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Iraqi War Is Economic Aggression
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2003


Thank you, inter alia, for the opportunity to dedicate this week's offering to my sister writer, Donna Yawching to express my warm appreciation for her free flowing, witty and elegantly journalistic masterpiece, entitled " An Unconscionable War" that embellished the Sunday Newsday (Jan. 12, p.13).

The predilection festering within hawkish Republican President George Bush to prosecute a unilateral Anglo-American invasion of Iraq based on a hitherto uncorroborated presumption that President Saddam Hussein furtively harbours weapons of mass destruction (WMD) would constitute an unprovoked attack on the peace, good order, economic and fiscal integrity as well as of the close nexus that conjoins the contemporary international community.

Accordingly President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair might be liable and made to answer a charge, at the appropriate time, for committing a crime against the international community before the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

In fact invading Iraq to destroy hitherto unknown WMD is the ostensible reason. The underlying more important reason would appear to be the desire of the Bush Administration to control and open up the pipelines of Baghdad to flood the world market with 5 m bpd of cheap Iraqi oil so as to bring world oil price within the $15.00-$20.00. The integrity of OPEC will be destroyed once and for all. This option will also cause chaos.

No country, including the two plaintiff states, can be insulated from the disastrous, medium term, secondary effects of this Bush war especially if it is as protracted and dislocating as Desert Storm. To initiate hostilities against the innocent Iraqi people and in the process to disregard the principles and imperatives of the fragile and extremely sensitive interdependence that underlies the concept of the global village is highly irresponsible and reckless if not criminal on the part of the USA- main driver of the world economy.

Global interdependence is self-regulating. It progressively constricts the military options available to the only super-power. When the USA sneezes the rest of the world catches the flu. Attacking Iraq in the face of this economic prognosis will therefore constitute an act of economic aggression conducted against the entire world community individually as well as collectively. The UN Security Council has not factored this scenario into its deliberations. In fact this is not only exclusively a security matter but also one that falls under the purview of the UN General Assembly as well as of the Economic and Social Council. This war will also result in an enormous, innocent human carnage within Iraq to say nothing of an environmental Armageddon.

Perhaps Trinbagonians should whisper into Bush's ear the immortal wisdom encapsulated in the lyrics of our local bard:

"When one rasta (Saddam) dead, another rasta go take he place."

The war can also be deemed an unprovoked attack in clear violation of the Charter of the UN and the right to self-defence. It will lack international legitimacy, set a bad precedence and can produce a negative demonstration effect on the potential attitude of other nuclear weapon states such as Russia, India and China etc.

Unless the war can be concluded with swift and surgical precision neighbouring oilfields (Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait) will be adversely affected and remove 7m bpd from the 76m bpd world market. Such a scenario can trigger an oil price in excess of $75. Oil prices have risen 45% over the last year. Were the current Venezuelan production to remain below 1m bpd during the war, the oil price will escalate uncontrollably causing long -term devastation of the economies of the non-oil producing developing world. The near shutdown of Venezuelan fields and a potential Iraqi invasion are militarily inter-linked. Another oil crisis can result in massive transfers of capital from the oil-consuming North to the oil producing south precipitating a global meltdown and recession similar to the post -1983 period. Consumer confidence will be depressed and the capital markets will collapse.

In anticipation of this eventuality the US has been beefing up its Strategic Petroleum Reserves by 150,000 bpd (since January) and which together with the PDVSA strike in Venezuela have contributed to a price above $30 that breached the agreed $22-$28 OPEC price fluctuation range. The US accordingly has taken contingency measures to insulate itself from oil shortages with a current strategic petroleum reserve of over 700m barrels. Other major consumers do not have nor can afford such a buffer stock.

Funding the second edition of the Iraqi War II (Kuwait, Japan and Saudi Arabia funded $48bn of the $60bn Gulf War bill), that is estimated to cost $60bn-$80bn will double the US Federal Budget Deficit. That will most certainly trigger a hike in global interest rates because of the need of the Federal Government to borrow to finance the deficit. This will produce an adverse domino effect globally and cause economic and financial turbulence and chaos.

The world still recovering from the 9/11 terrorist hangover will certainly become even more terrorist- elastic fanned by rising Moslem anger/ anti-US sentiment. The 9/11 debacle will look like a proverbial dolly house.

The travel/tourist/ aviation industry still reeling from the disruptive shock waves of 9/11 will be further derailed with many airlines facing bankruptcies including our own BWIA. In fact 67% of Americans believe that terrorist attacks will escalate were the US to invade Iraq.

The shaky pillars supporting globalization (Clinton calls it interdependence) can be further undermined by this Bush war leading to potential polarisation, unprincipled competitiveness and derailment of the border-less trading system.

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