The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Behind Bush's threats against Iraq

Sep 23, 2002

What's behind all the Bush administration's calls for "regime change" in Iraq?

Certainly, it has nothing to do with Bush's supposed wish to liberate the people of Iraq from the grip of a dictator, "who kills his own people," as Bush says. Most of the regimes around the world that the U.S. supports and arms are dictatorships that "kill their own people." The U.S. may call the regime in Saudi Arabia, for example, a "moderate" state. But that doesn't hide the fact that Saudi Arabia is ruled by a feudal monarchy in which there are no elections, no free speech, no freedom of the press, and women are not even allowed to drive a car – and can be stoned to death for "infidelity."Neither is Bush's talk about Iraq having "weapons of mass destruction" the real reason. All the regimes in the region have chemical and/or biological weapons. And both Pakistan and Israel have developed nuclear weapons. Even if Hussein did have "weapons of mass destruction," Hussein is not about to use them because he is not suicidal. He has no intention of giving the U.S. the pretext to attack him and his regime. This is what Brent Scowcroft, the former general and top security adviser to the first President George Bush, pointed out.

Instead, the real reason that the Bush administration is going after Hussein is that at one time, he showed a slight bit of defiance to the U.S. Back in 1990, Hussein's army invaded Kuwait without the permission of the U.S. And when the U.S. demanded that Hussein withdraw from Kuwait, he refused. It should be noted that this invasion was not some diabolical act by a madman out to take over the entire Middle East, which is how the U.S. politicians and news media often portray him. Instead, it was part of a longstanding dispute that Hussein and the sheiks of Kuwait had over control of a few oil fields that they shared along their border. The Kuwaiti oil sheiks had, in fact, provoked the Iraqi invasion by stealing oil from Iraqi oil fields by slant drilling.

But once Hussein took that independent step, the first Bush administration set out to make an example of him.

The Gulf War of 1991 was not fought to unseat a dictator – it was fought to make a demonstration of U.S. power, and of how it dealt with dictators of relatively small countries who defied it. The main victims of both the Gulf War and the trade embargo that followed have been the Iraqi people. If Hussein was not removed in 1991, it was not because of an oversight. It's because the U.S. had no one else it could count on to maintain order in Iraq if Hussein fell. If anything, the war and embargo solidified Hussein's hold on power in Iraq. If the U.S. government follows through on Bush's threats of imposing "regime change" through a massive U.S. invasion, it would be the Iraqi population which would be the principal victims once again. And this time it would be U.S. forces who will be used directly to control the population.

If the U.S. puts the screws on Hussein, while it ignores the more than 100 other dictators the world over, it's in part because Iraq sits on top of the second highest level of oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia. The U.S. expects a dictator, who controls a vital and very profitable resource like oil, to be even more servile in return for the privilege of running the country. In other words, the U.S. superpower has more reason to bring the Hussein dictatorship to heel because of the oil.

Would the U.S. oil companies like to get their hands on Iraqi oil directly? Perhaps. But what really counts is the fact that someone maintains order in Iraq and proves himself totally subservient to their wishes.

What is behind Bush's threats against Hussein and Iraq is simply a naked exercise of power.