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(en) DA #26 - Solidarity Federation magazine - The Madness of King George

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 15 Apr 2003 07:23:16 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

Mad to us, but he hopes a quick defeat of Saddam will cut
the price of oil and kick-start the global economy. It will also
use up a lot of expensive weapons, thus
boosting the arms industry - a major input to US and UK
economic activity.
There have been so many column inches in the
mainstream and alternative media (including previous issues
of DA) about the war and US imperialism, surely there is
nothing else to add? In fact, much of the mainstream has
become repetitive and boring in its war coverage.
Deliberately or otherwise, this has resulted in stark realities
being concealed. Here, short and direct, are original answers
to 5 key questions.
Are Saddam's weapons really a major threat to 'global
No-one seriously believes that the current war on Iraq is
about combating terrorism and ending the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction. No-one seriously
believes that Saddam Hussein was behind the twin towers
atrocity or poses any immediate threat to the US or Europe.
The Iraq war is a lot about oil. Specifically, it is
about ensuring, as Donald Rumsfield put it, that Iraqi oil is
Iraq possesses the second largest proven oil reserves in
the world after Saudi Arabia. It has proven reserves of 112
billion barrels; over a tenth of all known oil
supplies. The control of Middle Eastern oil has been a
strategic aim of western capitalism for the last 50 years -
since oil is its lifeblood. With Russia out of the way,
US military might is now setting about securing that aim. US
control of Iraq will be the means by which the US will
maintain long term control over Middle Eastern oil

Surely all this is not just about oil supplies to bottle-feed
western capitalism?
The war is not just about the control of oil supplies; it is
also about the straightforward profits to be gained from Iraqi
oil. North Sea oil costs $3-4 per barrel to
produce, whereas oil from Iraq costs as little as 97 cents per
barrel. With oil selling at $30 a barrel, it all makes for a very
(un)healthy profit margin. Although UN
sanctions forbid foreigners from investing in oilfields, they
have not stopped western oil companies lining up in the hope
of exploiting the oil fields the minute sanctions
are lifted.
Oil companies from France, China and India have signed
deals, as have firms from Russia. Lukoil, a Russian giant, has
a holding of over 11 billion barrels, and plans
to invest $4 billion over the lifetime of the fields. As "The
Economist" remarks; "all this is bad news for those excluded
from the party: the Americans." George Bush is an
oil man like his daddy, as are many of his top advisers,
including vice-president Dick Cheney. The thought of all
those profits ending up in foreign oil companies bank
accounts must have been enough to put George junior back on
the black bottle. The best option, from the US oil
multinationals' point of view, is to send in the troops and
secure long term control and profits for them.
Why the wrangling between Europe and the US over what to
do about Iraq?
Europe and the US both represent western capitalism, but
they have different interests within it as far as Iraq is
concerned. Much of the wrangling between "old
Europe" and the US was to do with the spoils of war rather
than proof of the existence or not of weapons of mass
destruction. However, after a squabble over who gets what
of the loot, they were always going to agree on the basic war
aims - since they are purely and simply about western
business interests against everyone else's. The Sunday
Herald has pointed out that, as early as January, the US "was
ready to compromise its plans to monopolise the post-war oil
industry in Iraq using only US oil firms", and
that it was looking increasingly likely that the US would
"spread the spoils between US, French, Chinese and Russian
It is understandable that George junior doesn't want to
hand over some of the profits. After all, most of the $100
billion war bill has been footed by the US, so why
shouldn't US oil companies steal all the proceeds? However,
even this twisted logic does not explain why US society has to
pay for the war through taxes, yet a few big US
companies will get the rewards in oil. The double irony is that
the US state is helping out US capitalism, both militarily and
financially, through what is effectively
massive state subsidy.
Throughout history, imperial powers have spent fortunes
on wars of conquest and subjugation on behalf of the rich and
powerful. It must stick in the throat of 'Dallas'
George and his cronies that, after spending so much US
taxpayers' money, they have to listen to Blair harping on
about sharing out the spoils with ex-commies and pinko
Europeans. Cometh the post-war peace, the US will be sorely
tempted to renege on all its promises and keep the spoils.
Again, history tells us such behaviour is the norm
for imperial powers.
So it is all about oil, then?
Actually, there are wider gains to be had from the war as
far as western big business is concerned. Not least, war can
always be relied on to boost a flagging world
economy. The war is just as much a strategy for economic
recovery as it is a fight to secure western oil. It is hoped that
a quick defeat of Saddam will cut the price of
oil and kick-start the global economy. It will also use up a lot
of expensive weapons, thus boosting the arms industry, which
is a major input to US and UK economic
activity. It will also boost the stock exchanges and stop the
slide of the dollar, and thus help restore investor confidence.
Perhaps most importantly for King George, this
should be enough to re-affirm US supremacy as the world's
top imperial power block.
The rift between "old Europe" and the US has a wider
dimension than oil spoils; it is about the rapid expansion of
US imperialism. In the early 1990s, Germany sought
to expand the European Union (EU) eastwards. This might
extend German power, shifting the epicentre of the EU into
Germanic central European cities, especially Berlin.
After the experience of the Second World War, France has
always been fearful of German power, so, France only
accepted EU enlargement in return for Germany diluting its
sovereignty by accepting greater integration into a unified
What started out as a means by which France could
control growing German power, quickly turned into a vision of
the creation of a United States of Europe, capable of
challenging the economic might of the US. The idea of a
common currency was born, quickly followed by a common
foreign and security policy, through which the new imperial
power of Europe could pursue its interests.
The war in Iraq has exposed the weakness of this European
dream, for though the expanding EU has the economic power
to equal and probably outstrip the US, it has yet
to develop the same military and political power. Faced with
the military might of a rampant US, determined to pursue its
interests, Europe has looked divided and weak.
Further, the war with Iraq has exposed the alternative visions
of European powers. Germany is keen to see the EU start to
plough its own furrow and take on the US, while
countries like France are more suspicious of German power
and instead they look to the US, the country they see as
liberating them from communist oppression. Their vision
of Europe is that of junior partner to US military leadership.
At the head of this group is the Blair government. Labour's
Third Way is emerging as little more than a
toned-down version of Thatcherism. As such, it hopes to
extend the Bush-Britain 'special relationship' to the rest of
Europe to create a new power-sharing US-EU economic
block under the military control of NATO.
When will the war be over?
The Iraqi war has brought the new world order into
ever-sharper focus. As capitalism adjusts to the post-Soviet
world, the US is increasingly flexing its military
muscle. Partly opposed to this are the imperial 'wannabes' of
Europe. Although the war has exposed the weakness of
European aspirations in the short term, in the longer
term, it may have strengthened it. Given the opposition to
the war across Europe and the arrogance of the Bush
government, there is likely to be growing support for
European independence from the US. This will favour future
attempts at building independent European military
We live in dangerous times, as post-Soviet global
capitalism returns to its pre-Soviet era pattern of imperial
brutalism and constant crisis. The new world order is
based on military might as the means of enriching the
powerful at the expense of the poor. The only way of
overcoming such military power is through unleashing the
power of the working class. The idea of the social general
strike as a tool against capitalism is now more relevant than
it has ever been, a fact reflected in the growing
calls for strike action in the face of growing capitalist
aggression. The 'Iraq war' is actually a battle, one being
fought by western capitalism for western business
interests. The war is about the continued existence of western
capitalism itself; it will only end with the death of western
capitalism. In other words, the war is on until
we act and rid ourselves of it.

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