15 April 2003
‘Fuck Saddam,’ Bush said. ‘We’re taking him out.’
I predicate this essay on the fact that there is no basis whatsoever for the reasons given by the Bush/Blair Axis as to why they invaded the sovereign state of Iraq. As with virtually all the dictators of the 20th century, Saddam Hussein was wholly ‘our’ man from the very beginning of his reign to his ignominious end. Hence our starting point for any serious investigation has to be, what are the real reasons?
Capitalism versus Socialism
For the better part of the 20th century, the battle was between capitalism and socialism, a battle that socialism, in the only form permitted under the circumstances, lost. However, underlying that battle is the fundamental issue, still to be resolved, of who will control the planet’s resources and for what purpose?
This battle is still being waged albeit in a different form. And as the contradictions inherent in the capitalist mode of production have sharpened, especially since the first oil crisis of the early 70s, the question of who pays to maintain the system has brought into sharp relief the increasing inequalities between the rich and poor, both in the developing and developed world.
Several key factors distinguish the current situation:
1. As the major capitalist power, the US economy has shifted from manufacturing to finance and ‘intellectual’ capital, which has made it extremely vulnerable to an unstable and rapidly evolving global economy;
2. Its extreme dependence on oil;
3. Its increasing distance from the other major, ‘post-modern’ economies;
4. Dependence on a military economy for maintaining a position of superiority.
These major factors have placed the US in an extremely vulnerable position, which limits its options, forcing it to take ever more extreme measures to maintain its hegemonic position. To add to its problems, corruption has led to major instabililities in its self-regulatory mechanisms, that have tended to excerbate the vulnerabilities of the system eg, the dot com bust, stock market speculation, far east financial collapse et al.
Hence the assumptions that have underlaid western capitalism since the 1970s – that with all its faults, it was able to regulate the ‘boom and bust’ cycles that have plagued it for centuries – no longer holds true.
But the necessity to expand – to find new markets – is as strong as ever. But competition between producers is also stronger than ever. There are more of them with ever more efficient production processes. Indeed the world in drowning in products even as it starves. The disequilibrium, the oscillations, are becoming more frequent in spite of all attempts to control them. A way out has to be found.
Laughable if it wasn’t so tragic, is the fact that the US has reverted to ‘form’, using war as a method of consuming surplus capital and defeating its competitors. This is truly a return to the barbarism of the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, finding a rationale for war now that there is no ‘evil empire’ has meant that the Anglo-Saxon Empire has had to invent a new enemy to replace the vanquished one.
The initial pretext, the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 initiated a chain of events, each one building on the next using a historically tested propaganda machine:
The Cold War Era, 1945-90
‘Iron Curtain’, ‘Containing Communism’, the ‘Domino Theory’, the ‘Evil Empire’
The War on Terror, 1990 – ?
‘War on Terror’, ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’, ‘Rogue States’, ‘Axis of Evil’
So too, the theme of the ‘Anti-Christ’, Atheistic State’ to, ‘Moslem Fundamentalism’, is an expression of the dominant, white, male, Anglo-Saxon culture which also helps explain the Bush/Blair relationship.
In this context then, Yugoslavia can be viewed as a ‘dry run’ for the eastward march of US militarism from its forward bases in Western Europe to the new ones in the Balkans. Pivotal to this process has been the destruction of the Soviet Union upon which the entire edifice of 20th century capitalism was built. As the ‘Economist’ pointed out not long after the fall of the Soviet Union in its front-page editorial, ‘What will we do now?’ ‘We need a new enemy to drive the western economy forward.’ Well they found one, or rather invented one.
Of course, it can be argued, and indeed it has been (see ‘Marx’s Revenge’, Verso Books) that the emergence of the Soviet Union delayed the inevitable, the global conquest of capital, filling every available niche, until…?
