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US foreign policy on Iraq, part 2
Article added on March 26, 2003
 
As for the 2003 intervention in Iraq, if it is a first step in the democratic reshaping of the Middle East, as President Bush claims, it is more than welcome, it is overdue. And even if it will begin and end with Iraq, it is a positive sign. One dictator less is always a step in the right direction.
 
The absence of an intervention in Iraq would have sent a terrible sign to the rest of the world's dictators: If you are ruthless enough, you can do whatever you like, regardless of what the UN thinks about your actions. However, a lot depends on how the war will be conducted. Saddam Hussein's strategy seems to be to concentrate on the defense of Baghdad with the help of his Republican Guards as well as with parts of his army that will be loyal to the bitter end. The result could be heavy civilian casualties in Iraq's capital. This could undermine the positive radiation of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous post-Saddam Iraq on the Arab world. Unlike the early 1990s, this war is likely to be fought in the cities and not in the desert. In a worst case scenario, huge civilian and military casualties could even force the US- and UK-led forces to renounce the conquest of Baghdad, leaving Saddam Hussein in power.
 
In order to change the Middle East durably, it will also be necessary to put pressure on Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt to become democratic states, install the rule of law and liberalize their economies. Israel should be pushed to stop treating its non-Jewish inhabitants as second-grade citizens and, above all, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon should be "firmly encouraged" to play a constructive role in the construction of a democratic Palestinian state. Bush has already announced that after the installment of a Palestinian prime minister with "real authority", he will publish a "road map" to a Middle East peace settlement. Bush also called for an end to settlement activity in the "occupied territories".
 
Not only in the context of the war against Iraq, Bush's constant references to God and the Bible as well as the traditional last word's of his speeches, "God save America", are inappropriate. God has nothing to do with America, the American people or George W. Bush, his government and his government's action. The US are a secular democracy. God and earthly matters must be separated. There are (Christian) fundamentalists in the US too. So do not feed them.
 
As for as US American foreign policy on Afghanistan is concerned, the war against the Taliban regime was more than overdue. As the regime mistreated its women and began to destroy ancient monuments, where were all these millions of demonstrators who stand up today against the war against Saddam Hussein?

By the way, what about the Russian war in Chechnya with its constant war crimes? And there are far more than a dozen bloody wars and conflicts going on any time. The peace movement has quite a selective perception.
 
Regarding Afghanistan, the US administration does not look good either since intervention came only after 9/11. Only after US interests were at stake, US security was endangered, the Bush administration took action. Europeans are always good for "good advice", but when it come to taking action, they get scarce.
 
A look back on US American foreign policy shows, as the Financial Times recently remembered, that as late as October 1941, only 17% of US voters favored declaring war in Germany in the Second World War. It took Pearl Harbor and Hitler's declaration of war for America to enter the war against Japan and Germany. One could also add that the Western Allies did not fight Hitler in order to save Europe from oppression or Jews and others from persecution and later extermination. The US entered the war in order to defend American interests, ultimately to assure their own survival as a nation. Our contemporary attitude towards the Taliban regime in Afghanistan shows that we do not seem to have learned anything since then.

A look at the big picture shows that American foreign policy has saved the world more than once from tyranny and oppression. For example, the power of the United States was decisive for the outcome of the First World War, the Second World War and the Cold War. Otherwise, most of Europe and probably most of the entire world would be under Communist, Fascist or National-Socialist rule. In particular, the durable military presence and the economic aid in rebuilding Germany and Japan helped today's third and second largest economies to flourish again and become members of the democratic world.
 
However, the blunders and miscalculations of US foreign policy are impressive too. After the First World War, President Wilson could not implement his vision for a durable and peaceful future because he was ill and the US Congress refused to support and implement his plan. Consequently, the French took a lead role in establishing extremely severe peace conditions for Germany and other states. This was one of several factors which led to the Second World War, in which US and especially British aircrafts bombed many German towns to the ground, without any military necessity. Furthermore, the US dropped two nuclear bombs, one on Hiroshima and one on Nagasaki. Again, the civilian population suffered terribly. These are clearly inexcusable war crimes.
 
To help one dictator in order to get rid of another is not very wise. The strategic alliance of the Western Allies with the Soviet Union in WWII left not only Stalin in place but led to the Communist domination of Eastern Europe for half a century. Quite a prize to pay. This was a pact with the devil - Stalin is, together with Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and maybe a few others, the worst criminal of the 20th century.
 
The list of US war crimes also includes the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. There have been suspicious actions undertaken by the CIA and other US agencies. Furthermore, for "strategic reasons", the United States has often supported disgusting dictators and corrupt regimes militarily, diplomatically and economically. Democracy, the rule of law, human rights and economic liberalism have not always been top priorities of US foreign policy.
 
For instance, the US secret services such as the NSA and the CIA had in total some $50 billion at their disposal in 2001. The results they delivered seem meager in comparison with the engaged financial resources. Since the US secret services employ tens of thousands people, there are undemocratic, unscrupulous, dangerous and criminal elements among them. There is too much money around for people who partly work out of any (democratic) control.
 
The 2003 military budget of the US sets a record of $377 billion, not included the $75 billion in extra funding Bush asked Congress for so far for the Iraq campaign and the reconstruction effort for the fiscal year 2003. If "only" $50 billion of this money was spent on alternative energies, within two decades, oil could become a minor problem. Anyway, we need to look for alternative energy resources now, with or without Saddam.
 
Considering the huge military budget, one also wonders how it was possible that the Pentagon could not defend itself on 9/11. After the twin towers had already been hit, the Pentagon surely was on high alert.
 
Economically, there could also be a degree of military overstretch. Both the US citizens and the US federal government live on credit. With the Iraq campaign included, the 2003 budget deficit is expected to reach 3.8% of US GDP. In March 2003, consumer confidence (as measured by the leading index established by the University of Michigan) fell to its lowest level since October 1992. Just as a reminder, the US economy is driven by US private consumption. Bush's unconvincing domestic agenda includes huge spending programs and enormous tax cuts (slashed in half by the Republican dominated Congress on March 25, but still substantial). If consumer spending shrinks, the recession is prolonged and Bush junior maybe soon out of office.
 
All this criticism is not Anti-Americanism, but it should remind us that US American foreign policy is not a bright story, just because it was central to the defeat of Communism, Fascism, Nazism and Taliban-like regimes. It should remind us not to repeat the crimes of our enemies in order to install democracy and the rule of law.

In other words, the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq are, as far we can see so far, no new "Vietnams", but overdue actions in which the entire "civilized" world should have participated. In the case of Iraq, US American foreign policy has not worked effectively to build up a broad coalition against a bloody dictator. The American selfish, interest-centered attitude and the idea of "if you are not with us you are against us" by George W. Bush and his government, especially by "the living diplomatic nightmare" called Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld, have not been very helpful; his British counterpart, Geoffrey William Hoon, is not better: he did not exclude the use of nuclear arms by the UK until Blair brought him back to reason. American coalition building may have been a disaster, but is nothing in comparison with what German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac have done. Click here for part 1: US American foreign policy on Iraq.
 
Check the article on European foreign policy on Iraq for complementary information.



Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages


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 © www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber All rights reserved.