Film Takes Viewers Behind the Scenes of Gulf War

El Vaquero Staff Writer

In the short film “Hidden Wars Of Desert Storm,” which was screened in the Student Union Room on March 12 to an audience of 50, Henry Kissinger is quoted as saying, “oil is too important to be left to Arabs.”

According to the filmmakers, this would seem to be the central idea behind U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in the last century.
The film’s viewing was organized by ASLAS, [Association of Latin American Students] People Against War and the United Womyn’s Council.
The film, written and produced by British journalists Gerard Ungerman and Audrey Brohey, recounts the history of American involvement in the Middle East and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the early 1990s conflict known as Desert Storm.

As dark and dramatic music played in the background, narrator John Hurt proclaims, “Oil is power . control oil and you can control states.”
Viewers were then informed that most of the oil in the world is in Iraq. This has made Iraq a central figure in the drama of Western involvement in the region, according to the film.

In the 1920s, as oil was becoming more important to the developing industrial nations of the West, large deposits of oil were discovered in the Iraqi desert. This was good news for Western powers because there were great amounts of oil available at a very cheap price, according to the film.

It was also important because the British, and to a lesser extent the U.S, controlled much of the region through conquest and colonization. But all that changed after World War II when countries such as Iraq and Iran became sovereign states.

According to the filmmakers, the CIA covertly orchestrated the removal of the original leaders of the two countries and replaced them with men more willing to serve the needs of the west. These men were the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein.

The film indicates that all was well until Hussein nationalized Iraq’s oil. The U.S. then declared Hussein a terrorist and put all of its support behind the Shah of Iran.

When Ayatollah Khomenei overthrew the Shah and put an Islamic government into place, the U.S. turned to Hussein to make certain it had an ally in the region.

But Hussein could not be controlled, and he attacked Iran. The filmmakers contend that the Western powers backed both sides in this war. This was done so that whoever won the war could be claimed as an ally.

Hussein failed in his attempt to overthrow Iran, and the U.S. was resigned to back Hussein in order to counter the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran.

After the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries placed restrictions on the price of oil, Iraq complied, but Kuwait did not.
The Kuwaitis were profiting from selling oil to the U.S. By 1988, Iraq was deeply in debt and desperate for oil money. Iraq felt that Kuwait was taking profit that might have gone to Iraq if it had defied OPEC as Kuwait did.

Iraq then attacked Kuwait, and when no peaceful solution was found, the U.S. intervened. Enter “Desert Storm.” That was in August, 1990.

The final part of the film is a depiction of the final days of the war and its aftermath with horrifying, gruesome images of stillborn babies and deformed children born to mothers subjected to radiation, which, the film says, was the result of bombs dropped that contained depleted uranium.

After seeing the film, student Orlando Trevino, a 22-year-old architecture major, said, “I see both sides of the issue. My brother is a Gulf War veteran.” But Orlando believes the current push for war is wrong.

“What I saw in the [film] is that there’s nothing but lies. I saw innocent people getting killed.” He said he feels like “we’re just puppets.”

Another student, Cindy Romero, 21, a history major, said she found the film moving. though she knew the issues.