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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] <http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/jul2002/iraq-j23.shtml> <http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=10&ItemID=2135> US moves closer to war against Iraq By Patrick Martin 23 July 2002 Last week?s visit to Turkey by US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz marks another step towards full-scale American military action against Iraq. Wolfowitz is the Bush administration policymaker most closely identified with plans for war with the oil-rich Persian Gulf country. The purpose of his trip was to hold top-level talks with the regime whose cooperation is most vital to such an attack. A US onslaught against Iraq would be one of the great crimes in the history of American imperialism, rivaling only the bloody wars in Korea and Vietnam. Internal Pentagon studies have already predicted tens of thousands of civilian casualties in the event of a US invasion. If fighting extends to the streets of Baghdad?or if the Bush administration acts on its hints of earlier this year, and uses tactical or strategic nuclear weapons?the death toll would rise immeasurably. Despite the claims that the purpose of a war against Iraq is to overthrow Saddam Hussein and establish democracy in Iraq, the Bush administration?itself the product of an anti-democratic coup in the 2000 elections?has no intention of installing a popular regime in Baghdad. Instead, its goal is the seizure of Iraq?s huge oil reserves and the establishment of unchallenged US strategic dominance in the two most important oil-producing regions of the world, the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. The real aims of Washington in the region were spelled out in the Times of London in an article July 11, headlined, ?West sees glittering prizes ahead in giant oilfields.? ?The removal of President Saddam Hussein would open Iraq?s rich new oilfields to Western bidders and bring the prospect of lessening dependence on Saudi oil,? the newspaper said. ?No other country offers such untapped oilfields...? Iraq?s proven reserves of 112 billion barrels are second only to Saudi Arabia?s 256 billion barrels. The oil riches could be even greater, since unproven reserves may run as high as 220 billion barrels, especially in the three huge oilfields in the south of Iraq?Majnoon, West Qurna and Nahr Umar?each as large as the total oil resources of Kuwait. As one industry expert told the British newspaper, ?There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. It?s the big prize.? There is a second, equally powerful motive behind the US drive to war against Iraq. It is increasingly seen by sections of the ruling elite as the only way out of the deepening financial and social crisis within the United States. While news accounts in the American media spread complacency about the timing of such a war, suggesting that no action is likely until this winter or early in 2003, the crumbling political standing of the Bush administration could produce a military assault before the November elections. Under conditions of meltdown in the stock market and incessant reports of corporate criminality, some of them linked to Bush and Cheney personally, as well as members of their cabinet, the White House may well decide that the only alternative to a rout for the Republican Party is a spectacular military adventure. This could involve anything from massive bombing of Iraq, to a raid on Baghdad aimed at killing Saddam Hussein and decapitating his regime, to a full-scale invasion. The Israeli newspaper Ha?aretz, citing high-level sources in the French government, said that an attack on Iraq could take place as early as August. US media reports about the delays in deploying American troops and the obstacles in obtaining support for governments in the region were intended as ?disinformation to achieve tactical surprise with regard to the timing, place and method of the assault,? the newspaper said. ?Paris won?t be surprised if the blow comes in the middle of August, while Bush is seen vacationing at his Texas ranch, in the form of a special forces raid backed by the CIA and precision air attacks.? US battle plans According to Pentagon reports leaked to the American media, the military brass has concluded that a war against Iraq can be waged successfully from Turkey and the small Persian Gulf states of Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, without using the network of bases in Saudi Arabia which were built up during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War. The three small Gulf sheikdoms have become little more than extensions of the American military infrastructure in the region. Last month Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited the three states, while not stopping off in Saudi Arabia, an omission whose significance was not lost on the regimes throughout the region. Kuwait is home to Camp Doha, an American base only 35 miles from the Iraqi border, site of the forward headquarters of the US Central Command. Some 2,000 army troops, equipped with Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Patriot air-defense missiles are at Camp Doha, part of an 8,000-strong contingent of army, air force and navy servicemen that dwarfs in size and fighting power the armed forces of the Kuwaiti emir. Qatar is the site of Al Udeid air base, a huge facility that is already home to thousands of American airmen who operate F-16 fighters, JSTAR reconnaissance aircraft and KC-10 and KC-135 aerial