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    War and Terror: Why Britain wants this war
    Posted on Saturday, April 05 @ 09:40:51 UTC
    Topic: Blair
    Blairby Lawrence Smallman, aljazeera.net

    "The reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner – not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council…. The US can afford to go it alone, but Britain is not a superpower. Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules." Robin Cook, former British Foreign Minister, in his resignation speech, 18th March 2003.

    The Prime Minister and his foreign policy advisors are evidently convinced that supporting and following US foreign policy for Iraq is more important than upsetting NATO, EU and the UN.

    The question is why. What does the UK benefit that can be worth disregarding such important international bodies?


    Since the 50s, it has been British interest to ensure free access to oil products produced in states bordering the Gulf. It has also been a policy for some time to ensure the continued availability of that oil on favourable terms and to maintain suitable arrangements for the investment of the surplus revenues of Kuwait. A declassified US document observes "the UK asserts that its financial stability would be seriously threatened if the petroleum from Kuwait and the Persian Gulf area were not available to the UK on reasonable terms, if the UK were deprived of the large investments made by that area in the UK and if sterling were deprived of the support provided by Persian Gulf oil." Translation: this is not only a war for oil; it is a war to control the profits that flow from oil.

    In January, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, confirmed in front of 150-plus assembled diplomats that a strategic priority was to "bolster the security of British and global energy supplies". Ministers and officials, off the record, have for some time pointed to the instability of current oil sources – the Middle East, Caspian region and Algeria – and the need for secure alternatives.

    Policymakers have been concerned for some time that, with the decline in North Sea oil production, that the UK will be totally dependent on imports within 40 years. Worse, it is estimated that over 90% of Europe's oil and gas will need to be imported in 30 years time. The 1998 review entitled "Future Strategic Context for Defence" even specified that oil supplies were a key area jeopardizing 'the fundamental interests or security of Western nations' and stressed the 'potential for aggressive competition for resources' between nations. Such concerns would necessarily be factored into UK foreign policy.

    The first benefit for a war on Iraq as far as Britain is concerned, therefore, is a commanding slice of Iraq's oil reserves. Lord Browne, chief executive of British Petroleum even welcomed a 'level playing field for the selection of oil companies' to go into Iraq following a US take over of the country last October.

    Manipulating UK / EU / US balance of power in British interest

    Since New Labour came to power, the British government has often expressed its desire to be 'at the heart of Europe'. At times of international tension, however, the UK has always shown little regard for fellow EU member states. This has not been to the detriment of British interests in Europe. France and Germany have had an increasingly close relationship in the last five years; ministers from the two countries can even listen in at cabinet meetings. These countries account for 140 million people and are the most powerful countries in Europe. Supporting US policy has allowed the UK to halt the French and Germans from pushing through the Common European Foreign Policy. Britain cannot hope to develop its political clout in the EU unless it is able to align itself in opposition to this Franco-German alliance.

    The immediate outcome of the attacks on Iraq in 1998 and on Afghanistan in 2002 were to place the UK center stage within the EU's foreign policy development, and the UK has used this to push for an early expansion of the European Union as well as the European rapid reaction force – potentially a future 'Euro army' and a streamlining of the EU's foreign policy. Recent history has shown that supporting aggressive US military policy on Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan in the face of occasionally strong European criticism has given the UK additional political weight within the EU. This policy has been supported both by Conservative and Labour governments since the Reagan Years.

    The second benefit of supporting US policy so staunchly is that it allows the UK to frustrate the move for a federal superstate in Europe and push for deregulation, and reduce support for the costly agricultural cartel. Only the expansion of Europe and making France and Germany into a minority power within the EU could have achieved this. Britain is well placed, even if it does not win in its EU struggles, to never be completely isolated.

    The popular perception of Blair as Bush's poodle is amusing but does not portray the extent to which Britain is benefiting from US strength. However, there may well be an element that makes Blair susceptible to US policy at a personal level. Every year, the British American Project holds a four-day conference, which brings together 24 people from each side of the Atlantic to discuss a specific issue of importance to both countries. Many foreign politicians and key public opinion figures are invited to participate on the project with the intention of influencing them in the direction desired by US international strategy. Many of the main figures in 'New Labour', including Tony Blair, have participated in this project and then returned back to the UK inspired by US policy – in pretty much the same way that Shaw and Wells were impressed by Stalin's Russia in the 30s.

    Among figures that have attended the Project, Peter Mandelson, Mo Mowlam, George Robertson, Chris Smith and Stephen Dorrell are the most prominent political figures. However, there are a whole host of public opinion formulating guests as well. Jeremy Paxman, Jonathan Powell and Lady Symons are perhaps amongst the most well known. Charles Moore, Editor of the Daily Telegraph, said on his return, "young Britons need to know America and Americans. The British American project provides them with an attractive way of doing so." Jonathan Powell, Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, said, "the lasting relationships that are built up are the only way to underpin an enduring Special Relationship. Takes the working out of networking."

    Of the 600 hundred or so members with which elite Britons mix are Robert Hoffman, president of the Coca-Cola Bottling Group, Tom Proulx, co-founder of Intuit Inc., and Robert Mosbacher, president of Mosbacher Energy Company. The project has some interesting donors too, among them ARCO (oil and gas), Honeywell (military avionics), and Raytheon (arms manufacturer).

    Only last week Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt contacted the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to curry favour for British groups. "The Secretary of State made a phone call to Mr. Andrew Natsios of USAID discussing the expertise which can be offered by British companies in humanitarian and reconstruction work after the war", a British government agency Trade Partners UK spokesman informed.

    The USAID has tendered eight civilian contracts for the postwar reconstruction of Iraq, secrecy as to who is involved has attracted severe criticism. No foreign companies were invited to tender contracts – but if any country stands a chance, it is Britain.

    This provides just a suspicion for a third reason for British war on Iraq. Just maybe UK foreign policymakers have become subsidiaries of their equivalents in Washington.

    Related Links
    · More about Blair
    · News by ZeberuS

    Most read story about Blair:
    Lapdog Blair Gets an Earful in Beirut

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