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The European Moment

EUROPE has never before had the opportunity to peacefully transform itself as it does at the crucial precipice it has reached with the completion of the Convention on the Future of Europe and the submission of the new draft constitution for the approval of EU member states. When the intergovernmental conference to decide the fate of the draft constitution first convenes in October, it will be, no doubt, the opening of a dramatic and tense occasion. States have already begun to fire ideological broadsides concerning the fate of the constitution and the Union it is to govern.

Tony Blair has declared consistently and unequivocally that the United Kingdom will tolerate nothing more integrationist than a "Europe of Nations," a vague yet often intoned statement which depending upon one's interpretation could easily be construed as a rejection of Europe completely. Despite the promises and apparent convictions of the UK's Labour government, afterall, its commitments have not lived up to any rhetoric promising either the Europeanisation of Britain or the necessity of placing Britain "at the heart of Europe." Rather, Britain is subjected to profitless doting upon its erstwhile colony across the Atlantic and the inexorable dismantling of its social safety net in order to implement "modernisation" coterminous solely with the stratified American socioeconomic model. It seems only a matter of time before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, declares the euro unfit for British use but enthusiastically scraps the pound sterling for the dollar. It would certainly delight the Anglosphere philosophers, who view the United States merely as an advanced stage of English history to which Britain itself is yet to catch up (and thereby immerse itself in an Orwellian Oceania, apparently). Of course, that anglospherism is entirely based upon the regressive, archaic, antiquarian social model of Lockean libertarianism leads one to question whether Anglopsherism really represents "progress" in any sense of that word, save perhaps for the backpeddling antics of the Thatcher Revolution (Margaret Thatcher, ironically, was among the most heavily committed British political figures to European economic integration). Tory Europhobes in Westminster insist their intention is merely to return to the Thactherite Europe of the 1980s, i.e., unrestricted Continental markets with no corresponding political oversight. The marginalised integrationist faction within the UK note, however, that such regression is fundamentally impossible. Continental leaders will not accept a vision of Europe dictated by the minority party of one member state, and should British policy continually press for such an override of the diplomatic and political progress made concerning the Union since the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty the only possible outcome will inevitably be decreasing British involvement with the Union and consequently its economic organs, with potential catastrophic effects for UK industry.

Of course the continual insistence by the centrifugal Europsceptics that alliances can be formed among less federalist states within the Union to block motions intended to bring about a European "superstate" have borne a degree of fruit for Britain, but London has lacked the tact to play both its hegemonic ally across the Atlantic and the powers in Brussels, nor should it be employing such a strategy given that it sits at the apex of its potential world power, following the denouement of the Empire, while Spain and Poland, still recovering from the disastrous effects of fascism and authoritarian communism respectively, have yet to fulfill their potentialities. The Italian government's stance on integration is as ephemeral as Germany's; the fall of the Schroeder or Berlusconi governments could result in dramatic policy shifts with respect to both European integration and relations with the United States in either country. Most importantly, nothing close to the most radically centrifugal theories among British conservatives is embraced by any of Britain's continental "allies." Each have embraced the euro (Poland will most likely be eager to do so) and have shown little of the contempt toward integration as flagrantly and indignantly flailed by British representatives within the EU government and at each EU summit. Indeed, the relationship these Continental "allies" enjoy with Britain fails to constitute a bloc even in the tenuous sense that France and Germany's reciprocal and close relationship may- it is merely another manifestation of the bilateral opportunism pursued on many levels by these states, or especially in Italy's case of the fleeting ideological and power-groping proclivities of the Berlusconi government.

The essentially divergent interests of the Blair government and the majority of Europe was displayed poignantly at the opening to the summit in Greece, at which the British delegation was forced to withdraw a proposal for the establishment of transit camps for refugees desiring asylum in Europe after not only European leaders, but influential human rights organisations protested this plan. While other British proposals were indeed in line with concepts espoused by such human rights agencies as UNCHR, they were immediately rejected at by summit leaders. No doubt, British objections to the draft contitution will have to be fiercely quelled at the intergovernmental conference if the constitution is to survive in its current state or be expanded to allow for more necessary powers at the Union level, though this is unlikely given no mastermind like M. d'Estaing is to preside over such a conference in order to gain such the broad consensus he was able to achieve on a remarkable number of issues among the diverse spectrum of interests represented at the Convention. M. d'Estaing was only able to ruefully remark that he hoped the states would not rehash debates already aired during the Convention, though there is already a hint the dissatisfaction of the small states concerning the reduction in size and diminished influence of the Commission will persist through the intergovernmental coference.

Other major issues to be discussed at the summit include European security, relations with the United States, and expansion into the Balkans. Concerning security, European foreign policy chief Javier Solana has published a document indicating that Europe must take more "responsibility" in global affairs by integrating its defence forces and pursuing a strategy of preemption in order to undermine threats to European interests. The document comes troublingly close to rhetoric espoused by American President George W. Bush and his cabal of neoimperialists. Though the document is claimed to espouse multilateralism as the means to achieving such preemption, it nonetheless presents the same dilemmas as doctrines of preemptionism, including the National Security Strategy of the United States and documents associated with the neoconservative thinktank Project for a New American Century, especially the radical and controversial paper "Rebuilding America's Defences." Mr. Solana's foray into this ideological realm presents the troubling question of what degree of integrationism is too much for Europe to undertake. If Mr. Solana's policies are fulfilled (most likely in the far future, as they would be anathema not only to Britain but to other states reluctant to commit to a common European defence structure for any purpose, including border patrols) they would represent the decline of Europe into a statist entity, albeit one which, even under the current draft constitution, which will be watered down substantially, has far too little democratic oversight. Furthermore, it will convert Europe's vast statist capacity into resources utilised to enforce European geopolitical and economic interests in a notably Americanist neoimperial fashion. Ergo, the authoritarian "United States of Europe" will surely have been achieved. This manifestation of Europe has already become apparent among those advocating closer integration in order to achieve the effect of draconian police controls similar to those recently imposed upon the United States under the auspices of guarding against terrorist threats. Ironically, while Europe would thus represent everything (then justifiably) opposed by British conservatives, it would be a welcome development in the United States (which seems to be controlling British foreign policy anyway). Diametrically, however, Mr. Solana's policies could represent the incipience of a new Cold War, warned of by Tony Blair when questioned on the issue of collective European opposition to American policy. Indeed, Mr. Solana's proposals explicitly refuses to specifically delineate the transatlantic relationship, though many states have called for numerous overt references to an "airtight" commitment to NATO and the Atlantic relationship, most notably the UK. Mr. Solana's document has dangerous implications considering the potential orientation of Europe both toward or away from the US- the relationship will either bring about American statism detrimental to European quality of life and welfare, and a European foreign policy wedded to decisions emanating from the White House, or this same statist Europe, pursuing individual geopolitical interests militarily, harbouring a costly animosity with the US. Faced with these radical options, one must conclude it is infinitely preferential to pursue a strategy of "soft balancing" within the dual multilateral frameworks of the UN and NATO to check American expansionism, which has been a consistent historical trait of the United States derivated from its unique brand of exceptionalist ideational nationalism, and not merely a manifestation of the material, political, or ideological interests of the current presidential administration. What is necessary for Europe is no superstate- it is a suprastate capable of acting in the interests of its collective bloc while respecting its origins and continuity as a multilateral organisation and promoting the establishment of other such organisations in order to effectively balance and render operable the UN as the aegis under which superstates and suprastates alike can effectively police a consensual globe.

European policy toward the Mideast is also on the summit agenda, and at no less opportune a time than as the Roadmap for Israeli-Palestinian peace burns along with the ruins of the West Bank and Gaza. Europeans naturally sympathise with the Palestinians, and as the Roadmap is both a demonstrable failure and notably pro-Israel enough to inspire the most violent manifestation of intifada to date, European leaders would be well inclined to renounce their involvement in a supposedly multilateral achievement which has not only achieved little but was hijacked from the start by the United States. The international community today has praised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for dismantling several Israeli settlements despite considerable opposition from settler groups. But, in fact, the disputed settlements have been abandoned for some time and the clashes are a result of settler antipathy with such policies hostile enough to mobilise to protect the empty structures. This is the extent to which the Israeli-Palestinian crisis' balance has been shifted in favour of Tel Aviv given current levels of American support. It is regrettable that the EU continues to acquiesce in languid hopes and proclamations for peace without taking action to pressure the United States to reverse its Israel policy and redrafting the Roadmap to be more naturally amenable to Palestinian militant groups and especially their large group of associated sympathisers whose support it is obviously necessary to win to ensure the achievement of any ceasefire, let alone lasting peace.

