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Mazin Qumsiyeh: Dog-Eat-Dog World

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  • World View
    Their dog-eat-dog world: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2004/706/op60.htm The cabal that four years ago took over the White House brought with them a philosophy of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2004
      Their dog-eat-dog world:


      The cabal that four years ago took over the White House brought with
      them a philosophy of power which ought to be consigned to the
      dustbin of history, writes Mazin Qumsiyeh*


      George Kennan, former head of the US State Department Policy
      Planning Staff, once observed: "We have about 60 per cent of the
      world's wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population. In this
      situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment.
      Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of
      relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of
      disparity. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today
      the luxury of altruism and world benefaction. We should cease to
      talk about such vague and unreal objectives as human rights, the
      raising of living standards and democratisation. The day is not far
      off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts.
      The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."
      (Document PPS23, 24 February 1948)

      But of course this was not to be. Talk of democratisation is still
      the best weapon in maintaining disparity and injustice. Thus we
      toppled the democratic regime of Moussadeq in Iran in the 1950s and
      reinstalled the Shah not because Moussaddeq wanted to nationalise
      oil and serve his people but because the US was advancing freedom
      and democracy against "socialism". Similar arguments were used in
      Korea, Chile, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Grenada, Haiti and dozens of
      other "interventions". People-based resistance limited the success
      of this strategy of dominance. The epitome of this was the Vietnam
      War, which was portrayed as stemming the falling domino effect of
      communism spreading. The US retreat from Vietnam was due to the
      success of the Vietnamese guerrilla war against the best-equipped
      army in the world buttressed by people of conscience in America who
      said: "Enough is enough." Its ramifications were numerous and
      included a renewed vigour of Third World countries intent on
      resisting the removal of their natural resources to serve Western
      vested interests. The war architects were not deterred despite the
      obvious PR loss as the domino theory proved a fabrication.

      These individuals were determined to do imperialism better. They
      recruited disgruntled liberals. They looked for ways to build a
      stronger and cohesive message. They found it in a modification of
      social Darwinism based on early principles advocated by Machiavelli.
      Their godfather was Machiavelli's intellectual disciple Leo Strauss,
      a German Zionist who immigrated to the US in the 1930s and mentored
      people like Paul Wolfowitz while advocating his philosophy of a dog-
      eat-dog world. His ideas were instrumental in the formation of the
      current neo-conservative cabal pulling the strings in the White
      House. According to Strauss, the world is divided into distinct
      nations with competing interests and will always be thus structured.
      Under such conditions nations cannot consider collective action and
      multilateralism unless it is 100 per cent in line with their own
      selfish interests. Strong leadership is axiomatic, as is the need
      for military power. Leadership ought not be encumbered by human
      rights discourse or a moral conscience but nonetheless must "appear"
      to advocate such ideas. Rulers need not observe the laws they impose
      on the ruled. As such, a ruler can cheat and lie and do all sorts of
      things but should at all time maintain the outside appearance of
      adherence to human rights and caring for people. Further, leaders
      can use religion as one of many tools to ensure the nation keeps on
      course as formulated. Outside threats help ensure social cohesion
      under domestic leadership. Altruism, environmental protection,
      justice etc, are not the concern of governments and ruling elites.
      They have no part to play in the equation of power.

      Such principles when put into practice in America were obviously
      controversial but gained ground among a well-positioned group later
      to be identified as "neo-conservatives", or "neocons" for short. In
      March 1992, the US Defense Policy Guidance as formulated by Paul
      Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby (two neocons with strong Israeli ties) was
      leaked to The New York Times and caused a stir (including a rebuke
      from Senator Biden). Its Machiavellian/Straussian tone of world
      domination, preventing the rise of any potential competitor to US
      power etc, was shocking. The document as revised by its release on
      16 April 1992 was far milder, or at least careful in its language.
      By way of a price, the revised document included for the first time
      support for Zionism as a key to defence policy: "In the Middle East
      and Persian Gulf, we seek to foster regional stability, deter
      aggression against our friends and interests in the region, protect
      US nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international
      air and seaways and to the region's oil. The United States is
      committed to the security of Israel and to maintaining the
      qualitative edge that is critical to Israel's security. Israel's
      confidence in its security and US-Israel strategic cooperation
      contribute to the stability of the entire region, as demonstrated
      once again during the Persian Gulf War. At the same time, our
      assistance to our Arab friends to defend themselves against
      aggression also strengthens security throughout the region,
      including for Israel." (p14)

