Feb. 21, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • Hartford • 9:00 AM EST
A bunch of pamphlets fell out of a bookshelf in my house and sat on the floor in a corner for some time before I picked them up last night. One of them, an oblong 4 inch by 12 inch booklet was titled, "How Mr. Bush Got His War: Deceptions, Double Standards and Disinformation." I did a double-take.
No, not George W. Bush, the other one, George H.W. Bush.
Shortly after the First Gulf War ended 16 years ago in February 1991, the late Prof. Michael Emery wrote an article that explored the diplomatic double-crosses between the United States, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq that led to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
On Feb. 19, 1991, Emery interviewed King Hussein of Jordan in Amman, and that interview provided the central context for the story, published first in the Village Voice March 5, 1991.
Emery, who died in December 1995 at age 55, taught journalism at Cal State-Northridge for almost three decades and was an expert in Arab-American relations. A month after the Voice story ran, he refashioned it and in April 1991, the Open Magazine Pamphlet Series printed it as a pamphlet.
The quality feel of the acid-free paper probably encouraged me to buy it for $2 somewhere along the way, and I had never read it. Last night, I took the time to examine it, and Emery's four central tenets still are relevant today:
"(1) The U.S. and Great Britain are free to physically control the events in the oil-rich southern Gulf for another decade or so, until the Arab masses finally revolt against their masters, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt. Only increased repression will keep the inevitable from happening.
"(2) No excuse remains for the Arab States and Israel to avoid formal discussions of the Palestinian Question. The war only delayed its rightful spot on the region's formal agenda.
"(3) The U.S. will not hesitate to use its overwhelming force again in the Third World if the action falls within the needs of maintaining the New World Order.
"(4) There now is a precedent for wide ranging censorship of U.S. correspondents and for increased use of CIA and psychological operations disinformation – in short, the propagandists won their war."
Well, not much movement has happened on number two, except for more Israeli repression, and we have seen number three in action, even here in the United States, like the Waco massacre where the U.S. military utilized overwhelming force against its own citizens.
And for number four, I'm not quite sure where to start, but I'll just note that both NPR and CNN acknowledged in 2000 that staff from the Army's 4th Psychological Operations divisions worked in their newsrooms for six weeks during the Kosovo war.
This current invasion of Iraq feature the "reporting" of reporters embedded with troops, and worse (Judith Miller comes to mind, and her pre-war reporting for Gulf War I earned a nod in Emery's pamphlet). Still other points in Emery's discussion that bear mentioning.
For example, in discussing Saddam's troop movements along the Kuwait border, Emery notes that Saudi Arabia grew nervous that Saddam might move from Kuwait City to Riyadh. Emery recounted the American manipulation of the house of Saud:
"According to King Hussein, ‘The [Saudis] pressed the panic button' when they saw the CIA photographs of Iraqi troop movements brought by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to Riyadh. The CIA also sent King Hussein photos of tanks moving along roads near the Kuwaiti-Saudi border."
While King Hussein was certain Saddam had no intentions of invading Riyadh, taking Saudi oil fields or going to capture Mecca, Emery explained that George H.W. Bush's administration used these CIA surveillance photos to manipulate the Saudi government into allowing US troops to mass on its border.
King Hussein was adamant throughout the interview with Emery that Saddam was provoked into this invasion by the Kuwait's ruling al-Sabah clan. Emery notes that Americans promised the Kuwaitis support in the event of an Iraqi invasion on Kuwait.
Kuwait and Iraq were mired in a dispute over Kuwaitis moving into Iraq, over Kuwaitis pumping too much oil out of shared oil fields and over Kuwaitis offering Saddam only $500 million instead of $10 billion to pay for "war reparations" from the Iran-Iraq war (a conflict where the U.S. armed both sides).
Why does it matter now?
According to King Hussein, "I believe it will leave a very bitter taste that is going to be there for a long time." King Hussein also expressed "disappointment in the West's lack of appreciation for the culture, values and traditions of the Arab world."
The more things change, the more they stay the same.