"A sort of video game played in laptop heaven"

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Our staggering, and staggeringly slow-motion, march to war makes the mobilizations of World War I look like a series of wind sprints. I happen to believe war is coming, though Hans Blix and his inspectors could continue to prove a distinct impediment to American plans — and as long as 100+ inspectors are in Iraq, they are essentially hostages to a war as well (something I’ve seen mentioned nowhere).

I nonetheless believe this war is on its way because those in this administration driving it are men of faith — and I don’t mean Christian faith either. Like the high-tech corporate moguls of the 1990s, they have a deep belief, shaken briefly and then emboldened by September 11, that they control the world’s future. This, in a sense, blinds them to the horrors ahead — and a quick victory over Iraq would only further blind them. They are living in a future that is never to be, but their faith leaves them incapable of preparing for the unknown and unexpected. There is no greater folly, I suspect, than blind faith in one’s ability to control the future.

Paul Rogers, global analyst for openDemocracy.net, is intent on synthesizing news about the present in his sobering weekly column below on the state of our military buildup and what to make of it. In a second piece below, Pepe Escobar of the online Asia Times offers an inside look at the arm-twisting that passes for multinational consultation at the UN and his assessment of American war “games” on the Arabian peninsula — “a sort of video game played in laptop heaven,” he calls it.

When it comes to Iraq, the media loves the future. Even Rolling Stone magazine in its perfumed special rock & roll double issue had a roundtable discussion, “Iraq: Why Now?” on what may happen. It includes a depressing range of views, from invaders to doubters. Here are a couple of not necessarily typical comments:

From Youssef Ibrahim, Editor-in-chief at the Energy Intelligence Group: “In my 30 years covering the Middle East for the Wall Street Journal and the N.Y. Times, I have not seen a bigger group of imbeciles than the current administration in the White House…. Our war on terrorism has been a miserable failure…. The moment we distract ourselves with Iraq, al Qaeda will see its golden moment has arrived…. I firmly believe our oil interests are driving this war…. Their attitude [people in the Administration] is: This is our big chance to make Iraq into a pumping station for America.”

Retired General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and commander of the military campaign in Kosovo [and, the New York Times tells us today, a possible Democratic candidate for president in an age that may be friendly indeed to former military leaders]: “Thus far, there’s been no connection established between Saddam Hussein and the atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001…. According to people who are on the inside of this and have looked at the evidence, apparently there is no new information to underscore the urgency [of attacking Iraq].”


Iraq: has the prospect of war faded?
By Paul Rogers, December 12, 2002, openDemocracy.net

Iraq’s presentation of documents to United Nations weapons inspectors, and the US’s muted response, is the current focus of world attention. Yet amid the flurry of diplomacy and propaganda, has the risk of war really diminished? The current military deployments and strategic aims of the US suggest an answer.

Diplomatic moves by the United States to gain support for the termination of the Saddam Hussein regime have intensified in the past two weeks. One aspect of this has been the request to NATO for backing for a military campaign; more important has been a series of discussions between the US and its regional allies in the Middle East and the Gulf.

To read more of this article from openDemocracy.net, click here.

Internal look, imminent war
By Pepe Escobar, December 12, 2002, Asia Times

There’s growing indication now that a massive US attack against Iraq is practically set for January, no matter what is contained in Iraq’s weapons declaration and no matter what United Nations inspectors find out on the ground. An ambassador to the UN who insisted on remaining anonymous assured Asia Times Online that “at any moment we could be facing an official statement from the White House saying Iraq is in material breach of Resolution 1441. We are all helpless against it at the UN.”

The buzz is intense at the UN regarding the fabulous photocopying capabilities of the US government compared to those of the multilateral body. The US received its instant copy of the mammoth Iraqi weapons declaration before anyone else – then handed copies to the other four permanent members of the Security Council (France, Britain, Russia and China), all of them nuclear powers. 

To read more of this article from the Asia Times, click here.