THE FORTHCOMING IRAQ WAR AND HOW TO OPPOSE IT

The proposal for an unprovoked US invasion of Iraq is an offense to all people and groups working for a more peaceful and equitable world. It is important to resist what Washington is doing, less from hopes that Bush and his colleagues can be deterred, than by the hope that through resistance we can continue to develop and strengthen the links for an alternative world.

I believe that the US adventure in Iraq, like the Anglo-French adventure in Suez in 1956, is a desperate act by a declining imperial force, not (as many in Washington hope) a bold step towards a new American century. It should be seen as the extrapolation of expansionist policies that have been becoming increasingly unstable and dangerous for some decades, and not simply the accidental product of a miscounted vote in Florida in 2000 (although that miscount too can be seen as part of the general degradation of US policies and politics).

Whatever the outcome of the US adventure in Iraq, it will fail to solve the problems for which it was designed. If the US wins in short order, world-wide terrorism will increase. If there is a stand-off (as now in Afghanistan), pressures in Washington will mount for further action in Iran or even Saudi Arabia. And if somehow war in Iraq is averted at the last minute, those in Washington will surely seek to fight somewhere else.

The underlying goal of these adventures is to sustain the present artificial value of the US dollar by dominating the oil market, and ensuring that OPEC oil purchases will continue to be paid in dollars rather than euros or some other currency. (For more details, see my forthcoming Drugs, Oil, and War.) But this policy cannot last for very much longer in any event; and the more the US offends the rest of the world by its unilateralist bluster, the sooner the present system will end.

It is therefore all the more important that we act out of foresight rather than desperation, and choose our paths of resistance with a view towards building a better future. Above all we must not, in coping with powers that are hateful, become hateful ourselves. This may sound trite, but we must remember how immature hatefulness destroyed the US movement against the war in Vietnam. It may sound ineffective; but we must remember that peaceful and non-violent protest has in fact achieved a number of goals that once seemed improbable, from US disinvestment in South Africa (an important step towards the subsequent liberation of its people) to the independence of East Timor.

The headlines about war should not depress us to the point that we lose touch with the many sources of goodness in this world. Instead we should mobilize to save them.