A War Of Self-Defense Or Of Criminal Self-Interest
A War Of Self-Defense Or A Criminal War Of Self-Interest
Bill Gibsons, B.C.
When UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan points out that US actions in Iraq constitute an illegal war most Americans think of this as a technicality:
Saddam Hussein was a threat to America. The UN is a corrupt and bureaucratic institution; it was not possible to get everybody onside for a final resolution authorizing war. So the Bush Administration did what it needed to do to protect America.
A minority of Americans and most informed people globally view American actions in Iraq as a much more serious case of flagrant, premeditated, war for self-interest:
Iraq was an illegal war not just because the Bush Administration failed to get everybody onside for a war legitimizing UN resolution, but because the Bush Administration gave into temptation and seized a very important Iraq in order to further American interests in the Middle East.
On hindsight, Saddam's Iraq was never a threat to America - well, more correctly, Saddam was an open enemy and after the 9/11 attacks Iraq could have been one of those states that might harbor and arm terrorists.
But Iraq is a very puny military power compared to the States and the first Gulf War and resulting sanctions had further weakened Iraqi offensive capability. Saddam's WMD program had been deactivated since the early 90's.
Saddam's secular Baathist state was moreover the enemy of Islamic fundamentalists such as al-Qaeda and there was no plausible state connection with terrorism.
On hindsight, Saddam and the mythical WMDs and possible terrorist connections were just an excuse for seizing Iraq. President Bush and the neocon members of his administration had been planning war with Iraq for close to a decade.
Iraq was the strategic high ground controlling the very important Middle East which contains 60% of the world's oil, America's lifeblood. The Bush Administration was implementing a new much more radical use of American military force to control resources important to America as well as using this military force to openly intervene in nation building to create a world much more in America's interests.
A president acting decisively to protect America from a real threat of state supported terrorism is not a bad guy, hardly a war criminal.
A president exaggerating the danger of an attack on the US as an excuse for a premeditated war of self-interest, trying to shoehorn aggression into an apparent action of self-defense, is very much a bad guy and a criminal. In anybody's book; in anybody's moral code; in anybody's understanding of the rule of law.
The questions Americans have to ask and the evidence that Americans must consider all revolve around this alternative motive for war in Iraq:
There were no WMDs, no connection with al-Qaeda - did the Bush Administration know this or should they have known that Iraq was not the threat imagined? This is a very complex question because there was almost universal acceptance at the time that Saddam had these weapons and was a rogue and openly an enemy of the US.
But, in reality, Saddam was a mouse and the Bush Administration in hindsight quite blatantly inflated the danger. If they were not so set on war would they have had a much more realistic appreciation of any potential Iraqi threat to the US?
Was control of oil - of oil rich Iraq and Iraq as the key to control of the wider Middle East - the real reason for war? Most Americans know in their heart of hearts that the war was about oil. The more you look at the differing oil related reasons for seizing Iraq the more tempting war must have been to oil men Bush, Cheney et al;
First of all, there was the promise of opening up the supply of incredibly cheap Iraqi oil in the short term and getting the Murdoch benefit of $20 oil. Didn't happen, but it was a temptation. Another short term benefit to be expected was oil industry (Halliburton et al) work and contract position. Since our world is totally under the thrall of the 'tyranny of the present' one cannot scoff at the temptation of cheap oil now, especially the sweet, low hanging fruit, low cost Iraqi oil..
Secondly and of increasing importance was control of Iraq as part of a century old American presence to control the flow of oil and as control of oil markets and, to some extent, control of Chinese, European, Japan, etc. economies in the intermediate term.
It wasn't just Iraqi oil, but control of Iraq as key high ground for controlling the oil important Middle East (plus consideration of US ally, Israel). It was an opportunity to move oil control bases from Saudi Arabia to Iraq - it put bases on Iran and Syria's borders. Control of the government in Iraq also promised some control of OPEC. And for neocon ideologues it was an opportunity to nation build as a way of rebuilding the Middle East to US specs.
But most importantly, American action in Iraq must be at least considered as the choice of a military, geo-strategic, grab-the-oil policy by an administration of oil men very, very conscious of the building longer term problem of peak oil and the emerging awareness of how the oil endgame is a control of the Middle East problem.
America is in Iraq to stay; in permanent military bases and manipulating puppet Iraqi regimes for the long term.
Iraq, in this perspective, was the first in what pessimistically will be a series of 21st century resource wars. Severe resource depletion - oil now, but water and food in the future - will be another population bomb consequence and US awesome military power (more than 800 bases globally) will be used to secure resources in a Fortress America if necessary.
There is abundant evidence of premeditation to use US military power to secure needed resources such as oil in the foreign policy publications of key Bush Administration members in the decade before Iraq was invaded.
Put the threat that Saddam's Iraq posed to the US beside the temptation of the benefits of regime change in order to control oil, and reconsider all of the president's and his administration's arguments and actions, and I think you must come to the conclusion that there is a strong case that American action in Iraq constituted an illegal war - not just a minor technicality, but a much more serious criminal breach of the international rule of law.
But if there is a possible case that Iraq was a criminal war of aggression, if there is enough evidence to go to court to try and get to the truth about the real Bush Administration motivation - who is going to marshal and present the abundant existing evidence and direct the search for possibly more incriminating documentation still within Bush Administration control? And in which court? And who is going to judge?
Americans on both sides of the red/blue divide should agree upon the necessity of justice, of the importance of upholding the rule of law. They should agree that America as the world's super power and practical policeman must uphold the rule of law and that there will be serious consequences to America, Americans and the world of criminality corroding the rule of law.
For example, do Americans really want to live in a world where the US, emerging China, a still nuclear armed Russia, and numerous other posing military powers all wear their guns to town?
Was Iraq a war of self-defense or a criminal war of self-interest? How are we going to find out?