of the ``costs'' and
   the ``gains'' of going to war. What, exactly, goes into that cal-
   culation and what does not? Certainly American casualties, loss
   of equipment, and dollars spent on the operation count as costs.
   But Vietnam taught us that there are social costs: trauma to fam-
   ilies and communities, disruption of lives, psychological effects
   on veterans, long-term health problems, in addition to the cost
   of spending our money on war instead of on vital social needs at
   home. Also hidden are political costs: the enmity of Arabs for
   many years, and the cost of increased terrorism. And barely dis-
   cussed is the moral cost that comes from killing and maiming as a
   way to settle disputes. And there is the moral cost of using a
   ``cost'' metaphor at all. When we do so, we quantify the effects
   of war and thus hide from ourselves the qualitative reality of
   pain and death. But those are costs to us. What is most ghoul-
   ish about the cost-benefit calculation is that ``costs'' to the
   other side count as ``gains'' for us. In Vietnam, the body counts
   of killed Viet Cong were taken as evidence of what was being
   ``gained'' in the war. Dead human beings went on the profit side
   of our ledger. There is a lot of talk of American deaths as
   ``costs'', but Iraqi deaths aren't mentioned. The metaphors of
   cost-benefit accounting and the fairy tale villain lead us to de-
   value of the lives of Iraqis, even when most of those actually
   killed will not be villains at all, but simply innocent draftees
   or reservists or civilians.

                            America as Hero

   The classic fairy tale defines what constitutes a hero: it is a
   person who rescues an innocent victim and who defeats and pun-
   ishes a guilty and inherently evil villain, and who does so for
   moral rather than venal reasons. If America starts a war, will it
   be functioning as a hero? It will certainly not fit the profile
   very well. First, one of its main goals will be to reinstate
   ``the legitimate government of Kuwait.'' That means reinstating
   an absolute monarchy, where women are not accorded anything
   resembling reasonable rights, and where 80% of the people living
   in the country are foreign workers who do the dirtiest jobs and
   are not accorded the opportunity to become citizens. This is not
   an innocent victim whose rescue makes us heroic. Second, the ac-
   tual human beings who will suffer from an all-out attack will,
   for the most part, be innocent people who did not take part in
   the atrocities in Kuwait. Killing and maiming a lot of innocent
   bystanders in the process of nabbing a much smaller number of
   villains does not make one much of a hero. Third, in the self-
   defense scenario, where oil is at issue, America is acting in its
   self-interest. But, in order to qualify as a legitimate hero in
   the rescue scenario, it must be acting selflessly. Thus, there is
   a contradiction between the self-interested hero of the self-
   defense scenario and the purely selfless hero of the rescue
   scenario. Fourth, America may be a hero to the royal families of
   Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, but it will not be a hero to most Arabs.
   Most Arabs do not think in terms of our metaphors. A great many
   Arabs will see us as a kind of colonial power using illegitimate
   force against an Arab brother. To them, we will be villains, not
   heroes. America appears as classic hero only if you don't look
   carefully at how the metaphor is applied to the situation. It is
   here that the State-as-Person metaphor functions in a way that
   hides vital truths. The State-as-Person metaphor hides the inter-
   nal structure of states and allows us to think of Kuwait as a un-
   itary entity, the defenseless maiden to be rescued in the fairy
   tale. The metaphor hides the monarchical character of Kuwait,
   and the way Kuwaitis treat women and the vast majority of the
   people who live in their country. The State-as-Person metaphor
   also hides the internal structures of Iraq, and thus hides the
   actual people who will mostly be killed, maimed, or otherwise
   harmed in a war. The same metaphor also hides the internal
   structure of the US, and therefore hides the fact that is the
   poor and minorities who will make the most sacrifices while not
   getting any significant benefit. And it hides the main ideas that
   drive Middle Eastern politics.

                             Things to Do

   War would create much more suffering than it would alleviate, and
   should be renounced in this case on humanitarian grounds. There
   is no shortage of alternatives to war. Troops can be rotated out
   and brought to the minimum level to deter an invasion of Saudi
   Arabia. Economic sanctions can be continued. A serious system of
   international inspections can be instituted to prevent the
   development of Iraq's nuclear capacity. A certain amount of
   ``face-saving'' for Saddam is better than war: As part of a
   compromise, the Kuwaiti monarchy can be sacrificed and elections
   held in Kuwait. The problems of rich and poor Arabs must be ad-
   dressed, with pressures placed on the Kuwaitis and others to in-
   vest significantly in development to help poor Arabs. Balance of
   power solutions within the region should always be seen as moves
   toward reducing, not increasing armaments; positive economic in-
   centives can used, together with the threat of refusal by us and
   the Soviets to supply spare parts needed to keep hi-tech military
   weaponry functional. If there is a moral to come out of the
   Congressional hearings, it is that there are a lot of very
   knowledgeable people in this country who have thought about al-
   ternatives to war. They should be taken seriously.

--- End Forwarded Messages ---

From pbengel@weber.ucsd.edu Wed Feb 13 10:54 PST 1991
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Date: Wed, 13 Feb 91 10:51:09 pst
From: pbengel@weber.ucsd.edu (Peggy Bengel)
Message-Id: <9102131851.AA10285@weber.ucsd.edu>
To: xwar@weber.ucsd.edu
Subject: xwar is up!
Status: RO

Xwar is up and running. Send mail to xwar who-is-at ucsd.edu.
There are 13 members so far. I am including the
realname list FYI.

Peggy Bengel
BENGEL, Peggy - pbengel@ucsd.edu
GREENLEAF, Cyndy - cgreen@violet.berkeley.edu
GRUDIN, Jonathan - jgrudin@daimi.aau.dk
RITTER, Christopher - critter@garnet.berkeley.edu
XERRI, Tony - xerri%utoroise.bitnet

From critter@garnet.berkeley.edu Wed Feb 13 11:09 PST 1991
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From: critter@garnet.berkeley.edu (Christopher Ritter)
Message-Id: <9102131907.AA14333@garnet.berkeley.edu>
To: xwar@weber.ucsd.edu
Subject: Re: xwar is up!
Status: RO

Thanks Peggy! I'd like to kick things off ...

The e-mail message that should be behind this one in your input queue is a
long file containing a well forwarded translation of King Hussein's speech of
last week, and a Chomsky article. My apologies if you have seen them before,
and as each is quite long, don't hesitate to delete the file if you aren't
up to it.

Chris Ritter
EMST Program
University of California at Berkeley

From critter@garnet.berkeley.edu Wed Feb 13 11:15 PST 1991
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Date: Wed, 13 Feb 91 11:09:10 PST
From: critter@garnet.berkeley.edu (Christopher Ritter)
Message-Id: <9102131909.AA14465@garnet.berkeley.edu>
To: xwar@weber.ucsd.edu
Subject: King Hussein and Chomsky
Status: RO

From: covici@ccs.portal.com (John Covici)
Newsgroups: alt.desert-storm
Subject: full text of King Hussein's Speech (long)
Date: 9 Feb 91 08:12:05 GMT

King Hussein's speech February 6, 1991

   Brother citizens, brother Arabs, brother Muslims, you who
uphold your faith and refuse to see your nation humiliated; you
who are truly sincere within yourselves and in your hearts and
minds, and in your objectives, ideas and attitudes; you who are
concerned for the present as well as the future generations of
our nation, I greet every one of you with all affection.

   I choose to address you at this very difficult moment,
motivated by Arab honour and religious duty. I address you on the
eve of the fourth week of this savage and large-scale war which
was imposed on brotherly Iraq, and which is aimed at Iraq's
existence, its role, its progress and its vitality. It is also
aimed at Iraq's right to a life of freedom and dignity, and its
determination to fulfill its historic, cultural and human role
which started in Babylon, Baghdad and Basra, and which
contributed to human civilization, scientific progress and

   Iraq, fellow Arabs and Muslims, now pays the price in pure
and noble blood of belonging to its nation. Iraq had always
hastened, without hesitation, to make sacrifices in all the
battles which the Arabs fought, or which were forced upon them in
defence of Arab land in Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Jordan. Arab
blood was always dear to Iraq and shouldn't the blood of Iraqi
men, women and children be dear to us?! How shamed will be the
Arabs who let Arab blood be spilt in this unjust war?!

