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Manufacturing Consent for Iraq War Plans
Why the Labor and Antiwar Movements Should Oppose the War Unconditionally

by Doug Mann

"The most contentious issue [at the US Labor Against War founding conference on Jan 11, 2003] was that of the United Nations. A few wanted to denounce the UN as a tool of the U.S. while a few others wanted to praise the UN for preventing war on Iraq to this point. In the end the delegates decided we could live without saying anything about the UN." --Trade Unionists Launch ‘U.S. Labor Against the War’, by Bill Onasch

Opposition to "unilateral action" by the US implies support for a "multilateral" approach to "peace through disarming Iraq," i.e., peace through war. No one in the US Senate opposed the war unconditionally, and only the late Senator Paul Wellstone was so bold as to vote against the bill that authorized Bush to take "unilateral action" to disarm Iraq. Since then the depth and breath of antiwar sentiment and a healthy distrust of the Bush administration has forced the cowardly Democratic Party leadership to backpedal on their support for unilateral action.

The Bush administration's trick to manufacturing consent for the war is to frame the debate around the issue of how to deal with the 'Iraqi threat.'  That is the framework for the debate in the UN Security Council, the US Congress, and in the American and European press. The Bush administration's motives for going to war are not seriously questioned. It's sort of like the story about the emperors new clothes. Nobody dares to tell the emperor that he's not wearing any. However, a large part of the American and European public are not deceived, and many appear to agree with John Pilger's assessment that,

Unelected in 2000, the Washington regime of George W Bush is now totalitarian, captured by a clique whose fanaticism and ambitions of "endless war" and "full spectrum dominance" are a matter of record.-- Pilger: Blair is a Coward

The significance of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, authorizing inspections, is that it gave conditional support to US war plans. The Iraqi government had offered to permit UN inspections without a gun at its head. But the US government insisted on getting prior authorization to use force before the inspectors could determine the veracity of allegations that Iraq was hiding and secretly producing weapons of mass destruction. The failure of the UN weapons inspectors to substantiate those allegations is now accepted as good evidence that Iraq is failing to "actively comply" with the inspections regime.

Ironically, the US and Britain insisted on editing Iraq's 12,000 page report to the UN weapons inspectors back in December 2002, then turned around and complained about Iraq holding back information the inspectors needed in order to determine whether Iraq was hiding and secretly producing Weapons of Mass Destruction. Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector agrees that the report has significant gaps. However, the bulk of the critical held-back information was probably deleted from the report by the main suppliers of materials for Iraq's W of MD programs, the US and Britain.

As John Tirman points out,"The verbal fight about the search for weapons in Iraq is a waste of words. This fractious debate, like the search for the weapons themselves, is a red herring – a diversion from the real reasons for war. Oddly, those who oppose the war are trapped by the inspection regime's logic every bit as much as President Bush is. In a mirror image of each other, both are beholden to the wrong standards, pretending to follow the rules, and letting more important issues slide by" - The Inspections Flap: Both Sides Are Wrong, AlterNet, February 7, 2003 -

There is no serious debate going on among the permanent members of the UN Security Council as to whether to permit the US to invade Iraq. The US Congress authorized Bush to go it alone. And, as recent press reports indicate, what the governments of China, France, and Russia are quibbling about is when, not whether the US should "disarm" Iraq ...and how to divide the spoils.

"... [During the press conference which followed] the 25th Franco-British Summit, which took place Tuesday February 4 in Touquet, off the Northern coast of France...Tony Blair recognized first of all that the French and the British have "different approaches" to Iraq. "However we share two essential and common convictions: Iraq must be disarmed. This disarmament must be conducted through the UN Security Council." -- Chirac and Blair: the Lukewarm Understanding About Iraq, Paris le Monde, Wednesday 05 February 2003

On his return flight to France after hearing Colin Powell make the case that Iraq was blocking inspections and hiding weapons, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin suggested time was running out for Iraq to stop concealing weapons of mass destruction and the facilities to produce them, which Iraq 'claims' to not have. De Villepin said,

"We ask Saddam Hussein to respond rapidly to the demands of the international community...There is an Iraqi risk and we are waiting for Iraq to provide clear responses about the substance (of its alleged weapons), and in particular on chemical and biological weapons..."force can only be a last resort, but we do not exclude any possibility, including that of force." -- Chirac Says U.S. Evidence on Iraq Does Not Change French Position, Christine Ollivier, Associated Press Writer, Thursday 05 February 2003

A spokeswoman for French President Jacques Chirac said the evidence furnished by Powell "justifies continued work by the United Nations weapons inspectors. Iraq must answer their questions and cooperate more actively." -- i.b.i.d.

"The German Government still says it will not support a war. But its leaders say that war may no longer be avoidable. And the US is twisting their arms hard. The US Ambassador to Berlin, Daniel Coats, has made clear this is a crucial test of Germany's loyalty to the Nato alliance. The government's stance has raised "serious doubts" about Germany's reliability, Mr Coats said. -- US 'winning over' allies over Iraq, Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 16:07 GMT