But of course ‘alternate’ histories are for science fiction writers, we have only the reality of our situation. Yet the reality of the impact of an alternative to capitalism failed or otherwise, is a major factor in the interplay of forces. For the effect of the socialist ‘ideal’ is everywhere. And even though the socialist ideas that have been utilised by the capitalist economies (state intervention, social security and so on) have been to some measure, reversed, it’s not been accomplished everywhere or without a struggle, a struggle that is on-going. Overall, the effect of socialist ideas has been to heighten the contradictions of capitalism as the struggle over resources (how the cake is shared out) reveals all the more clearly the vast gulf between the developed and developing world.
Judging the interplay of forces is no easy matter especially when we are in the middle of a revolution in production, the IT revolution, a revolution which is essential to the functioning of the global economy. In addition, the arrival of ‘intellectual capital’ has in itself exposed even more starkly the contradictions of capitalism. Increasing automation and the ‘knowledge’ economy highlights the increasing socialisation of production whilst still maintaining private ownership. Even the traditional concept of ‘value’ is being challenged by these new modes of production as machines play an increasing role in replacing human labour.
A Fin de Sieclé Period
This is truly a ‘fin de siecle’ period, during which new social and economic forces are emerging. The entire edifice is contextualised within the greatest crisis the world has known, the future of the biosphere itself, which in an odd cyclical process, is itself the result of unbridled capitalist production and consumption. In order to resolve all these potentially catastrophic events, requires a global solution, one that the US has rejected out of hand based simply on its overwhelming military superiority.
Two mutually exclusive forces are at work:
On the one hand, the USUK alliance which represents the old world of the powerful nation state and its (shrinking) alliances. On the other, the regional and increasingly global approach which recognises the reality of an interconnected and interdependent world existing within a unitary biosphere and with a global production, distribution and consumption system.
‘The New Imperialism’
The irony of the Cooper/Kagan thesis (http://www.observer.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,680095,00.html). See also my piece, (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2474.htm) of the ‘post-modern’ world versus the ‘new imperialism’ (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2788.htm) is that the CK thesis attempts to reconcile two mutually exclusive domains – the result being the invasion of Iraq and all that entails.
The choice is simple, do we regress to the 19th century world of primitive social Darwinism or do we move forward, renouncing the fetish of production for production’s sake?
That oil, the single, driving force of the US is central to this process, should be apparent to all. It is oil which primes the pump of the US capitalist system and which supplies the rationale for its military economy. Without abundant, cheap oil, the US is reduced to the level of all the other ‘advanced’ economies, forced to recognise that to survive it must make accommodations, not only with the developing world but also with its own population.
So who is next?
The war is over, all barring the shouting or so it would seem. Yet already, as predicted, it seems the Rumsfeld, Cheney clique ensconced in the DOD is setting us up for the next one before the dust has settled in Baghdad.
The US government is itself divided over which course to follow, not from a strategic perspective but over tactics. The current ‘split’ in the US government over how to handle the post-war situation is indicative of these two approaches. Central to the dilemma is Israel which is also the US’s Achilles Heel.
The sectarian interests of a right-wing colonialist, theocratic state have in reality, little to do with the larger interests of securing cheap oil supplies (except of course as a dagger driven into the heart of the Arab world), there can be no other reason for demonizing Syria, which does not represent either a military or economic threat to the US. It derives from the pro-Israeli camp lodged deep in the heart of the Bush administration (Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz et al). Bush, who is a born again Christian of the Apocalyptic variety, also has a theological connection to the Israeli right-wing fundamentalists. That the overriding interests of the US could be derailed by the Israeli connection should not be dismissed out of hand. But above and beyond this, the US objective does not exist in a vacuum.
The role of the UK
I’m told, by those sceptical of my previous analyses that Blair has come out smelling of roses over this adventure. Okay, so the war only lasted ten times longer than predicted but all in all, with ‘only’ a few thousand arms, legs and other assorted appendages blown off, it’s been a ‘success’ for the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ alliance (as one British military leader bizarrely put it on BBC Radio, the Iraqis, ‘should be celebrating’). But without doubt, the problems of the UK are only just beginning and for a number of very important reasons.
