When Hercules is Intoxicated, Furious,
by B.J. Sabri
March 8, 2003
[Reuters reported (February 20, 2003): “Russia in a clear attack on US policy, said on Thursday UN arms inspectors were being put under pressure to leave Iraq or produce reports that could be used as a pretext for military action”. (Italics are mine)]
The Bush Administration (following in the footsteps of the Clinton Administration, which in 1998 conspired with former chief weapons inspector Richard Butler to withdraw his team prior to operation Desert Fox) has now reduced its philosophical list of reductionist postulations for a war against Iraq to one pure element: war must happen.
The never publicized injunction to the inspectors to choose between two fundamentally convergent vectors of intent, where each vector will produce the same result of sanctioning America’s war objective, is an ominous prelude for a premeditated descent into chaos without purpose. Aside from being another ring in the US chain of flagrant abuse of world states and their collective decisions, the true objective of the injunction is to validate the Administration’s strategic thinking to test the world’s breaking point and its surrender to US dictate.
The injunctions and threats are not limited only to Iraq and to the inspectors. Bush, after all the threats, epithets, and derogations he heaped on the UN, now decided to give it “a last chance” to succumb to his request for war or face irrelevance. It follows that, if the UN were to do just that, it would become relevant; if it does not, then it would become irrelevant. It does not take a lot of thinking to conclude that Bush, believing religiously that his authority is the highest and final temporal authority on earth, considers the delivery of ultimatums and conferring of derogatory adjectives as a gift to a world that is impatiently waiting for his enlightenment on the meaning of relevance, war, disarmament, and terrorism. The tantalizing perception that the US has become un unopposed super-empire capable of imposing wars on a world that no longer considers them viable solutions to festering problems, must have gone to the heads of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz to the point of visualizing how this world would genuflect to every order they enjoin.
The characteristics of any ruling elite that rejects negotiation as a way to prevent military conflict from exploding, pose a serious dialectical dilemma that ends with multiple resolutions not necessarily identical in finality although compatible in consequences. For instance, are there real differences between two ruling elites having dissimilar backgrounds and political philosophies when both are determined to impose on others only one direction to follow? If a dictator, as well as a president of a representative democracy can both impose their will by coercion or intimidation, then what is the difference, in form and content, between the two impositions? Some would feel enraged by the notion of equating both elites and their objectives. However, this will not void the comparison, as I am pointing to an equivalency of outcomes of the two types of impositions, and not to an equation of values.
A will executed against the opposition of many is essentially a dictatorial trait. Decisions made by elected people are not an expression of popular will, nor are they mystical deeds that transcend our intellectual faculties and political comprehension. The bad decision Saddam made to invade Kuwait is on the same footing of the US wanting to invade Iraq, albeit the purpose of each invasion is different. The democracy alibi will not work in this example, and neither the apology of pretended superior parameters of the decision-making in the democracy model. Along this line, victims killed by dictatorship’s violence and victims killed by democracy’s war share the same result of planned violence. Are we going to ask victims killed by US bombs to accept their death because “democratic hands” fired the bomb? Are the crimes of a democracy sweet and tender, while equivalent crimes of a dictatorship are unsavory and lousy?
There were many conquerors, caesars, emperors, kings, viceroys, satraps, caliphs, dictators, presidents, and leaders, who wreaked immense havoc on earth and its inhabitants before George W. Bush appeared on the scene thanks only to his dynastic affiliation. However, Bush is definitely and potentially more dangerous than all of them combined. It is true that none of his historical peers had stealth bombers, cluster and microwave bombs, and nuclear, biological, genetic, and chemical weapons as he has. Yet, aside from his weapons, he still beats all of them on another ground: his incessant attempts and beliefs that through scripted performances repeated ad nauseam, he can mesmerize the American audience into accepting a war of conquest and aggression as a war of liberation from a petty dictator that threatens America [sic]. If the objective of war is to depose Saddam from power, then why is the US planning to occupy Iraq and control its oil, indefinitely?
With the constant threat of using his often-vaunted military arsenal to defeat his invented enemies, Bush and his men are pulling a cowed US behind them in a fatal run after the mirage of absolute dominance on the planet. Now, world governments have to choose between two generous offers: compliance with US orders that will leave them morally bankrupt, but it will allow them to reap some transitory financial benefits; or non-compliance, which will leave them morally intact, but it may lead to punishment by economic suffocation and exclusion from the capitalistic loop.
