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by Françoise Germain-Robin

Bush Changes his Tone (October 2002)

Translated Sunday 2 November 2008, by Henry Crapo

Translator’s note: Getting ready to light a fire in the fireplace, this cold and rainy day, with a copy of l’Humanité from six years ago, I came across this remarkable page, published October 9, 2002, when the Bush administration was having some difficulties preparing public opinion for its entry into war with Iraq. The tone of the article reminds me of the famous video-taped speech
in which the president tries to recall the old saying "Fool me once ...".

Well, here he is, feeling public opposition rising, trying to fool us as to his intentions. This is a good occasion to refresh our minds as to what this deception sounds like, so as to be able quickly to recognize that "tone" in current affairs. So, ... let’s have a look back in the archives!

USA-Iraq: An embarrassed address, in Cincinnatti, by the American president.

Forced to take into consideration the reticence of public opinion, George Bush said that he hopes that military action "will not be necessary".

"Even if there is much danger in the world, that in Iraq stands out because it unites the most serious threats of our time in one place." This is the conviction expressed by George W. Bush in a speech made Monday in Cincinnatti, exactly one day after the launching of American strikes against Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and its chief Osama bin Laden, who is still at large, and who had, some hours earlier on the satellite television chain Al Jazeera, threatened new anti-American attacks, is no longer the public enemy number 1, the incarnation of evil.

Nevertheless, George W. Bush retreated slightly on the question of war against Iraq, letting it be understood for the first time that war could be avoided: "The time to deny, to maneuver, and to stall is over. Saddam Hussein must disarm, or, in the name of peace, we will bring a coalition of forces to disarm him", he said. A sentence that opens the door to a political solution, that of a disarmament supervised by the United Nations, and which, above all, signifies that the United States will not go into battle alone.

In fact, George W. Bush admits that he is obliged to take into account the peoples’ reticence, ever stronger, expressed counter to his project of "unilateral preventive war", including such public opinion within the United States. This is a position in retreat, mainly for domestic consumption, because the American president must still obtain from the Senate (with its Democratic majority) a vote authorizing the war, in the same terms as that already passed in the House of Representatives. "The vote on this resolution", insisted George W. Bush, "does not mean that military action is either imminent or necessary. I hope that military action will not be necessary, but that could be the case. A military conflict would be very difficult. An Iraq regime, faced with its fall, could still try to take desperate and cruel measures. If Saddam Hussein gives orders for such actions, his generals would be well advised to refuse them. If they do not refuse, they should understand that all war criminals will be tracked down and punished."

George Bush also insisted upon a new resolution by the United Nations Security Council "fixing firm and immediate demands", among which the destruction "under United Nations supervision, of all existing arms of mass destruction". The UN inspectors should have access "to all sites, at any moment, without prior authorization", he insisted. In order to assure us that we will be able to know the entire truth, the Iraq regime must "authorize, outside the Iraq borders, meetings with witnesses to his illegal activities, and such witnesses must be permitted to bring their families with them, in order to be free of threats by Saddam Hussein of terror and of murder".

"If we must act, we will take all possible precautions. We will prepare carefully. We will act with the full force of the United States army, and we will act with our allies by our side, and we will win," he concluded.

In New York, the diplomats still try to smooth out the differences among the permanent members of the Security Council. The United States and the United Kingdom wish to adopt a tough text that will permit recourse to force against Iraq if the United Nations fails to obtain total disarmament, effective and controlled. France, Russia, and China, all being permanent members of the Security Council and having the right to veto, are opposed to any automatic recourse to force. France has proposed a two-step procedure: a first resolution aiming at the disarmament of Iraq, and then, if Baghdad refuses to submit, a second resolution concerning sanctions to impose. This proposition was the subject of discussions, on Monday in Paris, between the French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, and his British homologue, Jack Straw.
The latter, without totally rejecting the french position, felt that "the threat of the use of force" is necessary in order to force Saddam Hussein to yield.