   The world has known cruel wars, but never one like this that
is waged against Iraq and the likes of which may never happen
again. The armies of the biggest and most powerful nations have
gathered and unleashed their modern and dangerous weapons on the
land, in the sea, and in the sky. These weapons had originally
been arrayed by the present international military alliance
against an opposing alliance led by another superpower. They are
all now arrayed against the Baghdad of Haroun al Rashid, the
Basra of Islamic Studies and poetry, the Kufa of Ali, may God's
peace be upon him, the Holy Najaf, Karbala, Al Diwaniyeh, Mosul,
Kerkouk, and every Iraqi city and village. Fire rains down upon
Iraq from airplanes, from battleships, from submarines and
rockets, destroying mosques, churches, schools, museums,
hospitals, powderered milk factories, residential areas, Bedouin
tents, electricity generating stations, and water networks. This
bombing started from the first hours and took the form of a war
that aims to destroy all the achievement of Iraq and return it to
primitive life, by using the latest technology of destruction.
The first victims of this war were justice, righteousness and
peace. Its first casualties were the aspirations of all humanity
since the end of the second world war, hoping that that war would
be the last human tragedy, and that man would no longer be killer
or victim. All the hopes of our nation and the world community
were thwarted the day the land of Iraq was turned into the arena
of the third world war.

   Brother citizens, brother Arabs, brother Muslims,

   The irony of this war is that it is waged under the cloak of
international legitimacy, and in the name of the United Nations,
which was created to preserve peace, security and justice, and to
resolve disputes through dialogue, negotiations and diplomacy. If
this is an example of the future role of the United Nations in
the new world order, what an ominous future lies before all
nations! What international legitimacy will there be to protect
the less powerful against the more powerful who seek to subjugate
them, humiliate them, kill them, and usurp all their rights that
were granted by God and protected by charter of the United
Nations? We now realize fully the real reason why we, the Arabs,
were deprived of our right to solve our problems, and why the
United Nations was prevented from fulfilling its role, and why
the doors were shut against any sincere political attempt to
resolve the Gulf crisis. It is claimed that every effort possible
was made to solve the crisis during the five months before the
war. This is not true. If the effort that was spent in preparing
for the war had been devoted to the quest for a peaceful
settlement, this disaster would not have taken place. Moreover,
the on-going war, with its destructive outcome, is incompatible
with the humanitarian objectives of the United Nations
resolutions which were adopted to restore peace and security to
the Gulf region.

   By contrast the Arab-Israeli conflict remained far from any
honest and real attempt to resolve it justly. The Arab
Palestinian people and the Arab nation still await the
implementation of a single United Nations resolution, which
rejects Israeli occupation and calls for an end to it.
Twenty-four years have passed since the occupation of the West
Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, and nine years have passed
since the occupation of south Lebanon, but none of our hopes were
fulfilled. Nevertheless, we did not despair of the United
Nations. The major powers persisted in assuring us that a
peaceful solution was possible. As regards the Gulf crisis, the
Arab parties concerned chose from the beginning to reject any
political Arab dialogue with Iraq, and to block any attempt that
could prevent the internationalizaton of the crisis and its
resolution by directly dealing with all its causes and results.
All the good offices of Jordan and others who were concerned for
the future of our nation were aborted. Why? Because the real
purpose behind this destructive war, as proven by its scope, and
as attested to by the declaration of the parties, is to destroy
Iraq, and rearrange the area in a manner far more dangerous to
our nation's present and future than the Sykes-Picot agreement.
This arrangement would put the nation, its aspirations and its
resources under direct foreign hegemony and would shred all ties
between its parts, thus further weakening and fragmenting it.

   The talk about a new world order, whose early feature is the
destruction of Iraq, and the persistence of this talk as the war
continues, lead us to wonder about the identity of this order and
instill in us doubts regarding its nature.

   The new world order to which we aspire holds all people
equal in their right to freedom, progress and prosperity. It
deals with their causes with the same standards and under the
same principles, regardless of any consideration or influence.
The required new world would not mete out injustice to any one
nation. It would not discriminate between nations but draw them
together within the framework of mutual respect and fruitful
cooperation for the benefit of our planet and all people on it.
It must be an order that believes in public freedom and protects
private freedoms, respects human rights and strengthens the
principles of democracy. It should not deny the Arab people their
right to all this.

   The nature of the military alliance against Iraq betrays its
near and long-term objectives. For when Israel supports this
alliance; when two countries, one Arab the other Islamic, both of
which have normal political relations with Israel, whose leaders
compete for prominence in this alliance and reiterate their
desire and enthusiasm for the destruction of Iraq, it becomes
easy to realize that this war is a war against all Arabs and
Muslims, not only against Iraq. When Arab and Islamic lands are
offered as bases for the allied armies from which to launch
attacks to destroy Arab Muslim Iraq, when Arab money is financing
this war with unprecedented generosity unknown to us and our
Palestinian brothers, while we shoulder our national
responsibilities; when this takes place, I say that any Arab or
Muslim can realize the magnitude of this crime committed against
his religion and his nation.

   Brother citizens,

   From the very beginning we have shouldered our
responsibilities to the Arab nation and Islam, as well as towards
international peace and security. We have made every effort to
fulfill these responsibilites. We are not hurt because our
rewards have been succesive punishments to our country and
people. It has become clear to the world that these punishments
are the price which we must pay because we tried to avert the
disaster which was planned and premeditated in the dark. As a new
form of punishment there are now attempts to deprive us of our
basic needs, even oil, as a new form of punishment, and one of
the most severe, for no other reason than our principled stand.
It is because we are not party to the conflict, nor part of the
alliance, unwilling to dance to the tune others play, with no
will of our own, no rights and no ability to express our free
opinion. We would not forsake this right, because it is equal in
importance to our human right to breathe air that is not yet
rationed. Nevertheless, Jordan's leadership and people will
remain firm in their position and belief that the opportunity for
peace still exists. Recourse to peace remains less costly and
would reflect more truly the commitment to principles and values
than the continuation of this devastating war.

   The voice of millions can be heard in every country,
including those of the alliance. They all call for peace and an
end to the killing of children, the destructin of homes, and the
withholding of medicine from the sick. I know just as you do that
against these voices stand political and military leaders, alas
with Arabs in their forefront, calling for the continuation of
this war. Which voices will win in the end? The voices of reason,
peace and justice, or the voices of war, hatred and insanity?

   We and other brothers have made a loud call to stop military
action and open the way for diplomatic political action to
resolve the problem, but the call fell on deaf ears. Many a time
before the war had started we warned against its effects, the
deep wounds which it would open, and its repercussions which
would grow and include human, economic and ecological tragedies.
We warned that war is a measure of last resort, launched only
after all efforts to avert it have been exhausted. Our calls and
warnings were in vain.

   Justice will be victorious, God willing, brothers, and our
nation will prevail because, through its victory humanity will
prevail against its enemies. Life will prevail over death. Love
among nations will prevail over hatred. It will become clear to
all those who gambled that our nation would be divided, like its
leaders, that it is a dead nation, will be proven wrong. Our
nation will remain, God willing, a strong, proud and vibrant
nation. ``These your people are one people and I am your God, so
worship me alone'' (Surat al Anbiya no. 92). let us have fear of
God and remember that. If this situation continues, it will only
benefit those who covet our lands and resources, with Israel at
their forefront. There are already signs that the spoils are
being divided. We hear and read every day of plans to control our
resources, limit our freedom of decision, strangle our
aspirations and usurp our rights. There is talk of proposed
military alliances and foreign troops that will stay on Arab
soil; of conditions that will handicap our progress; of a
solution for the Palestinian problem which has been prepared or
which will be prepared by others according to what they see, and
according to the will of the powerful that is imposed on the
weak. We cannot imagine that this solution would fulfill the
legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people on their
nation soil.

