"Oil Crusades: America Through Arab Eyes" :: Introduction ::

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In September 2002 the administration of George W. Bush published its National Security Strategy in preparation for its pre-emptive wars, starting with Iraq. The document stated: “The US national security strategy will be based on a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests.” Robert Kaplan, a well-known neoconservative, put it more bluntly: “We and nobody else will write the terms for international society.”1 But what happens if the marriage of US “values and national interests” is not backed by part or most of “international society”?

Andrew Moravcsik, professor of politics at Princeton University, and Michael Meyer, editor of NewsWeek Europe, commented in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in NewsWeek World View:

This is the aspect of America that foreigners find hardest to comprehend – the seemingly deliberate choice by government to expose its citizens (especially its weakest) to jeopardy. The United States remains the world’s most productive economy. It outspends all other countries combined on defense. But abroad, the American model is not a popular one, and less so since Katrina. Other developed democracies take medical insurance, decent education, efficient public transport and a social safety net as essential attributes of a just society. Yet America seems determined to eliminate even lesser protections.

Yet, it was an American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had criticized the Nazi regime for exactly such an approach in his famous October 1937 speech, in which he said that Nazi pre-emptive wars would create an age of terror and lawlessness “through unjustified interference in the internal affairs of other nations or the invasion of alien territory.” Moreover, the American prosecutor at the war crimes tribunal in Nuremburg stated: “Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or altering those conditions.”

In the 1990s the US experienced the biggest speculative bubble in its history. At the beginning of the new century, between March 10, 2000 and the end of the first quarter of 2001, the value of stocks on the Nasdaq fell from $6.7 trillion to $3.3 trillion. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers, told analysts that he believed the US economy was in meltdown.

When an economy is in trouble in the American capitalist order a war (whether started deliberately or accidentally) is always useful, particularly if, as we know with the Project for a New American Century, the ground has already been prepared for US global domination. The American “establishment” promoted and assisted to power a self-described “war president.” Where George W. Bush led, American oil and defense companies quickly followed. Halliburton’s Dick Cheney became Vice-President, and Condoleezza Rice of Chevron Texaco became National Security Advisor. Abroad, Afghanistan’s pro-American president Hamid Karzai and the country’s US ambassador Zalmay Khalil zad, were both retained as consultants to the oil company Unocal.

While these corporations were prospering, servicemen and their families were sinking deeper in debt. The front-page headline of USA Today (August 31, 2006) read: “Pentagon sees risk in troops’ loan debt: Payday lenders prey on military.” The newspaper wrote: “As many as one in five of the armed services are being preyed on by loan centers set up near military bases that can charge cash-strapped military families interest of up to 400 percent or more, a new Pentagon report has found.” This boom, which benefited just a handful of corporations, was paid for by the blood of mostly poor Americans and innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians, Lebanese, and others, and was financed by unprecedented deficits. War is indeed a racket.

America’s economic supremacy, which accounted for 50 percent of the world’s industrial output after World War II, has been eroded. US survival now depends on the inflow of $3 billion a day of foreign currency to finance its deficits and its wars. The 2005 balance of payments deficit approached $800 billion and is now heading for $1 trillion a year. To compensate for this deficiency in economic might the American Empire is increasingly resorting to military muscle.

However, as I shall argue in this book [1], The Project for a New American Century is mission impossible, and in this regard I am not alone. One of the world’s leading historians, Eric Hobsbawn, was reported in the Harvard Crismon (October 20, 2005) as saying: “The American empire may actually cause disorder, barbarism, and chaos rather than promote peace and order”; this empire will almost certainly fail.

I echo Hobsbawm in asking: “Will the US learn the lessons of the British Empire, or will it try to maintain an eroding global position by relying on a failing political force and a military force which is insufficient for the present purposes for which the current American government claims it is designed?”

The Bush Doctrine claims that the American model and values are good for everybody the world over and promises pre-emptive strikes and cruise missiles to those who oppose them. However, most of the world does not believe that the American model and values are good for them; worse still, they don’t believe they are good for the majority of Americans either. According to a BBC poll published in January 2005, 58 percent of non-Americans polled thought Bush’s re-election was “a threat to world peace, among America’s traditional allies the figure is strikingly higher! 77 percent in Germany, 64 percent in Britain and 82 percent in Turkey.” In the Muslim world, support for the US and its values was less than 10 percent in most countries.

