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A Global Strategy against US aggression
by Threehegemons
02 October 2002 16:31 UTC
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From Counterpunch.

Steven Sherman



October 1, 2002

An International Block on Bush
Collective Security is Working

As an American, I would like to thank all those people and countries around the 
world who are helping to pull my country back from the brink of war. And I want 
to assure you that your efforts are having a big impact in the United States.

Unfortunately, the claim that the Bush Administration is determined to make a 
pre-emptive attack on Iraq has been validated over and over--most recently by 
Colin Powell's assertion on the BBC that Washington might pursue "regime 
change" in Iraq even if the Iraqi leader complies fully with weapons 

Softening up bombing, the classic first phase of an invasion, has already 
begun. So has the transport of war personnel and materiel to the Persian Gulf 
region. The war marketing campaign is in full gear. To paraphrase Bertolt 
Brecht, "When the leaders speak of peace, the mobilization orders have already 
been given."

The Bush team's meticulous planning had presumed UN and Congressional votes 
authorizing US attacks on Iraq by now, laying the groundwork for permission to 
use Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan, and other countries as bases for 
attack. After President Bush's address to the UN, the US Congress was poised to 
overwhelmingly pass a bi-partisan resolution giving the President a blank check 
for war.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the battlefield. For months people 
around the world have been expressing their outrage. Overwhelming majorities in 
almost every country except Britain and Israel opposed US plans. Politicians 
and national elites, while loathe to court the wrath of their patrons and 
protectors in Washington, have been even more terrified of the forces likely to 
be unleashed by the Bush Administration's irrational obsession.

The effects of this global opposition on the US have been greatly 
underestimated. There is broad support here for international efforts to deal 
with Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. But there is virtually no 
sector of American society that supports a unilateral preemptive attack against 
Iraq without international support except the President's immediate clique, a 
few members of Congress in both parties, and the Air Force.

The top uniformed military, except for the Air Force, have been widely reported 
to be extremely skeptical of such an effort. This summer they aroused the wrath 
of the pro-war clique by submitting estimates of troop requirements and 
casualties so high as to make the war seem too costly to pursue. While the 
military brass haven't spoken against a unilateral attack on the record, their 
retired colleagues have done so forcefully. Top Republican military experts 
like Brent Scowcroft, many of them cronies of former President George Bush and 
formerly high officials in his Administration, spoke out against a unilateral 

This summer, popular and Congressional support for the Bush war plans seemed 
overwhelming. But as members of Congress visited their districts in August they 
were met both by organized delegations opposing the war and by profound worry 
among their ordinary constituents. Democratic leaders announced hearings and no 
"rush to judgment" on war policy. As the Administration launched its war 
marketing campaign in September, floods of phone calls and e-mails to members 
of Congress led former Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore and the 
leadership of the Democratic Party in Congress to end silence or reverse 
explicit support for Bush's policies.

Most of the popular and elite opposition is not opposition to any attack on 
Iraq, but rather to an attack on Iraq without allies. Little of this opposition 
would have arisen had the rest of the world caved in to Bush Administration 
demands for support. But the global united front against a US war is 
transforming the balance of forces within this country. While panicky Democrats 
in Congress may pass a watered-down resolution authorizing war, US opinion is 
now clearly divided, and policy elite, especially the Vietnam-burned military, 
is strongly averse to going to war without broad popular support. If the 
international front holds, there is a real chance that a US attack can be 

If the Security Council refuses to authorize US military action and the UN 
inspectors go to Iraq, Bush Administration war promoters will have at least two 
big problems. Neither public nor elite opinion in the US is likely to support a 
unilateral, unprovoked attack. Neighboring states are more likely to be firm in 
their resolve not to let their countries be used as bases for US attacks on 
Iraq. (Bush's friend Ariel Sharon is also making it easier for them to just say 
no to US demands.)

If a full-scale attack on Iraq becomes untenable, the Bush Administration will 
probably follow three tactics. First, it will try its best to undermine and 
discredit the UN inspection process; the faintest hint of Iraqi non-cooperation 
will be met with fresh attempts to initiate war. Second, it will expand the 
bombing it is conducting already. Third, it will look for new openings to bully 
or bribe other countries back into line.

This indicates the probable next steps needed to contain US aggression. The 
tacit coalition of people and states opposing the US war on Iraq, acting 
through the UN, should demand that the US stop bombing Iraq while the 
inspection process goes forward. Of course the US will veto such a resolution, 
but the demonstrated international opposition will strengthen both popular and 
elite opposition in the US. "State-supported nonviolence" -- for example 
placement of foreign volunteers in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities with the 
support of their national governments -- might also provide a deterrent to US 

It is also essential that the inspection process go forward successfully. While 
it is impossible to know exactly what led Iraq to readmit inspectors, there was 
clearly at least a tacit quid pro quo that other countries would attempt to 
stave off an American attack. Iraq must be made to feel that it is safest if 
the inspection process proceeds successfully. After all, Iraq can reasonably 
feel that, by allowing inspection of its real or imagined weapons of mass 
destruction, it is giving up a significant deterrent to US attack. The 
containment coalition needs to indicate that it will try to protect Iraq from 
US attack as long as the inspection process goes forward, but that it will be 
much less able to do so if Iraq's cooperation is less than complete.

