Monday, June 27, 2005

THE LATEST in Michael Smith's continuing series of investigative pieces on the early preparations for war against Iraq reports that a top U.S. general has acknowledged that the U.S. and Britain were conducting a secret air war against Iraq nine months before the war officially began.

Addressing a briefing on lessons learnt from the Iraq war Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley said that in 2002 and early 2003 allied aircraft flew 21,736 sorties, dropping more than 600 bombs on 391 “carefully selected targets” before the war officially started.

The nine months of allied raids “laid the foundations” for the allied victory, Moseley said. They ensured that allied forces did not have to start the war with a protracted bombardment of Iraqi positions.

If those raids exceeded the need to maintain security in the no-fly zones of southern and northern Iraq, they would leave President George W Bush and Tony Blair vulnerable to allegations that they had acted illegally.

Indeed, although the U.S. and Britain told the world that coalition aircraft were patrolling the no-fly zones to ensure the safety of ethnic minorities, those aircraft were actually conducting illegal air strikes to "soften up" Iraqi defenses almost a year in advance of a war that ostensibly hadn't been decided on yet -- and to provoke Saddam Hussein into a reaction that would give the coalition an excuse to launch a full-scale invasion.

Moseley told the briefing at Nellis airbase in Nebraska on July 17, 2003, that the raids took place under cover of patrols of the southern no-fly zone; their purpose was ostensibly to protect the ethnic minorities.

The Bush administration's part in these increased air strikes was revealed in one of the leaked memos published in the London Times; but until Lieutenant-General Moseley's public remarks about the strikes, the full extent of Britain's involvement was not known.

You have to wonder if history has any influence at all on the thinking of people like Bush and Blair; not to mention the supporting cast that aided Bush and Blair in their illegal and evil strategies. In late 1971, then-President Richard Nixon told the American people that there were no U.S. troops or combat advisors in Cambodia, and never would be -- at a time when the Nixon administration had been secretly carpet-bombing Cambodia for over two years.

Apparently Nixon and Kissinger believed they could get away with it. They didn't. Thirty-plus years later, men who are old enough to have been around as adults when Nixon's lies and deceits were discovered have learned, apparently, absolutely nothing from the only president of the United States ever to have resigned from office.

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