67 things you might want to know before the bombs drop
If you can get through it all... interesting sum of information on things related to war, iraq and the US.
COVER | FEATURE Vol. 8 No. 26 Feb 27 - Mar. 6, 2003
67 things you might want to know before the bombs drop
ABRAHAM. Father of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. According to the Bible, Abraham came from Ur, which is located in present-day Iraq. Hey, Godboy, Abraham was Iraqi. See also ESCHATOLOGY.
"AL." Most words beginning with "al"—such as "algebra"—date back to medieval Arabic and are now a big un-American no-no. Just as anti-German hysteria swept the U.S. in 1917 (when Americans renamed hamburger and sauerkraut), it's possible we'll soon see the final prohibition of alcohol—the word, not the hooch. First mass-distilled by Arabs in potent proofs called alembics, alcohol may disappear with "alfalfa," "Aladdin" (who has already been replaced by an Asian actor at Disney's California Adventure), "albacore" tuna, "alchemy," Al Sharpton and, sadly, Al Green.
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. Lyrics to the song were composed by progressive poet Katherine Lee Bates, a lesbian who had a decades-long, live-in relationship with economist Katharine Coman. Both women were professors at Wellesley College, and both were active in reform movements involving workers rights, the inner-city poor and women's right to vote. The book that presented the new lyrics to Great Britain's "God Save the Queen" was called America the Beautiful and Other Poems, and those "other poems" included several that excoriated the United States for its imperialistic policies in the Philippines.
ANTHRAX. During much of the Iran-Iraq war, U.S. Department of Commerce officials granted export licenses to numerous U.S. companies to sell anthrax, bubonic plague and various insecticides to Baghdad. These licenses, including one allowing Dow Chemical to sell Iraq $1.5 million worth of pesticides, came despite warnings that the agents were intended for Iraq's active chemical-warfare program. The exports continued even after news that Saddam Hussein was bombing Kurdish villages in northern Iraq with nerve gas.
AREA, COMPARATIVE. The U.S. is about half the size of Russia, slightly larger than China and about two and a half times the size of Western Europe. Iraq is slightly more than twice the size of Idaho.
BAGHDAD. Densely populated capital of Iraq. Of the country's 24 million people, 4.8 million live here. The city's principal economic activity is oil refining, but just about all of the country's industries are based here. Baghdad has several museums, numerous archaeological sites and three universities, the largest of which is the University of Baghdad, founded in 1958. The city itself was founded on the west bank of the Tigris River in 762 by the Abbasid caliph Mansur. Under the caliph Harun al-Rashid, Baghdad became one of the greatest cities of Islam, home to many scholars, artists and poets. In 1638, Baghdad became part of the Ottoman Empire, and after being "liberated" by British forces, it became the capital of the newly constituted kingdom of Iraq in 1920. In 1958, a coup in Baghdad ousted King Faisal and led to the birth of the Iraqi republic. During the bloody Iran-Iraq war, Baghdad became a dreary place constantly under threat of attack. But the city's darkest days occurred after Iraq invaded Kuwait, when U.S. warplanes reduced much of Baghdad to rubble.
BLOOD. America's blood supply, already at such a seriously low level that some parts of the country have less than a one-day supply, may be stretched to dangerous levels if a war in Iraq proves to be bloody. A Red Cross official explains that many American service personnel are ineligible to donate blood because they may have been exposed to Mad Cow disease while stationed in Western Europe. With a reduced pool of military donors, the Red Cross may have to ask civilians for more blood, blood they haven't been providing over the past few months.
BUSH, GEORGE W. When he was a young man of draft age in 1970, facing induction and possible deployment to Vietnam, the patriotic and hawkish Bush joined not the U.S. Army or Air Force, but the Texas Air National Guard. During his four-year enlistment, the son of then-Congressman George H.W. Bush served just 68 days on active duty, flying obsolete F-102 interceptors in defense of the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, records show it is likely the future commander in chief was absent without leave (AWOL) during his last two years of service. From May 1, 1972, to April 30, 1973, Bush was actually in Alabama, working on a U.S. Senate campaign. In theory, Bush was part of the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron of the Alabama Air National Guard—a paper command that had no aircraft or pilots and met just one weeknight per month—but the future president's request to get transferred to that all-but-nonexistent unit never went through. Military personnel records obtained by numerous newspapers and researchers during the 2000 presidential election make clear Bush likely never returned to active duty until his 1974 discharge. See also CHICKENHAWK.