Finally, it is necessary to block US efforts to bribe or bully other countries 
back into line. The Bush Administration's snub of German Prime Minister 
Schroeder in the aftermath of his reelection is only the publicly visible tip 
of the iceberg of Bush Administration bullying. There have been many 
journalistic references to other countries being offered a share of the spoils 
of war -- Iraq's oil, for example, or the contracts for post-war 
reconstruction--as a quid pro quo for joining the US in the kill.

Russia has indicated an interest in US acquiescence in a Russian attack on 
Georgia, justified as a means to root out Chechen rebels. Apparently this is a 
price the Bush Administration is not yet willing to pay. No doubt they would 
see it as giving the green light to restoration of the Russian 
empire--establishing Russia's right to ignore the new national boundaries that 
divide its once-and-future empire. But there is no telling what bribes they 
will be willing to offer if they find their way to war successfully blocked.

The Bush people tend to think of the world as a football game, and their 
strategy is to knock off those who get in their way one at a time. In the long 
run, containing them will require not just opposition by individual nations, 
but rather some more conscious form of collective security. There needs to be a 
global understanding that containing US power is a collective responsibility. 
This might be expressed, for example, in providing financial and other support 
for countries like Jordan that are being threatened with US reprisals if they 
refuse to serve as bases for war against Iraq.

Another step could be to forcefully stigmatize any country selling out to the 
Bush Administration for such a "mess of pottage" as a share of the spoils of 
war, some supposed geopolitical concession, or (for poorer countries) cold 
cash. For a historical analogy, we might recall that the Western powers tried 
to keep Russia in World War I by means of scandalous secret treaties offering 
them other country's territory when the war was won. The exposure of those 
secret treaties may have done more than any other single act to destroy the 
legitimacy of the Russian regime.

Most important of all is to continue the popular pressure on governments around 
the world. Movement pressure in Britain has already forced Tony Blair to 
publicly split with Bush over "regime change" and if it continues to grow will 
make British participation in a unilateral attack untenable; withdrawal of 
British support might well be the final nail in the coffin for US war plans. 
German popular opposition swung the election; it is leading American policy 
elites to fear that Bush policies are undermining European acquiescence in US 
global dominance. The fact that not one country in the world beside Britain has 
offered to help the US attack Iraq has a major impact on US opinion. Please, 
keep up the good work!

One of the central tasks for the tacit coalition of people and states opposing 
the US war on Iraq is to win the hearts and minds of the American people. 
Americans are still hurt and terrified by the 9/11 attacks and easily led to 
support absurd policies sold as "anti-terrorism." Nonetheless their views are 
volatile and conflicted. In a September 24 CBS News poll, 57 percent wanted the 
US to give the UN more time to get inspectors back into Iraq and 52 percent 
thought the US should follow the recommendations of the UN when it comes to 
taking action against Iraq, instead of taking action on its own.

National leaders and ordinary people around the world need to reach out to 
Americans and help them bring their government to its senses. An example: A 
delegation of British anti-war religious leaders is coming to the US to share 
with American religious communities their concerns about US threats against 
Iraq. Containment of Bush Administration aggression is--and should present 
itself--as pro-, not anti-, American.

Ultimately, the issue here is far larger than the conflict between the US and 
Iraq. Bush's new policy document, "The National Security Strategy of the United 
States," which codifies previous pronouncements, indicates the megalomaniacal 
scope of the Administration's ambitions. The document notes, "The United States 
possesses unprecedented--and unequaled--strength." It proclaims that "we will 
not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense 
by acting preemptively." The US will use its power for "convincing or 
compelling states" to accept what it calls "their sovereign responsibilities."

This strategy for global domination is not limited to military matters, but 
proposes to shape the whole of global society and political economy. Indeed, 
the document goes so far as to declare that there is only "a single sustainable 
model for national success."

Blocking the US attack on Iraq is a crucial step but only the first step in the 
containment of these awesome aspirations for global domination. It represents 
the emergence of a tacit but nonetheless real policy of collective security to 
contain US aggressiveness. If such collective security can be maintained, it 
bodes well for the containment of "pre-emptive aggression" in the future. And 
perhaps it will lay a foundation for addressing such other threats to 
collective security as global warming, poverty, economic crisis, AIDS, and 
weapons of mass destruction.

Nothing could be more in the genuine interest of the American people.

Jeremy Brecher is a historian and the author of twelve books including STRIKE! 

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