15 February 2003
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Here are two more essays attempting to explain the actions of those who would take us into this "war without end". . . .
The first, by Mumia Abu Jamal, an African American inmate on death row.*
The second by Bertell Ollman, Professor
of Politics at New York University, and research associate at the Grenoble
Research Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social
Our Center encourages readers to
participate in this discussion on The War in Iraq.
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
A. from Mumia Abu-Jamal, African American death-row inmate :
THE WAR BEHIND THE WAR
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
January 29, 2003
"In strict confidence... I should
welcome almost any war, for I think this
country needs one."
-- Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. President
(In letter to a friend, 1897)
Many and diverse are the reasons for war, and rarely are the truest reasons publicly espoused by the politicians who rattle their sabers to the maddened throng.
Politicians have learned to coin phrases that boil the blood, or stir the pulse, but these are emotional, not rational, spurs to battle.
Behind his public performance, out of the light and the roar of the crowd, the thinkers sit, and quietly plot great wars and social conflicts, for real, not emotional nor imaginary profits and the acquisition of greater wealth. For months, this writer has been seeking evidence of such meetings, but to little avail. Until now.
While perusing an article from the liberal newspaper, *The Guardian*, of Sept. 2002, the London journal reported a meeting of the Royal Institute of International Affairs there, composed of leading oil executives, Iraqi exiles, and (of course) international legal experts. The title of the closed door confab? "Invading Iraq: Dangers and Opportunities for the Energy Sector". One attendee summed up the day's events with the telling quip: "Who gets the oil?" And there it is.
The one-time Iraqi deputy oil minister, Taha Hmud Moussa, speaking before the current conflict ripened, told reporters in an interview that the nation had a potential yield of 300 billion barrels of oil, "when all of Iraq's regions are explored."
If western oil interests can get
their hands on those reserves (which were lost when Iraq nationalized their
fields in 1972) they expect to be able to produce some 8 million barrels
a day within 10 years. The math answers a lot of questions. Eight million
barrels, at $30 bucks a barrel, 365 days a year-- and you're looking at
$87.6 billion--(with a 'b'!)--a year. For British and American oilmen,
this is just too much to resist. A war? Hell, they'll fight 10 wars if
need be (well, not 'fight' exactly--but get others to fight). This is a
war for profit
This is the real 'bling! bling!'.
Many years ago, in Philadelphia, a man was arrested in a seedy part of town, after a woman escaped what was described as a 'Den of Horrors'. The man, who clearly was mentally deranged, had locked up, chained, tortured and killed a number of women in his basement. When a flashy Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer took his case, some reporters asked him why he took the case, given the grisly nature of it. The lawyer flashed a toothy smile, and quipped, "I've got a hundred-thousand reasons to". He was referring to the fact that the man, while deranged, was also a skillful stock investor, and had garnered several hundred thousand bucks in dividends from trading. You want to know the real reasons for this "Showdown with Saddam", "Countdown to Baghdad", and the like? It is not because, as thepresident blithely suggests, "Saddam is a bad man". Nor is it because, "Saddam tried to kill my Daddy." It's not because the people of Iraq live under a cruel dictator, and we got to bring 'em some "democrisy".
The Middle East has no shortage of dictators, some of whom are America's 'staunchest allies.'
It is not because Iraq has used chemical
weapons against "it's own people." The Turks, members of NATO and (provisionally)
the EU, are ruthless when it comes to the Kurds, who may not speak their
mother tongue, nor wear their national colors, for fear of government persecution.
(The U.S. 'campaign' for human rights conveniently
ignores Turkey's brutal suppression of their Kurdish minority, and the imprisonment of Kurdish political prisoners, like Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish woman elected to the Turkish Parliament. One of her charges was she was "wearing accessories of yellow, green, and red," or traditional Kurdish colors! She is one of 4 Kurdish legislators
imprisoned under such ridiculous charges, but the Bush Regime is mum.)
You want to know the real reason for the war in Iraq?
They've got $87.6 *billion* reasons! Oil.
Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY AS POSSIBLE TO
INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND HELP CALL ATTENTION TO HIS CASE.
