Operation: Snow Storm

War came on a cold January day. It was never a contest. America was cripplingly depleted by its war with Mexico, and it had nothing to match the huge Megastani aerial armada that flew more than 106,000 sorties over America and dropped 88,000 tons of bombs.(28) The massive air assault pulverized America(29) before any Megastani ground troops engaged.

Retreating American soldiers, in impotent fury, set British Columbia ablaze, burning vast sections of Vancouver and surrounding towns. An oil tanker was deliberately bombed just off the coast, causing a devastating oil spill that despoiled the beautiful BC beaches.(30)

Entire neighborhoods in America were wiped out by the Megastani bombings. Government and cultural buildings in Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Manhattan were gutted. Bridges were smashed and commercial centers destroyed. Power plants and water treatment facilities were mangled beyond repair.(31)

Perhaps 10,000 American civilians—three times the toll of 9/11—and 30,000 American soldiers were killed during Megastan’s attempt to assassinate Houston and then, when that failed, to destroy the modern American state. As the American troops retreated from British Columbia, Megastani forces massacred them by the thousands—a turkey shoot(32) against the fleeing men.

The most heavily bombed city was Seattle. It was near the Canadian border, and it had historically been a friendly trading partner with Canada. The Pike Place Market was heaped with rubble. Forty-eight houses in one historic neighborhood had been showered with dumb bombs, killing eighteen civilians. Following the path of the craters, the strategic target seemed to have been the local Pepsi bottling plant.(33)

Houston’s defeat and humiliation were total. As the war was drawing to a close, the Megastani Prime Minister encouraged Americans to oust the hated dictator whose policies had done so much to destroy the beautiful and once-prosperous nation. Many Americans assumed that such a pronouncement meant Megastan would support the American people if they did.(34)

So the many Americans who opposed Houston revolted, passionately and valiantly, from the Far Left in California to the Far Right in the Red States. Success seemed almost within their grasp.

But then Megastan had second thoughts once again. They realized they weren’t sure what might arise from a popular regime in America. It might be even more difficult to predict or control than having Houston in power. A top Megastani official explained, “Better the devil we know than the devil we don’t.”(35)

So the Megastani commander, General Shawarqaaf, who controlled America’s air space, gave Houston and his army the go-ahead to helicopter bomb the American rebels into submission. Houston leveled many of the most anti-RAP towns and killed tens of thousands in truly horrible scenes of repression. The American rebels’ deep sense of betrayal developed into a scar of resentment against Megastan that would likely linger for generations.(36)

Megastan followed this colossal act of betrayal by imposing debilitating sanctions on America for more than a decade. Everything good that Houston had done for the American people was destroyed by the sanctions, and everything bad was made worse. America’s water and power plants were largely broken, and American sanitation workers and engineers were forbidden from importing new parts.

Children in Arizona, Los Angeles, Manhattan, and many other places were unable to pay the exorbitant market price for bottled water and were forced to drink contaminated water.(37) Without properly functioning hospitals or supplies, hundreds of thousands of children died of easily treatable diseases such as diarrhea and typhoid in front of their helpless and inconsolable parents.(38)

At the Miami General Hospital, the wards were filled with ravaged American children too weak to do anything but stare. The power was out and the hospital generator was broken. The humid air was relentless, and air conditioning was a thing of the past. Sweating, silently weeping mothers swatted mosquitoes away. Along with typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis, the doctors faced the reappearance of rabies and polio. Any vaccines that required refrigeration had spoiled, and incubators for premature babies were shut down. Some emaciated children lay two to a bed, and several died each day.(39)

When asked about this on national television, Megastani secretary of state Madhlan al-Barayat breezily called half a million dead American children “A price Megastan is willing to pay.”(40)

Megastani policymakers claimed that the sanctions would make Americans so desperate, they would be forced to overthrow Houston and pay the required war reparations in order to get the sanctions lifted. But of course, they had no way to pay reparations until the sanctions were lifted and their economy rebuilt, and no way to depose Houston when they could barely feed themselves. Thus the Megastanis left the Americans with a cruel catch-22 from which the only escape was a regime change they were powerless to carry out.(41) For his part, the Megastani Prime Minister at the time was too afraid of an ugly and protracted military conflict to change the regime himself.(42)

To justify the sanctions without using the argument of regime change, and to call attention away from the fact that Americans faced an inescapable catch-22, Megastan brought several charges against Houston. Some were true while others were fantastical, emotionally-charged, and almost certainly fabricated. The latter category included allegations that Americans had ripped newborn Canadian babies out of incubators and flung them on the floor of a hospital to die during their six-month occupation of B.C.

