Thursday, March 15, 2007

US An Imperial Power? Not Really...

Praful Bidwai is a prominent Indian columnist, pacifist, progressive, and noted critic of the United States. No one has beaten the drums of U.S. defeat in Iraq more loudly than Mr. Bidwai.
These critics don't see the disaster's root-cause: the US's project of Empire.

The US wagPublish Posted war on Iraq out of choice. It knew Iraq didn't possess mass-destruction weapons, nor was its government in league with al-Qaeda. The US wanted to bring about "regime change" and "instill some democracy in the heart of the Middle East" -- as part of Bush's Greater Middle East Initiative.
Yes, the invasion and occupation of Iraq is about establishing empire, as Mr. Bidwai writes. And, yes, the claims about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction and links to al-Qaeda were all fabrications to make it easier to release the hounds of war. But if this is true, then why is the United States so bad at building and maintaining empires?

The only reason I can gather is that the United States is neither harsh nor brutal enough to crush the insurgency and subdue a hostile populace. A competent colonial power rewards with one hand and punishes with the other. The United States is doing neither well.
Washington's core-objectives were to secure access to West Asia's energy resources, promote Israel's security, establish its global hegemony, and reduce the global spread of terrorism.
The reasons listed above are boilerplate, wielded by leftists like Mr. Bidwai when sanity leaves them. It’s very cynical, I suppose, to say that the primary reason the United States invaded Iraq was to take the country oil—all of it. Is it not more cynical, not to mention easier, for the United States just to keep Saddam Hussein in power and buy the oil directly sans occupation and the death and misery it brings?

Invade Iraq to protect Israel? A red herring, I say. Since when did Israel ever need protection from Iraq? Israel is quite capable of not only defending itself, but, if necessary, striking Iraq (like in the 1981 attack on its nuclear weapon program) at will. And aside from a few harmless Scud missiles launched during the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq has yet to lay a hand on her.

Is the United States a hegemonic power? That’s laughable. Perhaps in the cultural and economic spheres, but as I explained earlier, the United States is an inept imperial power, second-rate to England, France, Germany, Russia, China, etc.

And what is wrong with trying to stamp out global terrorism? How is this considered imperialism? It’s stupid thing to say; and hardly worthy of comment.
All of these stand defeated. The US achieved what an Egyptian described as "a miracle:" "It has made people regret the downfall of Saddam's regime."
This is one of the refrains used by leftists—many of whom, it seems, have a soft spot for populist dictators like Chavez, Castro, Mugabe—that Saddam Hussein wasn’t all that bad of a guy. He was, after all, secular and progressive. He was also a blood-thirsty, autocratic thug who ruled through fear and violence, not love and compassion.

Mr. Bidwai should talk to the Kurds in the north and the Shias in the south (who make up a clear majority in Iraq) about how much they miss Saddam Hussein (they don’t). The only people who miss Saddam Hussein are the Sunni minority who benefited from the regime’s largesse. If one must be brutally frank, in the historical sense, the Sunnis are getting their comeuppance (this is what much of the sectarian violence is about—revenge). Regardless of what the polling data may say now, most Iraqis are happy to see Saddam go, but they are very unhappy about the occupation.

Mr. Bidwai finishes his column in typical fashion, with abstractions:
It's in humanity's interest that jehadi forces don't gain. That will only produce more violence and insecurity -- and eventually, assaults on human rights and democracy. However, the way the US is acting will ensure precisely that outcome.

The US must be dissuaded from this catastrophic course. This poses a challenge before the global peace movement and progressive political forces.
These aren’t concrete solutions just nonsensical sayings of a dreamer. It seems, even among the left, there is a paucity of ideas.

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