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 board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (Counterpoint/Soft Skull, fall 2015). http://www.amazon.com/Plain-Radical-Living-Learning-Gracefully/dp/1593766181 Robert Jensen can be reached at rjensen@austin.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online at http://robertwjensen.org/. To join an email list to receive articles by Jensen, go to http://www.thirdcoastactivist.org/jensenupdates-info.html. Twitter: @jensenrobertw. Notes. [1] Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996), p. 106. [2] Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). [3] Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, edited and with a revised translation by Susan McReynolds Oddo (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2011), p. 55.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail