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Libyan Writer Ghoma

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Sunday, 17 December, 2006

THE HUBRIS OF AN EMPIRE AND ITS PRICE...?

By: Ghoma

"The heroes are those who sacrifice themselves for the truth,
  the cowards are those who sacrifice the truth for themselves."
                                                                   Ibrahim el-Kuni

        The America Empire and its 'Pax Americana!': Is it a futile attempt by a runaway empire, or just a noble plan went awry? Or, how to judge history in the making? If it's true what's reported about Mao 's answer, when he was asked to pass a judgement on the French Revolution, that it was too soon to tell, then Hell will freeze before we'll know whether what America is trying to accomplish in the Greater Middle East, first, is going to come to fruition in the foreseeable future; and second, how it'll pan out and be seen by both those concerned and the merciless judge of all time. Both America's current seeming fiasco and Mao's hesitancy point to how difficult to make sense and pass judgements on events and campaigns that take the long view as their focus. Certainly directing change is no joke and forcing history's course is not mere daily happening in human interactions. They both long gather their momentum to explode, like the Big Bang, in one big shot, for their reverberation to continue re-echoing through time. It'll take eons, by human life spans, for the final assessment to take shape. Perhaps, only when what's taking place today in Iraq and the rest of the area runs its due course and the mist, dust, and fog that are now blurring our views to make sense of what's taking place, have cleared and settled, it may become a bit clearer for the final shot or the last word to be said. Meanwhile, we, mere mortals as we all are, have to go with what we've under our gaze and in our grasp. That's events as we see them, biases as we perceive them, shortcomings as we make them, and as far as we can judge, are all not honky-dory going in the declared direction or intended consequences. The maelstrom is still grinding, the mayhem is eating the'green and dry,' and the cycle of violence is creeping further and further to engulf the rest of the smoldering fire-holes away from the raging flames!

        Back in late 20th century, before the Cold War froze -or just morphed into something more lethal!- and the last breath went out of that other, now defunct, and no less rogue empire (the Soviet Union), Reagan and his minions and later George I (the elder) were so inebriated with their successes, to be caught in the untenable situation -for their empire- of not having a clue about what to do next, now having no more apparent foe to direct their venomous rage to, or to focus their monstrous war-machine against, and thus perpetuate the myth, if not to draw one more raison d'etre for the "good fight". Like in any empire throughout history, the American, has been attracting many of those types whose job was to pan the horizon looking ahead for possible bumps in the road, focus the gaze and spin the truth around the spot to manufacture a consensus what to do about it. The outcome of the process newly coined mantras and easy to grasp slogans, such as New World Order, and a slew of gathering dangers to be confronted. Thus a new set of missions and a renewed sense of purpose have been found or restored: to set the world right, of course, according to America's dictates! What was termed as the 1st Gulf war, even is still raging since then and never stopped, was the occasion for showing who's the boss, who's pulling the shots and the strings of the world, and who's to give the marching orders to the rest. The war was the tangible prove of what could befell any nation that wouldn't toe the line and thus be a permanent exhibit to the logic -and one may add violence- on which the new order is to be set.

        America is set to dominate the world, unilaterally, without consulting the rest of the world and building consensus, but rather through brute and raw power. The soft side of power is only for the sissies! The gurus of the new school, the authors of the American Project, and the neo-conservative band were determined that soft power is too mushy for the Yankees and too unthreatening for the rest! The age of diplomacy, sweet talk, Marshal Plans, aid, and the whatnot has passed, as the foes to compete against. There're no more a competitors left for the old strategy of "talk soft but carry a big stick," that's, for both the stick and carrots approach. Today's world is made up of small and medium states and powers who could be browbeaten and brought to line more effectively by intimidation or force when necessary.

