Saturday, November 01, 2003

Summing it all up .... /1

I have come to the conclusion that Bush's US foreign policy offensive of the last few years, which implemented the doctrines of the right-wing US think-tanks PNAC (Project for the New American Century - Kagan, Kristol et al.) and AEI (American Enterprise Institute - whose members include Lynne Cheney, Perle, Ledeen, Kristol etc, and partially overlap those of the PNAC) and came to a head with the US/UK invasion of Iraq against the will of the UN Security Council, has misfired. Instead of asserting America's solo super-power capabilities and consequent leadership, it has in fact pitilessly revealed the limits and weaknesses of America's militaristic "globocop" vision of itself in the context of today's world, when actually put to the test.

Why? Because it was based essentially - whether deliberately (due to the think-tanks' strong pro-Israel bias) or otherwise it is hard to tell - on a series of misconceptions... an American "mindframe" problem.

Instances of the kind of severe miscalculation and wishful thinking that preceded the war include the following:

1) During the pre-invasion crisis in the UN, the Americans frequently expressed the expectation that the countries opposing its drive for invasion would quickly "come to heel" and/or could be easily "bought off" - which did NOT happen. The opposition of France, Germany, Russia etc did not give rise to an actual nuclear standoff as the principles, national interests etc. involved were not sufficiently "vital" to them to justify such a dramatic step, but these countries have all continued to remain firm in their anti-invasion stance, and have cooperated significantly together in all Iraq-linked diplomatic contexts since then.

2) The Americans seem to have believed that once they had "defeated" the Iraqi armed forces' opposition to the invasion (which in fact seemed more to have "melted away" than engaged in an all-out struggle - possibly with a view to regrouping later on to fight a Vietnam-style "guerrilla war" of attrition against the occupying armies) the Iraqi people "as such" would welcome the invaders with the same attitude of heartfelt joy and trustfulness that America had experienced in WW2 when the French welcomed the Allied forces' overthrow of the Nazi occupation. But of course this did not happen, as the chief reason why the French had so joyously welcomed the Allies' foreign armies onto their soil was because these armies were ejecting a hated previous foreign invader/occupier, which was certainly not the case in Iraq.

The Iraqis' initial attitude, except in overwhelmingly Sunni areas - ("strangely enough", prior to the invasion the Western/US media did NOT provide adequate information on Iraq's complex ethnic and religious structure - the Sunni/Shia aspects and their relationship to Saddam's Ba'ath Party rule were either ignored or glossed over) seems in fact to have been more "wait and see" in the face of an overwhelming "force majeure" event than actively hostile, but it is hard to understand how the US could have so gravely underestimated the instinctive dislike all peoples instinctively feel for the presence of foreign troops of ANY nationality in a blatantly dominant role on their soil. And of course, the deaths of thousands of Iraqi nationals, both in the armed forces and amongst the civilian population, could hardly be expected to make the US/UK forces appear particularly "lovable" to the relatives and neighbours of those killed. And the chaos that developed in the wake of the invasion, the measures taken to repress it, the arrogantly colonialist mindframe of the US proconsuls, and the totally "alien" nature of the American/UK forces in relation to Iraqi society have steeply increased the level of hostility.

3) Both the cost of the war to American taxpayers, and the number of troops that are required to maintain even very limited American control over Iraq and its resources, were either grossly underestimated or deliberately underplayed, at a time when America's economy was "in reality" particularly fragile due to several years' recession, a spiralling national debt and - in particular - a huge and constantly increasing foreign debt (6 trillion plus) and disastrous trade balance-of-payments situation. The overall result of all this, in both military and economic terms is summed up by the (slightly sinister) word "overstretch", whose popularity in current political discourse has now overtaken that of "hegemonism" ... as of course an "overstretched hegemone" is more likely to lose its balance and fall flat on its face than to maintain its upright posture for any significant length of time, so whatever antics it may temporarily attempt to engage in can be largely discounted as inevitably short-lived.

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