The Euro-Imperalist Track: "Give Inspections a Chance"

Revolutionary Worker #1185, February 2, 2003, posted at

"The allies want to be able to show their skeptical voters that they have gone the last mile and made every effort to avoid a war."

New York Times , January 24

France and Germany have said, "Inspections need time"--meaning the U.S. should postpone the war. The French government has even suggested that they might use their veto in the United Nations Security Council to prevent UN approval of any immediate U.S. invasion. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld growled that France and Germany are "a real problem" for U.S. plans.

There is much less here than meets the eye.

A lot of people are looking at these controversies and hoping that French and German opposition may stop Bush from launching this war. But while millions of people in these countries are intensely opposed to a U.S. war on Iraq, the French and German governments are playing a much more complicated game.

France and Germany have different imperialist interests from the U.S. They are dependent on Persian Gulf oil for their energy needs. France and Russia have business deals going on with the current Iraqi government. They promoted the intrusive UN inspections--because they don't mind tighter imperialist control of the Persian Gulf, if it is through the UN where France and Russia have veto power. But they are not happy with unilateral American seizure of these strategic regions.

If the U.S. move can be postponed, France, Germany, and Russia increase their influence in the region (and maintain their current deals with Iraq and Iran). But by this same twisted imperialist logic, if the U.S. war isn't going to be postponed, the pressure is strong for France, Germany and Russia to support that war in various ways.

And the U.S. government already has reasons to think the French and German imperialists may come on board one way or another. The German government has quietly offered the U.S. the use of German airspace for bombers, and extra protection for the American bases in Germany that are used to launch war on Iraq.

French foreign minister Villepin held a press conference to ask that inspectors be given more time. But Powell has said he hopes that the French government can be convinced to endorse a war in mid- February--clearing the way for a UN green light for the invasion.

And, in reality, the U.S. does not expect full military participation of other countries in the invasion itself. As the former head of the Central Command, Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, points outs: "While the U.S. government would welcome the assistance of the United Kingdom and other countries, at the end of the day this will be a U.S.-led operation in which the bulk of the troops and the preponderance of combat forces will be American."

In short, when the European imperialists say "give the inspectors a chance," they are really saying "if the U.S. wants to go to war with our blessing, we want a guarantee that a U.S. occupying force will respect our influence--and oil contracts--in Iraq." And the moment the European governments decide to join the U.S. invasion--that argument can quickly turn to "We gave the inspectors a chance, and this war is now ok."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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