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"No pretty script ...in which America must prevail"

Political double standards and the preponderence of force over diplomacy will be some of the issues that will be passionately debated in the future, says SHELLEY WALIA, looking at the reactions of the wounded American giant after 9/11.



Anti-war protests in Albany, New York.

THIS is a sad and painful moment. The beginning of the American occupation has begun. The decisive moment has been reached. "We are going to war, the world be damned": this is the clear message from the White House. The war is illegal and is not waged for a reasonable or just cause. Targets of military opportunity are immediately struck to put any end to Saddam's regime. And Bush "must prevail". In the unfolding of this catastrophic drama, the world has seen no commitment to the United Nations charter. The international will to find a peaceful solution has been out rightly ignored. America, Briton and Spain must understand that bringing peace in times of crisis is neither easy nor prompt.

The American giant stands injured after 9/11. It was Pearl Harbour that woke her during the Second World War; it is the attack on the Twin Towers that has provoked her now to take on the Arab World. But this time, without some of her allies who are not in a mood to back her military ambitions. Whereas the United States regards the U.N. more of a shackle, the dissenting nations in Europe take this institution as a controlling factor in international politics. And though we witness demonstrations on both sides of the Atlantic against the war in Iraq, we cannot deny the wedge that slowly creeps in down the Atlantic. However, the tremendous bonding between Blair and Bush, the two seemingly delinquent school buddies with their arms around each other, supersedes the public wrath in both the countries. Nothing really is in its place. There is too much of American meddling in Europe leaving it divided, politically, militarily and economically. And its interference in the rest of the world emphasises its policy of "I-me-myself" in its foreign affairs. Let it be clear that foreign policy, in essence, is all about protecting, sustaining and furthering national interests. And these can be broadly categorised as economic and/or security interests which could well present contradictory choices at times. The Americans have written a script, rightly or wrongly, and war for them is a necessity for disarming Saddam. But, like Germany, France as well as China and many other nations have taken a stand against the decision that has ignored diplomacy. The Iraqi threat has been simply exaggerated. Neither can the Iraqi missiles whose range is more than the stipulated 150 miles have the capacity to reach Israel, nor can Saddam produce any nuclear bombs, the infrastructure of which has been fully destroyed in the wake of the Gulf War. It is a known fact of history that Saddam has gone to war or used the biological weapons only when there have been signs of a retaliatory threat or an opportunity to quench his military ambitions. Mr. Hussein, therefore has to be only contained with vigilance and not with a war.

In a letter signed by peace activists and anti-nuclear activists, the world community has been implored to not allow the war. Millions have demonstrated over the last couple of days in the streets of Europe and the rest of the world to protest against a U.S. led attack on Iraq. There is no basis in International Law for this war; only a peaceful solution must be reached. We must not go by the half-baked evidence that Bush churns out at every speech he gives to whip up support for his programme of going to war. Iraq is certainly not six months away from assembling a nuclear bomb, and nor does it have long range aircraft which could endanger American cities. These are just empty noises of alarm. It is obvious that Bush has only one language, and that is of violence and economic exploitation. That Baghdad has fulfilled all the conditions put on it by the inspectors has been overlooked. Since 9/11, America began to divide the world according to the binary imagination of "you are with us or against us". Its aggressive policy for a regime change will have a fall out in the form of a violent reaction in the region. In an attempt to stabilise the region, it could end up in a backfire that would leave more warlike conditions contrary to the U.S. dream of falsely fighting for a peaceful world. The Arab states could jointly rise against the West though the U.S. does not foresee any such uprising. Osama bin Laden's recent warnings must be heeded. Nineteen people destroying the Twin Towers have already been forgotten owing to the United States' short memory.



Cashing in on conflict... rice crackers made in Taiwan.

And the mischief maker is Bush. Bin Laden is at large and has, through recordings, indicated that the bombing of a French tanker off the coast of Yemen, the killing of a U.S. marine in Kuwait, the attack in Bali and the hostage crisis in Moscow all were undertaken to punish Bush — "the pharaoh of our age" — for killing Muslims in Iraq or for aiding the Israelites for the massacre of innocent women and children in Palestine. Now because of the war on Iraq, Al Qaeda will retaliate once more. So, was it not political logic to first get bin Laden and then think of Hussein? Shouldn't Pakistan be asked to help in apprehending him rather than being befriended for reasons best known to Bush?

There are many hopes and many fears. Let us wait and watch and pray that some sense dawns on the American Government and its foreign policy planners to bring an end to this war. The condition in the West Asia and Iraq remains unstable with Iraq assuming the centre stage. The U.S. engages in a doublespeak telling the world that it seeks to bring democracy here whereas its motives are clearly for long term occupation. The U.S. has not shown any sign that it has supported democracy especially when it never makes any efforts to forge ties between the people and the leaders. It is capable of only using a language of war which is the one authoritarian method it is familiar with for dealing with the problem. Arguing that security is a grave issue here, it deceitfully moves the U.N. and other western alliances for a more stable post-war Iraq. Almost 15 committees have been set up to face the transition if Saddam Hussein is deposed. And if regime change in Iraq does take place, what next? A grand plan to change West Asia? Or another interference in Saudi Arabia? One may go on to ask: why not give support against repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia or Yemen? Why this immediate action against Iraq and this rather suspicious obsession with her? Is it not all for oil? Is it not clear that the immediate threat to America is from the recently discovered Islamisists in Saudi Arabia and not Iraq? Then why weave such a fragile case for a war that the entire world opposes? We all need to be alarmed. The war in West Asia arising out of the Iraq crisis and the Israel-Palestine conflict can easily escalate into an apocalyptic global war. Bush and Blair have failed to build a broad International coalition against Saddam to bring about disarmament through peaceful means. War will only exacerbate tension, millions will die and suffer, and future generations will question why we allowed it. The turbulent social, political and philosophical movements of our time will interrogate the ethical quandaries of our positions regarding peace and unjustified poetical interference in the sovereignty of other independent nations. Political double standards, the preponderance of force over diplomacy, contemptuous double standards in foreign affairs, clandestine nuclear proliferation in nations like Israel which the U.S. totally ignores on the one hand and bludgeons Iraq on the other for possessing weapons of mass destruction: these are some of the issues that will be passionately debated in the coming days. And this time when the war on terrorism has been sidelined, let the world be fearful of a major humanitarian crisis and a nuclear threat far serious than the attack of 9/11.

The destruction caused by the war and its aftermath will far exceed the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Then if Winston Churchill who was an ardent warhorse could say: "Jaw, Jaw is better than war, war," why shouldn't we be more supportive of the non-violent options for getting rid of Saddam?

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