      The revision was to give neocons renewed energy to implement their
      plans, but this time more carefully. Neocons were out of the White
      House between 1992 and 2000 giving them time to consolidate power in
      other areas (media, think tanks, Congress) and to plan a more
      careful agenda both to get power and exercise it. It is not a
      coincidence that as Clinton was dealing with his scandals
      conservative talk shows were burgeoning, media empires consolidating
      and, with the creation of such PR machines as Fox TV, agendas
      shifting. The years 1996-1998 were pivotal in developing the
      strategies and ideas that would come to shape our world today. As an
      example, neocons wrote a letter -- which can be found now on the
      internet -- to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in 1996
      entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." The
      realm under discussion was the Israeli one in the Middle East. They
      called for regime change in Iraq, led by the US, followed by acts
      directed at Iran and Syria to secure US (read US-Israeli) dominance
      over this critical region; critical especially for the economies of
      US competitors like China and Europe. Chaired by Richard Perle,
      chief architect of the latest US war on Iraq, this group included
      James Colbert from the Jewish Institute for National Security
      Affairs, Jonathan Torop from the American Israeli Public Affairs
      Committee offshoot the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,
      David Wurmser and Douglas Feith.

      The next year, the neocons launched the Project for a New American
      Century (PNAC). PNAC called for US world hegemony ˆ la the Pax
      Romana. It proclaimed ominously: "The American peace has proven
      itself peaceful, stable, and durable. Yet no moment in international
      politics can be frozen in time: even a global Pax Americana will not
      preserve itself ... [the new world order] must have a secure
      foundation on unquestioned US military preeminence ... The process
      of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some
      catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."

      Leaders of PNAC, including Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney,
      Libby, Elliot Abrams and others, later acquired positions of power
      when Bush Jr took the White House. They had earlier written a letter
      to Clinton and Congressional leaders in 1998 arguing for the removal
      of Saddam Hussain from power and the assertion of US dominance in
      the Middle East. They would have to wait two years for the ascension
      of George W Bush to the presidency in January 2001 and got their
      windfall (the "new Pearl Harbor") in the form of 11 September 2001.
      The rest, as they say, is history. They now thought they had all the
      pieces in place for fulfilling their dreams on an even grander scale
      than conceived in 1992-1998. The result of their dreams is our
      nightmare: the bringing of the US into sharp conflict with the rest
      of the world, the proliferation of terrorism and, some argue, the
      beginning of the end of US empire. Meanwhile, the heart of global
      collective action, the UN, is stalled with sometimes 150 countries
      voting one way on resolutions and the US and Israel voting another
      (occasionally joined by Australia, Micronesia and the Marshall

      The net result is increased terrorism, increased violence and misery
      in places like Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, increasing US trade
      and budget deficits, huge debts incurred by Third World countries
      and by the US (individual, corporate and government), the decimation
      of environmental treaties and obligations and, as the US military is
      spread thin around the world, overall global destabilisation. These
      are but the price of power as a select groups of Straussians sell
      books, demand hefty lecture fees and get cozy governmental positions
      in the game of musical chairs in Washington DC.

      These special interests will celebrate their "win" regardless of
      which president occupies the White House in December. If Kerry wins,
      watch as another team of neocons take up office. Dennis Ross, a
      lobbyist for Israel who was US envoy to the Middle East under both
      Bush Sr and Clinton, may be appointed Secretary of State or to a
      similarly high- level position. Martin Indyk, another lobbyist for
      Israel, appointed by Clinton as US ambassador to Israel, might
      become the new US envoy to the Middle East. It goes on and on. Both
      Kerry and Bush display classic Straussian characteristics, most
      clearly in their similar positions on Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine
      and the International Court of Justice, among a host of other
      critical issues. Further, and perhaps most critical to our survival
      as a species, neither is willing to tackle the global environmental
      threats for which the US bears special responsibility (as indicated,
      US citizens consume over half of the world's resources though they
      constitute but 1/20th of the world's population). Cosmetically
      talking about reducing our dependence on foreign oil is not an
      alternative to adopting the Kyoto accords or seriously looking at
      the effects of "globalisation"; a term which Democratic and
      Republican administrations use to mean the "free flow" of wealth (of
      course, to the United States) while preventing anything equivalent
      for the workers who create it. Basic rights, as recognised by the
      Universal Declaration of Human Rights (including access to food,
      water and healthcare) become the privilege of the rich.

      Only by awakening the US public and linking it to resistance
      movements from within the world community (including the Iraqi
      resistance), will this pathway to destruction be avoided. As someone
      said, those who are not outraged are simply not paying attention.
      But more people are now paying attention and getting their
      information from alternative sources (besides the PR of FOX and
      MSNBC). Our collective and increasingly intertwined future is at

      At a deeper psychological level, the choice we have is between
      believing and acting based on the worst elements of human history
      (i.e. a Straussian model) or knowledge of the history of the
      accomplishments of the best of humanity; even daring to imagine and
      plan for a better future -- in other words, humanism.

      What is at stake here is nothing less than a choice between a power
      politics that sacrifices morality and justice and a path based on
      human rights for all which also happens to be the only path by which
      this planet will survive.

      * The writer is associate professor of genetics and director of
      clinical cytogenetic services at Yale University School of Medicine.



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