realpolitik

By restoring a U.S. presence in the Arabian Peninsula, the Gulf war also simultaneously restored its strategic primacy as guardian of the sources of oil, which its European and Japanese partners are more dependent on that it is. The billions of dollars paid to finance the war effort in the Gulf, not only by the oil monarchies themselves but by Germany and Japan as well, consecrate the United States as it were in its role of lord protector. At the same time Washington guaranteed that it would keep and increase its lion’s share in the worldwide exploitation of oil and petrodollars.

The U.S. war in the Gulf was the first demonstration of U.S. “hyperpower”, but at the same time it emphasized the limits of this “hyperpower”, which is far from omnipotence. The chief limit to U.S. power derives from the relationship between the government in Washington and the people of the the United States, either mediated by elected officials or expressed directly in the streets. This relationship is crucial, inasmuch as the United States is – luckily – a capitalist democracy, not a dictatorship. George H. Bush had considerable difficulty in getting a green light from Congress in 1990 for his war to “liberate Kuwait”. He could not afford in any way to exceed his mandate and occupy Iraq.

Unable to take direct control of the Iraqi government by installing U.S. armed forces in Baghdad, therefore, Washington preferred not to take the risk of overthrowing the Ba’athist regime, which would have led to a chaotic situation and threatened the stability of the whole region. The risk was particularly great in March 1991 since Iraq was going through a popular uprising. The fall of the regime in these circumstances would have inevitably led to a revolutionary situation, which the United States and its Middle Eastern allies feared much more than the ongoing rule of a much weakened Saddam Hussein. The United States thus authorized Hussein to bloodily suppress the popular uprising.

— from the Introduction: “U.S. imperial strategy in the Middle East” of Eastern Cauldron / Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq in a Marxist mirror, Salah Jubir, translated by Peter Drucker, Jeddojuhd Publications, Lahore, July 2005

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