In the Name of National Security
August 21, 2013 was a black day for Syria. President Assad’s forces allegedly attacked a rebel dominated area in capital Damascus with chemical weapons killing hundreds and raising the specter of U.S. led intervention. Possible disruption of oil supplies sent oil prices skywards and tanked stock markets. Gold rose as it always does in precarious times.
Initial British and French war support for U.S. and Israel has waned. Nevertheless, Israel upped the ante by testing a U.S. backed missile system in the Mediterranean Sea on September 3. President Obama has sought Congress’ approval for such interposition under the guise of national security, but he can move ahead even without their support.
Over 100,000 Syrians have died and over 4.5 million displaced in the U.S.-instigated Syrian civil war that has assumed genocidal dimensions. While the tyranny of Assad’s regime was never in doubt, U.S. intentions are. Syria is not oil rich, but is a strategic way station for oil and gas pipelines en route Europe. The U.S. threat is linked to geopolitical control.
A United Nations investigation team is yet to confirm Assad regime’s complicity in the chemical attack. The U.S. overlooks the massacre of thousands of Syrian Christians by fundamentalist Syrian rebels. And what about the thousands killed by Obama-sanctioned drone strikes in Pakistan?
National Security is a convenient pretext for promoting hegemony and selfish interests. All superpowers do that. When other excuses fail, war in the name of national security is made the instrument. And in it, lie the seeds of the superpower’s decline.
War versus Economy
Economy is the sum total of production, distribution, exchange, and consumption activities. War disrupts these activities. Manufacturing facilities are diverted for war production creating shortage of essential goods. Financing war through monetary expansion erodes the value of money. Price rise is thus fueled from both sides.
Present day economies are critically dependent on oil for energy and transport. Markets operate on sentiment and the mere possibility of oil supply disruption resulted in the following developments on August 27:
Oil surged by 2.9% or by $3.09 to $109.01 per barrel, the highest closing price since February 2012
Gold rose by 2% or by $27 to $1,420 an ounce. Expectations of a falling currency and financial turmoil always cause gold to appreciate
Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 1.1%, S&P 500 Index shed 1.6%, and NASDAQ Composite dropped by 2.2%
Even ‘limited’ strikes will cost millions. The military does not have enough money and wants Congress to sanction additional expenditure. With $17 billion in debt and over $87 billion unfunded liabilities, how can a broke U.S. government finance the war? Increasing money supplies?
But then, we are already printing $85 billion a month. Any further expansion will be suicidal, for it will trigger runaway decline in the dollar’s purchasing power. The U.S. economy will lose its investment attraction further reducing the demand and the value of the dollar despite the recent growth of the U.S. economy.
In the short term markets can swing due to hysterical investor sentiment. They do strike a balance in the long run. If the experience in Iraq and Afghanistan is considered, any conflict in the volatile Middle East will be a long drawn affair. The long term will then be very, very long.
Bin Laden’s Ghost
It is widely whispered that the U.S. incited rebellions in Arab nations before killing Laden to engross the Arabs and prevent an angry reaction to Laden’s killing. This strengthened extremists. The U.S. hopes to counter this by promoting sectarian conflict – supporting Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt against Shi’ite Iran and Syria. Their energies are directed along sectarian lines, not towards the U.S.
Control over strategic resources is the driving force behind the U.S. threat. Conflict for resources and markets among European powers caused the two World Wars that eventually caused European decline. With Syria strongly allied with Iran and both these being supported by Russia and China, a wider outbreak of this conflict cannot be ruled out. Then, the ghost of Osama bin Laden will resurrect and haunt the U.S. for a long time to come.