CASUALTIES. The World Health Organization estimates "as many as 500,000 [Iraqis] could require treatment to a greater or lesser degree as a result of direct or indirect injuries." Of that number, 400,000 are projected as indirect casualties because "the outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions is very likely." According to UNICEF, "It is estimated that nutritional status of some 3.03 million persons countrywide will be dire, and they will require therapeutic feeding. This consists of 2.03 million severely and moderately malnourished children under five and 1 million pregnant and lactating women." Thirty percent of Iraqi children under the age of five "would be at risk of death from malnutrition." According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, "It is estimated that there will eventually be some 900,000 Iraqi refugees requiring assistance, of which 100,000 will be in need of immediate assistance." The document reports that despite requests to the United States, the U.K. and other western governments for emergency aid in case of war, "no funds have been made available to any agencies to date." "Likely Humanitarian Scenarios" is available at www.casi.org.uk. See also COLLATERAL DAMAGE.
CHENEY, DICK. A big-time administration chickenhawk, Cheney wasn't always so desirous of dumping Hussein. Even as late as 1996, Cheney was still justifying his view to PBS's Frontline that U.S. forces were right to leave Hussein in power: "Now, you can say, well, you should have gone to Baghdad and gotten Saddam, [but] I don't think so. I think if we had done that, we would have been bogged down there for a very long period of time with the real possibility we might not have succeeded." See also CHICKENHAWK.
CHICKENHAWK. A prominent person who loudly advocates war but who skipped the chance to put himself in harm's way when he was eligible to serve in combat. The current administration and its most vocal supporters pushing for another war against Iraq is an impressive aviary of chickenhawks. The New Hampshire Gazette maintains an online chickenhawk database (www.nhgazette.com/chickenhawks.html), which may help give some much-needed perspective the next time you hear the bellicose rhetoric of Dick Cheney (five deferments during Vietnam, says he "had other priorities"), House majority leader Tom Delay (says he wanted to join up for Vietnam but "minorities" had filled all the available positions so he had to stay home), or Rush Limbaugh (couldn't go mano a mano with the Vietcong due to an outbreak of anal cysts). Even more chickenhawk information can be found at AWOLBush.com, a site set up to examine the mysterious unexcused absence from the National Guard of our current commander in chief from May 1972 to October 1973, during his term of service. See also BUSH, GEORGE W.
CLAREMONT. Quaint liberal town north of Orange County where City Council member Sandy Baldonado spearheaded passage of what some call a "symbolic" resolution (Mayor Paul Held calls it an "empty gesture") against the federal Patriot Act. The resolution—similar ones have been adopted—was originally supposed to urge city employees to resist participating in federal law-enforcement action premised on the terms of the Patriot Act. The final resolution, more broadly worded, expresses "concern" over some provisions of the act. Council members left intact several additional measures concerning local education and information-gathering practices and have basically said no thanks to Bush's usurpation of civil liberties. See also PATRIOT ACT II.
COLLATERAL DAMAGE. The Pentagon's favorite euphemism for killing innocent civilians first used during press briefings leading up to and during the first Persian Gulf War. Before Desert Storm brought weeks of intense U.S. aerial bombardment to Iraq, General Norman Schwarzkopf and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell asserted that U.S. "smart" weaponry would minimize harm to innocent Iraqi civilians. But after the war, the Pentagon acknowledged that, of the 142,000 tons of bombs dropped on Iraq and Kuwait, only 8 percent were "smart." A United Nations fact-finding mission reported the air war caused "near apocalyptic" conditions in the Iraqi countryside and said that it had reduced "a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society . . . to a pre-industrial age." The U.S. Census Bureau calculated that Desert Storm killed 145,000 Iraqis, only 40,000 of whom were soldiers and 100,000 of whom were civilians that perished in the chaos that occurred within a year of the war. Years later, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization added to the tally of "collateral damage" more than 500,000 dead Iraqi children, most of whom died in an epidemic of preventable diseases. See also CASUALTIES.
DOMESTIC POLICY. Remember? See also CRIME RATE (RISING), ECONOMY (COLLAPSING), EMPLOYMENT (FALLING), HEALTH CARE (YEAH, RIGHT) INFRASTRUCTURE (DECAYING) and POLITICS OF DISTRACTION (YES, SIR!).
ESCHATOLOGY. Theological field of thought concerned with the end of the world or of humankind. Mostly applied to Christian End Times theories. Many fundamentalist Christians view Iraq as the "whore of Babylon" (Revelations 17: 1-6) and think its defeat (Isaiah 13: 19-22) is a necessary precursor to the Second Coming of Christ. See you in hell. See also ABRAHAM.