   This is a call from a Hashemite Arab to all honest Arab and
Muslim leaders. Let us join our efforts to stop this catastrophe
and save the people of Iraq from the fate that is planned for
them. Let us save our nation from the plans that are designed for
it. Let us bring this war to an end.

   The starting point in all this is immediate and serious work
to make the alliance accept a cease-fire, in preparation for a
responsible dialogue between the antagonists: an Iraqi-American
dialogue and an Arab-Arab dialogue that resorts to reason and
balances interests against international legitimacy, the
legitimacy of security, peace, justice and equality.

   By destroying Iraq, this war has exceeded the limits set by
the United Nations in its resolutions. This is confirmed by the
declarations of the alliance leaders. So where is the United
Nations now? The alternative to a ceasefire is the destruction of
Arabs and Muslims, their humiliation, their exploitation, the
trampling on their honour, pride and legitimate hopes, and hatred
and strife between nations. We in Jordan will stay the Arabs of
all Arabs, the noblest of the noble, the men of all men. We shall
always stay united, army and people, alert to defend our country.
If the fight is forced upon us, we shall be up to it and gain one
of God's two favours (victory or martyrdom). Our hearts are full
of faith, and we thank God for everything.

   From Amman of the Arabs I send to our people in Palestine
our great pride in them, in their steadfastness, in their
resilience against their suffering where a whole nation is under
house arrest, without work, without a source of earning, without
medicine. But it is a nation that believes in God and stands fast
by the Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

   As for our people in Iraq, what words can describe their
great courage and pride, their tenacity, and their ability to
face twenty-eight allied countries, twenty-eight armies headed by
the largest, most powerful, and best-armed army of the world! To
them we send our love and our pride as they defend us all and
raise the banner that says God is great, the banner of Arabs and
Islam, we salute Iraq, its heroic army, its steadfast people, its
glorious women, its brave children, and its aged, confronting
with faith the bombers, the battleships and tons of explosives.

   We send a special salute to his holiness Pope John Paul II
for his prayers and continuous calls for peace in the Middle
East, and to all people and international figures everywhere who
decry war and call for peace. A salute of pride to all our Arab
and Muslim brothers in the five continents who came out from the
first moments of war to make a stand for life and peace against
death, destruction and aggression.

   I pay a special debt of thanks to all those who search for
truth and who work to spread it because they respect and care for
truth. To all the newsmen, academics, and politicians who live
among us and do their duty in honesty and professionalism.

   ``Most of their conferrings together are devoid of good,
except such as enjoin charity, or the promotion of public welfare
or of public peace; and on him who strives after these, seeking
the gratification of God, shall we soon bestow a great reward
(Surat al-nisa no. 114).

   May God's peace and blessings be upon you.

From: mt@debussy.media-lab.media.mit.edu (Michael Travers)
Newsgroups: alt.desert-storm
Subject: Chomsky on the Gulf Crisis [long]
Date: 12 Feb 91 04:39:47 GMT
Sender: news@media-lab.MEDIA.MIT.EDU
Organization: MIT Media Laboratory
Lines: 961

The following article by Noam Chomsky has been published in the
February issue of *Z Magazine*. The article was written in early
January, before the start of Operation Desert Storm. Noam
Chomsky is a regular contributor to Z Magazine.

[Unfortunately, footnotes have been omitted from the electronic
version. As usual with Chomsky, the allegations are quite thoroughly
backed up.]

The Gulf Crisis, Z Magazine, Feb. 1991

1. Aggression and Response

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990 evoked a strong
response from the industrial powers; in fact, two rather
different responses. The first was an array of economic
sanctions of unprecedented severity. The second was the threat
of war. Both responses were initiated at once, even before
Iraq's annexation of the invaded country. The first response had
broad support. The second is pretty much limited to the U.S. and
Britain, apart from the family dictatorships that had been placed
in charge of the Gulf oil producing states. As leader of the
two-member coalition, the U.S. moved quickly to ensure that
sanctions could not be effective and to bar any diplomatic

Two questions at once arise: What explains the unprecedented
actions? What lies behind the tactical division over generally
shared objectives?

The second question is rarely raised explicitly, except in the
course of complaints about our faint-hearted and money-grubbing
allies, who lack the courage, integrity and sturdy national
character of the Anglo-American duo. The general question,
however, suffers from no shortage of answers, including
impressive phrases about the sanctity of international law and
the U.N. Charter, and our historic mission to punish anyone who
dares to violate these sacred principles by resorting to force.
President Bush declared that "America stands where it always has,
against aggression, against those who would use force to replace
the rule of law." While some questioned his tactical judgment,
there was widespread admiration for the President's honorable
stand, and his forthright renewal of our traditional dedication
to nonviolence, the rule of law, and the duty of protecting the
weak and oppressed. Scholarship weighed in, adding historical
and cross-cultural depth. A noted Cambridge University Professor
of Political Science wrote in the Times Literary Supplement
(London) that "Our traditions, fortunately, prove to have at
their core universal values, while theirs are sometimes hard to
distinguish with the naked eye from rampant (and heavily armed)
nihilism. In the Persian Gulf today, President Bush could hardly
put it more bluntly..." Others too basked in self-adulation,
though it was conceded that we had not always applied our
traditional values with complete consistency, failures that we
are sure to rectify as soon as we have finished with the business
at hand. These past lapses are commonly attributed to our
understandable preoccupation with defense against the Russians,
now of lesser urgency with the U.S. triumph in the Cold War.

The issue was raised to cosmic significance, with visions of a
New World Order of peace and justice that lies before us if only
the new Hitler can be stopped before he conquers the world --
after having failed to overcome post-revolutionary Iran with its
severely weakened military, even with the support of the U..S.,
USSR, Europe, and the major Arab states. "We live in one of those
rare transforming moments in history," Secretary Baker declared,
with the Cold War over and "an era full of promise" just ahead,
if we can avoid "the self-defeating path of pretending not to
see." Commentators marvelled at the "wondrous sea change" at the
United Nations, which is "functioning as it was designed to
do...for virtually the first time in its history" and thus
offering "a bold pattern of peacekeeping for the post-Cold War
world" (New York Times). The standard explanation is that
with the U.S. victory in the Cold War, Soviet obstructionism and
the "shrill, anti-Western rhetoric" of the Third World no longer
render the U.N. ineffective.

2. Narrowing the Options

Professing high principle, Washington moved vigorously to block
all diplomatic efforts, restricting its own contacts with Iraq to
delivery of an ultimatum demanding immediate and total
capitulation to U.S. force -- what George Bush called "going the
extra mile to achieve a peaceful solution." Europeans were warned
not to deviate from the firm U.S. rejection of any form of
diplomacy or any hint of willingness to negotiate. Washington
also sternly rejected any "linkage" with regional issues,
expressing its moral revulsion at the very thought of rewarding
an aggressor by considering problems of armaments, security, and
others in a regional context. The effect was to minimize the
likelihood that Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait might be arranged
without the threat or use of force. It is difficult to imagine
that this was not the purpose of the rejection of "linkage," also
an unprecedented stand.

These solemn declarations of high principle were generally
accepted at face value, leaving unchallenged the pretexts offered
for war. Debate was therefore limited to tactical questions of
U.S. interest. In this limited frame, the Administration is sure
to prevail, and did. The rhetorical stance, in contrast, could
not have survived the slightest challenge. The general
abdication of critical standards was thus a matter of no small
importance -- not for the first time.