If the US owns UN member states, it has an agreement that they prostrate before any US ambassador appearing on the stage, or it pays for the entire management bill of the organization, then maybe the US is entitled to fire it and create a new organization of its liking. Because the current UN is a free association of what are supposed to be sovereign states, then no single state, big or small, can arrogate to itself the right to confer or deny titles of relevance. This would entail an impasse: while the US decrees that the UN is irrelevant, the UN insists that it is still more relevant than ever. Consequently, we have a conflict of propositions. If the US deems the UN irrelevant, then why does it not withdraw from it? Conversely, if the UN insists that, it is relevant; then why does it not expel the only nation that considers them irrelevant?
Clearly, no one should expect this mischievous fantastication to happen for many reasons. 1) The US needs the UN; as it stands, a ruler needs subjects. 2) The US needs the UN but not before emptying it from its vital functions as a collective of diverse states enjoying converged purposes; in essence, it needs this collective but only if it is supine or pliable enough to provide legality to pre-engineered decisions. 3) Further, the US needs a conferred “legitimacy” by others; this is a necessary acknowledgment of authority. A ruler over a land without people has no authority. 4) The US may bring the dissolution of the UN; however, this leaves an imperial US with the menial task of dealing with each world state separately. 5) The UN cannot expel the US. The US is an important nation and a founder of the UN. In addition, the demise of the UN is a cherished target of many US hawks; therefore, the UN would not give to the US the pretext to either bypass or dissolve the organization, which may lead to anarchy unleashed as the US is now totally unfettered from constraints.
Further, aside from Germany and France, people of the world, and international voices such as Nelson Mandela and the Pope who oppose US war as a matter of principle; which other state has the solid nerves, unbreakable moral fiber, and the wisdom of history to stand up to the US stance without fear? Can we expect opportunistic Russia or China to stand up to US bullying? Can any state publicly and courageously challenge a Hercules that is severely intoxicated by his military power, uncontrollably furious under the extreme influence of its ideological fervor, and entirely unchained from the minimum norms that dictate coherent reasoning before brute strength, and unbendable moral certainty before deliberate mayhem?
As I stated before, the US needs the UN’s “cover of legitimacy”. But if the current UN role is reduced to the sole function of rubber-stamping impositions by powerful states; then time has come to dissolve it and start all over. The logical alternative to this ethical disintegration is clear and limpid: the UNSC denies the US this sought after “legitimacy”. Sure, its members have to forfeit their PhD degree in relevance and the price paid for it, but they will confirm their independence and their fundamental role as members of an organization of peace and the rule of international law.
On one hand, if the UN Security Council decides to deny the US its “cover of legitimacy” and the US and her so-called “coalition of the willing” still decides to go to war against the Iraqi people, so be it! At least the UN is not going to stain its hands by the blood of innocent Iraqi civilians; this will be at the hands of the US and UK, and no one else. On the other hand, if the UNSC, in its entirety, kneels down to the US, then it is a full-fledged partner in an unprecedented crime against humanity. However, this scenario opens the gates for a fundamental question: does a verdict reached by Council members that were forced, bribed, and threatened to vote for war, have any legitimacy?
Consequently, I would like to ask a question: if the defense or the prosecution in a court case bribes and threatens the jury, does the verdict this jury reaches have any legitimacy? It is astonishing that serious American legal scholars are dead silent on this scandalous bribery bazaar held at the United Nations Organization and around the world. Do they, in synchrony with the Bush Administration, consider this matter “irrelevant” and beyond the realm of the legal system? How would these scholars react if France, Russia, or Germany were doing to the UN what the US is doing now? What is the opinion of O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, et al who debated ad nauseam the minutia of Bush’s election for the presidency?
Furthermore, does bought legitimacy coincide with, or can it substitute a natural legitimacy produced by consensus and the tenets of international law that the US itself helped write? This is an important aspect of the situation, where several anti-war activists, illegitimate Arab regimes, certain members of the outdated no-aligned movement (non-aligned with what?), and others proclaim that they are against US war unless the UN sanctions it. The question is, can a coerced sanctioning end the confusion and transform an illegal war of aggression into a legal war in accordance with US definition?
Hypocrisy, duality, and fear are thriving, as many states are looking to the UNSC to make a decision that would spare them the endless deliberations, under US pressure, whether to side or not with a hell-bent on war US. This, in theory, would absolve them from any moral or historical responsibility. In the end, many, under threats or bribery, are already accepting or preparing to accept US requirements for war including the supplying of the “cover of legitimacy”. However, since we all know that this legitimacy is tainted, skin and bones, are we supposed to erase that from our memory! At the end of all counts, a crime is a crime even if a coerced UN sanctions it! Coerced legitimacy is illegitimacy by synonymy. It is the rape of innocence, the destruction of hope, and the assassination of civility.
