What's Left

November 21, 2002

The King can't fall, until the game is over

By Stephen Gowans

Little has changed in almost a century. In 1928, Arthur Ponsonby, a British MP, could write about WWI in ways that shockingly adumbrate George Bush's war on terrorism.

In building support for war, "it is necessary to detach [from the enemy] an individual on whom may be concentrated all the vials of the wrath of an innocent people who are only defending themselves from 'unprovoked aggression'," explained Ponsonby, in his book, Falsehood in Wartime.

"[U]p to 1919, the Kaiser as the villain of the piece, was set up in the Allied countries as the incarnation of all iniquity...There can be no question that ... thousands ... [believed] the primary object of the war was to catch this monster, little knowing that war is like chess: you cannot take the King while the game is going on; it is against the rules. It would spoil the game."

Today, there can be no question that thousands believe the primary object of the war on terrorism is to catch the monster, Osama bin Laden (or Saddam Hussein) little knowing that war is like chess: you cannot take the King while the game is going on.

The game, today, as in Ponsonby's time, is conquest, and as the game is still going on (and will for decades we're told), bin Laden, the King, has not been taken.

This time the game is conquest of Central Asia; conquest of the Middle East; conquest of the world's oil; indeed, conquest of the world itself. A new American century awaits, of uncontested US primacy, of open markets, of free enterprise, of plutocracy (in the guise of democracy), and above all, of Washington in the driver's seat.

There's no secret about what Washington is up to. It's laid out, for all to see, in the President's National Security Strategy.

"We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets and free trade to every corner of the world," the President says [my emphasis].

The kind of democracy Bush is talking about is the kind that allowed a undistinguished, dim, and mollycoddled son of a rich man, with the right connections, to get elected president, without having a majority of the votes. It's the kind in which wheels are greased by money, of the kind corporations have, and ordinary people don't.

And what the president means by free markets and free trade is an end to other countries' publicly owned enterprises, a regime of privatization in which socially-owned assets are snapped up at fire sale prices by Western firms, and walls are smashed down that hold American investors back from exercising their God given right -- extracting profits from other people's resources, markets and labor.

How Bush intends to go about imposing what he calls a "single sustainable model" of open markets and free enterprise on "every corner of the world" is also laid out for inspection in the very same document: The United States will "act alone, if necessary, to exercise [its] right to self-defense by acting pre-emptively against terrorists." In other words, while jackbooting across dozens of countries in the name of ridding the world of whoever Washington sees fit to call a terrorist or a terrorist state, the United States will be imposing its "single sustainable model" of free trade, free enterprise, and plutocracy on the countries it "liberates."

Yugoslavia, already liberated from the monster Milosevic, is also being liberated of its socially-owned enterprises and natural resources. Afghanistan, liberated from the monstrous Taliban, is also being liberated of the idea that its government and economy can be organized in any manner other than the one dictated by Washington. And Iraq, on schedule to be liberated from the monster Saddam Hussein, will also be liberated of the idea that the country's oil wealth belongs to its citizens, and not US oil companies.

And that's where Osama comes in, as Saddam does (and did), and Milosevic once did, and a whole string of "monsters" have, on whom can be concentrated all the vials of the wrath of an innocent people, stretching all the way back to the Kaiser.

But remember, the rules of the game forbid the capture of the King until the game is over.

"In the same way [General Headquarters] on both sides [in WWI] was never bombed because, as a soldier bluntly put it, 'Don't you see, it would put an end to the whole bloody business.'"

Except, there are more Osamas waiting in the wings to fill the role of "monster," ready to be trotted out onto centre stage "on whom may be concentrated all the vials of the wrath of an innocent people." The whole bloody business will never end, because Washington will always conjure up a new monster.

As George W. Bush put it yesterday, explaining why a NATO whose raison d'être evaporated over a decade ago, must continue to grow, "The Soviet Union is gone, but freedom still has enemies."

And until Washington conquers every corner of the world,  and Lockheed Martin and Boeing and Raytheon and General Electric, and all the other military contractors whose insatiable appetite for profits demands an endless string of enemies for the Pentagon to vanquish, the enemy King (by whatever name he's known), will never be captured, for the game will have yet to end.

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