Moravcsik’s report in NewsWeek3 argued that statistics and facts favor other, non-American models such as the European or Japanese, which are more democratic, and provide a better education system, prosperity, and a social security safety net. Europeans work fewer hours, take longer vacations, and are less anxious and more satisfied than Americans, who are burdened with debt. But after the collapse of communism, these systems were assaulted by the Washington Consensus with its aim of imposing the American capitalist model and values on them.

Let us review the facts: “Despite its wealth, America rates with poor countries in many measures of social well-being,” according to NewsWeek. In the US child poverty is 22.4 percent, while in Denmark it is 5.1 percent, 4.4 percent in Belgium, 4.3 percent in Finland, 3.9 percent in Norway, and just 2.6 percent in Sweden. In terms of income equality Denmark comes first, followed by Japan second, the Czech Republic third, Finland fourth while the US lags far behind at 71st. Moravcsik’s report appeared only in the international edition of NewsWeek, which prompted many Americans living abroad, who noted this deliberate narrowcasting, to write to the editor asking why such critical information had not been published in the American edition. The answer is that the American media are controlled by five corporations, the CEOs of which can decide behind closed doors what Americans may or may not read or watch! Thus, it is obvious to any observer that all the American networks bombard the population with exactly the same message in all 50 US states. Through modern media and communications, American democracy has been manipulated to become a one dollar/one vote, mass media plutocracy.

As for the American economic model, it is centered on the military-industrial complex which shared out the spoils of the Iraq war even before it had taken place! Wars are at its core. Yet the 2004 World Economic Forum’s first five awards for the most competitive economies all went to European countries, with Finland, a socialist democracy with a peaceful economy, first. Furthermore in 2005 Airbus Industries overtook Boeing in terms of sales of commercial planes.

American capitalism finds itself in a dilemma. On the one hand, its economy is based on growth – growth fueled mostly by oil and other natural resources which will run out during the twenty-first century. A study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 1970s, which was published as The Limits of Growth, predicted that the growth-based economic model, combined with capitalism’s present consumption patterns and world population growth, is on a collision course with nature which will take place in the middle of the twenty-first century. Many scientists and consultants, including this writer, believe we are at a point where maximum oil production has been, or is about to be, reached and the decline of the Oil Age has already begun. No substitute exists for oil, and thus the lifeblood of capitalism is under threat. Resource wars of have already begun, though they are conveniently called a War on Terror to make them easier to sell. Edward Peck, former Chief of Mission in Iraq and deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration, said in an interview with Amy Goodman (July 28, 2006):

In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us … to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities.

The results of enforcing American capitalism’s values on the world is best expressed by the former nun, writer, and feminist Karen Armstrong, who has written a number of books on religion. She believes that the cultural, religious, and value system in Muslim society differs from that of Western society. When you subject a different culture to the same process of so-called modernization and secularization or globalization, “it is unlikely that the end product will conform to what the West regards as the desirable norm,” she says. “If the correct ingredients of a cake are not available –” if rice is used instead of flour, dried eggs instead of fresh, and spices instead of sugar –” the result will be different from the cake described in the cookbook.” Imposing American values on the world will result in just such a “cake,” which Bush and his adherents will be forced to eat. Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent on December 1, 2006:

More than half a million deaths, an army trapped in the largest military debacle since Vietnam, a Middle East policy already buried in the sands of Mesopotamia (Iraq) – and still George W. Bush is in denial … – Washington’s project to reshape the Middle East in its own and Israel’s image – is long dead, its very neoconservative originators disavowing their hopeless political aims and blaming Bush, along with the Iraqis of course, for their disaster.

Bush’s doctrine of who’s not with us is against us echoes George III, who said: “I wish nothing but good. Therefore, anyone who does not agree with me is a traitor and a scoundrel.” He lost the American colonies in 1783. People the world over would like America to lead a global war on hunger and poverty, and as charity starts at home, would like to see this first in America.

Muslims, Arabs, and much of the world would also like America to read the Bible on the best way to fight terror. Thousands of years ago Isaiah said that it is only if you sow justice that you will reap peace.

Note:

[1]. "Oil Crusades: America Through Arab Eyes"
by Abdulhay Yahya Zalloum
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0745325599/mmn-20

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