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Illegal War - Final World War?
Iraq, America And China

By Bill Henderson

23 July, 2005

In more than 40 op- eds on the net I have gone round and round why Iraq was an illegal war. Evidence of temptation, motive, deceit, aggression and incompetence.

I haven't spent the time writing just to say 'Bad USA' or 'Bad Bush'. There are consequences to breaking the law, especially when you consider yourself the world's policeman. Corrosion of the rule of law and of needed multilateral institutions (the UN); loss of respect.

One of my central themes is that our world is now a much more dangerous place. Nuclear weapons - weapons of mass destruction - never went away. Humanity's Bottleneck condition promises fierce competition for resources. In this context the Bush Admin sent a signal to the world in invading Iraq. The world is a much more dangerous place for everybody because the Bush Admin chose a resource war path, a path for all of us toward a nuclear World War Three.

In an April 04 op-ed that was mainly about Lisa Martin's (Harvard School of Government) prescient paper Multilateral Organizations after the U.S.-Iraq War of 2003 , I speculated:

"For only one example, how are Japan and China going to perceive American military-strategic action in the Middle East and the Caspian Basin which can very easily be seen as a new Great Game to control the major oil producing regions that Japanese and Chinese economies are dependent upon for most of their oil? Will they submit to this new vehicle of US control of their economies or will they surprise with ramifications that are not even considered today?

"Ecologist Buzz Holling has succinctly labeled some particularly nasty ecological consequences of 'unilateral' natural resource management: Surprise. Holling's cautionary applied science is extremely pertinent to the Bush Admin's rejection of the constraints of multilateralism. The whole adventure in Iraq has been unthought out surprise; and this geo-strategic use of American overwhelming military power in not only Iraq but in Afghanistan and in pressuring Russia and China with bases in the Caspian Basin promises immense but worryingly unpredictable consequences down the road. "

US unilateralism in Iraq did send a strong signal to emerging power China and still nuclear muscled Russia. (Japan has acquiesced and is re-emphasizing it's role as America's East Asian ally.) Now in July 05 we are swimming full bore in surprising and exceedingly dangerous new situations catalyzed by the Bush Admin attempt to seize geo-strategically tempting Iraq:

We have half of Asia including Russia, China, India, Iran and many of the new nations in the Caspian Basin joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):

"A new multinational organization that already represents over half the world's population and whose clear intent is to create a counterbalance to the United States' political and strategic hegemony has begun flexing its muscle." ( Jonathan Manthorpe)

The SCO and then Russian President Putin and visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao issued joint statements in support of national integrity and multilateral problem solving clearly motivated by US unilateralist actions. Differences and disputes must be solved through peaceful means rather than through unilateralism or coercion. There should be no use or threatened use of force. Disagreement 'should not be used as pretext for interference in other countries' internal affairs'. Jingoism maybe but
still basically bedrock democratic truth.

The SCO countries also demanded that the US set a timetable for leaving Central Asia

Did Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz anticipate how aggression in Iraq would precipitate this new anti-American alliance?

We have also had a Chinese oil company make an offer on a second tier but quintessentially American oil company, Unocal, because

"(T)he Bush administration's decision to wage the war in Iraq stands out as a crucial factor in explaining how Beijing came to scour the Earth for energy and why the effort is likely to remain central to Sino-US relations for some time, say the analysts....

``Iraq changed the government's thinking,'' said Pan Rui, an international relations expert at Fudan University in Shanghai. ``The Middle East is China's largest source of oil. America is now pursuing a grand strategy, the pursuit of American hegemony in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is the number one oil producer, and Iraq is number two [in terms of reserves]. Now, the United States has direct influence in both countries....''

``Many people argue that oil interests are the driving force behind the Iraq war,'' said Beijing University security expert Zhu Feng. ``For China, it has been a reminder and a warning about how geopolitical changes can affect its own energy interests. So China has decided to focus much more intently to address its security.''
( Long march to energy security )

We then had American politicians openly repudiate free market access to what is now perceived as a geo-strategically important oil company. We had the leaders of free enterprise America openly denying the fungibility of oil.

Did those oil men in the Bush Admin anticipate being outflanked in the endgame for cheap oil by not only the new SCO alliance, but by the Chinese using American dollars to out compete America in stock markets globally?

In an Observer essay entitled US and China Slipping into a Conflict over Oil Will Hutton argues that peak oil is the inescapable context for conflict. The China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) bid for Unocal is but one small move in a much bigger game:

This is a new great geopolitical game and neither the Chinese nor American military are impressed by arguments that the market must rule and that great powers in today’s globalized world no longer need strategic oil reserves. The US keeps six nuclear battle fleets permanently at sea supported by an unparalleled network of global bases not because of irrational chauvinism or the needs of the military-industrial complex, but because of the pressure they place on upstart countries like China.

Japan’s decision this year to abandon its effort to build its own oil company and attempted strategic reserve was an overt acceptance of its dependent position. China is not ready to make the same admission of defeat.

And then last Friday we had a Chinese general, Zhu Chenghu, rattle the People's Liberation Army nuclear sword at America:

“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons.”

Zhu was reacting to America's promise to defend Taiwan in event of attack and America's increasing deployment encircling China.

"Irresponsible" was the American reaction but few Americans connect the dots.

Military and foreign affairs experts such as Gwynne Dyer though are aware of

"the present US effort to sort of encircle and build anti-Chinese alliances, which is well underway now. The US sees China as its challenger for unique military superpower ­ head honcho of the planet."

During the same interview when asked 'What you're saying about the United States' foreign policy though, do you think that they are heading in the right direction to avoid what you call a catastrophic conflict?' Mr. Dyer replied

"No, I think they're heading straight into it. I mean, they're re-militarising the international system. I mean, the Americans are running around Asia at the moment, making bilateral agreements which are essentially anti-Chinese, with every country that they can sign up ­ join us, confront China, contain China.

"Well, we don't need to contain China and that obviously will spook the Chinese. They're behaving reasonably well at the moment but they can see what the Americans are up to."

'What would a catastrophic war between those two powers look like, and when do you think it might happen?'

Dyer: "Well I sincerely hope it won't and we aren't there yet. If it went down that road and you do end up with a sort of Asian NATO confronting China and redefining everything as a military confrontation ­ and it then toppled over into an actual open war, let's say over Taiwan ­ well, I guess you're looking at World War Three with a different cast of characters than you were expecting."

The neocons in the Bush Admin had signed on to policy documents which anticipated conflict with an emerging China in the future and which advocated preemptive use of American military power to forestall any threat to America's sole super-power status - Did they not expect China to react to US provocation in Iraq? What turn of events are they expecting in August?

Hutton ends his essay:

The best way of avoiding war is not to dismiss its possibility as outlandish; it is to recognize how easily it could happen and vigilantly guard against the risk. Too few in Washington or Beijing are currently doing that.

Conflict with emerging power China was perhaps always in the cards, but Americans, informed Americans in Washington and throughout the country, have to awaken to how cynically premeditated aggression in Iraq has made the world a much more dangerous place and understand that a final nuclear war - or perhaps a preemptive attempt to depopulate Asia? - is ahead on this resource war path.

Getting off this path requires justice and an end to occupation in Iraq and a renunciation of preemptive unilateralism. Aware Americans must work to impeach Bush and try members of his Administration for war crimes, for lying to Americans, and aggression in Iraq.

And instead of re-militarizing the international system, the US must lead in recognizing the dangers of war caused by Bottleneck caused severe resource depletion - peak oil, but also water and food in the near future. People on this planet need the US to lead by committing American can-do ingenuity to multilateral cooperation in heading off these global-scale problems.











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