Some did express concern, and a degree of wonder, over the
inability of backward sectors to perceive our nobility. "Perhaps
most troublesome for Bush in his effort to create a `new world
order'," one reporter observed plaintively, is the fact that "a
surprising number of Europeans believe that the United States is
in the gulf not to free Kuwait or punish Saddam Hussein but to
bolster its own influence and power." A poll reported in the same
paper the same day (Boston Globe, Jan. 13) revealed that a
surprising number of Americans share these delusions, believing
that control over oil is the "key reason" for the U.S. troop
presence (50%), not "liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation"
(28%) or "neutralization of Iraq's weapons capabilities (14%).
Such confusions are even more rampant in the Third World, apart
from the wealthy and privileged elements which, like their
counterparts here, have a proper understanding of our innate
virtue and benevolence.

Washington's explicit rejection of any form of diplomacy was
welcomed as a "sensational offer to negotiate" (in the words of a
British loyalist), a forthcoming willingness to "explore any
diplomatic avenue," along the "diplomatic track" that had been
effectively blocked. There was eloquent rhetoric about Iraqi
human rights abuses, and the anguish they caused George Bush, who
"keeps copies of Amnesty International's reports on Iraqi torture
in his office" (Daniel Yergin) and whose soul had been seared by
the experience of fighting to stop Hitler and Tojo, after the
cowardly appeasers had let them go too far.

Rejection of diplomacy was explicit from the outset. New York
Times chief diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman (in effect,
the State Department voice at the Times) attributed the
Administration's rejection of "a diplomatic track" to its concern
that negotiations might "defuse the crisis" at the cost of "a few
token gains in Kuwait" for the Iraqi dictator, perhaps "a Kuwaiti
island or minor border adjustments" (August 22). Anything short
of capitulation to U.S. force is unacceptable, whatever the

Diplomatic options opened shortly after Saddam Hussein realized
the nature of the forces arrayed against him, apparently with
some surprise, though we cannot evaluate their prospects because
they were barred at once by Washington's rigid rejectionism. On
August 12, Iraq proposed a settlement linking its withdrawal from
Kuwait to withdrawal from other occupied Arab lands: Syria and
Israel from Lebanon, and Israel from the territories it conquered
in 1967. Two weeks later, about the time that Friedman warned of
the dangers of diplomacy, the Times learned of a considerably
more far-reaching offer from Iraq, but chose to suppress it. A
similar (or perhaps the same) offer was leaked to the suburban
New York journal Newsday, which published it very prominently
on August 29, compelling the Times to give it marginal and
dismissive notice the next day. The Iraqi offer was delivered to
National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft by a former
high-ranking U.S. official on August 23. It called for Iraqi
withdrawal from Kuwait in return for the lifting of sanctions,
full Iraqi control of the Rumailah oil field that extends about 2
miles into Kuwaiti territory over a disputed border, and
guaranteed Iraqi access to the Gulf, which involves the status of
two uninhabited islands that had been assigned by Britain to
Kuwait in the imperial settlement, thus leaving Iraq virtually
landlocked. Iraq also proposed negotiations on an oil agreement
"satisfactory to both nations' national security interest," on
"the stability of the gulf," and on plans "to alleviate Iraq's
economical and financial problems." There was no mention of U.S.
troop withdrawal or other preconditions. An Administration
official who specializes in Mideast affairs described the
proposal as "serious" and "negotiable."

Like others, this diplomatic opportunity quickly passed. Where
noted at all in the media, the offer was dismissed on the grounds
that the White House was not interested; surely true, and
sufficient for the offer to be written out of history, on the
assumption that all must serve the whims of power. Iraqi
proposals continued to surface, along with others. As of January
15, the last known example was made public on January 2, when
U.S. officials disclosed an Iraqi offer "to withdraw from Kuwait
if the United States pledges not to attack as soldiers are pulled
out, if foreign troops leave the region, and if there is
agreement on the Palestinian problem and on the banning of all
weapons of mass destruction in the region" (Knut Royce,
Newsday, Jan. 3). Officials described the offer as
"interesting" because it dropped any claims to the islands in the
Gulf and the Rumailah oil field, and "signals Iraqi interest in a
negotiated settlement." A State Department Mideast expert
described the proposal as a "serious prenegotiation position."
The U.S. "immediately dismissed the proposal," Royce continues.
It passed without mention in the Times, and was barely noted

The Times did however report on the same day that Yasser
Arafat, after consultations with Saddam Hussein, indicated that
neither of them "insisted that the Palestinian problem be solved
before Iraqi troops get out of Kuwait." According to Arafat, the
report continues, "Mr. Hussein's statement Aug. 12, linking an
Iraqi withdrawal to an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and
Gaza Strip, was no longer operative as a negotiating demand." All
that is necessary is "a strong link to be guaranteed by the five
permanent members of the Security Council that we have to solve
all the problems in the Gulf, in the Middle East and especially
the Palestinian cause."

Two weeks before the deadline for Iraqi withdrawal, then, the
possible contours of a diplomatic settlement appeared to be
these: Iraq would withdraw completely from Kuwait with a U.S.
pledge not to attack withdrawing forces; foreign troops leave the
region; the Security Council indicates a serious commitment to
settle other major regional problems. Disputed border issues
would be left for later consideration. Once again, we cannot
evaluate the prospects for settlement along these -- surely
reasonable -- lines, because the offers were flatly rejected, and
scarcely entered the media or public awareness. The United
States and Britain maintained their commitment to force alone.

The strength of that commitment was again exhibited when France
made a last-minute effort to avoid war on January 14, proposing
that the Security Council call for "a rapid and massive
withdrawal" from Kuwait along with a statement that Council
members would bring their "active contribution" to a settlement
of other problems of the region, "in particular, of the
Arab-Israeli conflict and in particular to the Palestinian
problem by convening, at an appropriate moment, an international
conference" to assure "the security, stability and development of
this region of the world." The French proposal was supported by
Belgium, a Council member, and Germany, Spain, Italy, Algeria,
Morocco, Tunisia, and several non-aligned nations. The U.S. and
Britain rejected it (along with the Soviet Union, irrelevantly).
U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering stated that the proposal was
unacceptable, because it went beyond previous U.N. resolutions on
the Iraqi invasion.

The Ambassador's statement was technically correct. The wording
of the proposal is drawn from a different source, namely, a
Security Council decision of December 20, adjoined to Resolution
681, which calls on Israel to observe the Geneva Conventions in
the occupied territories. In that statement the members of the
Security Council called for "an international conference, at an
appropriate time, properly structured," to help "achieve a
negotiated settlement and lasting peace in the Arab-Israeli
conflict." The statement was excluded from the actual Resolution
to prevent a U.S. veto. Note that there was no "linkage" to the
Iraqi invasion, which was unmentioned.

We do not, again, know whether the French initiative could have
succeeded in averting war. The U.S. feared that it might, and
therefore blocked it, in accord with its zealous opposition to
any form of diplomacy, and, in this case, its equally strong
opposition to an international conference that might lead the way
towards a political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict that
the U.S. has long opposed. In this rejectionism, George Bush was
joined by Saddam Hussein, who gave no public indication of any
interest in the French proposal, though doing so might possibly
have averted war.

The U.S. at once dispatched a huge expeditionary force to the
Gulf (even before the annexation, which was therefore not a
factor in this decision). That force was virtually doubled after
the November elections. While a deterrent force could be kept in
the desert and offshore, hundreds of thousands of troops cannot
be maintained in the desert for long, and withdrawal of this
military force without victory was ruled out by same lofty
rhetorical stance that blocked the diplomatic track. The
predictable effect of this decision -- and, presumably, its
purpose -- was to undercut the reliance on sanctions, which could
only have an impact over an extended period.

We might take a moment to review the standard arguments against
sanctions. Advocates of force observed somberly that there is no
guarantee that sanctions would work. That is quite true; there
is also no guarantee that the sun will rise tomorrow. There is,
however, a strong probability that in this case sanctions would
have been effective, if only because of their extraordinary
severity, and because -- for once -- the usual "sanctions
busters" (the U.S., Britain, and their allies) happen to be on
board, a simple truth that plainly cannot be expressed.

