The most common reason for war, cited by both Democrat and Republican members of Congress is Iraq's attempts to build weapons of mass destruction and his violations of UN resolutions. The trouble is the same arguments could just as easily be applied to Israel, which possesses nuclear bombs now and ignores UN resolutions. Yet there are no plans to bomb Tel Aviv. Or how about Pakistan, which is run by a military dictator, has actually test detonated nuclear weapons and in recent months has been one half of the quite credible threat of a nuclear war (with India).
Algeria and Egypt are both countries in which serious human rights abuses have been reported. Yet the US isn't talking about invading either of these countries either. In the past the US was quite in favor of Saddam's dictatorship. They sold him arms throughout the Iran/Iraq war. During the Iran and Iraq war Saddam dropped gas on a village called Halabja. The US not only blocked UN resolutions condemning Saddam but issued reports blaming Iran for the attack. They kept silent as he carried out genocide on the Kurds in the 1980s. Given US history in Iraq it is stretching it to imagine that they suddenly have a problem with the use of chemical and biological warfare.
Which brings us to the question of motivation. Why is this war going to be fought? There doesn't seem to be a simple answer to this question. The Republican Party, US business interests and other countries in the world all seem to be split on the issue. Indeed only Bush's immediate administration and Blair seem to be in favour of war. Comment writers have even been wondering if is this a moral crusade?
However, like most other wars, this is about control of resources. Bush Jnr is the Oil Barons' president. Vice President Dick Cheney is the former head of an oil company called Halliburton Co. In 2001 the Washington Post reported that he signed contracts with Iraq worth 73 million dollars. Dick Chaney explained his opposition to Saddam by saying "He sits on top of 10 percent of the world's oil reserves. He has enormous wealth being generated by that. And left to his own devices, it's the judgement of many of us that in the not too distant future he will acquire nuclear weapons". It's interesting to note that Chaney places oil above nuclear weapons in his list of concerns.. US corporations have heavily invested in the Audi Arabian oil industry. That most of the September 11th bombers came from that country makes the US nervous about its dependency on the Saudi royal family.
Wars are also good for the economy, and the US economy certainly could need some help at the moment. Although the stock market falls in the lead up to conflict, once the bombs start going down, the share prices start going up. According to the Sunday Times business correspondent Kathryn Cooper, American share prices rose by 36% during four recent wars. Oil companies also benefit. Iraq is the world's second largest producer of oil (after Saudi Arabia). An attack would disrupt its oil supplies. Other oil producer countries could then increase the price of their oil. Arms dealers also benefit, and also fund election campaigns. Something Bush JR knows well.
Yes Saddam has to go. But it is mistaken to think that if the US get rid of him Iraq will become a better place. After the 1991 gulf war George Bush Snr called on the people of Iraq to overthrow Saddam. The US then stood back and watched as Saddam massacred whose who tried. Collateral benefit is the idea that although the war is being fought for 'non-humanitarian' reasons such as oil, side effects such as the removal of Saddam can be positive. Any idea that there are 'collateral benefits' to US intervention have already been exposed as false by experience. As the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afhanistan have pointed out women still lead insecure fearful lives. The Northern Alliance replaced the Taliban, but nothing much has changed.
In the past most of Ireland's opposition to international events has been symbolic. We march up and down Dublin's O'Connell Street and we picket embassies. This time we have the opportunity to be more ambitious. Shannon Airport is being used to refuel US military planes. For the last year, with almost total silence from the government, several massive US Air Force Hercules KC-130 airplanes have been landing daily. As well as re-fuelling they have being practicing military maneuvers.
In December of last year, and August of this year, a group of about 70 people demonstrated at Shannon in order to highlight the presence of the US military. In September Eoin Dubsky painted peace slogans and signs on a Hercules war plane. As far as we in Ireland are concerned, the war against Iraq is being fought in Shannon. So it is to Shannon we must go to oppose it. The SWP controlled 'Irish Anti-War Movement' has provisionally called for a demonstration at Shannon on Saturday October the 19th. It is in all our interests that this demonstration is as effective as possible.
This edition is No72 published in September 2002