        While USA, with the few allies it could get, were busy implementing the new strategy in the Middle East, taking aim at the entrenched Baathist regime in Iraq, though defeated yet showing no signs of collapse, and thus posed a conundrum and the first challenge to the new approach. Saddam was humiliated and boxed in from all sides, the Iraqis dying like flies but the regime while supine yet was still apparently holding. The gathering storm worked in mysterious ways as if it's own designs. If 9/11 hadn't happened it'd have to be invented! Here came an attack on the symbols of the American system and in the heart of its homeland. Hence what was until then mere tentative actions carried on small steps and within a relatively contained experiment, on how to tame a "rogue" regime in Iraq and bring it to obedience, or bring down an outcast theocratic clique in Afghanistan, exploded overnight into an Armageddon, a world wide hunt for all the rogues who have not got the message and wouldn't toe the new line. Thus new villains were sorted out, "Axis of Evil' complemented by an apocalyptic vision of black-and-white worldview, "who isn't with us is against us" by George II.. The implementation of these set of policies was put on fast tack and world was caught unaware with the new 'crusade'! While the attack on Afghanistan was still underway, the smoldering, on and off, low-to-medium-intensity warfare going on in Iraq for the last 15 years has been upgraded and pushed few notches up, by the formidable force of "Shock-and-Awe," [the American version of the old German blitzkrieg!] total invasion to dismantle the country and take it apart to its basic component parts - and who knew what were the intentions of what to do with it later on! The invasion was carried on successfully and the Iraqi state was no more, Iraqi society traumatized was left in the throes of death. The demolition crews were further tasked of re-building what they just had destroyed: some resemblance to what was there, without Baath or Saddam. The attempt to put a new state is still underway but the effort is hampered by the breaking apart of its base: Iraqi social disintegration. No more Iraqis but only various groups who're either pro or con the invasion and occupation, religious and tribal factions battling each other: Sunni, Shia, Kurd, Turkomen, Christians, etc.

        Iraq's invasion carried out on false premises soon went spiraling toward the chaos, a war without a grand strategy or plausible aims. It started as looking for WMD, changed to democratization, and now is grappling with mopping up the mess and controlling the raging fires. The genie of sectarianism is out of the battle, raw power is reaching its limits, and stabilizing Iraq is beyond what the generals have been trained to do or have the imagination to invent. The military power, by its very logic, has always been a destructive force, and hell will freeze before it's converted into a force for nation-building. The result of entangled strands is impasse! Gone were the grand rhetorical slogans of recasting the entire Middle East in the image of the dominant empire, bringing "democracy" and modernization to the Arabs and peace and prosperity to the West's favorite pet, Israel. Still the map of the Middle East may change but not necessarily according to the visions and whims of the day-dreamers in Washington. Today's reduced expectations, according to the Iraq Study Group's assessments and recommendations, are indicative of the war's going as well as assertive to the fact that any war's ultimate end , by its very nature, is unpredictable and thus takes its own course.

        Call it the law of unintended consequences, the Middle East has turned into a boiling cauldron of all sorts, which, though camouflaged in medievalistic garbs, have nonetheless long simmering contemporary causes and claims. On top of the burning fires, in the various spots throughout the region, there's a looming danger on the horizon, that of a total inferno, and which could engulf the whole area, ...and pit Sunni against Shia in a historical settling of account. All signs are there and the forces which kindled these fires are busy stoking them further increasing the danger, which by now is still only a threat, or just blackmail?

        Iraq's tragedy is turning into a nightmare of historical proportion. Everything seems to be spinning out of control, the centripetal forces are getting momentum by the day, with the USA seems to be sinking further and further in another Vietnam-esque type quagmire with far worse consequences. Though, the sole hyper-power is trying to maneuver itself into a tenable position, its game plan or lack of - its bluff!- so to speak, is soon reaching the no impact zone fast. An invader and an occupier has very little moral high grounds to stand on to start with, and when it turns its always shifting moods into amoral random shuffling of the cards, by threatening the Shia "majority" to withdraw support one day and blackmailing the other "minorities" to withdraw on the next day, it becomes clear the tactics are meant only for stalling, to beg for time until something or a better idea pops up! It appears the end of this phase of occupation is fast approaching, what comes next is what's holding the USA from committing itself to such a course. The big question is: Is it going to be a total withdrawal for good or only "redeployment" away from the battle fields?

