Friday, August 25, 2006

The Crumbling Empire

Has American imperialism, as idealized by the members of the Project for a New American Century finally met its end?

The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; and that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle.
-William Kristol, Chairman

It's quite clear that 'diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle' were tossed out long ago by the Bush administration in favour of the Bush Doctrine*. And PNAC supporters like Charles Krauthammer who expressed 'Three Cheers for the Bush Doctrine' in Time magazine in the fall of 2005 continue to attempt to convince the American public that multilateralism and diplomacy are failed concepts:

Even the most ardent unilateralist always prefers multilateral support under one of two conditions: (1) There is something the allies will actually help accomplish or (2) there is nothing to be done anyway, so multilateralism gives you the cover of appearing to do something.

The six-party negotiations on North Korea are an example of the second. North Korea went nuclear a long time ago. Our time to act was during the Bush 41 and Clinton administrations. Nothing was done. And nothing can be done now. Once a country has gone nuclear, there is no return. The nukes themselves act as a deterrent against military measures. And no diplomat, however mellifluous, is going to talk a nuclear North Korea into dismantling the one thing that gives it any significance in the world.

Realistically speaking, the point of this multilateral exercise cannot be to stop Iran's nuclear program by diplomacy. That has always been a fantasy. It will take military means. There would be terrible consequences from an attack. These must be weighed against the terrible consequences of allowing an openly apocalyptic Iranian leadership to acquire weapons of genocide.

The point of the current elaborate exercise in multilateral diplomacy is to slightly alter that future calculation. By demonstrating extraordinary forbearance and accommodation, perhaps we will have purchased the acquiescence of our closest allies -- Britain, Germany and, yes, France -- to a military strike on that fateful day when diplomacy has run its course.

In Krauthammer's mind, any semblance of diplomacy is just a cover for urging allies to join in a military attack and, for the Bush administration, that certainly was the case in the run up to the war on Iraq. Bushco lied its way into convincing the coalition of the willing that the Iraq problem could simply and easily be handled by shock and awe. And look where we all are three years later.

Neocons like Krauthammer have learned absolutely nothing from the war in Iraq and his sentiments about how to deal with North Korea completely wipe out how the resolution of the Cold War came about. That's extremely dangerous selective thinking based on fantasy - not fact - and it's what's driving the current push for war with Iran, despite the fact that the intelligence to support such a pre-emptive strike doesn't exist beyond hyperbole and warmongering rhetoric.

An editorial in Friday's New York Times, 'Wanted: Scarier Intelligence' outlines the deja vu scenario of Bush administration officials pushing the intelligence community - which won't be fooled again - into making a case for action against Iran, just in time to boost the Republicans' so-called 'strong on terror' message for the November election. Some 60% of Americans now oppose the Iraq war for various reasons and it is doubtful that the majority of those would be quick to buy what they're being sold as far as justifications for a war with Iran goes. One would hope, anyway.

The Bush administration has consistently come under fire from its allies - current and former - not only over its handling of Iraq, but for its inaction and unwillingness to deal with the crisis in the Middle East.

There's a whiff of change in the wind.

Italian FM: Harsh U.S. approach to Mideast failed
By Meron Rapoport, Haaretz Correspondent

ROME - If the planned multinational force in Lebanon succeeds, it might be possible to create a similar force for the Gaza Strip, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said in an interview with Haaretz.

D'Alema said that America's aggressive approach to the Middle East, which Israel shares, has failed, and has caused serious damage. Now, he said, Italy and Europe must prove to Israelis that only international intervention can bring them security.

The patience with America's superpower status has come to an end.

The empire is crumbling with Europe and China not only waiting in the wings but actively encouraging its demise.

And the current crisis proved, in your view, that the U.S. on its own cannot guarantee such security?

"This is obvious to me. The American policy, which Israel also supported, created an impossible situation. Just a few years ago, they foretold the demise of the UN. I recall that on the day Baghdad fell, Richard Perle wrote that along with Baghdad, the UN also fell. The thinking was that it is possible to control the world via the power of a hegemonic liberal power. This philosophy has created serious damage, and now the U.S. is looking for a logical way out."

The Bush administration's refusal to deal directly with North Korea and Iran along with its shunning of its own Road Map for peace may have appeased the PNAC neocons but these major foreign policy mistakes, that most of its allies now clearly see as weakness rather than strength, have diminished the status of American imperialism. The world has woken up to it now as have many Americans.

The Orwellian belief that peace can only be achieved by violence has been exposed for exactly what it is: a lie. And the quest for American world dominance by such means is now seen as a dangerous and deadly experiment whose time has run out.

Bush would do well to study the fate of the Roman Empire instead of relying on his neocon advisers, who selectively rewrite history to encourage their world view, if he truly wants to understand where his vision of America is headed.

How does the president think history will judge him for going to war in Iraq?

“After the second interview with him on Dec. 11, we got up and walked over to one of the doors. There are all of these doors in the Oval Office that lead outside. And he had his hands in his pocket, and I just asked, ‘Well, how is history likely to judge your Iraq war,’” says Woodward.

“And he said, ‘History,’ and then he took his hands out of his pocket and kind of shrugged and extended his hands as if this is a way off. And then he said, ‘History, we don’t know. We’ll all be dead.’”
- Bob Woodward, CBS's 60 Minutes

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960

* See also: Chronology: The Evolution of the Bush Doctrine (PBS-Frontline)

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