By JEFF MACKLER
The final draft of a 33-page foreign policy document titled “The National Security Strategy of the United States” was leaked to The New York TImes on Sept. 19 before its submission to Congress. “Bush to Outline Doctrine of Striking Foes First,” was the headline describing the text that The Times argues represents a “new strategy [that] departs significantly from the last one published by President Clinton at the end of 1999.”
The New York TImes, editorially inclined to the Democratic Party’s liberal-sounding version of imperialist warmongering as opposed to the Republicans’ more rabid version, decided to headline Bush’s foreign policy statement on its front page. The document is in fact required by Congress as a matter of routine and usually draws little or no attention.
Bush’s text proclaims: “While the United States will constantly strive to enlist all support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right to self-defense by acting pre-emptively against such terrorists.”
Clinton’s 1999 policy statement reads pretty much the same although The Times went to some length to distinguish the two. “We must always be prepared to act alone,” said Clinton’s staff, “when that is our most advantageous course, or when we have no alternative.”
Mindful that congressional Democrats appeared to be mesmerized by and in lock step with Bush’s war plans, The Times, and the wing of the U.S. ruling class it represents, sought to offer the Democrats a way to appear a bit less hawkish, especially in light of recent polls indicating declining support for a unilateral war against Iraq.
In a matter of days, leading Democrats got the message-beginning with presidential aspirant Albert Gore, who insisted that while war with Iraq was totally acceptable to Democrats, the mandate that Bush supposedly sought was too far reaching in that it could be used at any time against any nation. One war at a time was sufficient for Gore, who backed Bush Senior’s 1991 genocidal Gulf War to the hilt.
A close reading of the current Bush administration’s text indicates that its focus is indeed on Iraq. The operative paragraph reads, “The president is authorized to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolutions referenced above, defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region.”
Given the Democrats’ previous efforts to one-up the president’s demands for war in the name of defending “national security,” Bush and his colleagues were momentarily taken aback-until, that is, they understood that the game to be played not only involved election-time political posturing but fundamental questions as to the division of the booty in the Middle East.
Gore sought to find a way to slow the stampede to pass Bush’s proposed war powers resolution a bit so as to allow fellow Democrats to score a few debaters’ points on the economic crisis before the November elections. Within days, Democratic Party tops, including Senate majority leader Tom Dashielle, followed suit. But the Democrats really had little to say about the economy, given the fact that their own administration was complicit in the recession that continues to this day.
Election hoopla aside, both capitalist parties are hell bent on solving the deepening U.S. economic crisis at the expense of working people at home and at the expense of their major competitors and the world’s people abroad. The struggle for political power between them, however, often includes critical questions that center on which wing of the ruling rich will use this power to best advance its separate and distinct interests.
Bullying international “allies”
The world stands witness today to the spectacle of U.S. imperialism pressuring and bullying its “allies” and “enemies” alike in an effort to clear the path for the second mass slaughter of the Iraqi people in a decade. The primary “opponents” of U.S. war policy-the French, German, Russian, and Chinese governments-all have their own interests in Iraq to protect, including several major oil contracts negotiated with the present Iraqi regime that were designed to take effect with the eventual lifting of the UN sanctions.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has made it clear that the so-called Iraqi National Congress, a contender for participation in the new regime the United States hopes to install in Iraq, has already stated that any contracts negotiated with the Saddam Hussein government will be “reevaluated”-that is, cancelled or modified to the detriment of U.S. competitors.
With its troops on the ground as the conquering power, Washington has every intention of serving as the real government of the “new” Iraq. The U.S.-installed “democracy” will no doubt place American capitalist oil interests atop the 12 percent of the world’s known oil reserves that reside in Iraq and in a strategic position in the Middle East in regard to the 32 percent of the world’s oil reserves that reside in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Whatever formal resolutions are eventually negotiated in the U.S. Congress and in the United Nations, the secret agreements negotiated behind the backs of the world’s people will not be revealed for some time. These include arrangements currently being brokered by U.S. diplomats regarding which nations will be promised what percentage of Iraq’s oil, provided only that they sign on to the bloodbath the U.S. imperialists contemplate and agree to U.S. world hegemony.
