Have Another Pretzel, Junior

July 2003

Pardon my French (I don’t mean fries), but tangna talaga yan si Bush. I hope he chokes on a smart guided pretzel. Make no mistake about it, Junior is responsible for this simultaneous rape of Iraq, the United Nations, and centuries of carefully nurtured international law. He is the one who pieced together the cabal of ‘chicken hawks’ in the Pentagon and the White House who planned this war. It is precisely Junior’s addled Texas brain which has reduced our world to the intellectual confines and the morals of a street fight.

I’ve worked at removing hate from my arsenal of emotions. I will make an exception for Junior. I hate him and this war of his. I hate it because all the things I can wish for to lessen the arrogance of Junior’s foregone ‘victory’ have victims. I can wish for more American casualties so more lovers, siblings and parents can learn to hate Junior too. I can wish for more determined resistance from Saddam’s forces but I don’t like Saddam so I can’t root for him. I can root for Iraqi soldiers and civilians who are fighting the Americans simply because they do not like being invaded. I can wish for more oil wells to be torched so Junior’s oil industry friends don’t benefit too easily from this war for oil plunder. But we will be victims of an increase in oil prices too. I hate this war because it makes me feel so powerless, so trapped.

Make no mistake about it. This is not a war about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ or Saddam’s human rights violations, or building democracy in Iraq. It is, pure and simple, about American bully rights. It is Junior’s America sending a clear message to the world: ‘We have the military power to attack anyone, anytime, any place that we choose. If, for whatever reason we find an individual, a government, or a whole country a threat, we will attack them. We do not recognize limits to our power from the United Nations, from any other international organization, agreement or treaty.’

Saddam’s Iraq has the singular misfortune of being a ‘target of convenience’ for Junior and his cabal of war freaks. It is a small, militarily weak country, with no strong nearby ally. It has been bleeding economically and militarily for more than a decade, since the Gulf War in 1991. The US and the UK have been bombing the so-called no fly zone in the North of Iraq during all that time. The US has openly helped anti-Saddam Iraqis. Iraq was picked because it is militarily and politically vulnerable. Junior’s rationale for war, the military threat of Saddam, is pure unadulterated bullshit. Iraq is being attacked not because it is strong, but because it is weak. We are all supposed to be in ‘awe’ of American military power. But Americans cannot be ‘shocked’ by casualties so Iraq was picked because it does not have much capacity to kill American boys.

One week after the start of the war, the Americans are beginning to realize that the Iraqi’s are not so easily shocked. The Americans and their British lapdogs have been surprised by the extent of Iraqi resistance. They are avoiding cities and the dangers of urban warfare where their air superiority and armor will be less effective. They rushed to Baghdad only to stop to reassess whether war freak Rumsfeld’s new military doctrine might just be wrong. The problem is not whether Junior’s smart bombs have ‘degraded’ Saddam’s modern military capability. The problem is that there appear to be enough Iraqis willing to fight the Americans firing only handguns atop jeeps and pickups.

Gains and Costs

In the end the Americans will ‘win’. What is unclear is at what cost. The longer the war lasts, the more American casualties, the greater the political cost to Junior. The new American military technology, the ‘smart’ bombs and missiles and the Rumsfeld ‘doctrine’ of using massive bombing and quick movement are all geared towards lessening American casualties. The American ruling class is all too aware of the damage caused by the 50,000 American dead of Vietnam. The longer Iraqi resistance lasts the more American casualties. Junior may still end up having to rehire the Filipino consultants who secured his victory in Florida in next year’s election.

It is also unclear exactly what Junior will ‘win’. The Americans are so arrogant they have not bothered to hide their colonial goals: postwar Iraq will be run by an American general, only much later by Iraqis. They have explicitly said they will control Iraq’s oil. Even before the war is over, the Americans have already claimed the US$8 billion of Iraqi oil money controlled by the UN. Iraq has the second largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. With Iraqi, Saudi, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates oil under American control the US can not only make billions, they can use oil as a strategic weapon against Europe and China.

If Junior cannot ‘shock and awe’ Iraq, it cannot do this to countries it cannot rain bombs on. The anti-Saddam Iraqi opposition has declared their opposition to an American colonial government in their country. The Arab League and even close American allies such as Saudi Arabia will be emboldened to oppose the Americans the longer it takes for them to subdue Saddam. Most of the members of the United Nations including the major powers who blocked Junior in the Security Council are also opposed to American plans for Iraq. Even Junior’s lapdog Blair is already questioning American plans to rule Iraq as a colony.

What is at stake here is a lot more than Junior’s political future. He can go back to Texas and pick cotton for all I care. What makes the American war in Iraq pivotal is that Junior and his cabal of war freaks are challenging the whole post WWII superstructure of organizations, treaties and other agreements. The international order in the past 60 years was anchored on bipolarity, on MAD (mutually assured destruction) between the US and the USSR. For the US, the United Nations and other multilateral arenas provided political venues for isolating the USSR and the other socialist countries. Bush Senior was president too close to the USSR collapse to use it fully or even to realize what his “New World Order” really meant. Clinton was preoccupied with the US economy and other private ah…interests.

To insure unchallenged US military domination of all regions of the world, the reportc advocates a much larger military presence in addition to the roughly 130 nations in which U.S. troops are already deployed. "The United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia," the document warns, "as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. troops." More specifically, the report argues that the US needs permanent military bases in the Middle East, in Southeast Europe, in Latin America and in Southeast Asia, where no such bases now exist.

This is where the Philippines comes in. Junior and his cabal believe that China is the main potential strategic threat to US hegemony. In the aftermath of the Afghanistan war, US military bases have been established in former Soviet states bordering the Chinese Northwest. The US already has temporary access arrangements (VFA and ACSA) with the Philippines, but it clearly wants to reestablish more permanent basing arrangements. None of the other Southeast Asian countries will allow US military bases.

The Philippine military wants to give the US what it wants. Balikatan and the attempt at securing a combat role for the US in Sulu are precursors of US plans. Pres.Arroyo allowed ‘doves’ in her cabinet to stop Sec.Reyes’ plans for the Americans in Sulu. She has also stopped Reyes’ plans for all out war against the MILF. But Pres.Arroyo’s ‘moral and political support’ for US aggression in Iraq keeps the door open for American ambitions in the Philippines. The peace movement has its work cut out for it. It is a difficult, high stakes challenge.

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