During the Clinton years the U.S. news media in this country never tired of reminding us that the lesson of Vietnam was to let the Generals run the war.
Not only should pols get out of the way, but they should also let the military decide whether or not we should even go to war.
How to explain then a palpable media silence as the Joint Chiefs and even Norman Schwarzkopf, the cheeky quotable hero of “Desert Storm,” all but declare their total opposition to an attack on Iraq?
It appears that the media will give right wing chickenhawks, with draft dodgers Bush and Cheney at the forefront of the goose-stepping toward Baghdad, a pass. But if you were perceived as even mildly left-of center ala Clinton, the media puts you in the dock.
Just as the media is afraid to confront the conservative right on this issue, so does the corporate media–as well as many left and right intellectuals–refrain from asking the hard question:
Why is Saddam suddenly in the cross-hairs of the U.S. and the British when only 6 months ago he was just a defanged, deloused dictator (defanged and deloused by the U.S. and Britain who provided Saddam with the weapons of mass destruction we are supposed to be so worried about now) shooting his shotgun into the air?
I suspect the reason is that the answer to that question would lead to very unfashionable Marxist conclusions.
After all, and as we’ve been reminded from everyone from Christopher Hitchens (who tittered and blushed like Britney Spears after being asked if she’s gone all the way: and said “No” when CSPAN’S Brian Shaw asked him if he was still a socialist) to Robert Heilbruner, socialism and Marxism are dead.
Why are the U.S. and Britain braying for war with Iraq? The answer is very simple.
The U.S. and Britain (a) want Iraq’s oil (b) want Iraq.
In short this prospective war is a naked imperial power play.
Unlike the more timid imperialists of the Bush/Thatcher generation who occasionally worried about appearances, Bush and Cheney and Blair are–in their own minds anyway, out to seize the imperial moment.
Critics of all stripes–Joint Chiefs of Staff included– be damned.
And who cares about appearances when a hefty percentage of the worlds oil reserves are there for the taking?
All this dry debate and to-ing and fro-ing in newspapers and magazines disputing Saddam’s military capabilities and/or the legalities is in reality a kind of parlor game and sorely misses the obvious.
The truth is the U.S. and Britain know full well that Saddam has few if any “weapons of mass destruction.”
As Noam Chomsky said about debating the Vietnam war, to even debate the facts legitimizes the debate.
Indeed, rest assured: Tony, Dick and W know bloody fucking well that Saddam–like Koba Stalin’s soldierless Pope– also has no divisions to speak of: at least any that will stand and fight.
Nor do they believe–and admittedly they could be wrong– that the Arab masses will rise in unison to protest this naked imperial power play.
They justifiably believe that the Arab world is in disarray and very unlikely to raise a finger on Saddam’s behalf.
So why not seize the moment?
Like Osama’s audacious attack on the World Trade Center (I find myself concluding) Blair-Bush-Cheney’s imperial plotting, although revolting in the extreme, has a tinge of mad genius to it.
They are saying to hell with the “moderates.” Let them write essays in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. This tomato is too ripe not to pick.
In their zealous greedy grab for Iraq’s riches, they may well underestimate the rage of what smarmy hacks like Tom Friedman sneeringly refer to as “the Arab street.” And maybe Iraqi’s will defend the homeland if not Saddam.
To belabor the Osama comparison further, Tony, Dick and W have killed the pilots(the coalition partners from Desert Storm and even U.S. military leaders) and are fixing to fly the plane into the building.
Few observers of any ideological stripe seem to realize that the US and Britain aren’t going to “war” with Iraq, anymore than Iraq went to “war” with Kuwait.
What is unfolding and what we are about to witness is pure and simple, a Suez-plus type operation. The U.S. and Britain are out to re-colonize Iraq –and its oil.
And anyone who thinks the U.S. and Britain are going to turn over Iraq’s oil to the Kurds and the southern Shiites is suffering from utopian delusions.
What is to be gained besides Iraqi oil?
Seizing Iraq will allow the U.S. to solve the problem of where to park the U.S. Persian Gulf Doctrine police.
Last January in a little noticed or commented upon story, the New York Times reported that the pentagon had devised a soon to be implemented contingency plan to end the U.S. military presence on Saudi soil.
Although the article didn’t mention it, Osama’s bin Laden’s main political demand/rationale for 9/11 was that the U.S. pull its secular ass out of Kuwait.
After conquering Iraq the U.S. won’t have to worry about offending the sensibilities of Osama and his angry lost generation warriors.
Speaking of the Persian Gulf Doctrine, and no one does, let us not forget that it was the brainchild of Jimmy Carter.
Ignored as well by many commentators is the glaring political fact that with Osama foot loose if not fancy free, and Bush sorely in need of an Arab trophy, Saddam fits nicely into the administrations 2004 re-election strategy.
Which is why one UN-named General told the New York Times this is “General Karl Rove’s war.”
Saddam’s fate is to be W’s Noriega– although unlike daddy Bush’s old cohort, Saddam will probably go down fighting.
“Marxism” may be dead as an intellectual fad, but like imperialism itself– as a mode of political analysis– it remains very much alive.
Not every media outlet has missed “the real story” and the imperial motivations for this war. Much to their credit the European press hounds have picked up the imperial scent unlike the lapdog U.S. counterparts.
From Christopher Hitchens on the center-right to more well meaning writer/intellectuals on the left, the notion that this curious little “war” is about good guys vs. bad guys or just plain “bad policy,” ignores the obvious.
Blair, Bush and Cheney’s message to Saddam is simple: WE ARE COMING–FOR YOUR OIL.
SO its on to Baghdad with the war wimps, Bush, Cheney and Blair.
And to hell with the Joint Chiefs.
Jack McCarthy lives in Tallahassee, Florida. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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