EUROPE, OLD. Enemy of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Old Europe is a magical land of high castles and universal health care spanning what used to be called France and Germany. Once firmly in line with the interests and war aims of the U.S., Old Europe no longer feels any need to toe Washington's line and firmly opposes any American invasion of Iraq. To counter the threat from Old Europe, Rumsfeld has turned to a new coalition he calls New Europe—Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark, Narnia, etc. These countries cheer Rumsfeld's march into the desert, as well as fork over millions of dollars to buy U.S.-made fighter jets and munitions. Hurrah!
FRANKS, TOMMY. Head of U.S. Central Command since June 2000, General Franks will be military governor of Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. A career artillery officer, Franks is, according to CNN, currently under investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general's office for possible abuses of office involving his wife, whom he allegedly allowed to attend classified briefings as well as fly at taxpayers' expense on U.S. military aircraft.
FREE VERSE. Laura Bush, who never tires of reminding us that she was once a school librarian, was scheduled to host "Poetry and the American Voice," a Feb. 12 White House conference of poets examining the works of Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes and Emily Dickinson—until someone realized that poets, unlike the executive-branch PR staff, might consider poetry something more than just rhymes in books on shelves and take the opportunity to criticize Bush administration policies on Iraq. The event was abruptly canceled. Sam Hamill, one of the poets invited to the event, along with others who believe poetry isn't just an entry in the Dewey Decimal System, has set up the Poets Against the War website (www.poetsagainstthewar.org).
FREEDOM FRIES. The Associated Press reported Feb. 19 that Neal Rowland, owner of Cubbie's in Beaufort, North Carolina, now only sells his fried-potato strips as "freedom fries." Rowland said his intent is not to slight the French people, but to take a patriotic stance to show his support for the United States and the actions of President Bush. "It's our way of showing our patriotic pride." See also AL.
FRIENDLY FIRE. According to a congressional study after the war, at least 28 major incidents of friendly fire—resulting in the deaths of 35 U.S. and nine British soldiers—took place during Desert Storm. Friendly fire kept killing U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf even after the war ended. During a 1994 operation to rescue Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq, a U.S. jet shot down two Blackhawk helicopters. Twenty-six soldiers from several countries perished. Last month, The Houston Chronicle reported that the Pentagon has "failed to outfit aircraft and tanks with combat-identification systems developed since the Persian Gulf War, increasing chances that American soldiers will be killed by friendly fire in a coming conflict."
FUNDING, TERRORIST. Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton, recently got a $9.7 million contract to build 204 new prison cells at Guantanamo. That's $97,000 for cells that reportedly are about as complex to build as a storage unit.
GAS. The mere anticipation of war has driven the wholesale price of gasoline up 14 cents a gallon in the last month. The cost at the pump is up an average of 56 cents—400 percent—meaning that, for doing absolutely nothing, Bush's oil buddies already are pocketing an extra $5 every time you tank up.
HALABJA. The Kurdish village in northern Iraq that Hussein gassed in March 1988. Though President Bush frequently uses this atrocity—a reported 5,000 died—as reason enough to annihilate Hussein's regime, U.S. officials did nothing at the time to stop or even protest the attacks, even though U.S.-Iraqi relations were at an all-time high. In fact, the flow of intelligence to Iraq from U.S. military sources actually increased during 1988, despite Hussein's war crimes.
HUMAN SHIELDS. In the months leading up to Operation Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein ordered his security forces to place British and American families living in Iraq under house arrest, where they were interviewed on live television by Hussein himself. His tactic—implying that those families would be in danger if the U.S. began dropping bombs on Iraq—backfired. The Bush administration declared that Iraq was holding the families hostage and using them as "human shields" to protect military installations. This time, Hussein doesn't have to bother to use hostages because peace activists from around Europe are flying to Iraq and volunteering their services. So far, about 100 would-be human shields have touched down in Baghdad to a gleeful welcome by locals. The Bush Jr. administration says there's no guarantee they won't get bombed.
IRAQ. About 24 million people live here. Most Iraqis are Arabs, 95 percent of whom are Muslim, although there are small minorities of Christians, Jews and Yazidis. Only 30 percent of Iraqis are Sunni Muslims, while more than half the population are adherents of the Shia faith—most of whom are so-called "marsh" Arabs who live in the Basra area and the Kurds of northern Iraq. Iraq became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1638, which lasted until World War 1, when the British established the Kingdom of Iraq. That's when British mapmakers decided to shave off a tiny corner of the kingdom to make room for an artificially created and soon-to-be-oil-rich country: Kuwait. Such imperial gestures helped spur a 1958 military coup in Baghdad, which led to the birth of the Iraqi republic and Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party. See also BAGHDAD.
