October 16, 2000
The Middle East is in
flames, the Balkans are a devastated NATO occupation zone, Central Africa
is a wartorn wasteland with little hope of imminent recovery, and
northeastern and northwestern Africa are in similar straits.
Colombia is slated to be the next El Salvador if not the next Vietnam, with the entire Amazon basin at risk of being pulled into the vortex.
Japan is being remilitarized, contrary to its U.S.-authored constitution, and its troops are being deployed abroad for the first time since the defeat of its imperial government in 1945. Similarly, a united Germany has been reborn as a military powerhouse, resettling the Balkans and selling weapons to Turkey and others.
The moribund and superfluous North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been revived, strengthened and expanded, with last year's war against Yugoslavia its official debut - an event that coincided with its fiftieth anniversary retooling and apotheosis in Washington last spring.
Three Eastern European former Warsaw Pact members, none of them near the Atlantic Ocean, north or otherwise, have been inducted into NATO with the required increase in military expenditures and upgrading of their equipment, the latter to be purchased from U.S. and Western European arms manufacturers.
No fewer than fourteen other nations, from Ireland to Georgia, are members of the Partnership for Peace, a cynically named apprenticeship program for NATO itself. Old military blocs are being recreated and redefined, new ones are proliferating, the entire globe is being turned into an armed camp bristling with state-of-the-art weaponry almost exclusively of Western origin.
The U.S. military budget, which this year experienced its largest increase since the Reagan era, is now equal to that of the next seven to twelve largest national defense budgets, depending on which figures you trust.
U.S. arms exports represent at least 60% of weapons sold worldwide. They frequently go to both sides fighting in sanguinary conflicts like the Ethiopian-Eritrean war of earlier this year, one tragically and fruitlessly prodigal of young human lives.
President Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are now waging war in three continents simultaneously - in or against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Colombia. A new benchmark for global military deployment; no previous regime has ever done so.
All the vocabulary of late nineteenth-century colonialism and imperialism is now back in vogue, or should be: Sabre-rattling, gunboat diplomacy, diktat, force majeure, demarche, casus belli.
In any given month Clinton's White House and Albright's State Department are waging a war of words, diplomatic and economic warfare, or the genuine article against as many as a dozen countries. The traditional villains, formerly so-called rogue states, now 'states of concern,' aside, the current targets include Iraq, Liberia, Belarus, Malaysia, Peru, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Myanmar and Congo. Until recently, and perhaps soon again, Yugoslavia, too. Erstwhile allies like Indonesia and Austria can at any given time be subjected to blistering denunciations and economic penalties.
The above list is so diverse that it's hard to tell what common thread runs through it. Maybe they're targets only because targets are needed.
Again, under the Clinton-Albright foreign policy establishment, the Tomahawk missile reigns supreme. It and other U.S. missiles and explosives have landed in Somalia, the Republika Serpska, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria in the last seven years. According to a report from a government-linked Peruvian radio station a year ago, they are also ready to be launched into southern Colombia, as they were toward North Korean nuclear sites six years ago.
This is the world that the soon to be retired President and his current foreign policy chief have bequeathed the people of America and the globe.
Analyses of this period and what it portends for the future will be written for decades to come. The entire framework of the post-World War II order, forged by the victorious allies after 1945 and formalized in numerous treaties under UN auspices, has been bypassed and dismantled. There are no longer checks, controls, counterbalances or even protocols. Might simply is right, and all the rights to act, however unilaterally and arbitrarily, belong to the mightiest and its allies and clients.
If the era of international law and of multinational conventions and covenants, including those of the United Nations and even NATO itself, as well as internal constitutional restraints on the use of military force abroad has been brought to an end by Washington and its European allies, another one has replaced it: The age of doctrines.
Writing in the spring of 1999, author Michael Klare identified in a Nation article what he titled the Clinton Doctrine. Immediately afterward the so-called Blair Doctrine was enunciated by the British prime minister in a speech he gave in Chicago during the bombing of Yugoslavia.
Both, no doubt worked out in unison, affirm essentially the same thing: The United States and Great Britain reserve the right to employ military strikes anywhere and for any reason they choose. A thin and unconvincing veneer of Jimmy Carter-style human rights phraseology is usually applied by way of justification, but is soon, and almost invariably, supplemented by expressions like national security and vital economic interests. The latter rationales are the ones understood by the governments and peoples of the countries on the receiving end as well as by disinterested third parties.
