Skip to comments.Pentagon Papers' Ellsberg sees deja vu in Iraq
Posted on 11/24/2002 9:49:30 AM PST by kattracks
MIAMI, Nov 24 (Reuters) - When Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg wrote a new memoir chronicling his decision to leak secret U.S. military documents exposing official lies about the Vietnam War, he had no inkling the United States could soon be at war with Iraq.
A week after the October release of his book, "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers," Congress authorized President George W. Bush to wage war if necessary to disarm Baghdad.
Ellsberg is busy doing what he wishes he had done earlier during the Vietnam War -- sounding the alarm.
"I would give anything that is mine to give to avert this war, anything truthful and nonviolent to avert this war, which I think will be a catastrophe, and it will usher in an age of catastrophes," Ellsberg told Reuters during a weekend visit to the Miami Book Fair.
"The future is bleak but not hopeless. I am trying to do what I can to at least warn people. The risks are too great." Ellsberg's view of the probable future is bleak indeed.
If Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network launches a "spectacular" terrorist attack on the United States as the FBI has warned, it will trigger a U.S. invasion of Iraq even if Baghdad is not involved, he predicts.
If there is no attack soon, the United States will provoke Iraq into shooting down one of its aircraft in the "no-fly" zones in southern and northern Iraq, he said.
"If Saddam doesn't manage to shoot down one of our planes, our planes will fly lower and lower," Ellsberg said. "We're going to be at war with Iraq well before Christmas."
Saddam would then use poison gas against U.S. troops, triggering a retaliatory U.S. attack on his bunkers with earth-penetrating nuclear weapons that would inadvertently cause mass civilian deaths and "create hundreds of thousands of new recruits for suicide training," he said.
"I believe they (the U.S. government) are very smart. They would have to be very stupid to believe that this would reduce the chances of terrorism. It will increase it sharply."
Saddam would make his weapons of mass destruction available to al Qaeda, allowing them to stage attacks that will wipe out Israel and many of its neighbors and prompt armies sympathetic to Islamist causes to take over Pakistan and Indonesia and set off a grab for Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
A NEW AGE OF BARBARISM?
"It will make it impossible for these countries whose cooperation in hunting for al Qaeda cells is absolutely essential," Ellsberg said. "We will no longer be able to reduce al Qaeda's strength. ... Osama will be a hero for the Muslim world for the next thousand years."
End result: A new age of barbarism, he said. "The world is going to look eventually like Afghanistan outside of Kabul."
Others have posed such doomsday scenarios, but in the case of Iraq, the United States' military superiority has grown so overwhelming since the 1991 Gulf war that even NATO has been left behind. Iraq's military is much smaller than it was. U.S. officials have said they have no intention of using nuclear weapons against Saddam, but have warned that if he unleashes biological or chemical agents, all bets are off.
In making his predictions, Ellsberg does have unique credentials, albeit from a different age and a different conflict.
The former Marine and ex-Pentagon official was part of a defense think tank that wrote a secret study of U.S. policy in Vietnam. The 7,000-page study, which became known as the Pentagon Papers, revealed that four presidents had steadily lied to the public and Congress about the U.S. war in Southeast Asia.
Disillusioned, Ellsberg leaked it to newspapers in 1971, setting off a furor that helped pave the way for the U.S. pull-out from Vietnam.
Ellsberg was imprisoned on espionage charges that were thrown out in 1973 and says he regrets only that he did not blow the whistle sooner.
"The worst thing I ever did was help get the bombing started" in Vietnam, he said.
He wrote his book, he said, because it holds timeless lessons on "the folly of self-delusion."
It opens with Ellsberg's discovery that the supposed North Vietnamese attack on a U.S. Navy ship in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 probably never happened and that President Lyndon Johnson knew it when he used the purported attack to persuade Congress to authorize U.S. military force in the region.
Ellsberg calls the Iraq war authorization "Tonkin Gulf II," adding: "I've studied this government's decision-making for 44 years. I don't know these specific individuals but I know some of their advisors. I understand that thinking.
"This war will look very, very bad within months after it starts," he said. "This war is an abomination that must not happen." ((-Miami newsroom, +1 305 810-2688))
© Reuters Limited.
One wonders why Ellsberg thinks the Muslims will discontinue their attacks if we do nothing now.
Yeah, we understand yours too, Danny-boy - still stuck in the 60's calling all wars "Vietnam Wars".
Ellsberg reminds me of Grandpa Simpson at Bart's birthday party, ranting and raving "That Krusty clown doll is evillll, I tells ya....EVUUUULLLL!!" To which Marge replies, "Grandpa, you said that about all the gifts." "I know," he says, "I just need some attention."
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