August 27, 2006
"Naturally, the common people don't want war
... but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the
policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along,
whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a
parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the
people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is
easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and
denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the
country to danger. It works the same in every country."
Once again we are being prepared for another
devastating war in the Middle East. A terrorist group is "allegedly"
discovered planning to blow-up 6 aircraft in UK .
Another group is "discovered" in Germany planning to
blow-up a train .
Then UK warns whole Europe about the threat of terrorism .
Then there are "loud" accusations that Iran has been
trying to buy Uranium from Congo 
followed by a small retraction 
Then there is the release of the 9/11 sound tapes of the
fire-fighters along with the release of the emotional movie "9/11".
And finally we have the President of the United States warning us
about the threat of Islamo-Fascism.
We are constantly reminded that our very lives are
in danger. If it is not the threat of poison gas, anthrax,
conventional explosives, dirty radiation bombs then it is some
unexplained clear liquid. The favourite target is of course
aircrafts, or was it trains, or may be it was ships, or was it
tunnels? There is no end to the methods that the terrorists use and
places that they could kill us in (read "The Great Deception").
And despite all the wars and billions and billions of dollars that
governments are pouring into this war on terror, it seems that we are
no safer now than we were in 2001. And every so often Mr. Bin Laden
or his lieutenants come on TV to tell us that they are still in
Afghanistan. How on earth Mr. Bin Laden, that needs dialysis machine
to stay alive, has managed to hide for three years in Afghanistan is
beyond me. He must be a very clever man indeed.
But like the hated "Goldstein" of
George Orwell’s "1984" ,
Mr. Bin Laden is alive and well and his organisation can still scare
us witless. Now people are so scared that if you look Middle Eastern
or Asian, you are automatically assumed to be a terrorist. And as
though we did not have enough threats hanging over us, we are
introduced to a new one: "being Middle Eastern/Asian while
travelling". This was recently demonstrated in Malaga, Spain
when two young men were removed from the plane because other
"passengers" were worried that they were acting
suspiciously (i.e., looking foreign and talking in a language that
others didn’t understand).
"The removal of two men from a holiday flight on the grounds
that fellow passengers feared they were terrorists was condemned
yesterday. The pair, thought to be in their 20s and of Middle Eastern
or Asian appearance, were removed from a flight to Manchester from
Malaga, Spain, after passengers became suspicious of their behaviour.
In the early hours of Wednesday a number of passengers on Monarch
Airlines flight ZB613 left the plane, refusing to fly unless the two
men were removed, causing a three-hour delay.
Passengers are reported to have become suspicious
after the men were overheard apparently speaking Arabic and seen
repeatedly checking their watches, although this has not been
confirmed by the airline." 
I suppose if we do not urge our leaders to invade
Iran soon, we will have to go through a strip search before boarding
planes, trains or buses.
We are being mentally prepared for what is about
to come: a devastating war with Iran. This war has been planned a
long time ago and has been delayed by the unexpected insurgency in
Iraq (for full details read "Why Iraq and Now Iran").
This war, in one form or other, is "almost" inevitable.
The current US administration has climbed on a tiger, and in fear of
being eaten, doesn’t know how to get-off.
1997 another set of Neo-Conservatives that included personalities
such as Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz
Elliott Abrams, Lewis Libby, Eliot A. Cohen and others, created a
think-tank organisation by the name of "The Project for the New
American Century". They stated their vision of the new world in
their "statement of Principles". To their credit, they
were very honest about their goals. They said:
"We aim to make the case and rally support
for American global leadership. As the 20th century draws to a close,
the United States stands as the world's pre-eminent power. Having led
the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and
a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the
achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the
resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and
The fact is that these people saw what was evident
to many other national leaders, the declining power of the United
States, and they wanted to arrest that decline. After years of
super-spending in WWII, and later an arms-race with Soviet Union, the
shape and character of the US economy had changed. By year 2000, it
was clear that US could no longer compete with such emerging giants
as China and India. China, unlike Soviet Union, is not hampered by
the inherent economic flaws of the communist system. Chinese have
shown us how over one billion people working hard under a centralised
control can achieve tremendous economic growth. And as always it is
the economy of a country that underpins its military power. China is
growing exponentially and with it its prestige and military might.
China is followed closely by India and a host of other smaller
nations, not to mention Russia. As these countries grow they try to
find their own place under the sun. They no longer appreciate being
under the shadows of a giant (read "Cold War II"). They
do not bend so easily to the wishes of the US and demand
reciprocality in their trade; and at times they may even demand deals
more skewed in their favour.