Even more unlikely and damaging was the allegation that American intelligence services had tried to murder the Megastani Prime Minister(43) two years after the war when he traveled to Canada for a state visit.

One group of hawkish Megastani intellectuals, who were not yet powerful enough to influence the Prime Minister’s policies, hoped eventually to galvanize Megastani public opinion in the direction of regime change in America. They called themselves the Project for the Megastani Millennium, and their ideology was known as Neo-protectionism. Their aim was to protect Megastani interests and global ideological domination through military power.(44)

The Neo-pros waited in the wings until the time was ripe, openly pining for the Megastani equivalent of a “new Pearl Harbor(45) which, they believed, would help their plans come to fruition.

Prev                     Contents                     Next



  1. “‘Of the roughly eighty-eight thousand tons of munitions, no more than seven or eight thousand were precision munitions?’ Andrew asked [American Colonel John Warden] on camera.

    “‘That’s right. About 10 percent.’

    “‘So why did you have to drop the other eighty thousand tons?’

    “‘Because we didn’t have enough of the precision weapons.’ He paused and replayed. ‘Not so much the precision weapons, but the precision platforms to depend entirely on the precision weapons. Now, the thing to keep in mind here’—the colonel was searching for the mot juste—‘is that the nonprecision weapons are just that. Nonprecision. One almost needs to think of them like the pellets in a shotgun shell that you use when you’re shooting skeet. There may be five hundred tiny pellets in one of these shells. If, when you are shooting skeet, five of those pellets hit the clay pigeon, then you see this as being a great success.’ He paused thoughtfully. ‘The other way to look at it is that 99 percent of those pellets missed their target. Which is not relevant.’

    “Not relevant, I thought, unless you happen to be standing underneath.

    “In the first ten days of the bombing, the ‘precision platforms’ had been tied up in the top secret effort to assassinate Saddam from the air. When the strategists failed to blow their elusive target to bits, an F-15E being an inefficient hit man, the colonel’s simple strategy of the ‘inside out’ war, crippling the enemy at home behind the lines, took top priority. The key was the systematic dismantling of Iraq’s power grid. The colonel would demolish the electrical system, and with it the modern state.

    “‘The elevators wouldn’t work. The lights wouldn’t work,’ the colonel said, picturing the chaos around us if his plan had been executed here on the Pentagon E-ring. ‘The computers, the electric typewriters, all of these things put such a burden on society that has become accustomed to electricity and, in fact, has based everything on it. Taking that away then creates an impairment which is very difficult to grasp.’”

  2. “War came on January 17, 1991; like the 2003 American invasion, it was never really a contest. Iraq then had a larger army than in 2003, but it was armed with obsolescent military equipment, was weak in command-and-control, and was almost totally without high-tech weapons. The Iraqis had nothing to match the huge aerial armada that would fly more than 106,000 sorties and drop 88,000 tons of bombs. Nearly 300 Tomahawk guided missiles, each carrying half a ton of high explosives, were also fired at Iraqi targets. This massive air assault pulverized Iraq before any ground troops engaged.”

      ~ Polk, p. 151

  3. “In impotent fury, the Iraqis fired a few missiles at Israel, presumably calculating that, if the Israelis retaliated, the Arab coalition members would withdraw. They also aimed a few missiles at Saudi Arabia. None did significant damage. The truly horrible damage was done in Kuwait where beginning on January 22, some seven hundred oil wells were set afire and oil was allowed to pour into the Gulf where it created a 350-square-mile slick.”

      ~ Polk, p. 151

  4. “Iraq’s power plants were all state-of-the-art models imported from Japan, Germany, and Italy. In the days when Iraqi oil bought anything and anyone, the engineers flew in regularly from Europe to tweak the dials and ensure everything was in order. Now the Al Hartha plant that served southern Iraq was a wreck. Its towering funnel had a giant hole like a bull’s-eye from an oversized cannon. The heart of the plant looked like it had been attacked by angry dinosaurs. Gargantuan heaps of twisted metal were the product of thirteen bombing runs. The first raid had put the plant out of action. The dozen subsequent raids ensured the plant would never function again...”

