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#10 - JRL 7126
Novoe Vremya
No. 13
March 2003
Ambitions plus ammunition
An analysis of the war in Iraq from Russia's standpoint
Author: Gennadi Gerasimov, economic department
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]


UN Secretary General Annan used to say before the hostilities that he did not see any reasons for the use of force against Iraq.

American comedian Leno objected, pointing out five reasons: Shell, Mobil, Texaco, Exxon, BP.

Saddam Hussein agrees with Leno. He claims that the US Administration is out "to destroy Iraq in order to control Mideast oil."

References to oil may resemble a return to the Marxist-Leninist method of international relations analysis. On the other hand, the CIA doesn't use this method. All the same, The National studied the CIA report on Iraq and drew the following conclusion: "The document makes it absolutely plain that there are no reasons to insist on a war on Iraq from the point of view of national security, discounting the imperial objective of direct control over global oil resources."

The media pointed out more than once that the US Administration comprises ex- or incumbent managers of oil companies beginning with the president and vice president and ending with rank ministers. Hence personal (if not fiscal) interest in Basra and Mosul oil wells. That is why the slogan "No wars for the sake of oil!" is more truthful and sincere than the official statement of the leaders of the United States, Britain, and Spain made in the wake of the Azores meeting, the one where they promised to "protect natural resources of Iraq as the national wealth belonging to the people of Iraq."

No matter how we may try, we cannot help referring to oil and oil wells. North Korea doesn't have oil but has nuclear aspirations, the sin Hussein is suspected of too. Where North Korea is concerned therefore, the United States prefers a dialogue to bombs (to quote US Secretary of State Colin Powell).

Ruined Iraq will have to be rebuilt. The client is solvent, oil be praised. Bob Herbert writes in The New York Times that American companies and particularly construction companies will "reap the fruits of reconstruction of the structures we are destroying now."

"It would not be unpatriotic to say that billions of dollars and gold-rush fever await us in Iraq," Herbert wrote. "It's true, after all."

Neither should the bureaucrats in Washington be forgotten. The Washington Post observer John Hogland points out that "the future of the Iraqi people is secondary for careers and bureaucratic structures." Bureaucrats must think in terms of the presidential race in order to retain their positions after 2004. Given the problems plaguing the economy, health insurance, and so on - a small but victorious war will be very useful.

Personal aspects should be taken into account as well. The US president is a devout man. He was a heavy drinker in his youth, and believes that only divine intervention spared him the fate of an alcoholic. The Lord will help him once again now, to rid the world of Saddam Hussein, a devil incarnate. His worst enemy Saddam Hussein, however, also relies on the help from above, from Allah.

Bush believes - and observers agree he is sincere - that this is a battle between Good and Evil, the Light and the Dark under way around the world. America - "the shining city on the hill" - is the incarnation of the universal Good. Bush sees the world in black and white; hence his confidence that he who is not with America is against it. The picture, however, is much too primitive for the complicated world we live in.

The other warring side is also trying to drag theology of Good versus Evil battle into international politics. In his letter to the UN Secretary General, the Iraqi representative to the United Nations states that "greed and Zionism" have turned American rulers into "a gang of Evil" (take that for your axis of evil).

Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of Bush's critics, warned last August that wars should not be declared "on the basis of personal irritation, demagogically exaggerated evidence, or vague references to evidence." Bush did not heed the advice.

No matter what noble motives are used to justify the war, the American attack on Iraq fits America's plans of establishing Pax Americana that were first formulated in the wake of World War II but became an official policy only under Bush. Used with a somewhat negative connotation in the past, the term "empire" is currently used with awe and reverence in application to the only super power to have survived the past confrontation. Imperialism is viewed as something grand. The work of Joseph Neu (Harvard) was titled Destined To Lead.

Debates on the subject frequently recall the Roman Empire but everyone agrees that objectives are much more epic today. Rome ruled Europe alone while China, India, and so on were independent. The American empire is omnipresent.

The Bush Doctrine was born. The right to deliver a pre-emptive strike at any country Washington thinks may be planning something is the doctrine's most dangerous provision. Iraq is the first example. Bush must have assumed the prerogative of James Bond, the famous 007 with his license to kill.

In an opinion poll conducted by The Times in Europe, where respondents were asked to identify the country that posed the worst threat to the international community in 2003, 7% said North Korea, 8% said Iraq, and 84% said the United States.

Considering the institution of war from the point of view of just and unjust wars, former president Jimmy Carter calls the war on Iraq unjust. "Thanks to our unilateral policy of domination, international trust in our country is at an all-time low," Carter added.

The president, vice president, and defense secretary - none of whom have combat experience - expected a blitzkrieg and were confident that the Iraqis would welcome American tanks. We thought the same back in 1941 - that the German working class would overthrow Hitler; while Hitler was expecting the same from the Russian people with regard to Stalin. Foreigner occupiers always rally the occupied peoples, regardless of the form of rule or promises.

The first soldiers are coming back from Iraq. In coffins.

