Friday, February 1, 2002

                                        by Srdja Trifkovic

It is impossible for contemporaries to predict with certainty how
current affairs will translate into history, but I venture to assert
that President Bush's first State of the Union address was a historic
occasion. For the first time we have been presented with the ideological
basis and fully developed self-referential framework for the policy of
permanent global interventionism. The full implications of his words are
startling, so let us review the key points of the speech itself before
examining its repercussions.

1.  In addition to "ridding the world of thousands of terrorists"-whose
leaders "urged followers to sacrifice their lives [but] are running for
their own"-in Afghanistan the U.S. had "saved a people from starvation
and freed a country from brutal oppression. [T]he mothers and daughters
of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working
or going to school. Today women are free, and are part of Afghanistan's
new government. Our progress is a tribute to the spirit of the Afghan
people, to the resolve of our coalition and to the might of the United
States military."

2. The President was vague on the estimated number of terrorists still
at large after Afghanistan, multiplying it tenfold from one sentence to
another, but either way, "far from ending there, our war against terror
is only beginning" and it will encompass the whole world: "Thousands of
dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by
outlaw regimes, are now spread throughout the world like ticking time
bombs, set to go off without warning. tens of thousands of trained
terrorists are still at large [emphasis added]. These enemies view the
entire world as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they
are." In the meantime "freedom is at risk and America and our allies
must not, and will not, allow it."

3. The struggle also applies to "regimes who seek chemical, biological
or nuclear weapons" and "at least a dozen countries" that offer refuge
to "a terrorist underworld." Three countries in particular are
"threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass
destruction," North Korea, Iran, and Iraq: "States like these, and their
terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the
peace of the world."

4. America welcomes friends and allies in this endeavor, "but some
governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake
about it: If they do not act, America will."

5. To handle the threat we must not only "develop and deploy effective
missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack."

6. In addition the U.S. will preempt the threat. Mr. Bush "will not wait
on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws
closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the
world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most
destructive weapons. Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only
begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch, yet it must be
and it will be waged on our


7. This task is transcedentally ordained: "History has called America
and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our
privilege to fight freedom's fight."

8. All this will require huge sums of money, more than anything spent
during the Cold War: "It costs a lot to fight this war. We have spent
more than a billion dollars a month-over $30 million a day-and we must
be prepared for future operations. My budget includes the largest
increase in defense spending in two decades, because while the price of
freedom and security is high, it is never too high. Whatever it costs to
defend our country, we will pay."

9. As government works to better secure our homeland, "America will
continue to depend on the eyes and ears of alert citizens. We want to be
a Nation that serves goals larger than self. We have been offered a
unique opportunity, and we must not let this moment pass. My call
tonight is for every American to commit at least two years, 4,000 hours
over the rest of your lifetime, to the service of your neighbors and
your nation. I invite you to join the new USA Freedom Corps. One purpose
of the USA Freedom Corps will be homeland security. America needs
citizens to extend the compassion of our country to every part of the

10. America seeks "a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror"
and it will "lead by defending liberty and justice because they are
right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere. No nation owns
these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We have no
intention of imposing our culture-but America will always stand firm for
the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law, limits on
the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free
speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance.

11. The "real" Islam is an ally in this bold endeavor: "Let the skeptics
look to Islam's own rich history-with its centuries of learning, and
tolerance, and progress."

12. All of the above is based on a deeper understanding of the world and
our purpose in it: "We've come to know truths that we will never
question: Evil is real, and it must be opposed. Rarely has the world
faced a choice more clear or consequential."

What does all this mean? Let us address these eleven points one by one.

1. So Afghanistan has been saved from starvation and brutal oppression,
and its women are free to venture out of their homes and attend schools.

