2000s >> 2002 >> no-1180-december-2002

War games in Iraq

After weeks of debating, the UN Security Council hammered together a unanimous resolution setting harsh terms for Iraqi disarmament, and cautioning there would be brutal consequences for any further defiance.

Bluntly, cleverly, the UN has crafted a situation where Iraq not only has to prove that it has eradicated all of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD), it also has to verify that it never possessed certain WMD. This seems something of a Catch 22 – for if Iraq never possessed the alleged WMD in the first place, then how can it prove that it never possessed them? And woe betides Iraq if it can’t prove that it never had something others say it has had. All Globocop has to do is affirm it does not believe Iraq or declare the findings of the weapons inspectors invalid and begin an attack on the grounds that Bush and his fellow hawks were right all along, that the scheming and devious Saddam is just extra clever at hiding the evidence.

For Saddam’s part, he has insisted he will move to defuse the crisis by complying with the resolution and cooperating fully with the UN inspectors. The level of compliance and cooperation he will afford the inspectors will undoubtedly determine future events. As before, this weapons inspectorate will be acting on CIA intelligence and will undoubtedly be seeking to manipulate a situation that will lead to a US response. What is less certain is just what will transpire if Saddam really complies 100 percent with the terms of the UN resolution and cooperates wholeheartedly with the weapons inspectors. As far as the UN is concerned he will have honoured the UN resolution and can stay in power – no regime change.

But could the US really stomach a situation in which Saddam stays in power, an obstacle once again to Bush’s ambitions to make this century – as his father once prophesised – “nother American century?”, a a barrier to the corporate interests of US oil giants? How would such a situation be squared with the ambitions of US capitalism as evidenced increasingly in the belligerent and imperialistic tone of foreign policy documents these past ten years?

We had, cause recently to report on the Bush administration’s foreign policy objectives outlined in “National Security Strategy” document, (also known as the “Bush Doctrine” even though it was penned by National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice). It states quite brusquely:

“The President has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago.”

The document goes on to say:

“Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States.”

We have also commented how the “Bush Doctrine” resembles a similar document, (which we have also reported on)—a 1992 Pentagon paper written by hawks Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz that announced that the United States will aim to
“prevent the re-emergence of a new rival…This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defence strategy and requires that we endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

Lately, the New York Times ran a story outlining how

“the White House is developing a detailed plan … to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein. … In the initial phase, Iraq would be governed by… [someone who would]… assume the role that Gen. Douglas MacArthur served in Japan. … In contemplating an occupation, the administration is scaling back the initial role for Iraqi opposition forces in a post-Hussein government.”

The article continued:

“as long as the coalition partners administered Iraq, they would essentially control the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world.”

Which is what really concerns the US. Allowing a coalition a say in the distribution of Iraqi oil? Think again, Chirac, Putin and Blair. There’s profits to be had.

Writing in The Guardian, November 5th, George Monbiot reported on the recent findings of the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre:

“As available reserves decline, the world’s oil-hungry nations are tussling to grab as much as they can for themselves. Almost everywhere on earth, the United States is winning. It is positioning itself to become the gatekeeper to the world’s remaining oil and gas. If it succeeds, it will both secure its own future supplies and massively enhance its hegemonic power… In the Middle East, the only nation which could significantly increase its output is Iraq.”

Monbiot further highlights a 2001 a report sponsored by the US Council on Foreign Relations and the Baker Institute for Public Policy which outlines some of the implications of this decline for US national security. The report states: “The world is currently precariously close to utilizing all of its available global oil production capacity”. It also states that the looming crisis is increasing “US and global vulnerability to disruption”. During the preceding year, it says, Iraq had “effectively become a swing producer, turning its taps on and off when it has felt such action was in its strategic interest”. If world demand for oil continues to rise, world shortages may possibly reduce the prominence of the US to that of “a poor developing country”.

The report maintains that this crisis demands “a reassessment of the role of energy in American foreign policy … Such a strategy will require difficult trade-offs, in both domestic and foreign policy. But there is no alternative. And there is no time to waste”. By assuming “a leadership role in the formation of new rules of the game”, the United States will put a stop to the strategic ambitions of its competitors.

When the Bush Doctrin is considered with similar US foreign policy reports, it becomes clear that the US is determined to scupper at the outset the plans of any commercial rival, whoever they may be, particularly where oil is concerned. The US is well aware that Baghdad has already awarded $1.1 trillion in oil contracts to Europe, China and Russia and, naturally, all are anxious that their contracts will not be honoured by a US-dominated Iraq should Saddam be ousted. Thus, the recent UN resolution on Iraq can be viewed from a new angle. The long drawn-out diplomatic wrangling over the precise wording of the UN Security Council resolution has less to do with Saddam’s WMD and far more to do with who will have access to the second largest oil reserves on the planet. European ‘doves’ are not so much concerned with the morality of an attack upon Iraq, or with any related humans rights issues. Their bickering over the finer points of the UN resolution is simply a desperate attempt to ensure they do not lose out in the scramble for Iraq’s oil reserves.

In the meantime, be assured that if the oil-crazed Bush administration has its way, Saddam will be found to have breached this new UN Security Council resolution and the perfect pretext will have arisen for the US invasion of Iraq and the next stage in US global domination.

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