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US's 'interests' in the Middle East « Previous | |Next »
January 14, 2007

In a response to the Iraq Study Group Report by Baker and Hamilton Larry Everest comments:

Baker and Hamilton’s introductory letter spells out two of the report’s central and overarching themes: the U.S. has legitimate “interests” in Iraq and the Middle East, and bipartisan consensus and domestic unity are essential to advancing them. In most all discussions of the ISG report, these two statements are treated uncritically, as self-evident truths and worthy goals.Yet if anything needs discussion, dissection, and debate, it’s these two foundational, generally unquestioned, assumptions. What are “U.S. interests” in Iraq and the Middle East? Why should the population support their pursuit?

My concern is with the former theme--- that the U.S. has legitimate “interests” in Iraq and the Middle East. The assumption that the US has legitimate interests in the Middle East does need to be unpacked. I generally decoded 'interests' in terms of empire and hegemony.

Everest concurs. He says that the Baker/Hamilton report tells us that “Iraq is vital to regional and even global stability, and is critical to U.S. interests” and he comments thus:

In this instance and mainstream discourse, “interests” is a euphemism for U.S. hegemony in the Middle East – hegemony aimed at controlling global energy sources and markets (the lifeblood of modern empire), preventing others from doing so, and dominating this geopolitical nexus between Europe, Asia and Africa. This predominance has been a pillar of U.S. strategy for 60 years under Republicans and Democrats alike, key to ensuring the smooth functioning of U.S. global capitalism in the interests of its imperial elite.Pursuing these objectives has meant turning Israel into a regional gendarme and supporting the dispossession of the Palestinians, maintaining ruthless tyrannies while overthrowing popular governments, and intervening covertly and overtly on many fronts, over decades.

He adds that the Bush administration, saw conquering Iraq as a way to dramatically assert U.S. power and begin restructuring (“democratizing”) the region’s brittle tyrannies, undercutting Islamists, and facilitating U.S.-led globalization.
Control of Iraq would place U.S. forces in the heart of the Middle East/Central Asian region – home to 80% of world energy sources – and give it enormous military and economic leverage over potential global rivals. It was conceived as phase two (after Afghanistan) in an ongoing war for unchallenged and unchallengeable empire, theorized by the neocons and codified in the U.S. National Security Strategy (of 2002 and 2006).

I more or less acept this account and I' dont see it as viewing US intervention in the region solely through the prism of traditional, Cold War dogma as James Baker claims in his response. Everest is reductionist in that he reduces empire to 'the smooth functioning of U.S. global capitalism in the interests of its imperial elite'

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:23 PM |