Resources on Iraq War
A short information leaflet about the war - please adapt as you wish - designed to fit on 2 sides of A4 which can be reduced to two sides of A5:
does 'the USA' want an Iraqi war?
How can we summarise the USA government's underlying interests in relation to Iraq? ?Iraq is an 'old enemy' from the Gulf War of 1991 (though previously an 'old friend', much supported with weapons of mass destruction and technology by the USA even when they knew what was being done to the Kurds and other opposition groups within Iraq); George Bush Junior would like to finish what George Bush Senior started. ?Iraq is headed by a dictator who has done many evil things. There is no dispute about that. The USA sees itself as a force for good in the world. ?Iraq is an easy target for a winnable war. How can you win a 'war against terrorism' of the al Qaeda variety? The latter is much more difficult. ?The USA is the only world superpower and sees itself as invincible and morally superior to the rest of the world (this partly comes from the right wing Christian ideology prevalent in the US administration) so it is it its duty to 'sort out' trouble spots where this concurs with US interests (note: 'sorting out' the Israel/Palestine issue is much more tangential to US interests and the Jewish lobby in the USA helps ensure ongoing support for Israel). ?The USA is in dire need of secure supplies of oil as its internal supply decreases but demand increases: see box below. The refusal of the heavily oil industry dominated US administration to even contemplate switching to alternative energy sources (e.g. copping out of even the modest and limited Kyoto agreement) means the USA is extremely vulnerable in relation to oil supply.
The USA and oil ?
We are not so simplistic to imagine that the USA's only interest in going to war in Iraq is to get a secure supply of oil. But one thing is very noticeable. The US will administer Iraq as an occupying power after a 'successful' war and the Iraqi political opposition in exile is very fractured. The USA will control the government and the oil supply until it is sure the Iraqi situation is stable enough to ensure a benevolent regime for their interests in the foreseeable future.
Given the propaganda war which has been ensuing between primarily the US and UK governments on one side, and Bush and Blair in particular, with most of the rest of the world, the USA has said nothing about handing over control of the oil supply to the United Nations or a neutral body. Given the depths US propaganda has been reduced to (e.g. claiming a statement of support by Osama bin Laden about Iraq is evidence of al Qaeda-Iraq links) it would be incredible if they were acting 'disinterestedly' but were not making propaganda out of it. It can therefore be safely stated that the USA has a major interest in a stable supply of Iraqi oil.
At what level the US Administration even admits to itself its interest in Iraqi oil is a good question. It may be that they simply feel their interests and the interests of 'the world' coincide and that there is nothing wrong with that. But 'the world' in general does not support war on Iraq (nor does 'the world' support the USA's gas-guzzling culture). And the concept of a pre-emptive strike against Iraq because of something which it may do in the future is illegal in international law, immoral and an issue that may come home to roost in the future. If the US and UK can make a pre-emptive strike against Iraq (with or without UN sanction), then who else will be prevented from taking similar action in the future?
If the USA was interested in more than a change of regime in Iraq to one which was friendly to the USA and 'the West' then there is something positive they could do. They could encourage 'people power' in that country. This would include ending most international sanctions so Iraqis are fit and well. Of course arms embargos should continue. The experience of Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s, and the Philippines and Indonesia since then, indicates that even very repressive regimes are not immune to uprisings of non-violent popular protest - and these are extremely difficult to put down with military means. Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator who would have killed his granny if he felt the need to do so; that does not mean that he is immune to popular pressure.
But the thing with going down this path is that there are problems for the USA. Firstly, it would be primarily the Iraqi people doing it themselves, and that would not look well for the USA. Secondly, there is a different timescale; it is a waiting game, building up an opposition and awaiting the right time, it is not like a war where, with vast technological superiority, the USA could be sure of victory almost to a timetable. The advantages are, however, much greater; there is unlikely to be the couple of million refugees predicted for a war and 'people power' would be a force for democratisation. Nor would the USA and UK be encouraging, by their actions, the very forces of terrorism which they purport to attack; a war on Iraq will ensure an increased number of terrorist attacks on the USA, Britain and other 'western' countries. In the 20th century, the First World War led directly to the Second World War; what may the Second Gulf War lead to?
The USA and UK still have a choice. They can go with an illegal crusade (which is also how it will be seen in the Arab and Muslim world) which risks destabilisation of the Middle East and is certain to increase terrorism, and which will further penalise ordinary Iraqis. Or they can engage with the rest of the world, including the UN and the Arab and Islamic world, in dealing with the Saddam Hussein regime, and work with and encourage Iraqi opposition groups over an indefinite time scale. The days of Saddam Hussein's regime will be numbered but waiting and working quietly for something requires infinitely more patience than going for a short and bloody war.
It is clear that George W Bush wants Iraq over a barrel - of crude. If it comes to war then 'the USA' will win. The losers will be the Iraqi people, international law, and the people of the West who can expect increased terrorist attacks and tension as a result; the losers will also be the ordinary people of the USA and UK who will suffer ongoing cuts in social provision to pay for the war. ?This leaflet is produced by Justice Not Terror Coalition, Belfast [2.2003] Contact at 028 - 90 64 71 06 (phone and fax), or mobile 0771 511 0517, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and group website http://groups.yahoo.com/group/justice-not-terror ?JNTC organises a weekly vigil outside Tescos, Royal Avenue, Belfast, Thursdays from 12 noon to 1 p.m., and other events
2. A piece of street theatre on the war
'Evel Knievel' street theatre
Commentator: "Oh, you know how the phrase 'axis of evil' was used by Bush, well, we have here today a representative of 'The Axis of Evel Knievel' - this includes Bush/the government of the USA, Blair/the president of the UK, and any of their allies who go to, or support, the war on Iraq. " Why 'Axis of Evel Knievel'? - Because they are trying to do some fancy but dangerous stunts to impress people, - the risks are great, - it's all up in the air (which is where the bombs would come from too), with lots of showmanship, - and a major part of it is impressing people and not losing face. - We am not impressed and neither are the bulk of the population of this globe. - Just look at the crazy stunt Evel Knievel's going to do, jumping over all these dead bodies."
Note: this requires rehearsal, particularly exactly who will do what in grabbing 'Evel' and his bike so no one is hurt, knocked or run over. Safety first! This piece can be repeated at regular intervals and/or in different places.
Web/E-mail resources on the war
For online information and debate in Ireland, including almost instant reports from activists, the Indymedia (Independent Media Centre) site at www.indymedia.ie is a good source. The Shannon Peace Camp/House site is at www.shannonpeacecamp.org The website of the Irish Anti-War Movement is at www.irishantiwar.org In terms of English-language newspaper coverage some of the best is at the British Guardian's site www.guardian.co.uk/iraq