It is now common knowledge that the Bush administration was largely made up of unapologetic liars who were all too keen to use their country’s military muscle. A look into The Center for Public Integrity’s reports on the Bush leadership’s lies in the case of Iraq tells a tale of trigger happy leaders who enjoyed bullying the rest of the world. After cooking up all sorts of mistruths about the America’s motive in Iraq, it is now all clear: it was largely a currency war. It was a war to maintain an economic hold on the global stage. The hypocrisy exhibited in Iraq is a good lesson for Africa which was played in the same manner in the case of Libya.
The Bush administration lied
The Center for Public Integrity, founded in 1989 by Charles Lewis did the world a big favour by analysing all the statements the Bush administration released and sifting through them for the lies. The Center found that President Bush and seven top officials made 935 false statements leading up to the Iraqi war. Bush himself made 232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 false statements about Iraq’s connections with Al Qaeda. In a radio address Bush gave on September 28, 2002, he said, “The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given. The regime has long standing and continuing ties to terrorist groups, and there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq. This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year.”
It sounds ridiculous now that all the facts are known but when he said this, he managed to manipulate the American population which was still reeling from the effects of the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks. Manipulating intelligence findings and cherry-picking only those elements that supported the Iraqi invasion were sure ways to rally public sentiment behind the attack. The claims became increasingly desperate with time, ranging from the Weapons of Mass Destruction right to how Saddam Hussein was violating human rights in his country. Interestingly, with that same human rights violation profile, the United States had supported Hussein in fighting the Kurds only fifteen years earlier. What had changed? The hypocrisy and web of lies is sickening. Was this not the same approach used on Libya? The more things change with the United States, the more they stay the same.
The truth was in the money?
In March 2003, a week before the invasion, Kofi Annan who was then UN chief warned the United States that military action would violate the UN Charter. The USA did not heed his call to refrain from the attack. Despite almost 400 United Nations inspections which showed no evidence of the WMD claims by the US, the invasion was carried through. Speaking in 2004, Annan then clearly said, “I have indicated it was not inconformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal.”
Why did the United States want war so desperately that it would out-rightly disrespect the United Nations? Paul Krugman, a respected American economist and Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York trying to give an answer said, “That’s a harder question to answer. Some of the warmongers believed that deploying shock and awe in Iraq would enhance American power and influence around the world. Some saw Iraq as a sort of pilot project, preparation for a series of regime changes.”
This may have been true since the after-shocks of the United States military action are still being felt in the Middle East and Africa. However, it has been said the major issue at play was the American dollar’s importance. It was not simply a case of oil and regime change but also that of currency wars. After Saddam Hussein dumped the dollar (which he called the currency of the enemy) in Iraq’s oil trade for the euro in 2000, there was an increased risk of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) gravitating towards the new European currency thus undermining the importance of the dollar in world trade. The dollar had been the major international trading currency since 1971 after the dropping of the gold standard. The euro’s gains in the early 2000s made a mass migration from the dollar imminent as countries like Iran mooted the switch along with Venezuela. The United States, known to protect its economic interests with violence when threatened therefore is said to have used Iraq as an example for other countries under the pretence of saving the world from mass destruction and the Iraqi citizens from Hussein’s rule. The seeds of Saddam’s move have given birth to the attempts by more countries to end dollar dealings for oil even now.
A pending implosion?
It is easy to imagine the American economy imploding once OPEC decided to use the euro but in actuality, the dynamic is more complicated than that. The effects of the move have over the years been overstated but as Dean Baker for Foreign Policy writes, “…the dollars needed to finance the international oil trade are trivial compared with other sources of demand for dollars.”
Ditching the dollar in oil trade, though bearing negative effects on the worth of the dollar would not immediately cause an implosion since the dollar is the major international reserve currency. However, if more countries would cease to hold the dollar as their foreign currency reserve, this would affect the value of the US dollar in more obvious ways. In the words of one Chinese banker (speaking on the planned move from the dollar by 2018) quoted by The Independent, “These plans will change the face of international financial transactions. America and Britain must be very worried. You will know how worried by the thunder of denials this news will generate.”
It can therefore be said that Iraq’s move, though individually incapable of debilitating effects on America’s economy, was a political statement which set in motion a dangerous precedence in the eyes of the Bush administration. It marked a move away from absolute American domination of the world economy. William Engdahl, the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order captured it all when he said, “Iraq was not about ordinary chemical or even nuclear weapons of mass destruction. The ‘weapon of mass destruction’ was the threat that others would follow Iraq and shift to euros out of dollars, creating mass destruction of the United States’ hegemonic economic role in the world.”