[corp-focus] Corporations, War, You
Robert Weissman rob@essential.org
Thu, 06 Feb 2003 18:49:12 -0500

Corporations, War, You
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

One thing is clear about the Bush administration's current rush to war:
It has nothing to do with protecting U.S. security.

There is no evidence nor reason to believe that Iraq possesses nuclear
weapons. The Iraqi military is among the weakest in the Middle East. And
the CIA says that Iraq does not pose a terrorist threat to the United
States -- although it might, the CIA warns, if the United States
launches an attack.

What is much less clear is the actual reason for war, especially because
it poses real risks to U.S. corporate and geopolitical interests.

There are material interests served by war and the run-up to war, of course.

Big Oil: It should go without saying that the Bush administration, like
administrations before it, obsesses about the Persian Gulf because it
sits atop the world's largest oil reserves. The Washington, D.C.-based
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network's Steve Kretzmann argues that
central to the U.S. industry interest in Iraq is its potential role as a
counterbalance to Saudi Arabia, which possesses the world's largest oil
reserves by far.

The Military-Industrial Think Tank Complex I: A network of defense
industry-backed think tanks have been instrumental in cooking up the
rationale for invasion of Iraq, developing concepts such as "preemptive
war." Many of the staff at these think tanks are now part of the Bush
administration. Former defense company executives and consultants are
also extremely well represented in the administration, and wield
enormous influence. For the industry, war and hyped threats to national
security mean greater expenditures on their weaponry. The Defense budget
is set to hit $380 billion this year, rising over the next five years to
a approach a staggering $500 billion.

The Ideology of Empire: The ideology and geopolitical strategy of the
war-mongering extremist networks is, in a word, empire. They hope to
demonstrate how awesome and dominant is U.S. military force, and that
the United States is willing to use it routinely on whatever pretext it
chooses. Their intended message: Cross the empire at your peril.

But more is going on here than just a corporate agenda.

There is no escaping the pathetic fact that a major impulse for war is
the desire of President Bush and many of the key actors who served in
his father's administration to "redeem" the failure of the first Bush
regime to depose Saddam Hussein.

And there is the narrow political calculus that must have been
undertaken prior to the 2002 election by Karl Rove and other White House
strategists. They realized that the post September-11 boost for the
president was rapidly fading and that the administration was losing
control of the national agenda as the Enron, WorldCom and other
financial scandals dominated the headlines. They ran the election on the
war and, with the Democrats offering no coherent opposition, this proved
a successful strategy.

Still, while these propulsions to war can be identified, there are
substantial countervailing factors at play. A war brings with it
enormous uncertainty. While few doubt that the United States will
prevail quickly on the battlefield, there is the potential of U.S.
soldiers suffering non-negligible casualties if there ends up being
house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. There is the real risk of spurring
new terrorist acts, either in the United States or against U.S. citizens
abroad, whether these acts come from Iraq, al-Qaeda or others. (And if
Saddam Hussein is as evil as President Bush suggests, and if his regime
is collapsing, isn't it likely that he will lash out at the United
States through any means possible?) There is the possibility that the
U.S. invasion will generate political instability in other countries.
There is the enormous uncertainty about how Iraq will be governed after
Saddam is deposed.

These are not just concerns for common sense-minded citizens. They
involve the uncertainties that intensely disturb corporations, which is
presumably the reason the Dow falls as the drums of war beat louder.
They even pose potential risks to the oil companies. (They may also pose
risks to George Bush's re-election, which is why the last, best hope of
averting war perhaps is that the White House political strategists pull
the country back from the brink.)

But the administration appears to have shunted aside these
countervailing concerns. The momentum for war -- fueled by a combination
of corporate interest, ideology, personal pique and political expedience
-- combined with the arrogance of power of the most hawkish wing of the
administration, appear to have steamrolled saner voices urging caution.

President Bush is on the verge of launching a war that will kill untold
thousands of Iraqis, and turn an already tempestuous world into a much
more dangerous place. Every person in the United States should do
everything and anything they can to stop this lunacy.

Here are four things to do for those in the United States:

1. Attend the massive demonstration against war in New York City on
February 15, or in San Francisco on February 16. For more information,
see: .

2. Call your senators (1-800-839-5276 or 202-224-3121), and urge them to
support Senate Resolution 32, which calls for another Congressional vote
before the United States commences a war. (To see the text of the
resolution, go to <http://thomas.loc.gov> and type in "SRes 32" (no
quotes) in the box for the bill number.)

3. Make sure your city council has passed a resolution supporting peace.
67 cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit and
Washington, D.C., already have. Check out <http://www.citiesforpeace.org>.

4. Give a day's worth of time to stop the war. If you're not sure what
to do, sign up with Moveon.org (go to: <http://moveon.org/giveaday>) and
they will supply you with plenty of ideas.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. They are
co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the
Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

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