I spoke earlier of chaos without purpose, but is that really so? Of course, it has a purpose; it keeps the Administration’s engine working to implement its agenda starting from the war against Iraq. From pertinent dissection of events leading to the threshold of this war, it is plausible to conclude that its creation is neither accidental nor a byproduct of a tragic event such as 9/11 that acted as a trigger. Indeed, all verifiable hypotheses about US intentions toward Iraq and the world, point to one pre-defined direction that I call the riddle of the opposites.
Take the Iraqi example, for instance, when all indications point out to the frightening cracks in the world order because of unjustified war, the Administration welcomes these cracks as a purifying catharsis leading to a higher order -- the American order. When we state that arms inspections will verify disarmament and avoid war, the Administration states the value of the inspections is to prove verification useless and make war possible; and when Iraq decides to destroy even its rudimentary missiles, Bush declares these missiles “the tip of the iceberg”. At the core of the “riddle of the opposites” is the clear strategy aimed at deriding, minimizing, or discounting all verifiable processes of Iraqi disarmament, so that the strategic target of war making remains unchanged. After Iraq, and a brief lull, a new target will be invented, and the march to the rest of the world will reprise its pace according to what the US generals learnt from the new Iraqi experience!
The US determination to subvert what is left of the already emaciated moral standards that govern consensus among nations; along with the blatant buying, bribing, cajoling, and threatening of the entire world to accept its war has now reached limits that go beyond anything seen during the entire history of humanity. In addition, it catapulted many countries into a loathsome prostitution frenzy that knows no shame, limit, or consideration. The example of former communist countries wanting to join NATO is instructive.
The open prostitution, for an accord or a vote, between the US (corruptor) that will pay for the services rendered from future Iraqi spoils of war and a country with weak economy such as Angola, Bulgaria, and Turkey (corruptee), is an abhorrent phenomenon that can easily outclass the dictionary meaning of the word “prostitution” itself.
Just think of the US bargaining with the Turkish government and its parliament to disregard the overwhelming majority of its people opposing war, and accept US troops’ deployment on their territory. This bribe is at once, the absolute apogee of induced corruption of a nascent democracy by pecuniary enticement, and the absolute nadir in the rapidly disappearing curve of human morality. The subversion of simple democracy could not have been more eloquent as when the US, finding out that vote results were not favorable to troop’s deployment, it started immediately to pressure Turkey’s pro-US military strongmen to either order a re-vote or face punishment through the IMF. Other examples of corruption are the US declaring a fourth rate Bulgarian economy a “market economy” and listing Chechen organizations fighting for independence, as “terrorist organizations”. The intent is obvious: to buy Bulgaria’s vote at the UNSC, and Russia’s acquiescence to US war plans by abstaining or declining to use its veto power at the same council.
The China syndrome resulting from this international prostitution will leave its indelible marks on the moral maps of history maybe for the rest of time. Obviously, this is of no consequence to an aggressive American policy that copies, for a reason, Israeli philosophical attitudes and deep-seated distorted ideological convictions. As the insemination of the seeds of moral disaster is proceeding, its premature harvest is already starting to haunt the existing fragile world order.
We know now, with certainty, that the triumvirate: money, military power, and threats can corrupt not only individuals, but also entire classes of world governments. Corruption transactions have become the hottest items of globalization, and have surpassed all other stock-market transactions in the speed of exchange. They are now conducted in broad daylight, and not in the dark corridors of power. They are everywhere around you, now you can hear, see, and read about them; and are rapidly mutating into the bonding cement that fills the vacuum in our desolate realities and ethical swamps, where an overbearing and uncountable military power offers a corrupted and violent code of conduct as a guiding principle for our “bright” future.
Corruption by bribery, violence by war, and threat of punishment for all those who disobey the masters of the universe, are but a few articles in our illuminating corollary for the coming ages. Even notions such as unjust war, civilian causalities, refugees, hunger and disease because of war, destruction of property do not move people or governments any more. Months and months of war talks have desensitized feelings and attitudes. Just when we thought that humanity had left its most savage stages behind, we now realize that we, on the contrary, leaped further backward to the cannibalistic laws of our darkest ages.
The paradox of the US flirtation with and conversion to practices typical of an outlaw, is as astounding as much as contradictory, and gives vindication to an infamous figure in twentieth-century America. Al Capone has finally triumphed. The country that put him on trial for his crimes of corruption by bribery, violence by the use of weapons, and threats of punishment against disobedience, has now meticulously emulated his methods!
B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American peace
activist. Email: email@example.com