just been watching a real-time joint Press Conference
by Presidents Putin of Russia and Chirac of France.
There is no justification for war stated
clearly Chirac. All possible avenues have not
as yet been exhausted echoed Putin. The Franco-German-Belgian
axis having destabilised NATO over the last couple
of days forced Robinson to admit earlier this morning
that the situation in the Alliance is difficult
complex. And in comes Putin, fresh from his
talks with Schroeder smiling and thanking the French
for their hospitality. Just as Saddam tells the world
he will now allow overflights of U-2 spy planes as
Iraq has nothing to hide! A farce or an
of the worst tragedies of human history occur when
elites are incapable of acting in their own interest.
The waning years of ancient Rome, for example, were
full of misguided political and military adventures
that brought death and destruction to the elites but
also to their allies and their enemies alike. Unfortunately
we are again facing such a situation with a section
of the American elite ready to embark on such an adventure.
this one sign that the US is fast adopting the mantle
of an imperialist power along the old European model,
but on a global scale? Is it not imposing itself as
the active and determining centre of the full range
of world affairs, military, political, and economic?
ultimate hubris of the US political leaders is their
nationalist belief that they can not only force regime
change and name new leaders for various countries,
but also actually shape the global environment - a
reckless extension of the old imperialist ideology
of the civilising mission. Regime change in
Iraq is only the first step in an ambitious project
to reconstruct the political order of the entire Middle
East. And their designs of power extend well beyond
other political and economic elites around the world,
however, do not favour the creation of a new US imperialism.
One common view is that European political leaders
of independent and sovereign nations generally oppose
US unilateralism because it excludes them and prefer
instead multilateral political - and if need be military
- solutions. What is most significant, however, is
not the reality of the conflicting interests that
separate US elites from others, but rather their common
interests. And it is this convergence that has led
me, among many others, to argue in The Blanket for
the process of the constitution of the Empire.
common interests of the global elites are most visible
in the economic sphere. Business leaders around the
globe recognise that imperialism is bad for business
because it sets up barriers that hinder global flows.
Putin referred to this in the Press Conference earlier
today, highlighting the fact that 90% of Russias
export/import business takes place with Europe. This
is equally true for the captains of capital in the
US. Even for the US industrialists drunk on oil and
backing Bush, their real interests lie in the potential
profits of capitalist globalisation.
developing European axis is an alternative to US imperialism.
It is global power organised in a decentred form.
This is not merely a multilateral coalition of leading
nation states. Think of it as multilateralism squared.
Empire is a network composed of different kinds of
powers, including the dominant nation states, supranational
organisations, such as the United Nations and the
IMF, multinational corporations, NGOs, the media,
and others. There are hierarchies among the powers
that constitute empire but despite their differences
they function together in the network.
decentred network power of empire corresponds to the
interests of global elites because it both facilitates
the potential profits of capitalist globalisation
and displaces or defuses potential security threats.
I am confident that in the long run their real interests
will lead global elites to support empire and refuse
any project of US imperialism. In the coming months,
however, we may indeed face a tragedy that we read
about in the darkest periods of human history, when
elites are incapable of acting in their own interest.
evidence - what evidence?
this respect, let us think of Powell - who came to
the United Nations and produced his evidence.
to launch a war? The first and most obvious problem
is that it wouldn't be a launch. We must stress that
launch is the wrong word - but rather
an escalation. One that even its lead architect
has compared, publicly and approvingly, to Hiroshima.
Three US presidents have been waging continuous war
against Iraq's government and its people for a dozen
years -- from the Gulf War, to economic sanctions,
to the unilaterally imposed no-fly zones, to regular
bombings, to covert efforts to overthrow or assassinate
Iraq's leaders, to the current, steadily increasing
bombing runs and psychological pressure on the Iraqis.
Powell's presentation was not a case for war;
it was part of the war itself.
question in the minds of what John Le Carre called
the Bush junta was less whether war was justified
than how to sell it to allies and to the public. The
White House's arguments for war all along have been
less conclusions based on evidence than evidence
based on conclusions. There is still absolutely
no evidence that the Iraqi government, now, or at
any foreseeable point in the future, poses a security
threat even to its immediate neighbours -- let alone
to the United States, halfway around the world. There
is no evidence that Iraq, a country whose military
is a fifth of its size ten years ago, a country crippled
militarily (and in many other ways) by the most rigorous
sanctions in world history, a country whose every
move is closely monitored, a country which knows that
any aggressive twitch would be instantly suicidal,
now even possesses the capacity to inflict
harm on any other country -- let alone is a
threat to do so, and let alone that the United States
is among those threatened. This is Iraqs reality
and you dont have to be a Saddam fan to admit
still Bush talks of a threat.
