George Bush's recent State of the Union speech should alarm the people of our country and the entire planet about the perils facing us all-and they are not the ones he spoke of with arrogance, lies, and threats. The true significance of his words is yet to be fully comprehended by many of us.
Bush, and the ruling Wall Street elite he represents, are desperately seeking to cope with a growing economic crisis attributable to fundamental contradictions in the very system over which they reign. As in the past, war is seen as the answer. Today, they want to go to war to grab the vast untapped oil riches of Iraq and the Persian Gulf. More importantly, they want to literally rule the world because they think it will rescue them from the deepening economic morass and bring a cornucopia of super profits. They are also massively shifting the burden of the crisis to the workers, poor, and middle strata in the United States and in every corner of the world. In the process they intend to siphon off even more wealth to the minuscule top one percent of society. Such were the undercurrents beneath Bush's State of the Union rhetoric.
There is no question, Bush and the oil interests he and his cohorts represent, aim to seize the "black gold" reserves of Iraq, second only to those of Saudi Arabia-easily extractible, easily refined, high quality, and therefore highly profitable petroleum, the possession of which would allow U.S. oil companies also to undermine OPEC and thus control prices. They are driven by the fact that Iraq is strategically located near other oil-rich nations of the Middle East, critical waterways, and key pipeline routes from Central Asia. They are also driven by the reality that the world's hydro-carbon reserves are being depleted rapidly, yet the oil wells of Iraq will continue to produce after most others run dry.
To take over these oil reserves, they need to occupy Iraq and stave off companies from rival powers like France, Russia, and China, all of which have been granted concessions by the Iraqi regime to develop a considerable portion of those riches.
Equally important: they need to control the people of Iraq. After all, from the time oil was discovered in their country, the mass of Iraqi people waged bitter struggles for nationalization of their natural resources against brutal imperialist domination by Britain and the United States who were acting on behalf of the giant oil corporations. This was also the experience of the Iranian people when the CIA deposed their democratically-elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953, because he nationalized Iran's oil. The same dynamics are being echoed today in Venezuela.
Moreover, a war against Iraq will generate even greater profits for the armaments industry. What better way to stuff their coffers than to build weapons and then blow them up- perfect "built-in obsolescence." There are built-in consumers, as well-the taxpaying public which has dished out trillions of dollars to the Pentagon in recent years while basic social programs have been undermined or eliminated. And now, more than ever, there is the lucrative sale of U.S. weaponry to the new NATO members from Eastern Europe who are being prevailed upon to update their military and vastly increase their armaments budgets to the tremendous detriment of their own social programs.
These are key reasons for the current war frenzy. But there is something qualitatively more dangerous underway. There is an overriding long-planned agenda being orchestrated and directed by the Bush regime for total world dominance-economically and militarily. Such dominance is sought in order to wield full control over the governments and peoples of the poorer nations, but also over the European Union, Japan, and the other imperial rivals. Bloody wars have been waged in the past among such competitors seeking control over global markets and resources. It would be a mistake to assume we are beyond such confrontations today.
Attacking Iraq is the lynchpin in the scheme for world dominance. Bush, Colin Powell, and others in the administration have said the assault will begin within the next few weeks, no matter what the UN does. In fact, it probably will work to Washington's advantage to act without the UN as this will eliminate the necessity of making deals with France and Russia for sharing the spoils in order to win their votes in the Security Council. Nevertheless, it is possible that on the eve of an actual attack, these nations will capitulate, perhaps even voting at the last minute for a new enabling resolution in a desperate attempt to latch onto at least some of the booty.
Leading up to this critical turning point, we have seen the alarming growth in clout of the military-industrial complex, about which President Eisenhower sounded a dire warning. We have seen the advent of new military doctrines projecting "full spectrum dominance," "pre-emptive" nuclear strike, and the "war against terrorism." We have heard the U.S. Space Command speak openly about "dominating space to dominate Earth" in order to protect U.S. investments. We have witnessed the moves to weaponize and nuclearize space and to build destabilizing anti-ballistic missiles, while scrapping the ABM Treaty . We have seen the rapid eastward expansion of NATO with the U.S. at the helm. We have seen a significant increase in the huge number of globe-encircling U.S. military bases. These new installations are strategically located near oil fields and pipeline routes, particularly in Central Asia, Georgia, Afghanistan, and the former Yugoslavia. We have seen the use in Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan, of ever-more powerful and illegal weapons, including fuel-air explosives, cluster bombs, radioactive depleted uranium- tipped armaments and "bunker busting" bombs, all of which have killed thousands of civilians. Are these not weapons of mass destruction?
