by Troy Skeels
April 5, 2003
The Iraq invasion is, of course, not about oil. What it is really about appears to be a disturbing (and disturbed) confluence of outdated plans for world domination, macho posturing, arrogance and the stunning ignorance of the man who claims to be the President of the United States. It is also an open admission that the much touted free market and American style capitalism is failing and can only be saved through massive military intervention.
Not only should we take over Iraq, say financial analysts like CNBC's Lawrence Kudlow, but we ought to overthrow leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez simply for the sake of US oil prices. Kudlow says of he wants to "go in there and take him out"--him being Chavez, to keep down the price of heating oil.
And Kudlow doesn't even feel the need for the fig leaf of "weapons of mass destruction." Boosting America's economy is apparently enough justification for any war crime.
Like the dot-com bubble, the current world domination bubble will also turn out to be an expensive con game. It's not an accident that when the TV networks bring men like Richard Perle on to talk up the stock of the Iraq invasion they are committing the same conflicts of interest that were so embarrassing following the e-commerce crash. Not only one of TV's favorite analysts of the Iraq conquest, Perle is one of its chief architects. Tell us again Richard, why your plan is so brilliant.
Even though it's not about oil, it is of course about oil, at least a little. Even if the "Iraqi people" do keep control of their oil, that wealth will be spent, for the foreseeable future, largely in the USA.
It's about oil to fuel the US war machine. It's about the oil spigots and who controls them, and who will control them as the oil supply begins to dry up. It's about oil as the political bargaining chip of last resort, and in America's hands, oil as the key to American economic and cultural dominance of the planet's people. It's about oil and it's about the forcible colonization of everybody everywhere by Walmart and Time-Warner.
On some level, this war was planned 30 years ago as OPEC flexed its petro muscles, causing Henry Kissinger to decide that the US must dominate the Persian Gulf or risk losing its comfortable superpower status. As the US has grown increasingly dependent upon imported oil, this concept has been deeply assimilated into America's political and military assumptions. Global domination is now a bipartisan issue--the Democrats just prefer to do it in a lower tone of voice. The Democratic leadership haven't complained loudly about the war because they accept its fundamental rationale - that the US needs to control the Persian Gulf, and maintain global dominance, at whatever cost.
The Bush gang have taken the extra step of insulting the UN to demonstrate that the US, as global cop, can do what it wants, when it wants. The invasion of Iraq was intended as the moment "when Washington takes real ownership of strategic security in the age of globalization," writes Thomas Barnett in the March 2003 issue of Esquire. Barnett is a professor of warfare analysis at the US Naval War College and a special advisor to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. In a briefing he says he has given dozens of times in the Pentagon since September 11, 2001 he divides the world into the "Core," the wired, capitalized, developed world, and the "Gap," the marginalized, impoverished nations of the Third World.
He writes that invading Iraq is "not only necessary" but it is "good" because "the resulting long-term military commitment will finally force America to deal with the entire Gap as a strategic threat environment."
Barnett advocates a "globalization" that entails the Americanization of the world through mechanisms like the WTO, IMF and McDonald's, all backed up by US military power. What the Free Market promised and failed to do - remake the world as franchises of America, is now to be done with Cruise Missiles steered by Global Positioning Satellites.
A nation's status as a member of the "core," entails acquiescing to this Americanized globalization, however gradually. States that do, like China, will be rewarded despite their brutal subjugation of neighboring nations like Tibet and East Turkestan and the routine violation of their own citizens' human rights. Neither democracy nor human rights are a necessary component of a "core" state according to Barnett. It is only necessary that such states hook in to the globalized economy. "A country's potential to warrant a US military response is inversely related to its globalization connectivity," he writes.
His very definition of a state properly "functioning within globalization" is "any place that has not attracted US military intervention in the last decade or so." But he says, "it is always possible to fall off this bandwagon called globalization. And when you do, bloodshed will follow. If you are lucky, so will American troops."
Like the similar neoconservative visions put out by the Project for the New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute, Barnett's assumptions of America's rightful dominance don't sound terribly unusual to those of us who grew up on glowing tales of Manifest Destiny. Conquering for freedom is what we do, what we have always done, and apparently, what we will always do. In fact, according to the most hawkish neocons, America must keep conquering merely to stay afloat--it can no longer afford a rival, and even disagreement has become threatening.
And that's where the think tanks' plans for world domination start to unravel. In many ways, it is already too late to save "old America." The neocon stale plans for the new world order all start from the premise that the USA must use its economic and military dominance to sweep up all the chips while it still has the chance.
Since the plans were written, America's claims to economic virility have proven to be largely mythical. The euro is growing into a formidable rival to the dollar. The Bush gang's humiliating failure to get a UN rubber stamp for its Iraq conquest has cast doubt on some basic assumptions of American dominance. Even Turkey, it turns out has considerations apart from America's displeasure--Russia is a more important trading partner. Even Mexico, of all places, has other options these days.
And despite 9-11 America is neither socially, nor culturally prepared to spend ten or twenty more years conquering the world. And since N30 1999 a whole different vision of America's place in the world has taken hold.
That's a battlefront that the neocon vision hadn't counted on--the growing resistance at home to economic and military brutality. Even less did they count on ordinary American's growing ties to the outside world.
Apart from what happens in Iraq, resisting the spread of corporate globalization, and implementing and strengthening local cultures, fair trade and alternative economics are the larger fronts in the war. The planet wide movement of civil society is mobilizing itself against war and terror, just as it is against corporate globalization. We can expect that much of the world will be organizing against all things American, including the dollar. While we American's are probably in for rough times, we may not be doomed. And when all the bad ideas have been used up, there might be room for some of the good ones.
Troy Skeels is an editor of Eat the State!, a feisty alternative publication from Seattle, Washington where this article first appeared (www.eatthestate.org)