By Robert Fisk of the independent
( We can find this article at www.independent.co.uk )
Each day now, someone says something even more incredible - even more unimaginable - about President Bush's obsession with war. Yesterday, George Bush was himself telling an audience in Cincinnati about "nuclear holy warriors". Forget for a moment that we still can't prove Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons. Forget that the latest Bush speech was just a re- hash of all the "ifs" and "mays" and "coulds" in Tony Blair's flimsy 16 pages of allegations in his historically dishonest "dossier". Forget that if Osama bin Laden ever acquired a nuclear weapon, he'd probably use it first on Saddam. No. We've got to fight "nuclear holy warriors". That's what we have to do to justify the whole charade through which we are being taken now by the White House, by Downing Street, by all the decaying "experts" on terrorism and, alas, far too many journalists.
Forget the 14 Palestinians, including the 12-year-old child, killed by Israel a few hours before Mr Bush spoke, forget that when his aircraft killed nine Palestinian children in July, along with one militant, the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon - a "man of peace" in Mr Bush's words - described the slaughter as "a great success". Israel is on our side.
Remember to use the word "terror". Use it about Saddam Hussein, use it about Osama bin Laden, use it about Yasser Arafat, use it about anyone who opposes Israel or America. Bush used it in his speech yesterday, 30 times in half an hour - that's one "terrorism" a minute.
But now let's list exactly what we really must forget if we are to support this madness. Most important of all, we absolutely must forget that President Ronald Reagan dispatched a special envoy to meet Saddam Hussein in December 1983. It's essential to forget this for three reasons. Firstly, because the awful Saddam was already using gas against the Iranians - which is one of the reasons we are now supposed to go to war with him.
Secondly, because the envoy was sent to Iraq to arrange the re-opening of the US embassy - in order to secure better trade and economic relations with the Butcher of Baghdad. Thirdly, because the envoy was - wait for it - Donald Rumsfeld. Now you might think it strange that Mr Rumsfeld, in the course of one of his folksy press conferences, hasn't chatted to us about this interesting tit-bit. You might think he would have wished to enlighten us about the evil nature of the criminal with whom he so warmly shook hands. But no.
Strangely, Mr Rumsfeld is silent about this. As he is about his subsequent and equally friendly meeting with Tariq Aziz - which just happened to take place on the day in March, 1984, that the UN released its damning report on Saddam's use of poison gas against Iran. The American media are silent about this too, of course. Because we must forget.
We must forget, too, that in 1988, as Saddam destroyed the people of Halabja with gas, along with tens of thousands of other Kurds - when he "used gas against his own people" in the words of Messrs Bush/Cheney/Blair/Cook/Straw et al -President Bush senior provided him with $500m in US government subsidies to buy American farm products. We must forget that in the following year, after Saddam's genocide was complete, President Bush senior doubled this subsidy to $1bn, along with germ seed for anthrax, helicopters, and the notorious "dual-use" material that could be used for chemical and biological weapons.
And when President Bush junior promises the Iraqi people "an era of new hope" and democracy after the destruction of Saddam - as he did last night - we must forget how the Americans promised Pakistan and Afghanistan a new era of hope after the defeat of the Soviet army in 1980 - and did nothing.
We must forget how President Bush senior urged the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam in 1991 and - when they obeyed - did nothing. We must forget how America promised a new era of hope to Somalia in 1993 and then, after "Black Hawk Down", abandoned the country.
We must forget how President Bush junior promised to "stand by" Afghanistan before he began his bombings last year - and has left it now an economic shambles of drug barons, warlords, anarchy and fear. He boasted yesterday that the people of Afghanistan have been "liberated" - this after he has failed to catch bin Laden, failed to catch Mullah Omar, and while his troops are coming under daily attack. We must forget, as we listen to the need to reinsert arms inspectors, that the CIA covertly used UN weapons inspectors to spy on Iraq.
And of course, we must forget about oil. Indeed, oil is the one commodity - and one of the few things which George Bush junior knows something about, along with his ex-oil cronies Cheney and Rice and countless others in the administration - which is never mentioned.
In all of Bush's 30 minutes of anti-Iraq war talk yesterday - pleasantly leavened with just two minutes of how "I hope this will not require military action" - there wasn't a single reference to the fact that Iraq may hold oil reserves larger than those of Saudi Arabia, that American oil companies stand to gain billions of dollars in the event of a US invasion, that, once out of power, Bush and his friends could become multi-billionaires on the spoils of this war. We must ignore all this before we go to war. We must forget.