Powell is stretching that far to make the case the
Bush Administration has been desperate to make for
16 months - that, for example, Saddam Hussein had
links to 9/11 -- nothing calls more into question
his entire presentation than his use of the wretched
evidential document produced by the Blair Government
- culled and plagiarised from twelve-year old PhD
theses - as they admitted themselves. Any objective
reading of the legitimacy of Powell's case must include
the question as to whether his "factual"
evidence is, in fact, factual. One need not go back
to the Gulf of Tonkin, or even the Kuwaiti incubator
hoax before the Gulf War, to recall American governments
lying to justify aggressive military policies. The
Bush Administration has been misrepresenting facts
on the ground routinely in its efforts over the last
year to justify invasion; it has watched public support
steadily erode despite those efforts. It risked a
diplomatic uproar to seize the only, unread copy of
Iraq's U.N. weapons report less than two months ago.
It has had the tools, the time, and the motive to
falsify evidence, and there is little or no corroboration
for either Powell's satellite intelligence or his
"human intelligence." It could all be true;
it could also all be a cynical hoax. Nor need it be
Bush's team that's doing the lying; that human intelligence
is without question coming from people with much to
gain by having the Americans put a government in power
in Baghdad -- a government likely to be run by Iraqis
the Americans already know and have found helpful.
And, as with so much of the ridiculous Afghan "intelligence"
coming out of Guantanamo Bay these days, whether that
information is given willingly or under duress, when
the Bush Administration is told something it wants
to hear, its bullshit detectors seem permanently glued
into the "off" position.
are, by my count, three major reasons why Bush and
his aides are infatuated, at a geopolitical level,
with the idea of invading, conquering, and either
running or installing a puppet regime in Iraq.
these three factors, many anti-war activists abroad
and especially here in Ireland tend to harp on only
one -- oil. Not surprisingly, Iraq's massive oil riches
rated not a mention in Bush's State of the Union
address. Even without the personal connections Bush,
Cheney, and several members of his high command have
with the oil industry, it's impossible in any case
to believe that the presence, in Iraq, of enormous
quantities of one of the natural resources most essential
to the American economy would ever be ignored. And
it's not. Iraq's oil, and the opportunity to gain
an alternative major oil source to Saudi Arabia and
a supply lever against pricing by the Saudis and by
controlling the Caspian Sea bonanza are a far more
relevant motivator for invading Iraq than Saddam's
oil is not the only motivator we should care about.
The West, and us in Ireland, tend to take our Right
to Use Middle East Oil for granted. But there are
two other important motivators for an invasion, and
reasons. The first reason is the advancement of the
empire. You can include in this category the desire
for a new, massive, permanent military presence in
the Middle East, a virtual certainty if Saddam's Ba'athists
are replaced by a regime directly or indirectly on
the western payroll. All that oil would be a boon
to any empire. In the short term, so would the money
made repairing a dozen years of American damage to
more important is the post-invasion example the empire
can then hold up to the rest of the world, of what
happens when a recalcitrant government, for any reason,
displeases it. What will happen? The Pentagon plan
includes simultaneous ground invasions from north
and south; Turkey unilaterally reversed course and
agreed this week -- amidst billions of dollars in
American inducements -- to allow tens of thousands
of U.S. troops to use its military bases - annoying
no end its European NATO allies. The plan also includes
a sudden decimation of Baghdad by raining down on
its people, in two days, some 800 Cruise missiles
-- more than were used in the entire Gulf War. Harlan
Ullman, the military strategist who apparently developed
the plan, last week characterized the Baghdad assault
thus: "You have this simultaneous effect, rather
like the nuclear weapons of Hiroshima, not taking
days or weeks but minutes." It would be a firestorm,
a Dresden with 60 years of new technology. It would
be a war crime of quick and staggering proportions.
the name of the plan is "Shock and Awe."
Ostensibly, the name refers to the demoralizing effect
such an attack would have on Iraqis, an effect, presumably,
similar to the instant (although already planned)
surrender of Japan after the gratuitous bombing of
Hiroshima and even more gratuitous bombing of Nagasaki.