tankers. Al Udeid is being fitted out as the main command and control center for US air operations in the region. It would replace Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia, which served that purpose in the 1991 war but is now hampered by restrictions placed on its use by the Saudi monarchy. The island sheikdom of Bahrain is the principal naval base of the US in the Persian Gulf, with 4,225 sailors and marines stationed there. The naval headquarters for the US Central Command was shifted there last December after completion of the first stage of military operations in Afghanistan, marked by the overthrow of the Taliban. One possible military scenario for a US war against Iraq, spelled out in documents leaked to the New York Times and published July 5, would involve a three-pronged attack from the Persian Gulf on the south, from Jordan on the west, and from Turkey on the north. A Jordanian role would represent a sharp change from 1991. The Pentagon has several top-priority construction projects under way in Jordan, including lengthening runways at two Jordanian air bases to accommodate larger planes. Last month General Tommy Franks, commander of CentCom, visited Jordan and held talks with King Abdullah and his senior military commanders. Bribes for Turkey Wolfowitz?s trip to Turkey was aimed at firming up support for a US war against Iraq in the country which is the most important staging area for such an assault. The US air base at Incirlik is key to aerial operations in the northern half of the country, and Turkish ports and land transport would be required to conduct ground operations in the oil-rich region around Kirkuk. While Turkish officials, including Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, reiterated their posture of opposition to a unilateral American attack on Iraq, their real goal was to extract the best possible price from Washington for their collaboration, both financially and in terms of postwar arrangements in the event of an expected American occupation of Baghdad. The Turkish regime is primarily concerned that no independent Kurdish regime emerge in northern Iraq, which could become a pole of attraction for the large and cruelly oppressed Kurdish minority in southeastern Turkey. Wolfowitz addressed this issue within hours of his arrival, declaring in a speech in Istanbul that the US government opposes any independent Kurdish state. According to one report, Turkish officials pressed Wolfowitz for a commitment that after a US-led war against Iraq, the Kurds will not be left in control of Kirkuk and Mosul, the two main centers of oil production in northern Iraq. Control of these oilfields would represent a powerful economic basis for a Kurdish state?or a lucrative prize for Turkey to reward it for support for or participation in the war. There are even more crass concerns in Ankara. As the New York Times noted July 18 in its report on the Wolfowitz visit: ?Turkey wants the United States to write off more than $4 billion in debt, but government officials said today that they were not naming a price for their support of military action to topple President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.? Except for the case of Turkey, the Bush administration is making little pretense of consultation with the various sheiks and kings who act as its stooges in the region. As the Times noted in its account of the latest Pentagon scenario, ?None of the countries identified in the document as possible staging areas have been formally consulted about playing such a role...? The Times claimed this underscored ?the preliminary nature of the planning.? It would be more accurate to say that it demonstrates the disregard of the Bush administration for the national sovereignty and rights of the peoples of the region. The US war plans provide for a significant role for only one ally: the former imperial ruler of the Persian Gulf, Great Britain. Press reports in London July 19 said that Prime Minister Tony Blair is preparing for a call-up of military reserves and has withdrawn an armored division from training exercises so that it could be deployed to the region if required. British ships and warplanes operate from bases in Oman, Bahrain and Turkey. US officials have concluded that there cannot even be the pretense of Iraqi participation in the intervention, on the model of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, because the rival factions of the Iraqi bourgeois opposition have neither popular support nor military forces at their disposal. Prior to his trip to Turkey, Wolfowitz met with representatives of the Iraqi National Council, the main opposition umbrella group, and heard what was described as a ?bleak report? on the ?chaotic state of opposition forces in Iraq? (New York Times, July 5). The Bush administration is only looking for a suitable pretext for war, whether in a breakdown of ongoing talks over reentry of UN weapons inspectors, or a staged incident involving American and British warplanes that continuously patrol the US-declared ?no-fly? zones in northern and southern Iraq. The pace of the ongoing bombing attacks, allegedly in retaliation for Iraqi anti-aircraft fire, has been stepped up. While only two large-scale raids took place in the first five months of 2002, on February 28 and April 19, there have been six days of bombing since the middle of June. The Biggest Scandal of Corporate America: What Happens on Its Best Behavior by Paul Street A recent column by popular Chicago business writer David Greising speaks volumes about the limits of recent "mainstream," well, corporate media commentary on the sins of corporate America. In an amusing July 12th piece in the Chicago Tribune, Greising expressed relief at the content of a press conference called the previous day by the Chicago-based Boeing Corporation. Expecting to hear yet another shocking revelation of corporate malfeasance, Greising was pleased to see Boeing announce something "positive." The "positive" news? Boeing, Greising wrote, "is realigning its defense and satellite business into a $23 billion unit," headed by Jim Albaugh. Albaugh, we learn, "beat out Jerry Daniels, whose Boeing career took a detour when the company lost to arch-rival Lockheed Martin last year in a bid for the $200 billion Joint Strike Fighter Program." In a time of rampant popular obsession with corporate misbehavior, Greising was gratified to hear Boeing CEO Phil Condit talk about the "nuts and bolts and spy satellites" of "his business" and about the approach that "will be necessary to win the Pentagon's next megaproject." Greising's judgment ignored the rather dark content of the Pentagon's projects both "mega" and otherwise and of the core activities of giant "defense" corporations like Boeing that reap billions of taxpayer dollars thanks to a US military budget that dwarfs that of all potential rivals combined. Chicago's friendly not-so local Boeing Corporation is a powerful, heavily subsidized Master of War. With operative revenues of more than $51 billion in 2000, it is the nation's second largest weapons manufacturer, exceeded in that fascinating "entrepreneurial" field only by Lockheed Martin. It is responsible for such fine products of the "free enterprise system" as the Ground-Based Interceptor missile, X-Band Radar, Battle Management, Command, Control and Communications (BMC3), Upgraded Early Warning Radars, and the Airborne Laser. Boeing's realignment is related to its status as the main contractor for the Pentagon's dangerous, destabilizing, and costly Star Ways System, a key part of the United States' open plan to extend its total domination of the planet through the militarization of outer space. Beyond working to wreak havoc from the stars, Boeing has contributed to the killing and maiming of countless world citizens with such high-tech tools of death and destruction as the notorious Apache AH-64A helicopter, the F-15 and the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets. Its famous B-52, the longtime "backbone of the manned-strategic bomber forces in the United States," (according to Boeing's web-site), includes among its most recent accomplishments the "anti-terrorist" bombing of Afghanistan, conducted from heights guaranteed to produce significant deadly civilian "collateral damage." The F-15 has been featured in the 11-year bombing campaign against Iraq in the enforcement of the lethal illegally imposed "no fly zone." The F-22, produced in cooperation with Boeing's "arch-rival" Lockheed Martin is an "air superiority fighter" with what Boeing's web site calls "first look, first-shot, and first-kill capability." Boeing's B-2 Stealth Bomber is one of the most horrifying human creations to date. It is a monument to the Dark Side of Star Wars (the movie) fame - a "multi-role bomber, capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional munitions" to, in Boeing's words, "strike targets all over the world from bases in the United States." It is perfectly matched to the White House's current plans, greatly emboldened by 9-11, for permanent US military supremacy and unlimited global offensive capacity even in the absence of a single remotely threatening rival state. One of Boeing's most curious current projects is the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), dedicated to the proposition that "the only way to completely protect the person flying a combat mission is to have them fly it from somewhere else." Boeing has taken the appropriate imperial lesson from Vietnam, loaded with cowardice and consistent with the (Colin) "Powell Doctrine": massive death and destruction for Evil Others but a minimum of risk for the direct agents of that mayhem. "We build UCAV and other innovative defense products," write the Orwellian content providers of Boeing's web site, "because they do one thing and do it very well - they save lives." War is Peace, Love is Hate, and Death is Life. Boeing is also a major world arms dealer, with its products widely used in deadly conflicts and by repressive regimes around the world. "Its Apache AH-64A," Kevin Martin noted last December, "has been sold to Egypt, Greece, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Israel has used the helicopter in raids against the Palestinians. Boeing's F-15 Eagle has been sold to Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, and its F/A-18 Hornet has been sold to Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland." Boeing capitalizes on its overseas sales to drive demand at home. "In a perverse manifestation of the pursuit of its interests above national or international security concerns," Martin writes, "Boeing uses its weapons exports to help perpetuate demand for its future planes. New weapons...developed for the U.S. military...are sold to allies around the world. (Often, the potential export market is factored into and helps justify research and development costs.) These weapons exports, in turn, fuel the push for higher and more expensive technology to be developed by U.S. weaponeers to maintain our military superiority." (Kevin Martin, Tim Nafziger, Jeremy Shenk, & Mark Swier, "The Boeing Corporation," Z