THE REAL REASONS FOR IRAQ, THE WAR ON TERROR (WOT) AND FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY
The rationality of the war in Afghanistan, consequent to the World Trade Centre carnage masterminded by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda (AQ), is fathomable; but not the near simultaneous second front in Iraq flouting military principles of war , even before AQ was rendered impotent or OBL ‘smoked out’ .
Therefore, what were the overriding reasons for the US to attack Iraq?
Intriguing also is the near concurrent explosion of the Russian peripheral nations experiencing the “Freedom and Democracy” ecstasy. Surprisingly, this instant panacea evaded visitation on Afro Asian nations, grovelling under even more repressive regimes! Why?
The purported reasons justifying the Iraq War is beguiling, both politically and militarily. Likewise, the “naturalness” of the mercurial spread of Freedom and Democracy is too naïve for belief.
Obviously, US domestic and international imperatives verily appear to have machinated the real reasons. What are they?
Ostensible Reasons for War in Iraq and How it is Faulted
President Bush is emphatic, including in his State of the Union address, that the reasons for going to war in Iraq was to oust Saddam Hussein because:
• Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which were a threat to the US.
• It would abate international terrorism and the threat to the US since Saddam had ties with the AQ.
• ‘Liberating’ Iraq from Saddam would bring ‘Freedom and Democracy’ in Iraq and in the Middle East.
The events, including the various Senate hearings, indicate that the ostensible reasons articulated by Bush were, at best, suspect.
Bush promoted ad infintum that war against Iraq would eliminate the threat Iraq posed the US with WMD. Blair conjured a sinister scenario of 45 minutes to Doomsday!
This was believable.
The report of UNSCOM (Butler) and US assistance to Iraq against Iran to employ chemical weapons did indicate its veracity. However, when after 10 years of US bombardment and embargo, the Blix-Barade inspections discovered nothing incriminatory (with repeated unexplainable hindrances by the US ), it took a sinister pallor, culminating in disbelief.
If Iraq indeed posed such a grave threat, it logically should have been addressed before Afghanistan. Or, if terrorism was the graver threat, then Afghanistan should have seen a logical conclusion before hotfooting to Iraq; and troop availability was at a premium !
Befuddlement reached its zenith when to deflect international pessimism, the triumvirate of Iraq, North Korea and Iran extraneously were clubbed as the ‘axes of evil’ in the US threat perspective, their threat expediency belying their prioritisation, because:
• Iraq, as it turned out, had no WMD at all.
• Iran, through the connivance of the Pakistani nuclear peddler, AQ Khan, is allegedly in an advanced stage to enter the nuclear club .
• North Korea possesses adequate plutonium to produce one to two nuclear devices along with the capacity to manufacture several more & , a large chemical weapons stockpile and a formidable array of ballistic missiles .
Therefore, in all respects, the rationale for attacking Iraq first, appears baffling and dubious.
Curiously, Pakistan alone pre-eminently qualified as the prime target for the ‘war on terror’. She possessed both the threats – WMD and terrorism.
Pakistan has nuclear warheads, nuclear capable missiles, and nuclear delivery capable planes and possibly biological and chemical weapons . International terrorism is her birthright, having originated in her womb and continuing as the fountainhead of the ‘Islamic terrorist machine’ & . Iraq, Chechnya, Bosnia, Indonesia, Kashmir and London and Pakistan itself, is terrorist impacted courtesy Pakistan, the acknowledged international terror purveyor.
Therefore, Pakistan deserved the highest priority for US ‘war on terror’ attention vis-à-vis Iraq and Pakistan was but the axiomatic extension, being contiguous to Afghanistan and hence presenting a single entity in the extension of the war on terror.
And yet she escaped the dragnet! Why?
Could the plan for Caspian oil through Afghanistan and Pakistan be the overriding factor? Or a turbulent Pakistan demand US presence suiting US global compulsions?
The US administration propounded that a war on Iraq would debilitate terrorism’s strike potential against the US. This disguises the reality . The ‘facts’, trotted out by the Administration justifying Saddam’s AQ connection has been debunked by the US Congress’ 9/11 Commission & and earlier Reagan, the primordial ‘neocon’, had removed Iraq from the countries supporting terrorism list .
