The war aims of the Great Powers in the Middle East and consequences of the coming invasion of Iraq

The so-called "struggle against terrorism" is nothing but a cynical pretext for feeding the voracious appetite of the greatest economic and military power in the world. The arrogant war-mongering of George W. Bush reflects the brutality of the American ruling class, which in its struggle for the control of resources, raw materials, markets, trade routes and spheres of influence, is ready to destroy any obstacle it finds in its path.

The so-called "struggle against terrorism" is nothing but a cynical pretext for feeding the voracious appetite of the greatest economic and military power in the world. The arrogant war-mongering of George W. Bush reflects the brutality of the American ruling class, which in its struggle for the control of resources, raw materials, markets, trade routes and spheres of influence, is ready to destroy any obstacle it finds in its path. Whether this be done by "peaceful" means - that is to say by the shear force of its tremendous economic power, by bribery, or "diplomatic" intimidation - or by killing and destruction, is simply a matter of finding the most appropriate means to achieve these ends. As Clausewitz explained long ago, war is the continuation of politics by other means.

Since the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the ruling class of the USA claims the right to bomb, to invade and if necessary, to permanently occupy any country which does not accept its dictates, particularly if this country is poor and weak. The war against Iraq will begin very soon, and neither the farcical masquerade of Blix and his "inspectors" nor the hesitation and diplomatic manoeuvring of the European powers will prevent it.

For several months now, the murderous war machine of the United States has been building up the neighbouring states on all sides of Iraq. The total amount of British and American ground troops now in the area and ready to invade Iraq is over 220000, to which must be added the aircraft carriers, destroyers, scores of B52s and other bomber planes, and hundreds of fighter-bombers. On a low level, the war has already started, given that since the month of August, daily raiding by fighter-bomber squadrons has been carried out. Military targets are being "taken out" in the course of these raids, such as Iraqi air bases, grounded aircraft, and artillery installations, but the raids have also killed a considerable number of civilians. Bush hopes that this harassment will provoke a reaction from Iraq, which would then be qualified as an "act of war" and serve as a pretext to launch the invasion. Failing this, in any event, the long list of clauses in the ultimatum presented by the Bush administration to Saddam Hussein was designed to make it impossible for him to comply with everything. When the time comes, Bush will have no difficulty in claiming this or that "violation" of the ultimatum is a justification for the invasion.The sending of UN inspectors has been presented as a "last chance" given to Iraq to avoid the war. In reality, this was an attempt to manipulate public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. But it hasn't really worked. According to recently published polls, the majority of American citizens feel that there is insufficient proof to justify a war against Iraq. The majority of people in Britain are opposed to the war, and, here in France, opinion polls consistently show between 66 and 80% of the public in opposition to the war. This situation has created difficulties for President Jacques Chirac, and has forced even the hard right wing of the Socialist Party, which supported and participated in the 1991 war against Iraq, and in the wars against Serbia and Afghanistan, to come out in opposition - albeit in a confused way - to the present war.

If, as they claim, Bush and his lapdog Tony Blair hold the proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, then why do they not publish it? Paradoxically, the inspections, which were supposed to demonstrate that Iraq represents a major threat to world peace, have proven quite the opposite. A government which, on the very eve of war, opens its arsenals, military installations, laboratories, official buildings, and now even the homes of its inhabitants to agents acting on behalf of the powers at its gates is clearly in no position to attack anybody else, and is unlikely even to be able to defend its own territory. The Iraqi regime is obviously dealing with this humiliating situation from a position of extreme weakness.

Of course, the western powers, and the United States in particular, have spared no effort in emphasising the dictatorial nature of the regime in Iraq. The regime led by Saddam Hussein is a monstrous dictatorship which any socialist, communist, trade unionist, or democratically-minded individual would like to see removed. However, Saddam Hussein was no less of a dictator when all the great powers that are now beating war drums were arming and supporting his regime. Until Saddam's attempt to lay hold of the oil fields in Kuwait, the arbitrary arrests the torture and killing of political opponents, the use of chemical gas against the Kurds, and all the other horrific manifestations of the Baghdad regime did not so much as raise an eyebrow in western capitals. In fact, the United States, France, and Britain all supplied weapons - including chemical and bacteriological weapons - to Iraq on a massive scale, particularly during its war against Iran, and also supplied equipment and training in "anti-subversion" and "interrogation techniques" to Saddam's hated secret police, just as they have done for other dictatorships around the world. Information on Iraqi left-wing militants gathered by western secret service agencies was willingly supplied to Saddam Hussein, which meant, in practice, condemning these people to death. The prospect of Saddam Hussein being overthrown by revolutionary means was seen, and still would be seen, as the greatest possible calamity in the eyes of the western imperialist powers.

