The Irrepressible Rothbard
Essays of Murray N. Rothbard
Edited by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
MR. BUSH'S WAR
August 1990. Things were looking grim for Mr. Bush and the Establishment.
Now that Communism in Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe had surrendered,
the Cold War was suddenly over. How could U.S. imperialism be justified,
now that combating the Red Menace was no longer available? Bush's
enormous military budget was in some trouble: how to justify those
missiles, bases, and all the rest? What is more, paleo voices on
the right, notably headed by Pat Buchanan, wanted to know: now that
the Cold War is over and Communism is defeated, why shouldn't America
Come Home? A good question; so what was the answer?
The Establishment tried to run many answers up the flagpole; the
uncertain world (true but a bit vague); "international narco-terrorism"
(fine for small-scale stuff but not really BIG); German reunification
(Hitler! fine, but a bit old-hat); anti-Semitism in Russia
(Pamyat! the Protocols! Great stuff but what exactly are we supposed
to do about it?); Islamic fundamentalism. (Irving Kristol's point;
good, but a bit passe, and besides that scary old Ayatollah is dead.)
Finally, the Bush administration got its fondest prayers answered:
an authentic-seeming menace popped up, as Saddam Hussein, maximum
leader of Iraq, launched a lightning-fast, brilliantly executed
attack on August 2 against neighboring Kuwait. Aha! Saddam is a
despotic dictator who attacked a small nation (another Hitler!),
in a quick strike (blitzkrieg, just like you know who!). That's
it! Since Hitler kept attacking one country after another (to take
back the territory taken from Germany at Versailles), it follows
that Saddam will also keep attacking unless he is stopped!? Stopped,
of course, by you know who the divinely appointed international
Policeman against Bad Guys all over the world: Uncle Sap! To save
our beloved friend "Saudi Arabia," perhaps to kick the evil Saddam
out of poor little Kuwait, the U.S. sends in a huge chunk of its
army, air force, marines, and almost the entire navy to Arabia.
l. Golitsin! Here's a beautiful chance to test the North-Abraham-Gray
et. al thesis that the entire collapse of Communism was a brilliant
trap to lure the West to lay down its arms, and then to receive
the ultimate hammer blow from the Soviet Union (as "predicted" by
a KGB defector some years ago, Colonel Golitsin). Well, guys, here's
the Window of Opportunity at long last. While virtually the entire
armed forces of the U.S. are squaring off across the "line in the
sand" at the evil Saddam, Soviet Russia...strikes! sending the missiles,
parachuting guys across the Bering Straits into North Dakota, moving
south. Red Dawn! John Milius, where are you now that we need
you? (Note: this isn't my theory, folks.)
And so George Bush got his lovely war. Everyone, of all parties
and ideologies left, right, and center, all the media, the entire
parade of Washington Middle East "experts" who all seem to have
just stepped out of a Mossad meeting, are unanimous in praise of
Bush and okaying the alleged necessity to stop this "megalomaniac,"
"this Hitler." America must "stand tall" and all the rest. (How
about sitting for a change?) Bush's approval rating, shaky because
of S&L failures, zooms upward; no one in Congress so much as mentions
the War Powers Act designed to curb this sort of shenanigans, and
everyone but everyone is saluting the marching bands and the soldiers
off to war. Bush gets his military budget hands down. And as we
go marching, virtually only Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran, and Robert
Novak show any reluctance or appreciation of the complexities on
which we are embarked.
Comment 2. All right, for a moment forget Vietnam: Remember Lebanon!
Does anyone remember when Mr. Stand Tall himself, Ronald Reagan,
got U.S. Marines into Lebanon, and how he/we turned tail and ran
when the Marines were chopped up? Strange that no one, then or now,
ever remarked on this fiasco, much less absorbed its lessons. Lesson
of Lebanon: U.S., stay the hell out of the Middle East! (Another
lesson: don't trust the Israeli state. A new book by ex-Mossad agent
Victor Ostrovsky reveals that the Mossad had advance warning of
the car bomb attack on the Marine barracks, but withheld it to further
"poison U.S.-Arab relations.")
WHY FIGHT FOR ARABIA?
OK, let's examine the arguments for the U.S. march into Arabia
and its war against Iraq.
"He's Another Hitler!" Oh come on, knock off the Hitler analogy
already. What are you saying, for God's sake? That "if we don't
stop him on the Euphrates, we'll have to fight him in the streets
of New York?"
