be, the age of cynical Western interventionism may be past.
Yesterday saw the final election (or selection) of a new
United States President, George W. Bush. The event could
mean little or it could mean much. That is always the case
when an empire changes hands
Let us be optimistic."
Thus spoke Simon
Jenkins writing in the Times of London last week.
is a sensible fellow, and while his optimism is understandable
it may also be a little premature. To be sure, during the
campaign Bush went out of his way to avoid vacuous Albrightian
bombast: "Im not so sure the role of the United
States is to go around the world and say this is the
way its got to be. I think one way for us to
end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go
around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you."
have not heard refreshingly unimperial talk like this in
decades. Bush also called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops
from the Balkans. Yet when a spluttering Secretary-General
of NATO the fat and repulsive Lord Robertson intervened
outrageously in the election and confronted Bush about his
intentions in the Balkans, the Republican immediately backed
down. "NATO diplomats were left with the impression,"
The New York Times purred, "that, if he is elected,
Mr. Bush is prepared to move slowly on the issue of Balkan
peacekeeping to avoid any early political crises with NATO.
Specifically, Lord Robertson said he had been assured that
there will be no unilateral action taken in relation
to peacekeeping forces." Nor was it reassuring
that in his first major interview following the election,
on CBS 60 Minutes II, Bush declared "The
principal threat facing America is isolationism
cant go it alone."
Principal threat? "Isolationism" is a tired cliche,
long devoid of any real meaning. Its only purpose is to
silence critics of Americas imperial agenda.
Bush was sincere during the campaign or merely courting
the Buchananite vote matters very little now. Already he
is coming under enormous pressure from Washington think
tanks, Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal
types, the military-industrial complex, corporate lobbyists,
international aid organizations, and former government officials
now working as foreign agents to make sure U.S. foreign
policy remains as interventionist as ever. George W. wants
bipartisanship. He will not get it on tax cuts, privatizing
Social Security or education vouchers. But he could get
it on foreign policy. He can satisfy the "neoconservatives"
by bombing the "rogue states"; mainstream Republicans
by aggressively promoting U.S. commercial interests; and
liberals by championing "humanitarian intervention."
Rice, Bushs national security adviser, is a charming
and attractive woman. Colin Powell, the secretary of State,
is clearly no demented Madeleine Albright. Yet it is hard
to believe that either has the intellectual capability to
take on the likes of Paul Wolfowitz or Richard Perle, who
will most probably call the shots in a Bush administration.
Rice because she is, perhaps, too nice. Powell, because
his famous "doctrine" about using massive force,
getting involved only where national interests are at stake
and having an "exit strategy" says nothing about
what Americas "national interests" really
are. Powell has no idea. He is a military man who follows
and Perle, on the other hand, do have a pretty good idea.
America should be involved everywhere and at all times to
ensure its global hegemony. Wolfowitz heads the School of
Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
His most famous foreign policy contribution was the 1992
memorandum, written when he was undersecretary of policy
at the Pentagon, in which he argued that the United States
had to maintain global military supremacy "to thwart
the emergence of a rival superpower in Europe, Asia or the
former Soviet Union." The United States had to "establish
and protect a new order" to discourage "advanced
industrial nations" from "challenging our leadership"
while at the same time maintaining a military dominance
capable of "deterring potential competitors from even
aspiring to a larger regional or global role." He envisaged
going to war with Russia if it threatened Poland or the
Baltic states. Wolfowitzs belligerent, indeed nearly
insane, vision caused uproar and was swiftly withdrawn.
Wolfowitz has been nothing if not faithful to his beliefs
ever since. He was an early advocate of expanding NATO.
He frets obsessively about the rise of China. In a 1997
speech he likened China to Imperial Germany. He regularly
warns of the military threat posed by Iran. In May 1998
he and Richard Perle signed an open letter to Newt Gingrich
and Trent Lott calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Wolfowitz also urged the bombing of Serbia long before Clinton
got around to it.
agenda today will unquestionably be to thwart the emergence
of Europe as a world power rivaling the United States. Since
NATO serves no other purpose now than to ensure European
subordination to the U.S., the policy will be to prevent
the European rapid reaction force from getting off the ground.
will seek to frustrate Europe at every turn. Whose lead
will Bush follow? One clue: the Kosovo Albanians do not
seem worried about the change in Washington. Bujar Dugolli,
a member of the ruling council of the Alliance for the Future
of Kosovo (AAK), says: "The Americans have spent too
much money in Kosovo to pull out now." An AFP story
nicely adds: "The main U.S. military base in Kosovo,
Camp Bondsteel, is the largest constructed by the United
States since the Vietnam war. Contractors employed to build
some of its facilities told AFP they had been told it had
to last for at least 15 years."