The 1991 war had devastating consequences on the economy of Iraq, and some 100,000 civilians were killed in the bombing. But this was nothing compared to the terrible toll of the embargo, which has proved to be a "weapon of mass destruction" of a special kind. For well over a decade, Iraq has been placed under an economic blockade which, according to UNICEF, has been directly responsible for the death of over 500,000 children under 5 years old, mainly as a result of the loss of newly born babies, for lack of basic medicines, and also because of malnutrition. The total number of deaths, including those among the adult population, has been estimated at different levels by various institutions, but generally, the figures given are between 900,000 and 1,200,000 people. Now, after many long years during which the continued existence of Saddam Hussein has been used to justify the installation and strengthening of US military bases in a score of countries in the Middle East and in Central Asia, the United States has changed its policy, abandoning existing arrangements in favour of a new war and the removal of the present Iraqi regime. The reasons for this change require some explanation.

Oil and the crisis in Saudi Arabia

Oil plays a vital part in the world economy, which makes it a "strategic resource" of the greatest importance. The Middle East contains no less than 66% of the "known reserves" in the world, that is to say, of that part of existing oil resources that can be extracted on the basis of present day technology and costs. This figure should be compared to 9% of known reserves in Central and Latin America, just 6% in North America, and a mere 2% in Western Europe. Furthermore, the extent of the reserves existing outside of the Middle East, and the generally higher costs involved in their exploitation, means the preponderance of the Middle East as a world supplier will undoubtedly increase over the next two decades. Oil production in the United States, for instance, fell by 15% between 1990 and 2000.

According to a serious study published by World Energy Outlook, world demand for oil will increase by 40 to 50% between the present time and the year 2025. With the exception of Saudi Arabia, none of the Gulf States possesses the necessary reserves and technology to respond to this growing demand. Saudi Arabia plays a key role in the world market for oil, in that it has been used as a "tap" which, by being opened and closed according to circumstances, influences the amount of oil coming onto the market, and therefore the price of this oil for all importing countries - the biggest of which is the United States - whether or not the imported oil came from Saudi Arabia. The major change, over recent years, which has brought about the decision on the part of the US government to abandon the embargo and to go for war, has been the rapidly deepening economic, social and political instability in the Middle East in general and in Saudi Arabia in particular.

For several decades, the monarchy in Saudi Arabia seemed unshakeable. The revenues from oil led to a general rise in living standards and to the development of the national economy, although, even during this "Golden Age" the lion's share of the colossal financial resources generated by the oil industry went to a tiny minority of the population, and particularly to the members of the Royal Family and their acolytes. But now the economy is in decline. Unemployment stands officially at a staggering 15%, a figure which takes little or no account of unemployed women. The growing unpopularity of the regime has provoked a number of riots, and even mutinies in the armed forces. In the past, such incidents would have been covered with a veil of silence while the guilty parties were rounded up and imprisoned or summarily executed. But now, the unrest has reached a scale that even the Royal Family cannot feign to ignore, and allusions to the "disturbances" have crept into the public speeches of princes and high dignitaries. When the economy was going forward, foreign labour was drafted in to Saudi Arabia from the Yemen, from Pakistan, from Egypt, and desperately poor women workers from Indonesia and the Philippines. The best jobs went to the Saudi nationals. But now, with the growth in unemployment, the regime is trying to reduce the number of foreign workers. A special tax of 10% has been deducted from their wages. This is creating new social tensions, and amounts to an admission that the only future for Saudi youth is to accept the low paid manual jobs previously done by immigrants.