Wouldn't it be great, by the way, if everyone observed a moratorium
on Hitler for at least a year? No more "another Hitler" every time
someone starts a war someplace, no more bellyaching about Hitler
in general. There is more hysteria now, 45 years after his death,
than when he was still alive. Isn't this the only case in history
where the hysteria against the loser in a war continues, not only
unabated but intensified, 45 years after the war is over?
And consider too, the guy was only in power for 12 years! In a sense,
Hitler will achieve his "l,000-year Reich" after all, because it
looks as if we'll be hearing about him for another 900 years or
"Saddam's a megalomaniac, he's crazy." Yeah, crazy like a fox.
He looks pretty shrewd to me: knocking off Kuwait quickly, and not
trying to take on the U.S. frontally. "He's unpredictable." A code
word for crazy. But look, Bush and all his apologists keep saying
that Bush should always "keep his options open" so as to keep the
Enemy guessing and off-base. But how come when Saddam does that
it's "crazy" whereas when Bush does it it's the height of sound
strategy? Double standard fellas?
"He's BAD." Very bad, no question about it. (As Dana Carvey, ace
Bush imitator, would put it: "Saddam: B-A-A-A-A-D.") But Marshal
Kim ll-Sung, Maximum Leader of the still-Stalinist regime of North
Korea, is even WORSE. So? Why aren't we launching a big propaganda
campaign against Marshal Kim, to be followed by sending army, navy,
air force, and U.N. stooges on North Korea's border, itching for
And furthermore, the WORST guy, by far the worst guy of the post-World
War II era, worse than Saddam, worse even than the Ayatollah (or
is he kinda good now?), is the genocidal monster Pol Pot, Maximum
leader of the Khmer Rouge, who, as head of the Democratic Republic
(Communist) of Kampuchea (Cambodia) genocidally slaughtered something
like one-third of the Cambodian population. (His own people! As
the media have correctly charged Saddam of doing in dropping poison
gas during his war with Iran. Although it wasn't "his own," it was
against the poor, hapless Kurds, who have yearned for their own
country for 1,000 years, and have experienced nothing but oppression
from Iraq, Iran, and Turkey.)
Not only that: the punch line is that the Reagan-Bush administration
has been allied with the monster Pol Pot in his guerrilla war against
the Vietnamese Communist-puppet regime in Cambodia (Gorbyish Commies
as against the ultra-Maoist Pol Pot), shipping Pol Pot weapons,
so that he is just about to take over Cambodia once again! (Very
recently, the Bush administration has, in response, pulled back
slightly from that commitment to Pol Pot.)
So if we're supposed to go to war against Bad Rulers, why are we
allied with or certainly not hostile to the mass murderer
Pol Pot? To say nothing of a host of other dictators, despots, etc.
who have been dubbed "pro-West" by the U.S.?
But let us return to Saddam. Saddam is definitely BAD. But
and here's the point he was just as bad a few short years
ago when he was the heroic "defender of the free world" against
the BAD fanatical mullah-run Shiite Iranians (Remember them?). Remember
how, in the extremely bloody eight-year war between Iraq and Iran
(which, by the way, Saddam launched, shortly after the Iranian Revolution,
to grab a key waterway), the U.S. "tilted toward" (in plain English:
sided with) Iraq? Well, the current Butcher of Baghdad was the same
Butcher of Baghdad then. He was the same totalitarian despot; and
he was also the aggressor. So how come the lightning-fast change?
And not only that: does anyone remember, not long ago, when two
Iraqi fighter planes crippled an American warship in the Persian
Gulf, and the U.S. immediately blamed it on Iran? After which we
shot down an Irani civilian airliner, killing hundreds?
But, you see, Iran was ruled by fanatical theocratic Shiite mullahs,
and pro-Iranian Shiites constituted a subversive threat, at the
beck and call of evil Iran, to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other
Gulf States! So whatever happened to those Bad Guys, and that threat?
Answer: they're still there. But the U.S. government, and its kept
sheep in the media, have decided to forget them, and so, presto
changeo! They just disappear in the public press. A couple of years
ago, the U.S. government gave the signal: Iran Bad, Iraq Pretty
Good, and the media and the politicians all jumped into line. And
now, bingo, with no conditions changed, the administration gives
the signal to reverse course: Iraq Bad, Iran Pretty Good, and everyone
shifts. And we used to ridicule the Commies for changing their Line
(on war and peace, Hitler, etc.) with lightning speed!