ISRAEL. The No. 1 recipient of U.S. foreign-military aid. Its decades-long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip has made life miserable for Palestinians, violates international law, and is a major source of instability in the Middle East. In violation of global nuclear-arms-reduction treaties, Israel has (like North Korea) developed a nuclear-weapons program, which it continues to deny exists. Israel is also currently violating several United Nations resolutions, including Nos. 1322, which calls upon Israel to "scrupulously abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the responsibilities of occupying power"; 1402, which demands that Israel withdraw from Palestinian cities; and 1403, which urges Israel to withdraw its occupation forces to their positions as of September 2000 and to "end its military activities in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of security and civilian infrastructure." On the other hand—Sammy!
JIHAD. Arabic word that translates as "struggle" and which, theologically, refers to a devotee's commitment to remain pure in thought and mind, particularly in the face of evil and/or temptation. Jihad also refers to the struggle of Muslims to retake Muslim holy land when it is besmirched, as some Muslims believe it was when U.S. military forces landed in Saudi Arabia before the Persian Gulf War—and never left. That's what originally got Osama bin Laden going with his idea of declaring total war on Saudi Arabia's ruling family—and America.
JUST WAR THEORY. Philosophical principle made famous by the Catholic scholar/saints Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a war can be justly waged only if "the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave and certain" and "all other means of putting an end to [foreign aggression] must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective." It has been cited by the Catholic Church in its opposition to Bush's proposed war on Iraq. Such a papal edict, however, did not stop the Bush administration from sponsoring a Feb. 10 trip to the Vatican by neo-con-Catholic commentator Michael Novak. The Holy See was not persuaded.
KISSINGER, HENRY. A devotee of realpolitik—the notion that, in matters of state, might really does make right. Realpolitik prompted the Reagan administration to arm Islamic fundamentalists, including Osama bin Laden, as part of a strategy to harass the Soviet Red Army in Afghanistan. Realpolitik animated the administration's decision to arm Saddam Hussein throughout the 1980s in order to draw out Iraq's bloody war with Iran. The fact that we now confront the nuts we've armed doesn't bother Kissinger's intellectual heirs. For more, read Christopher Hitchens' The Trial of Henry Kissinger.
KURDS. Twenty million strong, the Kurds are the largest stateless ethnic group in the world. They live mostly in Northern Iraq and Turkey, and it's hard to tell which nation abuses them more. Hussein tested nerve gas on them in the late 1980s, but Turkey has been at war with Kurdish guerrillas since 1984. In the mid-1990s, Turkey used its American-made Cobra helicopter gunships and tanks to attack Kurdish strongholds and villages, slaughtering hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians. In any post-Hussein Iraq, the Kurds will demand their own state in northern Iraq, a wish that could make Iraq all but ungovernable.
LANGLEY. Headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Virginia. Today, analysts here have largely discredited the theory that Iraq and al-Qaida are working together and in fact believe Hussein will not launch attacks with chemical or biological weapons unless attacked. But from the 1960s to the early 1980s, the CIA actually supported Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party in an attempt to negate communist influence in Iraq. CIA also shared a great deal of its assessments and intelligence estimates with Baghdad during its war with Iran, all in the name of making sure those crazy Mullahs didn't beat Iraq.
McCAFFREY, BARRY. Former U.S. drug czar and a major proponent of another looming U.S. foreign-policy disaster—military involvement in the Colombian civil war. According to a May 22, 2000, New Yorker exposé by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who uncovered the 1969 massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in My Lai, McCaffrey was responsible for what was one of the worst atrocities of Desert Storm. McCaffrey was so desperate for battlefield glory on the eve of the Persian Gulf War cease-fire that he pushed his forces forward when other commanders were starting to back off—seemingly intent on wasting retreating Iraqis all the way to Baghdad. According to his own troops, McCaffrey ordered them to machine-gun 350 disarmed Iraqi prisoners. "Why are we shooting at these people when they are not shooting at us?" one of them exclaimed on a tape quoted by Hersh. Says another, "It's murder."
