WASHINGTON, D.C.—Are we in for a crash? Today London stock prices plunged to lows not seen since 1995. Shares in Paris dropped to one-third of what they were worth in 2000. Japan’s stock market collapsed last week, placing the big Japanese banks at risk. In the U.S., where shares have been steadily losing ground, there is growing concern over giants like Citigroup and ExxonMobil. With U.S. oil prices at $37 or so a barrel and crude oil stocks down, prices are set to move higher still. Natural gas prices are through the roof. Germany is in worse shape than it has been since the Great Depression. “The 70 percent drop in equity prices since March 7, 2000, now threatens to take on historic proportions,” Merrill Lynch said in a recent report on Germany. “This represents a final sell-off in this stage of the bear market—panic and capitulation in the valley of death,” says the BBC, quoting David Franklin, director, Christows Stockbrokers.
Bush couldn’t care less. He goes merrily on his supply-side defense-spending binge iced with tax reductions for the very rich. Iraq? As always, Donald Rumsfeld’s big mouth shows why no one in their right mind would ever agree to a coalition with Bush. Now he says the U.S. can go it alone not only without the UN but also without our supposed blood brother, the UK. That leaves the U.S. and pip-squeak Spain at the head of a handful of beaten-up little African nations to lead the mighty international coalition against Saddam.
Our coalition with Britain was never a coalition to start with. It was just Bush conning Tony Blair. Blair did his job as best he could and now he can go. He fabricated proof of a supposed uranium buy by Iraq in Niger. That turned out to be bullshit. He provided facts to back up the Bush’s case against Iraq in the UN, and later for Secretary of State Powell. The real stuff. Just like Adlai Stevenson presented to the UN during the Cuban missile crisis. Which as it turned out was a plagiarized graduate thesis and a rip-off of a Janes’s Defense Weekly dating back more than a decade. The British government looked so silly that its own intelligence service fled the sinking ship, leaking documents that contradicted Blair, Bush, and Powell. Public opinion may yet force him out of Labor Party leadership.
But it really doesn’t matter to Bush, because the war in Iraq is as certain as one of his Texas executions. No matter what evidence is presented, it’s going to happen. As for Britain, as Rumsfeld told reporters yesterday: “Their situation is distinctive to their country and they have a government that deals with a parliament in their own distinctive way.” Yeah. It’s called common law.