Saddam was no Islamist. His pathological ruthlessness against Islamic bigotry forestalled cognisable proximity to Islam. Obviously, his was not the ideal credential for endearment to the fanatical Wahabi AQ, obdurate monarchies or obscurantist Islamic nations of the Middle East. Therefore, Saddam was a loner and despised in the Arab Islamic world and beyond cavorting with the AQ.
Flawed was also the rationale that rendering international terrorism impotent was contingent on waging war on Iraq. A ‘Christian’ invasion’ on a Moslem country would only close Islamic ranks and galvanise greater vigour, rather than neutralising or eliminating the Wahabi Islamic fundamentalist murdering marauders.
Freedom and Democracy Applicable in Moslem Middle East?
The perception that in an Islamic Middle East, an instant ‘Freedom and Democracy’ would blossom, because of the democracy evangelism of US, is self deluding and naïve. The Quaran not being open to interpretation & , moulds the Islamic mindset inflexible and responsive only to ‘dictates’ of the clergy or iron fisted leaders. Therefore, expecting an instant freewheeling Iraq was but only a fond delusion.
The rationale to impose ‘Freedom and Democracy’ on Iraq appears facetious. The degradation from an accepted US ally (which with impunity could use chemical weapons and mistreat its own citizens without US outcry) to a pariah in the realm of ‘freedom and democracy’ appears extensile.
If “Freedom and Democracy’ was the war cry, then notwithstanding the close relationship of the US with dictator ruled Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan or with obscurantist dictator-like monarchies like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, they too should have also warranted ‘regime change’ attention, especially Saudi Arabia, the Wahabi terrorist virus germinator.
The western concept of ‘Freedom and Democracy’ thus is beyond replication in the Arab World since in true Islam, Allah writ alone rules.
Catalyst for the War on Terror
US Strategic Paradigm
The collapse of USSR pitch-forked USA to the sole global superpower status.
This perdurable global supremacy opportunity, given the prevailing geo-strategic realties was too lucrative to pass, resulting in the Grand Strategy envisioning extending this advantage into near perpetuity. Yet, perpetuity was contingent to the exigency posed by nations inimical to the USA, harbouring ambitions as alternate power centres, as also, the US apprehension that the supremacy might not be in perpetuity for variety of factors. Therefore, rightly, it became essential to re-engineer the world in US’ favour, or minimalistically, controlling world strategic resources and enforcing Pax Americana by manipulating the world economy.
Translating this parametric maze had however one lacuna – finances to concretise the ‘coercive infrastructure’ essential.
The U.S. budgetary deficits on the world economy in the next 15 years (contained in the IMF Report issued on 14 April 2004 ) indicate global economic contraction and a legacy of large US deficits. Thus, the challenge for any US administration is one of prudent fiscal management as also of the world economy through the IFIs. This is not the only factor in the budgetary deficits; increasing defence spending pressures and supplemental spending for Iraq in the next 10-15 years will impact policies .
The resource – strategy gap could be resolved by short changing strategy instead of increasing resources. It meant addressing the future by abdicating the role as the guarantor of the global security order, take care of current business and be unprepared for tomorrow’s threats and battlefields. This was naturally not acceptable.
The unspoken rationale to corner oil worldwide, the most important strategic resource, through “Freedom and Democracy” movements and by military means thus emerged.
The Cheney inspired Defence Policy Guidance of 1992 (DPG) addressed the issue. The near similarity of contemporary events indicates that the Guidelines are on stream since it professedly aims at ensuring global US supremacy and shaping the world as per US interests and principles, and simultaneously repressing alternate power centres.
The DPG essentially encompasses:
• Four Core Mission for the US military, namely:
Defend the US homeland;
Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars;
Perform the ‘constabulary’ role associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions;
Transform the US Forces to exploit “revolution in military affairs”;
To achieve these missions, it emphasises that the US:
• Maintains nuclear strategic superiority worldwide.
• Maintain a ‘Base Force’, with active duty increased strength of 1.4 million to 1.6 million.
• Configure the quick reaction capability, by having permanent bases in Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia and re-engineering the naval deployment matrix to be responsive to US strategic concerns in East Asia.
• Selective modernisation of US Forces.
• Cancelling “Roadblock’ Programmes (the Joint Strike Fighter, CVX aircraft carrier, and Crusader howitzer system) since it would absorb exorbitant amounts without commensurate payoffs.
• Develop and deploy Global Missile Defence that would protect the US, it allies, as also assist in the global projection of the US power.
