My Notebook: US support for Sharon has made situation worse
US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said last week that “The US may
attack countries preemptively, topple governments, and kill terrorists —
but doing so unilaterally may not make us safer”.
Indeed the invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein has not
made America, the Middle East or the world any safer. In fact the American
preemptive and unilateral action has raised tensions in the region. And
its unconditional support for Israel has added to the hostilities in the
already troubled Middle East. The latest is the "preemptive"
attack of Syria by Israel which has been condoned by Bush who says that
"it (Israel) must not feel constrained".
This opens up a third major conflict in the region which is already
traumatised by the long-drawn Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the
deteriorating situation in Iraq following the unilateral invasion by the
"We have one major crisis with Iraq, we have a major crisis with the
peace process, we don't need a third one," Marwan Muasher, the
Jordanian foreign minister, is reported as saying. "It just throws in
another complication, widening the conflict." Many in the Arab world
had opposed the US move to unilaterally invade Iraq and they had warned of
increased difficulties and the diversion of attention from the critical
and vital issue — the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — that needs to be
resolved. Karim T. Kawar, Jordan's Ambassador to Washington, says
"Failure in this area is not an option".
Instead of focusing on a possible solution to the conflict, the US with
its policies and unconditional support for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon has made the situation even worse.
Salwa Bamieh, chairperson of the Institute of Management in Jordan, told a
seminar in Philadelphia last week that "the US was wrong in attacking
Iraq" as it distracts attention from the more important issue of the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Former Turkish President and Prime Minister
Suleyman Damirel agreed adding that the deteriorating situation in Iraq
affects the peace process.
The Bush Administration had "no tolerance for Saddam as it has for
Sharon" and this, according to Salwa, will have farreaching
consequences in the Middle East. She pointed out that the US action,
tolerance and support for Sharon has only created other problems. Sharon
was described by Bush as "a man of peace" and is allowed to do
whatever he wants — creating more problems and tension in the Middle
East. With full backing and support from Washington, Sharon, as Prime
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out, "is
Now Sharon, who is taking the cue from Bush, says "Israel will strike
anywhere and at any time ...in any place and any method". By doing so
he is escalating the cycle of violence in the region. But even in the face
of the devastation and the heightened problems that these actions create,
Bush said: "The decisions that he (Sharon) makes ...are valid
decisions. We would be doing the same thing". Indeed, the White House
has done so.
John Newhouse argues in his book Imperial America: The Bush Assault on the
World Order that "the Administration's novel doctrine of
preemptive/preventive military strikes gives the President unprecedented
war-making power, because the trigger for action is intelligence that he
is empowered to deny to the public". A weapon of mass deception,
This in a country and for an administration that preaches democracy,
transparency, corporate governance and openness to the rest of the world.
Undoubtedly, the US with its unilateral and preemptive policy is spreading
its imperialism and hegemony. But Kissinger warns that "It is against
America's interests to think of itself as a hegemony ...I say to
Americans: It's not in our interest, even if we could, to control the
world militarily on our own".
The former Secretary of State argued that "The essence of empire is
that every problem becomes our problem ...And sooner or later, every
empire eats itself up in domestic disputes." The domestic problems
are piling up for the Bush Administration ahead of the elections next
year. The unilateral and preemptive invasion of Iraq is coming under
increased criticism. The failure to find the weapons of mass destruction,
the prime reason for the invasion, the increasing American casualties,
rising cost of reconstruction and the false pretext for the invasion are
raising tension at home even as the security situation in Iraq
deteriorates and Bush's popularity at home nose-dives. His ally, Tony
Blair, is also in trouble at home.
With Washington struggling to stabilise and to rebuild Iraq it has created
an "Iraq Stabilisation Group". It will be run by National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who co-ordinates foreign policy in the
White House. The establishment of the Stabilisation Group implies that US
policies in Iraq and Afghanistan are not working.
"There is no exit strategy possible," Kissinger said adding that
"We will either succeed or suffer a disaster, a disaster that will
affect everybody in the region. ...What is at issue is the future of our
relationship with the Islamic world and all the rest of the world."
The New York Times in an editorial also criticised the unilateral policy
adding that the Bush administration's "hostile attitude" in
dealing with the rest of the world shows "a sense of arrogance and
contempt" for international co-operation which will eventually
undermine American interests.
That is not all. The Bush White House is fiercely expounding a foreign
policy of "either you are with us or against us". This is
evident, according to a former senior US administration official, in
almost all fields including economic and trade. He pointed out that the US
bilateral free trade agreement with Australia has been put on the fast
track. This is because the "Australians put their bodies on the
line" in Afghanistan. But the US-New Zealand free trade agreement is
not going anywhere as Helen Clark had criticised and then apologised to
the US for its unilateral invasion of Iraq.
The official points out that it is a very Texan attitude and underlines
the Bush Administration's approach to its foreign relations and its
attitude towards other countries. Bush, according to some officials, takes
criticism very personally.
A participant at the Eisenhower Fellowship conference in Philadelphia,
described the US attitude as "very childish" and unbecoming of
the world's most powerful man and nation.
With its power and strength, it can afford to be magnanimous and it does
not have to flex its military muscle to prove its might. Perhaps Bush
forgot his own advice during the election campaign when he had said:
"If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble
nation but strong, they'll welcome us".
But now even the New York Times notes that "Mr Bush has shown a
surprising disdain for the kinds of treaties and international agreements
that set the tone for America's engagement with the world and that have
figured prominently in Washington's foreign policy for most of the years
since World War II".
Could it be that the US, as a senior official pointed out, has become
"too powerful for its own good"?
How can we manifest peace on
earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both
sexes) in our vision of Peace?
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