Blair’s supposedly ‘hidden’ objective of ‘guiding’ Bush has already foundered on the Syrian connection and he is going to be hard pressed to convince a British public of the need to ‘liberate’ Syria or Iran, let alone North Korea. This risks a split in the USUK alliance, which if it happened, would isolate the US entirely from the world community, exposing its unilateralist objectives and, to be frank, scare the planet shitless.
The clamour to ‘sort out’ Syria is beginning: John Bolton, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said recently,
‘With respect to the issue of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the post-conflict period, we are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is not in their national interest,’ he said at a news conference in Rome. He mentioned Syria, Iran and North Korea by name.
Donald Rumsfeld echoes these thoughts when he says:
“We are getting scraps of intelligence saying that Syria has been cooperative in facilitating the movement of people out of Iraq into Syria. And then in some cases they stay there … finding safekeeping there; in other cases they’re moving from Syria to still other places.”
He also alleges that Syria continues to move military equipment into Iraq, which Rumsfeld called ‘unhelpful.’
‘I’ve accurately observed that they would be well advised to not provide military capabilities [to] Iraq. They seem to have made conscious… decision to ignore that,’ he said.
And does he plan to do anything about it, he said, ‘[He] had nothing to announce. We are still dealing with Iraq.’
So already, the idea is being planted in the public’s mind that these countries either already have or intend to obtain, WMDs.
Is this just my paranoia or is there evidence to back up my thesis that the invasion is ‘merely’ a prelude to the execution of a ‘grand design’ for global domination?
(Since writing this, several statements by Rumsfeld, Powell et al support my argument).
The background to the current events is well documented. It’s important that we understand the context of these events as they explain why they are taking place. They also expose the hypocritical nature of these ‘defenders of freedom’ and why it is so important that do all in our power to oppose them.
The Al Queda Connection
A particularly disturbing read is the book by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed ‘The Waron Freedom, How and Why America was Attacked, September 11th, 2001′ (available as an e-book at http://www.onlinejournal.com/Books___Reviews/Brouillet080802/08-08-02_Brouillet.pdf
The book advances a convincing and extremely well documented argument for the idea that the Bush government knew well in advance that the attacks against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were going to take place and, that there were high level connections between Osama bin Laden and the US administration. Ahmed moreover, documents the fact that the US invasion of Afghanistan was planned well in advance of September 11th and for the following reasons, none of which have to do with the Taliban’s human rights record (any more than the invasion of Iraq has to do with the Baath regime’s human rights record).
‘Afghanistan has long been recognised as the principal gateway to Central Asia, which was described in a 1997 Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) study as the instrument of control of Eurasia, and thus the world.’…. In other words, there could be no claim to ‘democracy’ or ‘human rights’ when the U.S. government was covertly supporting the Taliban. The cozy relationship between certain U.S. high-ranking officials and Taliban members in the later half of the 1990s is not a secret…. Indeed, the anti-Taliban stance of the U.S. government grew, not out of any specific concern for the human rights of the Afghan people, but out of a more general and growing realisation that the Taliban regime would be incapable of serving as a vehicle of U.S. entry into Central Asia.
‘By the year 2001, while formulating specific plans to invade Afghanistan and topple the Taliban, George W. Bush Jr.’s administration began a series of negotiations with the Taliban to save its relationship with that regime. U.S. officials called for a government of national unity, in which all factions, including the Taliban, would participate—but the Taliban were unwilling to compromise their own power.