The US is a declining empire (read "The
Coming Financial Crisis") and can no longer afford to play by
the rules; not that it ever was inclined to do so. The talk of
pre-emption was a clear sign of the fear that soon US would not be
able to control the situation. It was decided to try to arrest the
growth and ambition of all those countries that were going to
challenge the US hegemony in the international system. But
pre-emption is a last desperate attempt to stop the inevitable. The
folly of believing that by pre-emption a great power can hold its
place in the international system is clearly stated by the historian
"So far as international system is
concerned, wealth and power, or economic strength and military
strength, are always relative and should be seen as such. Since they
are relative, and since all societies are subject to the inexorable
tendency to change, then international balances can never be still,
and it is a folly of statesmanship to assume that they ever would
or not, this is exactly what the current US administration is trying
to do. After examining all the possible scenarios of how to forestall
the US’ decline, it came up with one solution: control of oil
fields. If the US could physically control the sources of world
energy, it could practically determine the growth of the world
economies and by extension their military powers that were to
challenge it in the future. Of course, the US government could
achieve a similar outcome by entering into an alliance with two major
Middle Eastern countries Iran and Iraq, but this would require a
rethink of its Israel strategy; something that a US president is not
even allowed to contemplate.
they tried to implement this grand strategy. The current US
administration under the pretext of "war on terror"
invaded Iraq and occupied it. Now we have to note that Iraq was
chosen first because it was extremely weak. After 8 years of war with
Iran, a devastating war with the US and its coalition in Kuwait and
nearly 10 years of sanctions, Iraq was in no position to put-up any
kind of resistance. On top of all these, the US government through
its agents in UN team in Iraq had obtained blueprints of all military
installations, and had even bought the general responsible for the
defence of Baghdad.
It was envisaged that once Iraq was occupied and
the population pacified, the US and UK forces would turn around and
occupy the Iranian Southern oil region of Khuzestan. The area is
relatively flat and is ideal for armour assault. Once the oil fields
are occupied, it was thought, it would be only a matter of time for
the regime in Tehran to collapse; paving the way for a puppet regime
to be installed in Tehran.
Natural Gas Reserves/Production. Source BP
Having bases in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and
Bahrain, the US would control over 30% of the world’s natural
gas and over 61% of the world proven oil reserves. China, India, EU
and others had to then pay tribute to the US to ensure their economic
survival. If that was not enough, the US would create a sphere of
influence in Iraq and Iran analogous to the old colonial system of
economic exploitation. I know that you may find this difficult to
accept; after all we can not believe that these sorts of things can
happen today. But it does happen and what is more, people love to
make it happen. To make my point clear, consider what this US
administration had planned for Iraq.
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)
after the occupation of Iraq, United State created the Coalition
Provisional Authority (CPA). CPA was to act as a provisional
government until such a time as Iraqis could hold an election and
create a government. Mr. Paul Bremer was given the full power to do
as he liked.
"The CPA is vested with all executive,
legislative and judicial authority necessary to achieve its
objectives, to be exercised under relevant U.N. Security Council
resolutions, including Resolution 1483 (2003), and the laws and
usages of war. This authority shall be exercised by the CPA
Mr. Bremer was appointed the President, the
parliament and the Supreme Court. He immediately started issuing
orders that in effect were laws. There are a total of 100 orders. I
can only list a few here to make my point; but if you are interested
you can read all the orders by clicking
HERE. Some of his
interesting orders are as follows:
No. 39:allows for: (1)
privatization of Iraq's 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) up
to100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; (3)
"national treatment" — which means no preferences for
local over foreign businesses; (4) unrestricted,
tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds;
and (5) 40-year ownership licenses.
"Thus, it forbids Iraqis from receiving preference in the
reconstruction while allowing foreign corporations —
Halliburton and Bechtel, for example — to buy up Iraqi
businesses, do all of the work and send all of their money home. They
cannot be required to hire Iraqis or to reinvest their money in the
Iraqi economy. They can take out their investments at any time and in
No. 57 and
No. 77 ensure the
implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and
inspector generals in every government ministry, with
five-year terms and with sweeping authority over
contracts, programs, employees and regulations.
No. 17 grants
foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity
from Iraq's laws. Even if they, say, kill someone or cause an
environmental disaster, the injured party cannot turn to the Iraqi
legal system. Rather, the charges must be brought to U.S. courts.
No. 40 allows foreign
banks to purchase up to 50% of Iraqi banks.
No. 49 drops the tax
rate on corporations from a high of 40% to a flat
15%. The income tax rate is also capped at 15%.
No. 12 (renewed on Feb.
24) suspends "all tariffs, customs
duties, import taxes, licensing fees and similar surcharges for goods
entering or leaving Iraq." This led to an
immediate and dramatic inflow of cheap foreign consumer products —
devastating local producers and sellers who were thoroughly
unprepared to meet the challenge of their mammoth global
I talk about neo-colonisation of the Middle East I am speaking of the
above laws and regulations. United States, citing national security,
has consistently refused to allow foreign companies or individuals to
control major American companies. The US congress refused to approve
the sale of some US ports to a UAE company because of "national
security" reasons 
If a foreigner wants to own more than a certain percentage of a US
company (e.g., TVs, Newspapers etc) he/she has to become a US
citizen. Yet when it comes to Iraq, it is an open country for western
corporations to do as they wish.
as Murphy’s Law dictates, everything that can go wrong will go
wrong; and in the case of Iraq it did go wrong. First it took over 4
months to capture Saddam Hussein. The number of troops employed was
not sufficient for the job. The people not only did not welcome the
occupation troops with flowers but also started a full-blown
guerrilla war as well. Now the troops that were supposed to turn
around and go into Iran had to stay to fight the insurgents. The UN
and others that were against the invasion were not going to help
either. They had tried their best to stop the invasion without any
This has left the US and UK governments in a
quagmire. They had calculated that the invasion of Iraq was going to
cost around $100 billion. "When Lawrence Lindsey, then
President Bush's top economic adviser, said in September 2002 that
war in Iraq might cost the United States as much as $200 billion,
other top aides rebuked him and Bush fired him three months later"
Now the total Iraq war cost is estimated to reach as much as 2
trillion dollars .
