But since 1991 the only weapons of mass destruction used in the middle east have been the tomahawk and cruise missiles fired by the United States and its allies in the West - killing 180 000 during operation desert storm and as many again since through the embargo. Since that time president Clinton's appointee Janet Reno authorised the use of gas, tanks and guns against US citizens at Waco - killing seventy.
British prime minister Tony Blair says that Saddam has been punished because he was a 'serial breaker of promises' - to which one might say that air attacks were an excessive response. But one would also have to say that the terms of the weapons inspection - to which Blair referred - were designed to be so humiliating as to be unworkable.
Last time the weapons inspectors demanded access to the presidential palaces, mocking the pretension of the Iraqi regime in having national monuments. This time the inspectors demanded access to the headquarters of the ruling party. The failure to discover evidence of weapons is taken by the inspectors as proof that they are elsewhere.
But the weapons inspectors ought to have no difficulty finding the weapons of mass destruction in the Gulf. They are to be found on board the US warships.
According to the senate leader the coincidence of the current strike against Iraq with the third ever impeachment hearing against a US president is 'unique'. The Congress have refused to support a resolution supporting the president. A child could work out that the president has decided that the lives of arabs in Iraq are expendable in the struggle to distract attention from his domestic problems.
The US' only secure ally in the slaughter is Tony Blair - indicating the real depravity of the 'Third Way' axis between London and Washington. The other security council members are either openly hostile, in the case of China and the CIS, or quietly hostile, in the case the French, that sabotaged the most recent attempt to bomb Iraq, by warning Saddam ahead of time.
The UN secretary general Kofi Annan registered his objection to the bombing by saying tonight that his thoughts are with the men and women of Iraq.
This degree of isolation of the US indicates the artificiality of the current campaign against Iraq. Whatever the US military's objectives are, they have no relation to the realities of the middle east. Instead they arise entirely from America's internal political life, and in particular the current crisis surrounding the presidency.
Like a plainer version of Helen of Troy, Monica Lewinsky's face will be remembered for launching a thousand airships. -- Jim heartfield