Joint Research: Thinking about “Iraq War”

written and edited by Mitsuru NOBUCHIKA

[The Beginning of the Joint Research]

In February 2003, as the United States(hereinafter: the US) attack against Iraq is facing a critical phase, the voluntary scholars of social science came together to make an action to run an appeal on the newspaper titled “An Appeal from Concerned Scholars in Japan against US Attack on Iraq and against Japan’s Support of the War”, (an Opinion ad).
Our purpose was to appeal toward the public opinion to object,
1. the preemptive attack which is disregarding the International Law and the international public opinion and,
2. Japan’s support of the War.
As part of the action, we decided to open a website and I was assigned to open and maintain the website by the call of the initiators.
On February 16, 2003, we opened a website called “An Appeal from Concerned Scholars in Japan against US Attack on Iraq and against Japan’s Support of the War”. I took the part of making the list of the signers and donators, updating the progress and development of the action, and corresponding to the e-mail from the readers.
In addition, on March 17, 2003, after the final notification speech by President Bush, we announced the declaration of “the claim to immediate suspension of the military affairs” on the website. Also, we started to accept e-mails from the supporters of the declaration at the same time.
However on March 20, 2003, the US and United Kingdom(hereinafter: the UK) and others enforced the attack on Iraq, as if they made a mockery of the world’s rise of anti-war movement.
To find the history of the Opinion ad, announcement and movement, please access to the website “The Objection of Scholars”.
Also, my personal opinion to the final notification speech by President Bush can be found in website “Lectures of Economics by Mitsuru NOBUCHIKA
As I started to record the development of the Iraq War, I suggested to the Senior students(4th grade in University) of my Seminar class to consider about analyzing the record and background and situation of Iraq War to be the theme of the Joint Research for academic year 2003. This was because my Seminar’s major field is the Political Economics and the Analysis of Contemporary Capitalism. Another background for this suggestion was that our basic theme was to analyze the world theoretically and demonstratively from post World War II (hereinafter: the WWII) from historical point of view.
The Senior students showed their interest to work on the ongoing severe social issue and with the consent of the Junior students (3rd grade in University), the joint research of “Iraq War” has begun.

[Analysis Viewpoints]

To start the Joint Research, it is important to share the common analysis view points at initial stage.

We will not only discuss about current Iraq War. We will include,
  1. to investigate from various angles and the historical point of view
  2. to think of this problem as ours, and since our Seminar’s theme is the Japanese economic history from post WWII, one of the main agenda to investigate is the relation between the international society and correspondence of Japan against the Iraq War
  3. not to end with easy going self-centered conclusion, collecting much information as possible to select necessary information to analyze for presentation in this research.
Above will be our basic policy.
(1) To be more specific, we will not think this War was originated from the 9.11 attack(2001) nor from the Gulf War in 1991. In order to understand the essential part of this problem, analyze by thinking about the complicated relationship of politics and military between international relationship and the Middle East regions.
Of course, the root of Israel ?Palestinian conflict which is the focus of the Middle East conflict has its origin in B.C. To see the origin of complicated Israel-Palestinian conflict, which is still present issue, it is not necessary to turn back to B.C. age. The UK took the inconsistent policy, so-called double-tongued diplomacy, to accept establishing the independent nation at Palestinian region for both Arabs and Jewish (“Hussein-McMahon Correspondence” and “Balfour Declaration of 1917”).