US had calculated that with a swift occupation of Iraq, the oil
fields could be brought online, reducing the price of oil; this has
also back-fired. The oil fields, pipelines and installations have
been under heavy insurgent fire .
It is three years since Iraq was occupied and its oil fields still
can not produce anything close to half of the 5 to 6 million
barrel/day that the US/UK had envisaged. The oil prices have stayed
at 60 to 78 dollar range, with no sign of weakening. This simply can
not continue. United States can not endure this for many more years.
Its economy simply can not cope with these kinds of oil prices and
the cost of military operations abroad.
We all know that the higher oil prices affect GDPs negatively. The
only question is to what extend. Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère
have studied this problem and published their result in the Journal
of Applied Economics.
"We find that in the US the
output loss resulting from a 100% oil price hike increases from
around 3.5% in the linear approach to 5% in the scaled case. Among
the other oil importing countries, the respective increase in the
output loss arising from the same shock is from around 2% to a range
of 3 to 5% in the case of individual euro area countries, from less
than 1% to 2% in the case of the euro area as a whole, and from very
small values to around 1% in Canada."
Three and a half percent or five percent may sound marginal, but it
is only when one looks at the dollar amount that one begins to see
the significant of this loss.
(United States GDP 2005) 12.47 trillion dollars X 3.5% = 436.45
(United States GDP 2005) 12.47 trillion dollars X 5% = 623.5 billion
The negative affect of higher oil prices on GDP
has not been ignored by the United States. The Energy Information
Administration (EIA) estimates that the negative effect of high oil
prices on U.S. GDP will be felt for years to come.
No US administration has ever damaged United
States’ interests so heavily and in such a short time as Bush’s
administration. This administration has managed to alienate over 1
billion Muslims around the world. It has alienated Europeans,
Africans, and Asians. It has used threat of force to force nations
into submission, and instead of wining friends has created enemies
across the globe. Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela are just to
mention a few countries, out of fear (for details read "Cold
War II") are trying their utmost to make sure that US doesn’t
get any stronger.
This has left US with few options. Having destroyed the balance of
power in the Middle East, it is left with either accepting the new
arrangement, or throw the whole world into an unimaginable economic
US has three options: (1) Withdraw from Iraq, (2)
make a grand bargain with Iran, or (3) attack Iran.
The first option is a huge strategic defeat for
the US; something that will affect all the countries in the Middle
East. A US withdrawal is tantamount to a defeat. The US clients
having backed the US against the will of their populations will have
to make a U-turn making similar security deals with Iran, ensuring
an even greater strategic rise in the Iranian power.
US can not/will not come to terms with Iran.
United States, after spending billions of dollars, not to mention
the thousands of American dead and wounded wants to have economic
and strategic compensation. Iran does not accept US hegemony and
demands security guarantees from US that it will not in the future
invade Iran; something that US doesn’t want to give. There is
also the matter of Israel. Iran has become the centre of the Islamic
and Arab world. Muslims now look to Iran to protect the interest of
the Palestinians. A grand bargain would also mean that Israel has to
vacate the occupied lands and return to its 1967 borders, something
that the US Jewish lobby does not accept.
This leaves US with only one choice:
weaken/isolate Iran first (if possible) and then attack it. All the
talk about NPT and uranium enrichment etc is geared towards this
This administration has painted itself into a
corner. It is in a lose-lose situation. The only difference is that
if it attacks Iran, US ensures that at least lots of other countries
will suffer as well. The attack, tactics, strategies and consequences
take too much space to mention here. So I leave that part for the
next article; for now, let it suffice to say that if US attacks Iran,
we all have to get used to riding bicycles. The future doesn’t
look bright at all. It seems that this administration is bent on
destroying anything that it can not control; and by doing this, it is
losing all controls.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
William Butler Yeats: "The Second Coming".
Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a consultant and a contributing
writer for many online journals. He is also on the editorial board of
CASMII. He's a former associate professor of Nordland University,
Abbas Bakhtiar, all rights reserved.
George Orwell, ’1984’, Plume (Centennial Edition), UK
1949 ISBN 0452284236 (Paperback edition)
Paul Kennedy, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers",
Fontana Press, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road. Hammersmith, London W6 8JB,
UK. Page 693. ISBN 0 00 686052 4
R. Jimenez-Rodriguez and M. Sanchez. "Oil Price Shocks and
Real GDP Growth: Empirical Evidence for Some OECD Countries,"
Applied Economics, Vol. 37, No. 2 (February 2005), pp. 201-228.