all fairness one has to say that Condolezza is a lot more
agreeable to look at than Madeleine Albright. And she seems
to be a much nicer person no great feat to be sure
than the hideous harridan. But that is where the differences
end. In every other respect Rice and Albright are two peas
in a pod. Rice is full of classic, vapid Clintonisms like
"history marches towards markets and democracy."
This hackneyed piece of eschatology which we owe to
that towering genius Francis Fukuyama serves the same
purpose that the Marxist variant once did. When rulers find
that "history" is not marching quite fast enough,
they give it a good shove. The Clinton Administration has,
of course, been doing plenty of shoving over the last seven
years. From terror-bombing in the Balkans to the forced removal
of Indonesia’s President Suharto to the slow annihilation
of the Iraqis the US has been spreading havoc with the sublime
self-assurance of one who believes he walks with God.
we expect the same from George
W. Bush? Yes. Ominously, Condolezza starts off by trotting
out that most tired of cliches: the image of the diffident,
naïve, "Aw Shucks" America. Under a Bush Administration,
she implies, there will be no more Mr. Nice Guy. "Many
in the United States," she announces, "are…uncomfortable
with the notions of power politics….In an extreme form, this
discomfort leads to a reflexive appeal instead to notions
of international law and norms, and the belief that the support
of many states or even better, of institutions like
the United Nations is essential to the legitimate exercise
of power. The ‘national interest’ is replaced with ‘humanitarian
interests’ or the interests of ‘the international community’.
The belief that the United States is exercising power legitimately
only when it is doing so on behalf of someone or something
else was deeply rooted in Wilsonian thought, and there are
strong echoes of it in the Clinton administration."
no one in the world not in Europe, not in Asia, not in Africa,
nowhere believes that the United States is an altruistic power.
No one believes that the United States will ever allow itself
to be restrained by the wishes of the United Nations or by
the exigencies of international law. The United States is
the leading power in the world today. It did not get there
by altruism. Every imperial power in history has used force,
aggression, conquest, deviousness, terror and chicanery to
get to the top. The United States is no different. Look at
the Second World War! There is the fairy-tale we tell the
children: The United States woke out of its isolationist slumbers,
realized what needed to be done and went off to crush Hitler
and bring freedom and democracy to a benighted world. The
truth is otherwise. The United States watched Britain, France,
Russia and Germany exhaust themselves before stepping in to
pick up the winnings. Throughout the war years the United
Sates was at least as determined to liquidate the European
empires as it was to defeat Nazi Germany.
for the "humanitarian interventions," what does
she mean? The devastation of the Balkans? The Clinton crowd
rejected one peace plan after another for Bosnia. They egged
on the Moslems, secured arms for them from Iran and masterminded
the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina and western Bosnia. Does
Rice mean Kosovo? It takes a truly fatuous mind to call the
horrific ten-week bombing campaign last year as "humanitarian."
In fact, the only US intervention anywhere that might be called
"humanitarian" was President Bush’s 1992 mission
to distribute food in Somalia. Rice was working for George
Bush at the time. (She does not mention surprise her former
boss’s little caper.)
fact, Rice has no problems at all with any of Clinton’s interventions.
The only thing she whines about is that the US may not have
enough force at its disposal to put everyone in his place.
It is "unwise to multiply missions in the face of continuing
budget reduction," she pontificates. When George W. Bush
takes over "military readiness will…take center stage…new
weapons will have to be procured in order to give the military
the capacity to carry out today’s missions." Great! And
what are these missions (as if we do not already know)? Well,
there is Kosovo. Kosovo, she explains using terms that reveal
the bottomless mediocrity of her intellect, "was in the
backyard of America’s most important strategic alliance: NATO….
Slobodan Milosevic’s rejection of peaceful coexistence with
the Kosovar Albanians threatened to rock the area’s fragile
ethnic balance…the United States had an overriding strategic
interest in stopping him." Condolezza would have let
fly as eagerly as Albright. That’s good to know. Rice appears
to be happily oblivious to the painful and humiliating agreements
that Milosevic accepted so as to avoid the bombing he knew
America was bent on. The October 1998 deal with Richard Holbrooke
provided for Serbia’s withdrawal from Kosovo and the introduction
of 2000 OSCE observers. The KLA seized the opportunity to
step up its offensive which is exactly what the US
wanted it to do. Rice proffers the usual dreary litany of
complaints about Clinton’s Kosovo policy: The "Administration’s
political goals kept shifting"; it was not ready for
a "decisive use of military force"; there is no
"political game plan that will permit the withdrawal
of our forces." Meaningless verbiage piles up on meaningless
verbiage. I wonder George W. Bush’s "game plan"
is. Create a Greater Albania? Assassinate Milosevic? Invade
Serbia? Exterminate the Serbs?
do not doubt he will do what Clinton would do were he to serve
another term bomb Serbia for refusing to give independence
to the Montenegrins, whether they want it or not. As Rice
drones on, she sounds indistinguishable from Strobe Talbott,
Lawrence Summers, Richard Holbrooke and the rest of the Clinton
crowd. She is wholeheartedly in favor of further NATO expansion:
"The door to NATO for the remaining states of eastern
and central Europe should remain open." She is concerned
about the European Security and Defense Identity, because
it might horror! undermine US leadership: "The United
States has an interest in shaping the European defense identity welcoming
a greater European military capability as long as it is within
the context of NATO."
for China, it is "a potential threat to stability to
in the Asia-Pacific region….China will do what it can to enhance
its position, whether by stealing nuclear secrets or by trying
to intimidate Taiwan." What is wrong with China enhancing
its position? Why is that a threat to "stability"
unless the US chooses to make it so? Oh and did China "steal"
nuclear secrets? Where is the evidence? Russia too is a threat.
"Moscow is determined to assert itself in the world,"
she argues, "and often does so in ways that are at once
haphazard and threatening to America’s interests." Like
the Albrights and Talbotts she wants to create US satellites
in the Caucasus. She talks of the "vulnerability of the
small, new states around Russia and of America’s interest
in their independence."
W. Bush’s agenda will be the familiar one of bombing, deterring,
containing, punishing, lecturing, impoverishing. China has
to be stopped from becoming a regional hegemon. Japan must
be used to contain China but must subordinate its military
to the US. Japan must get its economic house in order adopt
American-style capitalism in other words. Russia must stop
trying to keep its Federation together. Europeans must stop
trying to build up an independent military capability. Saddam
Hussein must be overthrown. Iran must be contained. And so
and so on.
an interview published by Stanford University last year Rice
explained her vision: "First, we need to make certain
that the international system remains stable and secure from
a military point of view so that no hegemon can rise to threaten
stability. Second, we should promote an open international
economic system, including trade and the development of markets.
And third, we should work to extend and expand the values
that really do support democracy whether they be human
rights or political rights and to try to promote their
spread." This is an imperial agenda. It is the delusion
of all imperial powers that they will enjoy world hegemony
for ever. It is the conceit of all imperial powers that, unlike
any of their predecessors, they are motivated by high-minded
idealism. The American empire will suffer the same fate as
the empires of Napoleon, Hitler and Caesar. Power and dominance
for their own sake offers few attractions to others. And the
invocation of "values" to justify imperial rule
serves only to infuriate those upon whom these blessings are
to be bestowed.