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.