Monday 7 April 2003

America's war against Europe

If you want to understand why the US government is doing what it is doing then read this article, it's about as good an explanation as I've read.

There are many reasons for George Bush's single-minded drive toward Baghdad. In other articles I have written for I hinted that a not so obvious reason for the drive against Iraq is Bush's war against Europe. In fact, I have now come to believe that is the primary reason for his Iraqophenia.

Whenever a nation decides to go to war, there are plans made for who is going to win and who is going to lose; no one goes to war expecting to lose but it isn't always the obvious target of the aggression that is the real thrust behind the war. Sometimes, it isn't a case of what you expect to win from a war but rather a case of what you hope someone else loses; and it doesn't have to be your stated enemy who you hope will sustain the losses.

In this case, Bush's hoped-for victim is the European economy. It is robust, and is likely to become much stronger in the easily foreseeable future. Britain's entry into the European Union is inevitable; Scandinavia will join sooner rather than later. Already, even without those countries, there will be 10 new member nations in May 2004 which will swell the GDP of the E.U. to about $9.6 billion with 450 million people as against $10.5 billion and 280 million people in the United States. This represents a formidable competing block for the United States but the situation is significantly more complex than what is revealed just by those numbers. And much of it hinges on the future of Iraq.

I have written before, as have many others, that this upcoming war is about oil. To be sure there are other reasons, but oil is the single most impelling force. Not in the way you might expect, however. It isn't so much that there are believed to be huge untapped oil reserves in Iraq, untapped only due to outdated technology; it isn't so much an American desire to get its grubby hands on that oil; it is much more a question of whose grubby hands the Americans want to keep it out of.

What precipitated all of this was not September 11, nor a sudden realization that Saddam was still a nasty guy, nor just the change in leadership in the United States. What precipitated it was Iraq's November 6, 2000 switch to the euro as the currency for its oil transactions. At the time of the switch, it might have seemed daft that Iraq was giving up such a lot of oil revenue to make a political statement. But that political statement has been made and the steady depreciation of the dollar against the euro since then means that Iraq has derived good profits from switching its reserve and transaction currencies. The euro has gained about 17 percent against the dollar since that time, which also applies to the $10 billion held in Iraq's United Nations "oil for food" reserve fund.

So the question arises, as it did for George Bush, what happens if OPEC makes a sudden switch to euros? In a nutshell, all hell breaks loose.

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