YOU HAVE A RESERVATION?
in charge of an empire is a lot like being a waiter
we rush about the world fulfilling the demands of our client
states. Do the Germans want a slice of the former Yugoslavia?
Then bomb Belgrade. Are the Israelis having trouble with
their Palestinian helots? Then broker a "peace" agreement
that gives them cover once it fails. Will petrol prices
bring down Britain's socialist government and lead to a
European-wide petro-tax revolt? Then, by all means, let's
drop more bombs on Iraq. That will drive petroleum prices
much higher, of course but then they can always blame
it on the satanic Saddam Hussein, a villain for all seasons
and all reasons.
the Motherland called, it took less than two weeks for Washington
to answer, a rapid reaction that is a testament to Blair's
political skills. For the British Labor Party rank-and-file
is appalled by the Republican victory, and US secdef Donald
Rumsfeld had already signaled his stance when he met with
the Tory "shadow" defense secretary. But Blair turned that
around. The Clinton-Blair dog-and-pony show on the international
stage clearly had the latter in the role of the militant,
egging Clinton on in Kosovo and openly calling for the introduction
of ground troops. Now, in Iraq, Blair is doing an encore:
while the Bushies are tight-lipped about their future plans,
British officials are openly saying that the Iraqis can
expect more and soon. And so Blair is allowed to
take the lead once again: but there is, of course, a price
PRICE TO PAY
don't really have it so bad: they don't get much of a salary,
if any, but where they really make their money is in tips.
If Blair wants to continue to dine at the Cafe USA
which has just hired a new head waiter then this
time he must be sure to leave an especially generous gratuity.
This comes in the form of Blairite support for "Star Wars,"
the "missile defense" panacea championed by the Rumsfeld
faction of the administration: In the interests of advancing
the project, Blair has reportedly even agreed to a US military
base on British soil, a proposal that is bound to provoke
rumblings on the British right as well as opposition from
the far left.
the other side of the Atlantic, expressions of dissent on
either the left or the right were few and far between. The
New York Times endorsed the bombing raid, echoing
the puerile argument that we attacked in "self-defense"
as if any action taken by the US and Britain
in Iraqi airspace could possibly be described as even remotely
"defensive." On the other side of the political spectrum,
the Washington Times flagship newspaper of
Beltway conservatives in full cold war mode
Over Baghdad." They drag out, first of all, the old
"weapons of mass destruction" argument, but this is just
a ritual incantation, as far as Iraq is concerned, as everyone
knows that the Iraqis have long since lost the ability to
produce any such thing. Scott Ritter, a former UNSCOM inspector
who dealt with the Iraqis many times, recently
told CNN: "In terms of large-scale weapons of mass destruction
programs, these had been fundamentally destroyed or dismantled
by the weapons inspectors as early as 1996, so by 1998 we
had under control the situation on the ground." Saddam,
says Ritter, poses no immediate threat.
THEIR OWN WORDS
of course, that begs the question: a threat to whom? The
Washington Times doesn't even bother asking the question,
because to their editorial writers the answer is obvious:
Israel. In their own words:
aggression against Israel must be checked. He has made his
support for the Palestinians clear over the past weeks,
calling on his 6.5 million to prepare for a jihad on Israel,
and preparing what he calls a "Jerusalem army" from an Iraqi
military brigade and other volunteers. By doing this, Saddam
tested his limits, and British and American forces did not
look the other direction."
SON OF A BUSH
in their litany of reasons for supporting what they grotesquely
call "the 'thank you' bombings on Iraq" does the phrase
"American interests" come into their argument: it's all
about Israel. "Saddam's attempt to make his attack an Arab-Israeli
issue cannot continue," they natter, when the obvious question
is: and why the h*ll not? After all, this escalation in
the bombing takes place against the backdrop of not one
but two major new leaders strutting onto the world stage.
The Arab world perhaps naively expected better
from that son of a Bush, but the really big change is the
ascension of Ariel Sharon. If America's protectorate in
the region is embarked on an expansionist course of building
"settlements" and expelling Arabs from their bulldozed homes,
on the one hand, and this is accompanied by the escalation
of the Anglo-American air war on Iraq, then blaming Saddam
for making this "an Arab-Israeli issue" seems disingenuous
and self-serving at best. It is US policymakers in both
parties who have framed the issues in these terms, in word
and deed, and it seems more than a little whiny to complain
about the leverage gained by the Iraqi leader on the Arab
"street since we are giving it to him.