McVEIGH, TIMOTHY. Carried out the April 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the single-worst act of terrorism on American soil before Sept. 11, 2001. The explosion killed 168 and injured approximately 500 people; McVeigh dismissed those deaths as "collateral damage," borrowing a Persian Gulf War-era Pentagon term for dead Iraqis. During Desert Storm, McVeigh served as a gunner on a First Infantry Division Bradley fighting vehicle. He experienced combat and earned a Bronze Star for "flawless devotion to duty." But what he saw as the needless slaughter of Iraqi troops and civilians began to turn him against his government. See also CASULATIES, COLLATERAL DAMAGE.
MONEY. The Pentagon insists it has no idea what the war will cost, but outside observers have taken some pretty good guesses. Late last year, Yale professor William Nordhaus estimated the conflict will cost between $120 billion for a quick-and-perfect war to a decade-long quagmire that swallows $1.6 trillion.
NATION BUILDING. Throughout the 1990s, Republicans accused Bill Clinton of "social experimentation" and "liberal nation building" for his intervention in social conflicts that threatened regional stability in Eastern Europe or the Horn of Africa. Now, these same Republicans talk of "regime change" in Iraq. Led by Bush deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the Republican nation builders have developed a strategy to limit Islamic fundamentalism by creating a powerful, moderate Muslim regime in the place where Saddam Hussein once ruled. They might take as their model the U.S. overthrow in 1953 of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. In his place, the CIA installed the Shah, whose slavishness toward the West led to the 1979 revolution in Iran, a country that President George W. Bush recently listed among the three nations in his Axis of Evil. See also REGIME CHANGE.
NOBODY HOME. The LA Times reported Feb. 17 that the U.S. buildup in the Middle East for a "possible" war on Iraq is depleting the nation's military reservists. Big deal, you say? Well, most of these folks actually moonlight as reservists; their real jobs are on first-response units here at home. That's right, we're sending our police, firefighters and other emergency-service workers—who could be, like, really useful here at home in case we get, oh, I don't know, bombed or anthraxed or kidnapped, raped and murdered—over to sit on their arses and wait to be killed in what promises to be a really meaningless World War III. See also BLOOD.
NOT IN OUR NAME (NION). Anti-war movement supported by numerous intellectuals, now referred to as Anti-Americans, including Mos Def, Edward Asner, Ossie Davis, Sandy Duncan, Noam Chomsky and more than 50,000 other Americans. The NION Statement of Conscience, which Le Monde called the "sacred text of the anti-war movement" and has been published in more than 40 journals and newspapers across the U.S. and seven countries internationally, reads in part, "Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression." For more, go to www.nion.us/nion.htm.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS. National Security Presidential Directive 17 states that the U.S. may retaliate with nuclear weapons if attacked by chemical weapons in Iraq.
NUMBERS. The United States says a war with Iraq is justified because Iraq stands in violation of 16 United Nations Security Council resolutions. At last count, Turkey is in violation of 23 such Security Council resolutions. Israel is in violation of 31. No war plans have been announced. See also ISRAEL.
OIL. Sandy Berger, the outgoing Clinton administration National Security Council chief, briefed his replacement, Condoleezza Rice, specifically on al-Qaida; Rice says she doesn't remember the briefing. The Bush administration brushed off the al-Qaida warning because they didn't want any distractions from their planning an invasion of Iraq. The Bush plan was simple: the Middle East must be taken under American military control so we could control the world's oil. The use of oil is expected to rise to something like 60 percent in the coming decade, thanks in large part to the economies of China and India ramping up.
PATRIOT ACT II. Still in draft stages, this legislation should take care of whatever remains of the Bill of Rights. Under this so-called "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003," virtually all information on alleged terrorist prisoners will be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act; the Justice Department would create a DNA database of "suspected terrorists"; state law-enforcement agencies would be allowed to conduct "racial profiling"; and American citizens could be exiled if found to be a member of a terrorist organization as defined by the federal government. Should the invasion of Iraq provoke a new round of terrorism, watch for Patriot Acts III, IV and V. See also CLAREMONT.
PATRIOT MISSILES. Shortly after the start of the Persian Gulf War, General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander in chief of Allied forces, declared that the Patriot's success rate in destroying incoming Iraqi Scuds—particularly those raining down on Israel—was "100 percent." In 1992, a General Accounting Office (GAO) study found that the Patriot's success rate was closer to 9 percent.
