With the Congress voting today to give Bush the authority to wage war on Iraq, with or without the United Nations' approval, it looks like the Middle East will have another war on its hands, barely 11 years since the last one. I truly suspect that this one will be an even messier affair, with the US and Western Civilization the biggest losers.
Reading the commentary that's been appearing in the International Herald Tribune, CNN and other news sources, its become painfully obvious that the US has been planning for month in advance with the knowledge that war with Iraq is inevitable. The recent move to get UN Security Council endorsement has acted in the interests of the US in two ways:
- It gives time to the US to publicly built support for its move, and time to publicly ready its army to "weapons readiness".
- It protects the US from accusations of unilateral action. Now, they can always claim that they "tried to get global consensus, but..." - in a sick and perverse way, this works towards legitimizing action that would otherwise would be roundly condemned.
And now with the US Congress giving a green light to Bush, it really doesn't matter anymore what the UN says: Iraq is going to be awash with cruise missiles, smart bombs and stealth planes in the coming weeks. Then the troops will move in, crush everything in their path and Saddam wil be brought to "justice" for past transgressions and the gall to threaten with the "production of weapons of mass destruction". Up to this point, it is all very predictable, almost like a bad hollywood script. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing that Iraq will be able to do to withstand the might of the US - this is not going to be a Vietnam; there will be no place to hide, no jungle, just wide open desserts = wide open targets.
But that is where the predictability ends. I wonder whether Bush and Co. have actually thought through carefully the potential repercussions of his nation's actions.
I suspect, truly, that the US underestimates the hatred and animosity a large portion of the Middle Eastern society has for them. From Egypt, to Lebanon, to Saudi Arabia, to Iran - you have millions of people who hates the US but have had to painfully tolerate the US over the years. The reaction from the more violent factions of these societies will be swift and immediate towards a perceived act of US "imperialism" against a "muslim brother". Forgetting the fact that Iraq and Saddam is personally responsible for quite a few wars and nasty deeds in the past 2 decades in the region, you have to give credit to Saddam for the nationalist and ultra-religious pride he has built around himself.
The irony is that the opportunity that he has had to turn into the martyr of the Middle East (just you wait, that's what they'll be calling him before long) was given to him by the western community in general and the US in particualr.
During and after the attacks on Iraq, expect to see the following:
- A fresh wave of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. This time, on US soil
- Violence and mass demonstrations in every majority muslim nation, including malaysia, indonesia and, of course, nations in the middle east
- If the Iraqis have obtained one (and i suspect they may have already), the use of a WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction), either in the conflict zone, or on civillian targets, possible even on US soil
- An incredible upswing in the price of crude oil; potentially, if leaders in the Middle East have enough balls, an oil embargo on the US. This will drive oil prices globally to record highs (ala 1974, anyone?), have a tremendous negative impact on the stock market in the US (and, as a result, stockmarkets all over the world)
It surprises me that the US is taking all this trouble to do this - Iraq is not a direct threat to the US; its simply too far away to do anything. Iraq has medium range ballistic missiles, yes, and they deployment on Middle Eastern nations (e.g. Israel) is a concern. But wouldn't the US be better served by deploying a protective missile shield (Patriot missiles?) around their interests there? That would certainly be cheaper and less intrusive. It all doesn't really add up; the baloney about the US wanting to do what's "right" for the "people of the world", eradicating "terrorism" and a "tyrant dictator who threatens world safety" sounds good in the news, but is just a smokescreen. The US has never ever done anything in international affairs of this magnitude without some form of benefit for itself.
In fact, the only direct beneficiaries of this act would be the arms industry giants in the US, UK and France, who also happen to be big supporters of the Republican party. Coincidence? Conspiracy theory?
But thinking about conspiracy theories is really a waste of time, because it doesn't make a difference to the people who will be affected by this impending war. Let us save our breath instead and say a prayer for the innocents that will surely be lost in this war, or any war - the "collateral damage".