It was also argued that we cannot delay until sanctions have an
effect. Why can't we wait? One reason offered is that the
coalition would not hold -- a tacit concession of the lack of
support for the U.S. stance. Another is that it would be too
costly for us. But the costs of a deterrent force would, in
fact, be slight. The main argument is again high moral
principle: it offends our sensibilities to stand by while the
aggressor remains unpunished. That is not very convincing, to
put it mildly. As Edward Herman discussed in the January issue
of Z magazine, for two decades South Africa defied the U.N.
and the World Court on Namibia, looting and terrorizing the
occupied country and using it as a base for its aggression
against neighboring states, exacting an awesome toll. In the
1980s, the cost of South African terror just to its neighbors is
estimated by the UN Economic Commission on Africa at more than
$60 billion and 1.5 million lives. No one proposed bombing South
Africa, or withholding food. The U.S. pursued "quiet diplomacy"
and "constructive engagement," insisting upon "linkage" to a
variety of other issues, with thoughtful consideration of the
interests of the occupiers. Exactly the same was true when
George Shultz attempted to broker Israel's partial withdrawal
from Lebanon, also with ample reward for the aggressor, who had
been the beneficiary of U.S. material aid and Security Council
vetoes as it battered the defenseless country in the course of
completely unprovoked aggression that opened, symbolically, with
bombing of civilian targets leaving over 200 killed, including 60
patients in a children's hospital.

Avoidance of "linkage," whatever the merits of this stance, is
another diplomatic innovation devised for the present case.
Obviously, it reflects no high principle. In fact, no argument
whatsoever was presented for this radical departure from normal
procedure -- and none was needed, given the reflexive obedience
of the educated classes.

>From the outset, then, policy was carefully designed to reduce
the likely alternatives to two: war, or Iraqi capitulation to a
display of armed might. Crucially, the peaceful means prescribed
by international law must be barred. On that fundamental
principle, the U.S. and Britain have been adamant, standing
almost alone.

The moral level of debate was illustrated by the reaction to an
influential interview with the commander of the U.S. forces,
General Norman Schwartzkopf, featured in a front-page story in
the New York Times, which opened as follows:

"The commander of the American forces facing Iraq said today that
his troops could obliterate Iraq, but cautioned that total
destruction of that country might not be `in the interest of the
long-term balance of power in this region'."

The warning was elaborated by others. In a typical example,
Times Middle East specialist Judith Miller, under the heading
"Political Cost of Victory Questioned," wrote:

"There are few who doubt that if there is a war in the Persian
Gulf, the United States and its allies can `turn Baghdad into a
parking lot,' as an American diplomat in the Middle East recently
put it. But many analysts are increasingly concerned about the
probable effect of such a victory on longer-term American
interests in the region. William Crowe, a former Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned last week that `many Arabs would
deeply resent a campaign that would necessarily kill large
numbers of their Muslim brothers...'"

In short, we could slaughter 17 million people and wipe a country
off the face of the earth, but mass extermination might be
tactically unwise, harmful to our interests. This wrenching
moral issue was thoughtfully discussed in many articles. Those
who have expressed concern over the decline of our traditional
values may rest assured.

3. High Principle

As noted, the largely uncritical acceptance of Washington's
rhetorical stance by articulate opinion was no insignificant
matter. Its effect was to undercut reliance on sanctions and to
bar exploration of the diplomatic track, on the grounds that
"aggressors cannot be rewarded" -- in this unique case. The
effect, then, was to leave violence as the only policy option:
Iraq might succumb to the threat, or pay the price. Restricting
the options to these was no small achievement, given the
unprecedented character of the U.S. stance and its narrow base of
real support. The rhetorical stance assumed by the White House,
and accepted uncritically by its mainstream critics as well for
the most part, therefore merits some attention. Not a great deal
of attention is required, however, because the rhetorical stance
cannot withstand even a moment's scrutiny.

As a matter of logic, principles cannot be selectively upheld.
As a matter of fact, the U.S. is one of the major violators of
the principles now grandly proclaimed. We conclude at once,
without ambiguity or equivocation, that the U.S. does not uphold
these principles. We do not admire Saddam Hussein as a man of
principle because he condemns Israel's annexation of the Syrian
Golan Heights, nor do his laments over human rights abuses in the
occupied territories encourage our hopes for a kinder, gentler
world. The same reasoning applies when George Bush warns of
appeasing aggressors and clutches to his heart the Amnesty
International report on Iraqi atrocities (after August 2), but
not AI reports on El Salvador, Turkey, Indonesia, the Israeli
occupied territories, and a host of others. As for the "wondrous
sea change" at the U.N., it has little to do with the end of the
Cold War, or the improved behavior of the Russians and Third
World degenerates, whose "shrill, anti-Western rhetoric" commonly
turns out to be a call for observance of international law, a
weak barrier against the depredations of the powerful.

The U.N. was able to respond to Iraq's aggression because -- for
once -- the U.S. happened to be opposed to criminal acts, as
distinct from its own invasion of Panama in the first post-Cold
War act of aggression, the Turkish invasion and virtual
annexation of northern Cyprus, Israel's invasion of Lebanon and
annexation of the Golan Heights (sanctions vetoed by the U.S.),
the Moroccan invasion of the Sahara (justified on grounds that
"one Kuwait in the Arab world is enough"; it is unjust for such
vast resources to be in the hands of a tiny population); and much
else. As for the unprecedented severity of the U.N. sanctions,
that was a direct result of intense U.S. pressures, cajolery, and
threats, and the considerations of self-interest that motivate
other powers, great and small.

Saddam Hussein is a murderous gangster, just as he was before
August 2, when he was an amiable friend and favored trading
partner. His invasion of Kuwait is another crime, comparable to
others, not as terrible as some; for example, the Indonesian
invasion and annexation of East Timor, which reached
near-genocidal levels thanks to diplomatic and material support
from the two righteous avengers of the Gulf. The truth was
revealed by U.N. Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his
memoirs, describing his success in implementing State Department
directives to render the U.N. "utterly ineffective in whatever
measures it undertook" in response to Indonesia's aggression,
because "the United States wished things to turn out as they did,
and worked to bring this about." It was stated with equal
frankness by Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, explaining
his country's acquiescence in the forcible annexation of East
Timor: "The world is a pretty unfair place, littered with
examples of acquisition by force..." Saddam Hussein's aggression,
in contrast, called forth Australian Prime Minister Hawke's
ringing declaration that "big countries cannot invade small
neighbors and get away with it." If Libya were to join the
Butcher of Baghdad in exploiting Kuwait's oil riches, we would be
hearing calls to nuke the bastards. The reaction was slightly
different when Australia joined the Butcher of Jakarta a few
weeks ago in development of the rich petroleum resources of the
Timor sea.

U.N. peacekeeping efforts have regularly been frustrated by the
United States. The first post-Cold War U.N. session (1989-90)
was typical in this regard. Three Security Council resolutions
were vetoed, all by the U.S. Two condemned George Bush's
murderous invasion of Panama, the third condemned Israeli human
rights abuses; the U.S. vetoed a similar resolution the following
May. Britain and France joined the U.S. in blocking one of the
resolutions on Panama; the other, condemning U.S. violations of
diplomatic rights, was voted 13-1, Britain abstaining. The
General Assembly passed two resolutions calling on all states to
observe international law. The U.S. voted against both, alone
with Israel. The first condemned the continuing U.S. support for
the contras, the second, U.S. economic warfare against Nicaragua
- -- both declared "unlawful" by the World Court, but irrelevantly,
by the standards of the U.S. and its allies. A resolution
condemning the acquisition of territory by force passed 151-3
(U.S., Israel, Dominica); this was yet another call for a
political settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict, which the U.S.
has blocked for 20 years.

