Skip to comments.Sept. 11: US Nice Guy says 'enough' (Long but VERY good read)
Posted on 09/07/2002 8:28:52 PM PDT by What Is Ain't
MUNICH (UPI) -- There is a theory in the Arab world, frequently aired on the TV discussion shows of Qatar's Al-Jazeera news channel, that the real impact of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 was less the 3,000 dead than the devastation wreaked on the American and broader Western economy.
In this grisly arithmetic of terror, the $7 trillion knocked off the value of American stocks, the body blows to the airline industry, the rise in the oil price and the global slowdown, targeted with gruesome precision the true vulnerability of American power. Osama bin Laden was not just the mastermind of the most devastating single terrorist strike in history; he was also the ultimate financial criminal, the Wall Street ghoul of all time.
This theory has its flaws. It ignores the fact that the high-tech bubble in stocks had burst a year before the hijacked airliners flew into the twin towers. It skates over the reality that the airlines were heading into financial trouble and the oil price was already skittish and the European and Japanese economies slowing even as Mohammed Atta was taking his flying lessons.
Yet there is somber truth in this curious Arab hypothesis. The real target of the terrorist strikes was less American lives than American self-confidence; less the symbolic architecture of the Pentagon and World Trade Center than the sheer vigor of the liberal capitalist model that America had developed and exported to much of a world increasingly converted to the core American principles of free trade and free markets, of free speech and free ideas.
And Osama bin Laden's shock troops zeroed in on a haunting paradox of the modern world; that a strong and rich and self-confident America is good for a world that increasingly resents it. When America booms, Europe prospers and Japanese exporters start to lift their stagnant economy from its decade-long doldrums. When Americans splurge on imported goods, business flourishes in China and South Korea, in India and Latin America.
And with the growing trade, local entrepreneurs start to make money, and to save and invest it. In that very process, as they consider how best to ensure the education of their children and the security of their old age, they start demanding honest government, decent schools and sound currencies. They start acting, in short, just like the articulate and politically engaged middle class of the Western democracies. This phenomenon has already transformed the political life of Mexico and Taiwan, Chile and South Korea. It is America's greatest export and its most potent secret weapon, devastating in its impact on dictatorships and theocracies.
The paradox is that this sweeping effect of liberation and social transformation is not necessarily popular. Indeed, one of the first signs of a nascent public opinion in much of the world is a demonstration against some form or other of American policy, often discreetly encouraged by regimes hoping to deflect popular unrest against the familiar target of Uncle Sam. Turn the paradox upside down and it still holds true; a weakened, chastened America is bad for a world that nonetheless loves to see the American colossus restrained and cut down to size -- even if the price is a global recession.
This paradox may be seen in the jeering response to America's first black secretary of state at last week's global summit in Johannesburg. It was on display in last week's meeting at the Arab League of foreign ministers whose regimes often rely on American support, and can constantly be encountered in the opinion pages of liberal European newspapers that should know better. And all of them seem to assume that America will continue to sit back and take it, like the good global citizen that America has tried to be in the last 60 years of defeating Fascism, Nazism, Communism and helping spread more wealth and more freedom to more people in more places than ever in human history.
They are wrong. The real effect of Sept. 11 is that American patience and tolerance for its global critics, most of whom do rather well out of America's benign hegemony, seems just about exhausted. And however it was that Osama bin Laden expected what he has called "the American Empire" to react to his murderous assault, if indeed he thought that far ahead, he seems not to have calculated that America might react by tearing up the old rule book of international affairs.
Empire is a bizarre term for the United States, which is led by a temporary elected president who is subject to the rule of law and the budgetary authority of Congress. It is hard to equate this with the classic empires of the past. The United States, with the temporary exceptions of the occupation forces in Japan and Germany after World War II, has not ruled others and shows little intention of doing so. But equally, looking at the new organizing principle of American policy that the War on Terrorism appears to represent, and the new military bases mushrooming across Central Asia, it may be that Sept. 11 has triggered something dramatic, a serious determination to accept the new challenge and play the role and assume the burdens of empire.
So it seemed to some participants at a conference earlier this year at Ditchley, a stately country house in Britain's Oxfordshire countryside. Winston Churchill took refuge there on moonlit nights during World War II, lest German bombers target his official country residence at Chequers. It has since become celebrated to its initiates as the spiritual home of the Anglo-Saxon alliance that has endured since Churchill's day. It is a discreet and very up-market conference center, supported by Britain's Foreign Office, where powerful officials and politicians from London and Washington, plus a handful of selected academics and journalists, have for more than 60 years met to discuss the state of the world. They all don black ties for a splendid dinner in a stately hall on Saturday nights, before gathering around the piano in song. In such convivial ways is the British conception of the "Special Relationship" studiously tended, although in recent years the ranks have widened to include other NATO allies and even the occasional Russian.
