FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Colin Powell’s Big Gun

The world’s attention Wednesday was trained on what Secretary of State Colin Powell said at the United Nations, but far more crucial was what he didn’t say.

Most important was the one word at the core of plans for war but which never crossed Powell’s lips: Oil. That word cannot be spoken by U.S. policymakers, though people everywhere know that if not for oil, the United States would not be pursuing a war.

Because the United States won’t talk openly about plans for the future of Iraq’s oil, most of the world is skeptical of U.S. arguments about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, terrorist ties and human-rights violations. People are concerned about the issues but don’t trust U.S. motives. Powell asked a reasonable question: “Why should any of us give Iraq the benefit of the doubt?” What he fails to appreciate is that others are asking the same question about the United States.

Given the sophisticated U.S. intelligence technology and the fervor with which U.S. policymakers want to indict Iraq, it was striking how weak was the case Powell offered; the charts, maps and phone intercepts were more impressive than the underlying evidence or conclusions. Even if his claims were all true, nothing he said makes the case for war. Instead, Powell presented a good argument for continuing inspections — with serious cooperation on the part of U.S. officials with orders to share all relevant intelligence produced by that sophisticated system.

What was the real aim of Powell’s public-relations show? One likely target was the American public; the administration realizes it must counter the growing antiwar movement. Another was leaders of countries such as France and Turkey, where populations are overwhelmingly against war and politicians need a cover if they are to capitulate to U.S. demands without appearing to be lapdogs.

Powell unwittingly reinforced this reality with a map of the range of Iraqi missiles. With the exception of Israel (which wants war for its own power interests), the people within those concentric circles of the potential reach of missiles reject war. If Iraq’s neighbors — the people who should be most afraid — don’t feel threatened, why does the United States feel compelled to go to war?

Powell claimed that Iraq has engaged in “a policy of evasion and deception,” and certainly a regime like Saddam Hussein’s is capable of such tactics. But the rest of the world also sees “disturbing patterns of behavior” in U.S. actions.

A case in point: The United States has undermined instead of supported international efforts at disarmament. One example was its torpedoing of Jose Bustani, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in April 2002 when it appeared Bustani’s efforts could create obstacles to the U.S. war plans by initiating chemical weapons inspections in Iraq. And the United States remains the world’s largest arms dealer, hardly a recommendation for its self-proclaimed position of world peacekeeper.

Weapons of mass destruction — in Iraq, throughout the Middle East and the world — are a threat to peace and security. But the issue is pretext for the United States in a cynical ploy to cover strategic goals concerning oil.

No one suggests the United States seeks to permanently take direct possession of Iraqi oil. Instead, policymakers are interested in control over the flow of oil and oil profits. A client state in Iraq would give the United States a more permanent and extensive military presence in the region and could push aside Saudi Arabia as the key player in OPEC. Iraq’s oil reserves, estimated to be the second largest in the world, are particularly attractive because of quality and low extraction costs. U.S. control over Iraq through a compliant regime — beholden for its very existence to the United States — dramatically increases U.S. control over oil, and therefore over the world economy.

U.S. officials have openly expressed their contempt for international law and declared their intention to go to war, with or without U.N. approval. That’s why all the talk of whether Powell would produce a “smoking gun” was irrelevant. There was no need for a smoking gun because the nation with the biggest guns in the world had made it clear that it needs no evidence — smoking, smoldering, or even completely cold — to take the world to war.

ROBERT JENSEN is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of “Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream.” He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu.

 

More articles by:

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men. He can be reached atrjensen@austin.utexas.edu or online at http://robertwjensen.org/.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail