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[casi] The real reasons for an attack on Iraq

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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