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Posted by andreas from ( on Thursday, September 26, 2002 at 6:24AM :

Business Times - 25 Sep 2002

More to Iraq war than just Saddam?

US has wider strategic aims, says an international conference

Anthony Rowley
In Tokyo

THERE is no way that the US will not go to war with Iraq - with or without
an enabling resolution from the UN - and the motives behind the coming
attack go far beyond simply toppling President Saddam Hussein or stripping
Iraq of any weapons of mass destruction that it may possess.

The impending war has much wider strategic aims such as the cementing of US
global supremacy by removing any future threat to America's oil supplies,
encircling China, and installing US-friendly 'democratic' regimes across the
Middle East.

This is no scenario posited by the over-active imagination of anti-American
lobbies, but rather the sober consensus arrived at by eminent academics,
historians, economists, global strategists and other experts during an
international conference at Oxford University last week.

The meeting came just one year after a similar conference - held in the
immediate aftermath of the Sept 11 incidents - accurately predicted the
wider consequences of that disaster. As if to validate the apocalyptic
vision sketched out during the Oxford conference, the Bush administration in
Washington unveiled last Friday its rationale for shifting US military
strategy towards pre-emptive action against hostile states and terrorist
groups. The message in the National Security Strategy was that the US will
in future use pre-emptive military action whenever and wherever it perceives
a threat - actual or potential - to its national security.

The inevitable and imminent attack on Iraq, coming close on the heels of the
assault on Afghanistan, will mark a spectacular opening to this new chapter
in American imperial history. How it will close is beyond the ability of
even experts to predict with any certainty. But the outcome is likely to be
far more complex than a repeat of the strike on Afghanistan, followed by the
installation of an internationally supported and friendly new regime in

That the US assault upon Iraq will come sooner rather than later (at the
latest next January, and possibly as early as next month) was taken for
granted by experts at the Oxford Analytica annual conference. The lack of a
build-up of US ground forces in the Middle East so far on anything
approaching the scale of the Gulf War does not mean that war is not
imminent, since the attack is likely to use overwhelming air power and
selective use of special forces on the ground.

The Oxford consensus rejected any comfortable view that war might even yet
be averted by Saddam Hussein's decision to re-admit UN arms inspectors (on
certain conditions) and it also avoided taking consolation in any thought
that the impact might be short-lived and limited only to Iraq. At the very
least, violent, anti-American street demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and
other Egyptian cities could be expected - perhaps erupting also in Saudi
Arabia and maybe Jordan.

These would be forcibly suppressed, but if they should threaten a number of
Middle East regimes, this might not necessarily be outside of the US game
plan, some experts suggested. Such regimes are regarded as potentially
unstable in the long run because they are not based upon democratic
principles. They are also founded upon what are often regarded as the
benighted precepts of Islam. To use the wording of the new National Security
Strategy, they contain people who 'hate the United States and everything for
which it stands'.

To clean out such regimes and install others that are not just friendly to
the US in foreign policy terms but which also subscribe to American mores
would further the cause of the Bush administration's neo-imperialism and
also secure the future integrity of energy supplies for the US. Such aims
might be achieved as part of the greater Iraq campaign - protracted and
expensive though this might prove to be - or by using Iraq as a jumping off
point for future regime-destabilising actions once Saddam Hussein has been

Some at the Oxford conference noted with incredulity the fact that the new
National Security Strategy also envisages the use of the IMF and the World
Bank as instruments of this policy. Nothing, it seems, is now excluded in
the campaign of the Bush administration to wage war by one means or another
on 'un-American' activities or beliefs.

Against this breathtakingly broad canvas, the fact that collateral damage
might be done to oil installations in the Iraq campaign - sending oil prices
to US$40 or even US$100 a barrel - is a cost that Washington may be prepared
to tolerate.

What of the wider strategic objectives of the war? The US, according to one
strategy expert, is 'getting into central Asia (via Afghanistan) in order to
surround China' - and it remains to be seen just how far it will penetrate
there and in the Caucasus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was noted, is powerless to stop this
and, being pragmatic, he sees no point in engaging in 'futile opposition.'
He will simply bide his time - on the assurance that he will be re-elected
in 2004 for a further four-year term - until he can turn the situation to
his own advantage.

If neither force nor persuasion can deter the Bush administration from its
course of asserting global supremacy in the most explicit possible way, what
could derail the strategy? Economic experts in Oxford suggested that it
might all come down eventually to economics.

The US current account deficit - now running at around US$450 billion a year
or 4 per cent of GDP - is expected to widen further, while the government
budget has swung massively from surplus to a deficit which is expected to
exceed US$200 billion this year even without the cost of the Iraq war (for
which an extra US$100 billion at the very least, should be factored in).

For a nation so hugely dependent upon external financing to cover its
deficits, this will be problematical to say the least should the new
imperial strategy erode international confidence in the US dollar. Therein
lies the Achilles heel even if the Armageddon scenario plays out in other

-- andreas
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