Anticipating the above dual doctrine by some eight months is what should be called the Clarke Doctrine, after Richard Clarke, the White House's ominously-named Counter-Terrorism director. In August of 1998 Clarke, with a resume as suspect as anyone alive, announced his doctrine of retaliation against the government facilities of any nation accused of, in his words, harboring terrorists.
In keeping with the spirit of the times and the administration he serves, Clarke felt under no obligation to define terrorism, to identify a consistent set of criteria for determining who is a terrorist, or even for delineating what was meant by harboring one. Vocabulary, like behavior, is the sole prerogative of the powerful.
That this now implied, for the first time in modern history, that a major world power - indeed the world's major power - could, without having to make its case in the United Nations, the World Court or in any other world body, launch unprovoked military attacks at will around the world seems not to have been accorded the attention and concern it warrants.
Neither has the latest doctrine of arbitrary military aggression, this one emanating from Madeleine Albright's State Department. This past August her underling Richard Boucher defended a new policy of what he termed cross-border anti-terrorism raids. This pronouncement came days after and was clearly occasioned by a Turkish air strike in Northern Iraq which reportedly resulted in the deaths of more than thirty Kurdish civilians.
The targets of that attack were ostensibly members of the Kurdish Workers Party, as were the intended targets of a buildup of hundreds of thousands of Turkish troops on the Iraqi border earlier in the year. But it may just as well have been, as it may at any time be, other forces in other countries. The fact is that all the doctrines mentioned are by their very nature ones that would be applied by those designing them against others who won't be allowed to explain and won't be able to defend themselves.
This unprecedented policy of issuing what in essence are open-ended declarations of war, to be implemented selectively and presumably without prior notification; to be applied on an ad hoc basis and solely at the discretion of the perpetrators, is nothing less than putting the people of the world on notice that they're fair game whenever their governments have done something - or have not done what was demanded of them - to displease the Clintons, Blairs and Albrights of the world.
And just as the targets are chosen more or less arbitrarily, so is the mechanism through which the attack can be launched. Implicit and more than implicit in the Clinton and Blair Doctrines - and certainly *explicit* in how they've been implemented to date - is the capricious and self-serving manner in which onetime coalitions and select use of institutions are exploited to achieve what are primarily narrow American and British interests. Other nations and organizations may be brought in to provide the illusion of a consensus, what is disingenuously called the international community, but all key decision-making and the overwhelming bulk of armed force is all but monopolized by Washington and London.
The process may be lawless, but it's not unlawful in the broadest sense of the word. With no countervailing military, political or economic rivalry that can check the rapacious ambitions of an uncontested global superpower - and the United States of the Clinton-Albright period is just that - the mighty are always right.
Which is wrong. Wrong for those countries and populations that have been squeezed out of any pretense of a comity of nations and peoples. Wrong, even, for Americans, Britishers and others who see their increasingly remote, venal and brutal political system yet further degenerate under the influence of globalist and militarist pressures, as their societies become more ruthless, their economies more distorted and their mass cultures more debased by a ubiquitous celebration of violence, brute force, cynicism and chauvinism.
The dream of humanity for a world of peace, justice and security, which blossomed in the European world in la belle epoque before the crushing disillusionment of 1914 and the First World War; which revived in the two decades afterward in Europe, the Americas and throughout the world; which appeared to be the last opportunity for human survival following the unspeakable horrors of World War II; this dream, born of all that's hopeful, decent and sensible in the human race, was supposed to receive a fresh impetus in the early 1990s with the end of this century's longest and most dangerous military rivalry. It didn't. Instead it's witnessed challenges to its very existence, as an unbridled military-economic juggernaut rushes hellbent to dominate all and destroy much of the world.
It has to be stopped. Our rights as citizens of our own countries as well as of the world depend on ending, reversing and redefining the current reckless course of mindless militarization and global bullying. We're soon to be rid of two of its major architects and practitioners - let's also be rid of their handiwork.
Rick Rozoff is a peace activist from Chicago, IL. He does research for, and dissemination of Swans, as well as contributing his columns.
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