Monday, August 02, 2010

The Twenty/Thirty/Sixty Years War

Today is Monday, 2 August 2010.

Saddam Hussein was highly competent at internal affairs, rising within the Ba’ath Party in Iraq to be the real power behind the throne in the 1968 coup which brought the Party to power. He was largely hopeless, however, in his conduct of foreign affairs, as witnessed by his invasion of Kuwait, on this date in 1990, which would lead in 2003 to the USA/USE invasion of Iraq, and his own death. The American consolidation of the conquest of Iraq, which was intended to be a belated completion of the Gulf War of 1990-1991, is still on-going: hence, the “Twenty Years War”.

Actually, the “Thirty Years War”. The reason that Iraq invaded Kuwait goes back directly to 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, commencing a war which would last until 20 August 1988. Iran wasn’t the pushover Saddam assumed it would be. Instead of a quick victory leading to the annexation of Iranian oil properties, the war was financially ruinous. The conquest of Kuwait and its oil wealth was intended to fill the coffers of Iraq to overflowing.

The reason Saddam assumed Iran would swiftly capitulate was the internal turmoil attendant to the consolidation of the so-called Islamic Revolution of 1979, which had driven the regime of Shah Pahlavi from power. The Pahlavi dictatorship in turn owed its existence to the coup of 19 August 1953, which had overthrown the democratically-elected government led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. The coup was carried out by reactionary royalist elements orchestrated and bought by CIA, with British intelligence as a junior partner. This criminal act is the origin of the continuing animosity of most Iranians toward the USA/USE governments.

The roots of the coup went back to March 1951, when the Iranian parliament nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which was 51% owned by the British government. A-IOC had its origins in 1901, when the Shah of Persia, Mozzafar al-Din Shah Qajar, signed a sweetheart lease with its predecessor, Burmah Oil Company Ltd., giving the latter exploration and production rights on vast tracts of land for 60 years, the Persian state receiving only 16% of any profits. A great oil find was made in 1908, and for decades Iranian workers received a pittance for their labour, living in squalor, while A-IOC exported 84% of profits to the United Kingdom. (A-IOC would later change its name to British Petroleum, now BP!)

Thus, it is correct to say that the “Twenty Years War” and the “Thirty Years War” are subsumed into the larger “Sixty Years War”, given that there seems little chance that the conflict between the governments of the USA/USE and Iran will be resolved before 19 August 2013.

When we lived in New York City, I pasted a continuing series of posters on subjects political, cultural, historical, etc. around Manhattan. The portfolio on the Gulf War was titled, They Have Made a Desert, and Called It Peace (Tacitus, Agricola, 98 CE). One of those posters read simply, “Empires are always at war”.



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