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The policies of the US in the Middle East in the last 35 years (and in many other places like Latin America) have had a very peculiar consistency: military occupation, terror, authoritarian regimes and means of mass destruction are all legitimate when they support US interests, and they are illegitimate and dangerous when they contradict them.
"Espania e Inglaterra y tambien Portugal,
y ahora es a los Yanquis que les toca actuar"
(Jorge Salerno y Daniel Viglietti)
"Spain, England, and Portugal too,
And now it is the time of the Yankees to act"
These lyrics from a song of my childhood in Argentina came to my memory while watching the press conference of the "new quartet" in the Azores Islands. It was pathetic to see the three old Imperial powers that invaded and colonized the Americas offering their support to the "new" Imperial power in its rush to occupy Iraq. All of them have an impressive track record of fighting Indians, taking their lands, and humiliating and subjugating them. As expected from an Imperial power, the occupation of Iraq is presented as a "war of salvation". The US will save the suffering people of Iraq for their own sake; the Iraqis will be liberated from the hands of a sanguineous ruler. The war will bring prosperity, economic development, freedom and democracy. If, by accident, thousands of Iraqis are killed, orphaned and widowed in the process, it is not the fault of the occupier, but of the occupied. If the Iraqi people receive the Imperial forces with rice and roses they will save themselves. However, if they oppose the invasion they will be killed, and blamed for their death, just like the Indians. If American and English (or multi-national) corporations would make some profits from the occupation, it is not because this is their original intention, but rather because their investment is necessary to help underdeveloped countries. If economic prosperity, freedom and democracy fail to materialize, it is always due to the incapacity of the local peoples. Be that as it may, the one thing we can be assured of is that the new dictator will be a friend of the United States.
Empires have always had very good reasons to invade "primitive and under-developed" peoples, and they always do so for very honorable goals. These goals, which are never achieved, are not intended to convince the occupied peoples (they will be more effectively convinced by tanks and missiles), but rather to convince their own citizens back home, who must believe in the cause of war in order to be ready to kill and be killed.
Why, then, do we need this dramatic declaration of four "leaders of the world" in the Azure Islands? The New Imperial power has a problem, which the Old ones didn’t have in the past. Bush is operating in very unfavorable times: these are days of open information, freedom of speech and organization. The global village, which the US helped to create, has transformed the invasion of Iraq into a global public issue, so that the arguments must convince a very critical public opinion, which cannot be easily manipulated.
In one year and a half, President Bush has managed to waste all the generous credit that he got from the whole world since September 11. The global sympathy and support that the US was granted referred to a very specific issue: the struggle against Bin Laden and global terror. From the moment that he failed to capture Bin Laden in Afghanistan, Bush has to convince the world that US Imperialist goals in the Middle East were identical to the war against terror. Instead of mobilizing the world to wage a coordinated war against terror, Bush’s actions have evoked the feeling that American Imperialist policies in the Middle East are dangerous; that they provoke terror and should be stopped.
It began with the first steps taken in Afghanistan. It quickly surfaced that the US has been deeply involved in the past in the internal wars in Afghanistan. They have supported the Taliban movement’s takeover, and they also trained Bin Laden. Later on, the world learned about the US relations with Saddam Hussein. Indeed, he had used chemical weapons in the past, but the US has also supplied him with weapons of mass destruction when the American administration was sympathetic to Saddam’s war against the Iranian regime. Indeed, Saddam is a dictator; the US, however, has never demanded from pro-American regimes to democratize, as it did in Eastern Europe, for example. The reason is simple: democracy may produce anti-American regimes (see for example the limited democracies in Algeria, Iran and Turkey). This is the reason that all the arguments up to now have failed to convince the global public opinion that the US has a legitimate case against Iraq: Terror, means of mass destruction and dictatorship have been legitimate, as long as the US has promoted them.
In the Azure Islands press conference, the Imperial leaders added the final ingredient to the supporting-war propaganda: an independent and viable Palestinian State will be established after the war. The question is who prevented President Bush from forcing Sharon out of the Palestinian areas until now? Why has the US supported the Israeli occupation, financed it, and supplied military equipment and a diplomatic umbrella that facilitated the violation of all UN resolutions during the last 35 years? Why should the Palestinian State be established only AFTER the war on Iraq and not before? In order to uncover the manipulative magnitude of the Palestinian State promises, one only needs to notice the reactions of the most extreme right wing Ministers in the Israeli government, and their enthusiastic welcome of Bush’s road map. It is clear to every kid in the Middle East that this is the road map to the occupation of Iraq, not to the dismantling of the Israeli occupation.
The policies of the US in the Middle East in the last 35 years (and in many other places like Latin America) have had a very peculiar consistency: military occupation, terror, authoritarian regimes and means of mass destruction are all legitimate when they support US interests, and they are illegitimate and dangerous when they contradict them. Now the Imperial power is striking again, without the UN approval and against the international public opinion. Like in my childhood song, still it’s the time of the Yankees.
Copyright L Grinberg 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .