There’s been a lot of news in the past few months about a possible war in Iraq. I thought I should get my thoughts down on this. I initially wrote the following in response to a comment that the USA should be allowed to attack Iraq on the basis of "freedom". I’ve never really understood this attitude, because to me it seems clear that the US government is not concerned with freedom at all, and is simply using it as an excuse to further its own interests (this is typical behaviour of any government). Nevertheless, I am not entirely for or against such a war at this stage. I always like to keep my options open. I don’t like Saddam Hussein, but I don’t like the Bush Administration either. Anyway, here’s what I wrote:
Sorry, but that’s a very simplistic attitude. Firstly, you should remember that Saddam Hussein was built up by the USA for decades before the (first) Gulf War, and the situation was not much different back then. Saddam was the same murderous dictator he is today.
You’re fooling yourself if you think this is about "freedom". No government really cares about freedom, they care about power. In the Middle East, much of the power is based around oil.
France have oil contracts with Iraq, and in the past they’ve also had nuclear energy contracts (I don’t know if these still exist). They obviously don’t want to risk these ending. I think Russia mey also have oil agreements with Iraq. Another reason why Russia may be against what the Bush Administration calls "regime change" is the possibility of a pipeline being built to transport oil and gas from former Soviet republics to the Gulf, bypassing Russia.
The USA are also after power. The oil industry is incredibly powerful in the USA, more so than in many other countries, and they’ve even managed to "persuade" the government to give them billions of dollars in annual subsidies and tax breaks. Bush comes from a Texan oil family, and he has never hidden the fact that oil is a very important part of his administration’s policy — just look at his insistence on drilling in ecologically sensitive areas of Alaska. The USA is the world’s largest consumer of oil, both in absolute terms and per capita. Clearly, oil is very important to US citizens, and nothing would make them happier than cheap fuel.
Invading Iraq would not only secure a cheap energy source for the USA and US oil companies, it would also weaken France (and hence the EU) and Russia (which the US still views as a possible rival) by nullifying their current contracts with Iraq. It would also strengthen the USA’s geopolitical position in the region, giving them a permanent base right in the middle of the richest oil reserves in the world. The US also has an aim towards "encircling" its (potential) major rivals: Russia and China. If you look on a map, you can see that this encirclement is mostly complete, with an expanding NATO in the east; Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (BTW, why does the USA support an undemocratic dictator like Pervez Musharraf, whom everyone knows supports terrorists?) in the south; and Taiwan, Japan and South Korea in the west.
In the world of international relations, there are no clear-cut "good guys" and "bad guys". Everyone is after power, and they’ll use whatever means they can to get it. If the US truly cared about freedom, they would have pushed for democratisation in Kuwait. Instead, they reinstalled the dictators. Did the US media ever try to examine why Iraq attacked Kuwait in the first place, or they instantly paint Iraq as the "bad guy" and jump to the war coverage (i.e. the ratings/money earners)? To this day I have not even seen one mention in the mainstream press (Australian, British or American) that Kuwait was slant-drilling to steal Iraq’s oil, or that Kuwait was threatening to devalue the Iraqi Dinar. To me, that sounds like sufficient grounds for an attack, provided that all diplomatic avenues had failed (as they did between Iraq and Kuwait).
I am trying my best to sit on the fence on this one. However, what I don’t get are those people (mostly American) who claim that this is about "freedom". Here’s some news: your government does not care about freedom. They have proven that with their Homeland Security Act and related legislation. If they don’t care about freedom at home, what makes you think they’ll care about freedom in Iraq? They certainly don’t care about freedom in Pakistan, or Kuwait, or Panama, or Chile, or in countless other countries.
This isn’t about terrorism, either. There is no proven links between Iraq and terrorist groups, other than the vague "terrorist X visited Iraq one time". Osama bin Laden has made it abundantly clear that he considers Saddam Hussein to be an infidel, so that rules out any Iraq-Al Quaeda connection. Of course, that titbit was never reported in the US media. Instead, Americans got only a small sample of Osama’s speech (which came via Al Jazeera), carefully chosen to ignite anger towards both Iraq and Osama bin Laden. Don’t ya just love the press? They’ll do anything for ratings, and hence money.