Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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War in Iraq
(Aired 25 March 2003)

  Some friends have asked me to do a comment on the war in Iraq, my position is (1) that I do not live in Iraq thank heavens and (2) I am no lover of Mr. Saddam Hussein.

   I however started thinking and looking into the background to this war and the more I researched it, the more outraged with it I became.

    When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia was left as a very sick country indeed. Even today it is still struggling to establish a modern market economy and achieve strong economic growth. the Russian economy contracted for five years after the fall of the Soviet Union, as the executive and legislature branches of the Russian government procrastinated over making many of the basic changes necessary to function effectively in the free market world. This is understandable even predictable since Russia was forced out of the ethos of a totalitarian state to a market driven one, and they were just not competent to make the transition, a good lesson for all of our PPP politicians who have been trained in the former USSR, it does not prepare them to function a world of free markets and democracy.

   Russia today is a country of 144 million people and an annual budget of around 45 Billion dollars, its GDP is around 1.2 trillion dollars the, UK for example has a GDP of 1.4 trillion with 60 million people and a budget of  540 Billion dollars, 10 times more than Russia. But Russia is a big country, almost 6.9 Million square miles nearly bigger than the US and China combined.

    When Russian President Boris Yelsin resigned in 2000 he appointed Vladimir Putin who was then Prime Minister as President, Yelsin told the Russian people that Putin will and I quote him "be able to unite around him those who will revive Great Russia in the new 21st century" Since coming to power the young 47 year old Putin has sought to do just that.

    However poor Russia may be at the moment, it has incredible economic potential because of her vast natural resources, but it is lack of money and expertise that has prevented her from exploiting her vast resources. They are even currently receiving over 8 Billion dollars a year in foreign aid.

    The Russian fossil fuel potential is incredible. Russian oil reserves are literally incalculable; it may have the capacity to supply over 175 billion barrels of oil in its reserves. But they do not have the money or the expertise to develop it on their own, the location of the reserves in Siberia under permanent ice is also a huge impediment, so they have looked to the international community to help them to exploit these huge oil reserves even the Britain and the US are investing in it, by 2007 Russian oil and natural Gas, will be pumped through huge pipelines being built today into Germany, France and to other western European nations, another Oil pipe will deliver 650 thousand barrels of oil a day to China by 2010, Russian Natural Gas reserves are estimated as being more than the entire middle east, by 2020 Russia will be capable of sending 20 trillion cubic Feet per year of natural gas into the rest of Europe, the French and the Germans in particular have entered huge investment deals with Russia to exploit its natural gas and oil reserves, since the new wells using non Russian technology are three times more efficient than the old ones using Russian technology, there is even a new German/ French/ Russian cultural centre being built in Moscow, the French have also entered contracts with Russia to develop jet engines and rockets and to launch Russian satellites from their space station in French Guyana, of course Russia is too weak to exploit the new rift in the west about this war in Iraq. But war in Iraq can have the ultimate effect of reducing the world price of OIL and that is Putin's means of recapturing Russia's position as a world power. So he does not want the price of oil to go down and more importantly international investment in a stable post war Iraq can take some of the Russian dream away,  keep your eyes on Mr. Putin ladies and gentlemen he is worth watching.

   The Germans owe no significant allegiance to the USA today, and it is not in their interest to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and they will not support it just to help the US, and endanger the numerous economic deals they have with Russia.

   So the key to the situation was the French President Chirac, if Russia and Germany could put pressure on the French to veto this war in the UN, then it would give legitimacy to the Russian, German and French agenda.      

    So between the 10-12th February 2003 Putin himself visited Chirac in Paris, now I was not at this meeting ladies and gentlemen and did not hear what was promised to the French but after that meeting Chirac came out as opposed to the war in Iraq and vetoed the US motion in the UN to get Saddam Hussein out of Iraq. This is not the first time that this fool Chirac has displayed a total oblivion of his responsibilities to his allies, in April 1975 Saddam Hussein approached the Russians to sell him a nuclear reactor to make nuclear weapons the Russians refused so in September 1975 Saddam Hussein approached France and it was Jacques Chirac then Prime Minister of France who signed the agreement to sell him a nuclear reactor and weapons grade uranium, there would have been nuclear war in the middle east 12 years ago during desert storm if the Israelis did not destroy two French-built nuclear reactors en rout to Iraq in 1979.

   Unlike the Russians and the Germans, the French owes the Americans and the British a debt of honour, the bill for this debt was written in British and American blood on the soil of France in two world wars to protect France from Russian and German aggression, this is why President Chirac is so despised in the US today, I understand that they want to stop calling potato chips French fries, they want to call it Freedom fries why don't they just do the right thing and call it potato chips like we, who actually speak English, do?

   But the betrayal was clear the economic benefits for the French will be great but allies are allies, even in Great Britain the labour Party of which Tony Blair is the leader were ambivalent to the UK committing to war with Iraq, it was the conservatives, the opposition, who supported Blair since they understood the betrayal and the debt of honour.     

    The Moscow Times, a weekly Russian right wing paper, on the 13th February 2003 printed the following article by Pavel Felgenhauer and I will quote from it "today the old soviet Union is in ruins, France and Germany supported by Belgium are ready to undermine western military cohesion to save the totalitarian dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and his Baath party from being overthrown".... "Of course", Felgenhuer continues, "today Russia is too weak to seriously exploit the new rift in the west. But many in Moscow are happy to see it happen: the dream of a "multipolar" world seems to be materialising. France, Germany, China, Russia and the Vatican—are joining forces to prevent the US war machine from rolling Hussein out of office. Only by military means can millions of Iraqis be released from total servitude" Felgenhuer further tells us that, and I quote him again "I lived almost 40 years under a totalitarian regime in Russia, and I know from first hand experience what life without freedom means, anti war protesters in western Europe and America do not know, and could not care less, only by military means can millions of Iraqis be released from total servitude. If there ever existed such a thing as a "just war" then the coming US led invasion of Iraq could be the most righteous of them all"

   So ladies and gentlemen I believe that we are too small a nation with far too many problems of our own to condemn the US and the UK for their perception that Hussein is a very dangerous man, capable of giving weapons of mass destruction to Bin Laden and to Al Qeda, that is the fear ladies and gentlemen, not that any country has these kinds of weapons, the fear is that any regime that has them, is capable of making them available to terrorists, I have no doubt in my own mind that given the right circumstances Saddam Hussein would do just that, but what I think does not matter one damn and neither does any other Guyanese, it is what the American people want that matters in this situation, it is they who are the targets for international terrorism not France, not us, and 68% of them now say "go get Saddam". George Bush is not the President of the world, he is the President of the United States of America and in the end he will do what they want.