But, "he invaded a small country." Yes, indeed he did. But, are
we ungracious for bringing up the undoubted fact that none other
than George Bush, not long ago, invaded a very small country: Panama?
And to the unanimous huzzahs of the same U.S. media and politicians
now denouncing Saddam? But Noriega, so Bush and the media told us,
was intolerable: he was untrustworthy and thuggish, he used and
even sold drugs, and, moreover, he was pock-marked ("Pineapple-Face,"
as he was elegantly called by the U.S. media), and he was odiously
short. (George Bush, we are told, has an immense aversion to uppity
short guys.) Gee, this dislike of short, pock-marked people, never
kept Noriega from being a pet of Bush's so long as he continued
to take orders from the CIA; it was Noriega's infidelity to the
CIA that got him into deep trouble.
And another invader of a small country not universally condemned
in the U.S. media was Israel, invader of Lebanon, and invader and
occupier for over two decades of the Arab lands of the West Bank
and Gaza Strip. Why don't the U.S. and the U.N. band together to
drive Israel out of these occupied areas? Double standards, anyone?
"But Noriega was opposed to democracy." Ah, come on, don't give
me that one. Of course, if the goal of the U.S. action was, as the
Bush administration claimed to "restore democracy to Panama" (when
did they ever have it?), then how come Bush angrily refused the
pleas of Panamanians after the invasion to hold free elections?
Why did we insist on foisting the Endara clique upon them for years?
By the way, the one refreshing aspect of the U.S. war against Iraq
is that no one has yet had the gall to refer to Kuwait as a "gallant
little democracy" or to Saudi Arabia in the same terms (see below).
"But Saddam's short-lived 'people's revolutionary' regime" in Kuwait
was a puppet-government of Iraq's. Absolutely. But so was the Endara
government in Panama, sworn in on a U.S. army base a few minutes
after the U.S. invasion began. So?
Repeat query: Does anyone really think that we would ever have
to fight Saddam in the streets of New York?
DON'T CRY FOR KUWAIT!
Before we get all weepy about gallant little Kuwait, about the
obliteration of the Kuwaiti nation by an unprovoked bullying attack,
etc., let's look at some history.
In the first place, there is no "Kuwaiti nation" in any proper
sense. The Middle East is very much like Africa, where the existing
"nations" are simply geographical expressions resulting from the
arbitrary carving up of the continent by Western imperialism. Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia, et al., were simply carved out as mere geographical
expressions by Great Britain after the British Empire conquered
and sliced up the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Moreover, Britain
shamelessly betrayed its promises that it made (through T.E. Lawrence)
to give the Arabs independence after the war. Winston Churchill,
the quintessential British imperialist, used to boast that he created
"Jordan" one Sunday afternoon at the stroke of a pen.
Furthermore, before Great Britain finally granted independence
to its Kuwait colony in 1961, it was so little respectful of the
"historic borders" of this alleged nation that it carved away one-half
of old Kuwait and granted about a half each to the states of Iraq
and Saudi Arabia.
And what about historic Kuwait? During the pre-World War I days
of the Ottoman Empire, Kuwait was simply a part of the Ottoman district
whose capital was Basra, a city in southern Iraq. Iraq has had border
struggles with Kuwait since 1961, and it once invaded and conquered
Kuwait, which "ransomed" restoration of its independence by paying
a huge amount of oil money to Iraq. More recently, the major Iraqi
grievance is that Kuwait has been literally stealing Iraqi oil.
The Rumaila oil field straddles the Iraq-Kuwait border, and Iraq
charges that Kuwait has been drilling diagonally from its side of
the border to tap reserves from Iraqi territory. An article in the
Wall Street Journal admits that "U.S. officials say there
is reason to think the Iraqi claim may be true." (Gerald Seib, "Iraq
Has Shaky Claim to Kuwait," WSJ, August 13, p. A5)
Another reason not to cry for Kuwait: its rotten social system.
Has anyone wondered why the neocons and the rest of the Establishment
haven't referred to Kuwait as a "gallant little democracy?" Because
it might be little, but it sure ain't no democracy. Little Kuwait
(a bit smaller than New Jersey), has a population of 1.9 million;
of this only one million are Kuwaitis. The rest are immigrants;
including 400,000 Palestinians (who are all pro-Iraq and anti-Kuwait):
and several hundred thousand once-dreaded Shiites. These immigrants
are not citizens.
