Howard Zinn, the author of A
People's History of the United States, demolishes the arguments in
favour of a United States attack on Iraq and then suggests that "We
have a right to wonder if the motive for war is not stopping terrorism but
expanding US power and controlling Mideast oil." It is fascinating to
follow this speculation through.
President Bush is not going to the World Summit on Sustainable
Development in Johannesburg. He is said to be too busy enjoying his summer
holiday at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
That reason might appeal to such lazybones as you and I; but, for the
leader of the free, democratic world, who is also our commander-in-chief for
the war against terrorism, it seems curious.
So it is fair to reflect on one alternative tale - to wit, the Zinn
We know the Bush attachment to oil and other fossil fuels. He supports
exploitation of Arctic oil, mountain-top mining of coal at high
environmental cost, and the rest. He was an oilman himself. He was friendly
with Enron, before its collapse, and other energy corporations. His
Vice-President, Dick Cheney, boasts similar links and, in his hawkish speech
of 26 August, worried about Saddam seeking to dominate the Middle East and
its oil supplies through nuclear blackmail.
So, while we can understand the Bush reluctance to attend the World
Summit with its emphasis on environmental issues, we should not imagine he
is just "sleeping in the sun...[and] never getting a day's work
done." On the contrary, he is clearly thinking about a range of issues,
Some months ago, an attack seemed imminent. Later, the signals were that
it was not immediately on the agenda. Perhaps next year or, anyway, after
the mid-term elections.
Bush recently called himself "a patient man."
Is that true - is any assault on Iraq postponed indefinitely, perhaps to
the Greek kalends?
Or, as Cheney's speech of 26 August could now foreshadow, is
"patience" no more than a cover for an imminent assault?
Is the reason for Bush's absence from Johannesburg the need to put some
finishing touches to plans for an immediate, pre-emptive attack?
Such an attack would seek to limit American casualties and probably
concentrate on Baghdad and key strategic points. Aircraft and missiles would
keep the burden on ground forces to a minimum.
Iraqi casualties, including civilians, would probably be heavy.
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