Moscow, which feels that a new text would be useless, has rallied to the French position. "The French draft proposition, in its present form, agrees with the Russian position," stated yesterday Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yury Viktorovich Fedotov.

In France, political parties and associations [1] opposed to any new war against Iraq continue actively to prepare for the demonstration to be held next Saturday [2] at 3pm on the Place de la République in Paris.

The Beginnings of a Movement for Peace in the United States

from a private correspondent in New York, Natascha Saulnier. [3]

The American pacifists opposed to war against Iraq are confronted with a real challenge. Since September 11 [4], they can no longer really count on the Democratic Party, which formerly had a reputation of being more open to pacifist ideas, to serve as shock troops in a movement for peace. Nevertheless, they agree that the anti-war movement now being born is unstoppable, and will assume significant proportions if warfare begins.

The House of Representatives have approved a resolution last Thursday favoring the use of military force against Iraq. But a tiny faction of elected members opposed to the war hold that the minority Democratic leader of the House, Richard Gephardt, had committed a major fault in not playing the card of peace against the Republicans, in provision for the mid-term elections in November.

Prudent, the Goliaths of the Democratic Party preferred in effect to go in the direction in which they feel the wind is blowing. Fearing that their party will feel the anger of their electors if they take positions against the war in the present context of patriotic fervor, they try to hide as much as possible this sensitive issue, and prefer to emphasize national problems (economic decline, failures in the educational system and in medical services, financial scandals, and the deficit of 157 billion dollars).

The position of Democratic representatives Jim McDermott, David Bonior and Mike Thompson are thus exceptions to the general rule. The two [5] members of Congress went to Iraq in order to persuade Saddam Hussein to accept UN inspections. They say that the Bush administration is trying to "provoke" a war, and denounced the "barbarous consequences" of present sanctions on the civilian population. This attitude is called "anti-American" by some, and the majority of Democrats consider that the two elected members are heading for a loss. Who is right? The pacifists are betting on the increasing opposition to war, where the pro-war sector, according to recent polls, amounts to 57% of the US population. It is really difficult to predict.

"Up until now, there is only a small group of legislators, present and former, and only a few citizens, who are ready to say "stop", affirmed recently a journalist from the CNBC. But, at the same time, one of his guests, the pollster John Zogby, declared "I think that Al Gore [6] understood that there was an intense and growing anti-war movement in the country, and it was to that movement that he addressed himself."

Zogby’s point of view coincides with that of Margaret Johnson, member of the
American Friends Service Committee, which is part of the Quaker pacifist movement. "Despite what the mass media say, there is a real movement for peace gaining ground in this country. The movement has just begun, but we are already managing to question this war." "The percentage of reticent people is gigantic, compared with the proportion of people initially opposed to the war against Vietnam", adds a pollster and Political Science professor at the University of Saint Louis, Ken Warren.

And the comparisons with the war against Vietnam are on everyone’s lips. For Tony Murphy, from the movement Act Now to Stop War and Racism: "A few weeks ago Bush had wind in his sails, but the climate is changing. This will be the same quagmire as in Vietnam, and there will be a similar anti-war movement as in the Vietnam war, which will submerge Bush like it submerged Nixon and Johnson. Bush doesn’t pay sufficient attention to what the people are saying."

On the whole, he sketches a core of resistance that replaces the "sacred union" erected after September 11 2001. The editor of the magazine The Progressive, Matt Rotschild, explains, "I think that the Bush administration will be surprised by the size of protests if a war breaks out, and he is already surprised by the the present demonstrations to prevent that war."

[1Mouvement de la paix, Fondation Copernic, ARAC, CGT, SUD PTT, PCF, PS, Verts, LCR, Femmes solidaires, JC, UEC, Groupe des Dix solidaires, Ligue internationale des femmes pour la paix, MRAP, PCOF, Droit Solidarité, JCR, Coordination des groupes femmes égalité, Socialisme par en bas.

[2October 12, 2002

[3Here is the French original.



[6the Democratic leader, who has made hostile declarations concerning the war policies of George Bush

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