Of the three classes of Kuwaiti citizens, however, only the "first
class" citizens are allowed to vote. Second and third-class citizens
are late-comers who "only" emigrated to Kuwait during the twentieth
century. They don't count. The "first-class" citizens are limited
to those Kuwaiti tribesmen who have been residents in Kuwait since
the mid-eighteenth century, when these Arab tribes settled there.
They constitute 12 percent of the Kuwaiti population (about 230,000).
Of these, women of course can't vote, reducing the
ruling elite to 6 percent of the total.
The 6 percent elite are allowed to vote for a National Assembly,
the Kuwaiti rulers' feeble concession to representative government.
The National Assembly, when allowed to meet, often calls for more
powers to itself, and more democratic rule. Two weeks before the
Iraqi invasion, in an important action not mentioned in the U.S.
media, the Emir of Kuwait angrily dissolved the National Assembly.
So much for that!
When you get right down to it, then, the ruling elite of Kuwait
consists of one ruling family, the al-Sabahs, who staff all the
top government positions from the ruling Emir on down, and of course
run its oil. The al-Sabah family consists of 1,000 males, a family
of tribal chieftains. Kuwait, in short, is a ruling Emirocracy or
Sabahklatura, who have all become multimillionaires because the
land they unjustly rule happens to contain an enormous amount of
oil. This is the "legitimate government" of Kuwait that George Bush
has pledged himself to restore! The crucial questions: Why must
any American die for the Sabahklatura of Kuwait? Why are American
taxpayers being plundered to keep that crummy family in their ill-gotten
gains? Why die for Kuwait?
IT'S WAR, NOT...
Make no mistake, it's war. It's not a "police action." Note how
the Bush administration, scorning Saddam for calling the interned
Americans "restrictees," is itself engaging in absurd euphemism.
An embargo is bad enough; a blockade is, by any standards of international
law, an act of war. That's why the Bush administration insisted
on calling the blockade an "interdiction." Rubbish.
Bush began his undeclared war as soon as Kuwait was attacked, rushing
troops to Arabia, thereby giving no warning and no time for American
citizens to leave Kuwait or Iraq before hostilities started. Therefore,
Saddam Hussein's detention of the 2,500 American citizens (plus
citizens of other countries engaged in the blockade) is not a "barbaric"
or megalomaniacal "taking of the hostages." In international law,
citizens of enemy states are interned for the duration. German citizens
were interned by the U.S. for the duration of World War II. So the
entire American "hostage" problem is a creature of the unseemly
and precipitate rush to war of George Bush. And when the Iraq government
warns that the American internees will be treated no better than
Iraqi citizens as food shortages develop, they are perfectly correct.
Any harm that comes to the American internees is on Mr. Bush's head.
Is this how Bush goes about "protecting Americans" abroad?
And what kind of war George Bush is waging! The eighteenth- and
nineteenth-century "laws of war," a product of Catholic teaching
and libertarian international law, brilliantly separate "government"
and "military" from "civilian." Treating war as a conflict between
governments or states, the laws of war bade governments not to injure
civilians but only to injure each other. As far as possible, then,
warfare was to be confined to military or governmental targets;
civilians were not to serve as targets of war. So what did Mr. Bush
do, from the very beginning of the Iraq war; not only blockade all
exports of oil, but also all imports of food, upon which the Iraqi
people depend. In older international law blockades, ships were
only to be searched and the cargo seized if it were "contraband,"
that is, if it were arms and ammunition. But food was of course
never considered contraband, and was supposed to be allowed to pass.
In the Iraq War, however, Mr. Bush is specifically targeting the
shipment of food: in a deliberate, brutal, and truly barbaric effort
to inflict starvation on the mass of Iraqi peoples. If the blockade
is effective, Mr. Bush will be a mass murderer of innocent civilians.
WHAT ARE BUSH'S WAR AIMS?
And so George Bush has launched his war, but what precisely are
his war aims? They are vague and unclear, made worse by the fact
that, in refusing to negotiate with Iraq, the U.S. is escalating
and maximizing the scope and the length of the war. How long is
this going to go on?
Possible war aims:
(a) The minimal. Defense of Saudi Arabia against Iraqi aggression.
