It has become necessary to address the Iraq issue from the more academic side, as so many intelligent people have been given only parts of the picture concerning the question of war in Iraq, and only those parts that oppose such a war. As an ardent supporter of the liberation of Iraq, for what I will show to be humanitarian and democratic reasons, I thought to bring a few of the facts concerning the situation to bare, leaving the reader to do with them what he or she wishes. The following series of articles will deal with the geopolitical situation surrounding the Iraqi controversy, and, although these article neither pretend to give all of the information on the situation, nor take on the ambitious goal of convincing people to suddenly become pro-liberation, I hope they will serve to inform those who oppose the war about the other side of the story, shine light unto the fact that decent people have decent reasons for supporting the liberation of Iraq, and give anti-War warriors a reason to think twice about their reasons for so opposing military action.
I decided to take on this task by breaking up the issue into smaller issues, each one dealt with in a separate article. This first article deals with the assumption that the entire world is against the war. The second article deals with the assumption that American action in Iraq will set a bad precedent for the international system. The third will deal with the assumption that action in Iraq will do harm to the Iraqi people in specific, and the Arab or Muslim peoples in general. The fourth article will summarize and pose the question of the future of the geopolitical international order.
Article I: Old-Axis Motives
First of all to the notion that the world is against the US and its policies: yes, two of the largest European powers have done everything in their power to oppose a military action in Iraq, and yes, they are joined by what is left of the former Soviet superpower, but why does that suddenly become the “whole world?” To think that France and Germany, the two historic warmongers of Europe responsible for the past two World Wars suddenly represent the majority of world opinion, is, in my eyes, to be rather Eurocentric. Or even just plain racist. To say that Europe is the decider of world opinion is to discount the nearly two-thirds of the world population in Asia alone, populations that have neither opposed the war, nor openly supported it.
But even if we are to not count these three billion people, it is simply not true that all of Europe opposes the war. Most people seem not to be aware that by now 19 European countries (including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, the Czech Republic, etc.), actually do support the taking of action, and have been so upset by the Franco-Prussian hijacking of the European body politic that they went above and beyond the norms of political expression by publicly expressing their support for the war in Iraq in a press-release. The leaders of these 19 countries had to use this public means of expression because they have been effectively forgotten by the world community, their voices silenced by what is now popularly referred to as “Old Europe.”
As Josef Joffe, the editor of the German weekly Die Zeit points out in the New York Times, the statement issued by the countries that their “goal is to safeguard world peace and security by ensuring that this regime gives up its weapons of mass destruction. Our governments have a common responsibility to face this threat” really is a diplomatic way to say “We are not amused that Paris and Berlin are trying to gang up on the United States in the name of Europe.” Worse off, France has recently threatened the potential new-EU members that they might not be admitted if they back America. It is interesting to note that all of these future EU members, Eastern European States, stand shoulder to shoulder with the US on the issue, saying that they know how the Iraqi people feel since they themselves lived under an oppressive tyranny.
And we should not forget that “Old Europe” has very dubious motives for preventing a war in Iraq. First, France and Iraq had a very special relationship, one that resulted in Chirac calling Saddam “my brother,” and the building of the Osiraq nuclear reactor, which Israel destroyed. Next, German scientists, or more specifically chemists, have been working with Iraq on the development of chemical weapons for decades. That could be the answer to where all of the Nazi chemical weapons specialists went after the war, and why Germany is so adamantly opposed to the removal of Saddam Hussein.
It is also quite interesting to point out that Germany and France are the two great powers of the Axis in European theater of the Second World War, and that the leadership of both of these countries have been greatly influenced by the war, in ways that are not so apparent. Although it is true that France and Germany have tried to come to terms with the war, and with the genocide that they and their populations actively carried out, the war did not turn them into moral powers overnight: France continued with its hold over Algeria, killing over one million people, and displacing over 2 million, and this doesn’t even take into account France’s on-going occupation of the lands of over three different peoples. Germany hasn’t done much better: turning its xenophobic sights on its internal Turkish/Muslim population, Germany remains a Christian country that severly limits the public practice of Islam; Germany also publically bargained with Palestinian terrorist groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s, going so far as to stage an airplane hijaking to give them an excuse to release terrorists in their custody (for more information about that, see Alan Dershowitz’s book Why Terrorism Works)
As for the third adamant anti-War nation, Belgium, it should be enough to mention that it is, well, Belgium. The major thing is has in common with France and Germany is its history as one of the countries that willingly fell to the Nazis, and that enthusiastically gave over their own citizens, who happened to be Jews. It should be noted that Belgium is one of those countries that never cared much for opposing tyranny, especially not when it is in its interests. And just to remove any doubt that Belgium might be a moral nation motivated by moral standards, one should remember that Belgium was more than a willing bystander to the genocide of Jews, carried out the brutal genocides in Africa after the War (and as David Levitz points out, we should not forget the genocide of 8-10 million Africans the Belgians carried out during their colonial days in Africa, amounting to 600,000 deaths a year). So, when reviewing Belgium’s history, it seems off that it feels it still has the right to judge and convict Ariel Sharon for not stopping the Lebanese Phallangists from carrying out Sabra and Shatilla. Sharon was wrong to not intervene, very wrong, but that does not give the right to Belgium to try him.
Lastly, Russia has more than ever to gain from the continuation of the current impasse: just ten days ago, on February 8th, Russia set up a joint oil and as company with Syria, the main smuggler of Iraqi oil. Syria, which shares a border and Ba’athist ideology with Iraqi, has earned millions from the past decade’s embargo on Iraq through smuggling oil from Iraqi over the under-regulated overland routes. It has used this money to develop its own unconventional weapons capabilities, which it sees as its only advantage over Israel. Thing is, now Russia wants in on the game, and the timing is perfect: while the world is busy with trying to inspect Sadaam’s regime, no one will be looking for oil-smugglers. The timing for Iraq is perfect too: it has been fortunate enough to purchase the influence of a veto-wielding Security Council member; in domestic politics it would be called ‘bribery,’ in international politics it is called ‘looking out for national interests.’
Is the US looking out for national interests too? Undoubtedly–that’s politics. The important question is which interests it is looking out for, and it can be said directly that the US interest is not oil. No, if the US would want oil it would take the opposite course of action: it would make a deal with Saddam’s government and raise the sanctions. If one looks at all of the facts, at all of the motives, and especially at the National Security Strategy and the writings of the Pentagon advisors such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, the interest seems to be a Pax Americana whose main staple is a world of democracy and free-markets, a world where America will be free to remove trade barriers and fully let-loose its economy. Whether or not you agree with those motives, the point is that the world as a whole does not disagree with action in Iraq. Taking all of this into account, it seems that it is Old Europe that is becoming isolated, and not the other way around.