The EU is also expected to issue pro forma declarations to Iran and North Korea concerning their respective nuclear weapons programmes, in an effort to "reconstruct ties across the Atlantic," while ignoring its own specifically nonconfrontational agenda concerning such crises. The result is a European policy at odds with the actions of its member states. While the EU summit issues complacently threats to Iran at the behest of its American overlord, France arrests leaders of an Iranian opposition group it claims was planning violent activity not only in Iran but throughout Europe. Paris' policy toward Iran has always been to try and establish a relationship in order to facilitate gradual change, and therefore it seems logical to have infiltrated an organisation seeking to transform Iran's recent student demonstrations into a violent revolution. Nevertheless, the seemingly hypocritical split between the actions of the Frencg government and officials attending the EU summit is echoed in the United States, in which divergent foreign policy philosophies- those of the Pentagon and State Department- have respectively condemned and praised the French operation given their individual perspectives on the Iranian situation. The Pentagon's neoconservative cabal envisions the Iranian protests as an extention of the revolutionary exportation domino theory, whereby other Mideast states are inspired by the fall of Saddam Hussein and pursue rebellions (assisted by the US) against their own tyrannical governments. The State Department wisely sees the protests as more a parallel than a consequential development to the invasion of Iraq. Given the history of Iran's relations with the US, particularly the 1953 overthrow of the socialist Mossadegh government and its replacement with the stalwartly pro-American Shah, Iranians are likely to be wary of obvious American involvement in fomenting the protests, and indications of this would likely give the ayatollahs credible rationale for cracking down as well as alienating those Iranians who had believed the protests would bring about a genuine Iranian freedom as opposed to a Shah-like regime last imposed by the Americans, or direct administration from Washington as experienced in Iraq. Confrontationists in the Pentagon faction insist the protests' vehemence has been the result not only of the Iraq example but of propaganda broadcast on satellite channels financed by the US government and Iranian opposition groups operating in the West, but analysts and observers within Iran estimate the influence of such television programmes is marginal and minimal, and the protests' roots are in general discontent with the unwillingness of the ruling council to implement widely desired reform policies. Europe should not sacrifice, therefore, its superior stance vis-a-vis the US in Iran for the sake of restoring any petty favours bestown upon its member states by Washington.

The historic inclusion of Balkan states among the discussions will also be a hallmark of the summit. Christopher Patten, the EU's external representative, argued that inclusion of the Balkans under the European umbrella by the end of the decade was a paramount objective if Europe is to inculcate stability and democracy in the region as well as protect the security interests of its current and (guaranteed) future members. The Balkans are "the last piece in Europe's jigsaw puzzle," Patten declares with certainty. Yet two questions must be raised, whether this inclusion of the Balkan states is necessarily feasible and, more important, whether being the "last piece" negates future EU expansion. For one thing, the war-ravaged Balkans are certainly in no condition currently to enter the Union. Given the persistent concerns about the members which will be incoming in June of 2004, not even the most magnanimous outpouring of support possible for the Balkans would bring them up to standards required to meet the approval of some EU officials. Conflict raged in the region as little as four years ago, and sporadic outbursts of considerable violence still reign in Macedonia. Kosovo and Bosnia continue to be policed by international peacekeepers, while Belgrade is dominated by a de facto American puppet, a fact which led to the relatively recent assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic and the exposure of continuing regional instability. Considering Romania and Bulgaria, which have experienced no such bloodshed in recent memory, are not set to join until at least 2007, it would seem a preposterous assumption that the Balkans, some of which remain under the embarrassing "tutelage" of the UN, could be adequately prepared by 2010. Even Albania, the least bloodstained of the states in question, will have to wrestle with considerable political and economic issues before consideration is possible.

That expansion will end with Bosnia and Kosovo is apparently a given for Mr. Patten, but it will inevitably anger those states on the borders of the Union eager to reap the benefits of membership. Are Ukranians or Belarussians not Europeans, for example? The question of Turkey, most importantly, continues to hang over European leaders. It has a far larger and more dynamic economy than any of the Balkan states, has enacted considerable reforms independently over the last few years, and its recent leaders have been subjected not to war crimes tribunals but to election results. It would seem more logical to eagerly welcome Turkey into the Union before any of the Balkan states, but European leaders, Mr. Patten and M. d'Estaing of Convention fame included, seem preoccupied with the consolidation solely of those states which they consider racially and geographically acceptable. If Europe is truly to project is philosophy globally, it must act with the spirit of consensual inclusiveness toward states in its "near abroad," establishing a sphere of influence including Russia and its CIS satellites, Turkey, strategic Mideast nations, and North African states like Morocco. This will not only promote Europe's interests within such regions, but allow for European power to increase multifold on the world stage as partnerships are also built with other supranational organisations. In short, Europe must be both realistic and open minded concerning expansion if it is to ensure its favourable interaction with the greatest plurality of states possible.

Europe must seize this infinitely important moment upon which to build the foundations of a unique and unprecedented Union which, somewhere between federalist nationalism and confederalist division, provides an evident example of the triumphs of multilateralist rationalism and acts collectively to stymie any resurgence of coercive imposition by superstates, suprastates, or rogue elements with a natural commitment to the subtle employment of nonaggressive and diplomatic solutions. This European moment is therefore a critical juncture for the world and whether it will soon be delivered from the domination of a callous and ignorant empire.

posted by Agent Z at 16:33 |


Geosecurity Update: Africa

WHILE the Western media retains its primary focus on the Mideast, particularly unsurprising new violence among Israelis and Palestinians, manifestly mounting discontent in Iraq over the continuing American occupation, and increasing US pressure on Iran with respect to nuclear weapons development (ironically, as the US fends off accusations of fabricating Iraqi WMD claims), deadly conflicts continue to appear like brush fires across the African continent. While the ethnopolitical fallout of the Wars of American Aggression ravages the northern portion of Africa, Sub-Saharan states are beset once again with intertribal and interethnic warfare. These conflicts, unlike Cold War-era "wars of national liberation" manipulated by the two superpowers in such hotspots as Angola, are primarily motivated by ancient blood feuds complicated by security concerns of individual states and lust for the acquisition of such lucrative natural resources as diamonds and coltan, a chief component in mobile telephones.

Much of the bloodshed could be halted easily with swift Western intervention. Without the sponsorship of the superpowers, rebel and ethnic factionary militias incipiating many of the continent's unpleasant disharmonies are lightly armed and poorly trained. Prior to British intervention in Sierra Leone, warring groups used proxy children's militias. In the eastern Congo, conflict is perpetrated by armed bands of mere hundreds of members routinely wielding no more than small arms or machetes. While regional peacekeeping forces have had some difficulty intimidating and disarming these groups, Western forces have had considerably more success. French military forces in the Ivory Coast, for example, are widely regarded as unassailable purely due to their technological and tactical superiority. Nevertheless, the insertion of Western military force into such conflicts is not a panacea. In Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast, where such interventions have been undertaken, there is no guarantee violence will not erupt again if British or French forces, respectively, are ever withdrawn. In the Congo, gradual arrival of French peacekeeping forces actually portended more fighting, as Hema and Lendu factions struggled to achieve maximum control prior to the terroritorial stasis which would ensue once the UN mission had reached critical mass. The most difficult conundrum of all, however, is societal reconstruction of the type which would ensure such chaos will not return to the regions to which peacekeeping has brought relative stability.