The Royal Family is divided, reflecting deep divisions inside the ruling class itself. The huge profits made from the oil industry were increasingly invested abroad, so that, at least from 2000 onwards, profits generated from foreign investments were higher than those made from oil. In reality, this situation probably existed long before that date, given that a sizeable part of foreign earnings are never declared and remain invisible to statisticians. A considerable part of the Saudi ruling class has come to the conclusion that the Royal Family - whose members seem to mix up their personal bank accounts with those of the state to an increasingly alarming degree - must now be removed. Otherwise, these capitalists believe, a social explosion will take place, which could well blow away far more than the Royal Family. This split in the ruling class is typical of societies on the verge of revolution. The supporters of the Royal Family feel that any change at the top will be taken as a sign of weakness, opening the floodgates for a movement from below, whereas those who want to remove the Royal Family see this as the only means to head off such a movement. One important consequence of these divisions is the growth in support for Wahabite fundamentalism, of which Bin Laden is a representative, which attacks the "venal corruption" of the ruling clique, skilfully exploiting the resentment against US military bases "in the Holy Land of Islam" to gather popular support.

At the time of the war against the pro-soviet regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Royal Family deflected the threat of internal terrorism by offering financial aid to the fundamentalist opposition, in exchange for the latter agreeing to confine its operations to external conflicts in Afghanistan, Algeria, Chechnya, and elsewhere. The United States administration saw this, at the time, as a very positive development, and considered the Saudi fundamentalists as important allies in the war against the pro-soviet government in Kabul. Later, in the mid 1990s, Saudi Arabian fundamentalist forces, financed and trained by the regimes in Saudi Arabia, in Pakistan, and by the CIA, participated in the Taliban invasion of Afghanistan. However, when their former paymasters in Washington reduced their financial support, the Wahabite fundamentalist networks began operating against US interests and stepped up agitation against the increasingly vulnerable Saudi regime. This threat adds to the problems of the monarchy, which is up against the growing discontent of the country's youth and workers. The United States government thinks that the days of the pro-western "House of Saud" are numbered, and, in the light of these developments, this fear would appear to be entirely justified.

This situation has convinced Washington of the urgent necessity to reduce its dependence on Saudi Arabia, which can only be done by firmly establishing US control over a major alternative source of oil, which could at least attempt to assume the position of supplier and market regulator which Saudi Arabia has held until now. After Saudi Arabia, the most important source of oil in the Middle East is Iraq, where oil reserves were estimated to be 112 billion barrels in 2000, which amounts to 10.8% of all the known reserves in the world. That is the first and most compelling reason for the decision of the United States government to invade and occupy Iraq. And it must be done quickly. Should the course of events bring about a hostile regime in Saudi Arabia before the USA secures its control of Iraq, that would deal a very serious blow to the interests of American imperialism in the Middle East and would considerably complicate any future attack against Iraq. This new war is motivated, therefore, by very serious considerations, which are of such colossal importance that they override, in the minds of the strategists of American imperialism, the huge risks involved in this operation. Paradoxically, it could well be the invasion of Iraq which finally prepares the way for the fall of the Saudi monarchy. But by that time, if all goes according to their plans, the US military will already have control of the Iraqi oilfields.

The invasion of Iraq has other objectives, which are also of the highest strategic importance from the point of view of American imperialism. When the regime in Riyadh eventually falls, United States forces will be ordered to seize and secure control of the Saudi oilfields. The military occupation of Iraq would greatly facilitate the large-scale overland offensive which would be necessary for this task. With the control of Iraq and of Saudi oil, the United States would also consolidate its control over the maritime trade routes, through the Red Sea, the Arabian-Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and the Oman Sea, leaving Iran - that other country listed in Bush's "Axis of Evil" - hemmed in on almost all sides by US strategic strongholds in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other neighbouring states. To these fundamental aims should be added another factor in the war, which is less important in the sphere of world relations but perhaps most important of all in the mind of Mister Bush, namely his hope that a quick victorious war would improve his chances in the next presidential election. In the United States, focusing minds on international issues and the "terrorist threat" is being used to deflect attention from the dramatic social consequences of the crisis in the US economy. In fact, the war against Iraq will make the economic crisis considerably worse, both in the United States and in the rest of the world, which is one of the reasons for the reluctance expressed by almost all the other major powers in relation to this war.