All of that will pale by comparison with what's ahead. When Bush gives the word, "the full force and might of the U.S. military" will be unleashed in an unprovoked assault against a nation of 22 million people who already have suffered immeasurably from brutal war and economic sanctions-a country which ironically is the "cradle of civilization."
Even as Bush spoke before the joint session of Congress, the Pentagon leaked reports that the U.S. will hit Iraq with up to 800 cruise missiles in two days-more than twice the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War. The intent is to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and psychologically." The objective is to "shock and awe."
The "Shock and Awe" scheme was concocted by military strategist Harlan Ullman who said "you have this simultaneous effect-rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima-not taking days or weeks but minutes."* A Pentagon official told CBS News following a briefing on the plan: "The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before."
A senior Bush official confirmed that "Shock and Awe" is the concept on which the war plan is based," according to CBS News.
"Shock and Awe" is aimed at demonstrating what Armageddon would look like. It is aimed at trying to terrify the people and nations of the world-any who might dare challenge U.S. dominance or stand in the way of conquest and plunder. Bush and his entourage have repeatedly stressed that Iraq will be just the beginning of an unprecedented ongoing war. Add this his threat to use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive first strike. Any country he labels part of the "axis of evil" is fair game. Zbigniew Bzrezinski in his book, "The Grand Chessboard" dubs this as a "new kind of hegemony," a "benevolent" imperialism.
Bush exhibits absolutely no glimmer of human concern for the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who will die horrible deaths. Almost half of the Iraqi people are under age 14, so a high percentage of civilian deaths will be children. This is on top of the more than 500,000 children who have died from the sanctions according to UNICEF. And what of the additional hundreds of thousands who will suffer injuries, illness, hunger, and total disruption of their lives.
There's barely a murmur of concern for the likely casualties among U.S. troops, or the probability that many of them, as with veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, will be stricken by "Gulf War Syndrome" caused by radioactive depleted uranium and other toxins.
What of the United Nations?
Bush, Colin Powell, and other administration insiders have made it clear the U.S. will carry out the assault on Iraq with or without the authority of the United Nations. Joining Bush's war will be junior partner Britain, dragged into the fray by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is totally disregarding the overwhelming opposition of the British public. After-all, Britain is keen to restore at least some of its previous imperialist status in the region.
They will carry out his war in defiance of the UN Charter and international law, and with disdain for the pleas for peace of tens of millions of people the world over. This includes the protest of what has certainly become a wide-ranging majority of people in the U.S. They will proceed with the assault without "smoking gun" evidence, merely resorting to presenting more circumstantial "proof" before the Security Council as the hour of the attack nears. But then, Washington really feels it doesn't need to convince the UN because they have decided to wage war no matter what happens.
There is a growing worldwide demand that there should be no legitimization of this war through capitulation of UN Security Council members to bribes and threats. Such a development would not only violate every tenet of international law but it would it would undermine the United Nations itself.
Despite Bush administration's obvious disdain for the rest of the world, the economic turmoil spreading in the U.S. ironically has been partially staved off by a massive inflow of capital from Europe, Asia, Middle East oiligarchies and elsewhere, which has furthered the extravagant accumulation of wealth by the super-rich. Borrowing from abroad has amounted to $2 billion a day. But the abrupt decline of the dollar in recent weeks threatens to undermine confidence which could interrupt that massive influx of capital and lead to a dramatic further decline in the economy. Meanwhile, joblessness grows, the stock market keeps diving, the Federal government is piling up a huge deficit, budget deficits of state and local governments are unprecedented in scope, and there are record corporate losses including the recent nearly 100 billion record loss by AOL.
Not only are Bush and his Wall Street backers motivated by the notion that war and world imperial hegemony will solve such daunting systemic economic troubles. They also want to divert the attention of the people from the social and economic daily problems they face at home.
In today's world, bristling with arsenals of nuclear weapons, resort to war must end once and for all. Fundamental societal changes are required in order create the conditions for redirecting the trillions of dollars flushed down the drain of military spending to feed the hungry, create jobs, provide quality housing, healthcare and education, in the U.S. and worldwide. This is also the way to end terrorism. Only massive democratic actions by the people can stop the drive to war and ultimately accomplish these other essential changes. Therefore, it is more vital than ever in history to turn out in our tens millions for the upcoming worldwide anti-war demonstrations on February 15 and 16. These challenges can and must be met for the sake of humankind's very survival.
*Ullman's book "Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance," is posted on the site of the Command and Control Research Program (CCRP) of the U.S. Department of Defense.