Such nation-building is difficult for the United Nations and other nongovernmental organisations notwithstanding the inexorable derision of American conservatives who find any lack of total success on the part of such groups as underscoring their utter uselessness, but the lack of tangible positive result in the one territory effectively governed by the UN- Kosovo- and other regions in which it plays a substantial role is compromised by both a lack of US commitment to and its constant undermining of the organisation by engaging in military conflicts in regions subsequently requiring UN restitution. The alternatives to UN reconstruction- reengagement in imperialism (demonstably failing in Iraq, an action which was taken under false pretenses to begin with) or abandonment to inertia (which many libertarians applaud for its "realism" in recognising what they perceive as the dual failures of internationalist nation-building and imperialism alike) hardly seem capable of achieving societal stability. What imperialism wrought in Africa must ultimately be corrected by anti-imperialism, namely the international cooperation necessary to achieve continental stabilisation and security. When the superpowers terminated their ideological chess match in Africa, violence seemed to ebb but returned with a severe and violent shock to the world- the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Like the domestic variation of libertarianism, which (perhaps inadvertently) promotes monopolistic and piratical capitalism, the Buchannanesque idea that any and all intervention is to be categorised immediately as a failure condemns Africa to the fate of the marginalised and beleaguered slave to the increasing wealth of the global north. Superficial pronouncements banishing the sale of conflict diamonds will not prevent torment and slaughter being wrought to control the mines producing them. A pity sum devoted to AIDS prevention forces American critics of neoconservative foreign policy to acquiesce, but fails to achieve any significant progress in treating or preventing the disease, especially when coupled with provisions explicitly precluding the funds' use in the promotion of birth control. That trivial stipend is utterly dwarfed by the amount lavished on the American military to produce weaponry which will more effectively reduce to ruins Arab cities. Nevermind that a healthy, stable Africa as an attractive market for investment will do more to stimulate the American economy than the narrowly focused defence deficit spending binge will ever achieve, while contemporaneously accomplishing far more for global security.

In order to be successful, the UN's capabilities must be substantially bolstered. Western governments can contribute to this effort by increasing their funding for the organisation while directing its finite resources to address only the situations with the most pressing humanitarian concerns. Ergo, while Iraq was clearly not a paradise with regard to the fulfillment of the UN Human Rights Charter, its stable environment meant that the armed assault upon it achieved far less in humanitarian terms than the application of the same resources allocated to the invasion of Iraq would have if devoted to the Congo. Nongovernmental organisations must not be spread to thin in order to produce maximum effect in ensuring future stable societies. Had Kosovo been afforded four years without substantial need for the UN and NGOs to focus their efforts elsewhere, the province's rehabilitation may have been far more successful. Currently, stabilisation forces and the local population feels as if abandoned by the international community. Sierra Leone may prove a similar success story if allotted the opportunity. From there, UN reconstruction agents would be able to tackle more challenging conflict-riddled African regions. The narrow, patient focus on relatively few reconstruction situations would also allow for international monitoring of the rejeuvanation project, which may express its concern for a lack of involvement of local officials or NGO officials' unnecessarily large paychecks (a consistent complaint in post-conflict regions).

Viewed in this context I will evaluate some contemporary security concerns in Africa and offer assessments of various courses of action the international community has or may take in addressing them:


Geographically West African, Mauritania's ruling elite primarily associates with North Africa and the Mideast culturally, and conflict between the government and radical Islamist factions have been at a flashpoint, apart from rising tensions between the country's rulers and black Africans, who complain of discrimination and in some cases are still subjected to slavery. Recently, Mauritania has been in the headlines due to the failure of a coup attempt on President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, who himself came to power via a military ousting of the government in 1984. The black Africans are probably not behind any coup attempt, especially as they lack any support from the military. The main source of discord is between the main contingent of ruling Arab elites and the government, primarily over policy toward the West. Taya had close relations with Saddam Hussein's Iraq until having a fallout with the Iraqi leader and deciding to pursue an occidental orientation, becoming one of only three Arab states to recognise Israel and engaging in a vigourous crackdown on Islamic sentiment. This fomented outrage among the still pro-Ba'athist population, which fused with a disgruntled fired army chief to provide impetus for Taya's attempted unseating. For the West Mauritania is a considerable conundrum, closely cooperating with regard to American policy toward Iraq and terrorism, though the elite population fails to share such sentiments and will prove a source of constant tension. At the same time, pursuing close ties with Nouakchott would inevitably tie Washington to its dicriminatory policies and slave-ownership permission. Maintaining the status quo for the short term is probably the best course of action in Mauritania, as hostility to Western policies, even more notable since military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, is the chief obstacle to be tackled before pressure can be mounted for the emancipation of slaves and the achievement of black Africans' civil rights. In brief, the larger issue of the United States' relations with the Arab and Islamic worlds must be resolved before any considerable progress can be made with regards to Mauritania.


An unusual preponderance of global media attention has been focused on besieged and beleaguered Monrovia, held by forces loyal to President Charles Taylor. Twin rebel factions, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the more recently-formed Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) are entrenched outside the capital, fighting sporadically government forces trapped inside. The streets of the city are swelled with refugees who have fled the fighting in the surrounding countryside. The issues facing Liberia are more long-rooted and complicated than mere frustration with Taylor's policies. The current Liberian president was himself a warlord during the Liberian civil wars of the 1990s, and following his election to the presidency in 1997 he contributed to the destabilisation of neighbouring Sierra Leone in order to produce a power vacuum conducive to the acquisition of its diamond deposits. Conflict diamonds were promptly rescinded as a source of Liberian revenue with the British-led intervention in the Sierra Leone conflict. Since then, Taylor's funding channels have further evaporated as MODEL gained control of southeastern timber reserves. The indictment of Taylor in a UN war crimes tribunal operating in Sierra Leone was widely blamed for his departure from a peace summit he was attending with rebel leaders hosted by Ghana. Ghanian officials had balked at arresting a visiting dignitary and some construed Taylor's flight from Ghana a sign of the failure of the internaitonal justice system, when it merely represented the inconsistency between the timing of the tribunal and the carefully tendered negotiations between Taylor and the rebels. Nevertheless, though Taylor's voluntary abdictation of the presidency, advocated by world governments in an initiative led by the United States, may cause a temporary halt to hostilities, that this conflict is underscored by ethnicity as well as disenchantment with the president may, as BBC analysts predict, means that the siege of Monrovia may be "just be another step in a long civil war." The LURD faction is dominated by members of the Mandingo ethnic group, linked to the Ulimo-K faction which wrought havoc during the civil wars of the 1990s, bitter rivals of Charles Taylor's. One of LURD's leaders, Chayee Doe, has a visceral hatred for Taylor's former faction, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) which tortured him in 1990. MODEL is composed primarily of the Krahn ethnic group, linked to the 1990s' Ulimo-J faction. Both rebel groups maintain their independence of each other, and despite noble mission statements, the potential for seriously lethal clashes exists if such forces are to feud over control of the capital, with ex-NPFL government forces caught in the middle.

Some Liberians have called upon the United States to intervene to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Monrovia should rebel forces breach its perimeter. Founded by freed American slaves in the 19th century, Liberia is as much an American creation as Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast are British and French, respectively. Nevertheless, American forces are engaged elsewhere and Africa has traditionally proven a problem most dextrously handled by Europe anyway. French special forces, after all, whisked Westerners from the American embassy compound in Monrovia to a waiting French naval vessel, a deft demonstration of French military preponderance in West Africa. Nevertheless, a regional solution may be at hand. ECOWAS, the regional economic community of West African states, has put considerable pressure on Taylor's government via sanctions, and the Ghanaian foreign minister is indicating he may travel to Monrovia in order to appeal to Taylor to step down. Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast both have an immediate interest in Liberia's stabilisation, as it is crucial for guaranteeing their own security in the wake of ruinous civil conflicts.

It is clear Charles Taylor's hold on Liberia is entirely unsustainable and that his departure from power will inevitably break the siege of the capital. Whether it will bring peace to the country is another question altogether, considering the close links between ethnic groups and rebel factions. Nevertheless, Taylor's faction effectively bereft of support makes a stable post-conflict Liberia a higher probability.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In Diplomatica's previous report (including essential historical background) on the humanitarian crisis in the eastern Congo, I explained that the UN would not authorise the deployment of any French-led intervention force on the basis of its implied support for Congolese President Joseph Kabila, who has himself involved in promoting interethnic rivalries in order to regain influence over the eastern half of his country. Nevertheless, no other state seized the initiative, or had the force projection capabilities in the region, as did France, and it recently began to despatch its substantial contribution to the newly enhanced MONUC mandate set to reinforce a small, ineffectual Uruguayan force. French troops are at the head of a larger spectrum of European and African forces set to arrive in Bunia, capital of Ituri province, where the fighting has been most fierce. Though far smaller than the French contingent, groups sent from the UK, Belgium, Sweden and Ireland, as well as South Africa and Senegal, are to take part in the police action. Analysts have clashed over potential French motivations for heavy contribution to the effort. While some suggest that France is supporting its sponsored leaders in order to advance its business interests, others have suggested it intends to plunder the region's natural resources, and former Clintonians have cited the short mandate for action by European forces (to be replaced in several months by a less heavily armed Bangladeshi contingent) as an indication the mission does not adequately intersect with any national interests. It is more than likely the primary rationale for French action is maintaining its sphere of influence in Africa, which it has been cultivating with extreme interest since several African states were driven into the spotlight by the UN debate on Iraq. France has recognised that through the support of large swathes of the third world it has greater potency vis-a-vis the United States. Furthermore, it seeks to again contrast the internationally mandated humanitarian mission to Congo with far more reckless American actions abroad, what I have dubbed the "Petit Irak" strategy of methodological juxtaposition after a Le Monde article suggesting the divergence in means between American action in Iraq and French activity in the Ivory Coast.