An ostensible reason. But the evidence of impending aggression against
the Saudis was minimal. Iraq has had specific grievances and quarrels
against Kuwait; it has had none with Saudi Arabia. Besides: we didn't
have to rush in troops and planes; we could simply have announced
that any attack on Saudi Arabia would be defended to the hilt by
the U.S. Why didn't Bush do that?
Besides, why defend Saudi Arabia anyway? The "international Arab
effort" is a joke, a transparent cover for Bush's aggression in
the Middle East. As soon as Kuwait was invaded, the Bush administration
bludgeoned the Arab states and the rest of the U.N. Security Council
into submission (see below), using maximum muscle to get them to
provide a cover for a blatantly U.S. operation. Before the Arab
nations were brought into line, the Bush administration was openly
referring to the Saudi and other Arab leaders as "wimps" not willing
to "defend themselves." Why don't we let the Arabs slug this out?
Furthermore, even after the embargo decision, the Security Council
was completely unenthusiastic about Mr. Bush's rush to a naval blockade.
The New York Times reported on August 14 that Bush's announcement
of a blockade "left the United States largely isolated" at the Security
Moreover, is defending Saudi Arabia yet another blow in behalf
of "democracy?" Saudi Arabia makes the Kuwait emirate seem like
a democratic haven. In Saudiland, there's not even a pretense of
elections. The Arab people are ruled, absolutist fashion, by the
5,000-man royal tribal family of the Sauds now oil millionaires.
Neither is Saudi Arabia some sort of bastion of "the free world."
Women are prohibited from driving a car, or from walking on the
street unescorted by a male relative. Pork and alcohol are outlawed.
Why must one American boy die for the absolute rule of the Saud
family? Why must the American taxpayer pay untold billions to support
and maintain this corrupt family?
One scary point about even this minimal aim: the commitment is
endless. If the U.S. feels it has to keep troops in Arabia to defend
against possible (not actual) Iraqi aggression, then the commitment
is endless: already, even before any shooting, the U.S. has virtually
its entire army, air force, and marines in and around Arabia, and
we're already calling up the Reserves. Endless commitment; permanent
war for permanent peace; war footing; and enormous continuing military
budgets, are our future.
(b) The wider aim of kicking Saddam out of Kuwait and restoring
the "legitimate" government of the Sabah emirate. How can this be
accomplished? Only by a shooting land and air war launched by the
U.S. against Iraqi troops. A bloody and unpredictable prospect.
Also: even if Saddam is driven out by war, doesn't this mean a permanent
garrison of U.S. troops in Kuwait to keep Iraq out forever? And
all the criticisms of the narrower (a) aim apply a fortiori
to the wider objectives. And in what sense is that rotten al-Sabah
(c) The maximum objective: to crush and topple the Saddam Hussein
regime. This aim will involve the greatest costs of them all. Besides,
the murder of Saddam, which is what is contemplated (remember the
U.S. air strike that murdered Kaddafi's baby?) will not eliminate
the problem. Saddam is not just one man; he is the head of a military-Baath
party (secular-socialist) regime, which will continue even if Saddam
is murdered. And, what's more, Saddam will be left as a permanent
martyr for the Arab world and a standing object of hatred for brutal
And if Bush proposes to destroy not only Saddam, but also the entire
military-Baathist regime, then after such monstrous mass murder,
does he expect the U.S. to keep occupying Iraq forever?
Bush's repeated references to "Hitler" and "Munich" are a strong
signal that the U.S. will not negotiate with Iraq, and is tantamount
to a call for Iraq's unconditional surrender. This was the U.S.
decision in World War II, which insured that the Germans would fight
to the last man. Unconditional surrender maximizes the war and mass
murder. In short, no one in war surrenders unconditionally, so proclaiming
such an aim means that peace cannot be achieved on any terms short
of eradication of the enemy.
Furthermore, we should not forget the reason that Saddam Hussein
fought on for eight years after his original aggression against
Iran had been foiled, and both countries were left battling in a
bloody stalemate: because the Ayatollah Khomeini insisted that a
non-negotiable war aim was the removal of Saddam from power. Iran
finally had to give up on that insistence on unconditional surrender:
why don't we? Are we as fanatical as the Ayatollah?
