April 4, 2003
The United States is on dangerous ground
Author: Alexei Kiva, political analyst
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE US AGGRESSION AGAINST IRAQ CANNOT ADD TO GLOBAL STABILITY. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT IT WAS NOT PROMPTED BY IDEALISTIC MOTIVES, BUT PURSUIT OF SELF-INTEREST, AS USUAL. YET THIS PURSUIT MIGHT HAVE BETTER OR WORSE OUTCOMES - THERE IS STILL THE HOPE THAT AMERICA WILL COME TO ITS SENSES.
The war in Iraq reminded me of a conversation between a television presenter and an eminent nuclear physicist about the Soviet Union's nuclear shield. At one point, the presenter looked surprised, and his next words were more of an accusation than a question: "Do you really believe the United States might have used nuclear weapons against us?"
"Whyever not?" said the physicist.
It is high time for us to shed our illusions about the United States, and treat it as any other country, including our own. To see both its merits and its flaws. In reality, the US is a country that was formed in circumstances of endless violence. To start with, many millions of natives - the Indians - were wiped out in the course of colonization in North America. Millions more people were forcibly removed from Africa and turned into slaves. The cult of force reigning in the US is just a derivation of centuries of violence.
But why go that far back? Remember how in World War II the US air force dropped thousands of bombs on refugees gathered in Dresden, mainly women and children. Similarly, around 100,000 residents of Tokyo were killed in one day. Not to mention the tragedy of the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Vietnam, the Americans used napalm, cluster bombs, and carpet bombing; in Yugoslavia they used depleted uranium in weapons, which has contaminated the environment where millions of people live, for many years to come. There are reports that the US has started to use cluster bombs - banned under international conventions - in Iraq as well.
The statements by some participants in discussions on Russian television, about the motives behind the US aggression against Iraq, seem to be as far from reality as possible. They say President Bush and his team are idealists, driven by the idea of imposing democracy by force in totalitarian countries, for the prosperity of their peoples. Pardon me, but this is either high-sounding nonsense or words directed at the ignorant by those who value US interests over Russia's. There are such people in this country! The US has never done anything for the prosperity of other nations. When the Americans helped rebuild Europe when it was devastated by in war, and promoted the establishment of democracy in Germany and Japan, and supported dissidents in socialist states, and gave humanitarian aid to developing nations, they did all this entirely in their own interests.
In some cases, it was in order to strengthen the opponents of a social system, headed by the USSR, which opposed the United States; in other cases, the Americans aimed to win support from the huge population of the third world. Here is an example. By organizing its "humanitarian intervention," the US did vast damage to the economic resources of former Yugoslavia. And what then? Did it pay compensation for that damage? No. The same will happen in Iraq as well. They will try to make the people of Iraq, or even the international community, pay for rebuilding the state they have devastated.
So what is the true reason for the US war on Iraq? I would say that there is not one reason, but a whole set of them. At the same time, I categorically deny the tale spun by Russian liberals and many of their Western counterparts, about the allegedly fateful date of September 11, 2001. They say it was this event that pushed the US into a global battle against terrorism; and it appears to be going too far in fighting this evil. Or, as Irina Khakamada put it, the US has become aware of its own vulnerability and, left to face a new threat on its own, it is behaving like a bull in a china shop.
But the current US administration is made up of thoroughly cynical politicians, not romantic idealists. They have only made skillful use of the confusion in American society after September 11, in order to launch a battle for total global hegemony, using the pretext of revenge on terrorism, and eventually to create a situation where they would be the sole arbiters of the world's fate.
First. Do the oil resources of the Persian Gulf states play an important role for the US? Certainly! One would truly have to be simple to believe it's just a coincidence that almost all of President Bush's team, as well as Bush himself, have close links to the oil sector. Oil doesn't just mean money. It means huge, insane amounts of money! It would not be out of place to recall Marx's words about how rapidly the bourgeois turn wild if they see an opportunity to get rich quickly. Current events offer further evidence of that. After all, Russia's billionaires didn't get rich by peddling sunflower seeds on street corners either.
