Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Truth Behind The Iraq Invasion And A Possible US Conflict With Iran

I originally wrote the following in January 2006 and have decided to resubmit it, with minimal alterations, because of its increasing relevance to the current situation in the US/Middle East:

It is now openly obvious why the US (and its 'coalition of the willing') invaded Iraq (without UN backing) in 2003 under the banner ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’. It wasn't for the reasons the Bush administration maintained at the time (suspected WMD, a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda, etc. etc.) but to do with the petrodollar. Many people suspected that oil was the underlying reason but few were aware of the more important need to maintain the 'petrodollar recycling' system.

Petrodollar recycling was introduced by the US in the early 70's, when Middle Eastern countries were beginning to produce oil of their own under the OPEC group of nations. Previously, most of the worlds oil was supplied by the US and all trading in this market was carried out using US dollars. When OPEC came into competition with the US oil giants, the Americans struck a deal with their Middle Eastern counterparts in which they would supply Saudi Arabia, etc. with arms as long as OPEC traded their oil in dollars. This meant that if a country wanted oil, for example Japan, they had to sell to the US their home-produced products (Toyota cars for example) in order to raise the necessary dollars to buy their oil from an OPEC country. These dollars were then invested back into the US by, for example, Saudi Arabia and this left the US in a great position. As long as they could print enough dollars to meet demand they would continue to dominate the worlds oil markets and would (and did) make a fortune doing so. This is what ultimately has made the US into the worlds only superpower, with the ability to afford the necessary military might to match.

Thirty years later, at the turn of the millenium, this cosy arrangement came under threat. Saddam Hussein announced his intention to begin trading oil in the other world currency - Euros - and began doing so before the US invasion in 2003. This gave the US serious concerns. With a massive dept of trillions of dollars (made worse by the habit of the average US citizen to spend far more than they saved, using credit to do so) the US could not afford to stand by and watch the petrodollar recycling system be undermined. The risk to the country's status as sole superpower was massive and with the debt the prospect of US economic collapse was very much a reality.

When elected into office, George Bush had as priority #1 to sort out this petrodollar threat by gaining control of Iraq and in 2003 he invaded. One of the first post-war actions was to revert the country's oil trading currency back to the US dollar, even though this meant that approximately 13% of Iraqs trading value was instantly lost (because the Euro was worth more than the dollar at the time). The invasion was also to serve as an example to neighbouring oil producers not to go down the same 'petroeuro' route.

Unfortunately, Iran has plans to begin trading its oil in Euros and Saudi Arabia is giving serious consideration to the idea. Should this happen the US is likely to economically implode, with its massive military very quickly becoming an unaffordable asset. America would become little more than just another country and its global influence would be consigned to the history books, something that is regarded as unthinkable by the corporate elite.

So the US looks increasingly likely to carry out an attack on Iran, probably involving tactical 'battlefield' nuclear weapons (in an attempt to destroy underground installations there). It is not because the Iranians are close to producing their own nuclear arsenal (the Washington Post reported that the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of Iran’s nuclear program revealed that, “Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years.” (see source) but rather to keep the petrodollar on track.

Wargame simulations carried out by the US resulted in the following conclusion being reached by Sam Gardiner, the retired Air Force colonel who has run war games at the National War College for the past two decades: “After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers: You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.” The problem is, as was highlighted in the Iraq invasion and post-war years, that the neo-cons in the Bush administration are prone to acting illogically and against advice provided by people who know far better than themselves. Internationally-respected reporter Seymour Hearsh wrote the following in The New Yorker one year ago:

In my interviews [with former high-level intelligence officials], I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran. Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’ the former [CIA] intelligence official told me. But the [Bush administration officials] say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned – not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there."

However, a disturbing article by intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi who, in an article entitled “In Case of Emergency, Nuke Iran,”, said:

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.

Should the US decide to carry out such an attack on Iran, China would undoubtedly become involved, since its massive economic expansion is heavily reliant on oil from the region. The US is leading us down a road to potential global conflict in order to protect its dominance in the world oil markets and is seemingly likely to bring about the pre-conditions to justify an attack regardless of the consequences. Hopefully there will be no 'coalition of the willing' giving Bush and Cheney some kind of international credibility and this may help to deter them from following their plans through, but we're surely in for a bumpy year, one in which the spectre of the US administration and its shadowy backers showing its true colours is quite horrifying.

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