by Harvey Wasserman
March 17, 2003
Amidst the agonizing crisis over Iraq, the violent contortions of the world's only military superpower have given birth to a transcendental force: the global Superpower of Peace.
That George W. Bush's obsession with Saddam Hussein has become a global issue at all is perhaps the most tangible proof of this new superpower's potential clout.
Only one thing has slowed (or stopped) Bush from launching this attack: the economic, political, moral and spiritual power of an intangible human network determined to stop this war.
Bush has amassed the most powerful killing machine humankind has ever created. He's set its fuse on the borders of an impoverished desert nation with no credible ability to protect itself from this unprecedented attack. His military henchmen believe the conquest of this small country can be done quickly, with relatively few casualties on the the attacking side (though many civilians would die on the Iraqi side, as they did in the 1991 Gulf War I).
The potential prizes are enormous:
* Outright control of the world's second-largest oil reserve;
* Removal of Bush's hated personal rival, a US Frankenstein gone bad;
* A pivotal military base in the heart of the Middle East;
* Hugely lucrative contracts for both the destroyers and the rebuilders of Iraq;
* The ability to test a new generation of ultra high-tech weaponry;
* The chance to display the awesome killing power of that weaponry;
* The chance to demonstrate a willingness to use that power;
* The fulfillment of Biblical prophesy as seen through the eyes of religious fanatics.
But after months of preparation, the world's only military superpower has hesitated. Instead of obliterating Baghdad---as it physically could at any time---the Bush cabal has flinched.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he needs no military allies. But he's desperately courting them.
Bush says he doesn't need UN approval. But he's desperately sought it.
One could argue the US has been marking time because it's not quite ready, with deployments and other technical needs not yet met.
But all that is now far more difficult with an astounding rejection by Turkey, which shares a strategic border with Iraq. Turkish opposition to war is running a fierce 80-90%. Major arm-twisting (and a $26 billion bribe) has not bought permission to use Turkish land and air space.
Meanwhile, the "no" votes of China, Russia, France and Germany represent the official opinion of some 2 billion people. They are irrelevant to the mechanics of armed conquest. But the four nay-sayers represent enormous political and economic power. So do scores of other nations whose nervous millions now march for peace.
"Never before in the history of the world has there been a global, visible, public, viable, open dialogue and conversation about the very legitimacy of war," says Robert Muller, a long-time UN guiding light who views this global resistance as virtually miraculous.
To all this has been added the opposition of the Pope. The Bush cabal may be asking that infamous question: "How many divisions does the Pope have?"
But about a quarter of the US---and its armed forces---are Catholics. They may soon be forced to choose between the opinion of their infallible spiritual leader and that of their unelected president.
The Pope has already been asked to put himself between the people of Baghdad and a US attack. He could also speak "ex cathedra," banning Catholic participation in the war.
Meanwhile the spiritual opposition has been joined by a wide spectrum of religious organizations, including Bush's own church. Though constantly speaking in religious terms, Bush has refused to meet with the broad range of clerics who oppose his war.
Meanwhile, worldwide demonstrations are growing bigger and more focused. In Britain one wonders if the next march might shut down London or the entire country. Massive civil disobedience is inevitable at dozens of US embassies. Consumer boycotts are likely to erupt with staggering force.
Within the US, the fiercest opposition may well be coming from Wall Street. Specific corporations such as Dick Cheney's Halliburton and Richard Perle's consulting firm stand to make a fortune from Gulf War II. But mainstream financial and commercial institutions are understandably terrified. The American economy is already staggering under deep recession. Bush's tax cuts will yield stratospheric deficits for decades to come. The US economy now bears the sickly pallor of a collapsing empire.
With war, a depressed stock market that hates instability could well plunge another 25-50%. Next would come the worldwide boycott of American products. China counts a billion-plus citizens and a rapidly emerging economic powerhouse. France and Germany dominate the European Union, which will soon outstrip the US in gross output---and consumer spending. A billion-plus Muslims must also be accounted for.
Tragically, violent terrorism would also accompany a Bush attack. In bloodshed and degraded quality of life, the cost would be horrifying. The US airline industry has already warned it might not survive another round of terrorism. That's probably a tiny tip of the economic iceberg.
Through the internet, the nonviolent movement is linked by billions of e-mails and forwarded articles meant to surround and circumvent the corporate media. They warn the blood shed in this proposed war would be unconscionable. That its ecological costs would be unsustainable. That civil rights and liberties are being trashed. And that the multiplier effects of such devastating chaos cannot be predicted.
A war between unelected macho madmen, launched by a military superpower against its own puppet gone astray, is the ultimate yin to the new movement's yang.
If, as you read this, war has broken out, know this: the global Superpower of Peace can bend, but it won't break.
If Bush still hasn't attacked, and Saddam continues to be disarmed, count another day the Superpower of Peace has extended its pre-emptive influence, its maturity, its scope.
No matter what ultimately happens in Iraq, the new millennium will be neither American nor Chinese nor European nor military nor corporate nor dictatorial.
It belongs to the Superpower of Peace, being born before our electronic eyes.
Harvey Wasserman is senior editor of www.freepress.org and author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press, 2001).