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Corporations, War and You

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER And ROBERT WEISSMAN

One thing is clear about the Bush administration’s current rush to war: It has nothing to do with protecting U.S. security.

There is no evidence nor reason to believe that Iraq possesses nuclear weapons. The Iraqi military is among the weakest in the Middle East. And the CIA says that Iraq does not pose a terrorist threat to the United States — although it might, the CIA warns, if the United States launches an attack.

What is much less clear is the actual reason for war, especially because it poses real risks to U.S. corporate and geopolitical interests.

There are material interests served by war and the run-up to war, of course.

Big Oil: It should go without saying that the Bush administration, like administrations before it, obsesses about the Persian Gulf because it sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves. The Washington, Sustainable Energy and Economy Network’s Steve Kretzmann argues that central to the U.S. industry interest in Iraq is its potential role as a counterbalance to Saudi Arabia, which possesses the world’s largest oil reserves by far.

The Military-Industrial Think Tank Complex I: A network of defense industry-backed think tanks have been instrumental in cooking up the rationale for invasion of Iraq, developing concepts such as “preemptive war.” Many of the staff at these think tanks are now part of the Bush administration. Former defense company executives and consultants are also extremely well represented in the administration, and wield enormous influence. For the industry, war and hyped threats to national security mean greater expenditures on their weaponry. The Defense budget is set to hit $380 billion this year, rising over the next five years to a approach a staggering $500 billion.

The Ideology of Empire: The ideology and geopolitical strategy of the war-mongering extremist networks is, in a word, empire. They hope to demonstrate how awesome and dominant is U.S. military force, and that the United States is willing to use it routinely on whatever pretext it chooses. Their intended message: Cross the empire at your peril.

But more is going on here than just a corporate agenda.

There is no escaping the pathetic fact that a major impulse for war is the desire of President Bush and many of the key actors who served in his father’s administration to “redeem” the failure of the first Bush regime to depose Saddam Hussein.

And there is the narrow political calculus that must have been undertaken prior to the 2002 election by Karl Rove and other White House strategists. They realized that the post September-11 boost for the president was rapidly fading and that the administration was losing control of the national agenda as the Enron, WorldCom and other financial scandals dominated the headlines. They ran the election on the war and, with the Democrats offering no coherent opposition, this proved a successful strategy.

Still, while these propulsions to war can be identified, there are substantial countervailing factors at play. A war brings with it enormous uncertainty. While few doubt that the United States will prevail quickly on the battlefield, there is the potential of U.S. soldiers suffering non-negligible casualties if there ends up being house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. There is the real risk of spurring new terrorist acts, either in the United States or against U.S. citizens abroad, whether these acts come from Iraq, al-Qaeda or others. (And if Saddam Hussein is as evil as President Bush suggests, and if his regime is collapsing, isn’t it likely that he will lash out at the United States through any means possible?) There is the possibility that the U.S. invasion will generate political instability in other countries. There is the enormous uncertainty about how Iraq will be governed after Saddam is deposed.

These are not just concerns for common sense-minded citizens. They involve the uncertainties that intensely disturb corporations, which is presumably the reason the Dow falls as the drums of war beat louder. They even pose potential risks to the oil companies. (They may also pose risks to George Bush’s re-election, which is why the last, best hope of averting war perhaps is that the White House political strategists pull the country back from the brink.)

But the administration appears to have shunted aside these countervailing concerns. The momentum for war — fueled by a combination of corporate interest, ideology, personal pique and political expedience — combined with the arrogance of power of the most hawkish wing of the administration, appear to have steamrolled saner voices urging caution.

President Bush is on the verge of launching a war that will kill untold thousands of Iraqis, and turn an already tempestuous world into a much more dangerous place. Every person in the United States should do everything and anything they can to stop this lunacy.

Here are four things to do for those in the United States:

1. Attend the massive demonstration against war in New York City on February 15, or in San Francisco on February 16. For more information, see: http:www.unitedforpeace.org.

2. Call your senators (1-800-839-5276 or 202-224-3121), and urge them to support Senate Resolution 32, which calls for another Congressional vote before the United States commences a war. (To see the text of the resolution, go to http://thomas.loc.gov and type in “SRes 32” (no quotes) in the box for the bill number.)

3. Make sure your city council has passed a resolution supporting peace. 67 cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit and Washington, D.C., already have. Check out http://www.citiesforpeace.org.

4. Give a day’s worth of time to stop the war. If you’re not sure what to do, sign up with Moveon.org (go to: http://moveon.org/giveaday) and they will supply you with plenty of ideas.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, and co-director of Essential Action. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999.)

 

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Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

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