COLUMNS, YESTERDAY AND TODAY
kind of America-last sentiment dominates the politics of
the Middle East. If it isn't the Brits bossing us around
it's no fun being "the indispensable nation"
then the Israelis are calling in all their chips, and plenty
more besides. They want Marc Rich and Jonathan Pollard,
Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and they won't take
no for an answer. It used to be that all the agents of a
foreign power were on the Left, with American supporters
of the Soviet Union wielding tremendous influence not only
in the media, and among intellectuals, but also in government,
as Harry Hopkins, Alger Hiss, and their comrades in the
Roosevelt administration literally thousands of them
penetrated the federal government and even the small
circle of FDR"s closest advisors. Today, with the Soviet
Union gone, the only kind of old-time fellow-traveling that
we see is something like Ted Turner's otherwise inexplicable
affection for Fidel Castro's Cuba. Aside from the dwindling
sandalista brigade, the only fifth columnists in
America today are all on the right side of the spectrum.
In the fast-developing religious war that seems about to
break out in the Middle East, the Washington Times,
the New York Post, the Weekly Standard crowd,
and the plethora of foreign policy-oriented thinktanks sponsored
by defense contractors and Republican fat-cats are already
lined up behind Israel. That's why it was so great to hear
Bob Novak on Meet the Press this [Sunday] morning,
giving poor little Bill Kristol the willies by asking the
unaskable: why not make a deal with Saddam? After all, it's
been 10 years, he said, and what're we getting out
HAIL BOB NOVAK!
preserve Novak, who is getting on in years, his graying
mane marking him as the old lion of the Right: not a neoconservative,
but a man of the Old Right who always put America first
and was always wise to the propaganda of fifth-columnists,
left and right. On Crossfire the other day,
was magnificent, shocking his guest, Richard Perle,
a leading interventionist who is now a senior fellow at
the American Enterprise Institute, with this blunt question:
"Why don't we take up the Iraqis on the willingness to negotiate,
and perhaps get out of this constant state of war that we
have been with them for all these years, these last 10 years?"
Novak cited the Iraqi foreign minister, Nizar Hamdoon,as
saying – even after the bombing – that "Iraq welcomes any
diplomatic approach, any meaningful approach that goes beyond
the bombing and use of force." Somewhat taken aback by this
peremptory challenge to the conventional wisdom, which posits
that the Iraqis are international untouchables, and certainly
unapproachable, Perle could only answer that Hamdoon should
be "ashamed of himself," because "He works for one of the
great thugs of 20th century, for a man who has used poison
gas against innocent civilians. He is part of a Mafia- style
administration." One of the "great thugs" of the century?
Really? Up there with Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and the Khmer
Rouge, who, together, killed multi-millions? Novak gave
him a skeptical look, all the while smiling sweetly. It
was a defining moment, with the whole program Ted
Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute facing off with Mr.
Perle dramatizing the stark contrast between the
Old Right and the neo-conservative Right on the question
of the Middle East, and foreign policy in general.
Perle segued into a whole riff about the glories of the
Iraqi National Congress, and how we should overthrow Saddam
by creating Iraqi "contras," so to speak, I kept waiting
for Carpenter to let him have it with the lowdown on INC
leader Ahmed Chalabi an ex-banker who is wanted
in Jordan for embezzling tens of millions of dollars
from his Petra Bank. A Jordanian court sentenced Chalabi
years in prison, and he has been on the lam ever since.
His latest victim is the US government, which is giving
a convicted embezzler and a fanatical pro-Iranian
Shi'ite Muslim, to boot $90 million-plus to play
around with. But it was Novak who really cut to the crux
of the matter, citing the Israeli-Saddam dichotomy noted
above and asking Perle:
this disconcerting from the standpoint of American foreign
policy that we are losing support in Islam, that the Muslim
countries are turning against us, that the recent murder
of Palestinian demonstrators by armed Israeli troops, again,
has increased an anti- American sentiment? Isn't that something
for an American foreign policy to worry about?"
does alienating not only the entire Arab world, but also
most of Europe, serve America's national self-interest?
This is a question that no one in the present administration
or the previous one can answer, nor have they
ever felt a need to address it. Since they are not answerable
to Congress, or to the people, when it comes to the conduct
of US foreign policy, they can afford to be as tightlipped
as they like. This is the one question that right-wing fifth
columnists of the Israel-first persuasion could never even
acknowledge, let alone answer. Perle's smooth evasion was
pure neocon-talk: the Arabs, he said, respect only power,
and they will "follow a winner." We have only to increase
the sadistic brutality of our relentless assault on the
Iraqis, and the rest of those spineless Arab butt-boys will
wallow in their own self-abnegation. Whatever the merits
of this repulsive view of life as one big S-&-M orgy,
if I were Perle, I wouldn't count on it. For someday
perhaps as a result of pure demographics, or due to the
power of accumulated resentment the two sides may
switch polarities, with M's turning into S's and Arabs persecuting
Israelis at which point we'll have to ask Mr. Perle
if the same principle of pure power applies.
contribution of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald
Radosh's out-of-print classic study of the Old Right conservatives,
Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics
of American Globalism. Send contributions to
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
Have an e-gold account?
Contribute to Antiwar.com via e-gold.
Our account number is 130325