[lbo-talk] dev'ts in world economy and foreign ownership

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Sun May 27 21:57:51 PDT 2007

Micheal Smith writes:

> On Sunday 27 May 2007 20:10, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

>> Far worse is the idea of the
>> pacific ruling class whose government is hijacked by
>> neo-conservatives, who act against the collective interests of the
>> ruling class as well as the nation, an idea that is only one step away
>> from anti-Semitism.
> Leaving Semitism pro- and anti- out of it, there's still a real puzzle
> here:
> how do we account for apparently irrational behavior on the empire's part?
> Maybe the invasion of Iraq was rational from an imperial point of view --
> but
> I have yet to see a convincing explanation of just how and why it was
> rational. What did the empire get that it didn't already have? What danger
> did it avert, or hope to avert?
> The Israel lobby was right out there in public, pushing the war for all it
> was
> worth, and as far as I could see, nobody else was quite so conspicuously
> invested. It's hard for me to believe that the tail could possibly wag the
> dog to this extent. But why then? This is not a rhetorical question. I
> really
> wonder. I wasn't in any of the meetings where the thing was decided, and
> presumably none of us was. So we can all only speculate. But my own
> speculations have come up empty-handed, and it would be nice to have some
> better ones.
=============================== Sometimes what seems rational at the time turns out to be reckless in retrospect. Both the left and the right have had their "adventurists" - imperialists or revolutionaries whose ambitions blinded them to objective constraints. The "realists" who are conscious of the constraints view this vaulting ambition with widespread trepidation at the outset, but, with rare exceptions, they don't speak out for reasons of class solidarity until the disaster unfolds. So too in Iraq in relation to the recklessly overconfident Bush administration.

They were overconfident because the Saddam regime was weakened by sanctions and they regarded the disaffected majority of Shias as a fifth column that would support and welcome them. Their expectation that it would be a "slam dunk" to overthrow the Baathists was not irrational, as it turned out. They did not, however, anticipate the development of large-scale Shia and Sunni opposition and a long bloody occupation. They expected a quick transfer of power to a bourgeois secular Shia strongman like Chalabi or Allawi. It was a bad miscalculation - one they had been warned about - but it was not an irrational one, unless you believe any miscalculation based partly on wishful thinking is by definition irrational.

I think there were a number of objectives, none inconsistent with the other, driving the Iraq policy of the hubristic Bush adminstration, the main ones being:

1. To ruthlessly demonstrate American military power to allies and opponents alike, in a way the liberal and supposedly effete Clinton administration was too reluctant to do, both to gain partisan political advantage at home - especially in the jingoistic climate following 9/11 - and to bring US adversaries like Iran, Libya, and North Korea and neutrals like Russia and China into line. Widely referred to as "the demonstration effect".

2. To force a peace settlement on the Palestinians by depriving them of their chief patron and demoralizing them, especially after the recognition of Israel by the new client Iraqi government. This would finally stabilize the Mideast, an objective of US foreign policy as much as that of Israel.

3. To reopen oil exploration and development contracts signed by Saddam with the French, Russian, and other national oil companies so that US firms, previously excluded, could bid on these and become part of the consortia chosen by the new Iraqi government to increase the supply of Iraqi oil on world markets.

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