THE IRAQ war -- more properly the invasion of Iraq -- was a reversion to the naked imperialism of the 19th century, in which the western powers conquered and robbed colonies across the globe just because they had the power to do so, without even the cloak of the hypocrisy which is the tribute vice pays to virtue.
It is a further malign consequence of the collapse of the USSR. The USA would not have dared act like this when there were two superpowers. Frederick Engels said that the choice facing humanity was either socialism or barbarism. The Iraq war could be the dawn of the age of 21st century barbarism.
It drove a coach and horses through international law, and specifically the principle that states may lawfully resort to violence only in self-defence or under United Nations authorisation.
It looks very much as if America first used the UN inspectors to ensure that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, and then launched its mighty military machine on a third-rate power.
More States will now draw the lesson that going nuclear is their only guarantee against possible assault by this modern emulator of imperial Rome. While all over the Muslim world more people will commit themselves to terrorism -- which is always a weapon of the weak, not the strong.
Positioning America as a regional power in the heart of the Arab world, with a client government in command of Iraq’s underground sea of oil, was the central motive of the war. As American domestic oil production slumps, the US now bestrides much of the world oil reserves from the Caspian Sea to the Arabian desert. A second motive was to bolster Israel -- perhaps even in the mind of Zionists like Wolfowitz and Perle, to open the way to the establishment of a Greater Israel, following the expulsion to Jordan of the West Bank Palestinians?
Ten years ago it seemed incredible to hear radical American philosopher Noam Chomsky warn that the biggest domestic danger in the US was the rise of religious fundamentalism. Since then right-wing christian fundamentalism, which is hugely influential in Bush’s Republican Party, has joined hands with Zionist fundamentalism supporting Israeli expansion. Both are anti-Islamic and pro-Israel. Both see the end of history in Armageddon, on the plain of Megiddo in North Israel.
Political reaction provokes progressive counter-reaction. One good result of Iraq is the growth of an anti-war, anti-imperialist movement world wide.
This has replaced the worldwide sympathy for America that followed 9/11, which Bush foolishly squandered when he failed to ask the obvious question after the twin towers terrorist attack: Why do people hate us so much?
A second good consequence is the division of the EU and the growth of US-EU tension. Progressive opinion is not strong enough these days to make major political advance on its own. It must depend therefore on the reactionaries quarrelling among themselves. As the Anglo-Saxons faced one way and France and Germany the other, where is the common EU foreign and security policy they aspire to?
Poland sent troops to help invade Iraq. The Czechs sent a chemical warfare unit. Other east European EU applicant country governments backed Bush and Blair. A furious Chirac, who expect these countries to be compliant members of an EU superpower led by himself and Germany’s Schröder, told them they missed a good opportunity to shut up!
The answer to American imperialism is not a Franco-German-led EU empire. It is for countries to act independently, judge world issues on their merits, and champion international law.
A third possible good consequence is the likely lesson to be taught America as it faces the inevitable reaction against foreign rule of the peoples of Iraq.
Cruise missiles and cluster bombs cannot beat urban guerillas and suicide bombers.
Remember the tea and cakes that greeted British troops on Belfast’s Falls Road in 1971 -- to be followed soon after by bullets? America faces the same prospect unless it pulls out of Iraq quickly.
Iraq’s state boundaries were drawn by Winston Churchill as a political scheme to ditch the Kurds and Mesopotamian Arabs who had been promised independence for rebelling against the Turks in the first world war. These unsolved national problems have now been placed one again at the top of history’s agenda
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