UN officials have wisely decided to tackle the problem of the wider Congo conflict by engaging the former players in the massive civil conflict which involved up to nine African states at one point during the late 1990s in open warfare in the eastern Congo. A delegation led by French UN ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere has begun a regional tour in Angola, a participant in the conflict once known as "Africa's first world war." In my initial conclusions regarding the Congo I asserted that no long term solution was possible without a reconciliation of Uganda and Rwanda, which played a substantial role in shaping the area's current ethnic brutality, as well as between those states and the players in the civil war of the late 1990s, including Chad, Namibia, and Angola, which could play a new role in the stabilisation of the Congo's remote east. Securing the countryside and preventing further clashes there has become the new concern of UN monitors since the arrival of French forces in Bunia, and will likely remain so until the discovery of any adequate long-term solutions.


Having possessed a system of discrimination making South African apartheid seem timid in comparison, Rhodesia was naturally beset with a rebellion led by indigenous African forces against the unrecognised government of Ian Smith, who severed colonial relations with the UK and plunged the country into civil war. Eventually Rhodesia was forced back into direct administration from London before Margaret Thatcher's government handed over power to the rebel faction piloted by Robert Mugabe, who has remained in power since 1980. Recently, Mugabe has stepped up efforts at land reform in what was christened Zimbabwe, driving white farmers from their land and failing to discourage violent reprisals against them. Unfortunately, this reckless attempt at establishing equitable land distribution produced a near famine as highly productive farms were abandoned. Since then, chief opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had fought an election campaign against Mugabe, the result of which was regarded with suspicion by the international community. Tsvangirai has since led massive protests against Mugabe under the auspices of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which ultimately resulted in his arrest. Mugabe's repression of MDC protests has resulted in general demobilisation of the opposition. "We have not yet reached the stage where the people's anger with the regime is equal to their fear of it," one organisation member lamented. Nevertheless, MDC boycotts have produced significant economic pressure on the government. The most influential of regional governments, South Africa, continues to hope that negotiations between the ruling Zanu PF party and MDC will produce a satisfactory result, yet both factions are becoming increasingly divergent.

Speculation has reigned in the wake of the assault on Iraq that Tony Blair would authorise an invasion of Zimbabwe, marking the third time in a century Britain would have taken direct control of the territory. Nevertheless, as popular support for Mugabe erodes, the wisest course for the West is to continue to apply outside pressure, while encouraging regional governments like South Africa's to consider abandoning what some have chosen to construe as tacit support for the Mugabe government.


Emerging stories:

Jack Straw's Security Council reform plan

Blix claims smear by Pentagon

posted by Agent Z at 01:43 |


EUphoria, EUphobia
Poland, Britain, and Europe

POLAND is Europe's new love-child. The state that just weeks ago the German press derided as America's "Trojan donkey" in Europe and which Jacques Chirac had patronised as "not well raised" for its support of American action in Iraq has been hailed in capitals across the European Union for its enthusiastic endorsement of membership within the continental bloc. The referendum on Poland's accession, despite all fears, produced a resoundingly pro-integrationist verdict. Nearly four in five Poles said tak to the Union, with a surprisingly high turnout of 59% allaying fears of invalidation and the resulting political scramble necessary to ratify the accession treaty in the Sejm, or Polish parliament. Despite some reservations, chiefly concerning protection for small scale Polish farmers and increased competition from Western European firms (not to mention the controversial second-class status Poland will occupy within the Common Agricultural Policy), Poles predominately viewed the vote as an investment in their national future. EU membership will primarily benefit urban areas and industries, and enthusiasm in the cities was notable. Current members may balk at the delight expressed by Poles who believed they now had the easy opportunity to work and study in France and Germany, whose economies are currently ailing and unemployment rates steadily rising, but nevertheless the former Eastern bloc's largest and most Eurosceptical state has now officially cast its lot with the Union, with primarily positive implications for West European economies, which will benefit from investment opportunities and newly opened markets. Despite fears of waves of German takeovers, the Polish economy is sufficiently strong enough to weather the European common market and to derive substantial gains from the Union's open borders.

Poland's political importance will no doubt improve as a result of the referendum as well. The result has cemented within Europe the conception that the country is committed to the Union and that its undying devotion to the United States is not the sole defining motivation of Polish foreign policy. Indeed, Polish leaders have striven arduously to build relationships on both sides of the Atlantic, assisting the US on Iraq and conspicuously cooperating with the Franco-German axis as part of the "Weimar Triangle" of states. Entering the Union, Poland's population of 40 million will qualify it for a voting position equal to Spain, one of Europe's traditional "great powers." The minority Social Democratic government under the leadership of Leszek Miller has been bolstered into a good position to call for a vote of confidence within the Sejm, and the fusion of his leadership with the forthcoming economic gains following formal accession in June of 2004 should allow Poland to rapidly develop an advanced welfare state similar to its new Continental partners. It will be in good standing for membership in the eurozone, projected for 2007.

While Poland's close relationship with the United States exposed most poignantly by the Iraq conflict had initially produced a sharp reaction from the rest of the Continent, the government has engaged in a strategy of appealing to both Washington and Brussels by affirming its commitment to both power centres. Poland has realised its strategic position can be enhanced considerably by partnering with the United States to expand its global influence and participate in the asset plunder of humiliated Iraq, while simultaneously and dramatically improving its importance to Europe by becoming, increasingly, a world power and acting as an independent force in the absence of a common European foreign policy. Commentators have likened its actions to Spain's, which has also managed to retrieve its status as a global actor by dually appeasing the US and engaging vigourously within the European community. Such tactics have found immense appeal across Donald Rumsfeld's "New Europe," as Balkan states are now supporting American positions on such issues as the establishment of an International Criminal Court in return for sponsorship within European institutions like NATO and the EU. Attempting to maintain these inexorably divergent partnerships is an unsustainable practise, as Turkey encountered when its population essentially revolted against capitualation to American demands or allure by American bribery. In both Spain and Poland, popular sentiment will eventually outpace the ability of governments to maneouvre between Europe and America and, should the current radical departure in American foreign policy continue, most likely force the "New Europe" into an acceptance of a European common foreign and security policy with the aim of containing the United States. Of course, popular rebellion against pro-American policies is not the only limiting factor- the emerging structure of the European constitution will require adhesion by member states to a common foreign policy, though retaining individual national vetoes, yet this stipulation may yet advance the formation of such a policy. Furthermore, as the "New European" states gain power, they will eventually attempt to seek independent action, and learn they have no formal imput on the decisions of American officials. Left with no choice other than opposition should their strategic interests be imperiled by American action, as was the case with France or Russia, or believing as German leaders did that American activity was beyond comprehensible logic, such states will realise that symbiosis with the US has become both useless and damaging, and will gravitate toward Brussels, which grants states formal influence and which consolidates states with similar strategic, economic, and ideological interests.

In the intervening period, however, the "New European" states retain the goodwill of the Franco-German axis by appealing wholeheartedly to the European system and to working within its framework. Britain, however, seized by rather irrational fears concerning the preservation of its sovereignty, deluded by illusions of its residual world power, and bemusingly unaware of its status as a front for American interests, refuses to employ the heretofore successful strategy of the "New European" countries. Of course, Britain is in a wholly dissimilar situation compared with Spain, Poland, and the Balkan states. It has little ambition to significantly increase its global influence, which, though severely debilitated since the empire's slow denouement, maintains a position of worldwide influence considerably greater than that of Spain via its participation in and heavy investment within the Commonwealth. It therefore makes little sense for Britain to exploit its association with the United States on the basis of expanding its international prestige. Instead, the British government believes it has the ability to moderate the United States' imperial ambitions by acting as a mentor of sorts and imparting the lessons of its own imperial experience. This is a demonstrably unsuccessful tactic, however, resulting in only cursory and superficial American patience for British influence and an actual diminution of British autarky, rendering ironic the yelps of paranoid Tories in Westminster decrying the loss of the UK's foreign affairs autonomy to Brussels.