None of this was among the originally stated objectives of the military
operation in Afghanistan -reasonably clearly defined, rational, and
focused on Osama Bin Laden, his network, and their Taliban
hosts-objectives that we at The Rockford Institute cautiously supported.
Cautiously, because we always suspected that a megalomaniac
mission-creep would turn the whole thing into another exercise in
Benevolent Global Hegemony. Now we know that our misgivings were
justified. The original goals have been retrospectively blended with the
mission of bringing democracy, progress, and human rights to the
oppressed people of that country. The embarrassing failure to capture or
track Bin Laden, his key aides, and their leading Taliban allies, is now
covered up by the allegedly splendid results of America's role-not
announced at the beginning of the Afghan mission-as the social worker
and empowerer to the world. It was possible to support that mission in
the name of hardheaded, Jacksonian realism, and this writer ahs
reluctantly done so. Belatedly we are told that globalist-missionary
impulses-the legacy of Woodrow Wilson-have been a key ingredient all
along. We remain adamant that a realistic attachment to the national
interest-the art of the diplomatically possible - has the potential to
realize moral purposes, while the mantle of "morality" leads to the
moral collapse of Western and American values that we have witnessed
with the interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo.

2. By frivolously throwing vastly different-and neatly rounded-figures
at his audience the President has implicitly made it clear that the
actual numbers no longer matter. This is no longer a war against a
clearly defined threat caused by a fairly clearly defined number of
actual or potential adversaries willing to do us harm. The "Terror" in
the War on Terror has been transformed into an ontological category, and
therefore it is no longer amenable to mere quantification. Thousands or
tens of thousands (or
both) today, why not hundreds of thousands, or even millions, tomorrow?
The casual reference to "thousands of killers," by the way, suggests
that at least as many thousands of terrorist murders have been carried
out by those devils. We know that 19 killers caused the carnage on
September 11; where are the rest of the victims of those "killers"? Or
should they

have been called "potential killers," if their training has not been
tested in practice as yet? All this is not to suggest that the threat
does not exist, or that it is not serious enough to warrant our
undivided attention. What we object to is the treatment of the problem
as if it were some metaphysical category, where measurable parameters
give way to nebulae, and "terrorism" joins "want," "racism," "injustice"
etc. in the repertoire of ills that will never be eradicated-for the
devil never gives up-but nevertheless must be fought, eternally, with
vast bureaucracies and tons of money.

3. As for the "axis of evil," the focus is in reality somewhat different
for each of the three named suspects. North Korea was included to
justify the unnecessary and harmful missile defense program. Iraq had
always been the intended next target for the trigger-happy duet
Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz and their think-tank cohorts Within days of September
11 Paul Wolfowitz had argued that even if Iraq wasn't involved it simply
did not matter: this was a good time to settle the score with Saddam
once and for all. In a letter to Bush on September 20 Bill Kristol and
two-dozen neocon leading

lights (including Perle, Kagan, Charles Krauthammer, Martin Peretz, and
Norman Podhoretz) argued that "even if evidence does not link Iraq
directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of
terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove
Saddam Hussein from power," and warning that "failure to undertake such
an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the
war on international terrorism." So, while Iraq had always been an
intended target, the inclusion of Iran in the "axis" is unexpected, and
represents-prima facie-a major and extremely dangerous victory for the
neoconservative cabal that thinks if Osama Bin Laden did not exist he
should be invented. Dangerous because a simultaneous campaign against
both Iraq AND Iran can be desired only by those who want to turn
America's current "passionate attachment" in the Middle East into a
permanent and irrevocable alliance that must not be subjected to
critical scrutiny. They want America to initiate an all-out war with all
of the enemies of its "only reliable ally in the region," whether they
be real, potential, or imagined, regardless of whether this is in the
interest of the United States to do so. It is almost unbelievable that
Mr. Bush has accepted their arguments for a simultaneous massive
confrontation with a regional power par excellence-Iran-as well as a
huge chunk of the Arab world, a confrontation that probably cannot stop
short of nuclear exchanges and, ultimately, of terrorist attacks on
America, that would make September 11 look like Bull Run to Antietam.
Contrary to this disastrous course, by rejecting the permanent bias in
Middle Eastern affairs that breeds anti-Americanism and Islamic
fundamentalism the United States would contribute to its own safety. We
need a stable peace in the Middle East that should be based on an
even-handed treatment of the conflicting parties' claims and
aspirations. There are problems that may not have a solution and the
desirability of any possible solution must be assessed from the point of
clearly defined American geopolitical, economic, and diplomatic