PLEDGE. The Pledge of Allegiance was authored by Francis Bellamy of Boston in 1892, when he was more famous for delivering controversial sermons that portrayed Jesus as a socialist. The Pledge was part of a magazine campaign to promote the use of U.S. flags in public schools in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America. But the Pledge was also a defiant document, asserting the country's core moral values—"one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"—during an era when capitalism's individualism begat the greed of the robber barons and the exploitation of the working class.
POWELL, COLIN. Long before he was U.S. Secretary of State or even boss of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Persian Gulf War, Powell was a senior operations officer in the Americal Division during the Vietnam War. In June 1968, then-Major Powell received an unusual assignment: investigate rumors that Americal Division soldiers had committed atrocities three months earlier. Powell dug around, then concluded the stories were baseless. A year later, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh uncovered the "My Lai Massacre," in which an entire company of Americal Division troops killed roughly 200 civilians in the My Lai hamlet during the period Powell supposedly researched.
PROTEST. Your constitutional right and moral imperative. In the past few weeks, millions of people around the world—in some 600 cities—have taken their mission to stop a U.S. invasion of Iraq to the streets. Here is a partial list of local groups protesting the war and where to find them: Coalition Against Unnecessary Wars and Racism, South Coast Plaza, Bristol and Anton, Costa Mesa, (949) 644-5956. "Stop the War Against Afghanistan, Iraq & Palestine" peace vigils every Friday, 6 p.m.; Laguna Beach Vigil for Peace in the Middle East, Main Beach, Pacific Coast Highway and Ocean Avenue, Laguna Beach, (949) 494-6349. Bring your own sign—and a friend. Every Saturday, 11 a.m.; Long Beach Peace Network, 5200 block of Second St., Belmont Shore, Long Beach, (562) 433-7052. Peace vigils every Friday, 6 p.m.; No War in Iraq, corner of Imperial Highway and Brea Boulevard, Brea, (714) 931-4264. Anti-war rally every Saturday and Sunday, noon; War in Iraq, Surf City-Style, corner of Edinger Road and Springdale Avenue, Huntington Beach. Protest every Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
QAIDA, AL-. Last year's enemy.
RADICAL FUNDAMENTALISTS. Results of a Christian Coalition national online survey on Islam conducted in January: Do you believe that Islam is a divine religion? Yes: 4 percent; No: 91.5; Don't know: 4.5. Is Islam a religion of peace? No: 88 percent; Yes: 5; Don't know: 5. How much do you know about Islam? I know a lot: 22 percent; I am not very knowledgeable about the Koran: 38; I know very little: 36; I don't know anything: 3. Do you support war with Iraq? Yes: 75 percent; No: 7; I don't know: 16.5.
RAWLS, JOHN. The philosopher/sociologist/moralist who famously proposed that the combination of self-interest and ignorance will produce a just society. If people don't know whether they'll end up rich or poor in a society, Rawls argues, they'll tend to advocate a social order that maximizes the situation of the poor. Americans might now reasonably ask a similar question about global citizenship: While we're the only remaining superpower, what sort of international order should we construct to protect us if the Wheel of Fortune spins, and we find ourselves No. 2? One based on courts and law? Or one based on military power?
RECEIPTS. One of the disturbing facts both Secretary Powell and President Bush have stressed in their case against Iraq is that Hussein's regime has yet to account for some 100 to 400 tons of chemical agents it was known to possess. They have not stressed that many of these chemical agents degrade or become inert from age. It would be a simple matter to determine the likely potency of much of this material—the United States sold it to Iraq during the 1980s and therefore knows what it is, its shelf life and how long Iraq has had it. But so far, the administration has shown no interest in making public any of this information. Anyone interested in the United States' role in supplying Iraq with chemical and other weapons should consult Alan Friedman's 1993 book, Spider's Web: The Secret History of How the White House Illegally Armed Iraq.
REGIME CHANGE. The Pentagon's favorite euphemism for assassinating a foreign leader such as Saddam Hussein. We've achieved regime change before, of course, but back then, we called it "promoting democracy." That's what we called regime change when the CIA fomented a 1954 coup against democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz, which ushered in decades of military dictatorship and bloody civil war. We did the same thing a year earlier, when the CIA ousted democratically elected Iranian nationalist Mohamed Mossadegh, replacing him with the Shah—whose dictatorial rule put Iran on the road to the 1979 fundamentalist revolution. Another great example of regime change was the CIA-backed 1973 coup against democratically elected Chilean president Salvador Allende, which installed dictator Augusto Pinochet and led to the torture, death and disappearance of thousands of people. The CIA also helped Hussein's Ba'ath Party consolidate its power in Iraq as a counterweight to the Communist Party. See also NATION BUILDING and RUMSFIELD, DONALD H.
