May Not Be the Most Important Story
March 25, 2003
By RB Ham
The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq may or may not end up
being as quick and efficient as was predicted by military
analysts. Surprisingly, the Iraqi resistance seems to be stiffening
as the campaign drags on. The war itself, however, may not
be the most important story in the coming months. What is
becoming more and more apparent is that this war is throwing
not only international politics into chaos, but is also severely
dividing the populace of the western nations into starkly
opposing factions. British Prime Minister Tony Blair's political
future seems doomed, given the overwhelming opposition to
the war in his country. Not that Blair cares, no doubt a nice,
cushy spot awaits him on the board of directors of the Carlyle
Group for the services he's rendered to the "cause". His own
party may turf him before the next election.
Massive demonstrations against the war are sweeping the globe.
It is clear that this action, taken without the sanction of
the United Nation's Security Council, is viewed by many as
illegal, unnecessary and immoral. Declarations by world leaders
such as Russia's Vladimir Putin and Pope John Paul II have
condemned the war as unjust and the motives of the governments
of the United States and the United Kingdom for using military
force are being questioned. Most shockingly, 200,000 people
in New York City protested the Iraq War in an unprecedented
show of dissent against their country's leadership. Other
demonstrations across the nation may have been smaller but
were nonetheless representative of the feelings of many Americans.
They feel that the values that America has traditionally stood
for are being threatened by the Bush Administration's headlong
rush towards unilateralism. Never before have so many Americans,
this soon into a conflict, been so vocal in their opposition.
However, the backlash against the peace movement has been
shrill and ominously threatening.
The perils of civil strife at home are no longer just the
imaginings of fringe groups on either the left or the right.
The dangers may very well depend on the actions of the widely
disparaged Justice Department being run by Attorney General
John Ashcroft. Ashcroft is a Christian fundamentalist who
is closely allied to the Christian Reconstructionist movement.
Nothing chills me more than contemplating the fact that these
people have the chance, through the policies of the Federal
Government, to have their agenda realized. Remember this,
before you can reconstruct something it is usually necessary
to destroy it. Ashcroft is on record as saying that those
who oppose the Bush Administration's policies in their "War
on Terror" are "aiding and abetting the terrorists." As the
Bushies firmly believe that their War on Iraq is simply an
extension of that War on Terror, this implies that hundreds
of thousands, if not millions, of Americans are potentially
in danger of being victims of a new kind of McCarthyism. An
official policy of cracking down on dissent may only be a
hair's breadth away. The Sedition Act and the FEMA Detention
Camps await Holy John's orders.
The only thing that may forestall such a nightmare domestic
scenario is if the American people can inspire an effective
political opposition to the Bush Administration. One must
remember that George W Bush attained the presidency through
less than savory means. As a matter of fact, a partisan Supreme
Court basically selected him to be the President. If this
unilateral war doesn't go well, if Bush becomes more and more
vulnerable to criticism, if Martial Law isn't proclaimed,
then there remains a chance that this Government can be ousted
through legal and nonviolent means. The word "impeachment"
is being heard more and more these days. Last Saturday U.S.
President George W Bush, in his weekly radio address to the
nation, once again listed a litany of reasons why he and his
neo-conservative bedfellows belonging to the Project for the
New American Century believe this war is necessary. That not
one of these excuses, according to world opinion, justifies
the current slaughter seems to matter naught. More telling,
however, was his proclamation that the "American people will
not tolerate an outlaw regime." These words shall echo throughout
history, because in the eyes of many within and without the
nation, the United States itself is under the tyrannical sway
of just such an outlaw regime. If that sentiment is true,
then this current outlaw regime may well be on its last legs.
It may not appear to be so, this Administration may appear
to be unassailable during this time of war. But pride always
goes before a fall.
Of course, as noted before about the global opposition to
this war, what is even more terrifying to think about are
the implications this Iraqi misadventure may have for the
world at large. It is quite possible that the Middle East
will soon be in an uproar, for much of the Muslim world (including
Indonesia and Malaysia) views this invasion as an attack on
Islam itself. A clash of civilizations. A new Crusade. This
is the biggest fear many of us have. In fact, crazed lunatics
of all stripes and all religions will probably seize on this
current conflict as a justification to further their causes.
Islamic extremists couldn't have received a better gift. And
despite the support that most Israelis give to the Anglo-American
invasion of Iraq, the Palestinian situation will only become
exacerbated because of it. Unless the British and Americans
can somehow secure a peace by assuring the creation of a viable
Palestinian state that can exist peacefully alongside Israel,
I fear an increase in the cycle of violence is a certainty.
It is also not an exercise in rocket science to point out
the fact that there is the danger that Iraq may become the
next Yugoslavia. Aggressive military leaders representing
the Kurds in the North and the Sh'ites in the South are both
waiting to step into the power vacuum after the war is over.
Turkey is jittery over the implications that a strong Kurdish
force may have for the terrorist problems with their Kurdish
minority in the south of their country. The recipe for a prolonged
and bloody regional conflict is being stirred up as we speak.
Another fear is that the consequences of the war may be like
throwing a giant Depleted Uranium tipped wrench into the peaceful
working relationship that has developed between the superpower
that is the United States and the other two "1A" superpowers
Russia and China. Already tensions between Russia and America
are at their highest level since the end of the Cold War.
The U.S. has formally protested the aid that Iraq has received
from certain Russian companies in helping the Iraqi regime
work on computer equipment that can jam American electronic
signals needed for precise targeting in their aerial bombardment
campaign. Russia and China both have vested economic interests
in Iraq, and feel that these interests are in dire danger
after the war is over. The fact that Iraq is home to the second
largest oil reserves on the planet is well noted. The fact
that the United States have already publicly announced that
private companies such as Haliburton, U.S. Vice President
Dick Cheney's old firm, are in line to profit from the rebuilding
of Iraq is more than suspicious. Bypassing the traditional
UN humanitarian organizations does not sit well with anyone,
especially Russia and China.
The only conclusion that one can draw when considering all
these aspects of the post-Iraq War world is that, far from
securing global peace and stability, this current conflict
will only increase the danger of an apocalyptic future. Religious
extremists and fanatical military industrialists may find
this appealing, but I can assure you that the vast majority
of the rest of us do not.
Unfortunately, it may be that our voices will be heard but
left unheeded. After all, as Bush himself said, it really
doesn't matter what we think.