France, Germany and Russia

France, Germany, Russia and China, among others, have been unenthusiastic about the war in Iraq, to say the least. From the point of the European capitalist class, the negative economic, social, and political repercussions of a new conflagration in the Middle East, both in the region itself and in Europe, far outweigh the advantages of removing Saddam Hussein. Before hostilities have even begun in earnest, all the European economies are sliding deeper and deeper into recession. Germany's economy - by far the most important in Europe - is grinding to a halt, with unemployment and the state deficit rising sharply. Schröder, expressing the apprehension of the capitalist class, realises that a new war is likely to tip Germany over into negative growth. The profits of the powerful groups which dominate financial and industrial Germany suffered greatly as a result of the last war in Iraq, but the consequences of this new war are likely to be even greater. Nonetheless, the economic interdependence of the major powers - which operates, in the last analysis, in favour of the most powerful among them - means that even mighty German capitalism cannot completely ignore the heavy pressure being applied from Washington. Germany is not likely to allocate ground troops to the invasion force, but it will find a less visible means of contributing to the success of the operation, as a concession to the United States.

The attitude of Jacques Chirac, in France, is motivated by the same worries as that of his German counterpart. The policy adopted by French capitalism in relation to this war has nothing to do with abhorrence for violence and bloodshed, and everything to do with striving to defend its own quest for markets and profits. Over the last fifty years, in northern and sub-Saharan Africa, in Asia, in the Middle East, French imperialism has been steadily losing ground to the United States and more recently, to Germany. This is true even in relation France's own "back yards" of Morocco and Algeria. The French capitalists have tried to take advantage of the conflicts with various "rogue states" such as Libya, Iran and Iraq in order to reinforce their position in these parts of the world. A steady flow of diplomats, government officials, NGO representatives and businessmen have been making the trip from Paris to Tripoli, to Teheran and to Baghdad, signing contracts and making arrangements for the day - which France is supposed to be working towards - when the embargos and restrictions on these countries will be lifted. With bundles of "preliminary business agreements" negotiated with Saddam Hussein under its arm, mainly in relation to the exploitation of Iraqi oil reserves by Elf-Total-Fina, but also for arms sales, French diplomacy has been unsuccessfully lobbying for the lifting of the embargo on Iraq for many years. The removal of Saddam Hussein would render all these agreements null and void. That is the main reason why the French government would prefer to avoid the war.

However, Chirac realises that the war is now inevitable. Bush will attack Iraq, with or without France, and with or without any other international support for that matter, because from the point of view of American imperialism, as we have seen, vital interests are at stake. The deals between France and Saddam Hussein will fall with him, in the event of a successful invasion. Therefore, as predicted months ago by our journal La Riposte, and the In Defence of Marxism web site, France is now changing its position in relation to the war, and is now moving in favour of participation. If the invasion should take place without the participation of France, then the latter will obtain nothing. As second or third fiddle to the United States, it will at least obtain a small portion of the "spoils of war" in terms of reconstruction contracts and access to the internal market. After having called upon the armed forces to "prepare themselves for war", Chirac strenuously denied having changed his policy: "Nothing has changed", he said, "I have said all along that I was totally opposed to unilateral action by the USA against Iraq." In other words, he is saying to Bush, "I had hoped you wouldn't go, but if you must, please take me with you!"

Chirac's problem is now that of popular opposition to the war. The workers and the youth, in France, as in Britain and in Germany, are overwhelmingly hostile to the war, and this is a factor in the calculations of their respective governments. He is therefore playing for time, by calling, together with Schröder for a "new UN resolution" before finally launching the offensive. The hesitation of the French government coincided with that of certain members of the US administration, including some of Bush's closest advisers, such as Powell and Baker, who whilst agreeing on the absolute necessity of a new war, would have preferred to cloak their real war aims in the mantle of a so-called "international coalition against terrorism". The infamous resolution 1441 voted by the United Nations was designed to help European governments justify their participation in the war. But now the US administration is growing impatient. Tensions between Washington and Paris are growing. Chirac and his Prime Minister Raffarin have one eye on the political consequences of participating in the war, and one eye on the oil companies and other big capitalist groups in France, who see richer pickings to be had from rebuilding all that will be destroyed in the bombing than those that could be gleaned from the lifting of the embargo on the present Iraqi regime, which is now completely out of the question in any case. In the event of an allied victory, the deals between big business interests in France and Saddam Hussein will not be worth the paper they are written on, and the capitalists in France will have to make new ones with the new regime hoisted to power on the bayonets of the invading armies. Unless France participates in the war, it will be shut out of future business deals by the United States.Russia, for its part, also has considerable interests to defend in Iraq, and is competing, here as elsewhere in the Middle East and Central Asia, with the growing presence of the United States of America. Putin, like the majority of the Western European leaders, would have preferred to avoid a new war, but he also realises that it is now inevitable. Should Putin use his veto against the war in the United Nations, that will not make any significant difference, as is the case with France. Neither Putin nor Chirac are keen to suffer such a clear demonstration of their impotence in world affairs, and this is a factor pushing them to line up behind Bush, who, conscious of the persuasive power of vast sums of money, has "suggested" that US banks will underwrite the rapid payment of the massive debts owed to Russian banks by Iraq, that further hand-outs to Russia will be made through the IMF, that a share of the reconstruction contracts in post-war Iraq will go to Russia, and that a "blind eye" be turned to Putin's devastating war in Chechnya.

