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imperialism & war

Preemptive Strike

This new doctrine is not consistent with previously acknowledged rules of international law like the Charter of the United Nations or the earlier understanding of a legitimate preventive war that assumes an opposing state authorizing a surprise attack. As history teaches, this idea of prevention is easily misused. These subtle ideas don't plague the president of the US as he now prepares the day of reckoning with Iraq. Translated from the German
Preemptive Strike

A new world political doctrine needs a military application to make an impression

By Arno Klonne

[This article originally published in: Ossietsky, February 21, 2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,

Under its president George W. Bush, the US now claims the right to wage an offensive war against states that could be dangerous or appear threatening. The US defines what is a danger or threat. "Preventive strike" in US government language is a militant or belligerent action. This new doctrine is not consistent with previously acknowledged (even if in no way always observed) rules of international law like the Charter of the United Nations or the earlier understanding of international law of a legitimate preventive war that assumes an opposing state authorizing an attack. As history teaches, this idea of "prevention" is easily misused.

These subtle ideas do not plague the president of the US as he now prepares the "day of reckoning" with Iraq. No political or military representative of the United States seriously maintains that Iraq is willing or able to attack America. The propagandistic legend used for a short time that the Saddam Hussein regime supported the terrorist services of Al Qaida in attacks on the US or organized anthrax assaults is not circulated anymore. In the psychological war preparation as pursued by the political administration of the US, Iraq has the intention and ability to develop weapons of mass destruction and is malicious enough to use these weapons. Therefore disarmament is not enough. The country must be put under guardianship by "preemptive military strikes". The government of the US will act when UN weapons inspectors discover remnants of biological or chemical weapons arsenals. A roguish regime is in power in Iraq that only can be replaced by military intervention.

This is manifestly a rather thin justification for a war since there are many states in the world that could appear threatening and accordingly necessitate the method "preemptive strike". Principled ethicists could even conceive that the US might be a target of such a strike. Thus propagandistic efforts of the US government were needed to produce the appearance of legitimacy of the intended war. The governments of states that aid and abet the US in the "preventive strike" against Iraq or at least look on unquestioningly need not believe in the official US government justification of war. However the leading power desires that they at least act as though they believed. The question is how far the public is prepared to accept this game. Could the way into war against Iraq provoke desires for enlightenment beyond the official version reproduced in the mass media?

Concerning adjustment to the dominant dogmas of military- and power policy, the leaders of the red-green German government parties say they now "arrive in reality". Presumably they will say this when their consent to the "preemptive strike" against Iraq is due. The saying about arriving in reality always served to veil realities. Still let us take our politicians at their word and focus on reality. The decision to wage a war against Iraq is not forced now. In reality, this war has been waged for years by the US - with Great Britain's support - with air strikes, trade blockades and resistance fighters since the formal end of "Operation Desert Storm". Iraq has lost substantial parts of its state territory. The once comparatively well-developed infrastructure of the country is largely destroyed. Little remains of the formerly heavily armed military potential. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed by the informal war. Through the policy of the US and Great Britain, the air was taken away from an inner opposition against the dictatorial and exploitative regime of Saddam Hussein. The assumption that Iraq could "threaten the world" is absurd. Rather the maltreated country is prepared for the final action of an external power. This will involve further "collateral damage", misery and death for countless persons in a brutal way.

Like the arsenal of other states in the Middle East and in the Gulf, the weapon arsenal of Iraq did not arise as a domestic product but was imported. Over decades, the Gulf region developed into a very profitable sales area for western armaments. Western oil corporations meddled in this armament trade. Karl Grobe-Hagel described the basic character of modern political history in this region as "fossil energy as war fuel". Nothing has changed in this up to today. For the oil economy, Iraq represents a very interesting terrain, a state that itself is a result of the competition of foreign powers for this resource. Oil, as Henry Kissinger said, is "too valuable to be left to the Arabs".

The group of US politicians who draft the geo-strategic guidelines for George W. Bush including Richard Cheney, Donald Runsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz has years of experience in the political conversion of interests of energy corporations, particularly in the Gulf region. Long before September 11, 2001, this group designed and publically defended a world-political program for the US with three basic elements. The United States should allow no world power or independent regional power to arise in the future. The global military potential of the US will be mainly used for securing energy resources. Great importance is ascribed to the Gulf region on account of its significance for a "Eurasean bridge", a line of power bastions of the US from the Balkans to Asia Minor and from the Caspian basin to central Asia. The logic of this program implies restoring control over the Iraqi oil reserves, partly for US consumption, partly for influencing other importing countries and also as a substitute resource if political crises occur in other oil-producing countries. In addition, geo-strategic control over Baghdad is important for the US. Exerting power on Teheran is still in the sights of US government policy.

All these ambitions are not new. However the "war against terrorism" declared after September 11 created favorable conditions for their conversion, The term "preemptive strike" has two meanings: prevention and the right of first refusal (Vorkaufsrecht). War and business are connected.

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