Mon, 23 Sep 2002

Gulf War II's silver lining?

Roy Thompson is, of course, right in asserting in his letter (The Jakarta Post, Sept. 18) that the ultimate tragedy of Sept. 11 is that the terrorists have won. In stooping to conquer and visibly forsaking its previously much-vaunted values, the U.S. may well prove to have lost its very raison d'etre.

Clearly Iraq is the next country on the list of those to be bludgeoned; but one wonders about the timing. Saddam Hussein has been sitting pretty in Iraq for more than a decade since the Gulf War and U.N. weapons inspectors left the country several years ago. However, suddenly, out of the blue, the supposed capability of Iraq to produce and use weapons of mass destruction has reared its ugly head. This is most convenient now that George W. Bush needs a target to deflect Americans' attention away from sluggish U.S. economic growth, failure (not surprisingly) to bomb terrorism out of existence and the domestic scandals of electoral and corporate corruption that are likely to taint him personally.

However, since Bush is in the pay of the American oil companies, the prime reason for "regime change" could be to declare void those agreements Saddam Hussein's government has signed with French, Russian and other oil companies from countries other than America. These agreements must be galling in the extreme for the U.S. that devoted resources to leading the Gulf War and cowering Iraq from the air since.

Assuming the likely, that Bush will, come what may, attack Iraq to bring about a "regime change", then Indonesia may have something to gain from Washington's voiding of agreements with the present Iraqi government. Many U.S. companies conspired with former president Soeharto's relatives and cronies to benefit from exceptionally favorable contracts, particularly in the energy field. Many of these contracts were and are onerous to Indonesia and, if the U.S. sets a precedent of voiding agreements with a deposed regime in Iraq, then Indonesia should similarly have the legal right to nullify agreements made under the corrupt and undemocratic Soeharto regime.

There's always a silver lining somewhere!

FRANK RICHARDSON, Tangerang, Banten