Egypt and Jordan

Russia and the major European powers are deeply concerned about the repercussions of the new war in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt. The people of Egypt, like that of almost all the lesser developed countries of the world, have suffered terribly from the consequences of privatisation, attacks on welfare, on working conditions and on the educational system. For a brief period in the history of the country, after the construction of the Aswan dam, the nationalisation of the Suez Canal and of British and French assets at the time of Nasser, the massively increased role of the state in the economy laid the basis for a gradual rise in living standards, for improvements in health services and education, and the development of a rudimentary welfare system. This process was then reversed, and for several decades now, living standards for the mass of the people have been steadily declining. With the onset of the world recession, this decline has become a collapse. The national currency is increasingly undermined, with 22% of transactions being carried out in dollars. Foreign capital is moving out of Egypt, and share values on the Cairo Stock Exchange have been falling every year for the last 3 years. Egypt is saddled with crippling foreign debts, amounting to 26.6 billion euros. The official level of unemployment stands at 9%, but most non-governmental sources say the real figure is around 17%. Among the under-25's, 40% are unemployed. Only tourism, which suffered from the after-effects of the events of September 11, 2001, have helped to prevent a social and economic catastrophe. The war in Iraq will have a negative effect on this sector in particular. President Mubarak recently warned the United States that if a new war was launched against Iraq in present-day conditions, "not a single Arab leader will be able to contain the anger of his people". In view of the above facts, these were clearly not empty words.

Egypt will not be the only country affected by the war. The Jordanian economy has only managed to avoid collapse through massive financial subsidies granted by the US government and by tying itself to the economy of Iraq. Since the launching of the so-called "oil for food" package, Iraq has been the sole supplier of oil to Jordan, which imports 5.5 million tons of Iraqi oil per year. Jordan receives half of this quantity completely free of charge, and pays for the other half at just 19 dollars par barrel, a price well below world market prices, which is equivalent to an annual saving to Jordan of 800 million euros. Iraq also absorbs 20% of Jordanian exports. This advantageous loop-hole in the embargo was opened as a pay-off for Jordanian support in the 1991 war. In exchange for Jordanian support for US policy, Washington has paid annual subsidies which amounted to 150 million dollars in 2001 and 250 million dollars in 2002. Exports and revenues from tourism are falling. The immediate effects of the war in Iraq, the ending of the "oil for food" programme, and the prospect of a reduction in US aid in the future will seriously undermine the Jordanian economy, which will undoubtedly have very serious social and political consequences. The majority (approximately 60%) of the 5 million people who live there are from a Palestinian background. Many present-day Palestinian families lost people in the massacres and repression carried out by the present monarch's father against the PLO forces during "Black September" in 1970. Resentment against the regime is reinforced by the fact that Palestinians in Jordan continue to suffer from discriminatory laws, limiting their rights even more than those of other Jordanian citizens. The Jordanian economy experienced an economic boom during the mid-1990's, largely based on the building industry, but over the recent period, unemployment has been rising and standards have begun to fall.

The warIn the event of the fall of Baghdad, Bush and Powell envisage the creation of a new "protectorate", wherein real political and military power will be wielded by the United States, on the basis of a permanent occupying force, behind the facade of an Iraqi administration. The new government will be hand-picked from the so-called "opposition" groupings which have been wined and dined at the expense of western secret service agencies over the last decade. Setting up an administrative showcase is one thing, but the viability of a government composed of traitors in the pay of those same powers that will have wreaked death and destruction on a massive scale during the invasion is quite another. In any case, in spite of their overwhelming superiority of firepower, the victory of the invading forces cannot be considered as guaranteed in advance. Bush is counting on a speedy and decisive engagement, ending in the seizure of Baghdad. Mubarak in Egypt, the monarchy in Jordan, and the Saudi Royal Family are also praying for a short war. This is a possibility, but it may not be as easy as it seems to some people.

