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Signs of the Times for Mon, 24 Jul 2006

Signs Editorial:

by Rodrigue Tremblay
July 24, 2006
THe New American Empire
"The US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the UN charter."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, (Sept. 2004)

"I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."

George W. Bush, (June 18, 2002, speech)

"I think this is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history."

George A. Akerlof, 2001 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, (July 29, 2003)

Coincidence or not, things started to go bad internationally soon after George W. Bush squeezed into power in January 2001, with the help of a one-member majority of the U.S. Supreme Court. Days after his inauguration, the new president began uttering incendiary statements, seemingly designed to provoke the Muslim world, but also to bully America's allies.

Contrary to previous American presidents who tried to maintain at least the appearance of neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bush chose instead to put his foot in his mouth by proclaiming his overt partiality: "We're going to correct the imbalances from the previous administration on the Mideast conflict. We're going to tilt it back toward Israel. And we're going to be consistent."

Then Bush declared his contempt for international treaties and for international law, joking smart-aleckly that his lawyer, future Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "didn't bring that up to me." Moreover, he proceeded to cancel unilaterally decades-old treaties and conventions.

To what extent the al Qaeda attacks of 9/11 were in response to Bush's provocations, we will probably never know. One thing is certain, however, and it is that they surely did not help.

The U.N.-sanctioned 2001 attacks against the al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan were accepted by the rest of the world as a necessary military mission to extirpate the virus of Islamist terrorism. Such was not the case with the unprovoked 2003 war against Iraq. There were no Islamist terrorists in Iraq before George W. Bush decided on his own to invade and occupy that country militarily.

It was all too clear that the balkanization of Iraq was part of George W. Bush's larger (neocon) agenda. By invading Iraq illegally and by destroying its government, the Bush-Cheney administration knew perfectly well that such a foreign intervention would precipitate a civil war between the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds, and bring forth a nationalist reaction.

In the case of Iraq, the tenuous links between its three main ethnic-religious groups made it inevitable that the destruction of the central government would open the gates to sectarianism and disintegration.

It did not bother risk-taker George W. Bush that invading a country to bring about a regime change is per se an illegal act under international law. Instead, Bush's advisors had the responsibility of finding an "excuse" for war and for "fixing the facts" around the already decided policy of war. We now know that when Bush said that war was a policy of "last resort", he was lying. Now the new American colony in the Middle East is in ruins and in chaos, and death squads are killing people at will. Iraq is also poorer, with its production of oil down to about 1.5 million barrels a day, almost a million barrels below where it was before the American invasion of March 2003. There has also been a notable social regression in Iraq, with Iraqi women being subjected to the strict interpretation of the harsh Islamic law, the Sharia. Under U.S. occupation, Iraq is a de facto Islamic sharia state.

Bush II also demonstrated how irremediably caught up he is in the tangled neocon web when, in early July 2006, he 'authorized' Israel's Ehud Olmert to indiscriminately bomb the defenseless country of Lebanon, even though there were 25,000 Americans in that country and hundreds of thousands of other nationals at risk. What's more, Israeli offensive military forces were dropping American bombs on Beirut and on Lebanese villages.  As a consequence, more than 350 Lebanese and other nationals, nearly all of whom were civilians and a third, children, have perished under Israeli bombs. Not only is George W. Bush complicit to these murders, he is directly responsible for them, because the Olmert government would never have challenged international law and international opinion if GWB had not been solidly and openly behind him. The Axis is alive and well and has no respect for any law,  humanitarian or otherwise.

On an other level, the list of international treaties-which are "the law of the land" according to the U. S. Constitution (Art. VI, para. 2) and the U.S. Supreme Court-that George W. Bush has unilaterally disregarded, cancelled or violated, is very long.

They include: -The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia, -the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming, -the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, -the 1997 Land Mine Treaty, -the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, -the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, -the Geneva conventions of  Aug. 12, 1949, -the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the 2001 UN Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Illicit Small Arms, -the 1998 International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty, -the 1996 Comprehensive [Nuclear] Test Ban Treaty, -the 2001 International Plan for Cleaner Energy, -the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, -the 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal Charter against wars of aggression, etc.

A government bent on consciously spreading international anarchy could not have done better. Anarchy is by definition the absence of order. The word is derived from the Greek av (absence of) and apxn (authority or government). In a lawless international world, the strong bullies can have their way, for a while, without being accountable for their acts. Within democratic countries, domestic anarchy has been replaced by the rule of law. Unfortunately, as the events of the last few years have demonstrated, the existing international system of order built around the United Nations Charter does not seem to be strong enough to prevent a return to international anarchy.

There is no better way to undermine civilization than for a powerful country to resort to the law of the strongest. The arrogant use of force and violence as substitutes for dialogue, diplomacy and negotiations is a sure way to international anarchy. In a world of international anarchy, however, no country is secure from being attacked and invaded. Political disintegration and economic regression inevitably follow, because laws and treaties are not worth the paper they are written on. -There is no such thing as the common good of humanity. -It's every country for itself. To pretend to be a law-abiding country and to treat other countries badly is sheer hypocrisy. Mind you, the Peace Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 was the first to introduce international law and the fundamental principle of national sovereignty into the international arena. This was the beginning of civilization in international relations, and it paved the way for establishing democracy in most of Europe.

In the Muslim world, however, the reverse is happening today. The advent of democracy has been set back decades because Bush's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq has resulted in an Islamist and anti-democracy reaction. This reaction has been exacerbated by the military invasion of Lebanon by the U.S.'s client state, Israel.

Far from announcing the spread of liberal democratic institutions in the Muslim world or in the Middle East, the Islamist/nationalist reaction to the American-Israeli Axis' bullying tactics has helped totalitarian religious parties get closer to power. Everywhere, Islamic nationalism is on the rise, and moderate Muslims have been placed on the defensive, if not pushed underground. Even in Turkey, the most pro-Western Islamic country and a member of NATO, the anti-West mood is 'rising'. The very idea of exporting 'democracy' with bombs and tanks was crazy to begin with, more like a cruel hoax. Elections in some of the most extreme Islamic countries were bound to bring anti-West religious parties to power.

Indeed, in recent general elections in many Middle East countries, Islamist parties have obtained significant victories: for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, for Hamas in Palestine, for Hezbollah in Lebanon, and for a host of Islamist religious parties in Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan. As time goes on and the American-led occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Lebanon persist, and as American puppet Israel continues to kill innocent civilians in Gaza and in Lebanon, radical Islamist parties will gain further in popularity in most, if not all, Muslim countries. The U. S. will lose any following and Western values will be shunted aside in favor of radical Islamism. What a mess! -It is really true that under the failed leadership of George W. Bush, the world is going to hell (politically, economically and morally speaking)! -Such an outcome is not surprising, considering the two disastrous foreign policy "doctrines" crafted by the Bush-Cheney administration, i.e. the troubling regime change 'preventive war' "Bush Doctrine" and Cheney's even crazier faith-based "one percent" doctrine for unilateral military intervention.

History will record that, most of the time, the Bush-Cheney administration has displayed a rude single-minded arrogance in dealing with other countries. As a consequence of its confrontational and intransigent approach, the Bush team has alienated traditional allies and foes alike. It will take years for a new American administration to repair the damage done by the current wrecking crew-style administration.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@

He is the author of the book 'The New American Empire'.

>Visit his blog site

Author's Website:

Posted on July 24, 2006, at 7:30 a.m.

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