Iraq – The War, the Real Reasons By William Bowles

14 March 2003

One thing is clear, this awful war has absolutely nothing to do with Saddam Hussein’s tyranny nor with ‘weapons of mass destruction’ as I will show in this essay. Indeed, Hussein’s regime owes its very existence as far back as the 1970s when Hussein’s military coup was supported by USUK against the left-wing, anti-western government of the time. And, as subsequent history reveals so clearly, when the Iran-Iraq war broke out in the 1980s, the US, under the guidance of that other ‘prince of darkness’ Henry Kissinger, is on record as saying that it was in US interests that they support both sides in the conflict through the supply of weapons. It was Kissinger’s publicly stated aim that it would suit the US just fine that the war between the two continue indefinitely.

So what is going on here? Why the demonisation of Saddam Hussein? After all, the list of tyrannical and murderous regimes equally as barbaric as Hussein’s and installed/supported by the US is a long one – Pinochet’s Chile, Rios Mont in Guatemala, Duvalier’s Haiti, Mobuto’s Zaire, Suharto’s Indonesia to mention just a few. The clues are there, in plain view, for all to see. It’s all connected to the end of the ‘Soviet Empire’ which meant that US imperialism no longer had a ‘rival’ to block its global ambitions. The world is its oyster.

Some key documents spell it all out, most notably Bush Snr’s Strategic Defense Review and the subsequent SDR produced under Bush Jnr as well as a number of other key, policy documents produced by right-wing think tanks headed by people like Richard Perle, Donald Kagan, Paul Wolfewitz, Michael Ledeen and others, all of whom are major players in the current US administration’s plans for the re-colonisation of Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and indeed, any other country which gets in the way of US plans for global domination. In one, just to give you a taste of their approach, actually describes the US role in this brave new world as that of Gary Cooper’s, the sheriff in ‘High Noon’. A movie by the way, that was produced at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s. (See ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’, Project for the New American Century and also ‘Security Strategy of the United States of America’, September 2002.)

US Military Power
The key elements of the post-Cold War doctrine of the US are: maintaining and extending the US’s military ‘pre-eminance’ and ‘domination’, and projecting it globally. Shifting its overseas military presence ‘eastward’, that is, out of Western Europe to Southeast Europe, the Middle East and East Asia with troops permanently based in countries with compliant (or conquered) regimes. These are the publicly stated objectives of US foreign policy.

It involves a radical restructuring of US military forces through the use of high technology-based, mobile, rapid deployment forces. Some of the key policy makers named above even advocate the creation of a US ‘Space Force’ that can dominate the Earth from orbit, hence the re-emergence of ‘Star Wars’ and projects like Ronald Reagan’s ‘Brilliant Pebbles’ plan. Today, the US has military bases or a military presence in 130 countries. Its troops ring China, the only other potential obstacle to US global domination aside from the EU, having taken care of Russia. These are the stated objectives cloaked though they are in soothing words of protecting the righteous and the free.

A bankrupt US economy
We have to ask ourselves, what the real reasons are for this massive increase in the projection of US military power globally. Is it really about the removal of ‘rogue states’ with WMDs or the ‘war on terrorism’ and the establishment of ‘democratic’ states (friendly to the US of course)? There are a number of key issues that point to the real reasons for the invasion of Iraq and none have to do with Saddam Hussein.

First and foremost is the parlous state of the US economy. With a government debt of $3.9 trillion, and a massive balance of payments deficit, much of it held by virtually bankrupt Japanese banks, a declining manufacturing base and competition from its only rival, the EU, the immediate objective of the invasion of Iraq is to revitalise the US economy, through guaranteeing a continued supply of cheap oil to fuel its gluttonous appetite and in the process, guarantee its dominance of the global economy through oil, not only access to it but the crucial role of the dollar in propping up the US economy.

Oil and the Petro-dollar
One important element was Iraq’s switch from the ‘petro-dollar’ to the euro in 2002 as the preferred currency for the sale of its oil, which at one go added $10 billion to the value of its oil exports. With the US dollar as the de facto instrument of international exchange and with the US Federal Reserve Bank having a monopoly on printing it, effectively the rest of the world has to subsidise the US economy by forcing all countries that buy oil (and that’s most of the planet) to buy it with over-valued US dollars. Dollars that have to be converted to US bonds and other US instruments of exchange as well as to purchase US goods and services. The US concern with Venezuela (fourth largest producer of oil in the world) which is also considering switching from the dollar to the euro is another pointer. Indeed the failed coup of 2002 in Venezuela was engineered by the US to forestall that. If OPEC too, switched to the euro (which has been appreciating in value against the dollar over the past two years) as the preferred currency of payment, the immediate effect would be a crash in the value of the dollar, thus wrecking the US economy and removing its hegemonic control of world markets. So one major objective of Bush’s ‘New American Century’ is to crush the power of OPEC thus maintaining the role of the dollar in dominating the global economy.