The British strategy, by contrast to that of the "New European" states, diminishes British global influence by making it a slave to the European economy and to American policy. Having no ability to contribute to decisions regarding either, its self-perceived "independence" actually limits its ability to engage in a sovereign course of action. Accession to the United States has yet to produce a single tangible result to the benefit of the United Kingdom to the effect it has with regard to the "New European" states, and the contempt shown for Brussels has alienated and isolated it within its own economic bloc. Britain's economy is sustained by exports to Europe, and London has positioned itself as Europe's financial capital, though awkwardly outside the eurozone. A substiantial reorientation of the British economy toward that of the United States would provide no greater degree of influence on the part of British financiers, would devastate northern England's reliance on industrial production and shipment to the Continent, and would force it to endure an inflexible economic straightjacket with positively Argentinean results. By contrast, British fears that joining the "one-size-fits-all" eurozone can be addressed by its ability to contribute board members to the European Central Bank, its weighty position relative to other European national economies, and its already substantial integration into the Continent's trade network. Despite this integration however, it has missed significant growth potential, as trade within the eurozone has accelerated to three times the growth level between the eurozone and the three EU members (Britain, Denmark, and Sweden) remaining outside Frankfurt's economic influence. Increasingly, Britain will find itself adrift in notably unsplendid isolation with each day it fails to adopt the single currency.

The United Kingdom suffers from a mania of sorts, believing its influence greater than that of a medium-sized European power, and an increasingly ostracised one within Brussels at that. It espouses enthusiastic plans for the European Union along its own terms, yet fails, by its frustrating insular exceptionism from the Continental land mass and Continental mindset, to ever embrace the Union to begin with. When acceptance of the framework for Europe itself not forthcoming from London, how can it begin to shape the Union to its whims? Much vaunted desired partnerships with relatively eurosceptical states Spain and Poland have failed to properly materialise because of Britain's lack of commitment to immersion within the Union, strategies Madrid and Warsaw have employed. In order to maximise its position within the coming decade, Britain must come to terms with its lack of formal influence over Washington, and, slightly tweaking the American phrase, insist that it will provide no cooperation without representation before promptly terminating the "special relationship" established upon the inequitable terms so seemingly lusted after by Tony Blair's government. Having applied Toryite "sovereignty" rhetoric to its alliance with the United States, therefore, it would be advised to involve itself in the shaping of the European constitution and to adopting the single currency with great urgency. The revelation of Britain's necessary emancipation from the United States' fallacious foreign policies and immediate involvement in Europe will embrace the successes of both the Hispano-Polish "New European" and Franco-German "Old European" blocs by recognising Britain's remaining global power while promoting its position as a European partner. Only such a course as this will ensure the UK is not increasingly marginalised and subordinated in the near future.


-NEWSWEEK believes war crimes tribunals are doing more harm than good. Cited is the indictment of Liberian leader Charles Taylor, which is blamed for the current perilous situation developing as a result of the rebel siege of Monrovia. The timing of the decision was not very tactful, but it fails to prove the system is somehow inherently flawed, as it could have been easily modified not to coincide with peace talks between Taylor and rebels in Ghana if the tribunal and diplomats had worked in concert. Furthermore, Slobodan Milosevic's "mockery" of the court at the Hague is highlighted, as if this in any way diminishes the purpose or usefulness of the tribunal system. The alternative- the very American solution of, perhaps, summary execution, seems a tad hypocritical when addressing abuses of human rights.

-IT APPEARS this site is becoming almost as well-read by American expats as the International Herald-Tribune (photocopy of the New York Times as that has become). Welcome self-exiled globetrotters! You are living proof that even minuscule exposure of Americans to the outside world is an amazing ingredient of international and intercultural understanding. Perhaps someday I will join your ranks, sitting in a Ringstrasse cafe with a copy of IHT and some warm Viennese streudel.

posted by Agent Z at 23:34 |


Inside the Empire
American Nationalism Investigated

THE PECULIARITIES of American nationalism have long been distinguished from the rather recognisable traits inherent in Eurasian ethnocultural identities. How such differences have come to shape the exigencies of American activities on the world stage has been explained in a Foreign Policy article by Minxin Pei of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, "The Paradoxes of American Nationalism," which has made waves within international affairs circles in the United States. Pei explains that American nationalism is "defined not by notions of ethnic superiority, but rather "by a belief in the supremacy of U.S. democratic ideals." This manifests itself, he asserts, in rejections of the "nationalist" appellation by Americans associating the term with ethnically motivated classical nationalism as evidenced in European history, and an inability of Americans to comprehend the strength of patriarchical nationalisms abroad as opposed to transnational ideological ideals.

The implications are evident: the United States, believing in the absolutism of its ideals, seeks to transfer them abroad. "Americans not only take enormous pride in their values but also regard them as universally applicable," notes Pei. "According to the Pew Global Attitudes survey, 79 percent of the Americans polled agreed that 'It’s good that American ideas and customs are spreading around the world.'" Furthermore, "American political institutions and ideals, coupled with the practical achievements attributed to them, have firmly convinced Americans that their values ought to be universal." This is the genesis of American zeal for exporting secular republican democracy to the Middle East, or free markets worldwide, disregarding local idiosyncracies. Perhaps more disturbingly, when such blind policies backfire on Americans, their intrinsically short collective memory and conception of the United States as what Freud would call an "ideational construct" rather than merely a nation causes Americans to "see attacks on them as primarily attacks on their values." This would explain the reaction, therefore, to the 11 September attacks by many Americans, especially of the nationalist right wing persuasion. "Most [Americans] readily embraced the notion that the attacks embodied an assault on US democratic freedoms and institutions," Pei expounds. This was, of course, seized upon by officials within the American government, who chose, perhaps out of their own nationalist myopia, to emphasize various aspects of Islam, particularly of the fundamentalist strain, which made it appear inherently designed to globally assault liberal secularism. Philosophies of Islamic extremism were extrapolated to represent, for some of the more virulent commentators, flaws in the Islamic religion itself. Israel, too, had employed this tactic, arguing that "surrender" to Hamas and other Palestinian groups would be tantamount to the end of the Jewish state, as this was what a handful of radicals at the period of the first intifada's inception had argued. Given the close affinity between Israel and the United States and the unique attributes of American nationalism as evidenced by Pei, it was thus natural to come to the conclusion that a brooding, backwards ideology was sweeping the Arab world with anti-pluralist sentiment. In an exercise of retransferability, the Straussian conception that Israel represented a bulwark of Western civilisation in the Mideast merged with the American nationalist sentimentality that Palestinian suicide attacks amounted to an assault on a successful democratic model which such militants would be better off emulating than attacking, ignoring the tense history of collective ethnic strife underscoring the conflict. Indeed, Pei asserts, whereas Palestinian nationalism is "aggrieved," the American variety is "triumphalist," and therefore a lack of common perspective exists among the two nationalities.

Among the more interesting observations Pei makes is that of the innate hypocrisy contained within the United States' distinct nationalism:

Given the nationalism that animates U.S. policies, American behavior abroad inevitably appears hypocritical to others. This hypocrisy is especially glaring when the United States undermines global institutions in the name of defending American sovereignty (such as in the cases of the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty). The rejection of such multilateral agreements may score points at home, but non-Americans have difficulty reconciling the universalistic rhetoric and ideals Americans espouse with the parochial national interests the U.S. government appears determined to pursue abroad. Over time, such behavior can erode the United States’ international credibility and legitimacy.