Let us also stop and consider the grisly and unsatisfying record
of U.S. war and quasi-war in the Middle East since World War II:
the fiasco in Lebanon, the air strike killing Khaddafi's baby, the
shooting down of the Iranian civilian airliner in the Gulf. As Robert
Fisk recently pointed out in the London Independent: "Not
once has a foreign military adventure in the Middle East achieved
its end." U.S. out of Arabia!
THE REVIVAL OF THE U.N. AND ACOLLECTIVE SECURITY"
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Mr. Bush's war against Iraq
is the sudden resurrection of the United Nations as originally conceived.
The U.N. was dedicated to the old, disastrous, and failed League
of Nations concept of "collective security against aggression."
Given existing national boundaries, any "aggression" of one state
against another must trigger the nation-states of the world to band
together to combat and "punish" the designated aggressor. The effect
of this misguided policy is to enshrine every dubious state boundary
as moral and just, and to maximize every pip-squeak, boundary dispute
into a world crisis. It is also a mechanism for freezing the unjust
status quo in place forever. For at any time, any zero point, when
the policy begins, countries which had previously used force to
expand their boundaries find their ill-gotten gains locked in permanently.
The "have-not" nations (in terms of land area) are permanently crippled
for the benefit of have nations.
The United Nations was founded to put more teeth into the abject
failure of the League of Nations attempt to enforce collective security.
The Security Council was supposed to designate and move against
"aggressors." The U.N. reflected Franklin D. Roosevelt's disastrous
idea of a condominium of large, allied nations permanently running
the world, in particular a condominium of the U.S., Britain, China,
and the Soviet Union. (The Soviet Union had been committed to collective
security ever since the pronouncements of Maxim Litvinov during
the Popular Front period of the 1930s.) The one good thing about
the Cold War is that it split the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and ended
any policy of a superpower condominium in service of collective
security, since each superpower has a veto in the Security Council.
Fortunately, the exercise of the veto power by the U.S. and U.S.S.R.
had reduced the U.N. to an ineffectual "debating society." (Contrary
to U.S. propaganda, the U.S. has often used the veto power, especially
to veto resolutions against Israeli aggression.) In short, the one
good thing about the Cold War is that it kept the U.S. out of war.
But now, Gorby, in addition to liquidating socialism as fast as
possible, has unfortunately totally sold out to U.S. imperialism,
going along abjectly with Mr. Bush's bludgeoning of the "international
community" into war against Iraq. Maybe, soon and hopefully, this
will all end as the U.S.S.R. dissolves into many constituent sovereign
republics, each of which will be busy with its own concerns. And
since many of these republics seem to be devoted to private property,
free markets, and national self-determination, perhaps they will
also proceed onward to the libertarian foreign policy of isolationism
But we can't wait for such events. The time has come to reevaluate
the entire concept of the United Nations, and to revive that grand
old slogan: "Get the U.S. Out of the U.N. and the U.N. Out of the
WHAT KIND OF AN "OIL WAR"?
Bush has had the gall to proclaim in his Pentagon speech of August
15 that "our jobs, our way of life, our own freedom" are at stake
in the war against Iraq. Freedom? Way of life? How? Then comes the
reference to oil and its importance to the U.S. And so: under cover
of the "war against a new Hitler" and "against aggression," comes
the frank proclamation of an oil war. In one sense, this is refreshing,
for it is seldom that U.S. imperialism acknowledges an overriding
economic motive to its aggression.
But what sort of oil war are we embarked on? The standard media
account is that unless we fight for Kuwait or Arabia, the evil Saddam
Hussein will "control" the world's oil, will be "king of the world's
oil," as one TV reporter put it.
Most commentators have, understandably, focused on the trials of
the American oil consumer, on how there is danger of Saddam, once
taking over oil reserves and wells, jacking up the price of crude
oil stratospherically, thus injuring the U.S. consumer and economy.
But let's look at the question rationally. Iraq is a member of
OPEC, and has been recently attacking Kuwait for producing more
crude oil than its OPEC-assigned quota. OPEC is a cartel of oil-producing
governments, and the only way the OPEC can raise the price of oil,
as economics tells us, is to cut crude oil production. And to agree
upon production cuts (which no one likes to do), there must be maximum
production quotas for each country.
Cartels, however, do not have unlimited power. Their revenue depends
on the demand schedules of purchasers. OPEC could not raise oil
prices stratospherically, because its revenues would fall as buyers
purchase far less oil.
The peculiar aspect to the current "crisis" is that OPEC had far
more power to raise oil prices and did so in the 1970s.
