Monday, August 13, 2007

Iraq -- Business and War

Granma, August 10, 2007

BY ELSA CLARO —Special for Granma International

GEORGE Bush is leaving an unpleasant and difficult legacy for whoever will replace him in 2008. With serious domestic economic and financial problems that in themselves are a daunting task, along with deteriorating social services, the newcomers also have the burden of two costly, useless wars that are making problems worse and more deeply entrenched, instead of resolving them.

Bush, who has the state’s funds at his disposition — funds created by taxpayer money — as if they were part of a personal account, has provided for an enormous increase in U.S. military contributions to Israel consisting of $30 billion over 10 years, arming the Zionist government to the tune of $3 billion annually.

We don’t need to suggest what could be done with such a sum of money – which will almost double Washington’s current military aid to Tel Aviv – if they were dedicated to needs in the United States, such as the rebuilding of New Orleans and aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Or if they were used in Iraq, where after so many years of boycott and direct destruction, there is a very critical situation.

The humanitarian organization Oxfam revealed that 70% of Iraq’s 27 million people do not have adequate access to water, and only 20% of the population has heath care.

The dramatic situation of Iraq’s children continues to worsen. While before the invasion, they comprised a sector hard hit by economic woes (remember the years of the insufficient oil-for-food plan), now some 30% of children are malnourished, while 15% of adults do not eat regularly.

That hardship requires urgent help, because the transitional government has been unable to meet even the most basic needs. The war itself, with its daily violence, is covering up this tragedy being suffered by at least 8 million people in Iraq.

And this is not even mentioning the 2 million who were able to escape to neighboring nations.

Despite this situation, theoretically created to "bring liberty and democracy," its creators are planning expenditures as gigantic as those made by Washington to raise increase military aid to Israel for maintaining military superiority in the area. The top reason is to exceed Iran’s capabilities, while they continue to harass the latter with financial pressure and hostile military preparations.

And given that Bush has relatively little time left in the White House, the Pentagon organized arms sales to several Middle Eastern nations, including some that are not exactly Israel’s closest friends. The latter has no problem with that, confident in whatever commitments its big partner is orchestrating.

Large-scale military reinforcements are on their way to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, all of which are to receive advanced armaments and warships worth some $20 billion.

While the central reason is to maintain Israel’s superiority in the Middle East, above all in face of Iran’s defensive capacity, the subject has other motives that we could call secondary.

It is not at all strange for the ruling group in the United States to give this transaction commercial significance. They believe that if those nations are planning to buy modern weapons in any case, it is preferable for it to be a U.S. sale, involving billions of dollars, of course.

The issue implies many additional complexities. There are religious differences among those Arab nations, but they do share common opposition to Israel because of the antagonistic policies the latter has held since its creation as a country, and given the expansionist intentions it has not renounced.

Hence this is not the end of the story, at this point in time.

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