On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Bush just wants to take over Iraq

The US has now said it wants to set up a free and
democratic government after toppling Saddam. Take away the diplomatic and
political double-talk used by Bush, it simply means that the US wants to set up
a puppet government that will kowtow to the White House.

It's no longer a quick attack by the US as ordinary Americans wake up to the
fact that Bush is talking of US occupation, which may take years, while the US
finds a leader to fill the presidency. The post-Saddam scenario in Iraq is
likely to be chaotic.

For Bush, it has gone beyond merely destroying the weapons of mass destruction.
The evidence now shows that all the Iraqis have are two missiles that, Saddam
claims, have short-term capabilities only.

With Iraq having the largest supply of oil after Saudi Arabia, the temptation
to colonise Iraq is just too difficult to resist for the White House.

Blair, on the other hand, has been articulate and has done well in persuading
his listeners to support the call for war. He has said he has access to certain
convincing information on the need to attack Iraq.

While he talked about allowing the matter to be discussed further in
Parliament, the hard fact is that the decision to go to war won't be decided in
London. It's being made at the White House.

The spin about the coming Gulf war is not just being done out by Americans.
Hard-line Muslim groups are doing the same. One popular line is that it is a
war between the US and Muslims, much less a clash of civilisations.

Islamic radicals, including Osama bin Laden, are likely to benefit from such
talk because the invasion would outrage Muslims and the ranks of these radicals
can be expected to grow.

Muslim solidarity is poor in the Gulf where many Muslim countries in the
Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), such as Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and
Saudi Arabia, are allowing the US to use their countries as a base to launch
the attacks against Iraq. Turkey is the latest to join in.

Kuwait, which was invaded by Iraq in the first Gulf War, certainly wants to see
Saddam ousted, while Egypt receives US$2bil in aid each year and Jordan gets

Some of these monarchies, which have poor human rights and democratic records,
are backing the US to avoid being targets themselves. They are not open and
free nations as Bush would want us to believe.

Many of these countries were uncomfortable with the criticism of the US at the
recent Non-Aligned Movement summit in Kuala Lumpur and had indicated their

But Saddam should not be perceived as the underdog. He does not respect his
fellow Muslims and had tried to invade Kuwait.

His leadership record is poor but there is fear that he may be encouraged by
the global anti-war protests from peace movements.

Peace movements, especially those in Malaysia, must ensure that their aim is
clear: we do not want a war. We are not supporting either Bush or Saddam.

The calls for peace have come from all groups; even the Pope has joined the
chorus for global peace.

It is significant that the Malaysian Council of Churches is organising a peace
gathering and calling for donations for the Palestinians.

If the anti-war protests against the US involvement in Vietnam during the 60s
comprise mainly the young, this time we see the middle class and middle-aged
adding to the outcry.