4. That "some governments will be timid in the face of terror" is
inevitable, but their precise reactions undoubtedly will have a lot to
do with the definition of "terror" and the selection of measures to be
used against it. There is no doubt that, if the logic of the "axis of
evil" is applied and Iraq is attacked, America's remaining Arab friends
will display extreme timidity. In some of them timidity may turn to
hostility, including above all Egypt-the most populous and arguably most
important Arab country-but also Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, not to
mention the non-Arab "allies"

such as Pakistan. Should those guilty of timidity also fear armed
retribution in view of the President's warning: "And make no mistake
about it: If they do not act, America will"? What will the Government of
the United States do if the "timidity" about starting an all-out War of
Civilizations spreads to our European allies, who have already expressed
amazement at the implications of Mr. Bush's speech? We suspect that
Osama Bin Laden's real objective all along has been such cataclysmic war
that can only benefit those who desire the destruction of the remnants
of our race and culture. Speaking in Florida last Thursday (January 31)
the President said of the "axis of evil" that "our intention is to hold

accountable"-and "the rest of the world needs to be with us, because
these weapons can be pointed at them as easily as at us, and we cannot
let terror and evil blackmail the United States or any other freedom
loving country." A senior official said Bush "has put the world on
notice and we expect that the world will take notice." Undoubtedly so;
but that may not be the kind of notice we want.

5. The logic of justifying the missile defense project by September 11
has never been explained. On that day death came to ordinary Americans
not by means of an ICBM but by a more prosaic route, and the real and
present threat that remains with us all does not include a rogue
missile. The next attack may well be biological or chemical rather than
nuclear, and even if it is nuclear the method of delivery will be a
smuggled suitcase rather than a ballistic missile. Even a megaton device
could be activated on a freighter sailing under the Verazzano or Golden
Gate Bridge. Missile defense will cost trillions that can be far more
usefully deployed in making America's frontiers, coasts and ports of
entry impenetrable to all illegal entrants, regardless of race, creed or
national origin.

6. and 7. The belief that one is on the right side of "history" is one
of the most dangerous delusions in history. This historicist fallacy has
bred not only Gnostic ideologies that murder millions of those who are
deemed to be on the "wrong" side of history-foreigners as well as their
own citizens-but also results in the inevitable destruction of the
over-expanded, over-extended bearer of the divinely appointed task. The
symptoms of imperial over-reach are already present in the case of the
States: Can we permanently guarantee Israel's security (regardless of
what it does to its neighbors), bring Arafat back to the table or else
get rid of him, teach North Korea, Iraq and Iran a lesson they'll never
forget (provided that they live long enough to remember anything),
maintain "friendly" regimes in the Muslim world in power while this
carnage proceeds, guarantee the "security" of the Chinese province of
Taiwan against the most populous country in the world, prop up Turkey,
keep Bosnia safe for the local Muslims while telling them not to play
hosts to terrorists, occupy Kosovo for the benefit of the Albanian
dope-smuggling pimps, build a space shield to ward off rogue missiles,
surround Russia with an ever expanding NATO, keep India and Pakistan
from a nuclear shootout, destroy Colombian drug lords, protect the
porous Rio Grande border, control Internet messages and guns and phone
calls at home, and stop the nosedive of the economy? The question makes
the answer superfluous. We cannot pay the price of the new Imperium,
even if it was worth paying.

