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February 14, 2008

Europe: Divorce the US Military


by Neil Clark

Almost five years on from "Operation Iraqi Freedom," the neocon dreams of imperial conquest have hit the buffers. Despite the lies about the "surge" being a great success, Iraq remains in chaos: in the first week of February alone over 200 people have been killed in the violence. In Afghanistan the situation from the neocons' viewpoint, is even worse. "There is no doubt that armed resistance to foreign occupation is growing and spreading. NATO forces' own figures show that attacks on western and Afghan troops were up by almost a third last year, to more than 9,000 "significant actions," writes Seumas Milne in the Guardian.
The neocons had another setback late last year when the Joint Intelligence Report stated that there was no evidence that Iran was developing nuclear weapons – thus removing their favored casus belli for military aggression against the Islamic Republic.

Most normal people when faced with defeat and humiliation on such a monumental scale would admit the game is up and make their exit from the political arena. But neocons, as surely the whole world knows by now, are not normal people.

Five years ago, Donald Rumsfeld arrogantly stated that the US, would, if necessary, go it alone in Iraq and attacked "Old Europe" for its opposition to the illegal war. But now, the empire builders realize they urgently need European support. With its own military forces overstretched and its economy heading into recession, the US desperately needs the EU to fall into line, and for European troops to be sent – in their thousands – to die on the front line.

That's why Condoleezza Rice spent last week scurrying frantically around Europe's capitals.

The opposition of most of the EU to the Iraq war still irks the neocons and they are determined to do all they can to ensure that Europe's governments are much more pliant in the future.

The regime change last May in France, in which Jacques Chirac, who had opposed the Iraq war, was replaced by the staunch Atlanticist Nicolas Sarkozy was warmly welcomed in Washington. And Sarkozy's choice of the "liberal interventionist" and Bilderberger Bernard Kouchner as Foreign Minister could not have been more to the neocons' liking. Kouchner was the only prominent member of the French Socialist Party who supported the Iraq war. Elevation to the grandeur of Quai D'Orsay wasn't a bad reward for being proved wrong. Already a shift in French foreign policy can be seen, with Sarkozy taking a much more hawkish line on Iran and saying he would like France to return to NATO's military command. Charles De Gaulle must be turning in his grave.

Other recent elections in Europe have also gone the neocons' way. In Poland, the new government of Donald Tusk announced last week that it had agreed to the United States plans to install a missile defense system on Polish territory. The foreign minister in the Polish government and the man who announced the controversial decision, is Radek Sikorski, a former Executive Director of the "New Atlantic Initiative," a part of the notoriously neocon American Enterprise Institute. Sikorski is married to the über neoconservative Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, who once said that France and Germany would "risk being completely disqualified as serious members of the international community" when Iraq's WMDs turned up.

With Sikorski steering Poland's foreign policy we can expect the country to play an even more aggressive role in undermining the democratically elected socialist government in neighboring Belarus – a country where the US State Department would love to engineer a regime change. In his excellent new book The Last Soviet Republic, Stewart Parker chronicles the way Poland, with US backing, has interfered in the domestic political situation in its neighbor. Back in 2004, Sikorski himself opened a conference held in the offices of the American Enterprise Institute, entitled "Axis of Evil: Belarus – the Missing Link," which featured leaders of the Belarusian opposition and various US officials. Sikorski certainly hasn't wasted time in pleasing his former colleagues in Washington; in addition to announcing the missile shield agreement, he also said that Poland supported the expansion of NATO to include Georgia and Ukraine.

As welcome as recent developments in France and Poland are to the neocons, what the serial warmongers require most is to have control of the EU itself. Which is where a certain former British Prime Minister comes in.

The appointment of Tony Blair as President of the European Council, with extended powers in the sphere of defense and trade would be the culmination of the neocon dream: to fully neuter Europe as alternative source of global power. While the election of Sarkozy has already neutered France, traditionally the main European source of opposition to Pax Americana; the appointment of Blair as EU President would be the final piece of the jigsaw. But while Blair's appointment would be a dream come true for the Empire builders of the Project for the New American Century, for the rest of the world, it would be a nightmare, making European involvement in US illegal wars of aggression far more likely.

Will the neocons succeed in their aims?

Whether they do or not depends on us, the people of Europe. Already a pan-European petition has been launched to stop Blair from being EU President, it can be signed at the Stop Blair website. Of course, signing petitions on its own won't be enough. The people of Europe need to wake up to what's going on and withdraw their support from any leaders or political parties who favor closer military ties with Washington.

If the US neocons want more wars, let them do what Donald Rumsfeld boasted of five years ago, and fight them on their own. Europe, "Old" or "New," should have nothing whatsoever to do with them.

This piece first appeared in The Morning Star.

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Neil Clark is a British-based writer and broadcaster specializing in Middle Eastern and Balkan affairs.

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