by Richard C. Cook
Last Friday the House passed a $124 billion supplemental appropriations bill that would require President Bush to pull combat troops out of Iraq within a year but would continue to fund the war. The legislation went through by a vote of 218 to 212. Voting “no” were 14 Democrats, including 12 who had previously come out against the war and saw the bill as violating the voters’ mandate to get out now as expressed in the 2006 congressional elections. Republican Ron Paul also voted “no” for the right reasons.
But was the bill even for real, or was it a kind of make-believe diversion, a show staged for the media and the public to make it seem like something really was happening when it was not?
Did the bill really put a time limitation on the war? No. If the Democrats had wanted the war to end by September 2008 they would have required a phase-out plan. Without such a plan an arbitrary deadline is meaningless.
Does the deadline mean the U.S. might get out of Iraq? No. The building of permanent military bases and the palatial U.S. embassy in Bagdad continues, and the deadline does not apply to anti-terrorist military actions.
Would the deadline stave off a broader Middle East war? No. To accommodate pro-war Democrats, the leadership had pulled a provision from the bill that required President Bush to obtain congressional approval to attack Iran.
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All the bill does is allow Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to proclaim, "Proudly, this new Congress voted to bring an end to the war in Iraq." But it also allows supporters of the war to decry congressional “micromanagement,” President Bush to threaten a veto if the bill passes the Senate, and Vice President Cheney to accuse Congress of “not supporting the troops.”
Unfortunately, the losers were the people who want peace in the world, because none of the debate made a dent in the deeper causes of the Middle East war.
Since the 19th century, when the British coveted control of Middle Eastern oil to fuel its fleet, the West has sought control of that part of the world. It was why Britain deconstructed and occupied the Ottoman Empire after World War I. It was why the U.S. grappled with the Soviet Union for influence in the region during the Cold War. It was why the CIA overthrew the democratically-elected government of Iran in 1954 after Prime Minister Mossadegh moved to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. It was why President Richard Nixon got the leaders of Saudi Arabia to agree to sell their oil only in dollars in the early 1970s. It was why the U.S. under President George H.W. Bush attacked Iraq in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and why President George W. Bush invaded in 2003.
It’s also why last Friday’s supplemental contains the provision in Section 1904(a)(2) that a continuation of U.S. support for the government of Iraq depends on “whether the government of Iraq is making substantial progress in meeting its commitment to pursue reconciliation initiatives, including enactment of a hydro-carbon law.”
The hydro-carbon law would allow foreign oil companies to sign “production sharing agreements” for development of oil resources with profits at a much higher level than through a nationalized oil industry with foreign companies having pumping rights, as is done in Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries. According to Richard Behan, writing for AlterNet (2/5/07), “The players on the inside track are Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, BP-Amoco and Royal Dutch-Shell.” Thus the supplemental appropriation mandates an Anglo-American-Dutch takeover of the Iraqi oil industry.
There is yet another layer of economics at work, where Congress has failed to peel back the onion. The imperative toward Middle East control, of which the Iraq War is only the most current and visible manifestation, is part of a larger global strategy of U.S. military dominance that may have its roots in economic weakness due to our debt-ridden domestic economy, a catastrophic national debt which has put the federal government on the brink of bankruptcy, and sliding dollar hegemony due to the decline of the U.S. dollar.
At home, the housing bubble has burst, a recession is looming, gasoline prices are soaring again, and the Federal Reserve can’t decide whether to print more dollars to prop up the economy or strengthen the dollar in favor of foreign investors as did the Clinton administration in the early 1990s. These are the issues policy makers in Washington should now be addressing.
All the posturing in the world will not bring the White House or Congress any closer to resolving the deeper problems that fuel the drive to war, but it does give the politicians on both sides some good press for a week or two.
Richard C. Cook is the author of Challenger Revealed: An Insider’s Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age. He is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and consultant. His website is at www.richardccook.com.
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