But the Ditchley conference in question was less amicable than most. From reports that have leaked from the usually confidential sessions, senior Bush administration officials had a blunt message to deliver. The European allies (the British excepted) were not pulling their weight in the alliance. Their defense budgets were far too low and they deployed too little fighting power from what they did spend. (This is true; Germany, for example, currently spends 1.5 percent of GDP on defense, less than half of America's 3.4 percent. Britain scrapes a passing grade with a whisker under 3 percent).
Moreover, those European allies that were members of the European Union were playing a dangerous game by courting a new European Union Rapid Reaction Force, designed to be separate from NATO, although typically still relying on NATO (by which they meant American) assets to be at all effective.
The Americans suspected that the Europeans were downgrading NATO, and if so, they could hardly expect the Americans to award the alliance its traditional weight. The Americans made no final judgments. The Europeans, whose waspish comments about Texan cowboys and unilateralism and Israel had not passed unnoticed in Washington, had to show that these suspicions were misplaced. Conveniently, a litmus test was at hand: the determination of the Bush administration to take its War on Terrorism to Iraq. If the Europeans played the supportive role expected of allies, fine. If not, Washington would draw the proper conclusions about NATO's future.
This was a disagreeable way to speak to allies, even at a closed and informal gathering. And in Paris, it seemed to pile yet another layer of authoritarian intransigence upon the wall that was growing between the United States and its European allies. From a French, and often from a wider European viewpoint, the Americans seemed to be steadily abandoning their traditional loyalty to the Atlantic Alliance and to the West as a whole. From the Kyoto Protocol on global warming to the International Criminal Court, from the Biowarfare protocol to tariffs on steel, from the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty to the international agreement against land mines, the Bush administration seemed careless of any idea of the common good, when this might appear distinct from American interests.
But then the Europeans seem deaf to American arguments, whether over Iraq, or the reliability of Yasser Arafat as a peace partner or anything else. They brush aside Washington's cogent criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol as a cosmetic exercise that does not include the real pollution threats of the 21st century, the fast-growing and energy-hungry demographic giants of China and India. The Europeans were deaf to American appeals that an exception be made in the land mine treaty for the South Korean border, where fewer mines would require more troops to protect it. Only grudgingly did the Europeans accept that America as the only credible global policeman might have a unique difficulty with an International Criminal Court, after the Europeans had rejected a reasonable American compromise to submit cases to the UN Security Council.
"When the Europeans demand some sort of veto over American actions, or want us to subordinate our national interest to a UN mandate, they forget that we do not think their track record is too good," a senior U.S. diplomat said recently in private. "The Europeans told us they could win the Balkans wars all on their own. Wrong. They told us that the Russians would never accept National Missile Defense. Wrong. They said the Russians would never swallow NATO enlargement. Wrong. They told us 20 years ago that détente was the way to deal with what we foolishly called the Evil Empire. Wrong again. They complain about our Farm Bill when they are the world's biggest subsidizers of their agriculture. The Europeans are not just wrong; they are also hypocrites. They are wrong on Kyoto, wrong on Arafat, wrong on Iraq -- so why should we take seriously a single word they say?"
If the Europeans are in for a rude awakening as America takes its own decisions over the War on Terrorism and dealing with President Bush's "axis of evil," then the Arab world is in for an even deeper shock. The United States has spent 30 years trying to play by what we might call European rules, seeking to play the role of honest broker between Arabs and Israelis, while paying them both handsomely for the privilege. (Israel and Egypt are the first and second recipients of U.S. aid). America has watched while the Saudi "allies" use their petro-dollars to buy off internal dissent against their indefensibly sexist and undemocratic feudal regime by exporting their intolerant and puritan Wahabist creed throughout the Islamic world.
Whether Europeans and Arabs like it nor not, Iraq will be getting not just a change of regime, but a change of system. There is a post 9-11 mood in Washington to ask why, with the kind of American resolve and wisdom that turned the World War II enemies of Japan and West Germany into peaceful and prosperous democracies, an Iraq liberated from Saddam Hussein, or a Palestinian state liberated from the corrupt incompetence of the Arafat gang, or an Afghanistan liberated from the Taliban, might not enjoy a similar transformation. The Saudi monarchy might hate such an emergence of democratic and representative government in its wretchedly ill-ruled region, but Washington understandably cares less and less for the concerns of a dubious ally whose nationals formed the bulk of the Sept. 11 terrorists.
