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Oh, what a lovely war
Or how bombing Iraq can be good for Bush, business and beef exports
Eamonn McCann, 02 Oct 2002
If we are to believe what we read in the pro-war press, George W. Bush has finally come up with info that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Al Qaida all along. The breakthrough was brilliantly-timed, hitting the headlines on the weekend following the anniversary of the September attacks. Some of us had thought it implausible that a secular dictatorship would make common cause with religious fanatics. But who’s to say? It’s a weird world.
Still, in assessing what credibility to attach to the announcement, it might be well to keep in mind a report two weeks earlier by the impeccably mainstream David Martin on CBS News. He quoted a cryptic memo by Bush’s Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld timed at 2.40 pm on September 11 a year ago, “Get best info fast. Judge whether good enough to hit SH at same time. Not only UBL. Go Massive.”
Evidence of intent within hours of the Twin Towers crumbling to use the atrocity as a pretext for attacking Iraq? Even Bush’s crowd couldn’t be as cynically calculating as all that, surely, in the immediate aftermath of the massacre?
Maybe. But weird, too, that Martin’s story should have disappeared from the media after one outing on CBS.
Let us recall as well the wise words of veteran broadcaster Dan Rather on Newsnight on BBC2 in May. Lamenting the reportage of the “war on terrorism”: “Limiting access, limiting information to cover the backsides of those who are in charge of the war, is extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted. And I am sorry to say that, up to and including the moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted... And the current administration revels in that, they relish that, and they take refuge in that.”
Not a lot of coverage, either, of Bush refusing to take a ’phone-call from Nelson Mandela a few weeks ago. I’d have thought that episode worth a paragraph or two.
Mandela had been pressed by a group of delegations to the Earth Summit in Johannesburg to offer himself as a mediator between the US and Iraq. He wanted to talk to Bush before giving them his response. The fact that Bush was too busy to talk to him may have influenced the tone of the response when it came:
“The United States has made serious mistakes in the conduct of its foreign affairs, which have had unfortunate repercussions long after the decisions were taken.
“Unqualified support of the Shah of Iran led directly to the Islamic revolution of 1979. Then the United States chose to arm and finance the Mujahedin in Afghanistan instead of supporting and encouraging the moderate wing of the government of Afghanistan. That is what led to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“But the most catastrophic action of the United States was to sabotage the decision that was painstakingly stitched together by the United Nations regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.
“It is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush’s desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America. If you look at those factors, you’ll see that an individual like myself, a man who has lost power and influence, can never be a suitable mediator.”
Mandela is generally one of the most quoted men in the world. Strange that particular pronouncement didn’t make it onto the front pages.
Pity, terror, anger and a determination to do what you can to try and make it not happen—any or all of these might be suitable reactions to Bush and Blair’s drive to war. But not everybody sees it like that. Some folk look at the world going to hell in a handcart and wonder how to make money out of it.
“War on Iraq will boost stock-market”, ran the headline on the front page of the Sunday Times’ ‘Money’ section on September 8th. Which was something of an oversimplification. The story below explained that there’s easy money to be made from the proposed war, right enough, but that the timing has to be right.
Features along the same lines have recently been found in the Economist and the Financial Times and, no doubt, in those other journals in which the ruling class talks to itself out of earshot, it’s assumed, of the great unwashed.
Analyses of the behaviour of stock markets during conflicts going back to World War Two reveal a consistent pattern, apparently. The imminence of war sends stock prices down. But the onset of war sees them bouncing back up. Then the persistence of war depresses markets again.
When Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 raised the spectre of war, investors rushed to get rid of shares. Within a month, Wall Street’s S&P500 index had tumbled 17 percent, London’s FTSE 11 percent.
However, when Operation Desert Storm was launched in January 1991, both the S&P and the Footsie began rising again. Within six weeks, share-prices had recovered, on average by 20 percent. The surge continued until January ’92, at which juncture a slow slide set in.
The trick is, of course, to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. The markets are bumping along at the bottom as I write. So perhaps this is the time to take a plunge. But, warns the Sunday Times, “Any rally is not expected to last long and investors should therefore take the opportunity to make a quick profit... Stay on your toes and cash in shares quickly to realise the profits.”
Oh, what a lovely war once again!