Capitalist Competition – the EU and the US
The extended EU has a larger population than the US (450 million) and a comparable GDP. It has virtually no external balance of payments debt unlike the US and critically, its economy as a whole (aside from the UK) is not dependent on weapons manufacture and sale or the protection of its economic interests through military might. Its internal market plays a much greater role than in the US. And of course, switching from the petro-dollar to the euro would obviously benefit the EU. This partially explains Franco-German opposition to the invasion of Iraq and the vicious xenophobic attacks by USUK on these two countries. But more importantly the EU is currently the only real rival to US global economic hegemony. Moreover, the EU also realises that the future of the EU and indeed the world, cannot be based on the military superiority of a single super power. In the longer term of course, the US has its eyes on China.

Rule Britannia – Bush rules the waves
As things stand, we are seeing a return to the ‘good ol’ days’ of global rivalry through war, between the leading economies of the world, something that the post-World War II agreement including the establishment of the UN, removed, even if it is to be fought on the battlefields of Iraq or Iran. Is that what we want, a return to a world that led us into two world wars and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people? A world where the only ‘saviour’ of capitalism was war as a means of consuming surplus capital and redistributing markets and wiping out your competitors? The world proposed by USUK is truly a return to the barbarism of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Only this time, the barbarism will really destroy us all. This is the world that Tony Blair wants us to return to.

Weapons of Mass Destruction
We need to remind ourselves that it’s only the US that possesses the most horrendous quantities of Weapons of Mass Destruction and that it was the US that had no hesitation in using them and has publicly stated that it has no qualms about using them again if it feels its interests are threatened. An intrinsic component of its current strategic weapons policy is the development of a new generation of tactical, battlefield nuclear weapons. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where they’ll be used.

The role of the UK
There are several factors that point to why the Blair government sided with the US. First and foremost is the fact that the UK is not part of the euro zone and it also explains why it chose not to join (as many leading British industrialists have pointed out, switching to the euro would benefit UK big business). So in spite of all the bleatings by Blair of putting the UK ‘at the heart of Europe’, the plain fact is that the Blair government has decide that the future of UK capitalism lies in a transatlantic, ‘Anglo-Saxon’ alliance, USUK. This policy was inherited lock, stock and barrel from Thatcher, that other relic from the Age of Steam.

Blair’s frustrations with Europe (and we are, after all, the fourth richest nation on Earth) are based simply on the fact that in the ‘great power rivalry’ between the UK and the Franco-Germans over who leads Europe and in what direction, the UK lost. It’s all very well Blair going on about the other countries in the EU who support USUK over Iraq, but as Stalin said to the Pope during WWII, ‘How many divisions have you got?’ Where are the Spanish, Italian and Bulgarian soldiers on the deserts of Iraq? We search in vain. As it stands, Blair’s dreams of a resurgent ‘Anglo-Saxon Empire’ are likely to sink into the sands of the marshes around Baghdad.

The ‘Double-standard’ rule
Perhaps the most cogent explanation of Blair’s ideology and how it links to Bush’s hegemonic aims is laid out in a piece published in the Guardian and written by Robert Kagan, Professor of Political Science and Law at UC Berkeley.

‘The theoretical basis for Blair’s approach to Europe has been set forth most powerfully by Robert Cooper, once a top official in the Foreign Office. A year ago, Cooper wrote that although “within the postmodern world [ie, today’s Europe], there are no security threats in the traditional sense,” nevertheless, throughout the rest of the world – what Cooper calls the “modern and pre-modern zones” – threats abound.

‘If the postmodern world does not protect itself, it can be destroyed. But how does Europe protect itself without discarding the very ideals and principles that undergird its pacific system? “The challenge to the postmodern world,” Cooper has argued, “is to get used to the idea of double standards.” Among themselves, Europeans [my emphasis. WB] may “operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security.” But when dealing with the world outside Europe, “we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era – force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary”. [My emph. WB]

‘This is Cooper’s principle for safeguarding society: “Among ourselves, we keep the law, but when operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle.” [My emph. WB]

Cooper’s notion of an international double standard for power would seem to lie at the heart of Blair’s global strategy. On the one hand, he has tried to lead Britain into the rule-based, Kantian world of the EU. And he has pursed the European interest in trying to convince the US, which stands outside that Kantian world, to respect its norms. But Blair has also tried to lead Europe back out into the Hobbesian world, where military power remains a key feature of international relations.’’