RUMSFELD, DONALD H. Currently Secretary of Defense and one of the leading war hawks, Rumsfeld was also a special presidential envoy to Baghdad during the Reagan administration. On Dec. 20, 1983—while special Iraqi chemical-warfare units were gassing Iranian troops in open defiance of international law—Rumsfeld met with Saddam Hussein and helped normalize relations between the dictator's Ba'ath regime and Washington, according to a Dec. 30, 2002, story in the Washington Post. Notes from the meeting, obtained by the Post, show Rumsfeld only mentioned Hussein's chemical warfare "in passing as one of several matters that 'inhibited' U.S. efforts to assist Iraq."
RUPERT'S LITTLE WAR. Australian-born Rupert Murdoch owns 175 newspapers and magazines on three continents, as well as such television channels as Fox and Fox News Channel. He enthusiastically supports a war against Iraq, telling the Australian magazine The Bulletin that he thinks a war would result in "$20 a barrel for oil. That's bigger than any tax cut in any country." Every one of his 175 publications is in favor of war, and, of course, there is no more pro-war cable channel than Fox News. Murdoch maintains that his media outlets are editorially independent and offers no explanation of why none of his papers disagree with him.
SARIN. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops were exposed to this nerve gas during the Persian Gulf War after combat engineers clumsily blew up Iraqi weapons bunkers, and many medical professionals believe it's the likeliest cause of the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome. Twelve years after the war, the U.S. Veteran's Administration has logged more than 170,000 Persian Gulf War vets on disability from the syndrome. Some 5,000 infected vets have died since the 1991 war.
SAUDI ARABIA. Among the least democratic countries on the planet, Saudi Arabia is ruled as the privately owned fiefdom of the Saud family. Women can't vote, go out alone or drive a car here. It's home to Osama bin Laden, who declared war on the Saud family after it allowed American troops to be stationed here in preparation for the Persian Gulf War. The Saudi government recently announced that it opposes a unilateral U.S. plan to invade Iraq. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 came from Saudi Arabia. None were from Afghanistan or Iraq. See also WAHHABISM.
SUIT. Six members of Congress, including Democratic representatives John Conyers of Michigan and James McDermott of Washington and six parents of U.S. troops sued President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld Feb. 13 to prevent the United States from invading Iraq without obtaining a Congressional declaration of war. They claim the October resolution passed by Congress backing the possible use of force against Baghdad is unconstitutional. The U.S. has fought wars in Iraq, Vietnam and Korea without a formal Congressional declaration of war, even though the Constitution requires it.
SUITS, CHEMICAL-WARFARE PROTECTION. There are numerous GAO reports detailing the flaws and general uselessness of our troops' chemical-warfare suits—that they tend to cause heat stroke is only the mildest problem. See also WATER.
TERRORISTS, IRAQI. In all the discussions about whether Iraq is tied to terrorists, the name Abu Amneh is never mentioned. The U.S. government has irrefutable proof that Abu Amneh is active in Iraq but never mentions him. That's because Abu Amneh was on the CIA's payroll when he committed terrorist acts against the civilian population of Baghdad. In 1994 and 1995, Abu Amneh took part in a campaign designed to destabilize Hussein's regime, but he succeeded in killing more than a hundred innocent people with bombs planted at a café, a movie theater and a mosque. The terror-bombing career of Abu Amneh and many other illuminating details about Iraq's relationship with the West can be found in Andrew and Patrick Cockburn's excellent 1999 book, Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein.
TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS. Among the many casualties of war is privacy. Shortly after Sept. 11, the public began to hear of Total Information Awareness (TIA)—a Pentagon program run by ARPA, who also invented the Arpanet, which eventually became the Internet. Currently under the supervision of John Poindexter, a Reagan administration official convicted of lying to Congress during Iran-contra (and reversed by a Reagan-appointed judge), TIA is the use of "data-mining" technologies that will record every electronic transaction, legal document, e-mail and phone call of every citizen in the country. Proposals would link this data collection with facial-recognition technology and security cameras to track the movements of every individual. The ostensible use is to "catch terrorists." The Senate's 100-0 vote to shelve TIA was ignored by the Pentagon, where officials responded that Congress had no oversight authority on TIA.