*For the root and progress of Israel ?Palestinian conflict of present day, see "Prehistory of Iraq War: Israel-Palestinian conflict"
(2) However, even the conflict between Israel and the Arab regional countries and even the relationship between Islam countries, we thought that the main factors of prescribing the complication of the problem which lead to this "Iraq War" is from the special international relations of post WWII.
The factor we should emphasize in special international relationship of post WWII is the Cold War between US and Soviet Union, which started just after the WWII. The confrontation between Western Capitalist countries led by US and Eastern Socialism countries led by Soviet Union has spread globally and this confrontation has prescribed in diverse field such as politics, military, economic, and society of post WWII world.
During the Cold War which had continued for more than 40 years, both US and Soviet Union has exercised its influence to the countries all over the world politically, militarily and economically to maintain, expand and strengthen its control area. The United Nation which was established to settle international disputes peacefully has become malfunction when it faced issues related to the US against Soviet Union.
Japan had been occupied by the Allied Powers (mainly led by the US) for more than six years after the Japan's defeat and reform of its entire system was rapidly proceeded.
The Security Treaty between Japan and the US which was signed at the same time of the signature of the Treaty of Peace with Japan, and political reliance to the US which was continuing, the Japan's economic recovery and rapid economic growth was under the relationship with US, which became the fundamental prescribed under the Cold War structure (This issue is one of main topic of my Seminar Class.).
The Middle East region was also tossed by the conflict and supremacy competition between US and Soviet Union.
(3)Like the Korean War and the Vietnam War, the Cold war sometimes became a regional (a substitute) War which was carried out as a hot war, but US and Soviet Union never fought directly. However, US and Soviet Union's fierce arms race and the military and economic intervention to maintain and expand its control was a huge expense as same as fighting the real war. The symbolic event was US' intervention to Vietnam War and Soviet Union's Afghanistan invasion.
From the 1965, US began to intervene Vietnam War in full-scale.
Contrary to the initial expectation of the intervention, the battle became dragged and endlessly because of the resistance of the National Front for the Liberation of Southern Vietnam and Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam).
At peak, US spent 28.8 billion US dollars per annum (total amount 106.7 billion US dollars) to the direct military expenditure, deployed 540,000 military forces and used all modern weapons excluding nuclear weapons. It is said that the approximate number of troops had been killed in this war was 46,000 US soldiers, 190,000 South Vietnam and Korean troops (and other support troops), 920,000 North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front troops, and 1.2 million Vietnam civilian people. The number of people suffered from wound and aftereffect is uncountable.
US could not win victory even from the big sacrifice. The anti-war movement rose in US and worldwide, and from the great economic bear, which will be discussed later, US armed forces withdrew completely in 1973 by the Paris Peace Accord.
US did not only lose militarily, but experienced a serious influence to the economy. The Vietnam War has worsened financial deficit of the US, accelerated the inflation, deteriorated the competitiveness of the industry and worsened the deficit of the international balance of payments. As a result, reliance on the US dollar as the key currency has deteriorated, so the US dollar crisis became more critical and finally US unilaterally canceled the direct convertibility of the US dollar to gold in 1971.
International economy became confused, and the fixed exchange rate system had to shift to the floating exchange rate system. The IMF system collapsed, which was the structure of economy revival and growth to the Capitalism countries after the WWII, world economy has gone into a long-term recession.
In the end of 1979, Soviet Union has intervened militarily to the civil war in Afghanistan and established Soviet Union oriented government. By earning a support from Pakistan, Anti-government group has opposed by guerrilla action. US has also supported the Anti-government group by providing weapons and funds, which lead to endless war. Soviet Union could not win even though more than 100,000 troops were send to the battle field, and great number of people where injured (15,000 died, 37,000 is said to be wounded) and since it was a great burden to the economy, the troops withdrew in February 1989 by order of Gorbachev and its government.
*Osama bin Laden, who was born in a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia, went into Afghanistan to fight against Soviet Union’s Army. He has served an important role in recruiting Arab-volunteer army and providing funds. Al Qaida was the Foundation which was made for the purpose.
At this time Osama was pro-American. However, in the 1990s, after Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan, Al Qaida has changed to anti-American armed organization.
(4)Both nations, US and Soviet Union, were not able to put up with the burden of the Cold War and related regional wars. The official declaration of the end of the Cold War was finally made at the Malta Summit held in 1989.
In U.S., the decline of economy can be seen as it fell into net debtor in late 1980s by the effect of military expansion at President Reagan’s age.For Soviet Union, not only economic difficulties, the disorder of the government reached the limit and resulted to ruin its own nation.
The wars (Cold War and Hot War) after the WWII have devastated not only the countries and regional areas which became the battlefield , but also US and Soviet Union themselves which enforced the wars without justice.
*To find the meaning of the Cold War under capitalism in post WWII, please see my literature “The Cold War and US Economy” and references introduced in it.
Additionally, the policies that US and Soviet Union took toward the countries, regional areas and influentials, which were under their control, were not for the citizens and ethnic groups to become independent and democratic. The top priority of their policies was to securitize their own territories and to maintain and expand the hegemony.
Its outcome can be seen by both nations providing military and economic support not only to democratic countries and influentials, but also to the dictatorial governments as well as the military regimes for the purpose to control them.
After the Cold War ended, US and Soviet Union no longer required and also had no rooms to support or control many of the effected countries and regions.In other words, the hoop, maintenance of the Cold War system, was taken off.
It is obvious that people and races whom were oppressed by establishments, which were supported by US and Soviet Union during the Cold War, enhanced not only resistance mind against the establishments, but also strong anti-US and anti-Soviet Union in their mind.
It is natural to see the actions may be taken by the people whom were against the establishments as the influence of US and Soviet Union deteriorates and when the establishment system becomes weaker.
From 1990 onward, having this in background, Ethnic Conflicts and Regional Conflicts spouted in many places of the globe, and terrorism against US and Soviet Union occurred frequently.
(5)On the other hand, the end of the Cold War should enhance the role and reason for existence of United Nations as reconcile organization for international disputes. US and Soviet Union no longer needs ability and necessity to enclose international disputes in one nation. Although there are still many weakness of United Nations, it is the only organization to open multinational conferences to reconcile international disputes.
(6) We thought to analyze the Iraq War with above recognition. To analyze we have set below points and subjects.
  1. The US policy against Middle East during and post Cold War.
  2. The effect of US policy to Middle East region.
  3. The background of US to attack on Iraq: A drift toward unilateralism.
  4. The role of United Nations during and post Cold War
  5. The relations between the US and Japan during and post Cold War.
  6. Analyzing the various point of views and hypothesis of the reasons to attack on Iraq
  7. By recording the Iraq War historically, clarify this war (Iraq War and War on Terror) has a characteristic that does not end easily from analyzing point (4).
  8. How Iraq War left effects to the Modern World and how it means to the World History. Like as it seen in the Vietnam War for the US and the Afghanistan Invasion by Soviet Union.
In the academic year 2003, part of the above mentioned subjects was brought up as an essay with the guidance and comments from my-self.The essay was presented at Festival of Keio University (Mita Sai) and at alumni meeting of the Nobuchika seminar.
It would be fortunate, if the readers accepts this essay as a literature to understand what kind of problems are brought up as arguments in the world when the war has begun in Iraq.
Translated by Koichi YOSHIMURA and Risako YUZAWA (graduates of Nobuchika Seminar).

Casualties in "War on Terror"


Copyright (c) 2010 Mitsuru NOBUCHIKA, Keio University, All rights reserved.