• Control The New “International Commons” Of Space And “Cyberspace,” and pave the way for the creation of a new military service – U.S. Space Forces – with the mission of space control.
• Capitalise on ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’ and ensure long term superiority of the US military.
• Achieving the goals through gradual increase in defence expenditure.
This DPG road map guaranteed US long term dominance without succumbing to pressure for retreat from strategic areas and thereby abdicating the gains achieved (both in terms of economic and strategic influence) to forces inimical to the US, and in turn, short-changing the long-term US strategic dominance and global leadership.
The cardinal restyling in policy was the paradigm shift from the Cold War matrix of single area interest profile of containing USSR to ‘expanding democratic zones of peace’ encompassing a multiple and dispersed global threats figuration..
This continuum thus demanded US interventions worldwide, focussing on a strategy holistically applied that prevented inroads by forces inimical to the US rather than the traditional temporary containment and fire fighting. Conclusively, this meant having bases in the areas of US interest to project a ready response. The Gulf War I eminently indicated the US global presence necessity to ensure no dramatic drawdown in US strategic eminence, leading to negative payoffs.
Rationale for the War on Terror?
Dependence of US Economy on Oil
The periodic blackout caused by severe oil and gas shortage (pre Bush) and the historic first where oil imports crossed 50% of the total consumption, led to inquietude about US’ long term energy supply security. Oil, after all, sustained the US economy and the war machine.
The National Energy Policy (NEP) Document in the Eighth Chapter ‘Strengthening Global Alliances’ reiterated that energy security is a priority for the US Trade and Foreign Policy, as it was obligatory to have sufficient energy supplies to support US and global economic growth. It categorically emphasised securing more oil from foreign sources and the security of such supply.
The quantum of foreign oil required is absent in the document but a chart of net US oil consumption and production over time indicates a decline of domestic field production from about 8.5 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2002 to 7 mbd in 2020, with consumption rising from 19.5 mbd to 25.5 mbd. Thus, oil imports including other petroleum sources like natural gas liquids would have to rise from 11 mbd to 18.5 mbd. This shortfall, the NEP indicated would have to be procured.
The NEP brazenly underscored the removal of political, economic, legal and logistical obstacles in accessing petroleum sources including exhorting the Administration “to deepen their commercial dialogue with Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and other Caspian states to provide a strong, transparent and stable business climate for energy and related infrastructure projects” .
Middle East caters for only 18% of US imports. Yet, it is critically beneficial to US economy as high export volume ensures low oil prices.
Hence, the Middle East remains vital to US interests.
Global Peak Oil is another niggling issue of US strategic concern.
With the rise in population and increased industrialisation, demand can outpace availability . Therefore, the country that corners or influences the oil production and its prices, rate of change of prices and output will control the world economy and hence, the world.
Oil, thus, becomes a potent weapon.
Yet, oil dynamics is not absolute or quiescent.
The instability potential through regional strife, price and output manipulation by the oil cabal is indisputable as the world oil market is neither free nor competitive. This makes oil a high risk entity. Also, the world oil infrastructure security encompassing oilfields, pipelines, trade routes, etc manifests the US’s national concern, oil being its economy’s cornerstone.
Hence, prima facie, oil plays a major role in US strategy.
US’s Oil Status and Military Linkage
The US economy is exceptionally oil dependent. In fact, the US Oil Imports averaged a total of 10.108 million barrels per day in November 2004 .
Though the US has untapped reserves but it cannot meet the demand. USA’s recoverable oil reserves are probably more than 110 billion barrels. The US Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Assessment of US Oil and Gas Resources of 1995 concluded that there could be an additional undiscovered 30 billion barrels of oil, recoverable by conventional drilling and exploration technology and another 60 billion through new technology. Oil from shale and other unconventional sources could yield, as per USGS, another 112.3 billion barrels of oil. Even so, it would not assure energy independence, though US could become less vulnerable to the instability of Middle East oil calculus.
The US Oil import dependency will escalate with her military deployment worldwide pursuant to the DPG dictates of ‘expanding democratic zones of peace’. Thus, “global supremacy” jackknifes into an expensive proposition unless the US tempers the world economies to suit US’ domestic and global interests. It is ideally accomplished by ensuring that oil producing countries are, without reservation, within the US sphere of interest and the oil industry, its output, its prices duly influenced by the US. World economies then can be manipulated to ensure US global supremacy in near perpetuity.