Note that this is not the case of an enraged and vengeful America telling the world "no more Mr. Nice Guy." It is America saying "Enough" to the European "internationalism" of compromise and appeasement, and holding true to its core principles -- that democracy is in itself a good thing for all states and all peoples. The most valuable export America can send out to the world is its values and its freedoms and its readiness to devote blood and treasure to the mission. That would be the real memorial to the victims of 9-11.
>>>>>>The Saudi monarchy might hate such an emergence of democratic and representative government in its wretchedly ill-ruled region, but Washington understandably cares less and less for the concerns of a dubious ally whose nationals formed the bulk of the Sept. 11 terrorists.>>>>>>>
"The Saudis are fools and naive,you will find controlling them will not be difficult......Wipe them out,all of them.."
The United States, with the temporary exceptions of the occupation forces in Japan and Germany after World War II, has not ruled others and shows little intention of doing so.Apparently this guy has never heard of the Philippines, which we occupied from 1898 to 1946.
The other few US conquests and acquisitions -- Guam, Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico -- have all become either states or territories with US citizenship. Cuba was turned over to self-rule and independence very quickly after Spain was defeated.
Yeah, I caught that one too. Or Panama, for that matter. But what is significant about those, and for that matter about the occupation of Japan, a decidedly proto-imperial stance, is that we voluntarily returned all three to native governments, and what is even more astonishing, left even our strategic bases in the Philippines when asked. That simply is incompatible with the "imperialism" cliche we've become accustomed to.
Continental Europe has always found it easier to sit back and criticize than to step to the front. The risk of that policy is irrelevancy. It's surprising it's taken so long for that to happen, but I agree with the author, it is happening.
Good point. Compare the differnce between the American Philippines and the Belgian Congo and you'll see the difference between European and American 'imperialism.'
What they wouldn't mention is the difference between the US as a colonial power and say, France.
We have an interest in the fate of Britain, IMO.
They have the only military force of significance east of Maine. The EU is, so far, a farcical talk shop with no ability to carry out their silly, pompous threats to obstruct our freedom of action. There is no prospect (yet) that Germany, France, and Italy could or would create a military force to oppose us.
Britain is a different matter. If Britain falls to the EU, we will at best lose their fighting forces as allies-at worst, they will become enemies.
I hope so. Or they will crush him like a grape with false accusations and innuendo.
The United States, with the temporary exceptions of the occupation forces in Japan and Germany after World War II, has not ruled others and shows little intention of doing so.
Then again, maybe it's time to re-colonize the entire Arab world. Should take about 3 weeks.
But then the schools whould have to teach geography, and we can't have that. < /sarcasm>
Martin Walker UPI Chief International Correspondent
Martin Walker is a veteran foreign correspondent with a reputation for getting tomorrow's important international news today, which he regularly does in compiling the daily (M-F) feature "UPI Hears."
Walker, an expert on U.S. foreign policy and international affairs, spent 25 years at Britain's The Guardian newspaper, where he was Moscow bureau chief, U.S. bureau chief, European editor and assistant editor. He received Britain's "Reporter of the Year" prize in 1987.
He also is a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute at the New School in New York City.
Walker has appeared regularly on the BBC, National Public Radio and CNN. He scripted and narrated the BBC series "Martin Walker's Russia" and the BBC Analysis special "Clintonomics."
In addition, Walker has served as vice chairman of the European Institute of Washington. He is a member of the review board of International Affairs, the journal of Chatham House and the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. He has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University, UCLA, and the universities of Toronto, New York and Pittsburgh.
Walker was a Brackenbury Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, and a Harkness fellow at Harvard University, where he also was resident tutor at Kirkland House.
He has published seven non-fiction books and three
Oh, please, please, PLEASE, let this be true!!!!
About bloody time, too!
"they forget that we do not think their track record is too good," a senior U.S. diplomat said recently in private. "The Europeans told us they could win the Balkans wars all on their own. Wrong. They told us that the Russians would never accept National Missile Defense. Wrong. They said the Russians would never swallow NATO enlargement. Wrong. They told us 20 years ago that détente was the way to deal with what we foolishly called the Evil Empire. Wrong again. They complain about our Farm Bill when they are the world's biggest subsidizers of their agriculture. The Europeans are not just wrong; they are also hypocrites. They are wrong on Kyoto, wrong on Arafat, wrong on Iraq -- so why should we take seriously a single word they say?"
HARRUMPH! Who is this diplomat, and why isn't he the senior Senator from South Dakota??!!
Try to imagine any of this true American spirit coming to the surface if 538 more FL Democrat votes had been manufactured.
Martin Walker is now on my list of favorite writers.
Let's be careful what we wish for here. I'm not against Germany remaining toothless, militarily. Japan as well.
