Magazine article New Internationalist

Where Next?: We Are in Danger of Entering a New Age of 'Disarmament' Warsled by an Aggressive, Unilateralist US. the NI Reports on Some of the Right-Wingthinkers Behind US Foreign Policy, and Considers Their Possible Next Targets

Magazine article New Internationalist

Where Next?: We Are in Danger of Entering a New Age of 'Disarmament' Warsled by an Aggressive, Unilateralist US. the NI Reports on Some of the Right-Wingthinkers Behind US Foreign Policy, and Considers Their Possible Next Targets

Article excerpt

We are in danger of entering a new age of `disarmament' wars led by an aggressive, unilateralist US. The NI reports on some of the right-wing thinkers behind US foreign policy, and considers their possible next targets.

NEO-CONSERVATIVE hawks in the US take the view that the invasion of Iraq is only the first step in a wider conquest of the Middle East.

Michael Leeden, of influential right-wing thinktank the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said on 19 March: `Iraq is a battle, not a war. We have to win the war... and spread freedom throughout the region.'

There is a continuing battle to shape Bush's foreign policy between the neoconservative hawks at the Pentagon and the `realpolitik' types in the State Department.

The AEI has hawks peppering President George W Bush's administration including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Its influence stretches deep into Washington policy circles, shaping the US attitudes to Iraq and Israel.

The AEI also houses the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). PNAC thinkers unashamedly talk in terms of an American empire, maintained by force of arms. The Project's founding statement asks: `Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American interests and principles?'

Iraq has been a target of PNAC since well before the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. In 1998 PNAC wrote to Clinton criticizing him for not re-invading Iraq. They have funnelled millions of dollars into funding the Iraqi National Congress to create an opposition to Saddam Hussein.

They see US occupation turning Iraq into the focus of international trade and US foreign investment, thereby spearheading the further integration of the Middle East into the global economy. PNAC thinkers have developed what they call the `democratic domino theory' in which, after the occupation of Iraq, the nations of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, then Lebanon and the PLO, and finally Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia will capitulate, collapse or face US military action. Richard Perle, of Pentagon advisory group the Defense Policy Board and AEI member, says that to those states: `We could deliver a short message, a two-word message: "You're next."'

A Washington insider, when asked why Rumsfeld had invaded Iraq with so few US troops, said: `So we can do it again.'

Other countries named as potential targets include oil-producing Venezuela, where the Bush administration endorsed a failed coup to depose the left-wing Chavez last year, North Korea and, some say, even China.

On 26 February George Bush made an impromptu appearance at the American Enterprise Institute to deliver a speech on Iraq, indicating the extent to which the AEI had won the battle for the direction of US foreign policy.

But pragmatism may yet win out over dreams of a new imperialism. The neoconservatives underestimated Iraqi resistance and have lost some credibility. Facing the 2004 election, Bush may find the US population has a weakened appetite for bloody military adventures with haemorrhaging budgets. The damage done by the hawks who have the ear of the President is, however, already incalculable.

IRAN

PRESIDENT BUSH defined Iran along with Iraq and North Korea as part of the `axis of evil', creating alarm that `regime change' for Iran is on the cards. Iran, Iraq's neighbour to the east, is the country of most consequence in the region, and no friend of the US since the Islamist revolution of 1979. The US right accuses Iran of funding the Lebanese group Hizbollah and has pressured Iran to give up its support for Palestinian opposition to Israel. Evidence that members of al-Qaeda have entered the country, along with fears of Iran developing weapons of mass destruction, have made the country a target. However, including Iran in the `axis of evil' could fuel a nuclear arms race in the region as countries that feel threatened by the US seek to defend themselves against potential attack. …

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