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Iraq, Iran and the end of petrodollar: The waning influence of the USA in the Asian century

15.05.2006
 
Pages: 123
Iraq, Iran and the end of petrodollar: The waning influence of the USA in the Asian century

Throughout history, empires and their civilisations have come and gone. During the first part of the last century, the US quietly built its empire, first in the North and Central Americas and in South America. Soon after the Second World War, the US worked to maximise the advantages it gained, and the power it assumed, between 1943 and 1945, from its victory over Germany and Japan, and as a consequence of massive Soviet casualties, and large British debt and financial burden caused by the war. The USA assumed the leading role in the Western world by, on one hand, containing the Soviet Union and preventing the spread of communist revolution beyond the borders of the Soviet bloc; and on the other hand, ensuring uncontested American supremacy within the Western world.

During the Cold War years, there was little or no challenge to the dominant position of the US in the Western world. However, with the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, the knot tying the basic objectives of the US global strategy together began to come unraveled. Once the communist danger was off the table, American supremacy ceased to be an automatic requirement of the Western system.

Since 20 September 2002, the US government has abandoned its former multilateral approach to global affairs, and adopted an imperial posture known as the so-called Bush doctrine.

This new agenda is based on militarist and imperial values with some theocratic overtones. This agenda looks much like what some people see in US foreign policy at the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th, when the US actively sought to dominate the entire Caribbean basin, Central America and even the western Pacific.

Six months after the Bush doctrine was announced, the new American doctrine was applied as a justification for an unprovoked war against Iraq by the neo-conservative administration of the US. Toppling Saddam Hussein's regime without the support of the UN, and in the face of strong opposition from traditional US allies, was a clear presentation of a new unilateralist American foreign policy. The 'regime change' in Baghdad was not an isolated event, but only an opening salvo in a much broader neo-conservative agenda. The neo-conservatives 'advocate a paradigm shift in which the United States spreads American values by asserting American power-by force, if necessary'. This agenda seeks to reshape American hegemonic practices according to old imperial doctrines, but with new post-colonial political and military tools. This was described most clearly by Irving Kristol, who is considered as founder of the US neo-conservatism: 'it would be natural for the United States to play a far more dominant role in world affairs, to command and to give orders as to what is to be done. People need that.'

Since 2005, there is a looming crisis brewing over Iran. In the media the phantom of Iran 'threat' is being amplified across the world. In order to justify a military operation against Iran, the neo-conservative rulers of the US have started a demonization campaign against this country, presenting the latest incarnation of America's enemy, in much the same way Saddam Hussein was in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. They have put a lot of effort into making people believe that Iran is ruled by dangerously crazy people who are trying to make a nuclear bomb, and that they would not hesitate to bomb one or more US cities. In view of such a danger, the only answer is to wage a preventive war. Speculations about possible U.S.-Israel attacks on Iran have reached a stage of war propaganda by Western media.

A recent report by the Oxford Research Group revealed that any bombing of Iran by U.S. forces, or by their Israeli allies, would result in the unnecessary death of many innocent lives. 'A US military attack on Iranian nuclear infrastructure would be the start of a protracted military confrontation that would probably involve Iraq, Israel and Lebanon as well as the United States and Iran, with the possibility of western Gulf States being involved as well', says the report written by Paul Rogers. The report also argues that Military deaths in. (the) first wave of attacks against Iran would be expected to be in the thousands, especially with attacks on air bases and Revolutionary Guard facilities. Civilian deaths would be in the many hundreds at least, particularly with the requirement to target technical support for the Iranian nuclear and missile infrastructure, with many of the factories being located in urban areas. If the war evolved into a wider conflict, primarily to pre-empt or counter Iranian responses, the casualties would eventually be much higher.

Many observers view the US neo-conservative clique and its agenda as a conspiracy. This article, however, is based on the premise that they are merely part of a larger equation of global systemic structures. This view is rooted in an understanding that vested interests representing the energy, electronics, weapons, and influential segments of the media and communications industries in the US are always entrenched in key sectors of government. These interests are concerned with maintaining their privileged position. And key elements of the US economic and political elite are now responding directly to changes in global conditions that have arisen since the end of the Cold War. This is not a conspiracy. It is only business as usual.

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