There have been rather few surprises in the invasion of Iraq by the American, British and Australian forces. The total control of the oil fields in the north and south of the country; the seaport of Basra; the decimation of the Baathist institution and structures; the demise of a potential threat to Israel; the eradication of another “rogue” state; and the planned installation of a pro-western government at a cost of two hundred or so “coalition” military personnel is par for the course.
The death of thousands of Iraqi civilians is not unexpected. That Saddam Hussein’s regime was unable to even defend Baghdad, let alone pose a dire threat to America and Britain, is overlooked. The frightening scenario of the unleashing of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction did not materialize. The evaporation of Saddam Hussein, together with weapons of mass destruction, into thin air, is irrelevant. The installation of General Jay Garner until the Iraqi equivalent of Afghanistan’s Hamid Kharzai emerges will probably rule Iraq.
The use (abuse) of the United Nations; the violation of international institutions and law; the threats, coercion and bribery of weak member states; the bombing of Al-Jazeera offices; the installation of a (democratic) puppet regime; the grand show of humanitarian aid to the starving (by US-led sanctions) Iraqis; the “liberation” of the people, especially women; the continuing search for “rebel” leaders from now permanent US bases – have all been seen in Afghanistan.
There are, however, some distinct events that have emerged over the past few weeks, the ramifications of which will be played out in the coming decades. The millions of people throughout the world that protested against the invasion of Iraq, particularly from the Western world, are revealing. The powerful instruments of propaganda did not persuade the masses that this “war” was justified.
President Bush, Prime ministers Blair and Howard failed to convince their constituents that Iraq posed a danger to their citizens. It is patently evident to the majority that the issue at hand is not, and has never been, democracy, human rights, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction or the removal of an authoritarian regime, but global hegemony and the defense of Israel. The Western ruling elite requires the services of pliant and co-operative leadership that will be willing to sell the wealth of their land, enriching themselves and the Western ruling elite at the expense of the indigent of the so-called “third world” countries.
America’s diabolical designs for exploiting Iraq’s oil wealth is confirmed by the contracts already signed to refurbish the oil industry. Halliburton Company is an oil service firm in which the US vice-president Robert (Dick) Cheney served in the recent past. Schlumberger has been awarded the task for repairing oil pipelines and export terminals to the tune of $38 billion. Bechtel Group Inc, Bahar Hughes Inc. and Halliburton would control Iraq’s oil and gas deposits for decades. Stevedoring Services have been given the contract to manage the port at Umm Qasr.
Many of George Bush’s top brass such as Donald Rumsfeld (Defense secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Defense secretary), and Condoleezza Rice (National Security Advisor), all have been in the oil industry and hell-bent in pushing for the invasion of Iraq. According to the US watchdog Center for Public Integrity, at least 10 out of 30 members of the Pentagon committee are executives that will benefit to the tune of billions of dollars because of contracts with the US defense department and other government agencies.
A cabal of neo-conservatives in the Bush administration founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 1997, whose primary objective was to control the world’s resources and impose global hegemony. They also include Dick Cheney (US vice president), Richard Perle (chairman of the Defense Policy Board), Douglas Feith (Under secretary) and Zalmay Khalilzad (special Afghanistan representative).
Richard Perle authored a report that outlined a plan to protect Israel’s strategic interests by reshaping the Middle East, starting with regime change in Iraq. He has close links with Ariel Sharon, is a board member of the Jerusalem Post and an ex-employee of the Israeli weapons manufacturer Soltam. In 1997 Perle presented Benjamin Netanyahu a strategic report entitled “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, which outlined a plan to protect Israel’s strategic interests by reshaping the Middle East starting with a regime change in Iraq. He resigned recently as chairman after the Guardian disclosed Perle’s link to an intelligence-related computer firm that stands to profit substantially from war with Iraq.
As John Pilger writes, what this cabal sought was a “a new Pearl Harbor”. That came in the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11, which set the PNAC plans in motion. On 12th of September 2001 Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz repeated this three days later. Condoleezza Rice asked the National Security Council on how best tocapitalize on these opportunities. It was Colin Powell, US secretary of state, that persuaded Bush to choose the softer option, Afghanistan, so that “public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible.”
The cabal has set Syria firmly in its sight as the next target. Ariel Sharon, in December 2002, claimed that Iraq had shipped some of its chemical and biological weapons to Syria. Rumsfeld accused Syria of allowing war materials and Islamic fighters to cross its border to help the government of Saddam Hussein. Paul Wolfowitz stated, “there’s got to be a change in Syria”. James Woolsey, a former CIA director stated that the “fascist” government in Syria has to be replaced. Iran too has been warned.
What we are witnessing is the implementation and realization of the blueprint of the PNAC document. Any country that refuses to come to terms with Israel, or resists American global hegemonic designs, have the example of Iraq and Afghanistan in front of them. There seems to be no choice, either be pulverized into the pre-industrial age, or submit to the dictates of the global power and its allies. Millions throughout the world have made clear their opposition to the wanton actions of these predatory powers who have repeatedly violated international law. Whether civil society develops sufficient strength to curb this wanton drive to dominate remains to be seen.
(Mr. Firoz Osman is Secretary of the Media Review Network, which is an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.)