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Judaism: Of Bush, Saddam and Thugs

The Arab press is understandably focused nowadays on the tension between the US and Iraq, between US President George Bush and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The Arab press coverage of the Iraq-US confrontation essentially takes two forms - harsh criticism (sometimes vulgar, sometimes less so) of George Bush with criticism of Saddam?s foolishness or without such criticism. A recent article in the
Published: Sunday, January 05, 2003 11:55 PM


The Arab press is understandably focused nowadays on the tension between the US and Iraq, between US President George Bush and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The Arab press coverage of the Iraq-US confrontation essentially takes two forms - harsh criticism (sometimes vulgar, sometimes less so) of George Bush with criticism of Saddam?s foolishness or without such criticism. A recent article in the Egyptian daily al-Akhbar exemplifies this, calling US foreign policy - including the attempt to spread democracy and human rights - ?thuggery?.

According to the Egyptian newspaper, ?The age of globalization, is, rather, an age of thuggery. The theme of thuggery is crystal clear in the current crisis between Iraq and the United States.? The Egyptian commentator writes, ?American threats to the weak countries in the Middle East are an every-day headline in newspapers.? President Bush, the editorial continues, ?repeats his empty slogans of democracy, human rights, and globalization, which we, the Arabs, regard as a mere thuggery.? The author sees the current US administration as an aberration, though, writing, ?Before the Bush administration, the White House used to be wise and prudent when it comes to the use of military power. With the coming of Gorge W. Bush and his gang of rightist extremists, led by Dick Cheney, to power, everything became a mess.?

Similarly, a recent opinion article in the Saudi Arabian newspaper Arab News, entitled ?The War Must Go On!?, claims, ?The present administration, ever so trigger happy, is content to go at it alone if it has to.? In contrast, the Saudi columnist claims, ?Yet the Iraqis are no more a threat to Washington than Santa Claus on his sled!? The article then changes tone, and continues, ?This is an immoral war! An unjustified war! And the evidence up to date has validated every moral and conscientious objection to the evil that propels this pursuit of human destruction.?

The Saudi writer observes and questions, ?US officials and a host of unnamed sources within the Pentagon were busily portraying Iraq as the potential purveyors of Armageddon, with no more facts to base such claims on than the sensory perceptions within a few feet of their noses. Then why is there this continuing urgency by President Bush et al to push alarm buttons in the directions of Iraq? Is it in pursuit of more blood, now that things have settled down in Afghanistan? The US defense budget has certainly taken a dramatic hike upwards, so wouldn?t now be a good time for the Pentagon generals to try out their own weapons of mass destruction? Is it for the rich oil fields that lie under Iraq? So what if the price is collateral damage? in the form of a few million innocent Iraqis? Bombs do go astray, you know. The French and the Russians would then have to negotiate with the conquering powers for the lease rights on such rich territory. Could this all be thirst for oil? Or is this a personal vendetta between Bush Jr. and Saddam? After all, Bush Sr. elected to have Saddam walk. Is it to prove to the American public that Bush Jr. has cojones? And please don?t read me wrong. Saddam is a bad guy. But then so are Mugabe, Sharon, and a host of other cruel and murderous tyrants. But I don?t see the US war machine busily engaging itself towards those countries.?


An example of a different approach to the Iraq-US confrontation was exemplified recently in the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram. The newspaper analyzes the errors made by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in managing the conflict and places the responsibility for preventing the war on his shoulders. But the article quotes Iraqi spokesman Tariq Aziz as saying, ?We need a miracle to avert the eruption of war,? as he ?asserted that the ongoing massing of troops around Iraq means nothing but war.? Regarding Aziz? statement, the Egyptian newspaper comments, ?At last, there is someone in Iraq who understands that the military battleships cannot leave their bases except for war, contrary to what happened in 1990, when the military masses poured into the Gulf area to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.?

Al-Ahram notes that at the time of the first Gulf War, ?the only one who was certain that war would not flare up was the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was under the impression that the Soviet Union would bring out its nuclear warheads in defence of Iraq. It seems that he was not aware that the Berlin Wall had fallen down, that the Soviet Union itself had broken up, and that he was not aware of the new world map that was formed at that time.? Iraq, the article says, suffered from a ?short-sighted policy? that made ?an important country like Iraq, rich in civilization and economy, become the easiest enemy of the United States, which doesn't conceal its strategy and plans.?

This time, the Egyptian newspaper says, ?We cannot say that Iraq would be taken by surprise, as the war plans are published in the US media. When the Pentagon requested a map of the Iraqi archeological sites, this was a further evidence of the US intention to launch the war, which Saddam imagines would take place somewhere outside Iraq.? But it is not just Saddam, al-Ahram points out, it is ?also other persons in some Arab capitals, who want to bring the Arabs in a long dark tunnel.? In light of the brinkmanship of Saddam Hussein, and some Arab allies, the Egyptian editorial concludes, ?If indeed we really need a miracle to avoid the eruption of war, to use the words of Tariq Aziz, then the key of the miracle lies in the hands of the Iraqi president, who should make a bold initiative to put an end to the crisis that overshadowed the Arabs for more than twenty years.?