The full article is published as ‘The post-modern state’ in the new collection ‘Reordering the World: the long term implications of September 11’ by Robert Kagan.

A barbarous world where Robert Cooper’s ‘double standard’ rules, one for the rich and one for the poor. There are no rules for the poor of the world according to Cooper and Kagan. Only the ‘civilised’ (read white people) deserve to be treated in a civilised way. A world where increasing poverty leads to increasing desperation and increasingly desperate acts, that will only fuel ever greater repression by the ‘defenders of democracy’ as they try to hold on to their ill-gotten gains and justify their re-occupation of their former colonies in the name of fighting ‘terrorism’ and ‘rogue’ states.

Blair – point man for the US plays the UN card
Having thrown in its lot with the US, Britain had no choice but to firstly, try and persuade the leading players in the EU, that it was in their interests to go along with USUK ambitions. Having failed to do that, Blair now trod a fine line between being a US lap dog and a defender of the international order, represented by the UN. He finally chose to be the lap dog. The serpentine twistings of the Blair government over the past few months, as it attempted to justify its total support for the US, is clear evidence of just how badly the Blair government misread the situation.

It firstly made a serious error in how the British public would react (let alone the rest of the world), and as result, was forced to take the UN route in order to try and placate public opinion. When that didn’t work, it pulled out the ‘anti-American’ card. When that failed, it was ‘terrorism’, the Al-Qaida connection. That failed too. Then came the adoption of the ‘moral high ground’ position, then the ‘regime change’ argument, and finally, when all these strategies went completely wobbly and pear-shaped, Blair dumped the UN route entirely with the pathetic excuse of French ‘un-reason’ over the use of its veto. Laughable when you consider that the US has used its veto in the Security Council more than any other country, 55 times to be exact and many of them over Israel’s refusal to recognise all those Security Council resolutions over its illegal occupation of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon for the past 36 years. So much for the ‘rule of law’.

Bush plays the Blair card
And the US has played Blair very well, effectively using him to articulate an argument that doesn’t go down well from a country which has not hidden its global ambitions nor its hypocritical stance on ‘democracy’. Hence the invasion of Iraq and, I might add, the US’ publicly stated objective of using Iraq as an ‘example’ to any other developing country that doesn’t tow the line especially those with oil, is part of a doctrine which the US has been planning for over two decades. That the US has also included the other key player in the oil business, Iran in its ‘axis of evil’ scheme but excluded Saudi Arabia, a vicious family dictatorship, whose support the USUK alliance can rely on, tells us quite clearly where the line is drawn when it comes to making decisions about the ‘morality’ of a country’s behaviour as a justification for demolishing it.

Labour betrays its roots
It is to the eternal shame of the Labour government that it threw in its lot with the US warmongers, for not only has it exposed itself to the entire world as the Rotweiler of US big business, it has thrown away the chance of choosing a different route for the future of Britain (and thrown away its labour past into the bargain). A route, ironically that would have taken us away from the ‘old world’ way of doing business as Rumsfeld described it – that is, out of the barrel of a gun. For whatever failings the EU has, and it has plenty, especially its relationship with the developing world, the recognition however belated, that we live in an inter-dependent world, a world where the sectarian interests of the nation state and their dominant economic and political classes have to give way to collective security, not to mention the future of the entire planet.

Set in the context of climate change and wasteful carbon-based economies, the failure of capitalism as a solution to the world’s problems following what we were told was the only inhibition to prosperity, the end of the Cold War, the success of a USUK alliance dooms us to an age of barbarism masquerading as a defender of western ‘civilisation’.

The media as catspaw for USUK’s ambitions
As the ‘pushover’, ‘cakewalk’ war in Iraq enters its second week, the mass media of the USUK gets ever more strident and blatant in its submission to the USUK political/military propaganda machine, as the reality of ‘surgical strikes’ look more and more like Jack the Ripper than ER. As ‘our boys’ start coming home in zippered bags, the horrifying thought that the Iraqis might actually be resisting simply because they’ve been invaded by a vicious behemoth, starts to sink in.

Even some of the professional media apologists for the warmongers are now comparing the war in Iraq to that of the Russians fighting the Nazis to the death (and winning) in spite of that other tyrant Stalin, being in charge. It finally dawns on our smug, university-educated apologists for ‘new age’ (or liberal as it’s called now) imperialism, that the world just might not be a Sony PlayStation game after all. That the black and white, ‘good and evil’ world of Richard Perle and a born again, former booze and cocaine addict in the White House, might not be the world the rest of us live in nor want to.

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