Mysterious bombers blow up an important Shia shrine in Samarra. Government death squads murder members of the armed opposition. A wave of fury is unleashed against Sunni mosques, killing dozens. Moqtada al-Sadr orders his Mehdi Army to protect the Sunni mosques in a show of Iraqi solidarity. The occupier insists that everything is going according to plan. But if this is so, then what is the plan?
The recent destruction of the Askariya mosque is full of questions. Although many Iraqis and others were quick to blame the Al Queda in Mesopotamia forces of the elusive al-Zarqawi, his organization’s name was on a communique that condemned the attacks and reminded Iraqis that the occupation was the enemy. Like many other observers of the Iraqi situation, I wonder about al-Zarqawi’s motives, funding and even his actual existence. After all, from where I sit, it looks like his primary role in Iraq has been to fund sectarian tension between the Shia and Sunni communities in Iraq. However, the fact remains that some group (or groups) in Iraq seem intent on destroying the sense of Iragi nationhood that has existed among Iraqis no matter which religion or religious sect they belong to.
The civil war potential remains great and, from Western accounts, seems to be growing. According to these accounts, such a war would be (or is, depending on the source) between certain Shia factions and certain Sunni factions, with Baathist siding primarily with the Sunni groups. Another perspective is one presented by a US military officer in an article published by the Washington Post on February 25, 2006. I quote: “the hope is that U.S. forces will be able to focus on foreign fighters, while Iraqi security forces take on the native insurgency. But that hasn’t happened yet. The hardest fighting, especially in rural areas, still is being done by U.S. troops.” Now, if that doesn’t sound like a scenario for creating civil war, than I don’t know what is. If the makeup of the Iraqi military is primarily Shias, then it might be possible to portray the battle as one between religious sects, but the underlying reality is that the real war would be between those who support the US-installed regime in Iraq and those who don’t. In other words, it would be the same as it is now, only with Iraqi forces doing even more of the killing and dying than they are now.
Security and Cheap Xenophobia
The Dubai seaport controversy is nothing more than an excuse for some good ol- American xenophobia. If those legislators and commentators are truly so upset about foreign ownership of US corporations, where was their outcry over the past thirty years? There is nothing new here, folks. If it weren’t for the fact that the Reagan administration (and the Congress it worked with) opened up the US banking industry to foreign investment back in the 1980s, the US economy would have crashed a lot harder back then. That’s the nature of global capitalism. It’s right there in Imperialism 101. The only way that a capitalist economy can survive is by expanding and by ignoring national boundaries when it comes to obtaining cash to continue that expansion. Bill Clinton and his people understood this, as does the Bush administration. Those legislators who are acting so appalled might do well to look at other transnational agreements their very body has passed in the last decade.
Capital has no rich enemies until they all want the same booty. Why do you think US corporations helped arm both sides in the last century’s world wars until Washington clearly allied itself with the British and French? Why do you think the US armed both Iraq and Iran during that devastating war? If one looks at the history of the past century, they will discover that the Soviets and Communist Chinese were the only enemies of the US that the US did not arm at some point prior to their going to battle against them. One can only guess that this is because they were not capitalist countries at the time. However, now that China is communist only in its wildest dreams, US corporations are investing in that nation’s capitalist rampage–are arms far behind?
Let’s go back to those corporations involved in this deal. According to the Dubai Ports International section of the Dubai Ports World (DP World) website, the deal would involve DP World taking over a British company called The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (“P&O”), that currently owns these operations. The financiers of this change in ownership are Deutsche Bank AG, Citigroup Global Markets Limited, N M Rothschild & Sons Limited, and Morgan Stanley & Co Limited (Yes, that’s a version of the same financial house for whom the US went to war against the Kaiser back in 1919 when it looked like his Wehrmacht might win and cause Britain to default on millions of dollars worth of loans made by the House of Morgan).
The port ownership debate is just an excuse for politicians to engage in some plain ol’ US xenophobia. Hillary Clinton is joining forces with the same rightwing ideologues that hate her every other day of the year as they all compete with the ghost of Meir Kahane in their Arabaphobia. Instead of addressing the real issue of privatization of transportation and shipping facilities, the men and women that sit in Congress attack the nationality of the new seaport owners while the nation’s infrastructure continues to decay because it is being privatized. The real stories here are the connection between the Dubai company and Bush administration member John Snow and the recent nomination of DP World executive David Sanborn to serve as Maritime Administrator in the US Department of Transportation (DP World Press release 1/26/2006). After all, those types of connections are part of what this deal is really about. If Congress were truly concerned with the nation’s security, they would never have given Mr. Bush permission to invade Iraq. And they would insist that the troops be brought home from that country immediately.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: email@example.com