‘Accordingly, U.S. officials promised the Taliban that they would suffer the consequences by facing ‘a carpet of bombs,’ and further noted privately that the military plans would be implemented by October 2001. Extensive evidence on record indicates that the Bush administration intended to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban regime quite independently of the events of 11th September. The war on Afghanistan was thus not a response to 11th September. On the contrary, there is a long record of in-depth strategic planning at the root of U.S. military plans to invade Afghanistan. Much of this evidence is available in a 1997 CFR study by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who discusses in detail U.S. plans to secure hegemony over Central Asia as a means to the control of Eurasia, and thereby the expansion and consolidation of global U.S. hegemony, unhindered by potential rivals, such as Russia and China.’
Ahmed goes on to say that:
“…from 1995 to 2001, the American intelligence community was in receipt of multiple credible warnings of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil orchestrated by Osama bin Laden. Contrary to the official line of the Bush administration, this information, which was taken seriously by the U.S. intelligence community, specified the hijacking of civilian airplanes to be flown into key U.S. buildings in Washington, DC and New York City, including the World Trade Centre. The nature of these urgent warnings converged in a manner specifying that the attacks would occur between early and mid-September, while other credible information pinpointed 11th September as a likely watch date. Yet despite this extensive forewarning of the attacks, the Bush administration failed to act.
“The failure to act was even more apparent on 11th September itself. There are clear rules established by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense for responding to emergency situations, including hijacking. Yet, although four planes were almost simultaneously hijacked on 11th September, the U.S. Air Force systematically failed to respond in accordance with these rules, which are normally adhered to with routine, since they constitute Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Subsequently, various official government accounts and statements have been issued attempting to deflect public attention from, thus denying the reality of, the collapse of SOP on 11th September.”
What are we to make of these assertions? Let me quote once more from Ahmed’s book:
“The ominous implications of these facts are exacerbated in light of various revelations about the long-standing financial, diplomatic, military and intelligence ties between the members of the Bush administration and figures linked to Osama bin Laden–not to mention Osama himself. Reports indicate that until just after 11th September, the Bush family had close financial ties to the bin Laden family, and both were set to reap substantial profits from the war on Afghanistan through their mutual involvement in the U.S. defence industry. This has been accompanied by credible reports that Osama bin Laden has not broken away from his family and maintains ties with them. Further reports show that the Bush administration has systematically blocked attempts to apprehend Osama bin Laden, along with intelligence investigations of the terrorist connections of the bin Laden family and Saudi royals implicated in supporting Osama.”
I’ve quoted extensively from Ahmed’s book because they illustrate quite convincingly the basis for the cynical and hypocritical public face of the Bush/Blair newspeak that attempts to rationalise the invasion of Iraq and any subsequent invasions it has planned. Most importantly of course, is its exposure of the rationale behind their manouverings.
In the longer term, the issue of the global environment, climate change, resource depletion especially water (at the centre of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict) is going to loom ever larger in the world community’s vision. Given the UStrack record on these issues, the USwill find itself increasingly isolated, even by the EU that will be forced to choose sides, mainly by its populations but also by its ruling elite, who have a far more realistic view of the world.
The second major issue confronting us is the development of viable programmes that address the rich/poor divide and the need to develop a viable and sustainable economic programme that doesn’t see growth as an end in itself. At some point, we are going to have to come around to a real socialist programme but this time set in a global context. A programme that addresses the real needs of the majority of the planet’s population.
There is no reason why for example, the EU cannot develop economic programmes that make sense within the EU framework but which also assist the developing world in raising living standards and creating sustainable, economic programmes, programmes that will not be developed over night. But for example, in the longer term, an international division of labour which sees the EU transferring technology and skills to the developing world in exchange for agricultural products, raw materials and labour that would be mutually beneficial. It would moreover, remove the incentive for the development of GM crops, as the developing world produces excellent organic crops and in large quantities. So too, with craft-based industries. The two economies compliment each other rather than compete.
But as long as the developing world is seen as a bottomless pit of cheap labour, cheap raw materials, cheap food and as a dumping ground for the developed world, we face an ever worsening crisis which threatens to overwhelm the very future of our planet.
The choice is simple, but making it obviously isn’t.