The colossal US Energy requirement, the quest for global supremacy in perpetuity and the fact that the oil producing areas are not all in the US sphere of influence, makes it imperative for the US to superintend global oil control. This compelling predilection escalates the risk of involvement in local and regional politicking and being forced in rendering military assistance to allies, including involvement in physical intervention.
The military strategy emphasises the projection of US military predominance globally as is amply emphasised in the Quadrennial Defence Review which unambiguously reiterates that the US must retain the capability to apply the military with logistic support to critical point around the globe, even in the face of enemy opposition.
To obviate the ‘neo-colonialism’ label and prevail within international norms, the rhetoric of spreading “Freedom and Democracy” to other lands becomes an apparent cloak of virtue.
Oil Cartels, Oilfields and Impact on US Policies
The Genesis: Stranglehold of the OPEC and Dangers of Euro
The OPEC cartel’s strategy of limiting production to maximise profits disastrously negates the furtherance of US hegemony over world economy. OPEC, therefore, had to be controlled or destroyed.
To cripple and destroy the OPEC, it required a pliable oil rich state flooding the market with excess oil and demolishing the OPEC’s price stranglehold.
Likewise, the other aspect worrisome was the Euro replacing Dollar , started by Iraq , as the transaction instrument. From 1945 these dollars were recycled from oil production to the US as Treasury Bills and assets in US stocks and real estate constituting a substantial portion of the financial market.
If nations followed Iraq and dumped the dollar and their financial assets in the US for the Euro, it would lead to a dollar crash, inflation and huge debt deficits and trade imbalance . It would cataclysmic to the US’ advantage of manipulating the global economy to protect US interests and instead power would transfer to Euro countries to offset the US’ advantage, make the market more responsive, reduce or eliminate the risk to their currency and boost the Euro to compete with the dollar as an alternative international reserve currency.
This was too dangerous a proposition for the US.
Therefore, Iraq in US sights was axiomatic; preferably a pliable Iraq!
The Iraqi oilfields have always been important in the global regime. It was a “first class British aim” in the First World War ; the western pipedream ending with Saddam nationalising the oil in 1972. Nationalising grievously hurt Western oil interests, catalysing US neocons requesting Clinton to remove Saddam ‘for the safety of US troops in that region and Israel as also remove the hazard to world oil’ .
Iraq controlled 10% of global oil reserves. It has the added attraction of having good quality oil, low production costs, easy access to ports of export and was under-producing and restricted by the sanctions.
Iraq was an ideal target; and it lay already crippled by the embargo.
As a vassal state, Iraq was ideally poised to break the OPEC stranglehold and save the US economy.
The Caspian Oil.
The Caspian region with proven estimates pegged at 236 - 337 trillion cubic feet gas reserves and over 200 billion barrels and modern technology capable of boosting production immensely, with the disintegration of the USSR, emerged a focal point of global interest and an economic bonanza.
It dangled tantalisingly for US strategic interests.
Given that there is no prognosis of spectacular growth in the European or Central Asia markets, unlike the Asian market which prefigures an exciting commercial quantum jump, the shortfall in the Asian requirement will automatically push oil prices up, leading to a turbulent world economy.
Significantly, China and India are expected to pose global strategic contenders . Therefore, US control of Caspian Oil, apart from bolstering US economy, could also emasculate the Chinese and Indian challenges. Hence, Caspian oil dovetailed in US’ strategic paradigm.
However, the obstacle remained in the transportation cost to world market, Caspian being landlocked and oil movement directed through Russia and erstwhile USSR. Notwithstanding this, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium is engineering an infrastructure for outflow from north Caspian to Novorossiysk, the Russia Black Sea port and thence transporting via tankers through the Bosporus. The conundrum for the US magnifies as the area is not under US ‘sphere of influence’. In this context, the ‘bringing Freedom and Democracy’ rhetoric gains significance , being not only an economic requirement but also a strategic one for the US.
Transporting Caspian Oil trans-Iran is ideal. However, Iran is inimical to the US. This compound the problem since Iran’s influence in this region as the natural leader of Shias, the predominant religion of the region, is axiomatic. Therefore, the US strategy to isolate Iran from the world gains credence.
