US HEGEMONY AND A WAR WITH IRAQ
A letter from Daniel B. Schirmer
to the Asian Peace Alliance Inaugural Assembly
August 29-September 1, 2002
Revised and Expanded November 12, 2002.
The key feature of the present international scene is the domination of the world by US trans-national corporations and the massively outsized US military machine. Significantly, the high point of US imperial domination globally coincides with a very low point of social and political morality in the United States. Symptomatic is the current Bush administration, representing the most reac-tionary, militaristic and corrupt element of the US ruling elite. As such, it constitutes a grave danger to the people of the Philippines, of Asia and of the entire world – a grave danger to world peace.
Under the guise of a “war against terrorism,” and using the traumatic crime of September 11 as rationale, the Bush administration is trying to tighten this global hegemonic dominance wherever it is possible. The Philippines is such a place, given the compliant elite regime of President Gloria Arroyo. Here Washington is trying to re-establish the controlling military influence it had in the years of the Marcos dictatorship on even stronger terms. This past summer the US military completed exercises to assist the Philippine military in the struggle with Abu Sayyat, a terrorist group alleged to have had connections with Al Qaeda in the past. Even though many Filipinos regard such exercises as unconstitutional, the Pentagon repeated a deployment of US forces in the Philippines this fall. With a recent agreement the Philippine military has assumed important logistical responsibilities to assist the US military in peace and war. In the first week of August the State Department added the Communist New Peoples Army to its list of officially designated terrorist groups, thereby elevating its perceived role from threat to the Philippine status quo to threat to the US government itself and suggesting increased Pentagon intervention in Philippine affairs. In line with this on August 12 US and Philippine defense leaders set up a senior civilian group to coordinate military policy.
The US military exercises completed this past summer took place in Mindanao and Basilan, islands in the southern Philippines. This led Jane Perlez, the New York Times Indonesian correspondent to indicate their relationship to the underlying goal of expanded and strengthened US hegemony: “If the southern Philippines, where Muslim separatists have long operated can be stabilized the islands they could make a perfect future listening post, and a good jumping off point for guarding a whole range of American interests in the Pacific” (New York Times, April 7, 2002).
“(Mrs. Arroyo had to curb President Bush’s enthusiasm for American combat troops, pointing out that the Filipino constitution forbade such intervention.)” This parenthetical remark is taken from the Jane Perlez article quoted above. A war with Iraq would not put such limits on the use of US combat troops to assert US hegemony and President Bush has turned his attention to plans for such a war. Accordingly, the Mideast has become the focus of the Bush administration’s reactionary and militaristic policies of hegemony.
Giving sharp emphasis to the reactionary aspects of his administration’s policy is President Bush’s heavy support for the right-wing Israeli government of Ariel Sharon, whose policies hamper the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. To counter this opposition Palestinians have turned to individual acts of terror, the suicide bombers. In turn Sharon has responded with repressive incursions into Palestinian territory by the Israeli military armed with weaponry made in the United States.
But his support of Sharon is completely overshadowed by President Bush’s widely publicized intent to change the government of Iraq by military force. The projected war with Iraq seems intended to be the centerpiece of President Bush’s overall foreign policy: to assert, expand and tighten US hegemonic domination of the world. All this to show who is boss, to show that, with its overwhelming military strength, Washington can overthrow Hussein unilaterally, never mind allies.
This reckless arrogance was not lost on possible allies, as a lead editorial in the New York Times of April 11 indicates: “Rarely in preparing for war has American seemed so isolated from potential military partners and allies as it does today in approaching Iraq. European and Arab leaders have strong misgivings about the administration’s war talk. Even Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, Washington’s firmest European supporter, has serious opposition at home on this issue.”
Japan under the conservative leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party has been the foremost supporter of US foreign policy in Asia. But in the Montreal Gazette of Tuesday, August 6, Michael Zielenziger of the Knight Ridder newspapers reported “over the past weekend leaders of the leading Liberal Democratic Party indicated it would be difficult for the nation to co-operate with the United States if it attacks Iraq.”
At this time Henry Kissinger, former national security advisor to President Nixon during the Vietnam war, and Brent Snowcroft, who was an advisor to President Bush’s father during the Gulf war, expressed dissatisfaction with President Bush’s plans for a war with Iraq. Dick Armey, Repub-lican leader of the House, expressed similar dissent, as did several other members of Congress.