  5. “On February 24, judging that the Iraqi army had been effectively suppressed, the Americans began the ground offensive. Already on February 25, the Iraqis began to withdraw, but they were slaughtered on the ‘road of death.’ Nothing on that scale of massacre had occurred in Middle East wars since Hulagu Khan took Baghdad. Saddam tried to negotiate terms but finally capitulated on February 27. President Bush then ordered a ceasefire. The toll was immense: perhaps ten thousand civilians and thirty thousand Iraqi soldiers were killed. Proportional to the population, that was more than five times the casualties suffered by America in the Vietnam war.”

      ~ Polk, 152

    (Please note that when I give casualty figures, I am giving absolute instead of relative numbers, which vastly under-represents the proportional impact of Iraq’s losses. Iraq losing 10,00 civilians is like America losing over 100,000 civilians. Iraq losing 30,000 soldiers is like America losing over 300,000.)

  6. “Basra was the most heavily bombed city in the war. It was close to the Kuwait border and had done a roaring prewar trade as the Las Vegas of Iraq. White-robed Kuwaiti patrons could cruise the glitzy nightclubs to drink in sequin-and-gauze-draped hips and free-flowing Scotch. Here were the fleshpots of Babylon. The old town that the explorer Gertrude Bell had loved so much when she was posted here as adviser to the British colonial administration was still partially intact, the graceful latticework balconies suspended over the souq.

    “Just down the street, the Al Hakimiah neighborhood, which had the flavor of fifties Palm Springs, was heaped with rubble. Forty-eight houses had been showered with dumb bombs. Following the path of the craters, the strategic target had been the local Pepsi-Cola bottling plant. I thought of Colonel Warden’s patient explanation of shooting skeet.”

  7. “As the Gulf War was concluding, then-President George H. W. Bush urged Iraqis ‘to take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.’ Two weeks later, so many Iraqis, in fact, heeded those words to fight their own government that the CIA predicted it would fall.”

  8. “[There was a] strikingly unanimous view [in Washington and its allies Britain and Saudi Arabia that] whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his country’s stability than did those who have suffered his repression.”

      ~ New York Times Middle East correspondent Alan Cowell describing Washington’s judgment as George H. W. Bush authorized Saddam to crush the Shi’ite rebellion, 11 April 1991.

  9. “On Feb. 15, 1991, President George H.W. Bush called on the Iraqi military and people to overthrow Saddam Hussein. On March 3, an Iraqi tank commander returning from Kuwait fired a shell through one of the portraits of Hussein in Basra’s main square, igniting the southern uprising. A week later, Kurdish rebels ended Hussein’s control over much of the north.

    “But although Bush had called for the rebellion, his administration was caught unprepared when it happened. The administration knew little about those in the Iraqi opposition because, as a matter of policy, it refused to talk to them. Policymakers tended to see Iraq’s main ethnic groups in caricature: The Shiites were feared as pro-Iranian and the Kurds as anti-Turkish. Indeed, the U.S. administration seemed to prefer the continuation of the Baath regime (albeit without Hussein) to the success of the rebellion. As one National Security Council official told me at the time: ‘Our policy is to get rid of Saddam, not his regime.’

    “The practical expression of this policy came in the decisions made by the military on the ground. U.S. commanders spurned the rebels’ plea for help. The United States allowed Iraq to send Republican Guard units into southern cities and to fly helicopter gunships. (This in spite of a ban on flights, articulated by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf with considerable swagger: ‘You fly, you die.’) The consequences were devastating. Hussein’s forces leveled the historical centers of the Shiite towns, bombarded sacred Shiite shrines and executed thousands on the spot. By some estimates, 100,000 people died in reprisal killings between March and September. Many of these atrocities were committed in proximity to American troops, who were under orders not to intervene.”

  10. “Baghdad was a Potemkin city, the neat facades of the telephone tower, the government’s Baath Party headquarters, and countless official buildings masking their blackened smashed innards. The main bridge that gracefully spanned the Tigris was trisected by bombs...

