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History repeating itself in Iraq crisis
Posted: Monday, March 10, 2003

by Firas Al-Atraqchi

During the Iraq-Iran war, which bled in excess of one million fatalities on both sides from 1980 to 1988, Iraq was touted as the defender of the Arabs' Eastern Gate from the Persian Horde. The US Reagan administration at the time realized that, if Iraq fell, the entire oil-rich Arab Persian Gulf would succumb to Iran's virulent brand of Shiite Islamic governance, stripping the US and the west of vital oil supplies.

The fear in the Reagan administration was that Iran could reach through Iraq and tie the knot with Syria and Lebanon's Hizbullah. Not only would Iran control 66 percent of the world's oil supply, but also be in a position to seriously threaten Israel's security.

Consequently, the Reagan administration, with the help of George Bush Sr.'s CIA, decided to tip the balance in Iraq's favor ever so slightly. However, the Reagan administration did not yet have diplomatic ties with Iraq (these were severed after the Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel), but did manage to maintain tacit support through Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

It would later emerge that Egypt's late Anwar Sadat, who was despised by Saddam for the peace deal with Israel, would supply nearly US$1 billion in weapons and ammunition. Iraqi military personnel would later reveal that the Egyptian weapons were antiquated and barely functioning.

For their part, the Saudis and Kuwaitis poured billions in dollars into Iraq's military infrastructure, including various weapons of mass destruction programs. So entrenched in their support of Iraq were the Kuwaiti authorities that any scrutiny of the Iraqi leadership would be viciously attacked and vilified.

Socialism brand

Famed historian Edward Said would later recall his exchange with a Kuwaiti official regarding Iraq's Baathist brand of socialism: "in an open conversation with the then Minister of Education Hassan Al-Ibrahim I accused him and his regime of aiding and abetting Arab fascism in their financial support of Saddam Hussein. I was told then that Kuwait was proud to have committed billions of dollars to Saddam's war against 'the Persians,' as they were then contemptuously called, and that it was a more important struggle than someone like me could comprehend."

However, the Reagan administration was very careful not to tip the balance too much in Iraq's favor and allowed Israel to supply logistic and minor military aid to Iran. It seems beyond imagination that Iran and Israel would aid one another, but wartime does create strange bedfellows (refer to Israel saving Jordan's King Hussein during Black September in 1970). This was all hush-hush, of course, but would later culminate in the famous Iran-Contra Affair, of which Oliver North is so famously attached.

Nevertheless, the mandate was clear; Iraq was to defend the Arab Gulf states, and by economic extension, the West and the US from Iran's expansionist Islamic revolution.

The Iraq-Iran war ended with a military stalemate, both economies virtually impotent. Then came the invasion of Kuwait, the 1991 Gulf War, and 12 years of economic sanctions.

In 2003, Iraq is yet again playing a role. This time, ironic as it may seem, Iraq is the battleground, the last stand between efforts to create an American Empire and the will of the rest of the world. Indeed, there may be various economic, moral, or diplomatic reasons why the grand former colonialist powers of Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Russia, etc) are so opposed to the US position o要 Iraq, but they do share a common trepidation that the US foreign policy and economic will eventually dominate them; the birth of a new Roman Empire, if you will.

History is repeating itself, albeit in a subtle way: today we are o要 the threshold of 1914 pre-war Europe as the colonial powers argued amongst each other in the shadow of nationalistic aspirations.

American vision

Beyond the shrewd arguments of eliminating weapons of mass destruction lies the undeniable desire, the overwhelming confidence that the US is both militarily and economically (not so much this o要e, anymore) able to wield its influence around the world. True, the US has played a major role in policy in most areas of the world, but an invasion of Iraq would ensure that the "American vision," or pax Americana, becomes global.

In December 2000, George W. Bush told the press that Saddam was a threat to oil markets and he would "have to be dealt with." In his first week in office, Bush ordered a token, albeit prophetic, cruise missile strike o要 Iraq

In the next few months and years, the plan is to have Iraq become a sterile democracy, its oil wealth would feed world economies for eons to come, and other regional bullies would fall in line, either through direct US intervention or to the disgruntled anger of their 'enslaved' peoples.

The Middle East conflict, the Palestinian-Israeli quagmire, would be resolved as militants in Palestine realize they have no support and give in to peace talks, paving the way for a two-state solution.

The US economy would get a viagra-like shot in the arm; millions of jobs will be created in the US just to fix Iraq's debilitated oil infrastructure as oil prices plunge to nearly US$7 a barrel.

Russia's growing influence as a major oil exporter would be diminished; Saudi Arabia would be abandoned for "greener pastures" (Iraq), and with democratic institutions blossoming around the Middle East, Islamic extremism would die out with a whimper. China would remain a paper tiger as it relies o要 the US for a stable oil flow.

Innumerable risks

Mirroring the post World War II Marshall plan, the Middle East, and subsequently, the rest of the world, will enjoy unprecedented prosperity under the wings of the American Eagle.

While this may sound like a dream to die for, there are innumerable risks involved. Listing them would require an entire volume of works; suffice to say there are cultural, religious, and historic grievances that are not taken into account. Iraq is not Germany; the Germans shared a common religion, a common philosophic foundation, and a common white European heritage with the Allies. Iraq has nothing in common with the U.S.

Furthermore, Iraq is not Japan. The Japanese, by tradition, were servile and obedient to Emperor Hirohito, who was not arrested nor brought to trial, but left intact as a figurehead for the Japanese to identify with. Iraq will not have an Iraqi at the helm, but according to news reports, a white, Christian, American woman -- former Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine. She has nothing in common with the Iraqi people.

Moreover, the Iraqis, and by extension, the rest of the Arab and Muslim populace are unlikely to appreciate being "whipped into shape." The notion that an invasion of Iraq is a final chapter of the Crusades is a prevalent o要e in that part of the world.

From a strategic point of view, if all goes well, the world will witness the birth of empire in the next few months. If something unexpected or unaccounted for occurs, the empire will be stillborn and global carnage may follow. - Yellow

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