What Pei fails to grasp is the logic of the American conservatives who espouse such universalism while simultaneously rejecting international protocol. For these conservatives, international law is a constraint upon the United States' abilities to act as the missionary agent of American ideals- intervening in various locales to impose its brand of order. They argue that American military immunity is necessary as the United States acts as the legitimate guardian of "goodness" and therefore whatever means used to achieve its macro-geopolitical moral objectives are therefore justified, the "destroy the village in order to save it," mentality invoked during the Vietnam War. Indeed, the United States' relative isolation from the rest of the world culturally and geographically has made it prey to a rather rapacious and runamok subconscious conception that the expansion of American ideals and the pursuit of vital national interests are coterminous. Ergo, many Americans failed to see the implied hypocrisy in the overthrow of Chile's Salvador Allende and the installation of the dictatorial Pinochet junta in 1973, as it was merely one of many Cold War activities in the name of the "greater good"- extinguishing the influence of the Soviet Union and ideological communism (though Allende, of course, had little to do with the Soviet Union). Furthermore, Americans failed to see (though perhaps more out of gross ignorance) the hypocrisy evident in American alliances with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the "war on terrorism." Perhaps reduced to its most illogical but intangible, the provincialism of Americans disallows them the distinction between something which merely benefits the United States as a national entity and something which benefits the rest of the world, as the United States, representing ideational concepts, is less a geographical entity than an abstract like "freedom" or "liberty." That assumption, which can be expressed as "that which is good for America, is good for the world," is potentially the most alarming of realisations one might garner from Pei's analysation of the American character.

Among Pei's opponents are Francis Fukuyama, of "End of History" fame. Fukuyama sees such hypocrisy as necessary for the pursuit of national interests, and that the United States was not a unique example of countries which paper over less noble goals with moralistic justification. He argued that American moral pontification was the result of a need to convince other states to accede to its interests. Nevertheless, Fukuyama seems to ignore the American public's perception behind such activities, or perhaps the ideological fundamentalism motivating policymakers as well. American government officials, of course, are not all cynical, conspiratorial imperialists, but rather tend to stumble accidentally into courses which breed those perceptions due to their own acceptance of the coterminality between American interests and moral goals. The downfall of Fukuyama's argument is a result, in fact, of his own captivation with this belief. He noted that American idealism was responsible for positive progress toward several international institutions, but when confronted by post-Cold War American exceptionalism to such institutions, quickly reverted to justifying American self-righteousness by alleging the United Nations was not a representative democracy and that American global leadership was necessary, mirroring the sentiments of his fellow conservatives.

Pei's observation that American nationalism is the product of personal, rather than national action is interesting inasmuch as it relates to the very libertarian Anglosphere theory, which asserts unique organisational "civic societies" have been a product of English-speaking countries whose laws and traditions have originated from such philosophies as John Locke's. That American nationalism is individually motivated is the "secret of [its] vitality and durability" according to Pei, as it "has made nationalist sentiments more genuine, attractive, and legitimate to the general public." Unlike in other societies, American manifestations of nationalism are not state-motivated. Apart from the US, states,

...especially those ruled by authoritarian regimes, the deploy [their] resources, from government-controlled media to the police, to propagate "patriotic values." The celebration of national days in such countries features huge government-orchestrated parades that showcase crack troops and the latest weaponry...Yet despite its awesome high-tech arsenal, such orgiastic displays of state-sponsored nationalism are notably absent on Independence Day in the United States. Of course, Americans hold parades and watch fireworks on the Fourth of July, but those events are largely organized by civic associations and partly paid for by local business groups.

The distinction is explained by the article's essential thesis, that the fundamental individuality of American nationalism is due to its association with abstract concepts rather than ethnic-statist allegiances. This, however, makes American nationalism no less tribalist, parochialist, or dangerous, as explained above in the "coterminality corollary." Nevertheless, it makes American nationalism less detectable to its practitioners and inflates its propensity for manifesting itself as jingoism. Because American nationalism is ideational and personal, Americans tend to suppress or regard as heinous insults any problems afflicting the American state. Ergo, Ronald Reagan's triumph in the 1980 election was predicated upon boosting American self-esteem. The worship of such iconography as hawkeyed eagles or flag banners is explained by the affirmation of such as symbols of one's beliefs and one's personality. Fundamental human attributes of independence and individuality therefore are derived from the belief in concepts believed to be expressed by flag-waving. The pledge of allegiance becomes not surrender to a draconian state entity but a rather faith-based expression of nationalist religiosity based upon one's need for an ideological identity.

The attractiveness, therefore, of nationalism to Americans and its driving inclination to pilot hypocritical manifestations of foreign policy has resulted in some rather inevitable spurts of imperialism and the expected backlash therein. Manifest Destiny is seen as virtuous, "patriotism" supplanted euphemistically, and considerably in wartime, for jingoism or nationalism. To be derided as "unpatriotic" is regarded a most offensive insult. That the world is ruled by this galvanised spirit of blind national-ideational allegiance portends ominously lest its power be checked by states whose populations, naturally suspicious of state-sponsored nationalism, are more likely to pursue a rational course. The Anglosphere theory, an application of American nationalism's universality, has already been rendered null by such a process, as two of its theoretical main practitioners, Britain and Australia, are both torn by historical, geographical, and social ties to Europe and Asia, respectively, and naturally inclined to fear the dominance of the hypocritical hegemon.


-NIALL FERGUSON, a British author who has called for a restoration of the British Empire under American auspices, has now turned to promoting another anachronism: the Protestant work ethic, which he claims accounts for the disparity between American and European levels of productivity and, therefore, the strength of the American economy. He is especially worried about the Central and Eastern European states slated to join the European Union in June of 2004. "Unfortunately," he bemoans, "European Union labor legislation will reverse [long Czech workweeks], to prevent what the West Europeans disingenuously call "social dumping"- the competition from low-wage economies. Czechs will be obliged to work less by a combination of legal entitlements to a shorter working week, longer holidays, higher minimum wages and generous unemployment benefits." Sounds horrible, doesn't it, all those benefits? Not only does Ferguson fail to explain why the mere correlation between Protestant religious fervour in the United States and its higher "work ethic" amounts to causation, but he misses the point entirely- European policies are not designed to create an economic powerhouse (though the European economy will effortlessly outpace the US following its eastern expansion) but to provide for a higher quality of life for Europe's citizens. Ferguson resorts to adopting what sounds like 19th century dogma: "Enlargement of the European Union may simply confirm the eastward spread of the leisure preference in an increasingly work-shy and Godless European continent." God -whoops- forbid!

posted by Agent Z at 16:38 |


Fraudulent Fallacy

DISCONCERTING would be an example of what the Greeks would call litotes, or understatement, concerning the verity of the apologiae for the heinous interjection of armed might into the weary, ailing carcass of a ravaged state. Thrice under the government of Saddam Hussein had a major war befallen the betrodden masses of Iraq, and their sullen cynicism upon the sight of American armoured vehicles set to "liberate" them into the pall of either anarchy or the institutionalised second class of a colonised subordinate revealed the visages of a conflict-weary people who once again sustained misery for little gain. Deliverence into the wings of the American eagle was never met with the esteemed enthusiasm claimed by those seeking a fulfillment of their zealously idealistic but myopic inclination to overwhelm the subtleties of geopolitics with the "moral courage" of bombardments exterminating entire neighbourhoods of innocent Iraqis. Indeed, when the United States assumed its "white man's burden" in Afghanistan, optimistic citizens of Mazar-e-Sharif cast off their burqas in orgiastic celebration, only to reemerge, cautiously, many months later, clad once again conspicuously from head to toe, per diktat of the various independent warlords which have assumed de facto control of the regions removed from Kabul. Afghans had expected to be embraced by the warm nurture of a United States which, even if it could not perceive the consequences of lapsed concern for lack of order or improper reconstruction, might be thought to realise the moral tragedy of abandoning a state to armed tribalist factionism, having claimed to cease the agony of the Afghan state as it toiled under the tyrranical retrograde theocracy mandated by the Taliban.

The United States, however, was not content to convert merely Afghanistan from a less than desirable, but evidently stable locale to a festering cauldron of armed rivalries. The model of the Afghan powder-keg was immediately expanded to the entire globe. The most heavily armed tribe, frothing with the mania of allegiance to any direction its wise men inhabiting the five-walled Temple of Militarism decreed, would inevitably emerge the dominant breed. On the altar of the Pentagon was sacrificed not only the fifty years of rational internationalism developed for the express purpose of avoiding the horrifying pall of human bloodshed, but the nearly five centuries of adherence to the Treaty of Westphalia and the system of independent nation-states. Wounded at the heart of its economic engine by radical extremist elements catalysed by its own inexorably expansionist mentality, the wounded giant decided to reorder the earth as it saw fit to grant it the greatest possible advantage. To this end, the fist-thrusts of jingoism and the charge of tribes pursuing the blood-lust of their own pathological glory has come to define an erstwhile logical planet. While Trotskyites, neo-Wilsonians, and Straussian conspirators hatch schemes in dim-lit rooms, the howls of bloodthirsty Visigoths echo over the propaganda nets sustaining their collective visions. A delicious irony is thus served over the morning newspapers as the same strategies are parlayed to elites as the advance of civilisation by the likes of Niall Ferguson and his fellow apologists for the mercantilist exploitation and Social Darwinist rassenkampf that define imperialism.