In the early 1970s, it was able to quadruple the price of oil (because
of the Arab embargo of oil to the U.S. during the Israel-Arab Six
Day War), and to double it again in 1979 (after the shutdown of
Iranian oil because of the Khomeini Revolution). But OPEC has nothing
like such power now. Since the oil shocks of the 1970s, more oil
has been discovered, and produced, in non-OPEC countries (such as
Mexico, the North Sea), and U.S. and other consumers are using less
petroleum per product. The OPEC proportion of world oil output fell
from 56 percent in 1973 to only 32 percent today. And since 1973,
the amount of oil and gas needed to produce a dollar of GNP in the
United States has been cut by 43 percent. All this can be predicted
from economic theory: that higher prices call forth a greater supply,
and that consumers and other buyers restrict their demands for oil
and move to other sources or to more oil-efficient energy uses.
In fact, it is generally agreed that, even if Iraq could tighten
OPEC production further, it could not raise oil prices by more than
a few dollars a barrel. Is it worth waging an incalculably heavy
and endless war to save consumers a few dollars a barrel on oil,
or a few cents a gallon gasoline?
Besides, if oil price increases are the problem, why didn't the
U.S. move in force in 1973 against the OPEC countries, sending troops
into Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to take them over and force them to
lower the price of crude oil? Why should the U.S. balk at a few
dollars a barrel now when it stood still for a quadrupling of the
price of oil two decades ago?
Not only that: the U.S. government's concern for the consumer might
be better gauged if we realized that the very same liberals and
centrists now whooping it up for war against Iraq, have been agitating
for a huge (say 50 cents a gallon) tax on gasoline, thereby shafting
the U.S. consumer far more than Saddam could possibly do. Why is
gouging the consumer unmercifully perfectly OK if it is government
gouging by the U.S.? These same liberals and centrists are even
now advocating a higher federal tax on gasoline.
Further: Our embargo and blockade on oil can only have the effect
of raising the prices of oil and gasoline higher than Saddam could
ever have done without this crisis manufactured by the United States.
And finally: If the Bush administration and the mob of media and
political liberals and centrists are so dad-blamed interested in
lowering oil prices and in the American consumer, why aren't they
calling for getting U.S. government restrictions off American oil
supply: specifically, allowing expansion of production of Alaskan
oil (and the hell with the caribou!), and allowing off-shore oil
drilling off Santa Barbara and other areas (and the Hell with the
pristine beaches and the sea view enjoyed, without paying for them,
by upper-class Californians!).
The war against Iraq, then, has nothing to do with any "national
interest" that Americans may have in abundance of oil and in keeping
its price low. Does that mean that this war is in no sense an "oil
war?" No it means that it's a very different and far
more sinister kind of oil war: a war not for the American
consumer but for the control of a supply and of the vast profits
from oil. A war, in short, for narrow economic interests against
the interests of the American consumer, the taxpayers, and of Americans
who will die in the effort.
Specifically, why the U.S. hatred of the cartelist Saddam and its
great tenderness and concern for the cartelist Saudis?
First, the long-term "friendship" with the "pro-West" despots of
the Saud family. This "friendship" has been concretized into Aramco
(the Arabian-American Oil Co.), the Rockefeller company that has
total control of Saudi Arabian oil and long-time heavy influence,
if not control, over U.S. foreign policy. After World War II, Aramco
(owned 70 percent by Rockefeller companies Exxon, Mobil,
and Socal, and 30 percent by Texaco) produced all of Saudi oil.
Originally, Aramco owed King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia $30 million
in royalty payments for the monopoly concession. And so, James A.
Moffet, former vice president of Standard Oil of New Jersey (now
Exxon), who had been appointed as Federal Housing Administrator
in World War II, used his influence to get the U.S. Treasury to
pay Ibn Saud the $30 million. In addition the King got an obliging
"loan" of another $25 million from the Rockefeller-dominated U.S.
Export-Import Bank, at taxpayer expense, to construct a pleasure
railroad from his capital to his summer palace. In addition, President
Roosevelt made a secret appropriation out of his boodle of war funds,
of $165 million to Aramco to do preparatory work for its pipeline
across Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the U.S. Army was assigned to
build an airfield and military base at Dhahran; the base, after
costing U.S. taxpayers over $6 million, was turned over gratis to
King Ibn Saud in 1949. Dhahran, not coincidentally, was close to
the Aramco oilfields.
