Revolutionary Worker #1172, October 27, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
Many people are now looking to the United Nations to stop the U.S. war on Iraq. But once you analyze the motivations of the various governments in the UN Security Council it becomes clear how unrealistic such hopes are.
It is no secret that the U.S. allies, France and Germany, and the former U.S. rival Russia, oppose U.S. conquest of Iraq. U.S. officials claim it is because the European powers are weak in the face of "threat."
But the real reason is that these major powers have their own strategic interests in the Persian Gulf. Germany and France rely on Persian Gulf oil--their ruling classes are uneasy about the U.S. conducting "open heart surgery" on major oil arteries and, on another level, they are deeply uneasy about the possibility of permanent, direct U.S. control of the world's key oilfields. A U.S. military disaster in the Gulf could deeply disrupt Europe's economy, and a U.S. military victory in the Gulf could leave Europe vulnerable to U.S. control.
Their imperialist interests lead these European ruling classes to support "containment" of Iraq--its disarmament and neutralization through outside pressure--but not "regime change."
The Russian imperialists have huge investments in Iraq and long-standing relations with its current government. The New York Times reports (Oct. 17) that Russian companies control the rights to sell 40 percent of Iraq's oil on world markets. And the Russian capitalists are way ahead in the real prize: One Russian oil company estimates that Russian companies have deals covering more than 70 billion barrels of oil--more than half of Iraq's reserves. All of this could disappear in a U.S. invasion--if the post- Saddam government is told by the invaders to ice-out Russian interests. Without the money from these investments, the Russian economy will be badly shaken.
This has produced the diplomatic tango in the United Nations--where the U.S. demanded a blank check to invade Iraq, and other Security Council members demanded a right to have a say at key turning points. This shows that the United Nations Security Council is not "a forum for the world community"--but a "meeting of the families" where major gangsters wheel-and-deal over the bodies of their potential victims.
The U.S. ruling class clearly sees itself as the " the capo di tutti capi "--the mafia overlord--and threatens the other powers: "with us or against us."
When Gerhard Schroeder won the leadership of Germany in the recent elections--by opposing Bush's "adventures" in the Gulf--the U.S. ruling class responded harshly. After Rumsfeld refused to shake hands with Germany's war minister at a European conference, Richard Perle called for regime-change in Germany--in words usually reserved for neocolonies like Panama.
Former CIA head James Woolsey openly said that if France did not support U.S. war on Iraq, the U.S. should use the post-Saddam government there to deny France access to oil. The Iraqi National Congress (an exiled group financed by the CIA) chimed in. Their head, Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein, told Reuters that if he came to power in Iraq, his clique would "review the Russian and French contracts in particular."
Meanwhile, a CIA document was leaked to the French newspaper Le Monde which accused the French government of selling Mirage jets to Iraq that were equipped with special tanks for spreading germ warfare. This was a not-so-subtle shot across the bow of the French government--a threat that if they don't join the U.S. war on Iraq, they may find themselves accused of being a co-conspirator in Saddam Hussein's alleged plans.
Next door to Russia, the key U.S.-sponsored $3 billion oil pipeline is about to be constructed across Georgia. It will help connect the oil center of Baku with the Turkish Mediterranean port Ceyhan. This pipeline, when finished, will compete with a rival Russian-sponsored pipeline that already connects the Caspian Sea with the ocean-going tankers in the Black Sea. Russia wants to stop the cross-Turkey pipeline which would wrench Caspian Sea oil from Russian hands, and place it in U.S. hands.
So the Russians have offered a gangster deal to the U.S.: They offer to support the U.S. attack on Iraq (in the name of "war on terrorism") if the U.S. allows Russia to attack Georgia (in the name of "war on terrorism"). This would delay (or even torpedo) the U.S.-sponsored Baku- Ceyhan pipeline.
The U.S. godfather has scornfully rejected this deal. The U.S. is determined to take Baku's Caspian oil for itself. And it thinks Russia will have no choice but to back down--and offer support in exchange for some promise from the U.S. that at least part of Russian influence in Iraq will be allowed to continue. And even there the U.S. is playing hardball. U.S. officials refuse to give any guarantees that Russia can maintain its operations in a post-war Iraq. "We have made it clear to them that we understand their economic interests," one senior American official told the New York Times . "It does not mean we'll sign blank checks. The approach will be to offer them a level playing field." This implies that the U.S. intends to reopen all contracts for Iraqi oil and allow the Russian oil companies to bid over again in competition to Western rivals.
None of these powers--France, Germany, or Russia--are against the domination over poorer third world countries. None of them (obviously) are against plundering the oilfields of the Middle East or profiting from the wealth of these countries. What the disagreements in the UN boil down to is a fight over how strategic spheres of influence--not just in Iraq but in the emerging world order--will be carved up. And over who will ultimately do the carving.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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