The same "humble foreign policy" as employed in Afghanistan had thus come to Iraq, and with it, the international system of order which had sustained the well being of the world so long as the United States recognised the constraints placed upon its hegemony as vital. The Bush cabal would faithfully keep its word to the American people and engage in true nation-building in neither, but rather breach the fragility of both as if a hammer smashing glass without the slightest means of reassembly. The inevasible fate of an Islamic world under the pin of an aggressive hegemon is rebellion, and rebellion indeed was expressed in the form of suicide attacks across the region. The falling dominoes of autocracy promised by the high priests of neoconservatism instead have been manifested as a tidal wave of intense anger. Far from being improved, global security has been severely compromised by not only the forseeable propensity for increased terrorist activity but the mad scramble for deterrence among states the militarists successfully urged George W. Bush to consign to a fanciful new ersatz construction of a bloc- nonthreatening in reality, so as easily to topple by the traditional military means developed with such expertise and a superfluity of tax revenue in the US, and to gain political stature for the conquering heroes within the administration- but also mythologised to present as fundamental a threat to the well-being of "freedom" as McCarthyist hoodlums had portrayed the Soviet Union in the 1950s.

Ergo, while Iran and North Korea desperately seek to create a sufficient arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in order to stave off an American assault, it is becoming increasingly clear none ever existed in Iraq, or, if they had, they had been summarily destroyed as a consequence of the inspections regime of Hans Blix and UNMOVIC. New details emerge daily of the prevarications passed on to the people of the world as the shocking truth. Even the antiwar opposition always believed Saddam Hussein was stockpiling such weapons, and primarily structured its arguments around the need to utilise the internationalist approach of intensive weapons inspections while maintaining vigilant containment of Iraq, as opposed to engaging in warfare. The revelation of the weapons' nonexistence or prewar eradication is therefore all the more poignant for turning prowar legislators and commentators against their respective participant governments. That there was intentional deception involved in persuading populations to accept the need for military action on the basis of an imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction has become the focus of probes and inquiries not only within the notoriously hostile British Parliament but within the hushed complacency of the seemingly forgotten legislative branch of the American government. Even those who still believe the war justified are openly questioning the stance of the president, believing the need for an open, democratic society as embodied by the exposure of such fraudulent claims trounces the political expediency of their own support vindicated by the pronunciation of an Iraq war "victory" predicated upon other (most likely humanitarian) grounds.

That the investigations over the issue merely concern whether intelligence was either compromised or misrepresented ensures a rather limited mandate, but opens the door to far more important questions. Of course, one of the initial justifications for the lack of evidence of the weapons is that they must have been well-hidden. However, it makes little sense for the weaponry to have been hidden so covertly. Saddam Hussein's primary prerogative was maintaining his power, shortly followed by the desire to pursue some greatness in the books of history. Merely embarrassing the Americans and British over the WMD issue was unlikely to have been his desire, considering so many suggestions that he would rather deploy such implements against the invading forces to force the least palatable military situation possible upon American forces. Furthermore, the absence of any crucial support apparatus for the production, maintenance, and deployment of such weapons to date raises its own questions. Saddam could hardly have hid a production facility needed to produce the type and quantity of weaponry suggested by Tony Blair to be able to deliver a blow to the United Kingdom in "forty-five minutes." War sympathisers will further attempt to cast in a negative light the intelligence agencies involved in the allegations, claiming the CIA to be innately hostile to Rumsfeldian doctrine. Downing Street has already repackaged discontented MI6 employees who have essentially revealed its requests for revisions of intelligence on Iraq as "rogue elements" seeking to compromise the organisation. In both the US and UK, however, the public seems to retain trust in both intelligence agencies as reliable organisations independent of the political manoeuvrings of Bush and Blair, respectively. Especially considering the intelligence concocted by Rumsefeld's puppet agency within the Pentagon has been thoroughlly debunked (especially considering the recent uncovering of the Defence Intelligence Agency's own doubts about the certainly of a weapons programme) and outrageous Blairite claims exposed as the products of uncorroborated speculation and plagiarised doctoral theses, the words of CIA and MI6 seem to retain the advantage in the field of credibility.

Of course, one wonders how long it will be before such weapons conveniently arrive in Iraq aboard a C-130 cargo plane. If Bush and Blair are capable of making claims of surreptitious nuclear materials deals between Iraq and Niger, they can certainly have vials of anthrax sprinkled around Tikrit to be stumbled upon by eager Iraqis seeking the vast reward for locating such propitious items. While all this is happening, of course, there is real risk the war, ironically, brought about what it was purportedly designed to prevent; the distribution of nuclear materials. Among the few international observers allowed access to Iraq, IAEA inspectors were granted access to facilities which had formerly contained materials placed under the agency's seal in 1991. Should the IAEA inspectors discover such seals have been broken and the materials removed in the chaotic spree of looting which gripped any region recently "liberated" by Anglo-American forces, such portends far more dangerous implications than the prewar status of Iraq's weapons programme, which now appears entirely nonthreatening. Possibly the closest thing to definitive proof of such weaponry in Iraq is the constant exposure of Iraqi civilians to depleted uranium shells used so avidly by American forces.

Likely Rationales for Attack

Realising the presence of such weapons as an immediate danger to the West could not have proven adequate impetus for aggression to Anglosphere leaders aware of Iraq's lack of capacity in this regard, one must consider with even greater certitude the multifarious rationales for warfare asserted by the antiwar opposition. While these may have each played a significant role, they could not have composed the full tapestry of casi bellorum against Iraq. It is true, indeed, that Iraq's possession of vast reserves of petroleum motivated American warhawks, but the acquisition of such vast reserves could have been obtained far more easily by reengaging Saddam Hussein rather than prematurely aborting his regime. Indeed, we are now well aware that Iraq's oil supplies played at least a significant role in determining the American course of action, at least according to Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defence and a leading advocate of neoconservative ideology. In a quote mistranslated and printed by the Guardian, Wolfowitz appeared to directly assert the war had been predicated solely on the presence of Iraq's oil wealth. Rather, it appears, his assertion made it evident the Pentagon considered sanctions ineffectual with regard to Beghdad vis-a-vis less resource-rich North Korea in promoting the American agenda. "The...difference between North Korea and Iraq," he insisted in the properly translated quote, "is that we [the United States] had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq." Nevertheless, coupled with Wolfowitz's claim in Vanity Fair that the administration chose to focus efforts to cajole the public into Iraq's conquest using the fearmongering tactic of fabricating a WMD threat for "bureaucratic reasons," such deviation from the official party line comes at a less than advantageous time for the Bush administration and especially for Tony Blair's Labour government.

