Monday, September 29, 2003

Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order by Robert Kagan

Paradise Gained?
Robert Kagan explores the widening gap between the United States and Europe
By Matthew Guarnieri and John H. Jernigan
Harvard Political Review OnLine

"It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world."

Robert Kagan


Do you believe the Europeans have been able to develop a utopian world view, (at least one that does not require them to exercise power abroad), only because America has been protecting them from the "dangers of the real world" for so long? This is the way Neo-Conservative Robert Kagan thinks. His views deserve a good thorough reading, in my opinion. We cannot make judgements until we understand howthe Neocon mind works, can we?

From the book:

"The United States, in short, solved the Kantian paradox for the Europeans. Kant had argued that the only solution to the immoral horrors of the Hobbesian world was the creation of a world government. But he also feared that the "state of universal peace" made possible by world government would be an even greater threat to human freedom than the Hobbesian international order, inasmuch as such a government, with its monopoly of power, would become "the most horrible despotism." How nations could achieve perpetual peace without destroying human freedom was a problem Kant could not solve. But for Europe the problem was solved by the United States. By providing security from outside, the United States has rendered it unnecessary for Europe's supranational government to provide it. Europeans did not need power to achieve peace and they do not need power to preserve it.

The current situation abounds in ironies. Europe's rejection of power politics, its devaluing of military force as a tool of international relations, have depended on the presence of American military forces on European soil. Europe's new Kantian order could flourish only under the umbrella of American power exercised according to the rules of the old Hobbesian order. American power made it possible for Europeans to believe that power was no longer important. And now, in the final irony, the fact that United States military power has solved the European problem, especially the "German problem," allows Europeans today to believe that American military power, and the "strategic culture" that has created and sustained it, are outmoded and dangerous.

Most Europeans do not see the great paradox: that their passage into post-history has depended on the United States not making the same passage. Because Europe has neither the will nor the ability to guard its own paradise and keep it from being overrun, spiritually as well as physically, by a world that has yet to accept the rule of "moral consciousness," it has become dependent on America's willingness to use its military might to deter or defeat those around the world who still believe in power politics."

Situation Excellent, I Am Attacking

Situation Excellent, I Am Attacking
By William Rivers Pitt

t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Wednesday 24 September 2003

"That's the spirit, George. If nothing else works, then a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through."

-- General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, 'Blackadder Goes Forth'

There is not enough grammar in the entirety of the English language to describe the incredible international humiliation that has befallen the United States of America. That this humiliation was brought down upon the American people by the man supposedly in charge of the country is, in all honesty, no big surprise for those who have been watching this all unfold. The layers of crushing embarrassment have been building like river sediment for months upon months upon months. On Tuesday, however, George W. Bush managed to completely obliterate the hard-won standing the United States has earned within the global community.

Never mind that the Iraqi seat was filled at the United Nations by none other than the crawling kingsnake himself, Ahmad Chalabi. Chalabi has been cheerleading for war in Iraq for years, and became a boon companion of Donald Rumsfeld and the other neocon hawks who cobbled the war together with a tapestry of lies and fear-mongering. He was, in fact, Rumsfeld's hand-picked leader-in-waiting of Iraq as early as 1997. Chalabi was convicted of 32 counts of bank fraud and sentenced to 22 years imprisonment by a Jordanian court in 1992, and yet this hand-picked sock puppet was George W. Bush's chosen exemplar of a free and democratic Iraq. If you want to know one big reason why the mainstream media reported so long and so erroneously about Iraq's weapons capabilities, look to Chalabi, who was the main source for New York Times reporter Judy Miller's horribly inaccurate reporting on the matter. Where the Times goes, the others will follow. Thank you, Ahmad. I hope the chair is comfortable. You are no more deserving of its accommodation than the vile people who occupied it before you.

