The madness of King George and his court

The imperial obsessions of the Bush administration have come under increasing clinical examination. In the process the fog of war propaganda spread on radio and TV by journalistic courtiers is beginning to lift. For more and more, the impending war with Iraq has nothing to do with eliminating weapons of mass destruction (WMD), or promoting democracy, or fighting terrorism.

According to former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter, the bulk of Iraq’s WMD have been destroyed or degraded. An extended U.S. military occupation of post war Iraq is being planned, with Turkey dictating the future of Iraqi Kurds.

Karen De Young and Peter Slevin report in the Washington Post that “Full U.S. Control Planned for Iraq” (2/21). Trudy Rubin writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer (2/23) that “the Kurds are terrified that the U.S. is giving the green light to the Turks to send tens of thousands of troop into Kurdistan ... [as] a quid pro quo for the Turkish government’s permission for U.S. troops to use Turkey as a base for the Iraq war. The Turks want to control Iraqi Kurdistan out of fear that the autonomy enjoyed by Iraqi Kurds may encourage Turkish Kurds to seek autonomy as well.”

And there is no connection between Saddam Hussein and the events of 9/11. Indeed the only terror being planned is by the U.S. Central Command whose “shock and awe” strategy is designed to terrorize Iraqis into submission. L.A. Times reporter William Arkin writes that the U.S. is even “preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapon against Iraq” (1/25).

One of the most thorough diagnosis of the Bush administration’s imperial obsessions comes from the Research Unit of Political Economy in Bombay, India. In a special issue of its on-line journal Aspects of India’s Economy (www.rupe-india.org) the authors argue that the U.S. invasion of Iraq represents a “Military Solution to an Economic Problem” The features of this problem include: a global crisis of overproduction; mounting opposition to and diminishing returns of “globalization,” and intensifying rivalry from its imperial competitors. Specifically:

“The global crisis of overproduction is showing up the underlying weakness of the U.S. real economy, as a result U.S. trade and budget deficits are galloping. The euro now poses a credible alternative to the status of the dollar as the global reserve currency, threatening the U.S.’s crucial ability to fund its deficits by soaking up the world’s savings. The U.S. anticipates that the capture of Iraq, and whatever else it has in store for the region, will directly benefit its corporations (oil, arms, engineering, financial) even as it shuts out the corporations from other imperialist countries. Further, it intends to prevent the bulk of petroleum trade being conducted in euros, and thus maintain the dollar’s supremacy. In a broader sense, it believes that such a re-assertion of its supremacy (in military terms and in control of strategic resources) will prevent the emergence of any serious imperialist challenger such as the EU. In that sense the present campaign is in line with the Pentagon’s 1992 Defense Planning Guidance, which called for preventing any other major power from acquiring the strength to develop into a challenger to the U.S.’s solitary supremacy.”

General Wesley Clark, a former NATO supreme commander, recently made the same point on “Meet the Press.” Clark said: “We are at a turning point in America’s history. We are about to embark on an operation that is going to put us in a colonial position in the Middle East following Britain.”

Imperial obsessions work best through sociopathic personalities – leaders who are blind to the human costs of their policies. Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon, observed recently that G.W. Bush displays all the characteristics of a sociopath. As such, he is not likely to be moved by a confidential UN report that warned that 1.2 million Iraqi children under age five could die as the result of a U.S. invasion.

Nor is he likely to be overly concerned about the impact on the U.S.social budget of the $1.7 trillion price tag of an Iraqi war and occupation, nor the costs of follow on war in Syria, Iran and North Korea, which U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton recently identified as the next targets after Iraq (haaretzdaily.com).

The same indifference is likely be felt about the implications of the $1.2 trillion being sought for a missile defense program and the cumulative effects of military budget of $400-500 billion a year into the indefinite future. When requests for $1.5 trillion in tax relief primarily for the wealthy are taken into consideration it is fair to say that the fiscal priorities of the Bush administration represent a form of budgetary terrorism directed against working families and retirees throughout the country.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org