- [SW Column] (Courtesy SUN of TORONTO - Eric Margolis) Allies
backing away from Bush's policies :Posted on [11 Feb
Opinions expressed in this column
are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of SW.
Allies backing away from Bush's policies
ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor
NEW YORK -- "The world now thinks the U.S.
has lost its mind." This response to President George Bush's
bombastic state of the union address did not come from "axis of
evil" Iraq, Iran, or North Korea, but from former U.S. secretary of
State Madeleine Albright. She is dead right.
America's allies and friends were initially reluctant to openly
criticize Bush's philippic, but in recent days the president's
aggressive, triumphalist policies have come under fierce attack around
the world, and particularly so in Europe.
France's normally cautious foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, called
Bush's views on terrorism "simplistic." He warned about Bush's
policy that "reduces all problems in the world to the struggle
against terrorism," predicting Europe would go its own way if the
U.S. maintained its policy of unilateralism.
More sharp criticism came from Germany, Italy, Spain, the EU, Asia and
America's Mideast allies. Even Britain, America's most faithful satrap,
warned against attacking Iraq or Iran. South Korea's government angrily
blasted Washington for derailing efforts to promote better relations
with North Korea.
European leaders also took aim at American-Israeli efforts to eclipse
Yasser Arafat and crush Palestinian resistance.
"European countries do not agree with the White House Middle East
policy and think it is a mistake to support Ariel Sharon's purely
repressive policies," said Vedrine, speaking for the entire
Bush administration spokesmen reject all foreign criticism. Secretary of
State Colin Powell increased war fever by blasting Iran for
"meddling" in Afghanistan. This is rich, coming from the U.S.,
which just invaded Afghanistan, overthrew its government, installed a
client regime in Kabul, and is setting up permanent military bases
there. Threatening war against Iran for seeking to advance its interests
in neighbouring Afghanistan shows just how irrational and imperially
arrogant the Bush administration is becoming. India and Russia are also
deeply involved in Afghanistan; in fact, Russia has virtually taken over
the north. Yet there was not a peep from Washington about these
As part of the growing merging of policy between Washington and
Jerusalem, the Bush administration has adopted two longstanding Israeli
arguments to justify aggressive actions. First: we have suffered
enormously. This gives us the absolute right to attack anyone we deem a
threat, including assassinating potentially dangerous individuals.
Second: we are faced by a mortal threat from terrorists. To hell with
the world, we'll do precisely as we see fit. The UN, the EU, the Geneva
Convention, international law - all of them be damned.
Fifty years of painful efforts to build a framework of international law
are being swept away by the Bush crusaders, who seem to have convinced
themselves they are re-fighting World War II rather than dealing with a
dangerous criminal conspiracy made up of a few thousand individuals.
Listening to the Bush people preach about the need to liberate Iranians
and Iraqis from oppression is Olympic-class hypocrisy. If Bush really
wanted to promote justice and human rights abroad, he should begin with
those nations that are American protectorates: Morocco, a medieval
police state with a frightful record of poverty, torture, and abuse;
Tunisia and Egypt, both military dictatorships with odious human rights
records; Turkey, another military state disguised as a democracy, where
torture and murder of political opponents are the norm; Arabia's oil
monarchies, which are propped up by U.S. troops. And last, but certainly
not least, Palestine, where an entire people are being crushed by a
brutal army using U.S.-made tanks, and U.S.-made helicopter gunships,
financed by U.S. taxpayers' dollars, and sheltered from worldwide
condemnation by America's oft-used UN veto.
While most Americans continue to cheer Bush's bellicose, adolescent
rhetoric and crusading zeal, quiet opposition is developing,
particularly among the thinking classes. Given the current climate of
war fever, hysteria, fear and anti-Muslim paranoia being whipped up by
the White House and parts of the media, few Americans are ready to
criticize government actions.
Liberals, moderate Democrats, and their powerful media, who would
normally be flaying the Republican Dr. Strangeloves now directing U.S.
foreign policy, are absolutely silent. Many liberals are ardent
supporters of Israel. The Bush White House is perceived to be smashing
Israel's enemies, so liberals are mum.
This loud silence and war fever have unbalanced the U.S. political
system, allowing a coterie of ideological super-hawks to monopolize
policy and drive the U.S. toward highly irrational behaviour. Congress
and the media have become mere cheerleaders for the so-called war.
Critical analysis is urgently needed: remember the disastrous
consequences caused by lack of public challenge to America's entry into
the Vietnam war. America has suffered mightily and grievously; but pain
and suffering are no excuse for acting foolishly, dangerously, or
Wiser heads abroad are cautioning their American friends. Europe and
Japan do not intend to become spear carriers in Bush's anti-Muslim
crusade. Canada had better start thinking about this, as well.
To many foreign governments, the real danger is not Bush's preposterous
"axis of evil," nor "rogue states" like Iran, Iraq,
or North Korea. They are far more worried about a rogue America running
amok and igniting conflicts around the world.
Eric can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com