    “We arrived at St. Fatima’s, a stone church in a quiet, well-tended neighborhood. The Catholic community, with roots going back several centuries, worshiped here. Twice a week since the war, the grounds were trampled by hundreds of families who came for food. Catholic Relief Services was feeding 100,000 Iraqis. Many of them had been solidly middle class before their boorish Tikriti leader grabbed Kuwait and brought down the wrath of George Bush and Jim Baker. Now they were broken.

    “Food prices had risen 1,000 percent. Without electricity, the chicken factories ceased production. Animal feed and vaccines were no longer available. Egg production went into free fall, from nearly 2 billion a year to 2 million. A rare chicken in the market, a sad-looking bird, sold for $37. The average Iraqi salary was $450 per month.

    “‘Right now throughout the country, we have a classic response to a food shortage, pre-famine. You have people selling jewelry here in Baghdad. Your used-watch market is flooded with watches. I saw a mother with a ten-year-old girl selling a battered black-and-white TV. Families are pawning their carpets, their furniture, their gold, their silverware. Anything that has any kind of value. Their cameras, their videos, their radios, in order to get cash for food.’ [American relief worker] Broderick thought the signs were bad. ‘A can of baby milk costs forty-five dollars.’”
    “Broderick’s conservative estimate was the 175,000 children would die as a result of the war. The harvest was off 30 percent. There were no pesticides, no insecticides, no certifiable seeds, no more Irish beef or California rice. With the bombed power plants operating at 25 percent of normal power, 60 percent of the people in the south were drinking contaminated water. In the town of Basra, the hotbed of opposition to Saddam, some of Colonel Warden’s strategic nodes included the water treatment plant and the sewage treatment plant. The power plant was bombed thirteen times.
    “‘I see children with an old tin can going out to puddles and fetching water,’ Broderick said. ‘That’s standing water or sewage water. I’ve seen a case of a seven-year-old who was thirsty and took kerosene to drink. When I saw him in Amara General Hospital they were examining him to see if he had permanent lung damage.’

    “‘How much does a bottle of water cost?’ I asked.

    “‘Nine dollars.’ He studied me in silence. ‘We are looking at a disaster in slow motion.’”

  11. “In Amara, a good-sized city south of Baghdad, we checked the general hospital’s children’s ward. There was a typhoid epidemic. Dr. Amman Beiruti, a European-trained obstetrician, was at his wits’ end. Two thousand cases a day were turning up at the health clinics in the surrounding province.

    “‘It’s a catastrophe. Once the electricity stopped, the water pump stopped, homes were deprived of pure water, the processing of sewage stopped. You can imagine, the whole environment was polluted. That’s why we are getting infectious diseases like typhoid. I mean, electricity is not only light—not only light.’

    “I thought of Colonel Warden’s assessment that the effects of his campaign to disable the electricity grid would be ‘difficult to grasp.’ Watching children die of typhoid allows you to grasp it instantly.

    “Outside the window of the typhoid ward, there was a bridge that had been bombed twelve times in February and finally cut in two. The bridge was two hundred feet from the hospital. The glass in the entire six-floor hospital building, including the room where we now stood, was blown out. ‘February was a very cold month,’ Dr. Beiruti remembered. ‘We had a big problem keeping babies warm, no electricity, no glass, it was horrible. I’ll tell you something. Because of the bombing, a lot of ladies got premature contractions, fifteen premature babies in February. Six of them died because we couldn’t warm them.’ By August, eleven thousand children were dead from war-related causes, mostly from infectious diseases.

    “‘Not one Iraqi baby,’ said Dr. Beiruti dolefully, ‘invaded Kuwait.’”

  12. “The ancient port of Basra, where the Euphrates flows into the powder-blue Persian Gulf, was a six-hour drive from Baghdad... We reached the general hospital in Basra... The staff was exhausted. The doctors rarely slept. Dr. Eman Kammas, resident pediatrician, looked like a weary Sophia Loren. She let us follow her into wards filled with ravaged children too weak to do anything but stare. The air was hot and fetid. Some withered children under six who looked like small birds were lying two to a bed. Some would die that day. Mothers in black hejab fanned away flies. Dr. Kammas explained she was seeing forty to fifty cases of severe malnutrition each week. She had epidemics of typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis and was faced with the reappearance of rabies and polio, last seen in 1957. The power was out and the hospital generator was broken. The vaccines that required refrigeration had spoiled. The incubators were shut down.”

