January 7, 2007

Why George Bush Will Not Opt For A Diplomatic Solution To The Iraq Crisis

By David E. Washburn

The old cliche, “if you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging,” is pertinent when it comes to the war in Iraq. Power hungry politicians and their corporate sponsors who fashioned this war keep digging. Of course they are digging for oil so are unlikely to stop.

By now almost every citizen recognizes that Iraq was not an imminent threat to the United States even if it had had weapons of mass destruction. We toppled a brutal dictator, but of all the brutal dictators in the world why did we choose this one? The recent death of Augusto Pinochet who rose to power in Chile as the result of a military coup reminds us that he had thousands of his citizens killed to retain control of his country. He overthrew the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende who the military claimed committed suicide by shooting himself thirty-six times with an automatic weapon. Other reports indicated that it was an assisted suicide with the complicity of the CIA and the ITT Corporation. The difference between Pinochet and Saddam Hussein was that Pinochet was OUR brutal dictator. He made Chile safe for the ITT Corporation and other United States’ companies which Allende would have nationalized. We are certainly not rushing into Africa to depose their brutal dictators, stop the genocide, and thrust democracies upon their nations at the point of a gun. Although the war has created terrorists, they were not present in substantial numbers in Iraq at its onset.

If we did not make this “pre-emptive” strike against Iraq primarily over weapons of mass destruction, or to unseat Saddam, or to fight terrorists, or to create a democracy, why are we shedding American blood there? It is about oil, “black gold.”

At the onset of our occupation of Iraq our soldiers were not tasked to protect Iraqi antiquities, many of which were looted, but did guard the Oil Ministry. The Bush administration was willing to go to war over oil and to protect the interests of their corporate sponsors in big oil, big energy, and the automotive industry rather than fully commit our nation to energy independence. We are trying to maintain a controlling presence in the Middle East as we continue to rely on oil.

Our largest competitor for the world’s diminishing oil reserves is China. They are willing to pay top prices to secure the oil necessary to fuel their rapidly expanding industrial base as well as the automobiles of that increasing portion of their population who are gaining affluence. Our citizens, who are used to relatively inexpensive gasoline, would punish the politicians in power if prices were to skyrocket. If oil simply went to the highest bidder, China would corner the market. So the political and corporate will to maintain access to oil reserves and leverage over the people who control them is strong.

If our goal were to limit bloodshed and give the Iraqi nation their best chance to establish stability, we would support an international diplomatic effort. But, the Bush administration wants to maintain an ascendant position in the Middle East, dominate not negotiate.
Furthermore, corporations like Halliburton, Parsons, Fluor, Washington Group International, Shaw Group, and Bechtel have made billions off this war and have a large stake in our continued presence in Iraq. Therefore, George Bush, their representative in office, is unlikely to accept a diplomatic solution to this fiasco which might decrease our influence. Diplomacy will have to be forced on the president by the congress. Unfortunately, many in congress depend on corporations to fund their reelection campaigns. When it comes to choosing between retaining power or solving problems their track record is not benign.

The president is likely to select a combination of the military options presented to him. Some are scary. One involves raising troop levels to secure Baghdad, redeploy others, and embed trainers with Iraqi units throughout the country. Since many Iraqi soldiers, it appears, owe allegiance to sectarian militias rather than the national armed force, the embedded trainers will become a target for hostage takers. The specter of American soldiers being tortured and beheaded on Aljazeera television could become our national nightmare. Better to use our troops to rid Iraq of foreign terrorists and secure Afghanistan where the Taliban have returned and poppy production, which supports terrorism, is at an all time high.

Some neo-conservatives are imploring George Bush to place our troops in support of the Shiite majority in the civil war, so we can be on the winning side and retain influence in the country. They neglect to take into consideration that although 60% of Iraqis are Shiite and 35% are Sunnis, the region is composed of 120 million Shiites and close to one billion Sunnis. Do they imagine that the one billion are going to stand idly by while their brethren are slaughtered?

America really needs to be rid of the cabal who blundered into the war in Iraq without foreseeing its consequences. We need politicians more concerned with solving problems than positioning themselves for the next election. And, we need a political class willing to blunt the power of oligopolistic multinational corporations who control markets and shape national policy in their, rather than the peoples’, interests.

David E. Washburn is the author of Multicultural Education in the United States among other works. Reach him at david@davidewashburn.com.

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