I have been very puzzled by how many on the left and in the liberal media seem to imagine that the situation in Iraq and the Middle East is bad for the Imperialists. They are having a heyday with the so-called WOT. . . . It is going very well for them . . . so far.
Oh, the Chaos, the US May Be Losing the War
We keep hearing about civil war, chaos, disaster, failure, torture, loss of liberties, the break up of Iraq, phased withdrawal, etc. We also hear about a victory in Lebanon for Nasrallah and how the coalition forces do not have enough boots on the ground to keep control in Iraq and therefore the US/Israel cannot contemplate attacking Iran. We hear about coalition casualties, the deaths and the appalling injuries, the PTSD, the desertions and the conscientious objectors, etc. Then we keep hearing that the Democrats are just about to do something effective to curb these military adventures. The other theory is that the Democrats are a little overcautious but are waiting until 2008 when they may get full power and be in a better position to more effectively change the situation.
Liberal Lies, Left-Wing Optimism, and Democratic Delusions
None of this criticism is at all relevant except as a liberal smoke screen designed to keep the show going. In addition we have a great deal of misplaced left-wing optimism that the imperialists are reaching the end of their rope. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the Democrats win in 2008, they will continue the same policies by other means. Despite what they say, by their actions we see that the Democrats do not want to stop the war now and bring the troops home — they could do that but it is a side issue for them. What they really want, their real object of desire, is to gain office and run capitalism on behalf of their corporate masters. Unless there is a consensus in the ruling class to allow the Democrats to try a different strategy, things will continue as they are, whoever is in power. The Democrats now control the congress and therefore could de-fund the military budget, rescind the Presidential authority to wage these wars, and impeach Bush. Legally speaking, they have abundant grounds to do all this, and they have the voting power to push it through. That they have not done so shows clearly that they are merely quibbling about how things are done and who is doing them, rather than trying to reverse direction. The sad truth is that most of the elected Democrats support the war if not always the way it is conducted, despite what they say to the contrary.
The Costs of the War
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One issue often raised is the costs in financial terms and the danger of the destruction of the US economy. Just think of how much oil there is in the Middle East — the profits from controlling that will more than offset the so-called losses. Clearly this is a risky strategy, but if it works, then “the rewards” will be seen as well worth “the investment.”
The Kill Ratio Is Acceptable
The death squads make up for the lack of US troops. Two or three soldiers killed each day is a price the Imperialists are willing to pay. Many more Iraqis die. Most of these are not being killed by coalition forces but by the death squads known as sectarian militias. That the worst of these are loyal to the Iraqi puppet government shows precisely that the “Salvador Option” (the USA’s use of the proxy death squads to punish and control the population and dissuade them from joining the real Iraqi national resistance) is in operation. Apart from this, air power is now used in overwhelming force to deliver death and destruction at will anywhere in Iraq. All this is working very well.
Americans Support the War — Oh Yes They Do. . .
That the US has such low casualties and can inflict such high death rates and quick destruction on the opposition shows that complaints about equipment and the numbers of troops required are just that, “complaints,” and technical arguments that it can be done better with even fewer casualties. The fact that the US and other forces are relatively smaller in number compared with 20th-centaury military operations proves the point that the warmongers have made all along: these days, you can do more killing with fewer soldiers thanks to technology, mercenaries, and the outsourcing of transport, catering, and laundry.
These Americans whom one sees weeping over their dead sons were mostly happy to see them go into the Imperialist armed forces in the first place. They were confident that the USA could always prevail. When they come home dead or physically or mentally damaged or disenchanted, some of their families or the veterans themselves suddenly come out against the war and the real or alleged incompetence of military operations, the lack of body armor, or the shortage of armored vehicles.
Each American also knows that their standard of living is absolutely dependent on their national ability to prop up dictatorships like that of Saudi Arabia and to wage aggressive wars overseas in order to be able to obtain the oil and other resources they need and to continue the unfair terms of international trade that American prosperity depends on. This is not to say that there is not opposition to the war or that some in the military are not against it, but they are certainly a minority. Not many fragged officers in this war.
Don’t tell me that 65% of Americans don’t support the war. Many of them are lying! It is all self-deception. Their civilized public persona tells them to say one thing, and their wallets and SUVs tell them to do something else. They don’t have to throw themselves under the treads of a tank or withstand weeks of electrical torture to stop these wars. They could have totally peaceful protests and a general strike. The wars would be over in two weeks and Bush would be in jail. Whatever they say or tell pollsters, most Americans are not lifting a finger to stop the wars but they do continue to consume at an ever increasing rate.