Washington's policy makes the noble goal of sparing the world weapons of mass destruction in the hands of potential terrorists less and less reachable. Article 6 of the Nuclear Arms Nonproliferation Treaty states that its signatories, members of the exclusive Atomic Club, will eventually rid themselves of these weapons and close the Club. But these nations are not exactly in a hurry to keep their promise. Moreover, it doesn't seem as though they will ever keep it. Margaret Thatcher mentioned in her The Art Of State Rule that "it is time politicians stopped talking about the possibility that the world may exist without nuclear weapons."

Countries not on the Atomic Club may demand to know why they are not permitted to possess weapons of mass destruction. The Bush Doctrine, with its preemptive strikes, provision invites other countries to design deterrent doctrines.

IAEA General Director Mohammed al Baradei sees the latest developments as a serious threat. "If you want to protect yourself, create nuclear weapons because it will ensure negotiations and not the hostilities," he said. Is it not what North Korea has been doing? Is it not the logic Iran may apply?

Many hot-headed observers are drawing conclusions about the "de- Unization" of global politics. And Washington hawks are too, of course. One of them, Richard Perle - also known as the "Prince of Darkness" - writes: "Thank God He has decided to take the UN."

All the same, even defying international law, the United States and Britain are glancing over their shoulder at the United Nations.

Both countries have done their best to get an approving nod from the UN Security Council for their military action. Washington and London decided not to put their draft resolution to the vote only when they saw beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were in a minority.

With the diplomatic battle for the new resolution lost, the United States returned to its former "aggressive" construction of Resolution 1441. At first Washington intended to threaten Iraq with "all necessary measures". A compromise wording on "serious consequences" was adopted. Smart lawyers claim nowadays that crowned by a failure on Iraq's part to meet the previous demands, these words actually authorize an attack. This is pettifoggery, of course, because why would the United States want another resolution in that case? All these attempts at legalization of the militant intentions indicate, however, that God has not taken the United Nations yet. It's only that the UN is not a world government, and the effectiveness of any organization - this one included - depends on consent within. It is not the United Nations that failed, it is Washington's attempt to get its blessing.

Even the Azores trio made a promise in their joint communique, saying that "should a conflict occur, we will strive for new resolutions of the UN Security Council reiterating territorial integrity of Iraq, providing relief aid, and supporting post-war administration of Iraq."

Summit of fifteen European Union countries adopted a resolution stating: "We believe that the United States should play the central role during and after the current crisis."

Self-assertive as it is, Washington uses the term "coalition" when talking about the war in Iraq. Even news on Russian TV channels is full of references to the "anti-Iraq coalition". It is clear that as far as the United States is concerned, two countries are sufficient for a coalition. Other members of the coalition include the Solomon Islands and Micronesia. In other words, the coalition is comprised of the countries forced to give at least silent consent.

Active members of the coalition include Ukraine, ready to commit a chemical warfare defense battalion to battle; the Czech Republic, that sent 500 servicemen; and Romania, that came up with 278 military biologists and chemists...

The world has turned upside down. Former members of the Warsaw Pact readily side with the United States (squires include Georgia, Poland, and the Baltic states). Bush sends a message to Islam Karimov in Tashkent in appreciation of "Uzbekistan's considerable contribution to the common cause". NATO members like France and Germany challenge the United States...

There is the temptation to form an anti-American coalition including Russia, France, Germany, and China. All this resembles a textbook on geopolitics or George Orwell's 1984 - Eurasia versus Oceania, continental powers versus naval (the United States and Britain). The chances of such a coalition are, however, infinitesimal. Western Europe has too many political, economic, and military ties to the United States to confront it openly - discord or no discord. As for Eastern Europe, America has that in its pocket. Hence its obedient readiness to support the unjust war.

There is only one solution: restore the United Nations to its full capacities, rally in the face of and against international terrorism, support the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And hope that experience will teach the US Administration something...


Oil price rises during the war are inevitable. Leading international experts say that it may reach $70-80 a barrel. According to Merrill Lynch analysts, oil price will reach $46 in the very first days and weeks of the war. As soon as George W. Bush sent an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, oil prices dropped and traders began selling North Sea oil at $30, almost $2 lower than the week before. All other forecasts depend on the length of the war and the degree of destruction of the target country (Iraq). If the degree is not too serious, restoration of production to 3 million barrels per day will require about a year and $2 billion.

As the war continues, oil prices may go down again and level out at $30-40.

There are at least three scenarios for the development of the situation on global oil markets.

First scenario: a strong OPEC and oil prices at the level of $22- 28.

Second scenario: an unstable OPEC and oil prices around $15.

Third scenario: collapse of the cartel and oil prices at the level of $10-12.

Russian experts discount the third scenario as the least likely. Specialists in the employ of the Russian government predict that the average price of Urals crude will stay at the level of $18.50 a barrel.

From the long-term point of view, the war in Iraq will benefit Russian oil companies and the Russian treasury (cheap petro-dollars). On the other hand, it will encourage inflation and devalue Russian's savings in dollars. The increased flow of petro-dollars into Russia will become the major economic corollary of the war in Iraq. The inflationary effect of super-high "wartime" oil prices may affect the Russian population.

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