TRANSCRIPT. Secretary of State Colin Powell pointed to a Feb. 11 recording with a voice he claims is Osama bin Laden's as proof of the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida. The supposed bin Laden message expresses solidarity with the Iraqi people and advises them to defend their country against the coming American invasion. But what Powell forgot to mention to the American public is that the same tape declares Saddam Hussein's blood to be "haram"—a specific use of the Islamic terminology for immoral deeds that deems Hussein open for assassination. Allies do not kill one another.
URANIUM, DEPLETED. When placed inside the tip of a bullet or artillery shell, this nuclear-waste byproduct pierces tank armor. Up to 40 percent of the ammunition made with depleted uranium incinerates upon impact, allowing radioactive and highly toxic particles to drift through the air. U.S. troops who cleaned up Bradley fighting vehicles and Abrams tanks that were hit by depleted uranium rounds in friendly fire incidents reported suffering rashes and respiratory ailments. In southern Iraq, where most of the fighting took place during the Persian Gulf War, cancer rates soared in villages near the Highway of Death, where U.S. aircraft ambushed Iraqi armored columns fleeing Kuwait, killing thousands of troops still inside their vehicles. According to one military report, there were 35 dead and 72 wounded in crews of U.S. tanks and Bradley Fighting vehicles thanks to so-called "friendly fire" incidents involving depleted uranium shells. This includes soldiers who were exposed to significant quantities of depleted uranium aerosol dust and depleted uranium fragments during the fighting. See also FRIENDLY FIRE and X-RAYS.
VONNEGUT, KURT. American icon and author of anti-war classic Slaughterhouse Five. "I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d'etat imaginable."
WAHHABISM. A reaction to the paganism and social dissolution that plagued the Middle East. Nowadays, it refers to the extreme form of Islam practiced by the Taliban in Afghanistan and by our good friends, the ruling Saud family of Saudi Arabia. See also SAUDI ARABIA.
WATER. The evening news has been full of stories assuring us that American troops are well-prepared to fight on a battlefield poisoned by chemical, biological or radiological weapons. The NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protective clothing is displayed, and the reporter dutifully explains that no matter how cumbersome or uncomfortable these suits may be, our troops are protected. But these reports miss the real danger to soldiers advancing into Iraq through a poisoned atmosphere: their own water. Combat troops get most of their water from canteens, and these canteens are supplied by large, mobile water tanks known as "water buffaloes." Simple physics: as the water is drained from the water buffaloes, air fills the space once occupied by water; in a contaminated atmosphere, some of that air is bound to be contaminated. Simple chemistry: some of those contaminants are bound to dissolve in the water buffaloes' water supply. That water will then be consumed by the soldiers, whose suits, no matter how sophisticated, cannot protect them from the contents of their canteens. The Pentagon knows about this problem but has no plans to protect the front-line water supply. Consult Captain Bart Bacon's article "A Deadly Flaw in NBC Defense" on the Soldiers for the Truth website (www.sftt.org/article02072003a.html).
X-RAYS. According to a World Information Service on Energy study, a U.S. soldier is exposed to gamma radiation similar to one chest X-ray for every 20 to 30 hours he or she spends in an Abrams tank armed with depleted uranium ammunition. If the soldier's body comes into direct contact with a depleted uranium shell, the dose rate increases to up to approximately 50 chest X-rays per hour. See also URANIUM, DEPLETED.
YANKEE IMPERIALISM. The explanation pretty much the whole world has for why George W. Bush is so hell-bent on invading and occupying Iraq. Go figure.
ZINNI, ANTHONY. Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, former chief of the U.S. Central Command as well as commander of the 1992 Operation Provide Comfort, which airlifted supplies to the embattled Kurds in northern Iraq, is an unqualified opponent of a U.S. war in Iraq. In a little-known speech at the Economic Club in Miami, Florida, on Aug. 23, 2002, Zinni spoke of the civil war that would spring out of any U.S. action in Iraq—forcing the U.S. to deal with a dozen, two dozen, even 90 or so groups—as well as the chaos that would plague the Middle East. "Attacking Iraq now will cause a lot of problems," said Zinni. "Our relationships in the region are in major disrepair, not to the point where we can't fix them, but we need to quit making enemies we don't need to make enemies out of. And we need to fix those relationships. There's a deep chasm growing between that part of the world and our part of the world."
Compiled by OC Weekly DataLab researchers Gustavo Arellano, Cornel Bonca, Paul Brennan, Nathan Callahan, Kent Corley, Stacy Davies, Steve Lowery, Todd Mathews, Anthony Pignataro, Nick Schou, Will Swaim, Jim Washburn and Dave Wielenga
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