War on Iraq, the Best Case Scenario

by William Ring

The end of the Cold War has not brought a Pax Americana, as many had hoped. Instead, it has brought a Timor Americanus: The world fears America, Americans fear the world, and no amount of American power will make the fear go away. Let’s look at the bright side of another war with Iraq, and see where it gets us.

We’ll start with the best-case military scenario: U.S. forces succeed in destroying the Iraqi military, killing Saddam Hussein, crushing effective resistance, and installing a puppet regime. We’ll ignore the military difficulties, and we’ll assume that the costs of success are low for the U.S. and its allies, which we’ll assume will include Israel, Turkey, and Britain. Where would such success leave us? The puppet regime would be utterly dependent upon U.S. power for its existence, so the U.S. will have added yet another country to occupy and administer indefinitely, a la Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. In consolation, the U.S. would expropriate Iraq’s oil to pay for the war and the occupation and – more importantly – to use the oil as leverage against other oil-dependent Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

We’ll assume the military victory and the oil threat bring all oil-dependent regimes to heel. After all, if they didn’t heel, the U.S. would flood the market with Iraqi oil and drive down oil prices worldwide, thus undermining the wealth of the Islamic world. This worked against the Soviets in the 1980s; it might work again against the Saudis, who made it work the first time. The oil industry would suffer, as it did the first time, but consumers might actually benefit.

At this point, an optimist must assume that a complete U.S. victory will cause the entire Muslim world to lose heart, give up the struggle against Israel and the West, and give in to reformation, modernization, and the humiliation of U.S.-Israeli hegemony. I say entire Muslim world because, of course, we live in the days of asymmetric threats and weapons of mass destruction, which means that desperate losers believing that Paradise awaits them might still destroy New York or D.C., with a little help from a few friends.

We therefore cannot assume that the War on Terror will end or even abate with a victory over Iraq. We might expect the Muslim world’s initial outrage to quickly dissipate, but we cannot assume that defeatism will be so general that the U.S. will not continue to face a serious terrorist threat. The Arab Muslim population is large, poor, and still growing. Blows to its oil wealth will only make it more restless. Foreign occupation and the defeat and displacement of the Palestinians will continue to stir resentments and raise recruits for extremist groups. Some pro-U.S., pro-Israeli regimes might not survive, but even if they all do, non-state desperadoes might find secret state support within or without the Muslim world from countries that fear further U.S. imperialism, like China. And whatever Islam’s apologists say, the ideology of jihad will continue to call the faithful to fight for Allah. There is just too much in the Koran, the Hadith, and the Sira of Muhammad that needs erasing.

It is safer to assume that the U.S. will remain under threat for a long time. The U.S. will be forced to spend more and more to defend itself, its allies, and its interventions. (Indeed, the voices clamoring for war with Iraq are also clamoring for space-based missile defenses, cruise-missile defenses, ever better bombs and bombers, ever more military aid to allies, and a Marshall Plan for the Middle East.) The U.S. will also be forced to forego many accustomed freedoms and to live in a perpetual state of siege. (Indeed, the same voices are clamoring for tighter controls on everything, from public transport to the Internet.) This is not to say that people won’t prosper in the times ahead. Some people will always prosper. Israel will prosper most of all in our best-case scenario. Its enemies will be laid low. Its borders will remain secure. Its economy will recover with U.S. aid and arms sales to U.S. rivals, like China. It might even find a final solution to its Palestinian problem. Not surprisingly, the voices clamoring for war with Iraq are also the loudest in support for Israel.

But most Americans cannot look forward to more freedom, more safety, or more wealth as long as the Timor Americanus lasts. The U.S. does not have a rich uncle to help pay the bills, and it is ill suited ideologically to deal with ethnic and religious threats. An open society, the U.S. will strain to protect itself without observing obvious distinctions between Us and Them, which comes easily to ethnically and religiously closed societies like Israel. For all that it does in defense of its empire, the U.S. will earn the fear and hatred of the rest of the world.

That’s the best-case scenario. The worst case is too terrible to contemplate.

William Ring writes often about foreign affairs. His ancestors would have landed at Plymouth in 1620, but they were aboard the Speedwell, which sprang a leak and had to turn back, leaving the Mayflower to continue alone. They arrived in America the next year aboard the Fortune, the second ship to land at Plymouth.

Ring can be reached at: counterpunch@counterpunch.org

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”