Iraq and the Death of the West

by ANTHONY GANCARSKI

Those who assume that the military action in Iraq will end with Hussein’s capitulation are grievously mistaken, according to the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES Bob Novak. Novak asserts that "a special envoy of the president of Iran traveled to Ankara for talks with Turkish leaders" regarding the division of "northern Iraq between them in advance of an anticipated U.S. military victory."

As Novak puts it, that runs against American war aims. To say the least, Bob. When Ken Adelman predicted a cakewalk, when Hitchens depicted the Iranian "street" as essentially pro-American, and when Mike Ledeen cashed his advance for his tome about the terror masters, they were putting their credibility on the line to argue that a war has seldom been so necessary and easy as the one on Iraq. Those worthies, paraded from cable news set to cable news set like herd animals, indulging such as Rumsfeld in claims [like the one made last week at a DOD "briefing"] that the Iraqis will be "liberated. . . from repression."

Granted, the Defense Secretary generally is careful to refer to the Iraqis as "oppressed" rather than "repressed". But why quibble over semantics? Either way, the Iraqi people end up objectified, their alleged passivity in the face of overwhelming force somehow interpreted as consent. The en masse surrenders of Iraqi forces suggest that, far from being a threat to its neighbors, the Iraqi military has been fundamentally unable to defend the nation’s territorial integrity since well before the current campaign started.

In other words, the US military hasn’t attacked the new Hitler. Hussein is — was? — a Third World President For Life. A trusty of Europe, a former trusty of the US, functionally a manager of western interests in the region.

The problem now, from which many future intrigues will spring, is what exactly are Western interests. The schism between the Franco/German/Russian axis — who would’ve imagined that in the 80s? — and the US/British/Spanish alliance strikes independent observers ranging from Walter Cronkite to Joe Sobran as irresolvable. Talk abounds about the ends of OPEC and the UN. Clearly, we are at the end of an epoch, as a power struggle has ensued for control of the international order.

As a result of that power struggle, we can dispense with talk of the West. It no longer exists in any tangible sense. Perhaps those who advocate US restructuring of "the Arab World" understand better than most of us that there is no such thing as shared interests between the US and Europe anymore. Their reasoning seems to run that US interests must consolidate control of the world’s petroleum if the US is to have any hope of stemming its inevitable eclipse by the last standing "tiger economy" — that of China.

China! A billion people, and an economy growing at ten percent per annum. Hundreds of millions of people whose only exposure to direct marketing so far has been missives from the ruling Party.

But that will change. The sheer bulk of the Chinese population inevitably will make the Asian giant the economic superior of the United States. Americans simply don’t have the money even to service their credit anymore, much less to fuel an economic recovery. Americans, compared to three decades prior, work more hours and make less money than they did in what Chomsky called "the golden age of state capitalism." Uncoincidentally, he describes the last three decades as the "leaden age."

As usual, Chomsky parses an uncomfortable truth about such matters. This has been a leaden age for those affected by the aggressive state capitalism that now drives the American economy. Small towns vie to be the homes of penitentiaries, under the impression that the incarceration industry will replace the farms or the factories that once fed their families. That sort of misguided logic, perhaps rooted in a conviction that there is no other option, drives our nation’s apparent need to protect the Middle East from itself. Whatever else can be said for the military-industrial complex and the prison industry, those are two industries exempt from downsizing.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular columnist for CounterPunch. He can be reached at: ANTHONY.GANCARSKI@ATTBI.COM

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