Monday, March 31, 2003

Pax Americana
Long before the war began, a number of sources were discussing the question: "What is this war really about?" All of these efforts had two things in common. None of them accepted the administration’s laughable reasons of the week, and all of them though the Bushevik’s motivation was far more complicated than the bumper-sticker explanation of we want to steal their oil.

My own shot at an explanation is here. Roughly, I felt that the war is one step of an effort to free the U.S. from the constraints of the system of international law and alliances that evolved in the twentieth century (after all, fundamentalists don’t believe in evolution). I based my thesis on the administration’s unilateralism in repudiating treaties and their defense doctrine statement to congress.

Over the last week, I have been made aware of a number of people discussing the war as the first step in a drive toward an American empire. Here are just a few:

Richard Dreyfuss, Just the Beginning, in this week’s American Prospect:

Bush administration's hawks, especially the neoconservatives who provide the driving force for war, see the conflict with Iraq as much more than that. It is a signal event, designed to create cataclysmic shock waves throughout the region and around the world, ushering in a new era of American imperial power.

Joshua Micah Marshall, Practice to Deceive, in this month’s Washington Monthly.

In short, the administration is trying to roll the table--to use U.S. military force, or the threat of it, to reform or topple virtually every regime in the region, from foes like Syria to friends like Egypt, on the theory that it is the undemocratic nature of these regimes that ultimately breeds terrorism. So events that may seem negative--Hezbollah for the first time targeting American civilians; U.S. soldiers preparing for war with Syria--while unfortunate in themselves, are actually part of the hawks' broader agenda. Each crisis will draw U.S. forces further into the region and each countermove in turn will create problems that can only be fixed by still further American involvement, until democratic governments--or, failing that, U.S. troops--rule the entire Middle East.

Jay Bookman, The president's real goal in Iraq, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last September (pointed out by Atrios):

This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.

Bookman’s article links to some documents that are good candidates for the smoking gun I wanted in my first post.

I don’t see any of this as contradicting my end-of-the-international-order theory, but rather carrying it a step or two forward. While I felt that the case for the administration wanting to kill the UN and NATO was fairly solid, I still had trouble coming up with a better motive than: "Nobody tells the U S of A what to do; we own this damn planet." These authors describe a far more complete program. And while making the case more believable than I did, they show our "leaders" to be a far more dangerous and frightening crowd than even I was ready to admit.

I’ll have more to say about this later.

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