Considering petroleum's minor, but nonetheless present role in the American government's motivations for war, it is necessary to examine the other alleged influences on the White House which led the charge for military action. There is of course the evangelistic neo-Wilsonian strain of neoconservatism, a particularly virulent strain of revolutionary exportationism, for which Wolfowitz was an ardent crusader, and who insisted repeatedly that the execution of the war would bring about a democratic shock wave throughout the region. Not only has such a transformation not occur and is not likely to occur, but Iraq does not appear likely itself to granted any self-rule should such a democratic Iraq fail to be coterminous with American policy objectives. Wolfowitz's passionate insistence on "democratic" imposition notwithstanding, such crusading appears to be a fringe element within the administration. More prominent are the views of the rabidly ferocious National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice, whose promotionism of the Bush administration's National Security Strategy (NSS) had given credence to the accusation that Bush foreign policy is being driven simultaneously by a Bush Doctrine giving the administration the right to topple governments it suspects of harbouring "terrorists" and the assertion within the NSS that the United States is to remain the world's preeminent power and will take action to ensure this remains the case. Given the potentiality, widely accepted today, that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of converting his primary means of exchange for oil trade to euros from dollars, given the open hostility of the Iraqi government toward the United States, given the exposure of the US' vulnerability to highly coordinated but inexpensive and low-tech terrorist attacks, and given the growing Mediterranean ambitions of Europe and the emergence of China as a formidable power (not to mention the gradual reemergence of Russia under the nationalist bonbast of President Putin) the Iraq project was to serve as an example of the lengths the United States would go to preserve its status as global hegemon. It was able to erase rapidly a state with overt opposition to its policies, without respect to any contraints of international law to such an activity, gain considerably in power projection capabilities by capturing a keystone of the Mideast, secure aforementioned strategic reserves of petroleum, outmaneouvre its growing list of adversaries, and impress upon similar challengers to American policy its ability to decide their fates. While such a strategy, in fact, increased the propensity for terrorist attacks against American interests or the United States itself, it managed to allay concerns within the administration that the 11 September attacks had diminished the United States' capacity for global rule. The United States' activities in Afghanistan were insufficient, as the presence of al-Qaeda in that region proved a bothersome distraction from plots concerning Iraq harboured by angered neoconservatives since the mid-Clinton administration. Nevertheless, Afghanistan was a logical extension of the machtpolitik embodied by the NSS and provided an adrenaline jolt for militarist Republicans then more likely to accept action against Iraq, and furthermore was used as a means to mollify critics who would logically assert that the terrorist threat to the United States would not be addressed by action against Iraq while Afghanistan remained untouched. The paucity of attention lavished on postwar Afghanistan unveiled the administration's lack of commitment to that state as a central objective, but also of its "empire lite" policies regarding nation-building. The administration is content to maintain its conquests as weak, subordinate satellites rather than fully-garrisoned colonies or reconstructed independent entities, though Taliban resurgence and attacks now being mounted on the "safe zone" of Kabul itself have seemingly undercut such policies.

Though advisors to the Bush administration may have had such strategic considerations consistently in mind as they petitioned for the Iraq war, it is unlikely President Bush himself had the intellectual sophistication himself to perceive the significance of such nuanced arguments upon the geostrategic fulcrum. More likely to have influenced the President were personal aims, considering his father's "failure" of the citizens of Iraq in 1991 and the family grudge which had ensued against Hussein since the Iraqi dictator succeeded in turning pre-Gulf War politics into a personal showdown between himself and the first President Bush. Nevertheless, this was more a subtextual consideration than Bush's likely influence by arguments of Iraq's potentiality versus any known possession of weapons. Among conservative factions within the United States there is inconeivable suspicion of any government which does not produce obsequious support for Washington's objectives. Hence the inclination to immediately seize upon any ludicrous rumours regarding France's affinity for Ba'athism and, more pertinently, the conjecture regarding Saddam's weapons programme. That there is weaponry unaccounted for represents circumstantial evidence at best, and the continued assertions that Saddam Hussein was "deceiving" UN weapons inspectors by hiding such weapons or manufacturing them in mobile trailers could easily, with the physical proof gathered thus far, be levied against any state. This is policy governed by paranoia. Iraq could have produced (or could in the future produce) such weapons, and it might utilise them to further regional ambitions which it may have harboured, or else potentially offload such weapons to terrorist groups it could have been connected to. Not only, of course, did no substantial or even minuscule evidence exist for any of such claims, but in many cases there was substaintial indication the probability of the aforementioned events was nonexistent. Extrapolating this logic of paranoid preventionism, one might assert that Iceland in several centuries could develop a nasty strain of anti-American sentiment and seek to manifest such in the sponsorship of lethal anthrax-snowball attacks upon the White House, and to mobilise the Fourth Fleet for the cruise missileage of Reykjavik. Still, the most sceptical war supporters were ultimately moved by such arguments, particularly in Kenneth Pollack's book The Threatening Storm, which quickly became convenient propaganda for war enthusiasts.

Post Facto Humanitarian Apologists

Battle cheerleaders continue to argue that the war's justifications were irrelevant considering the outcome of military action, yet such outcome has yet to be determined, and if events consider with inertia on the ground in Iraq, those who asserted that taking such a course qould be tantamount to inviting quagmire will have been quite vindicated. Indeed, it seems rather myopic to believe there was a victory for global human rights in Iraq, when the invasion has yet to result in a single nationwide representative election, violence continues in the country unabated, armed factions are set to clash if any vacuum appears between the cracks of the US power-grip on Iraqi territory, and the entire state has been reduced much further into the shambles of poverty and squalour than had ever been experienced under the socialist stewardship of Ba'athism. In an American Prospect article entitled "Kant and Mill in Baghdad," John B. Judis examines two perspectives on the human rights argument through the lenses of the two respective philosophers. John Stuart Mill, he notes, would have viewed the incremental human rights improvement in Iraq as a slight victory, while Kantian universalists would naturally be more sceptical, believing the argument for the war was unjustifiable on the grounds of toppling Iraq's totalitarian government without applying a policy of democratising every state made captive by such regimes. It would seem from this analysis that Mill's view is a far more realistic and achievable philosophical outlook, yet this war is a failure even when examined entirely from this perspective. To achieve its geostrategic goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration assembled a "coalition of the willing" with its own brutal record of human rights abuses, from Uzbekistan to Eritrea. Turkmenistan, counted as a "key" ally in "liberating" Afghanis, is controlled by a particularly unpalatable gentleman. Much more damning an argument for those justifying the war on the basis of human rights is its consumption of vital military resources otherwise necessarily useful in the prevention of humanitarian calamities. So much of the US military is preoccupied with either pacifying newly conquered dominions or hunting down Islamic fundamentalists in such locales as the Philippines that despatching troops to such genocidal hotspots as the Ituri province of the DR Congo has become a logistical impossibility. The war's deliberate circumvention of international law and its invocation of the Bush Doctrine has set an international precedent now being used for mass slaughter from Chechnya to Aceh. Can war apologists invoking the human rights argument claim, furthermore, that there was an imminent danger to Iraqi civilians from the Ba'athist regime as opposed to the evident slaughter occurring in the Congo? Unveiling of mass graves has produced much evidence of past abuses by Hussein's government, but such postsciptions date to either the post-Gulf War uprisings or suppression of Kurdish insurgents during the Iran-Iraq War. One could hardly invoke any logical argument which would substantiate military action in an international court of law that military aggression resulted in the salvation of any Iraqi lives. This is pure conjecture based on the same logic of inherent distrust espoused by the paranoid national security Iraqaphobe obsessives. There is considerable evidence, however, of the vast multitudes slaughtered or injured in the inconsiderate bombardment of Iraqi cities by the "coalition." The most acrid humanitarians would believe that there is no cause for intervention at all lest national interest and concern for rights abuses intersect, and that therefore the world should be thankful there were interests worth "liberating" the Iraqi people for. Such has even more swagger and arrogance than neoimperialist dogma, by stripping the veneer off such interventions and openly declaring the rape of local resources for the express good of locals. Given the evidence of both the compromise of human rights and global security due to the Iraq invasion, moreover, it appears the Iraq war was a shortsighted application of such essentially deranged excuses for colonisation by some other name.

How can Bush and Blair account for an invasion which sacrificed the requisite toil necessary to construct the post-Second World War international order, which has demonstrably increased global instability and insecurity, which has reduced Iraq to a hotbed of misery and unrest, which has reduced the capacity for the global community to prevent the abuses of human rights, which has reduced to ashes the credibility of the United States and the United Kingdom and their status even within the West. Predicated upon shrewd, formerly marginalised advocates of American dominance and post-11 September emotional distress, the United States stumbled into Baghdad to recapture its wounded national glory by believing "good" had trumped "evil," and dragging with it an eternally faithful Great Britain, whose Prime Minister was only slightly less influenced by such Manichean inclinations and who descended Christ-like to Basra in open-necked missionary garb in an exercise of iconography certainly rivalling in subtlety, though not grandeur, the martial mania embodied in Bush's aicraft-carrier staged victory rally. Having done its part to preserve the special relationship with the United States, Blair has discovered that no amount of interfering in the sanctity of his intelligence agencies to produce thinly-veiled lies for the consumption of his countrymen may not have been worth his delusions of influence in Washington. Though the probes have opened in America too, it may take the collapse of a government across the pond to see through the uncompromising wall of conformity surrounding every aspect of the Bush administration's belligerent blasphemies.

posted by Agent Z at 13:54 |