The Azerbaijan International Operating Company regardless has conceived two routes i.e. one pipeline moving north, crossing North Caucasus to Novorossiysk, while the other moving across Georgia to a shipping terminal on the Black Sea extending westwards as also south across Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
Even if these plans fructify, it would still not meet the oil output visualised and would not be optimally engineered to feed future markets.
In 1979, Iran produced close to 6 million barrels per day, while the production capacity in 2003 was still short of 4 million barrels per day.
Iran considers CAR as her strategic rear, her sphere of influence and hence Iran’s aspiration as a regional power. Her quest in the ballistic missile and nuclear field is thus understandable but alarming. While Iran is geographically ideal as an outlet for CAR resources, her radical ideological philosophy and its exportation is an antithesis to US. Hence, though Iran perceives the CAR and Caucasus as a market for goods, its ideology and a transit route and Iran’s plan for using Euro as the trading mechanism negate the US domination in the oil market.
Therefore, espousing her isolation from the world becomes paramount for US policies.
Afghanistan and Pakistan
Afghanistan and Pakistan play a crucial role in the oil strategy of the US. They are critical for the transhipment of CAR oil and gas to the increasingly oil dependant Asian markets through their countries to the Pakistani Gwadar port.
However, both Afghanistan and Pakistan are intrinsically politically unstable making it imperative for permanent US presence and influence in these two countries, including overlooking Pakistan’s deficiencies.
The Strategy of Freedom and Democracy
This is a brilliant stratagem to neutralise world opinion through ‘virtue’ as also safeguarding US ‘global supremacy in perpetuity’
The ‘global supremacy in perpetuity’ aspect falls into place observing the US policy towards Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. However, the coup de grace is linking the emasculation of Russia through ‘freedom revolutions’ in erstwhile USSR states, moribunding the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and ‘eyeing’ Chinese Xingjian!
9/11 came handy in the strategic gameplan to emasculate Russia which is still a reckonable power. The NATO - EU expansion nullified Russia’s special status with the erstwhile Soviet states but the US ‘interference’ makes Russia perceives this with deep suspicion as ‘encirclement’, especially since no other country impinged on the Russian special status claim.
Throughout the 90s, US Policy respected Russian sensitivity. 9/11 changed that. Thereafter, US pursued policies not quite against Russia, but certainly not with Russia's support and endorsement. This revamped US global military strategy apparently generated widespread expectations in former Soviet states, making Russia apprehensive. The dramatic increase in US economic assistance, continued occupation of bases in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, military modernisation of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and anti terrorist assistance including funding in the Caucasus ostensibly for the war on terror is indeed worrisome to Russia . This obviously impinges on Russia’s business, political, security and traditional interests in this region.
US presence notwithstanding and notwithstanding the botched Kyrgyzstan ‘revolution’, the Orange and Velvet Revolutions has ‘poached’ on the Russian preserve and justifiably created apprehensions about the US intentions behind the spread ‘Freedom and Democracy’. Given the alarming trends, Russia has ‘dug-in’ in Georgia and with China has asked for the withdrawal timetable of US bases in CAR that were ostensibly set up for logistic support for the US actions in Afghanistan.
This strategic cat and mouse play will impact the future.
Encircling China: Xingjian.
While encircling China elsewhere, the US using the AQ threat to penetrate the CAR and engaging each country bilaterally has reduced the ties of the SCO, especially by not using the Bishkek anti terrorist centre. Bush asking China to desist using the WOT to suppress its minorities and rudely thwarting the Chinese linking the Uighur separatists to it is but naturally being perceived as a precursor to encircling China similar to emasculating Russia.
Alarmed, China has been vigorously re-establishing and strengthening the SCO. This has been welcomed by Moscow as its conducive having China than the US as a regional power in this area.
This may skew US intent to remain the sole global power in perpetuity.
The genesis of the war in Iraq, as also the spurt of “Freedom and Democracy” movements, lies in Cheney’s DPG, which theoretically is unblemished in realpolitik. It ensures US global supremacy in perpetuity. Cornering oil, ‘vassalising’ world economy, emasculating Russia and neutralising inimical states is the crux. The rationale and morality is immaterial so long as it is obfuscated with politically correct semantics even if it blows up in the face!
The US has achieved its aim to a great degree but the world is catching on the skulduggery and new axis for bipolarism is emerging.
The time for turmoil is just over the horizon.