Among this gang of thieves, issues such as Iraqi self-determination, the slaughter of innocent people, or even so-called international law and the UN Charter are not under consideration.
A “senior White House official” summarized the U.S. government’s intentions when he told The New York TImes on Sept. 18 that “it is important to foreclose the option that other nations could aspire to challenge the United States militarily, because once you cut off the challenge of military competition, you open up the possibility of cooperation in a number of other areas.”
This is imperialism’s polite way of stating that a militarily hegemonic United States can and will impose its dictates on its otherwise reluctant capitalist competitors (and on regimes like China and Russia that are in rapid transition to capitalism).
Saddam armed by Washington
While backroom negotiations between U.S. diplomats and its reluctant UN Security Council partners proceed, the U.S. is preparing for war. Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri’s recent statement to UN on behalf of Saddam Hussein, offering unimpeded access to Iraq, was discounted with the wave of a hand as irrelevant to imperialist considerations.
Hussein wrote, “I hereby declare before you that Iraq is totally clear of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Our country is ready to receive any scientific experts, accompanied by politicians you choose to represent any one on your countries, to tell us which places and scientific and industrial installations they would wish to see.”
Despite Hussein’s invitation, the United States and its imperialist supporters in the UN and NATO have no right whatsoever to violate Iraq’s sovereignty by “inspecting” Iraqi territory. Nevertheless, the arrogance of the U.S. government was glaringly revealed when Bush responded, without even reading the text of Hussein’s remarks, that “it was the same old song and dance we’ve heard for 11 years.”
Saddam Hussein, prior to the 1991 Gulf War, was Washington’s closet ally against the Iranian Revolution, which had overthrown the Shah in 1979. With U.S. arms, including chemical and biological weapons manufactured in the United States, Hussein waged a 10-year war against Iran that took the lives of 600,000 Iranians and 400,000 Iraqis.
Without U.S. military support the regime of Saddam Hussein would have been removed by the Iraqi people long ago. Today, Hussein’s replacement at the hands of imperialism would represent yet another blow to Iraqi sovereignty, the defender of which can only be the Iraqi people themselves.
Moreover, an imperialist victory in Iraq would represent a grave defeat for working people the world over. A virtually irrelevant dictator, put in place by imperialism itself, would be replaced by the world’s real terrorists, the world’s true mass murders, the world’s only ruling class to have unleashed nuclear weapons against defenseless people: the government of the United States.
The current U.S. war drive is a product of the fundamental weakness of the U.S. economy, not strength. This is daily evidenced by the massive losses in the U.S. stock market, the steady decline of U.S. manufacturing, the continuous loss of jobs, the massive decline in social services and public education, the deadly destruction of the environment, and the continuing degradation of the standard of living of the American people.
In the era of capitalist globalization, in which the world’s markets are redistributed among the major powers at the expense of the poorer nations, capitalist competition has reached a fever pitch. As machines replace human labor at an ever-increasing pace, capitalist profit rates have fallen to levels where even major corporate players find it impossible to compete in the marketplace.
The rape of the underdeveloped world and the compulsion to war itself are byproducts of a failing and bankrupt system incapable of finding rational solutions to the simplest of problems. The world is saturated with products manufactured by the most sophisticated technologies ever known, yet plants are closed because the products cannot be sold at a profit sufficient to keep even major corporations afloat.
For the first time in human history the world possesses the science and technology, manufactured goods and foodstuffs sufficient to eliminate all want. But in the context of a world where production operates for capitalist profit only, the world’s people increasingly face poverty and despair previously unknown to humankind.
President Bush’s “new” foreign policy statements are in one sense merely an updated version of the dictum proclaimed by his predecessors. But the language has been sharpened to meet the needs of today’s “democratic” tyrants, “elected” to represent the interests of the ruling elite.
Massive protest demonstrations are in preparation to stay the hands of the U.S. warmakers. In San Francisco, Washington, and cities across the globe, mass actions have been called for Oct. 26. All who stand for the interests of the world’s people as opposed to the interests of the ruling elite must do all they can to make the Oct. 26 events a success. No U.S./ UN/NATO intervention in Iraq! Stop the Bombing! End the Sanctions!