Between Iraq and a hard place By William Bowles

20 August 2003

The latest bombing in Iraq of the UN headquarters has, understandably, put the frighteners on the USUK alliance. For not only does it up the anté, it puts the USUK on the spot.

For in trying to straddle the gulf between rhetoric and reality, the USUK alliance had to marginalise and effectively isolate the UN and other world bodies, in order to pursue its global agenda. But as the quagmire in Iraq deepens and the cost of the military occupation rises (currently running at around $5billion a month), it can no longer afford to bankroll an adventure which apparently, has no end in sight. It now needs the UN but on its own terms. Getting the rest of the world to pick up the tab is now at the top of the USUK agenda.

The contradiction between the USUK’s unilateralist agenda and the inter-dependent nature of an increasingly integrated global economy is creating its own set of contradictions that in turn, is exposing the simplistic nature of imperialist adventure.

But the US administration knows that if it wants the UN on board, it will have to relinquish some of its control over the political as well as economic life of the country. But is it in a position to do so, beholden as it is to the major corporations on whose behalf the invasion was conducted and which stands to benefit from the billions in contracts handed out by the Bush clique?

One of the fantasies the US power elite nourished, was the idea that all that Iraqi oil would pay for the invasion, or as it put it, the invasion would “pay its own way”. But like much of the ‘Project for the New American Century’ it suffers from the ‘quick fix’ approach, with its reliance on military technology and a naïve belief in its own propaganda.

Today’s Independent (20/08/03), suffers from the same self delusion when, in its editorial it tells us:

“Just as in the occupied Palestinian territories, it [resistance to the occupation] is being helped not so much by the enthusiasm of local people as their resentment at the failures and arrogance of occupation.”

I love it! This kind of propaganda is very illuminating. Note the choice of language here. The Iraqis are not pissed off at being occupied, but only by the nature of it! Is the Independent telling us that the invasion and occupation (preceded by a dozen years of sanctions that destroyed an entire nation) would have been okay if only it had been – what? A BBQ in Iraq’s backyard to which the Iraqi people were not invited?

And just to make sure we get the message, it goes on to say:

“And it is being protected by an instinctive Iraqi nationalism that belies all Western efforts to categorise the population into separate religious entities such as Sunnis and Shia.

So it’s also their “instinctive Iraqi nationalism” that is the problem. Is this some ‘primitive’ form of territorialism such as we see in the animal world? How would the people of England react, I wonder, if when turning out to wave the flag at the Queen’s 50th celebration of her ascendency to the throne, it was described as “an instinctive English nationalism”? The implication here is that Iraqis have no control over their own thoughts and desires as they’re driven by some animal instinct to resist encroachment on their territory. Perhaps the USUK soldiers couldn’t smell the pheronome markers left along the border?

And recognising the cul-de-sac that the USUK is in, the Independent tells us that:

“President’s Bush’s remarks yesterday [ignoring calls for greater UN involvement] suggested no change in this stand.”

But ends its editorial by saying:

“Now is the moment to start putting the blue helmets back in the centre of the whole reconstruction programme in which the international community as a whole can take part.”

And how exactly, does it propose that this be done, when we have a government that is owned lock, stock and barrel by the US? And anyway, why the hell should the rest of the world pay for the USUK imperialist adventure? Even on the most selfish of terms, which regards Iraq simply as a source of economic wealth, any country in a position to offer ‘help’ is bound to ask, ‘what’s in it for me’?

The Independent’s comparison with the occupation of Palestine is more than simply metaphorical (even if its conclusions are bedeviled by an ‘instinctual’ racism). Both situations have no conclusion when propelled by a racist imperialism, other than increased repression and ultimately, genocide on both counts. What other choices are open to the occupiers as long as they pursue their current policies?

Relentlessly, the Empire is being forced to reevaluate its strategy but is it too late? The insane invention of the ‘war on terror’ now has its own terrible logic. In a Faustian twist it has taken on a ‘life of its own’ as the attack on the UN so clearly demonstrates. And it can only get worse unless the Imperium alters course. That the Economist, whose article I referred to the other day in ‘Ducks and Drakes’, is aware of just how dangerous the situation is, should surely make the rest of us wake up before it is, truly too late.

Depressingly, most of the media are so blinded by their own prejudices, that in a world irrevocably transformed by the end of the Cold War and the resulting fundamental change in the global balance of power, continues to peddle a bankrupt ‘liberal’ agenda, based on a world that no longer exists. Wishful thinking on the part of newspapers like the Independent, which in a previous age would have been simply laughable, is now as dangerous as the policies they reluctantly go some way toward criticising.

Now more than ever, an alternative agenda becomes imperative if we are to avoid being dragged into a whirlpool of increasing escalation of repression and reaction. In the UK, the question comes down to the role that can be played by what remains of a Labour Party that hasn’t been subverted by the Blah neo-imperialist clique, in an alliance with a coalition of progressive alternatives. As I have called for in the past (and will continue to do so), it’s either socialism or barbarism folks.

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