The U.S. is far in the lead in the past 20 years in Security
Council vetoes. Britain is second, France a distant third, and
the USSR fourth. The situation is similar in the General
Assembly, where the U.S. regularly votes against resolutions on
aggression, international law, human rights abuses, disarmament,
and other relevant issues, often alone, or with a few client
states. That has been the pattern since the U.N. ceased to serve
as a virtual instrument of U.S. foreign policy. There is no
reason to expect that the Soviet collapse will induce the U.S.
and Britain to end their campaign against international law,
diplomacy, and collective security -- a campaign that had little
to do with the Cold War, as a look at cases shows. The record
offers no prospects for a bright new era.

The actual stance of the U.S. was made clear during the debate
over its invasion of Panama, when U.N. Ambassador Thomas
Pickering lectured the Security Council on the meaning of Article
51 of the Charter, which restricts the use of force to
self-defense against armed attack until the Council acts. These
words permit the U.S. to use "armed force...to defend our
interests," Pickering explained to his backward students. The
same Article permits the U.S. to invade Panama to prevent its
"territory from being used as a base for smuggling drugs into the
United States," the Justice Department added. Washington has
even claimed the right of "self-defense against future attack"
under Article 51 (justifying the terror bombing of Libya). In
brief, like other states, the U.S. will do what it chooses,
regarding law and principle as ideological weapons, to be used
when serviceable, to be discarded when they are a nuisance. We
do no one any favors by suppressing these truisms.

Washington's rejection of "linkage" in this particular case is
readily understandable when we dispense with illusion. The U.S.
opposes diplomatic resolution of each of the major issues;
therefore it opposes linking them. Simple enough.

There are two crucial regional issues, apart from Iraqi
withdrawal from Kuwait, a fact underscored by the Iraqi proposal
released by U.S. officials on January 2. The first is the
Arab-Israel conflict, the second, the matter of weapons of mass
destruction. On both issues, the U.S. has been consistently
opposed to the diplomatic track.

Consider first the Arab-Israel conflict. There has long been a
broad international consensus on a political settlement of this
conflict. The U.S. and Israel have opposed it, and have been
isolated in this rejectionism, as the recent General Assembly
vote of 151-3 indicates. The President likes to tell us how
James Baker has labored to advance the peace process, but he
remains silent about the terms of the famed Baker plan, with its
unwavering support for the Israeli government "peace plan." Its
basic principles ban an "additional Palestinian state" (Jordan
already being one); bar any "change in the status of Judea,
Samaria and Gaza other than in accordance with the basic
guidelines of the [Israeli] Government," which preclude any
meaningful Palestinian self-determination; reject negotiations
with the PLO, thus denying Palestinians the right to choose their
own political representation; and call for "free elections" under
Israeli military rule with much of the Palestinian leadership
rotting in prison camps. Unsurprisingly, the official U.S.
position is kept carefully under wraps, and diplomacy is not a
policy option.

Another of the President's favorite slogans is that "it is the
world against Saddam Hussein." It is even more true that it is
the world against George Bush and his predecessors, as the recent
U.N. vote again illustrates. For this reason, the U.S. has
consistently opposed an international conference on the Middle
East. The excuse offered now is that we must not reward
aggression. But that cannot be the reason. The U.S. is commonly
quite happy to reward aggression, and it opposed an international
conference long before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and continued
to oppose a call for such a conference even when it was not
"linked" to Iraq, as noted above. The real reason is that at an
international conference, the U.S. would be isolated. Such a
conference could only lead to pressures for a political
settlement that the U.S. rejects. Therefore, Washington opposes
an international conference. For the same reasons the U.S. has
vetoed Security Council resolutions calling for a political
settlement and blocked other diplomatic initiatives for the past
20 years.

The same is true with regard to weapons of mass destruction,
surely an issue that must be considered on a regional basis,
hence with the dread "linkage," as in all similar cases. In
April 1990, Saddam Hussein, then still George Bush's friend and
ally, offered to destroy his chemical and biological weapons if
Israel agreed to destroy its non-conventional weapons --
including its nuclear weapons. The State Department welcomed
Hussein's offer to destroy his own arsenal, but rejected the link
"to other issues or weapons systems." Note that these remain
unspecified. Acknowledgement of the existence of Israeli nuclear
weapons would raise the question why all U.S. aid to Israel is
not illegal under congressional legislation of the 1970s that
bars aid to any country engaged in clandestine nuclear weapons

The story continues. In December, speaking at a joint press
conference with Secretary of State Baker, Soviet Foreign Minister
Eduard Shevardnadze proposed a nuclear-free zone in the Middle
East if Iraq withdraws from Kuwait. Baker gave "qualified
support," the press observed, but "carefully avoided using the
words `nuclear-free zone'" -- for the reason just noted. A week
later, Iraq offered to "scrap chemical and mass destruction
weapons if Israel was also prepared to do so," Reuters reported.
The offer seems to have passed in silence here. Iraq's more
recent call for "the banning of all weapons of mass destruction
in the region" as part of a negotiated settlement of its
withdrawal from Kuwait has already been mentioned.

We gain further understanding of the high principles inspiring
the U.S. and its British partner when we look at the forces
assembled, however ambiguously, under their flag. It has been
hard to overlook the fact that there is little to distinguish
Saddam Hussein from Syria's Hafez el-Assad, apart from current
service to U.S. needs; in fact, prior to August 2 their rankings
were often reversed within the doctrinal system. An inconvenient
Amnesty International release of November 2 reported that Saudi
security forces tortured and abused hundreds of Yemeni "guest
workers," also expelling 750,000 of them, "for no apparent reason
other than their nationality or their suspected opposition to the
Saudi Arabian government's position in the gulf crisis."
Apparently George Bush, though an avid reader of AI reports (so
we are told), somehow missed this one. The press also looked the
other way, though in the case of Arab states, there is no
shortage of commentators to denounce their evil nature.

It was also necessary to overlook Turkey's abysmal human rights
record, not to speak of its conquest and virtual annexation of
northern Cyprus, with thousands of casualties and hundreds of
thousands of refugees after an orgy of killing, torture, rape and
pillage to extirpate the last remnants of Greek culture back to
classical antiquity. Nonetheless, few winced when George Bush
praised Turkey for serving "as a protector of peace" as it joined
those who "stand up for civilized values around the world,"
opposing Saddam Hussein.

The alliance with Turkey also required some fancy footwork
because of the question of the Kurds in northern Iraq. It is
difficult not to notice that Iraqi forces facing U.S. troops
would be severely weakened if the U.S. were to support a Kurdish
rebellion. Washington rejected this option, presumably out of
concern that a Kurdish rebellion in Iraq might spread to Eastern
Turkey, where the huge Kurdish population (subjected to torture
and other severe punishments for the crime of speaking or writing
Kurdish or otherwise identifying themselves as Kurds) suffer
brutal oppression. In a rare notice of the issue in the press,
the Wall Street Journal observed that "the West fears that
pressing the `Kurdish question' with Turkey, Syria and Iran...
could weaken the anti-Iraq alliance." The report adds that "the
U.S. administration pointedly refused to meet with an Iraqi
Kurdish leader who visited Washington in August" to ask for
support, and that "Kurds say Ankara is using the Gulf crisis and
Turkey's resulting popularity in the West as cover for a
crackdown" -- while Western commentary now laments Iraq's
vicious treatment of the Kurds, whose grim fate has been
cynically exploited by the West for many years. Other reports
confirm new population transfers in the regions near the Iraqi
border, with several hundred villages either partially or totally
evacuated, though increased press censorship -- the most severe
since 1925, according to an informed Turkish source -- leaves the
matter obscure.

The avoidance of this topic is particularly remarkable because of
its relevance to the sole issue that is supposed to concern us,
in accord with our traditional values: saving American lives.
Evidently, this concern was outweighed by the higher priority of
protecting Turkey's right to repress its Kurdish population.

Proceeding through the list, the plea that Washington is inspired
by any wisp of principle can hardly be sustained. Inquiry will
reveal nothing beyond the usual reasons of state.

