An adamant American president has made up his mind that there shall be a war in the Gulf. I cannot remember any other instance in recent history when the possibility of a war was so thoroughly rejected by so many. Now, some of the leading nations of the world, including France and Germany, have decided to say "no" to a war in Iraq.
The leaders of these nations are rallying and trying their best to see that war is averted. The U.S. and Britain have amassed more than 200,000 troops in the Gulf along with the most sophisticated weapons known to man. It is said that more than 300 cruise missiles will be fired every day against Iraq in the event of a war, which is more than the total number of such missiles fired during the entire Gulf War in 1991.
It is true that Iraq has the second largest oil deposits in the world. Many experts believe that this war is about the West controlling the oil deposits in Iraq. While this may be stretching the truth, Western oil companies will have a major stake in most of the oil produced in the Gulf. That in itself is a sure way of controlling the energy resources of the world. The genesis of the crisis in Iraq also emanates from this reality.
There is no doubt that once Iraq starts producing its full capacity, the prices will come tumbling down. This will be good for the world economy, many say. But are the Western nations really keen to see the prices come down to $10 per barrel? Such a low cost of oil will damage the profits of oil companies since they won't be able to make up for their production costs. For those in the oil industry, a higher price is more desirable. Unfortunately, oil companies cannot manage the prices as much as they would like because OPEC has its own interests and can start increasing production when the oil prices rise too high.
President Bush is an oilman, as was his father. The oil industry has close links with the Bush family. They had supported the Bush campaign up until his dramatic win. His oil ties were often seen as a sore spot in the Bush administration's campaign. Now, the crisis in the Gulf and the American eagerness to attack Iraq is being seen in this light. The oil lobby needs to be rewarded, as does the arms industry. They were there when the President needed them most, and now that he is half way to the end of his term, it's payback time.
How does one ensure that the oil companies benefit enough to recoup what they had spent and maybe make some more? An artificial hike in the price of oil is what is required. A war in the Gulf, therefore, is the answer. War scare has seen the prices of crude cross the $30 mark. Once the war starts, it could possibly jump to $80 a barrel, according to oil industry analysts.
A war in Iraq will mean the use of American weaponry, testing of some of the new arms developed by the United States, a bigger arms expenditure, an escalation in the oil prices and a decisive assertion of the American might for the world to see. It will show the world that the U.N. and all other organizations can be circumvented by the all-powerful United States of America. It also means that the European Union and other such regional organizations can do little to check the American game plan, be it in the Gulf or in the Caspian.
The message is clear -- the might of America shall prevail! In the process, some of Bush's cronies will be laughing their way to the bank. America will win a war and there will be much chest thumping and sloganeering. The ghosts of September 11 will be buried for the time being. America will win back its credibility and Americans' self-esteem as a mighty nation will be restored.
But sooner or later, another group of "mad men" will strike again to get back at the "evil empire" they consider to be the United States. The witch hunt will then start all over again. The real culprits will go scot-free as they have now. It's incredible how gullible we all can be. It is also amazing how much the world is taken for granted by men like George W. Bush.
Ullas Sharma writes frequently on South Asian political and economic issues, and is a publisher of academic books on social sciences and humanities. He lives in Varanasi, India. This article first appeared in Yellow Times.org. Ullas encourages your comments: usharma@YellowTimes.org