The Bush administration insists that Hussein represents a nuclear threat to the world. There is, however, no definitive evidence that he possesses the nuclear bomb or has the capability of making one. What is certain is that the charge Bush lays on Iraq so piously is an example of gross hypocrisy. Washington now maintains the greatest nuclear arsenal in the world. The Bush administration declares it now feels free to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state – feels free to use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive first strike war. The Bush administration has encouraged the development of underground nuclear bombs for possible use against Hussein’s reported underground military installations.
The United States was the first to use nuclear weapons and this first use took place in Asia, against Japan. In a ceremony August 6 on the 57th anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Hiro-shima, the Mayor of that city, Tadatoshi Akiba, spoke in protest, saying: “The United States has no right to force Pax Americana on the rest of us or to unilaterally determine the fate of the world…..
On the contrary, the peoples of the world have the right to demand ‘no annihilation without repre-sentation’ ” (Montreal Gazette, August 6, 2002).
The Bush Administration proposes a military invasion of Iraq in order to rid that country of dictatorship. This justification seems questionable. If the extension of democracy is Bush’s motive for a war with Iraq, why doesn’t the President make a fuss about Saudi Arabia, a country run by the Saud family in the fashion of a feudal autocracy? Giving answer is the fact that since 1945 US oil corporations have had “privileged access” to Saudi oil reserves, the largest in the world.
Dan Morgan and David B. Ottaway of the Washington Post answer the question – why Iraq? Writing in the International Herald Tribune of September 16, 2002, and citing oil industry officials and Iraqi opposition leaders, they say, “A US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries.” Since the oil reserves of Iraq are the largest in the world outside Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein’s defeat would certainly serve to magnify US corporate supremacy in the world’s oil industry.
In the month of October Bush somewhat moderated his war-like message of “regime change.” He said the disarmament of Saddam Hussein was his prime objective; war was only to be seen as a last resort. It seems likely that this change in tone was intended to deflect the popular opposition to an Iraq war seen in many Mideast, Asian and European nations, and by the growth of an antiwar movement in the United States.
In the same period Bush dropped his open avowal of the unilateralism favored by the ultra-right and turned to the United Nations for support vis-a-vis Hussein, submitting a resolution to the UN Security Council for this purpose. This was another tactical concession to domestic and international pressures led by France and such important figures of the US elite as Brent Scowcroft, his father’s security advisor, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Following a French model, the US resolution was a two-stage affair. First, Hussein would have to agree to the resolution, then make a public disclosure of all his weapons of mass destruction, and finally submit to very rigorous inspection processes. Should Saddam Hussein create difficulties, the second stage would open and the Security Council would meet to discuss his recalcitrance and recommend remedial measures, including possible military action. The Security Council unanimously adopted this resolution.
In the New York Times of November 8, David Sanger and Julia Preston reported on a press conference in which the President discussed the resolution: “Whatever the diplomatic niceties, Mr. Bush made it clear that he regarded the resolution to be all the authority he needed to act against Iraq should Mr. Hussein balk. Though Washington would consult other members of the Security Council, it would not feel it necessary to win their approval.” In this way the President seemed to indicate the UN resolution would be a fig-leaf to cover his war with Iraq.
Meanwhile the Bush administration’s actual preparations for such a war went on apace. The Boston Globe of October 30 ran an article from Washington, D.C. in which Tommy Franks, the four star general who would run the war, said he was starting the deployment of a new command post in the Persian Gulf.
“The post in Qatar will provide closer communication links between General Tommy Franks’ battle staff and the naval, air, and land commanders arrayed in Iraq’s periphery.
“‘Does it give us increased capability? You bet,’ he told a Pentagon news conference.”
War-won control of Iraq’s massive oil resources would be a significant prize for the ultra-conservative members of the US corporate elite, given their voracious appetite for ever-increasing hegemony over the people and resources of this small planet.
Coincident with Bush’s war preparations has been the growth of the opposition at home and abroad. Late in August delegates from India, Japan, Thailand, and other countries, came to the Inaugural Assembly of the Asian Peace Alliance in Manila; there they roundly condemned Bush’s projected invasion of Iraq. In October and November international opposition moved further forward. Nearly a million people in Florence, Italy, took to the streets for peace. In Washington, D.C., 100,000 demonstrated. In San Francisco, 80,000. In Boston, 20,000. During Washington’s war with Vietnam, it was years before such opposition developed. Now it has been taking place even before Bush’s war with Iraq has fully opened.
ASIAN PEACE ALLIANCE © COPYRIGHT
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2002