lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 29 06:36:06 MDT 2003
I found Ticktin's use of crisis theory specious to say the least. Also,
instead of drawing analogies with the Cold War, I think it makes much more
sense to place the war against Iraq in the context of imperial aims in the
region going back to the end of WWI.
"Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary, denied that oil interests
influenced policy in Iraq, but the archives show that the British
government rushed troops to Mosul in 1918 to gain control of the northern
oil fields. Britain and France clashed over Iraq's oil during the
Versailles Conference and after, but Britain eventually took the lions
share by turning its military victories into colonial rule. The powerful
Iraq Petroleum Company, in which US and French firms held minority
positions, acted always in the cartel interests of the Anglo-American
Next, the USA sponsored the creation of the State of Israel in order to
exert indirect control over the region, which involved a 2-pronged
relationship to Zionism and reactionary Sheikdoms:
>>That year, at the end of the Second World War, this posed a special
problem for the American government. The Saudi kings, inbred in their
ancient conservatism, were content to be comfortably parasitic off the US
oil enterprises which had already begun operations. But at the same time
they were extremely hostile to the state of Israel, which emerged in 1948
and was backed to the hilt by the Americans. The Americans were determined
to gain a much larger and decisive stake in Saudi oil and aid Israel at the
same time. They devised a simple solution to the dilemma.
The US government, having pushed their major oil companies into Saudi
Arabia, left them alone to pursue their own relationship with the Saudi
government. Hence ARAMCO the Arabian-American Oil Company which was a
consortium dominated by three US and one British oil company, was left
deliberately free to be as pro-Arab as it wished.
This strategy and its relation to Israel was made clear in recently
declassifled State Department documents which stated categorically:
Certain advantages flowed from this separation of identity, particularly
during the early days of the development of Israel.<<
As we move into the 1950s, we encounter one of the most ambitious CIA
subversion projects in the entire period with the overthrow of Mossadegh.
Frankly, I find this example much more illuminating than appeals to m-c-m'.
I have no idea why anybody would have trouble with the notion of
imperialist war being about the control of resources, markets, cheap labor,
etc. For christ's sake, Great Britain went to war in the 1800s in order to
control the bat shit supplies.
The Cold War was not mainly an attempt to sustain an economy through
military Keynsianism. It was designed to "liberate" the Soviet-controlled
section of the planet for private investment. The same thing is true for
any state that shows the slightest degree of economic independence, such as
the Iraqi Baathists displayed. We were also hostile to Khaddafi for many of
the same reasons. And now Hugo Chavez is getting the same treatment. If it
is economic determinism to believe that imperialism makes war to gain
control of strategic resource supplies, then call me an economic determinist.
The strategic and economic importance of rubber surpassed that of all other
essential raw materials. "There appears to be no question that rubber is
almost as essential to national defense as powder [or] explosives . . . and
that national defense would be jeopardized should the supply from foreign
sources be cut off," the board concluded. The production of 100 tanks
required fully one million pounds of rubber (as well as 66,000 pounds of
chromium, 53,000 pounds of manganese, and 3,500 pounds of tin). Rubber
was hardly less important to the civilian economy. "Our domestic rubber
goods manufacturing industry is the largest in the world," the Munitions
Board noted. "In 1937 it employed 120,000 persons and had a total output
value of $883,000,000. On a value basis rubber is about the most important
single commodity imported into the U.S." An independent study of vital
raw materials from the Far East drew the obvious conclusion that rubber
"enters so widely into American military and business life that a sudden
shortage would dislocate the American defense economy."
What made that conclusion all the more troubling was the extraordinary
geographic concentration of rubber production. Ninety-eight percent of U.S.
rubber imports came from Southeast Asialargely from British Malaya and the
Netherlands East Indies. Alternative sources of natural rubber were not
readily available. Complications such as South American leaf disease made
it "unlikely that the South American production of plantation rubber will
supply a significant part of the demand for rubber within the next decade,"
the Munitions Board claimed. It estimated that reclaimed rubber could
provide at most a quarter of the United States' normal peacetime rubber
requirements and that a synthetic rubber industry might need at least four
years before it could handle even the barest of U.S. industrial needs. Most
observers believed, therefore, that without a crash program of stockpiling
the United States would remain totally dependent upon Southeast Asia for
Few official studies in this period drew sharp distinctions between the
importance of imports to peacetime industry and their importance to the
nation's defense effort. Materials deemed strategic were vital to both.
For an economy struggling to fight its way out of the Great Depression,
moreover, the distinction seemed artificial. Foreign threats to the
nation's standard of living were as menacing as threats to its physical
security. And if war had to be fought, the United States could not afford
to lose access to those supplies for long.
The obvious conclusion, at least to military leaders, was to rearm in the
hope of deterring hostile powers from severing U.S. lifelines to those
materials. As tensions rose with Japan in the spring of 1940, Admiral Stark
testified before the Senate Naval Affairs Committee to advocate expanding
the U.S. fleet. Without more fighting vessels at sea, he said, the fleet
would be unable to "safeguard . . . the supply of vital strategic
materials, such as manganese, rubber, tin." In case of war, he warned, the
resulting "serious curtailment of our inflow of manganese, essential to our
steel industry, or of the inflow of crude rubber and of tin, over 90
percent of which comes from Asiatic waters, would seriously affect our
entire economy. Under certain conditions we could protect these vital trade
routes. Under other conditions we could not protect them."
Fear of Japan
Stark was not speaking of abstract threats. His boss, Secretary of the Navy
Frank Knox, bluntly spelled out the stakes during his confirmation hearing
in early 1940: "We should not allow Japan to take the Dutch East Indies, a
vital source of oil and rubber and tin. . . . We must face frankly the fact
that to deny the Dutch Indies to Japan may mean war."
Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org
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