Depopulate Iraq and Kill Iraqis
The Imperialists told us that there were WMD and that Iraq had links to Al Qaeda. Now they tell us they want a democratic independent Iraq with the same borders as it has now. In reality they hold elections which are designed to create ethnic strife and then feign surprise when this breaks out. One section of the US administration expresses shock and outrage and shakes its head suggesting that this shows the barbarity of the Iraqis whilst hiding from itself the fact that another part of the same administration is funding, equipping, and training the death squads responsible for most of the killings.
Iraq is being deliberately depopulated and deindustrialised. A large proportion of middle-class Iraqis and anyone else with enough money to do so have left the country. In many areas it is just too dangerous to leave your house and you don’t do so except when you really must go out to buy food or earn money. Those who have stayed in Iraq are vulnerable to the “Operation Phoenix”-style assassination programs, to robbery and criminal kidnapping, to random arrest, torture and incarceration, or to sudden death from trigger-happy soldiers and indiscriminate bombing. If that were not enough, there are violent house raids by US forces and now a rash of ethnic-cleansing operations by the various militias.
Civil War and Iraq’s Independent Democracy, America’s Oil
The civil war and break up of Iraq is an imperialist objective, not a danger or miscalculation. The real danger for the USA is that security will improve in Iraq and it will hold together. Then the various factions could form a common national front and negotiate a withdrawal of occupation forces, establish a viable state, and control their own oil resources. This will not be allowed because the oil is earmarked for US corporations and the divided Iraq will only get a small-percentage production fee on the amount extracted. The actual production of Iraqi oil is not known since the repaired production equipment does not contain flow meters, and therefore it is anyone’s guess how much of the oil being pumped out is looted or not declared.
Hezbollah Won? Not Really
In Lebanon despite the survival of the Shia militia, which is no mean feat in itself, we now have the UN/EU/NATO military occupation of the south. This was the objective of the war once the destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure had been achieved. This occupation is intended to prevent or at least hamper any intervention from Southern Lebanon when the planned operations in Syria and Iran are undertaken. This is another example of the preparation of the battlefield for further wars in the region. Otherwise why not just trade a few prisoners in response to the capture of two soldiers? Even Olmert has now admitted that the war was planed well before.
Somalia = Some-Oil-Here
The recent operations in Somali did not just come out of left field as some hurried response to local developments. Despite the fact we are told that they are overstretched, the US clearly had the resources — the nearby bases, shipping, aircraft etc. — to expand its piratical activities to the horn of Africa and the local cooperation needed from Ethiopia and the Somali warlord proxies.
The potential Somali oil fields together with those in Sudan are the Western edge of the world’s biggest oil belt that extends up through Arabia and the gulf into Iran on the Eastern edge. This oil belt is the resource area that the US intends to control, come what may. Human rights, democracy, and engineered conflicts between Shia and Sunni Islam have got nothing to do with it, but they provide a good smoke screen of distractions and cultural fracture points into which the imperialists can drive their wedges of division.
Escalate to Accumulate
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Map of Major Iranian Energy Projects and Pipelines
Ninety percent of Iran’s oil is concentrated in a small province near the Iraqi border. People seem to forget that the main military objective of the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s was to wrest this region away from Iran and put it under Iraqi and Western control. This was before Iraq became disobedient to Washington and tried to control its own destiny. Iran is definitely next on the list of targets. The nuclear issue is not seriously relevant in the short or medium term but merely a point of contention designed to provide an excuse for aggression. This is what “the surge” is all about.
Bang Bang Bang
The surge has three components, a troop surge, a naval surge, and an air power surge. Of these three the air surge is by far the most significant. Recent increases in the explosive capacities of US air-delivered ordnance has increased the bomb-carrying capacity of US aircraft by four times, so the significance of the air power deployed in the region is much greater than it was only 12 months ago.
I would fully expect tactical nuclear weapons to be used against Iran in order to send a message to everyone else that the US will now employ this kind of weapon against recalcitrant states.
Given that we have killed 650,000 Iraqis at a conservative estimate since 2003 and that we killed more than a million in the 12 years before that with war and sanctions, we have clearly entered into the realms of genocide and war crimes on a par with the Nazis or any other monstrous era of human history that you care to mention. If we have not quite achieved the sheer scale of multi-megadeath just yet, we certainly have the firepower and the tools to catch up and hit new heights of numerical excess anytime we choose. Watch this space.
