30 December 2003
“The only solution is for the Bush administration to return to foreign policy sanity, starting with a more cooperative, less vindictive approach to European allies who could help share America’s military burdens. ” – New York Times, Dec 29 2003
What could be clearer than this NYT editorial of the dire straights of US strategy under Bush. And when the NYT speaks it is speaking to (and for) the power elite. But will its voice be heeded and are the major powers of Europe (France and Germany) even listening?
This is a critical period for the imperium. Stretched to breaking point with widespread disaffection amongst its troops on the ground after only nine short months, the Bush clique is faced with a genuine dilemma as well as a rapidly approaching election.
Just how serious the situation has become is revealed by this passage in the editorial:
“Long months under constant threat of rocket attacks, roadside ambushes and deadly confrontations with civilians in Iraq have left tens of thousands of American soldiers tired, jumpy and badly in need of a break, one that should last at least several months. Most American strategists fear at least a temporary upsurge in attacks as the troop rotations get under way and maneuvering to produce an interim Iraqi government intensifies.”
Either it relocates troops from its other bases across the world or, it reassesses the strategy on the ground in Iraq and given its position after the avalanche of rhetoric about its ‘mission’ to ‘democratise’ the Middle East, it’ll look pretty stupid if it now tries to backtrack. So what’s an overstretched imperium to do aside from squeaks about a ‘return to sanity’? Could it be a case of ‘physician heal thyself’? Whatever, it’s a long, long way from the bravado of the ‘Project for a New American Century’.
But the editorial also reveals a change in the imperialist’s propaganda war as it ‘breaks ranks’ as it were with the longstanding myth that the resistance comes from ‘remnants’ of the Ba’athist regime or even that ‘outside’ forces (al-Qu’eda) are responsible.
One US response to the deteriorating situation has been the upsurge in ‘special forces’ operations with the targeting of former Ba’ath party members utilising assassination squads, a tactic that the media has consistently misreported as local Iraqis ‘settling old scores’. In an interview by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now with Col. Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force Colonel had this to say:
“AMY GOODMAN:…Can you comment further on Task Force 121, the unit that has been assembled from Army Delta Force members?
“COLONEL GARDINER: Sure. And it may be other Special Operations forces, too. And it may include portions of the Kurdish Special Operations. It may have in it British Special Operations, too.
“AMY GOODMAN: Also Navy Seals and CIA Paramilitary.
“COLONEL GARDINER: Yes. And they were supported by Air Force assets. In fact, there is a lot of discussion I hear from news people in Washington that there is a major effort underway by this Task Force 121 that will be focused on – actually, let me use the words that are in the Special Operations manual – inflicting damage on designated individuals…. I’m hearing from press sources that the United States may be introducing a major campaign to do assassinations of mid-level people in the Baathist party who may be supporting operations and this assassination program may extend beyond Iraq…” – Dec 23, 2003 http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/12/23/160242
Another sign of a desperate occupier but one that can only lead to even greater alienation of the population given the vast numbers of people who were members of the Ba’ath Party as membership guaranteed access to resources and at least a measure of protection from the state apparatus. And in any case, what is this policy of “inflicting damage on designated individuals” designed to do except terrorise the population even further than it already has?
The editorial ends with this plea:
“Meanwhile, if a sudden crisis were to erupt in North Korea, Afghanistan or elsewhere, the Pentagon might be hard pressed to respond. For a time, it could make do by sending tired troops back into action, mobilizing reserves and borrowing forces from areas that are quiet but still highly volatile. Such expedients have severe long-term costs. The White House must recognize the damage its unilateralism is inflicting on the Army and change course before the damage becomes harder to undo.”
So what went so badly wrong? Could it be that, as some critics on the left and on the right assert, that a Zionist posse hijacked US foreign policy in order to further the interests of a ‘Greater Israel’ and have led the US imperialists up the creek? How realistic is this view? After all, the only thing that separates current US policy from its earlier incarnations is that it’s pretty badly conceived and atrociously executed but its objectives are identical.
Allusions abound, especially to the Third Reich and reams have been written about how many Jews there are in the Bush administration as well as the links/parallels between extremist/nationalist Zionism and the Christian right:
“The predominance of Jews running America’s foreign policy has done much more than just ramp up the Arab body count. Jewish control over America’s foreign policy has morphed it into one indistinguishable from the foreign policy of Israel’s ruling Likud Party. America’s grandly styled imperial overreach is centered around Israel’s security needs. And, of course, it’s endangered America to a degree no foreign invader could ever sustain.