But those were, both military and diplomatically,
demonstration attacks -- suggesting what could be
done to the imperial rulers themselves and to Tokyo,
a city far more valuable and populous than Hiroshima
and Nagasaki combined.
Iraq, Baghdad is the capital.
the demonstration effect goes far beyond Iraq. The
intended audience in 1945 was as much Stalin as Hirohito;
the audience for the Bush invasion of Iraq, in this
age of global satellite TV, and the Net, is the entire
world. Iraqis, dead or alive, are secondary. The entire
world, and the Empires dominance of it,
is very much the agenda for invading Iraq; Bush's
State of the Union address delivered that message
emphatically. The U.S. will not wait, for the United
Nations or even its allies, before striking. We need
not seek their approval or cooperation. It is the
United States' judgment that Saddam Hussein, owing
to various crimes against humanity and the oil industry,
must go. It is also the United States' right to make
that judgment, regardless of whether anybody else
agrees, and it is also the United States' right to
implement it, again, regardless of what others say,
think, or do.
tool is a weapon if you hold it right
is a formulation that goes far beyond the role of
"global policeman"; this is America as cop,
judge, jury, and executioner. It is not intended to
serve the cause of human rights, or disarmament. It
is a tool of empire, and George Bush and his administration
are remarkably naked in their assertion that not only
does America intend to rule the world, but it should
rule the world, and the world will be better off for
it. And if the world is not grateful, it just doesn't
leads us to the third major element of the Iraq invasion,
also on full and odious display: God. Not just any
God, but the God that blesses America, the God that
is never more than a paragraph away from George Bush's
lips in a major speech, the God that justifies America's
was no accident that Bush first blurted out, in the
days after 9/11, that his war against terrorism (remember
Osama bin Laden?) was a "crusade." It was,
in fact, a crusade. So is the invasion of Iraq, in
the religious and historical sense of winning coveted
land away from the infidels and liberating it to the
glory of God.
must save the brown infidels from themselves; it is
only Americans who are wise enough and evolved enough
(and saved enough) to decide who is and is not fit
to rule their lands. And since only Americans know
how to make proper use of the riches beneath the savages/infidels'
feet -- gold, land, oil, whatever -- it is their divinely
granted right to take ownership for America.
in the West are, in other words, the Chosen People
in the Chosen Land, and those who displease us must
die. And if all this sounds a whole lot like the now-forgotten
bin Laden and his ilk -- and, for that matter, like
Cortez and Pizarro -- you can excuse the rest of the
world for being terrified.
good reason. To all evidence, the religious fervour,
and duty, that Bush brings to his leadership of Empire
is something he and many of the people around him
genuinely believe. That belief, especially if called
into doubt, trumps any qualms they may have about
killing unthinkable numbers of people, and plunging
still more unthinkable numbers into privation, misery,
and/or the underground torture chambers of the American-fed
dictators plaguing much of Africa, Asia, and the Middle
East. Such ickiness, especially at a distance, is
regrettable but necessary. To shirk from such duty
would be to disobey God.
activists, by and large, have dismissed and tuned
out this rhetoric; it comes from a foreign (to most
left wingers) culture and isn't taken seriously. Nor
is the call to Empire, because progressives are more
familiar with the last half-century of American invasions,
interventions, and support for despots; Bush's vision
is an expansion of American policy, not a wholly new
direction. But on both counts, Bush's stark endorsement
of what, essentially, amounts to a global theocracy
is shocking and troubling.
conclude, in this theocratic nature of the Empire
we can also recognise another historical symptom of
similar adventures: the rebirth of the concept of
bellum justum or just war. What
this concept does is that it sanitizes war and makes
it almost an ethical consideration. War becomes almost
a police action - an activity that is justified by
itself - an activity that the new Empire can legitimately
exercise. The enemy is an absolute threat to our ethical
order. It may change faces, it may clone itself, but
it is absolute!
of how hard modern secularism has tried to expunge
humanity from this medieval curse. Putin, asked by
a journalist of whether he was worried from this evident
difference of opinion among the Allies(?!?)
responded that uniformity in opinion was how the old
Communist Party of Russia operated - with the
results that we all know well he added with
apart I will conclude by paraphrasing William Morris:
fight and lose a battle, and the thing that we fought
against becomes reality
and then it turns
out not to be what we were afraid of, and other
people have to fight for what we wanted - but with
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