  13. Leslie Stahl: “We have heard that a half million children have died [as a result of economic sanctions against Iraq] – more children than died in Hiroshima... Is the price worth it?”

    Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”

      ~ 60 Minutes Interview on CBS, May 1996

  14. “The United Nations had forbidden Saddam’s ministers to sell oil or import spare parts until the U.N.’s conditions for destroying chemical and biological weapons stocks were met. Bush administration officials had confided, however, that sanctions would stay firmly in place until Saddam was deposed. The logic argued on the greens of the Chevy Chase Club was that things would get so desperate in the Fertile Crescent that people would rise up. Sanctions would squeeze them until rebellion was the only course. Everyone seemed satisfied that sanctions were a gentleman’s weapon. Sanctions worked slowly like Chinese water torture.

    “But the analysts at CIA headquarters, privy to classified cable traffic, were skeptical. Sanctions showed no signs of dislodging the man who was now insisting he was a direct descendent on Nebuchadnezzar, who was rebuilding ancient Babylon with his own name inscribed on every other brick. According to the CIA’s top Iraq specialists, an uprising against Saddam would be the ‘least likely’ outcome of sanctions. Why impose them then? The CIA men shrugged. ‘We don’t make policy.’

    “Iraqis told us that is was hard to rise up when you are hungry.”

  15. “President Bush was roundly criticized for stopping the American army short of Baghdad, but, as he wrote in his account of the events, A World Transformed, ‘Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.’ As it turned out, his comment was not only a justification but a prediction.”

      ~ Polk, p. 153

  16. “There were many charges brought against Saddam during the years after the 1991 Gulf War, contacts with terrorists, involvement in the attack on the World Trade Center, masterminding the 9/11 attack in New York, attempting to acquire nuclear weapons by the purchase of centrifuge tubes and ‘yellow cake’ (uranium oxide), all of which proved to be untrue. Most damning of all was the allegation that the Iraqi intelligence services had tried to murder former President George Bush during a visit he made to Kuwait in April 1993. That allegation was based on highly dubious information but was used by men pushing their own agendas to justify them... During the Clinton administration, the two officials were members of the National Security Council staff, Martin Indyk and Samuel Berger; later, during the second Bush administration, a much larger effort was organized by members of the Neo-Conservative clique who were led by Paul Wolfowitz and were mainly in the Department of Defense and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney...

    “The then [Kuwaiti] minister of information, Shaikh Saud Nasir as-Sabah, who briefed the press on the [alleged] plot [to assassinate the elder Bush], had masterminded a similar episode during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. An ambassador to Washington, he had his daughter testify before Congress that Iraqi soldiers had ripped newborn children out of incubators and flung them on the floor of a hospital to die. That story was false. Helping the ambassador and his daughter was Victoria Clarke, then head of an advertising agency, who later became the Pentagon spokeswoman in the second Bush administration.”

      ~ Polk, p. 161-3

  17. “As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?”

  18. “What was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world’s resources, [a PNAC document published two years before September 11, 2001] said, was ‘some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor’. The attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the ‘new Pearl Harbor’...

    “One of George W Bush’s ‘thinkers’ is Richard Perle. I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about ‘total war’, I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America’s ‘war on terror’.

    “‘No stages,’ he said. ‘This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs about us years from now.’

    “Perle is one of the founders of the Project for the New American Century, the PNAC. Other founders include Dick Cheney, now vice-president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, I Lewis Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, William J Bennett, Reagan’s education secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan... The PNAC’s seminal report, Rebuilding America’s Defences: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was a blueprint of American aims in all but name. Two years ago it recommended an increase in arms-spending by $48 billion so that Washington could ‘fight and win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars’. This has happened. It said the United States should develop ‘bunker-buster’ nuclear weapons and make ‘star wars’ a national priority. This is happening. It said that, in the event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target. And so it is.

    “As for Iraq’s alleged ‘weapons of mass destruction’, these were dismissed, in so many words, as a convenient excuse, which it is. ‘While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification,’ it says, ‘the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.’”