        The major question confronting America beyond the immediate, what to do next, is what are the long term goals in the area -and as far as such aims can be formulated and elaborated into a workable form- whether can be carried out consensually or have to be imposed by force. Of course, as they say it takes two top tango! Iraqi quislings and the puppet regimes through whom and with whom, any designs have to be coordinated, in order to be carried out, are not feeling all that comfortable these days of being seen as mere clutches to an invading and occupying power, and who's, in addition to that, busy trying to stir the pot of sectarianism and to rouse the old pestering wounds of religious strives. Opportunism is a virtue for any expanding empire! Exploiting quislings's paranoias and puppets's fear and sense of vulnerabilities are, if not original parts of the game then a happy improvisation. Add to the enchilada, the seemingly congenital to the losers and defeated: each of the major players in the area is working to undermine the others, Turks against Arabs and Persians; Persians against Arabs and Turks, and Arabs against each other! The same old damn tactic of all imperialists throughout history, at work: divide and rule! Which, only adds a pinch of salt to that old dictum: if we don't hang together we'll be hanged separately. Heed the lesson Arabia flex!

        Putting the pieces, in Iraq, together requires more than tactical adjustments. It's beyond what a committee made up mostly of establishment geezers can be expected to fathom. It demands a major paradigmatic shift in the logic of an empire: are we going to subject and dominate the world unilaterally and thus raise its hackles; or work multilaterally and thus cool down its burning nerves? The latter, will certainly take a humbling stand. A look, from the hegemonic empire, into oneself, the world, and ultimately the meaning of it all. Ideally, it should start by admitting one's mistakes and going from there. If America is truly trying to disengage itself from the mess it created in the Middle East, a drawback and a drawdown; it's to find a way out of the impasse in Iraq, then it has to face the fact that it'd invaded a country, intentionally and premeditatedly without a smattering of legality or a plausible reason - beyond to prove to itself that it can handle what its military strategists had all along maintained, that's, to wage two wars in the same time; and second, to show the world what it can do to whoever challenges its dictates. All the other reasons were mere put-on improvisations meant more for domestic audiences than for the rest of the world -after all who cares about the rest of the world's opinions! The coming clean and the admission of mistake and guilt are only a beginning to the long road for coming to terms with the use of lethal power without due thoughts of the consequences it may unleash.

        If the USA really wants to end the war in Iraq and put an end to one of the most destructive, absurd, and violent cycles, certainly of our times if not all times, and that she has instigated and still stokes its fires on by being part of it, it must APOLOGIZE publicly to the Iraqis, repent, and ask forgiveness from both Iraqis and the rest of the world, and to be ready to be truly and sincerely part of the solution and not the problem. America must prove to be ready to do whatever it takes to put Iraq back on its feet and to go by whatever Iraqis want her to do: from compensation, to reconstruction, to pledging a non-intervention in the internal affairs of the future Iraqi state, etc.

        I know some will say this is a star-gazing blather and wishful thinking! For, an arrogant empire, like the American one will never come to its senses unless it's force to, and that's long way, Jose! Sometimes the far-fetched dreams have bases in reality! The undeniable fact is no matter how much one can putter around trying to arrange the chairs of the sinking ship before, there's a natural and otherwise limits that will urge someone to shout what the hell are you trying to accomplish! Wouldn't be better to call the alarm and to start evacuation before everything and everybody is lost!

        Whether the American adventure realizes its futility is still to be seen. But certainly even if the Titanic was saved, it wouldn't guarantee the Middle East from drowning in its own vomit. All foreign interventions and adventures were and are still possible, due in not small part, by what some locals aid and others abate in the long saga of the area's history. The abundance of lackeys was factual part of history and is a sad comment on social makeup and culture. Unless and until the area realizes the dangerous of despotism -and the alienation it engenders- as well as the benefits of inclusiveness -and the loyalties it generates- there will be no durable peace, prosperity, and progress. The lapses to "puritanism" keep coming and the cycles of violence keep repeating and through them and with them, the outside powers keep meddling.

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com

More Articles Written By Ghoma

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