1. The Iraq occupation is entirely in keeping with the expansionist “grand strategy” initiated by the USA at the end of the Cold War.
The end of the USSR was a major turning point in history, equal in importance to the end of the 20th century’s two world wars. Each of these turning points ushered in a further phase of US imperial expansion. With the First World War, the USA graduated from its status as a regional or minor world power to that of a major world power. It went on to become a superpower following the Second World War, within the framework of a bipolar world, divided up between the two empires of the Cold War.
The decay and final implosion of the USSR confronted the USA with the need to choose between major strategic options about “shaping” the post-Cold War world. Washington decided to perpetuate its supremacy, in a world that had become unipolar in the area of military force, where it held a major advantage in the global competition between imperialist states. The era of US hyperpower was inaugurated by the first Bush administration’s war against Iraq in January-February 1991, the year of the USSR‘s final collapse.
The 1991 war was decisive for “shaping the world.” It enabled the USA to simultaneously fulfill a number of major strategic objectives:
· a massive return of direct US military involvement in the Gulf region, home to two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves. We are at the beginning of a century which will see a growing shortage and exhaustion of this most strategic of resources. The return to the Gulf has given the USA a dominant position in relation to both allies and potential rivals, all of whom — save for Russia — are hugely dependent on oil from the Middle East.
· a striking demonstration of the crushing superiority of US weaponry over the new dangers facing the world capitalist order in the form of “rogue states” — dangers exemplified by the predatory behavior of Baathist-run Iraq, and the precedent of the “Islamic Revolution” in Iran which had brought to power a regime evading control by the two Cold War superpowers. This show of force played a key role in convincing Washington‘s key allies — the European powers and Japan — of the need to renew the vassalage relationship that had been established following the Second World War between themselves and their new American overlord. Upholding NATO and transforming it into a “security organization” were part and parcel of the renewal of this hierarchical relationship.
At the same time, the US return to the Middle East inaugurated a new and final historic phase in the development of Washington‘s global empire. The US could now extend the network of military bases and alliances with which it encircled the globe, to those regions of the planet that had previously escaped its control because they had been under Moscow‘s domination. NATO expansion to Eastern Europe