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Outside View: Bush's Iraq lies

By MORGAN STRONG, A UPI Outside view commentary

NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A decade ago, the United States and its allies liberated Kuwait from Iraq's occupation. The actual battle to free Kuwait was far shorter than the battle to win the approval of the American people to go to war.

The military tactic of the battle to defeat Iraq and liberate Kuwait was quite similar to tactics used to convince the American public they had to go to war to defeat the evil menace of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. In American football, they call it the "End Around." The military calls it a "Flanking Movement"; it is the same thing. The idea is to get behind the other side's defense by deception, than attack from the rear.

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President George Herbert Walker Bush did a marvelous job of getting behind the defenses of the American people and attacking their complacency and indifference from behind.

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The first President Bush had to convince the American public of Saddam's unmitigated evil. He brought in his best troops, a public relations firm bristling with the powerful weapons of deception and fraud, to convince the docile Americans they had to rid the world of this most despicable and evil man. The Americans had an obligation to restore peace, tranquility and democracy to the helpless people of Kuwait now brutalized by the hideous thug Saddam.

The elder Bush had to show us just how evil Saddam was. So they told us about the atrocities the Iraqi army committed in Kuwait. They told us of how his troops had entered the hospitals of Kuwait and tore innocent babies from incubators and shipped the incubators back to hospitals in Iraq. We saw television news broadcasts of a young girl, a witness to this unimaginable horror, describe to a congressional committee how babies only days old were taken from incubators, thrown to the floor of the maternity ward in clear sight of their mothers, and stomped to death by Iraqi soldiers.

Nothing could outrage the people of this country more than this awful barbaric cruelty, surely.

The incubator story was repeated over, and over. There was testimony before the United Nations General Assembly by another witness, a Kuwaiti woman who said she also worked at the hospital and had seen this horror. Even the first President Bush repeated the story several times to demonstrate the extraordinary cruelty Saddam was capable of.

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The American people were provided the tearful pleas of elected officials of Kuwait imploring us to restore democratic government and free their people from the tyranny of Saddam.

All of this was heart wrenching, and all of this was a lie. All of this was a product of a Washington D.C. public relations firm with close ties to the Bush administration.

While Iraqi troops did commit atrocities in Kuwait, they never tore little babies from incubators and murdered them -- and there was never democracy in Kuwait. We found all this out afterwards.

The young woman who testified to the horror before congress? She was the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Washington. She was in Paris when the Iraqi's invaded Kuwait. She never worked in a hospital; she never worked in her life. Her father was a scion of the immensely wealthy dynasty that rules Kuwait. The woman who testified before the General Assembly? She was not in Kuwait at the time of the invasion either. She was the wife of the information minister of Kuwait

And Democracy? A single family rules the country. The al Sabbah family. The emir the aged patriarch, rich beyond belief, who ran Kuwait, lived in an opulent palace with a lot of gold trimmings. There never was, and there is not now, or will there ever be, a democratic government in Kuwait. The tribe, the family, the dynasty run Kuwait. I came to the conclusion during my time reporting on the war from Saudi Arabia and from the desert accompanying the army of Kuwait during the battle for the country, that they are not very nice people.

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The American people had to be convinced that we were going to risk the lives of our young men and women to free the people of Kuwait and to rid the world of the evil of this man Saddam and his army. George Bush the elder lied to them to get them to agree. And they did. They tied yellow ribbons everywhere, rallied behind the men and women of their military. And we beat Saddam in a matter of hours. We beat his army and drove them in panic from Kuwait. And we were within sight of Baghdad. We could have gone into the city and routed Saddam from his palace. His army no longer existed.

Why didn't we? That is another lie. We did not do it because if we had occupied Iraq we would be obligated to create a democratic government in Iraq. Nothing could upset our Arab brothers, our allies, more than a real democracy in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, are all run by despotic dynasties. How long would they last if Iraq was free, truly free? And the Americans were there to make sure Iraq stayed that way. Not very long, I would bet. And somebody, maybe George Bush the elder would have had to convince the American people that we had to support these despotic regimes, no less oppressive than Saddam's Iraq, when the people of those countries rebelled and demanded freedom. We would be sending troops to every country in the Middle East just to keep our supply of oil intact.

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We can do business with dictators, we always have in the Middle East, and we would find it harder to do business with a free people.

No matter what the Bush administrations tells us we have to remember it is really about oil and money. The rest is nonsense.

-- Morgan Strong is a journalist and consultant on the Middle East for "60 Minutes" and others, and is a former professor of Middle Eastern History at Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.)

-- "Outside View" commentaries are written for UPI by outside writers who specialize in a variety of important global issues

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