The campaign to kill Mumia is in full swing and we need you to
**please** contact as many publications and information outlets as
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**especially off-line**)!! The only requirements are that you run
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intact, and send a copy of the publication to Mumia and/or ICFFMAJ.
These are VERY SERIOUS TIMES for political activists in this country
and around the world. Get full details and keep updated by reading
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B. from Professor Bertell Ollman, author of "Dialectical Investigations" :
WHY WAR WITH IRAQ? WHY NOW? PHANTOM
REASONS AND REAL ONES
by Bertell Ollman
Has America ever gone to war with
less public understanding of what the war is about? Why is our Government
so determined to attack raq? And why the rush to do it now? War is a very
serious business. So I am not going to insult your intelligence by spending
any time on the half dozen changing reasons that our Government has
offered as a justification for starting this war. As anyone
who is not addicted to Fox News knows, they are either false, grossly
exaggerated, irrelevant or simply silly (I don't know whether to place
the charge that Saddam is an
evil man under irrelevant or silly).
But - and this is of crucial
importance - even if all the Government's charges were true, not exaggerated
and relevant, this would still not justify a war if there were other ways
of dealing with them and/or if a war would make Americans more liable to
attack by our enemies than we already are. The U.N. inspections are working
and if we increased the number of inspectors and gave them more time,
they would work better still. Along with frequent overflights, some of
the U.N. imposed sanctions and the threat of massive retaliation should
Saddam attack one of his neighbors, they have already achieved most of
the aims for which almost-elected President Bush says he intends to go
to war. That is, given the Government's own terms of debate, the war would
appear to be
unnecessary. And if anyone had any doubts about the effect of such a war on our safety here in the U.S., Ossama Bin Laden's most recent tape (if genuine) should have made it clear that this war will bring us more
terrorist attacks and not less.
Critics who see this far and no further are content to condemn the Government for its stupidity - easy to do with Bush at the helm - and craziness. Our leaders seem to be making a terrible mistake. General Zinni, a leading U.S.military figure and diplomat, has said that he doesn't know on which planet the hawks in Washington are living. And many others, including ex-President Carter, General Schwartzkoff and even officials in the intelligence community, have expressed similar sentiments.
But the leaders of our Government are not that stupid or crazy, and war is too important a matter to go forward without good reasons. They have their reasons. They just don't want to give them to us, because they suspect that most Americans wouldn't accept them as a justification for war. If we examine who our leaders are, their background and interests, some of what they've done and said before coming to power, and what they would gain from a war, it is not too hard to arrive at what these men and their one woman are thinking.
In my opinion, here are the real
reasons that our Government is about to engage in its second massacre of
Muslims in as many years:
l) Oil. The Bush oiligarchy wants direct control over a country whose proven oil reserves are second only to those of Saudi Arabia. American oil giants own none of this oil now. How much do you think they will own one year after the war?
2) Secure the water supplies - not often mentioned - with which Iraq is blessed and all surrounding countries are to some degree dependent.
3) Establish American military and political power - if not direct colonial control - of a major Arab country in the heart of the middle-east for an indefinite period to help ensure the existence of friendly governments and market economies throughout the region.
4) Provide a rationale to expand the military budget and with it the profits of the arms industry, which includes the oil industry.
5) Help make Americans forget that we lost the war in Afghanistan, whose main objective was not to remove the Taliban but to destroy Al Queda and capture Ossama Bin Laden.
6) Upstage the media attention given to the failure of the Government's economic policies(unemployment up 35%, stock market down 34 %, etc. and etc. since Bush took office)as well as the high level financial scandals in which both Bush and Cheney have been implicated.
7) Create an atmosphere of permanent crisis with its side-bars of fear and patriotism that will allow the GOP to push through the rest of their ultra-conservative political agenda and win the next presidential election.
