for . . . What?
I the only one who sensed a sort of plaintiveness in the presidentís
assertion? "The no-fly zones are enforced on a daily basis,"
said George W. as he touched lightly on the decision of British
and American warplanes to dump bombs on targets outside the no-fly
zone. "Itís part of a strategy."
could almost hear him saying to himself something like "At
least I hope it is. I hope my advisers and the Brits arenít completely
out to lunch on this one. If weíve been doing it for 10 years there
must be some sensible reason for it. Right?"
President Bush had some private doubts as to whether there really
is a strategy or whether stepping up the bombing of the evil Saddam
(or those already victimized by his regime) he would have been correct.
The question Americans should be asking they arenít getting much
help from most elements of the establishment media or their anointed
talking heads is fairly simple but not easy to answer. Just what
core American interest is involved in maintaining no-fly zones over
Iraqi territory 10 years after Bush I decided to end the Gulf War
when he did after the Iraqis were driven out of Kuwait but before
anything resembling an offensive further into Iraq could be implemented?
THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS?
has been speculation about which interests really might be benefited
by expanding the bombing of Iraq and at least according to
Tuesdayís news possibly expanding it more in the near future.
say it helps oil interests, and one of the immediate consequences
of the bombing was an uptick in world oil prices due to speculation
that Iraq would take what it has on offer off the world market.
This was followed by speculation that the OPEC oil cartel of governments
is almost ready to order production cutbacks, which would drive
world oil prices up even more. So at least in the short run the
bombing seems to have worked to increase the future incomes of oil
say the real concern here is the security of Israel. Upon Ariel
Sharonís election as prime minister in Israel Saddam Hussein announced
that he would be accepting volunteers for a huge volunteer army
to conduct a mighty jihad that would finally drive the nasty Jews
out of Jerusalem. Most observers believe he was bluffing, but, some
would-be analysts speculate, a few bombs near Baghdad might send
the message that he better not. The irony is that the most immediate
aftermath has been the issuance of gas masks in Israel in anticipation
of the possibility that Saddamís threatened retaliation for the
U.S.-British bombing raids might involve some sort of violent incursion
say that the bombing was really pushed by the British, that Royal
Air Force pilots had noticed more potshots and closer misses at
British planes in the last month or so and had demanded stern action
by their government. So the anglophilic internationalists in charge
of foreign policy at the erstwhile breakaway colony responded when
the Motherland called. The Brits seem to be pleased with developments
and ready to ask the U.S. to bomb some more. So maybe it serves
the opposition to and criticism of the expanded bombing from European
countries like France and Russia and what seems to be renewed support
for Saddam Hussein (who had been something of a forgotten factor
in the Middle East equation) among ordinary Arabs throughout the
Middle East, you might argue that the bombing benefited Saddam.
Whether the demonstrations reflected genuine and widespread pro-Saddam
sentiment in the West Bank, Jordan and elsewhere (itís likely most
Middle Eastern Arabs know heís no prize, even as most Democrats
in this country always knew Clinton was a scoundrel) demonstrations
did take place and did bolster Saddamís prestige. The coalition
Bush I cobbled together to support the Gulf War in 1990 has disintegrated,
with many key members actively criticizing Britain and the United
IS US NATIONAL INTEREST?
a number of entities might stand to benefit from the expanded bombs
over Baghdad. But what benefit does the United States get? What
core national interest of the United States is so clearly at stake
that the only choice is to drop bombs? What interest of US citizens
and consumers will be advanced by this action?
nearly as I can tell, the only US interest in keeping up the pressure
on Saddam is so vague as to be almost impossible to express in a
concrete fashion. It shows we mean business and wonít be pushed
around by a tinpot tyrant? It shows that the new president is a
willing to drop bombs as the last president? It enhances our prestige
as a firm opponent of the evil Saddam? It reinforces our sense of
the leadership that befits a superpower?
could assert any of the above and expect nothing but softballs from
most of the media. But one would be hard-pressed to make anything
resembling an intellectually respectable case that any of the above
are core interests of the United States (whatever those are) or
that dropping bombs outside the no-fly zone was the only or even
the best way to advance those interests, vague as they are.
of the reasons US leaders so seldom spend time or energy trying
to determine or defend the US national interest is that they have
fallen into the trap of our times when it comes to international
relations. Having been educated in state schools or private schools
that endorse a statist agenda, they have come to believe as an article
of faith the kind of thing that is considered so self-evident
that serious argument isnít required that nationalism is
passé at best and a cover for isolationism or the lust to
indulge in something like ethnic cleansing at least.
are two way one could view international relations. (Well, actually
there are dozens of ways and numerous qualifications one might put
on the bifurcation Iím propounding, but Iím trying to simplify to
get to something like principles here.)
first uses a metaphor some have proposed for a free society. Some
people say a genuinely free and civil society is one in which I
control 100 percent of my own actions and resources and 0 percent
of the actions and resources of others which obliges me to work
with others on the basis of mutual agreement rather than through
plunder or putting a gun to their heads. Nobody who uses this metaphor
believes that such a balance has been achieved anywhere in the worldís
history, and some doubt that it will ever be achieved. But it offers
an ideal toward which those who want to see freedom practiced as
well as celebrated can aspire.
the metaphor to the international sphere one would suggest that
a proper international order is one in which each national entity
is viewed as being 100 percent sovereign within its own borders
and exercises 0 percent sovereignty over other countries. There
are still college international relations courses in which this
ideal is taught as the basis of international relations and international
law properly understood and in a few cases as a description of
the world as it is. But while nobody believes the 100-zero balance
is likely to be achieved some countries will always be more influential
than others even if they donít employ coercion to impose their will this
is one possible way to envision a properly run world.
other possible way to view the international order is to think transnationally to
view nationalism and the nation-state as a relic, or as a stepping-stone
on the path to the kind of institutions that are really needed to
ensure peace in the world a powerful world government, or at least
powerful institutions like the U.N. that can enforce universal standards
on recalcitrant nation-states that just havenít been enlightened
THE NEW WORLD ORDER
would contend that most policymakers and scholars in international
relations, at least in the United States, buy into the second view
of the world to one degree or another. And not only do they see
their mission of enlightenment to embrace building powerful international
institutions with the will and the resources to slap the recalcitrant
into line, they see this vision ever more powerful international
or transnational institutions as the only alternative to
a cramped, cribbed, bigoted, inward-looking, backward and unenlightened
when they look at the world out there, most US policymakers of both
major parties seldom even think about anything so "narrow"
as the US national interest. Itís far more enlightened and forward-looking
to have a global vision, one that places the interests of transnational
institutions, or the needs of a famine-stricken population (although
not the ones caused by US or UN sanctions), or the vision of peace
enforced by a proper centralized peacemaking world body ahead of
mere US interests. And they do this so automatically that they hardly
know they are doing it.
suggested, this is not the only possible paradigm for international
relations. Indeed, a strong case could be made that peace and progress
are more likely in a world in which the first paradigm treat all
countries as sovereign within their borders, maintain trade and
tourism policies that are as open and unrestricted as possible and
keep political and military entanglements to a minimum governed
the actions of most statesmen.
most American elites have fallen into the habit of equating internationalism
with transnationalism. So they do all manner of things that have
no relationship to US interests but instead serve some vague and
vaporous transnational agenda.
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