By Ignacio Ramonet
[This article originally published in: Le Monde diplomatique, October 11, 2002 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,
An empire has vassals, not allies. Most member states of the European Union (EU) have obviously forgotten this historical truth. Although sovereign in principle, they allow themselves through pressure from Washington to be drawn in the war preparations against Iraq and reduced to the pathetic state of satellites.
The changes in international politics since the assassinations of September 11, 2001 have been widely discussed. We know about these changes since the publication of the new "National Security Strategy of the United States" on September 20, 2002. The US which "doesn't hesitate to act alone if necessary" to exercise a "right to self-defense through preventive action" against terrorists and rogue states is at the top of the geo-political world structure with "incomparable military power". President Bush writes in his preface to the document: "America will act against brewing dangers before they have completely formed".
In plain English, the most recent US doctrine reintroduces the right to "preventive war" to which Hitler-Germany appealed in 1941 against the Soviet Union and Japan in 1942 against the US. The principle that no state may interfere in the internal affairs of other states - that marked international law since the 1648 Peace of Westphalia - was wiped out with a stroke of the pen (the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo was an unequivocal violation of this principle.).
The international order as it arose under the auspices of the United Nations after the end of the Second World War is abandoned. Different from ten years ago with the fall of the Berlin wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US now insists on its position as global leader with a portion of arrogance and contempt for others. That Washington strives for world domination was long regarded as a reproach engendered by "primitive anti-Americanism". Now this claim is raised in all frankness by the hawks in the present Bush administration.
The United Nations is hardly mentioned in the documentation of September 20. The UN only plays a marginal role and should be satisfied with the function of a registry that merely blesses decisions made in Washington. An empire doesn't bow to any law that it didn't issue itself. Its law becomes a universal law. The challenge of acting with force if necessary so all others respect this law becomes its "imperial mission".
Many of Europe's leading politicians show poodle's reflexes, a kind of hastening obedience as good form for loyally devoted vassals. That they simultaneously talk drivel of national independence, sovereignty and democracy may reflect their unconsciousness of the structural change on the international stage. However they have overstepped the mark in their thinking that distinguishes allies from bond slaves and partners from marionettes. As slaves, they beg for a few drops of Iraqi oil with an American victory.
That the imminent war against Iraq - beyond all other justifications - involves oil is clear to everyone. Whoever takes the second-largest oilfield of this world, as Bush desires, can completely change the whole world oil market. As a US protectorate, Iraq could double its crude oil production in the shortest time. The price would drastically fall and economic growth in the United States would be stimulated again.
A victorious war against Iraq would have other strategic advantages. In the first place, a harsh blow would be inflicted on the organization of oil-exporting countries (OPEC) unloved in Washington and countries like Libya, Iran and Venezuela. People in Washington obviously rely on friendly states like Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Algeria.
Free control of Iraqi oil would allow Washington to distance itself from Saudi Arabia that is increasingly seen as a refuge- and breeding ground of radical Islam. The improbable scenario of a new order in the Middle East envisioned by US Vice-president Richard Cheney would mean the dismemberment of Saudi Arabia. In this case, an independent emigrate under an American protectorate would arise in the Hassa province with the most important Saudi oilfields and the majority of the Schiite faith.
If one continues the thread, a crusade against Iran already identified by Bush in the "axis of evil" would follow the war against Iraq. The Iranian oilfields and natural gas fields would then supplement the fabulous spoils that Washington intends to gain in the first war of the new era.
Can Europe resist this dangerous adventure? Yes. How? First, by using its double veto right in the UN Security Council (France and Great Britain) and then by European NATO-members blocking the military instrument inserted for its imperial expansion efforts since they must agree to the use of NATO institutions. In both cases, Europeans must act as partners, not as vassals.