It is child's play to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein is a major
criminal, who would be subjected to the judgment of Nuremberg in
a just world. Many others would stand beside him before the bar
of justice, among them many of his most passionate accusers, some
well within the reach of U.S. law enforcement. The arguments
advanced to justify the bombing of Baghdad might be taken
seriously if they were put forth by people who had also been
calling eloquently for the bombing of Jakarta, Ankara, Tel Aviv,
Cape Town, and many other capitals, not excluding Washington.

Returning to the two questions raised at the outset, the answer
to the first is straightforward: the response to Saddam Hussein's
aggression is unprecedented because he stepped on the wrong toes.
The U.S. is upholding no high principle in the Gulf. Nor is any
other state.

Let's also be clear about a further point. Since the
justifications for war are based on an appeal to principle that
is clearly fraudulent, it follows that no reason at all has been
given for going to war. None whatsover. Doubtless there are
reasons, but not the ones that have been offered, because these
plainly cannot be taken seriously.

4. The Guardians of the Gulf

Let us turn now to the second question raised: Why have the U.S.
and Britain insisted on the threat or use of force to attain the
ends generally shared, instead of sanctions and diplomacy? Why
do we find two major First World military forces in the Gulf, the
U.S. and Britain, while other powers declined to give more than
token support -- even financial? Furthermore, even after
extensive U.S. pressures, the Security Council could not be moved
beyond an ambiguous resolution authorizing "all necessary means"
to secure Iraqi withdrawal: diplomacy, sanctions, or military
action by those intent on undertaking it. As noted by David
Scheffer, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, the resolution "neither requests nor
commands the use of military force" and "avoids the terminology
of war and such explicit terms as `armed force' or `military
measures'." When the history of this period emerges, if it ever
does, it may well turn out that, in reality, the U.N. record did
not deviate much from the standard pattern of attempts at
peacekeeping frustrated by U.S. veto; in this case, attempts to
pursue the course of sanctions and diplomacy, blocked by U.S.
threats and pressures, leading the U.N. in effect to wash its
hands of the matter, never pursuing the procedures by which the
Security Council may make "plans for the application of armed
force," according to the Charter.

At this point, one can only speculate about the reasons for the
U.S.-British insistence on force, but there are relevant factors,
including the historical background and the nature of the
emerging world order.

The U.S. and U.K. largely established the post-war settlement in
the region. A principle guiding U.S. policy has been that the
incomparable energy resources of the Gulf region, and the
enormous profits reaped, must remain under the effective control
of the U.S., its corporations, and dependable allies and clients.
Britain viewed matters in a similar light. In the early post-war
years, there was considerable conflict between the U.S. and
Britain over the terms of the imperial settlement, resolved by
the 1950s within the global order dominated by the United States.

Iraq challenged Anglo-American privilege in 1958, when a
nationalist military coup overthrew a dependent regime. There
is, of course, an earlier history, including British terror
bombing of civilians and the request of the RAF Middle East
command for authorization to use chemical weapons "against
recalcitrant Arabs as experiment." The request was granted by the
Secretary of State at the War office, who was "strongly in
favour" of "using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes"
(Winston Churchill) -- another illustration of the "universal
values" that animate our traditions.

In his history of the oil industry, Christopher Rand describes
the 1958 coup as "America's biggest setback in the region since
the war," "a shocking experience for the United States" that
"undoubtedly provok[ed] an agonizing reappraisal of our nation's
entire approach to the Persian Gulf." Recently released British
and American documents help flesh out earlier surmises.

Kuwait was a particular concern. The "new Hitler" of the day was
the secular nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and it was
feared that his pan-Arab nationalism might spread to Iraq,
Kuwait, and beyond. One reaction to the 1958 coup was a U.S.
Marine landing in Lebanon to prop up the regime, and apparent
authorization of use of nuclear weapons by President Eisenhower
"to prevent any unfriendly forces from moving into Kuwait" (in
his words). Britain considered several options for Kuwait, the
least harsh being a grant of nominal independence, but with
acceptance of "the need, if things go wrong, ruthlessly to
intervene, whoever it is has caused the trouble" (Foreign
Secretary Selwyn Lloyd). Lloyd stressed "the complete United
States solidarity with us over the Gulf," including the need to
"take firm action to maintain our position in Kuwait" and the
"similar resolution" of the U.S. "in relations to the Aramco
oilfields" in Saudi Arabia; the Americans "agree that at all
costs these oilfields [in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and
Qatar] must be kept in Western hands." Six months before the
Iraqi coup, Lloyd summarized the major concerns, including free
access to Gulf oil production "on favourable terms and for
sterling," and "suitable arrangements for the investment of the
surplus revenues of Kuwait," a matter of no little significance.

Declassified U.S. documents outline British goals in similar
terms: "the U.K. asserts that its financial stability would be
seriously threatened if the petroleum from Kuwait and the Persian
Gulf area were not available to the U.K. on reasonable terms, if
the U.K. were deprived of the large investments made by that area
in the U.K. and if sterling were deprived of the support provided
by Persian Gulf oil." These British needs, and the fact that "An
assured source of oil is essential to the continued economic
viability of Western Europe," provide some reason for the U.S.
"to support, or if necessary assist, the British in using force
to retain control of Kuwait and the Persian Gulf." In November
1958, the National Security Council recommended that the U.S. "Be
prepared to use force, but only as a last resort, either alone or
in support of the United Kingdom," if these interests are
threatened. In January, the National Security Council had
advised that Israel might provide a barrier to Arab nationalism,
articulating the basis for one element of the system of control
over the Middle East developed in the years that followed.

The concern that Gulf oil and riches be available to support the
ailing British economy was extended by the early 1970s to the
U.S. economy, which was visibly declining relative to Japan and
German-led Europe. Furthermore, control over oil serves as a
means to influence these rivals/allies, a fact noted in the
internal record in the early post-war years. One of the major
architects of the New World Order of that day, George Kennan,
advised that Japan should be helped to reindustrialize within the
U.S.-dominated global framework, but that the U.S. should keep
control of its energy system, which would give the U.S. "veto
power" if some time in the distant future, Japan might get out of
hand. That "veto power" is not as strong today, with the
decline of U.S. hegemony; but influence over oil production,
prices, and access is still not a negligeable factor in world
affairs. And as the U.S. and Britain lose their former economic
dominance, privileged access to the rich profits of Gulf oil
production is a matter of serious concern.

Capital flow from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Gulf
principalities to the U.S. and Britain has provided significant
support for their economies, corporations, and financial
institutions. These are among the reasons why the U.S. and
Britain have often not been averse to increases in oil price.
The issues are too intricate to explore here, but these factors
surely remain operative. It comes as no great surprise that the
two states that established the imperial settlement and have been
its main beneficiaries and guarantors are now girding for war in
the Gulf, while others keep their distance.

Also worth noting is a division in the Arab world. By and large,
support for the U.S. military initiative tends to decline as the
influence of the public increases. Commentators have
occasionally noted that support for the U.S. military initiative
was least in the governments that had "nascent democratic
movements": Jordan, Algeria, Yemen, and Tunisia (Judith Miller,
New York Times). Administration analysts expressed concern
that if U.S. troops were kept in place too long, the "Islamic
religious periods" (the Hajj and Ramadan) would allow more
expression of popular feelings and "could set off protests and
perhaps coups" that "could topple western-oriented governments in
the region and cut the diplomatic ground out from under US-led
troops facing Iraq" (Peter Gosselin, Boston Globe). Similar
concerns are regularly voiced about the home front. The standard
conclusion is that the U.S. must therefore strike fast. Fear of
the public is a normal feature of statecraft, as familiar as it
is instructive.

5. The New World Order

Secretary Baker's comments on the new "era full of promise" raise
another issue relevant to explanation of the U.S.-U.K. stance.
The New World Order that has become a virtual cliche since August
is real enough, though the lovely phrases about peace and justice
are another matter.

