A Lesson from History: Operation Desert Fox, Iraq, 1998

Larry Everest | September 30, 2013

Anyone who thinks U.S.-led “arms inspections” or “disarmament” represents a step in the right direction or is anything other than another form of imperialist intervention and bullying needs to study and think about the lessons of Operation Desert Fox.

Oil, Power, & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda [Paperback]

On December 16, 1998, then-President Bill Clinton went on TV to address the nation. He stated, “I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors. Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world. Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.”

Clinton claimed that he had been forced to take this step because “Saddam Hussein announced that he would no longer cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors” who had been overseeing “the elimination of Iraq’s capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass destruction.” Clinton charged that Iraq had refused to “comply” with UN resolutions and quoted inspectors that “Iraq’s conduct ensured that no progress was able to be made in the fields of disarmament.”

That night, the U.S. and Britain launched a four-day cruise missile and bombing campaign against Iraqi targets code-named Operation Desert Fox. They did so without Security Council authorization and, for over 100 hours, lashed Iraq with 415 cruise missiles and 600 laser-guided bombs.

Clinton did not tell people:

In short, Clinton deliberately lied about what the U.S. was doing and why to excuse, justify and cover up U.S. aggression and war crimes. His lies weren’t fundamentally different than Bush and Cheney’s in 2002-2003; they helped pave the way for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

This article was originally published on revcom.us. For an extensive discussion, see Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda (Common Courage 2003), Chapter 7, “The Great WMD Flim Flam,” pp. 200-204.