The basic strategy which the invading force will adopt is practically dictated by the geographical configuration of the area. The main thrust of the invading land forces will probably move in from the south in the direction of Baghdad, while another, probably smaller force, will move in from the Turkish border towards the area around Mosul (600,000 inhabitants) in the north. Anything up to 250,000 ground troops could be involved in these movements, and any attempt on the part of the Iraqi commanders to meet the invaders in open field would be nothing short of suicidal. It is of course impossible to predict the reaction of the soldiers and of the Iraqi population in the coming war. What we do know is that in the 1990 war the Iraqi army was routed within a short space of time, and there is hardly any reason to imagine that their fighting capacity in the open field will be any higher now than it was then. None of the open field Iraqi positions at any distance from Baghdad are likely to hold out for any length of time. The decisive battle will be for the control of Baghdad itself (more than 3 million inhabitants), and this is where Saddam Hussein will no doubt attempt to concentrate the forces available to him.

Wars often lead to revolutions, and a mass uprising against Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, or even in another major urban centre, in the face of the advancing foreign armies, cannot be completely ruled out. In such an event, it would not be an uprising in favour of the invading armies, as some light-minded European journalists seem to imagine, but a movement provoked by the incapacity of the existing regime to defend the population against these armies. Such a perspective is implicit in the present war, although it is impossible to say in advance whether or not events will take such a turn, and to what extent. Were it not for the terrifying scale of the bombing to which the people of Baghdad will be subjected, this perspective would be a strong possibility. However, the intensity and destructive power of the bombing is likely to cut across such a development. The invading land forces of troops and tank divisions will be preceded by merciless bombardment of Baghdad by bomber aircraft, and by land and sea-based batteries.

The US generals are apparently counting on provoking dissension among the Iraqi commanders, some of whom would then move against Saddam Hussein, arrest him or kill him, assume power and surrender to the invaders. This is a possibility. But this scenario still leaves open the question of how the invading armies will obtain effective control over the Baghdad. At a certain point in the conflict, the bombing of Baghdad from the outside will have to cease, and the invading armies will have the task of occupying the capital. Otherwise, the perpetrators of the capitulatory coup would probably be incapable of maintaining power for any length of time. American tanks rolling through the streets of Baghdad, if ever they get that far, would find themselves surrounding by a bitterly hostile population, which will never accept their presence. Let us remember that the US Army has proved incapable of controlling Kabul in backward Afghanistan. How could it possibly assert its control over a huge city like Baghdad ? Other difficulties could well arise at the same time. In the Shiite south-eastern quarter of Iraq, containing the important city of Basra and bordering with Iran and Kuwait, a new uprising is entirely possible, just as it is in the northern Kurdish (and also Shiite to some extent) sector of Iraq, bordering with Turkey and Iran.

Such complications forced the father of the present occupant of the White House to call a premature halt to his offensive in 1991. The uprising of the Shiite population raised the possibility of an extension of Iranian influence in the strategically vital south-east sector. Bush senior called off the thrust towards Baghdad, leaving a corridor open to Iraqi troops sent by Saddam Hussein to crush the revolt. These difficulties have probably not even occurred to the limited intelligence of Mister George W. Bush, who, as in Afghanistan, has clearly not thought things out to the end. The question of how to take Baghdad, like that of the Kurds and the Shiites, are likely to affect the duration of the war, and possibly even its final outcome. The longer the war lasts, the more the difficulties for Bush and his allies will increase, both at home and abroad. Their is clearly little enthusiasm for this war among the workers and youth of the European countries, or in the United States, where polls have consistently indicated that the American public is not convinced that the war is necessary and justifiable. If the war should drag on, depriving Bush of his "lightning victory", opposition to the war will undoubtedly grow on both sides of the Atlantic, as was the case with the war in Vietnam in the past.

Overall, whilst this war will be a new demonstration of the colossal economic and military power concentrated in the hands of American imperialism, it will also serve to show the limits of this power, as did the invasion of Afghanistan. It will create more problems than it will solve from the point of view of American capitalism, increasing the very instability that the invasion is supposed to be directed against. Not only in those countries mentioned above, but also in Turkey, in Iran, in the North African states, and in many other areas of the world, the economic and political shock-waves of this new conflagration will sooner or later lead to tremendous social turmoil and revolutionary explosions in one country after another.