“The entire raison d’etre of Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Libby, Bolton, Adelman, Abrams, Kristol, Kagen, Ledeen, Safire, Friedman, Krauthammer, Jacoby, Cohen, Lakheim, Frum, Goldberg, Wattenberg, Schlesinger, Podhoretz, Dector, Charon, Lowry, Hanson, Babbit, Stein, ad nauseum – is to continue to use America’s fighting men and women as cannon fodder to fight Israel’s battles.” – The Psychopathology Of Neo-Conservatism: A Clinical History by Ross Vachon
Now I’m not up on Ariel Sharon’s religiosity, but I doubt praying is high on his list of things to do when he gets up in the morning. More likely, it’s reading a list of the latest Palestinian body count rather than tracts from the Torah. And there is no doubting the parallel interests of Israeli capitalism, not the least of which is getting is getting its hands on sufficient oil (not to mention even more precious water) to power its flagging economy. The question remains however, whether the power of the cabal of right-wing ideologues around Bush outweighs the wider and longer term interests of big US capital?
The other view is that PNAC, ‘Securing the Realm’ etc are ‘merely’ end-products of the decades-long war against Communism (in which of course, Israel has played its part). The removal of the USSR as the last obstacle to US global domination has let the dogs loose on the world and the whole damn thing has gone to their heads. Conceivably, the current madness could simply be the result of serendipity but more likely it’s the result of a terminal capitalism’s inability to deal with the post-Soviet world, destabilised by a number of factors including a global financial network that now operates je sans frontieres, competition from newly industrialising countries, the coming energy crisis, the emerging ecological crisis… need I go on?
I have a lot of other problems with the Zionist plot hypothesis notwithstanding the number of Jews who work for the imperium. One could equally argue that the spread of US culture is also a Jewish plot given the disproportionate number of Jewish writers and artists there are in the entertainment business and have been for the past 100 years (Halva for the masses?). And one of the enduring myths of the 20th century was that Bolshevism was also a Jewish plot so how does that square with current hypothesising?
It seems that everywhere one turns, Jews are popping out of the woodwork, but aside from serving the interests of right-wing Israeli Zionism’s propaganda about anti-semitism, talk of a ‘Jewish plot’ creates a giant diversion from the central issue, that of imperialism’s goals that regardless of the means, the ends are still what they have always been.
The most pressing issue and one I have referred to on a number of occasions is whether the zealots on Pennsylvania Avenue have simply lost the plot. This is to my mind, a far more dangerous situation for us to be in, given the vast military power at their disposal. It is moreover, a novel situation for those on the left to take in, used as we are to dealing with a devious and not inconsiderable enemy. How can such a bumbling bunch of incompetents now be in charge and how did they manage to pull it off?
It could be argued that as with the post-Soviet Russia, the US also went through a comparable ‘power vacuum’ that the far-right were ably positioned to exploit, hence my mention of serendipity as a ‘cause’ of the current madness. But there can be no doubt, regardless of shared goals, that the current Bush policies are most definitely not in the long term interests of US capital as whole. And what could be more illustrative of this awakening realisation than Soros’ latest move to try and head Bush off at the pass before the next election.
And here the NYT editorial serves to remind us that whilst everything was swinging the way of the imperium following 9/11 as the best propaganda coup they could have had, once the euphoria/hysteria wore off, more sober minds are considering the cul-de-sac that the imperium has backed itself into.
No doubt, the US are not too bothered about what happens to a couple of million Palestinians – as long as it doesn’t get in the way of things – but once it becomes apparent to the real policy makers that using Israel as a means of bringing the Middle East under its heel is a loss leader, we can be sure that there will be a change of policy regardless of the number of Jews there are in government or how many settlers have to move on.
Moreover, if the NYT gets its way – to get ‘old’ Europe back onboard the imperialist bandwagon – it’ll need to take into account the fact that the EU has a very different view of Israeli policies, not perhaps on ideological grounds, but definitely from a hard-headed business perspective. For the reality is that relations between the Arab world and Europe have a very different historical setting as well as there being a lot more at stake. The Muslim population of Europe now numbers several millions and in some areas it is the fastest growing segment of newly diversifying populations.
Whatever the NYT wants the US government to do, it will, just like the US government, have to take the European reality into account if — and it’s still a big if — it wants to get Europe to commit its troops to a war that anyone with any knowledge of history knows, is ultimately unwinnable no matter how many troops are committed to the field.
So squeak away New York Times, and by all means call for a return to sanity but not one based on US hegemony (with Europe trailing behind), rather on one committed to cleaning up the mess left behind by four hundred years of capitalism.