Magazine, November 2001). Along the path to its current position at the commanding heights of the military-industrial complex, Boeing has developed strong reputations for slashing labor costs by outsourcing union jobs, poisoning the environment, discriminating against African-American employees, receiving colossal corporate welfare and other state-capitalist subsidies, and making massive investments in the American political and policy process. Boeing spent $8.2 million on lobbying in 1995 and more than $1.75 million on campaign contributions in 1999-2000, a profitably small sum in comparison to the billions of public dollars it receives. . In agreeing to move its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago last year, Boeing managed to extract from the city and the state of Illinois a taxpayer-financed incentive package estimated to be worth $64 million over the next 20 years. All of which raises some interesting questions about the about the extent to which the current political and media focus on the corporate wrongdoing and the relationship between business corruption and the White House is really getting to the rotten core of the American System. To be sure, it has been more than a little gratifying to see what many of us on the left have long known to be system-wide corporate cronyism, corruption, and criminality (far beyond the Bush administration's twaddle about "a few bad apples") become headline news. It has been good to see corporate Fat Cats fall in public esteem like no time since the 1930s. It's a long overdue correction. It is pleasing to see the scandals begin to engulf an illegitimate White House chock full of former corporate CEOs. The Bush administration is remarkably beholden and dedicated to corporate power even by the plutocratic standards of the United States, surely the "best democracy that money can buy." Still, in observing this new coverage and opinion, which has put the question of corporate social responsibility in the public eye like no time in recent memory, it becomes easy to forget that waves of corporate abuse and insufficient reform are a recurrent and predictable feature of American state capitalism. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that very little in the way of truly substantive punishment and regulation is being seriously advanced by American policymakers, including Democrats, reflecting the addiction of both parties (the two wings of the US Chamber of Commerce Party) to corporate largesse. Also too readily forgotten is the fact that much, indeed most of the considerable harm inflicted on human society and the planet by the corporate masters of the world is the result of corporations acting non-scandalously, profitably, and in accord with the rule of law and standard business procedure. Scandals don't emerge in the US when Boeing and/or Lockheed Martin develop a new way to terrorize distant peoples, when McDonalds finds a new way to spread cholesterol, or when Monsanto finds new techniques to cripple small farmers in developing countries. The media and official opinion is not stirred and CEOs keep their jobs when General Motors works to subvert environmental considerations, when Iowa Beef Processors exploits immigrant workers, and when leading energy firms influence politicians and policymakers in their interests. In each case, the corporate actor's behavior is consistent with the letter and spirit of American business (corporate), law, which requires corporate managers to one thing first and foremost: company profits. Thanks to a legal revolution effected during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there is no legal requirement compelling an American corporation to make any contribution whatsoever to the common good. Corporations' basic legal requirement is to make money for investors. They tend to get in trouble, temporarily, with the public and government when the misbehavior and mismanagement of excessively selfish and/or stupid strategic insiders threaten profitability for large numbers of investors. They generally escape critical scrutiny when their basic operations threaten human beings and the world of living things in general in the interest of profit, as they do on an incremental and daily basis. Which brings us to another dark underside to the current corporate scandals, as spun by the architects of American policy and opinion. One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to know that the current media and public focus on the intimately related sins of the Bush administration and corporate America is deepening the momentum towards a massive and deadly US assault on Iraq. As the New York Times' Frank Rich, neither radical nor conspiracy-oriented, wrote last Saturday, "wagging the dog no longer cut is. If the Bush administration wants to distract Americans from watching their 401 K's go down the toilet, it will have to unleash the whole kennel. Maybe only unilateral annihilation of the entire axis of evil will do." If Rich's "kennel" is in fact unleashed just partly for the reason he suggests, it will certainly be scandalous. We can be sure however, that Boeing Corporation and the rest of the nation's leading "defense" contractors will be waiting in the wings to reap a not-so "free enterprise" profits windfall, without the slightest hint of scandal, all very much in accordance with standard corporate practice and business as usual. Paul Street is a social policy research and freelance writer in Chicago, Illinois. He can be reached at email@example.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk