The forever war, chapter next

By Doug Casey

Perhaps a more pertinent question is whether the U.S. government has a right to stop the Iraqi government from proceeding with its weapons program. This is, of course, a subject that can, and has, occupied many a book. My own take on it might be briefly summarized with two aphorisms: 1. Anything that can be imagined can be done. And if it can be done, it probably will be done. 2. The whole of the law is “Do as thou wilt.” But be prepared to accept the consequences. Let’s talk realpolitick.

The only reason that we didn’t nuke the USSR (or vice versa) was that neither side thought they could get away with it – it was simply fear of the consequences, not any sense of righteousness. But Iraq isn’t the USSR, or even Nazi Germany. It’s a little nothing that fought the Iranians from 1980-1988, backed by the U.S., when the Iranians were the main enemy du jour. Then it tried to take over Kuwait (thinking it had U.S. approval) to steal its oil – the U.S. couldn’t abide that since it would have put too much oil in the control of one entity. So what are the reasons for this war? I’ve heard of a few.

First is self defense. We’re going to launch a war of aggression against Iraq now because we know they can’t strike back, while the avowed purpose of the war is, supposedly, to prevent them from attacking the U.S. Of course, it’s a contradiction. They can’t strike back because they can’t attack in the first place. But Bush’s case is full of contradictions. Bush claims the Iraqis have naughty weapons, while at the same time claiming that, even with inspections, it’s impossible to be sure they don’t have naughty weapons.

A second excuse for attacking is the assertion that Iraq had something to do with the 9-11 attacks. But the Bush regime is completely unable to provide any evidence for that assertion, entirely apart from the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. Saudi Arabia is another supposed ally that will, I’ll wager, be a Devil of the Month before the decade is over. Bush continues to say the Iraqis are in back of global terrorism (whatever that is), but shows no proof of that either – entirely apart from the fact there is no such thing as “global terrorism,” except in the minds of hysterics.

In fact, the assertion that Iraq, an overtly secular regime, is pals with the Islamic fundamentalists is laughable on its face. The last thing a street-smart thug like Saddam wants to do is fund, train and arm fundamentalists like al-Qaida – it would make a lot more sense for them to turn against him and capture Iraq just to annoy the Americans.

A third reason to attack is Iraq’s non-compliance with various U.N. resolutions. Dozens of countries haven’t complied with their resolutions in the past, and the U.S. absolutely reserves the right not to.

So, there’s no reason for this war, but there are plenty against it.

One is that mounting a completely unprovoked attack against an Arab country will serve only to galvanize the Third World, in general, the Muslims and the Arabs, in particular, against the U.S. These people see it as a continuation of Christendom’s Crusades against Islam, something that began with a call to Holy War by Pope Urban II in 1095.

Another is the cost. I’ve seen estimates of from $50 billion, if it’s a walkover, like the last Gulf War, to $200 billion – which amounts to about $15,000 for every man, woman and child in Iraq or, if you prefer, about $2,500 for every household in the U.S. It wouldn’t be very glorious (nor would it set a good precedent) but it would be better to offer to simply give them the money, rather than just blowing it up. That’s not counting the many years U.S. soldiers will spend occupying the place. And the billions for reconstruction.

How legitimate will the new U.S.-installed puppet seem to the locals? The talk of “building democracy” is more disgusting hypocrisy. Who are Iraqis going to vote for, and based on what?

Another is that it will mark a new low in the devolution of the U.S., when an aggressive war is mounted without a prior attack – Bush hasn’t even gone through the trouble of fabricating a Tonkin Gulf incident, which Johnson did as an excuse for Vietnam. Worse, it’s against a country that has not only shown zero inclination to attack us, but would be incapable of it even if it did.

This is actually the oddest thing about Bush’s excuses for the attack. He claims the U.S. is threatened. That is utter nonsense. Entirely apart from the fact that (with rare exceptions) territorial theft is no longer a viable policy for political success in today’s world, it’s simply ridiculous to think of Iraq threatening the U.S. They don’t have the motive. They don’t have the means. And even if they had the motive and the means, they’d never do it because of the retaliation for doing so.

Of course, the average Iraqi has nothing whatsoever against the U.S. Or at least he didn’t before the last war, or before U.S. policies caused the death of several hundred thousand Iraqi children, by Madeleine Albright’s own admission. What Bush wants is “a regime change.”

I can understand that – it would be nice to have one both in Washington and in Baghdad. If that’s the only problem, a good solution would be to put a billion dollar price on Saddam’s head. My guess is it would be served up within a week. The U.S., however, considers it wrong to take out a foreign head of state, but OK to mount a war to do so indirectly. What would happen if a billion-dollar price was placed on the head of the U.S. president in return? Hmmm … better stick to warfare as a way to change regimes.