During the 1970s, Aramco was "nationalized" by Saudi Arabia, a
process completed in 1980. But the nationalization was phony, because
the same Aramco consortium immediately obtained a contract as a
management corporation to run the old, nationalized Aramco. More
than half of Saudi oil production goes to the old Aramco-Rockefeller
consortium, which sells the oil at a profit to whomever they wish,
in obedience to Saudi cartel regulations. The remaining part of
Saudi oil is run and distributed by the Saudi government directly,
through Petromin (the General Petroleum and Marketing Organization),
the marketing arm of the Saudi Petroleum Ministry.
It all boils down to a happy case of the "partnership of industry
and government" happy, that is, for the Saud family and for
the Rockefeller oil interests.
Iraq, on the other hand, has very little dealings with the Rockefeller
Empire. In contrast to heavy dealings with Iran (in the Shah's day),
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Gulf states, the big Wall
Street banks reported that they had virtually no loans outstanding
or deposits owed, to Iraq. Thus, Citibank (Rockefeller) reported
that its risk of loss to Iraq was "zero," and similar reports came
from Chase Manhattan (Rockefeller) and the rest of Wall Street.
And so: the war against Iraq is a war over oil, all right, but
not on behalf of cheap oil or abundant oil to the U.S. consumer.
It is a war of the Rockefeller Empire against a brash interloper.
Bush's Pentagon speech takes on heightened meaning when he talks
about everyone suffering "if control of the world's great oil reserves
fell into the hands of that one man, Saddam Hussein."
Let us consider George Bush, until stepping in as vice president,
a member of the ruling executive committee of David Rockefeller's
powerful Trilateral Commission. Let us consider preppie George and
his Texas oil friends, who will benefit, not simply from a rise
in the oil price, but from controlling the supply and profits therefrom.
Must Americans fight and die, and American taxpayers be looted,
so as to ensure further profits for the Rockefeller Empire? That
is the choice that faces us all.
Let us heed the wise words of retired Admiral Gene LaRocque, head
of the pro-peace Center for Defense Information, who attacked the
Iraq war in tones of Old Right isolationism: "This is a war over
the price of oil and I don't think we want to sacrifice the life
of one American boy to keep the price of oil down or the king of
Saudi Arabia on the throne."
We should also heed the words of Mrs. Jeanne Kirkpatrick, scarcely
known for isolationist sentiments. Saddam, she writes, "is not directly
dangerous to the United States or to our treaty allies." She goes
on to charge that Bush is fighting the war in the spirit of the
U.N. doctrine that also fueled our fighting of the Korean and Vietnam
wars: collective security. "Those wars," she points out, "did not
work out well." Mrs. Kirkpatrick concludes that only the Arabs themselves,
not the U.S., can solve the Saddam problem. (Jeanne Kirkpatrick,
New York Post, August 13)
A final cause must be noted for Mr. Bush's war: the influence of
the powerful Zionist lobby. Saddam Hussein poses no threat whatever
to the American consumer, or to U.S. national interests, but he
does pose a threat, not only to Rockefeller profits, but also to
the State of Israel. Note how the Zionists in the media and in Congress
are leading the pack calling for war, and how they call, with relish,
for "destroying Saddam and his military capacity."
Two of the most powerful influences on American foreign policy
are the Rockefeller interests and the Zionist lobby. When those
two groups join, look out! How can the average American and American
interests ever prevail?
EPILOGUE: W.C. FIELDS AND THE FOOD FIGHT
My favorite foreign-policy analyst, W.C. Fields, was asked during
World War II to write an essay in a Saturday Evening Post
series on "How To End the War." "Uncle Bill" Fields sat down, and
quite seriously, proposed that the heads of all the warring countries
be invited to the Hollywood Bowl, there to "fight it out with sackfuls
of dung," the winner to be declared victor in the war. Naturally,
the Post did not run the article.
I was reminded of this tale, when, during the abortive Arab League
summit of August 10, and after Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah al-Ahmed
al-Jaber denounced all Iraqis as "haramiyee" (thieves), Iraqi Foreign
Minister Tariq Aziz took the grilled chicken on his plate and hurled
it at Sabah, hitting him full in the face. Sabah promptly collapsed
to the floor. Well that's it, gang. Tariq won the food fight (by
a country mile); Sabah is a wimp; so let's award the victory to
Iraq and let's all go home!