Few Nations Marching to Bush's War Drums


By Salim Muwakkil

Chicago Tribune
January 27, 2003

The Bush administration is relentlessly beating the drums of war for an Iraq attack, but few other nations are marching to its martial rhythms. Last week, France and Germany announced they would work within the UN Security Council to prevent such an attack. China and Russia later chimed in with their opposition toward Washington's pressure for a military response.

This growing level of opposition from erstwhile allies like France and Germany reflects a deeper and more profound division developing between the U.S. and Europeans in general. The bitter exchanges between President Bush and America's European allies over whether and when to go to war against Saddam Hussein have not gone well beyond an argument about strategy, reported the Jan. 24 New York Times. Relations between them are "at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War."

Americans also are beginning to sour on Bush's war plans. Last week's huge demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco were indications of a gathering storm. What's more, the latest polls show growing doubts about the Bush administration's approach. "Seven in 10 Americans would give UN weapons inspectors months more to pursue their arms search in Iraq," reported a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday. But Americans remain much more supportive of a military strike against Iraq than the industrial democracies across the sea.

One of the primary reasons for this disparity is the difference between the freewheeling, European media and the corporate-owned media companies in the U.S.

To cite one example: Links between the oil and weapons industries and key members of the Bush administration are widely covered in European media. Those corporate connections are given much shorter shrift in our media.

The European media, meanwhile, has been awash in news about various companies angling for contracts with the Bush administration to work within Iraq. On Jan 23, the London-based Guardian reported that Cheney's staff held a meeting in October with Exxon Mobil Corp., ChevronTexaco Corp., ConocoPhillips, as well as Halliburton, to discuss how to optimize oil extraction from the world's second largest oil reserves, once the U.S. takes over.

Fearful of feeding suspicions that oil is greasing the inevitable slide toward war, the Bush administration and the various companies have denied holding such discussions. But those denials are too late to quell the suspicions of most Europeans.

Halliburton's history gives credence to those suspicions; the firm helped reconstruct Iraq's oil industry following the last Persian Gulf War. Cheney was the secretary of defense during that war and he became chief executive officer of Halliburton after he left office.

The company's subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, also has profited handsomely from the war on terrorism (remember that?), by building cells for detainees in Guantanamo Bay and feeding American troops newly stationed in several Central Asian nations. In short, Halliburton's war profits are almost enough alone to vindicate former Democratic Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who charged last year that the war on terrorism was good for Bush's corporate cronies.

And while many Europeans marveled that McKinney's voice was so lonely, most Americans vilified her for daring to suggest that our chief executive had mercenary motives. When Iraq released its 12,000-page weapons declaration to the UN last month, the U.S. seized the first copies and edited out sensitive information before presenting it to other members of the Security Council. Most Americans didn't know that. That sensitive information turned out to be reports that 24 American companies supplied Iraq with technology for weapons of mass destruction when the country was seen as a bulwark against the spread of Iran's revolutionary Islam. The German newspaper Die Tageszeitung published the list. For Europeans, the panicked seizure of Iraq's report--even as Bush accused Iraq of deception--was just the latest example of duplicity from an arrogant ally.

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