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March 3, 2003

Vague Notions Of War

George Bush Jr. must think people are pretty stupid. Unfortunately, by and large, we tend to be. This is the only reason he's been able to get as far as he has in his buildup to a war with Iraq. After all, there is no reason he needs to be there, no honest interest that he's protecting, and he's been anything but direct about the entire affair.

To say the US is being dishonest about the Iraq situation may be overstating the case. What is more likely is that the situation, as seen through the goggles of US interests (much akin to beer goggles), is the one being broadcast to us over the media. The actual situation (what we'll see the Morning After), perhaps more easily seen by nations like Russia and France, may not be entirely dissimilar, but still decidedly different. Whatever the case may be, what I'm being presented with just doesn't justify a full-scale war. Let's look at some of the "reasons" for war that we're being presented with.

Terrorism: Perhaps we've already collectively forgotten why this war is being waged. If people dig back into their memory, you'll remember the September 11th 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center buildings 18 months ago. Immediately, the US intelligence network went into high gear (too little too late) and tracked the source to Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, and a network of caves in Afghanistan. With multilateral support and United Nations backing, they bombed the hell out of the terrorists' training grounds and anything else they could find. Suddenly the notion was put forth that Iraq was providing funds to terrorist organizations, or perhaps even harbouring terrorists. Neither claim has ever been proven to my knowledge. Therefore, the US is not itching for war for anti-terrorist reasons.

North Korea: As Bush would have you believe, only for reasons and motivations known to the Beloved Leader, North Korea expelled United Nations monitors and started up their nuclear program again. Their intent: to create weapons-grade nuclear material. Their capability to do so is not in question, and it is against current UN restrictions. Obviously, this presents a nuclear threat of the worst kind - the kind that will sell to the highest bidder. What they're not telling you is that North Korea is restarting their reactors because a previous commitment from the USA to build light water nuclear reactors - which make creating weapons grade nuclear materials extremely difficult - never materialized. That agreement was made under the Clinton administration, and the Bush Jr. administration has much less commitment to this agreement.

In either case, North Korea is restarting its nuclear program capable of weapons grade nuclear material after booting out UN monitors. Back in Iraq, however, UN weapons inspectors have come up almost empty-handed, finding only empty chemical warheads and missiles that exceed the UN-imposed range limit of 150km by about 20km. Therefore, the US is not itching for war to destroy weapons of mass destruction.

Removing Saddam: This entire Iraq affair smacks of a family vendetta against Saddam. Bush Senior couldn't get rid of him, so now it's up to Bush Junior to oust the wily dictator. Unfortunately, the US does not have a great record of getting rid of foreign leadership regimes. Jean Chrétien is right - regime change is a dangerous tool to use, especially if you're not good at it.

Most recently, it's become known that the US backed the recent military-led coup in Venezuela. Sadly, the coup lasted only two days. On a more historical note, the US has tried for many decades to get rid of Fidel Castro. Despite economic sanctions lasting decades, the ancient cigar-smoking Cuban has been in power for over 40 years. What makes the US think that they can simply waltz into a country halfway around the world, kick out the bad, nasty man, and install a West-loyal replacement? Bravado would be my guess.

Does anything add up? I'm inclined to say no. At the very least, the US is acting on motives other than those previously stated. What their exact motives are might be very difficult to determine for the layman who does not have access to global intelligence reports, economic assessments, and a thorough understanding of the worldwide geopolitical situation. Luckily, you don't have to.

I was recently directed to an article which makes a very persuasive case for the real reason Dubya wants a war with Iraq. It's more of a meta-article; a compilation of many articles from different sources to show a greater link between them. A war with Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism (as discussed above), has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction (see North Korea above), and everything to do with oil. Contrary to what most people believe, it's not just about securing a large quantity of oil by installing a Western-friendly government in Iraq, but protecting the value of the US Dollar.

Although the article spells it out quite well, I'll try to distill the essence of what's happening for you. OPEC trades oil in US dollars (USD). Iraq, on the other hand, moved over to the euro for oil trading. As the euro gained quite handsomely against the USD over the past few years, it's been a boon to Iraq. However, if other OPEC countries follow suit and ditch the USD for the euro, this will apparently have a dire effect on the value of the USD, and it could devalue anywhere between 20-40%. (To put that in perspective: it would be on par with the Canadian Dollar.) Not only will this completely screw the US economy, but will shift the balance of economic power from the US to Europe. Do you think George wants that? Nope - he's willing to kill to avoid it.

Over lunch with a former colleague, he informed me that Canada is considering adopting the euro. The idea of a North American currency (which I have proposed previously) is a good idea. Apparently, when the US was asked about such a move, their reply was "Sure, you can adopt our dollar." At first this struck me as unmitigated gall and American audacity at its strongest. However, upon reflection and a re-reading of the article I mentioned above, I realized that the USA really only has that option. From what I've come to understand of international monetary matters, the United States relies so heavily on its dollar being a global standard currency and reserve currency that to give it up would be madness. It seems like they've painted themselves into a corner, so to speak - either the US Dollar will reign supreme over all other currencies, or the US will have a huge hole to dig itself out of.

When the idea of a renewed war with Iraq raised its ugly head nearly eighteen months ago, I thought, "Finally - go in and finish the job." Now, I'm seriously worried about the motives of our big, brash neighbour to the South. If a war with Iraq is truly about the stabilization of the value of the USD, then we have to resign ourselves to one of two futures: the US at constant war to ensure their currency remains the global standard, or a broken US economy dragging its partners down, with the European Union taking up residence as the global economic superpower.

In either case, I may negotiate my next salary in euros.


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