It’s Yankee Oil, Right?
The Iranian oil fields will be occupied until Tehran agrees to terms that the USA will accept, either through a change of policy or a change of regime. The Americans don’t care about the human rights of Iranians, clerical fascism in the government, or that Iranians are not allowed to watch satellite TV or wear miniskirts. They want to control the oil. If you doubt that, look at Saudi Arabia.
Modern Empires Are Just Like Old Empires
The Imperialists are playing their old game: they have created a police state in the advance nations to suppress opposition, there are now global terror operations (many of which the USA controls or stimulates) to frighten everyone on earth, and punitive military operations, occupations, or subversions for those states that will not give up their resources and markets to the multinationals. The era of liberal imperialism never really existed except here and there for a time as the imperialist nations reordered themselves and redivided their spheres of interest into one large empire with modernized and more complex economic, political, technical, and military control mechanisms.
War Is Just A Business
Ultimately this is all about global capitalist power, energy, profits, and markets. The froth of liberal debate or the internal conflicts of the ruling class is often mistaken for signs of change or gives rise to false optimism. Of course, in the long term, the so-called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) pose the biggest threat to the Western Imperialists. The threat is not so much military as economic: they are competitors for resources and markets. What we are seeing with this current round of wars and prepositioning of bases, troops, and airfields are simply preparations for the times when conflicts of interest with the BRIC nations become more urgent. This is called preparing the battlefield, and, yes, the battlefield is everywhere from outer space to cyberspace, so all aspects of life are now militarized and controlled.
Strike While You May
As ever in human affairs, the outcomes in complex situations are not easily foreseeable, but the fact is that the USA has a vigorous ruling class in which there is a loud debate about whether to use the carrot or the stick as the most effective method of staying in control. The alternative of not staying on top and devolving power to democratic, pluralistic, and representative global intuitions is not an option for them. At this juncture, it seems that, for two reasons, generalized war has been adopted as the method of control. The first reason is that the US has a brief window of opportunity, a decade or two of overwhelming military advantage compared with any potential opposition, so that they may get away with it now but not later. The second reason is that, given their deep cynicism about human nature and their feeling that anyone else would do the same given the same circumstances, they think that they must act now to prevent the emergence of any economic or military rival who can challenge or replace them.
Bluff Yourself and Get A Busted Flush
This WOT situation will go on for some time because there is not an opposition or potential regrouping of other medium-size powers that can act now to counter the USA. We should see something about how this will play out in the next five years or so. Any projection for longer than that is hard to model. The USA has the physical force to dominate the world for now, but they deceive themselves that such a situation can continue for long and that they have the cultural and psychological strength to maintain their hegemony indefinitely. They do not understand their own cultural and political fragility and they underestimate their enemies. They have swallowed their own myths about clashes of civilizations and actually seem to think that 6,000-years-old cultures can be wiped out like the native Americans were. Personally, I think the USA will overreach itself through hubris, arrogance, racism, and incompetence and so will not be able to sustain this degree of domination for longer than the next few years, even if America engages in a large-scale pre-emptive nuclear war.
Democracy Was Such A Nice Idea
I have to say, as one who has considerable respect for the democratic spirit of many Americans, past and present, that it distresses me that the place has become like some fascist cult, the dream has become a nightmare. Tragically, they have lost their republic and it is entirely their own fault. No other people in history have had the material and political opportunities and advantages that they have had to hold onto and develop their freedoms and democratic traditions. They have thrown them away and fallen for a fantasy of permanent economic domination, global conquest, and racial/cultural supremacy. Thus the Empire crumbles but slowly, and as it falls, do not gloat or raise your voice in triumph — what comes after it could be even worse, there could be a long era of darkness and chaos before new just civilizations, democratic institutions, and human creativity re-emerge.
Battle for the Mind
We should not be driven to false optimism or fatalistic despair by these events or the liberal hand-wringing commentaries about them. This is Imperialism doing what Imperialism does in very traditional ways, albeit with the latest media spin and techno dazzle. As ever, the main battlefield is that for possession of the human mind. Often called public opinion, in reality it is our passive acceptance or active opposition to a given situation that can produce victory or defeat for Imperialism. It is their ability to control of our perceptions and our consequent willingness to go along with these criminal wars (because any alternative is seen as hopeless) which is worth much more than a billion troops and a million ships and war planes to Imperialism. This is the battle for truth and justice that we must fight and win.
Tim Murphy is a peacenik, socialist, and networking activist who lives in the UK.