Britain joins war effort to avoid being second-string

ABy Charlie Willis as the reserves are called up and the ships sail out, the reasons driving the George W. Bush administration’s want for going to war are fairly clear. Here is a sketch of the administration’s reasoning.

First, the policy of containment has done us wrong in the Middle East. Since the end of the last Gulf War, the United States has had to maintain, by U.N. mandate, a sizable force in the area to watch over Hussein. The largest divisions of these forces are based in Saudi Arabia.

One of Osama bin Laden’s chief complaints was the “infidels” occupying his country, Saudi Arabia. The argument then is we need to decrease our presence in the Middle East as a matter of national security, and the only way we can do that is to remove the only reason our presence is there – Hussein.

What about backlash? Don’t worry, Hussein’s power is hollow, and his people are desperate for revolution. We’ll be saviors, freedom fighters and what have you.

Second, Hussein runs a brutal dictatorship – an idea the United States is opposed to in principle. If we remove Iraq and set the foundations for a peaceful and democratic nation, we could be adding a much needed stabilizing force in a highly volatile region.

Then there’s the issue regarding oil. If you open the deep reserves of Iraq under the control of a pro-American, peaceful democracy, you gain a weighty lever against OPEC and other oil-based tyrannies in the Middle East.

The Defense Planning Guidance is the administration’s most tenuous reason. The plan was written by Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in 1992 under President George H. Bush, which essentially called for the unilateral predominance of the United States over Eurasia, especially concerning Western oil interests. It makes sense that if you want to secure your foothold as a nation, you better secure the fuel that runs your nation. Under President George W. Bush the old gang is back, and they are not going to mess around this time.

This may explain why Bush wants to go to war, but how do we explain Prime Minister Tony Blair’s eagerness? It basically boils down to the European Union.

It is true that Blair could have accepted the reasoning from the Washington hawks; after all, Britain faces the same anti-Western threat that the United States does, and it will stand to benefit from a weakened OPEC.

However, this just doesn’t seem enough. Blair is no dummy and he is not going to march behind Bush on ideals alone.

In the EU there are three major players: Germany, France and Britain. Currently Germany and France are in cahoots to dominate the Union. This is why Germany is so persuasive over France’s war vote.

Germany doesn’t want to go to war and doesn’t need to go war; in fact, Germany sees a war in Iraq as a bad thing. It will force the country to commit more money to the United Nations, more money to its internal security, and will hinder its export-based economy. Germany has nothing to gain from a war in Iraq.

France does, in the way of oil and other potential investments; however, it has more to gain by allying with Germany and co-dominating Europe.

The last thing Britain wants is to be a second-string player in the European theater. Thus Britain turns to the only other influence that matters in the EU – the United States.

Britain, with U.S. backing, is now not only ready to play ball in Europe, it is ready to start calling the shots. Britain also turns to other nations of the EU that have no use for a Franco-German affair and tells them: “Hey, join us and we won’t let those big, ol’ countries push you around.”

Blair is not going to Iraq to free its people or to fight terrorism or even get oil; these are all just spoils of war. Blair is going to war in Iraq to win Europe.

Charlie Willis is a University biology student studying in England. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]