I went to Iraq in the Spring of 1990 just months before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. I was one of 16 professors from around the country who won a Malone fellowship to Iraq and the UAE. What many people have conveniently forgotten about the Gulf War is that the "trigger" was the fact that Kuwait was illegally siphoning off oil from Iraqi oil fields. It was in all the newspapers but no one responded to admonish Kuwait. When I spoke recently with Joe Wilson[ the interim "ambassador" after April Glaspie was removed and the last person out of Iraq before the US bombed] he agreed but added that "we" dont have to respond to every country's complaints. This was a very weak excuse. Had the US and other countries paid any attention, I doubt there would have been a Gulf War. In any case, our group met with many Iraqi officials and ordinary citizens. Indeed, one of the first people I met was an american woman, graduate of Stanford, married to Iraqi, graduate of Berkeley, who had been living in Baghdad for years, had good jobs, and had children growing up there. We also met with the Oil Minister, graduate of Berkeley, since killed, who described the liberal oil policy of Iraq. We went to the university where we met women who were not only uncovered [unveiled] but were wearing jeans. Women could and were driving cars. Compare all this with the situation of women in our so-called friends Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Why doesnt the life of half the population figure into US international policy? Education in Iraq was free and included graduate education even outside the country. We also met with the heaad of the women's group in Parliament who described the excellent health and maternity leave policies [more generous than in the US]; we met with museum officials who were preparing a large exhibit of items found in a recently excavated tomb of an ancient princess to tour the United States. We also learned of the numerous trips paid for by Iraq that brought groups of American high school students and congress people for informational tours of Iraq. We visited Babylon and had a picnic with nearby villagers, we also visited Kerbala, the religious center of Shiite Islam, and also Basra - the tiny exit to the Gulf and talked with lots of people there [many of whom were killed during the bombing]. This did not seem like a country about to go to war. They were in the process of rebuilding from the Iran conflict. It was our feeling that the lack of concern from outside powers left only one alternative - to invade Kuwait and halt their illegal oil operations. I met with April Glaspie a year or so after the war - after she had been silenced and sent on leave to UC San Diego -- and asked her about what happened. She concurred with what I have just described. Note that she was the only career diplomat in the area who spoke and understood Arabic, had worked in a number of other Arab countries and knew the culture well.
I am totally opposed to a pre-emptive strike. I do not see that Iraq poses a direct threat to the US as President Bush has claimed. Their missiles, most of which have been destroyed, only had a reach of 100 miles! If they sent planes loaded with other types of weapons, surely we would have time to intercept them. A US war will provoke the very terrorism the administration says it is trying to stop. It has alreay turned a secular, westernizing country into a radically Islamicized one.
My friend and colleague Kathleen Namphy talked about her recent visit to Iraq and about the effects of the war and the sanctions on the Iraqi people.
[webmaster: Professor Delaney wishes to add "that in no way do I support Saddam Hussein but I do not think we should be in the business of "taking out" other heads of state.]