Moreover, the Land Ordinance and Northwest Ordinance written (essentially) by Jefferson were brilliant in that they made CITIZENS out of all "colonists," forever pre-empting the type of revolution against the U.S. that we staged against England. The Civil War came not from "colonists" but from citizens afraid of losing their ownership of people.
That's what 100 Western Civ and Technology & War students at the University of Dayton, in my classes, learn EVERY SEMESTER. I figure in four years I get close to 1000 student contacts.
Not nearly as shaky as some people's grasp of the concept of "empire".
Yes, you are correct.
Protectorate, in international law, a relationship in which one state surrenders part of its sovereignty to another. The subordinate state is called a protectorate. The term covers a great variety of relations, but typically the protected state gives up all or part of its control over foreign affairs while retaining a large measure of independence in internal matters. The relation may originate when the dominant power threatens or uses force or when the subordinate sees advantages (usually military protection) in the arrangement.
A protectorate is distinguishable from the relation of home country and colony, for the protected state retains its sovereignty (though often only nominally), its territory remains distinct from that of the protector, and its citizens do not become nationals of the protecting state. Initially, in most cases, the extent to which the dominant state may interfere in local affairs is governed by treaty; but since a protected state usually has no access to diplomatic channels, it is in a poor position to resist attempts at increased control.
Protectorates in connection with large empires probably have existed from earliest times, and there are known instances in Greek and Roman history. In World War I, Great Britain made Egypt a protectorate. Before the abrogation (1934) of the Platt Amendment, Cuba was essentially a protectorate of the United States.
Semantics, perhaps but those that hate to see American troops in a country always deem them Colonial patsies there to enforce american rule, instead of defenders.
But we were there to enfore American rule.
Initially, American forces were greeted as liberators by Filipinos glad to be rid of Spanish occupation. Soon however, it became clear that many in the US did not see the Filipinos as being fit for self-rule. The comments of Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge reflected an opinion held by some in the US who believed that God "has made us the master organizers of the world...that we may administer...among savages and senile peoples."
Despite the vocal objections of those who deplored such imperialistic notions as running counter to the tenets of American democracy, President McKinley ended up siding with those who felt the Philippines were too strategically important to the US to be governed by the Filipino people. McKinley declared his intention to "educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them," and mobilized 20,000 US troops to get the job done.
What was predicted to be a quick and relatively bloodless pacification of a backward people quickly escalated into a prolonged war. Filipinos, led by Emiliano Aguinaldo, having declared themselves a sovereign republic in 1898, employed the tactics of guerrilla warfare that confounded the American forces. The US was finally able to defeat the Filipino forces in 1902. But it had required the efforts of 70,000 troops, over 5,000 of whom were killed. More than 8,000 Filipinos died in the conflict.
The American Experience
Here is the 'broad' definition from InfoPlease.
Imperialism, broadly, the extension of rule or influence by one government, nation, or society over another.
Thanks for doing that. We need more professors like you.
Also true, though Cuba did not gain real independence until 1934, with the abrogation of the Platt Amendment. Until that time, it was clearly a protectorate.
The road to Cuban self-determination was prepared under United States guidance. In 1900 a new electoral law was passed that established a limited franchise for Cubans to elect officials at the municipal level. A constituent assembly convened and drafted a constitution that provided for universal suffrage, a directly elected president, a bicameral legislature, and the separation of church and state. The United States conditioned its approval of the constitution on the acceptance of a series of clauses that would preserve its upper hand in future dealings with "independent" Cuba.
These clauses, which were to be appended to the draft of the constitution, were prepared by United States secretary of war Elihu Root and attached to the arms appropriation bill of 1901; they became known as the Platt Amendment. It provided that Cuba should not sign any treaties that could impair its sovereignty or contract any debts that could not be repaid by normal revenues. In addition, Cuba had to accept the legitimacy of all acts of the military government, permit the United States to purchase or lease lands for coaling and naval stations, and give the United states special privileges to intervene at any time to preserve Cuban independence or to support a government capable of protecting life, property, and individual liberties.
The Platt Amendment represented a permanent restriction upon Cuban self-determination. Cuba's constituent assembly modified the terms of the amendment and presented it to the United States only to be turned down. The United States-imposed amendment was a tremendous humiliation to all Cubans, whose political life would be plagued by continual debates over the issue until its repeal in 1934. On June 12, 1901, Cuba ratified the amendment as a permanent addendum to the Cuban constitution of 1901 and the only alternative to permanent military occupation by the United States.
History of Cuba
I should hasten to add that although the US fought long and hard to subdue the Philippines, it also fought longer and harder to defend and later liberate the nation from Japanese domination forty years later.
Though as Americans we certainly cherish the principle of democratic home rule, America's protectorate of the Philippines could not have been more benign.