Though we can't know which reasons
are most important for any given official, I think it is pretty clear that
they all play a role and that, taken together, they are enough to account
for the trigger-happy behavior of the Government. There happens to
be one other major reason for their actions, however, that deserves to
be mentioned, if only because it is usually passed over, even by the strongest
critics of the war. And this is
that the war with Iraq will serve some of Israel's most important national interests, at least as interpreted by its current right wing Government. It is seldom mentioned, of course, because anyone who does so risks being
denounced as an anti-semite, next to which being called a mass murderor today seems rather tame. So before developing this point, let me just say that I am Jewish. This way I can only be condemned as a "self-hating Jew".
What, then, are the main interests
of the Israeli Government that will be served by this war?
1) The war will provide Israel some relief from the growing sentiment among the American public that the U.S. Government should cut off or drastically reduce both economic and military aid to Israel until it vacates all Arab lands (a little publicized Times/CNN poll showed that 60% of Americans supported such a call).
2) Under the cover of war, Sharon will be able to put into effect his version of the "final solution" to the Palestinian problem, the expulsion of all West Bank Arabs into the surrounding countries.
3) Destroying what's left of Iraq's military power neutralizes Israel's most important rival in the region.
4) Establishing a semi-permanent American military presence in Iraq puts U.S. troops in a position to police the whole area for Israel. If Mohammed can't go to the mountain - you have all heard this one - it is said that the mountain will go to Mohammed. Given their problems with the Arabs, some Israelis have joked that it would be nice if they could pick up the whole of Israel and move it to Long Island. Well, Mohammed couldn't get to this mountain. But now with the U.S. about to move into Israel's neighborhood, the mountain has come to Mohammed. Talk about miracles.
5) U.S. control of Iraqui oil and water resources will allow Israel, its best friend in the middle-east, to gain a share of both.
When you add all this up, it seems
that war against Iraq is even more in the interests of the Israeli Government
than it is in the interests of the American Government. It is no surprise
then that among our Government's top foreign politicy advisors some of
the biggest hawks are right wing Zionists like - Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy
Defense Secretary), Douglas Feith (Under Secretary for Policy in the Dept.
of Defense), Elliot Abrams (National Security Council), Lewis
Libby (Chief of Staff for Vice President Cheney), Eric Edelman (Libby's
top assistant), and Richard Pearl (Chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy
Board) . I don't believe that U.S. policy on Iraq has been made by these
Zionists advisors, but neither do I believe that they are without influence
in the matter or that their
right wing Zionism does not affect what they tell Bush, or Cheney, or Rumsfield. Rather,in my view, what we have here is a convergence of two imperialisms. It is Bush's and Sharon's complementary interests that have
put them in bed together. The bevy of right wing Zionist advisors that surround Bush would have encouraged this tryst and perhaps served as match-maker.
That still leaves unexplained why the rush to war, why the Government's insistence on starting the war now. If Israel needs a war now to resolve the explosive and worsening problems that have resulted from the failure of its policies in the West Bank, this is not - or at least should not be - a problem for the U.S. But if I'm right in my list of the American and Israeli Governments' real reasons for going to war, the great danger that both of these governments fear is not that the U.N. inspections won't work, but that they will. For if the inspections work, or show that they are working or can work, then both Governments are denied their ideological cover for going to war. At this point, the U.S. would either have to pull back from the brink, or admit to having other, hitertoo secret reasons, for going to war. However, the great majority of the American people would never accept the real reasons for this war, and without their support the American and Israeli Governments could not reap the many economic and political benefits they are hoping for, benefits they can only attain through a full scale war. Well, too bad for them, but not for the hundreds of thousands of people who are certain to die in any war.
Well, what's to be done? Given time
considerations, I will summarize most of what I have to offer on this subject
by passing on an e-mail I got a couple weeks ago. Apparently, a recent
study at the University of Sussex in England showed that demonstrating
for a cause in which you believe is not only good for your conscience,
it's also good for your health. Really. So, in the interest of good health
- your's, the Iraquis', our troops' and the world's - I would like to end
by announcing that as part of world wide demonstrations against the war
there will be a
demonstration in New York this Saturday, beginning at 11 AM at 49th Street and 1st Avenue. See you there.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research at CEIMSA
Center for the Advanced Study of American
Institutions and Social Movements
University of Grenoble-3