Not to mention the fact that the problem of nonrenewable resources has long troubled the developed world, and particularly the US, which accounts for nearly half of global energy consumption. They're probably right, those analysts who say that if Russia adopts a policy of trying to pacify Washington's aggressive moves, the US will soon set its sights on Caspian Sea oil.
Second. After the USSR disbanded itself and any actual threat to the US disappeared, the US faced a rare opportunity to start shaping a world order which was more just, in its view. This would have included placing itself at the head of the developed world's battle to eradicate poverty, despair, and hopelessness worldwide, and thus eradicate the breeding grounds for the growth of radicalism and terrorism. Instead, however, Washington began speeding up creation of expensive and ever-improving generations of weapons, expanding NATO, withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, and returning to the seemingly long- forgotten "Star Wars" project.
Third. It may be assumed that united Europe's increasing urge towards greater and greater independence has started to concern the US lately, especially after the second global currency - the euro - appeared. How to stop this trend? The simplest way is to find unifying slogans like "The West is in danger!" or "He who is not with us is against us!" - and to find an "enemy" as fast as possible. At first this was international terrorism, then the "axis of evil" countries.
After all, Europe and the US are quite comparable in terms of power. In terms of the real sector of the economy, Europe even has an advantage, as the virtual and generally tertiary sector in which over 75% of GDP is created is strongly inflated in the US. At the same time, it should be noted that a prolonged recession awaits the US economy after its rapid development over many recent years; meanwhile, Europe - and Germany in particular - will emerge from recession soon.
So it would be shortsighted and just stupid, in pursuit of illusory friendship with the US (which is sure to never eventuate, as the US does not need friends, but satellites and subordinates; for even after Russia had actively started helping the US fight international terrorism, the US did not stop lecturing us, or even repeal the obsolete Jackson-Vanik amendment) to ignore moves by the key nations of continental Europe and Asia to strengthen relations with Russia for the sake of joint efforts to strengthen international security.
Fourth. It is quite likely that the US needs this war to check the effectiveness of its new weapons. And to show its strength. Indeed, the use of 10-ton bombs with laser guidance and microwave weapons gives a new slant to the issue of Russia's national security. If we permit ourselves to lag behind in the design and production of state-of-the-art weaponry, someone may be tempted to neutralize our nuclear arsenals and leave us unarmed.
Wanting is not the same as getting.
There is almost always a best-case and worst-case scenario. What are the most significant negative consequences the US-British aggression might have, according to the worst-case scenario?
Firstly, it could plunge the world into a long period of instability, with consequences that are difficult to predict. If the US continues to ignore the UN - or, more than that, push to break up the UN and create some kind of puppet organization in its place - all international agreements may become invalid. Then there would certainly be a battle of all against all, based on the principle of might makes right.
Secondly, in the current circumstances some countries may embark on the path of speeding up production of nuclear missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, while others launch nuclear missile programs. Countries Washington referred to as the "axis of evil" are sure to be among the latter. It is hard to say how Washington will act in this case. However, this will not add to global stability, at any rate.
Thirdly, the danger of global nuclear war will rise sharply. It may be assumed that if a country with a limited amount of nuclear arms comes into conflict with the US, it might strike first in fear of being subjected to a pre-emptive strike according to "the Bush doctrine."
Fourthly, rising anti-American sentiments will provide international terrorism with exceptionally fertile soil; so it will keep threatening not only US embassies and other offices in other countries, but even all of America itself. Those involved will not necessarily be foreign terrorists. Americans can also choose the path of terrorism, following the pattern of Timothy McVeigh or that soldier who threw grenades at his fellow servicemen in Kuwait.
Finally. The US aggression against Iraq under the banner of a battle for democracy discredits the very idea of democracy and places US supporters in other countries in a vulnerable position.
Truly, Napoleon was right when he said that a mistake can have more serious consequences than a crime. Yet I still hope the US will come to its senses and resume observing international law, so the consequences of its aggression will not be as unfortunate as described here.
(Translated by P. Pikhnovsky )