Never mind that the entire United Nations may as well not have shown up in the first place. The pitch and tenor of Bush's speech was not aimed at that body. It was directed at the mainstream American media, whose reporting on these matters has been about as sharp as a sack of wet mice. Yet even to that tone-deaf receiver, Bush failed to complete the pass. He meandered off into a free-association rant about sex slaves, somehow forgetting that his own citizens were waiting to hear how he was going to get them out of the mess he so brazenly threw them in to. Certainly, the matter of international slavery in the 21st century is of deadly importance, but what connection it has to the blood-and-guts catastrophe unfolding in the Middle East is still hovering somewhere in space.

Never mind that in the first ten words of his speech, George W. Bush once again tried to connect the nation of Iraq to the attacks of September 11th. He failed to explain how a nation under near-total occupation before the war, crushed by sanctions, devoid of weapons of any merit whatsoever, unable to even launch a fighter aircraft in its own airspace, and completely lacking in any connections to Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda, could have managed to challenge the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. These are mere details. Bush chose instead to hew close to the bones of our beloved dead, to use them again as an excuse and as cover for his terrible mistakes, lies and mismanagement. The Iraq-9/11 connection has been so thoroughly debunked that Bush himself was forced recently to publicly denounce it, while claiming shock that anyone would think he'd try to make such a connection. Yet there he stood before the judgment of the world, coughing up the same old hairball on their carpet.

Never mind the rank absurdity of it all. There is an old story of a French officer who, when thrown into an impossible battle, sent a communiqué to his commanders: "Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent, I am attacking!" That sad chestnut was on display before the United Nations on Tuesday, with George W. Bush and the United States of America standing in for the officer. Bush was at the United Nations for one reason: He got his country into terrible trouble, in defiance of virtually the entire international community, and was forced to come begging for help. An ounce of contrition would have furthered the cause of actually helping to repair the devastation in Iraq. An ounce of contrition would have shown America to be the humble nation Bush promised us way back in 2000. An ounce of contrition would almost certainly have motivated the U.N. to leave aside wrangling, roll up its sleeves, and begin to repair the damage that has been done. That ounce was not offered, and the jut-jawed whipsaw President barefaced his way through what could have been the most hopeful moment the Iraqi people have seen in 100 years. Situation excellent, I am attacking.

Never mind the 26,000 liters of anthrax, the 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, the 500 tons of sarin and mustard gas and VX gas, the 30,000 munitions capable of deploying this red death, the mobile biological weapons labs, and the infamous 'yellow-cake' uranium from Niger, that has so fantastically failed to materialize. All of this is sitting on a White House web page called 'Disarm Saddam Hussein.' This was the argument, the reason for war. None of it exists in any coherent state. The administration's own hired-gun weapons inspector, Dr. David Kay, has been tearing through Iraq to find all of these horrors promised by Bush and the gang. His report, saying pointedly that the stuff isn't there, was ready to be released on September 15th, but was promptly buried by the administration.

Never mind all that. It comes down to this.

Over the last 227 years, the United States of America went from a brawling, rebellious infant to the greatest democracy in the universe. This nation spent oceans of blood, sweat and tears to earn the respect of the world. Too often, it abused that respect by abusing the world, but always managed to regain its standing within the global community by the sheer force of its goodness, its ideals, and its willingness to help other nations in need. When the attacks of September 11th came, that global community responded to our essential goodness by embracing us with a passionate ferocity that has no precedent in the annals of human history. That standing is dust now, ground under the heels of a pack of ideological extremists who would wrap the world in flames if it profited them a few more ducats. The world sees this, and has seen it for some time now. The United Nations was used on Tuesday as a prop for a failing President's Fox newsbite writ large. It is a shame and a scandal and a disaster beyond description that this great nation has fallen so very low.

A moment will come on January 20th, 2005. It will be cold in Washington D.C. A man who is not George W. Bush will raise his hand and swear and oath to preserve, protect and defend the United States of America. The words "So help me God" will be snatched by the wind and carried across seas and mountains to the furthest corners of the planet. When that happens, all of the Earth will be joined together in the deepest and most profound exhalation of relief. When that happens, George W. Bush will have become in his absence what he completely failed to be with his presence: A uniter.


William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of He is a New York Times and international best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq," available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available from Pluto Press, and "Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in August from Context Books.