On Oct. 26, well over 100,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. and well over 75,000 converged in San Francisco to protest George Bush’s plans for war on Iraq. People of various political perspectives converged in these cities with one goal in mind: stop Bush’s war. There were many liberals, some socialists, some anarchists, anti-imperialists, Democrats, Greens, religious groups and pacifists. Most excitingly, many who had never protested made the trek to the capital.
This protest was a visible expression of the millions of Americans who have problems with the war. Most polls show that around 55 percent of Americans support military action against Iraq, and they also show that the support plummets to around 30 percent if the United States does not have allied support. Support also wanes considerably if there are a high number of Iraqi and/or American casualties. Clearly, the American people smell something fishy about this war.
The recently released “National Security Strategy” document, outlining the Bush administration’s foreign policy objectives (also known as the “Bush Doctrine”), clearly states: “The President has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago.” The document goes on to say: “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.”
The “Bush Doctrine” sounds a lot like a 1992 Pentagon paper co-authored by Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz that said the United States will aim to “prevent the reemergence of a new rival … This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” Though the paper stirred so much controversy when it was leaked in 1992 that it was practically disowned, the similarity in language between that paper and the “Bush Doctrine” clearly shows what’s behind Bush’s foreign policy.
The objectives laid out in the Bush Doctrine show unequivocally that the administration’s goal is to maintain the United States’ unparalleled dominance over all potential rivals _ and that including so-called “friends” such as Russia, China and the European Union. Keep that in mind when considering that the Saddam Hussein government awarded $1.1 trillion in oil contracts to Europe, China and Russia. Russian oil corporations, particularly the Russian oil giant Lukoil, are fearful that their contracts will not be honored by a post-Hussein government dominated, if not outright controlled, by the United States.
On Oct. 8, Reuters reported that the U.S. State Department will be holding a meeting with Iraqi opposition leaders later this month to “discuss expanding Iraq’s oil and natural gas sector after the fall of Saddam Hussein.” The article goes on to say that (surprise!) “the Bush administration has not decided whether such oil development contracts would be accepted by the United States in a post-Saddam government.” In case we didn’t understand what that meant, a U.S. policy official spelled it out for us, “Naturally, U.S. policy generally across the board is to maximize U.S. economic and commercial influence.”
Indeed, a war would be a convenient way for the United States to get the upper hand in Iraq and dictate what happens to its oil. Because the United States has military might that far surpasses Europe and Russia, any “international coalition” that invades Iraq will be dominated by the United States _ as was the case in the Gulf War of 1991.
The Bush administration’s schemes of how a post-Hussein Iraq would look should erase all doubt about its motives. The New York Times reported that “the White House is developing a detailed plan … to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein. … In the initial phase, Iraq would be governed by an American military commander _ perhaps Tommy Franks, commander of United States forces in the Persian Gulf, or one of his subordinates _ who would assume the role that Gen. Douglas MacArthur served in Japan. … In contemplating an occupation, the administration is scaling back the initial role for Iraqi opposition forces in a post-Hussein government.” The Times goes on to note that “as long as the coalition partners administered Iraq, they would essentially control the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world.” How convenient. And it is worth reiterating that any “coalition partners” will be getting their marching orders ! from Washington.
In the final analysis, this is all about dictating what happens to “a region whose resources would, under consolidated control be sufficient to generate global power.” As the Bush Doctrine makes clear, for any foreign power to even think about catching up with the United States is unacceptable. So Jacques Chirac and Bush’s diplomatic wrangling over the wording of Security Council resolutions has little to do with weapons of mass destruction; rather, it is a battle over who will control a country with the world’s second largest oil reserves. That’s the “fishiness” that the American people smell about the war. And because this is the real reason for the war, Bush is having a hard time making a case to his constituency.
Now the socialists, the Greens, the anarchists, the liberals, the Democrats, the pacifists, the religious groups and those who haven’t quite sorted out their political beliefs need to be organized into an effective weapon against the war drive. At Brown, there is no widespread and organized opposition to the war, and this state of affairs needs to change quickly. Poll numbers alone are not going to stop an administration that is determined to go to war. Nearly two-thirds of Americans support a woman’s right to choose, but that hasn’t stopped Bush from trying to bulldoze abortion rights. Most Americans support gay rights in employment, but the Employment Non Discrimination Act has not been passed. The reason the opinions of the American people are so easily ignored is that there is no organized expression of their dissent. That’s why it is imperative that students, faculty and staff who are opposed to the war come together. The famous saying that “all that is necessary for ev! il to triumph is for good men to do nothing” is very true. However, good men (and women) can’t do anything if there is no organization.
BRIAN RAINEY is a student at Brown University. He hails from Chesapeake, Va. He can be reached at: Brian_Rainey@brown.edu