Sunday, February 6

In Praise of Folly

The precedent of invading countries for the purpose of coercion has been around as long as war has. However, to mask such coercion and hegemony in the flag of “democracy” and under the cultural aegis of “we know better’, is dangerous ground.

It’s not just counter-intuitive, it is true: a successful “Americanizing” of Iraq, may lead to disaster elsewhere.

It is common knowledge that Iran has been targeted by the Pentagon for “corrective” action – targeted air strikes on nuclear facilities with ground penetration bombs, as well as command and control centres and de-capitation strikes on the political infrastructure.

Using the military to quell areas that are inconvenient for ruling powers is, again, hoary. Look at China and Tibet, American (and before that Spanish French and British) military intervention in Latin America, Russia in Chechnya, etc. and on and on.

Prior to George Bush, America was the de facto guarantor of national borders following the demise of the Soviet Union. But, the invasion of Iraq has changed all of that.

Remember, there is always a good reason for invasion. There has to be. Even Hitler described his invasions as “defensive”. Hitler!

You should remember two important things: firstly, States can behave as irrationally, and as rashly, as individuals (neurotic, bi-polar, the whole bit); secondly, the old Great Power Alliance structures that we saw before the First World war, are again starting to gather and congeal.

Psychologically, the U.S. has castrated the U.N., preferring it to be viewed as a constraint upon its impatient unilateral actions – which it is; constraint is what the U.N. was designed for.

So, if the U.S. uses Iraqi Americanization as proof of a “post” United Nations world, where Great Powers know better, where does that lead us? Europe, after being bloodied by centuries of such behaviour, knows – and knows better.

The E.U. is now trying to counter-balance American bankruptcy with territorial integrity (however bad Saddam was) and its penchant for unbridled unilateral military reflexes, by engaging in diplomacy with Iran. America has opted out of diplomacy with Iran. The American inference here is that diplomacy is for pussies, unless, like North Korea, they have nuclear weapons and significant artillery assets that can decimate American and South Korean border troop concentrations.

Selective use of principles is bankrupt integrity.

Militarily, the E.U. is also moving away from the George W. Bush idea of the exercise of state power. The E.U. is actually opposed to the “idea” of what America has become, in this regard.

Real influence, according to Clausewitz, is the absence of resistance, what Carl Von Clausewitz termed “friction”. One example is the Cold War, where Western Europe bought the “idea” of America, and Eastern Europe did not buy into the idea of Soviet Communism. It was only a matter of time before the “resistance’ of the people of Eastern Europe collapsed the military dominance of Russia. Embraced ideas and value systems are also what Professor Joseph calls “Soft Power”.

Bush prefers catching flies using the stuff that isn’t sugar. And that’s what the international system starts to smell like.

Tuesday, February 1

It’s Morning In Iraq

Those that used the slogan “It’s morning in America” during the Reagan years are again employing it in Iraq. And while former President Ronald Reagan had his bedtime for Bonzo, the favourite chimp, the monkey of Middle Eastern democracy today has America as its Organ Grinder.

It is the dancing of that Iraqi monkey that is key here: the country has permanent American military bases; the country is now an American dependant; the country is of fundamental strategic importance to the U.S. lying in the geographic centre of the Middle East with the world’s second largest oil reserves within the context of a more unstable, less reliable, Saudi Arabia. And, as world oil resources tighten, Iraq will only increase in strategic and economic value for the Pentagon as an Organ Grinder.

As everyone hears, the word “democracy” is used a lot. But, what is “democracy”? The word is dropped like a cluster bomb repeatedly by the ruling political class and the Pentagon, who, of course, never institutionally employ it themselves, but who use it to justify the flagrant invasion of the sovereign state of Iraq ever since there were no “WMD” (I guess we are just suppose to forget about that); bad dictator notwithstanding, the invasion was about the strategic value of the region and the target of opportunity that it became in the wake of 9/11.

OK. That’s old news. What is not is the use of democracy as a feel-good weapon, where, it is assumed, American dominance is better for them anyway (which may, eventually, be true). In fact, the fractious and fragmented insurgents lost this week in Iraq because they offered no solutions to the people, only the negatives of anti-Americanism and anti-Colonialism, which is not enough when you’re out of water.

However, the problem with democracy is that you can’t have an Organ Grinder to make you jump. You have to actually be the Organ Grinder for it to last. Primitive democratic processes, with weak constitutional liberalism, can elect leaders who are anti-democratic, a Mullah, a strongman, another Saddam – that is unlikely to happen with an American Organ Grinder playing songs for Iraq’s democratic monkey, but there still may be the internal will for it.