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Saturday, July 20 2024 @ 06:04 MDT

Neo-con Follies

Jason ramblingMy recent vacation allowed me to catch up on my leisure reading. This means that I've finally finished reading Gwynne Dyer's Future Tense. Now a bit about the book before I begin, written in 2004 prior to G.W. Bush "winning" his second term Dyer uses the book to postulate about the Iraq war in terms of both the Islamicist and neo-conservative agendas. Now I have to admit that I enjoy Dyer's writing style and try to read his columns as regularly as I can on his web site (since he sometimes has not nice things to say about neo-cons, he doesn't get any play in the Southam news chain). Now Dyer puts some things forward in his book that we all take at face value now, given the fact the Bush administration has finally came clean that they lied through their teeth about Iraq, but at the time the book was published, was not common knowledge to people who get their information from the main stream media. Even so the book is a good read and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in international affairs. The part I'm going to focus on is his theory of why neo-cons do what they do, especially the Bush brand of neo-cons, specifically why the Iraq invasion.

There have been many theories on why the Bush administration invaded Iraq. Oil, revenge for the perceived loss to Saddam in the first Gulf war and various other reasons have been given by most anyone with an opinion. Dyer gives a more sinister theory, that the true reason for the invasion of Iraq by the Bush neo-cons was no less than the destruction of the international system, both international organizations such as the UN, and international law.

Dyer's reasoning goes something like this: The current international system, that's developed in response to the horrors of two world wars and the threat of nuclear annihilation and molded by the bi-polar world of the cold war, has begun to put the rule of law above the absolute right of nations to act as they see fit. This developing system puts emphasis on multilateral action over unilateral action, with further puts constraints on how nations act in the international sphere. All of this flies in the face of what Dyer states is the ultimate goal of the American neo-cons under Bush, the recreation of the Pax Americana into a monopolar system with the United States being the sole dominate actor in the international community. The reason the international system needs to be destroyed is that the only way the US can truly domnate the international community now and in the future is militarily. Economically the US will soon be passed by both the EU and China in terms of share of the world economy leaving the only way the US can really dominate the world is militarily. Given that the US spends more on it's military than the next ten or so countries combined, it's the neo-con's best bet for exporting what they see as truth, justice and the American way. The only problem for the neo-cons is that there are now constraints on unilateral military action in the international community so they have to get rid of them somehow.

Now the plan, as Dyer puts it, was to find a country that no one would complain too much about if it was invaded, but not one that had attacked anyone recently. The reasoning is that any country that had recently attacked someone, particularly the US, when invaded by the US would simply be seen as a retaliatory action, allowable under international law. Hence the invasion of Afghanistan doesn't cut it since it was legal, and retaliatory. Iraq on the other hand was the perfect target. There was no legal basis to attack the country and neither the Russians or the Chinese would complain too loudly, more specifically, neither the Russians or the Chinese would oppose the invasion militarily. Also in the past Iraq had gone against US wishes and could be made an example of. So the invasion went ahead. American values would be transplanted into the middle east, the US would have a base in the region to further expand it's values and the world of small countries would tremble at the unrestrained might of the US military.

Except that it went horribly wrong. American allies didn't fall lock step into agreement with the US. With the exception of the UK and Australia, no major US ally dove into the fray. Further the people of Iraq weren't jumping at the "liberation". Now the US is stuck in a country that is pretty much unified against the Americans. Any good will the US gained from the 9/11 attacks has been squandered and it's even more unlikely that any further US attacks against other countries will have much support at all. In fact, most countries have taken a wait an see position with the US government, given that the Bush administration has to leave office in 2008. The hope is that whoever replaces Bush is more willing to return to the more sane multilateral system his father helped put in place in the 1990's.

Now this about where Dyer leaves things off, which is all he could really do, given the date he wrote the book. I've picked up his follow up book upon my return from vacation and hope to read it over the next couple of months, as time permits.

Now the reason for my rather lengthy discussion of one aspect of Dyer's book is that in the years since the invasion of Iraq, the neo-cons are still trying to get their Pax-Americana. Iraq didn't work so they're looking at Iran, after all a bad idea once will be even better a second time. Things are a bit different for Iran for sure. First there won't be a full scale invasion of Iran, given the geography of the country not to mention the large numbers of Iranians who would likely oppose such an invasion, not to mention the fact the US army is overstretched in Iraq as it is and wouldn't have the manpower to mount an effective invasion. So what we'll likely see is air strikes against targets in Iran. Secondly there's likely to be even less cooperation from the international community. The UK is less likely to enter into the fray, given it's change of prime minister. The rest of Europe hasn't suddenly jumped on the Pax-Americana bandwagon either, after all who'd want to voluntarily be dominated by another country when you don't have to. The only country likely to join in is Canada, since a change in government has put the neo-cons in power here too. So the neo-cons, in their attempt to be the global big boy on the block will likely end up further isolating themselves.

So we are likely to see further US aggression before the end of the Bush presidency, as the neo-cons can't guarantee that they'll still be in power come January and they're sufficiently ideologically blind to press ahead with the restructuring of the world despite the growing evidence that they're not getting where they want to be. We are, unfortunately, also going to see Canada moving down the same path under the Harper Conservatives. Harper is a dyed in the wool neo-con, his speeches prior to becoming PM are ample evidence of that. As such he sees his American counterparts as kindred spirits and will do anything to help them. So see us going to war alongside of the US against Iran and whatever ill advised foreign adventure the American neo-cons can come up with in the next year. That would be the Canadian neo-con plan, to so entwine us in US foreign policy that we become at best little more than an American vassal state. We can only hope that the Canadian voter senses this and doesn't want to go down that path and votes this lot out whenever the next election will be held.

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