Petrodollars v. Petroeuros. Not in Chilcot? It should be. We want a Conscientious Objector No War Tax Law

07.07.2016 - London UK - Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Greek

Petrodollars v. Petroeuros. Not in Chilcot? It should be. We want a Conscientious Objector No War Tax Law

“We reported in Pressenza, in 2011 and 2014 the role that Saddam Hussein’s Oil-for-Euros may have played in the Iraq War… As it happened, some years back Saddam had moved his oil transactions to the Euro, [he had agreed after Iraq War #1 with the UN on an Oil for Food and Medicines sales in Euros which made him a huge profit] and OPEC was looking into following suit. Many analysts believe this would have led to a fall in the value of the dollar of up to 40%. And then the US started to talk about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), which of course this was, at least for the dollar.”

In the wake (it is a wake, is it not? at least for Tony Blair!) of the Chilcot Report we have learnt a lot about how the decision to follow the Americans into Iraq was made in London, but we must not neglect to analyse why George W. Bush, Dick Chaney and Donald Rumsfeld created the horror in the first place. The economic argument was probably not the only one but it should be taken into account for several reasons

  • The threat to the dollar has not gone away, even after Brexit and the crisis in Europe (for many the real target of the Iraq war, perhaps the neocons are chanting “mission accomplished” with renewed gusto). Just before becoming Persona Non Grata for a second time after his rehabilitation Gaddafi attempted to move the Oil business to the Gold Dinar, a new currency he planned for a Pan Africa project. We all know what happened next.
  • Iran also started moving towards a petroeuro system for international oil trades leading to US discussions of bombing deep uranium enriching facilities with “small nukes”, while Russia is evaluating this option with the European Union and other currencies with the Chinese. And the other BRICS. The current highly provocative build-up of NATO bases, missiles and troops in Poland, Czech Republic and Ukraine appears as a loud and clear warning: hands off the petrodollar business.
  • Many fear that Brexit could also be the trigger for a 2007 style economic crisis 2.0. Many analysts point out that when the great wounded economies cannot see a way out a war ensues. But what can ordinary people do to prevent a war if the many millions that took to the streets before the invasion of Iraq were so spectacularly ignored?

Taxes for Peace, not War

The right of Conscientious Objectors not to kill people is recognised in many parts of the world, but the right to withhold taxes that are destined for wars that kill people is a more complicated issue, and less countries offer alternatives, like a Peace Tax that instead of buying weapons fund Reconciliation and Peace Projects. If the 2 million people who demonstrated in London before the Iraq war had decided to withhold the part of their taxes destined to the war we may have had a more interesting discussion in Parliament.

The idea is not new. Lysistrata is a comedy by Aristophanes performed in 411 BC in Athens, about a woman’s mission to end the Peloponnesian War by encouraging her female friends to withhold sex from their husbands until they stop the fighting. What is less well publicized is that the women also provided an early example of war tax resistance.

The History of War Tax Resistance is long and colourful. War tax resisters often highlight the relationship between income tax and war. In Britain income tax was introduced in 1799, to pay for weapons and equipment in preparation for the Napoleonic wars, whilst the US federal government imposed their first income tax in the Revenue Act of 1861 to help pay for the American Civil War. Wikipedia  and a more comprehensive list also in Wikipedia.

In the UK Make War History,  and Conscience  are examples of organisations that campaign in this direction. Most countries have local campaigns and there are some international networks.

Support for legislation to make it possible is timely and urgent. Support to get Iraq and the rest of the Middle East out of the mess unleashed by the war is even more urgent. In my view these two issues can be connected by creating a fund for Peace and Reconciliation out of a Peace Tax to replace the War Tax. (just calculate your part of the more than 100bn committed to Trident Nuclear System! Roughly £4,000 for every taxpayer in the UK.)

The Media will no doubt distract us, again, stoking the fire of revenge against Tony Blair and those who followed him. It is important to provide a sense of justice for the relatives of the dead, for the maimed, for the refugees. The Ubuntu based Truth and Reconciliation from South Africa opens the door to acknowledgement and reparation. But we should not miss the opportunity to make Chilcot, for many the surprisingly un-whitewashing report, the beginning of a different relationship with war, violence and politics. For example, by asking all politicians putting themselves forward for public office about owning shares in the weapons industry. And by electing a Prime Minister who opposes war other than as a really, really last resort, is prepared to talk to all sides in conflicts to effect Peace, wants to get rid of Nuclear Weapons and change the economy to put it at the service of the human being rather than the great financial corporations. If we manage that we’ll be able to say, “Mission Accomplished”.

Categories: Europe, International, Opinions, Peace and Disarmament
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