Basic elements of the New World Order were coming into focus 20
years ago, with the emergence of a "tripolar world" as economic
power diffused within U.S. domains. The U.S. remains the
dominant military power, but its economic superiority, though
still manifest, has declined, and may well decline further as the
costs of Reagan's party for the rich fall due. The collapse of
Soviet tyranny adds several new dimensions. First, new pretexts
are needed for Third World intervention, a serious challenge for
the educated classes. Second, there are now prospects for the
"Latin Americanization" of much of the former Soviet empire, that
is, for its reversion to a quasi-colonial status, providing
resources, cheap labor, markets, investment opportunities, and
other standard Third World amenities. But the U.S. and Britain
are not in the lead in this endeavor. A third important
consequence is that the U.S is more free than before to use
force, the Soviet deterrent having disappeared. That may well
increase the temptation for Washington to transfer problems to
the arena of forceful confrontation. The United States intends
to maintain its near monopoly of force, with no likely contestant
for that role. One effect will be exacerbation of domestic
economic difficulties; another, a renewed temptation to "go it
alone" in relying on the threat of force rather than diplomacy,
generally regarded as an annoying encumbrance.

These factors too help to clarify the varied reactions to the
Gulf crisis. War is dangerous; defusing the crisis without a
demonstration of the efficacy of force is also an unwelcome
outcome for Washington. As for the costs, plainly it would be
advantageous for them to be shared, but not at the price of
sacrificing the role of lone enforcer. These conflicting
concerns led to a sharp elite split over the tactical choice
between the threat of force and reliance on sanctions, with the
Administration holding to the former course.

In the New World Order, the Third World domains must still be
controlled, sometimes by force. This task has been the
responsibility of the United States, but with its relative
economic decline, the burden becomes harder to shoulder. One
reaction is that the U.S. must persist in its historic task,
while others pay the bills. Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence
Eagleburger explained that the emerging New World Order will be
based on "a kind of new invention in the practice of diplomacy":
others will finance U.S. intervention to keep order. In the
London Financial Times, a respected commentator on
international economic affairs described the Gulf crisis as a
"watershed event in US international relations," which will be
seen in history as having "turned the US military into an
internationally financed public good." In the 1990s, he
continues, "there is no realistic alternative [to] the US
military assuming a more explicitly mercenary role than it has
played in the past" (David Hale, FT, Nov. 21).

The financial editor of a leading U.S. conservative daily puts
the point less delicately: we must exploit our "virtual monopoly
in the security market...as a lever to gain funds and economic
concessions" from Germany and Japan (William Neikirk, Chicago
Tribune, Sept. 9). The U.S. has "cornered the West's security
market" and will therefore be "the world's rent-a-cops"; the
phrase "rent-a-thug" might be more accurate, if less appealing.
Some will call us "Hessians," he continues, but "that's a
terribly demeaning phrase for a proud, well-trained,
well-financed and well-respected military"; and whatever anyone
may say, "we should be able to pound our fists on a few desks" in
Japan and Europe, and "extract a fair price for our considerable
services," demanding that our rivals "buy our bonds at cheap
rates, or keep the dollar propped up, or better yet, pay cash
directly into our Treasury." "We could change this role" of
enforcer, he concludes, "but with it would go much of our control
over the world economic system."

The British right has added its special touch as well. The
editor of the London Sunday Telegraph writes that the "new
job" for "the post-Cold War world" is "to help build and sustain
a world order stable enough to allow the advanced economies of
the world to function without constant interruption and threat
from the Third World," a task that will require "instant
intervention from the advanced nations" and perhaps even
"pre-emptive action." Britain is "no match for Germany and Japan
when it comes to wealth creation; or even for France and Italy.
But when it comes to shouldering world responsibilities we are
more than a match." England will thus join the U.S., with its
similar configuration of strengths and weaknesses, in "rising to
this challenge." The offer is welcomed by American
neoconservatives, happy to have support in the mercenary role.

That role is also welcomed by the local administrators of Gulf
riches. A high Gulf official quoted in the Wall Street
Journal sees no reason for his son to "die for Kuwait." "We have
our white slaves from America to do that," he explains with a
"chuckle" -- not having looked too closely at the skin color of
his mercenaries, and forgetting mom

From jgrudin@daimi.aau.dk Thu Feb 14 07:28 PST 1991
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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 91 16:18:40 +0100
From: jgrudin@daimi.aau.dk
Message-Id: <9102141518.AA17991@halley.daimi.aau.dk>
To: xwar@ucsd.edu
Subject: purpose? and various
Status: RO

I never actually signed up to join xwar. I probably got on the list by
forwarding a msg from Ethel Tobach expressing her interest in getting on.

I'm not sure what the purpose(s) of this list might be. The comment that
xlchc was probably 95% in general agreement on the war drew a strong
response, and perhaps now I would lower the estimate to 80%, but it seems
possible that over 95% of the people on xwar are in general agreement.
Is the purpose to share factual information and analysis? To discuss
avenues for expressing opinions and bring about change? To intellectualize
anxiety? To engage in cultural or linguistic analysis of aspects of the
events and discussions? To feel more numerous than polls might suggest?

I will pass along a news item reported in Agence France-Presse because it
addresses some of the "balance" issues that precipitated this and might not
have been covered in the U.S. It describes comments by Israeli General
Nachman Shai praising the "patience and sangfroid" of Iraqis on Voice of
Israel radio. He said "They are showing great endurance given the fact
that they are sustaining very severe strikes and that tens of thousands
of bombs are being dropped on them. Unlike the inhabitants of Tel Aviv,
the people of Baghdad are without water, electricity and food."

This directly echoes things that some of us said to balance the letters
from Israel. I felt sorry for the people in Israel, driven to what seemed
to be an irrational frenzy by their helpless situation. But the balance was
missing. Before the hostilities there were some transcribed interviews with
Iraqis and never did I see one reporting anything other than a hope for peace.
Many Israelis were described as wanting the U.S. to attack. The dilemma is
similar to one that is currently sugar-coated regarding the Vietnam period.
Through about 1968, it seemed reasonable to be sympathetic to returning vets.
But after that, soldiers who went over had had ample exposure to arguments
for not going and if they came back expecting sympathy it was hard to muster.
One can be more angry with the leaders but at some point the fiction of
individual accountability has to be adopted or things lose their point.

Back to the General. It seems reasonable to assume he made the statement to
build Israel's increasingly positive image amongst the Arabs in the "alliance"
and thus widen the Arab schism but the statement stands nonetheless.

-- Jonathan

PS. A side bar on the issue of "collateral damage." I had a high school
friend who flew Navy jets during the Vietnam period though not in SE Asia.
He described how the principal enemy to his colleagues was the SAM missile,
which they were obsessed with. When they were about to dive down on a
target, they would fire a salvo of air-to-air missiles and then come
down behind them, using the missiles as a "cover" or decoy that could take
out SAMs heading their way. My friend pointed out that these missiles
came down to earth eventually at points unknown. I have noticed but not
attended the recent Vietnam air war movies, not sure if this was depicted.
I'm also not sure if pilots used such techniques in Iraq but it wouldn't
surprise me if there was some of it.

From cole@casbs.Stanford.EDU Thu Feb 14 13:09 PST 1991
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From: cole@casbs.Stanford.EDU (Michael Cole)
Message-Id: <9102142052.AA18950@casbs.Stanford.EDU>
To: xwar@ucsd.edu
Subject: and so it goes
Status: RO

I was reading an article I published in Science in 1973 this morning
when the story following it caught my eye. It was entitled "Military
R&D: Hard Lessons of an Electronic war." It discusses the fact that
Missles and wire guided anti-tank missles had given the Israeli
forces a hard time (75 planes lost in a hurry and many tanks), provoking
"a number of military analysts to being to extract some technological
lessons that will influence the course of tactical weapons R&D.
Look how far humanity has progressed in the intervening years! :-(

PS- For those interested, the article appears in Vol 182, Nov. 9,
1973, p. 559.

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