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No Blood for Oil

By Alan Dale

Anti-war protest

U.S. military and political preparations for a new war against Iraq are at a fever pitch.

The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a deployment order to send 'significant' ground forces, combat aircraft and other units to the region. The Post also reported that a final buildup toward war could involve up to 250,000 Reserve and National Guard troops.

All movement of troops must, of course, be accompanied by the massive deployment of lies and misinformation. In mid-December, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the U.S. found the Iraqi report to the U.N. Security Council to be 'incomplete' and that it constituted a 'material breach' of UN resolutions.

Let's get this straight. In the view of the U.S. government, Iraq doesn't need to do anything or own anything or deploy anything in order to be in 'material breach.' According to Powell, Iraq's not reporting (nonexistent) 'violations' is a violation.

But let's leave aside the political fantasy being created by the Bush administration to justify its war and look at reality. While the Bush administration pushes ahead with its war plans, humanitarian aid agencies have warned that a new war in Iraq could create one million refugees.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, said last week, “A war in Iraq will be a disaster from the humanitarian perspective.” Representatives of major relief organizations working in Iraq – Oxfam, Christian Aid, British Overseas Aid Group, ActionAid and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development – have warned against war.

The Observer newspaper in Britain reported that the UN agencies believe that 'conditions in Iraq after years of sanctions are far worse than they were after the last Gulf war, with high levels of vulnerability and dependence.' This makes the people of Iraq very susceptible to disease and starvation.

As well as carrying out a buildup of U.S. military forces, there are reports that Washington is looking for some political or military force inside Iraq to carry out a coup.

The U.S. is preparing this war not out of any concern for the Iraqi people, but instead to put the U.S. in position as the dominant power in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region. All the talk of 'weapons of mass destruction' and inspections only provides a political cover for the war the U.S. wants to wage.

A statement issued by the International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition spelled out the position of the Bush administration: “The Bush administration has never intended the 'inspections' process to serve as anything but a trigger for war. This is why the Iraqi cooperation with the inspection process and disclosure has failed to produce even the slightest slowing in the preparations for war and, in fact, has seemed to escalate the rhetoric from Washington, including recent policy statements confirming Bush's plans for the first use of nuclear weapons.”

MSNBC reported recently, “The most visible dogfight over Iraq's future is playing out in diplomatic circles, as the U.S. tries to convince its skeptical allies that a 'regime change' is imperative and military action inevitable. But another high stakes, yet much less visible, struggle is also quietly taking shape. Once U.N. economic sanctions on Iraq are lifted, who will develop – and control – Iraq's vast oil reserves?”

Iraq is believed to have an estimated 112 billion barrels of crude oil, second only in size to Saudi Arabia.

MSNBC also reports, “So far, U.S. oil companies have been stuck on the sidelines of the Iraqi oil rush. Even if Saddam wanted to enlist U.S. firms in the rebuilding Iraq's oil infrastructure, U.N. sanctions – as well as U.S. laws – have barred American oil companies from dealing with Baghdad. But some analysts say it's unlikely that American firms will be left empty handed if the U.S. follows through on threats of military action.”

“If you turn up and it's your tanks that dislodged the regime and you have 50,000 troops in the country and they're in your tanks, then you are going to get the best deals,” said Credit Suisse First Boston oil analyst Mark Flannery. “That's the way it works. The French will have three men and a 1950's tank. That's just not going to work.”

Modern political and economic power needs military power. Modern U.S. capitalism depends on U.S. military force to maintain its position around the world.

The break-up of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp brought the cold war to an end. As a practical matter, an important block of countries that challenged U.S. attempts at hegemony ceased to be a political factor. Right now, Washington intends to use the political atmosphere created by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, to carry out a series of military interventions around the world. The Bush administration is looking to create the conditions for the U.S. to reign as the dominant world power.

While the war pressure builds against Iraq, the anti-war movement in the U.S. and around the world also grows.

But the anti-war movement will also face great pressures, especially if the U.S. initiates its war.

During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, a great hoopla was created by commentators, saying the 'country would welcome home the G.I.'s as heroes, not spit on them like the returning Vietnam veterans.'

Out of thin air, a great lie was created that the anti-war movement during the Vietnam war spat on returning G.I.'s.

In fact, returning G.I.'s entered the anti-war movement in great numbers, led many anti-war actions and spoke with a voice of moral authority against the government and its war. One of the reasons the U.S. had to pull out of Vietnam was that G.I.'s were in open rebellion against the war and their officers. The Pentagon was afraid of the G.I's.

But, in order to disorient the anti-war movement, the lie that G.I.'s were spat on was repeated so many times it became accepted as the truth in many circles, including among some of those actively opposing the Gulf War.

The way to 'support the troops' is to prevent the war, and to support the active duty G.I.'s who resist the war. The troops are not being sent on a humanitarian mission, but as the armed wing of U.S. corporations that see conquering Iraq as a step on the path towards dominating the world.

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