9. The shock of September 11 was a painful opportunity for America to
rediscover a world in which it will be secure and free, and will not
threaten security and freedom of others. These goals are inseparable
from the preservation of our identity and our liberty at home. Unless
the government defines foreign policy strategies founded upon the notion
of America as a real, completed nation, a state with definable national
interests that

ought to be the foundation of its diplomacy, it is not possible to
reanimate civil activism based on the healthy assumptions of a genuine
community, a shared polity. We are all in favor of citizens
participating in the effort to protect the nation at home and present
its best image abroad, but this can be done properly only if the
participants in this endeavor are imbued with "enlightened nationalism"
based upon the Golden

Rule, in line with our Constitution and in accordance with the wishes of
most ordinary Americans. But instead of a new Golden Age of republican
virtue and self-sufficiency that is still possible and desirable, we are
offered "citizen participation" of the kind we've seen all too often in
20th century Europe, where ideological assumptions of the ruling
establishment are not only beyond critique or reproach but where any
doubt is in itself evidence of bad faith.

10. If "America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of
human dignity: the rule of law, limits on the power of the state,
respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice, and
religious tolerance," we shall have permanent war for permanent peace
that will not be limited by time or geography. It is light years away
from candidate Bush's response in the second debate with Al Gore
(October 2000), when he warned the Vice President that it is not
America's role to patrol the planet and arrange other peoples' lives in
its own image:

      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.
      The United States must be humble and must be proud and confident
of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring
      out how to chart their own course.

This was, we still hope, the "real" Dubya, positively a breath of fresh
air after Mrs. Albright's triumphalist ravings about the "Indispensable
Nation." Another ray of hope was Bush's pledge, made shortly after he
was nominated, to order a review of America's foreign commitments, and
his promise to "scrutinize open-ended deployments, reassess U.S. goals,
and ascertain whether they can be met." But his present apostasy was
made possible by the fact that Bush's guiding principles, insofar as
they exist, are contradictory, and not strong enough (as it turns out)
against pressures from hegemonists.

11. Bush may be disingenuous here, rather than seriously deluded-we
certainly hope the former is the case-because Islam as such, and not
some allegedly aberrant form of it, is the main identifiable threat to
America's global security in the coming century, and, in the longer
term, to the survival of our civilization.

12. By postulating America as the epitome of all that is good, and those
who wish it ill as the incarnation of evil, and by telling the rest of
the world that the choice is clear and must be made, the President is
effectively precluding any meaningful debate about the correlation
between U.S. foreign policies and terrorism. He refuses to acknowledge
even the possibility that this country was a target, and others were
not, because of what it does around the world (and most notably in the
Middle East), whether we believe that to be good or bad. To deal with
the terrorist threat effectively and on the basis of consensual
leadership, the United States should discard the pernicious notion of
its "exceptionalism"-reflected in Bush's claim that "we've come to know
truths that we will never
question: Evil is real, and it must be opposed. Rarely has the world
faced a choice more clear or consequential"-and that had previously been
thrown at the world in Madeleine Albright's memorable phrase that "the
United States stands taller than other nations, and therefore sees
further." Both imply that America is not only wise but also virtuous,
and that its foreign policy is influenced by values and not by
prejudices. This idiocy makes literally billions of people livid.

The State of the Union address shows that the main lesson of the tragedy
of September 11 has not been grasped by the President and his national
security team. It is that the danger to ordinary Americans will remain
with us for as long as the United States remains committed to the

concept of unrestrained projection of power everywhere in the world.
Instead of realizing that the threat to America exists because of the
policy of global hegemony we are now told that that hegemony will be
confirmed as the divinely-ordained, morally mandated, open-ended and
self-justifying mission of America for decades to come. America's
national interests are assumed to include, more firmly than ever before,
the ability to project power everywhere and all the time. If that is so,
then indeed the terrorist threat is also unlimited and permanent.
Ultimately hegemonists and terrorists need each other, and feed upon
each other. The victim is the Old Republic. The winner is-Empire.

                                  Copyright 2002,
                                     928 N. Main St., Rockford, IL 61103

                                   Serbian News Network - SNN

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