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Re: questions for discussion
by Elson Boles
30 September 2002 20:08 UTC
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Steve: I think you still miss the forest for the trees.  That there are
growing differences of global policy between the US and Europe heads of
state, no doubt.  Will the differences grow?  Quite likely.  But just
how "deep-seated" the differences are, and whether they will it become a
real rift, something even approaching the Cold War, seems rather far
off.  I think they have much more in common than not, and increasingly
the conflicts are being resolved through the UN.  What seems to be
happening is perhaps analogous to when classes became state-oriented in
pursuing their interests, which was to strengthen the interstate system.
Increasingly, national-ethnic classes (workers and enterprises), ethnic
and other status-based groups, are pursuing their interests globally and
becoming UN-oriented.  The question is, over then next 20 years or
longer, which will grow faster, the intra-core rivalries or the ability
and power of the UN to resolve those rivalries?

That the war with Iraq contributes today to the general differences of
global policy between US and EU or even Security Council states, no
doubt.  But it is hard to not notice, as Boris notes, a trend of
European support for US-led wars, or non-involvement.  Again, I haven't
seen any convincing evidence that a US invasion of Iraq will cause in a
real rift between Europe and the US.  (And what is new about Russia or
China's opposition?  Nothing.  Iraq's another bargaining chip!)

Boris: As for the Gulf War, yes, it is (and was) unimaginable that
anti-war sentiment would have conditioned an election in Europe at that
time.  But that is because the context was radically different: Iraq had
blatantly invaded another sovereign state for one (a state that the US
had gone to great lengths in arming Iraq to ensure, in part, that it
wouldn't be invaded by Iran).  In Kosovo, Europeans hesitated to
escalate with ground troops in part because the fighting was at their
backdoor, and in part for the same reasons the US politically preferred
air strikes.  But they all went ahead with an even more massive air
assault than that on Iraq because the ethnic cleansing on both sides of
the conflict embarrassed Europe and didn't tie-in well with EU
unification, and justified NATO.  And let's not forget Afghanistan which
everyone went along with for the most part, again because the outward
violence against the US was blatant (not covert), and next to impossible
for allies others to openly oppose even if they had wanted to.  But of
course, they didn't want to because politically Afghanistan isn't the
Middle East, and does open oil line possibilities.  (And we might make
mention of Rwanda in '94; all agreed to simply ignore the genocide of a
million lives -- or so-called "acts of genocide" -- and hoped no-one
noticed that they knew exactly what was happening but chose to not get
involved because they didn't have any "national interests" at stake --
and they succeeded fantastically in this).

The bit of resistance to the campaigns in Kosovo and Afghanistan wasn't
based primarily on, as it is with the US-planned invasion of Iraq today,
practical grounds or political grounds that can be ignored (as with
Rwanda).  The grounds today that can't be ignored include the fallout of
Middle East instability from a US invasion and the overthrowing of a
government that isn't actively undermining the sovereignty of other
states, or pursuing communist policies, or involved in ethnic cleansing
in Europe, or international terrorism against the US.

In planning to undermine a state that is basically minding it's own
business -- which of course can't be said of any of the core states --
the US is setting a new post cold-war precedent to advance with a
blatant military invasion the interests of those corporations that have
the greatest influence on the US government (most of them being
US-based), and to leave German businesses out in the cold for not toeing
the line.  These are the sharp differences of Iraq today compared to
Afghanistan, Kosovo, or Rwanda.

Elson Boles
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Sociology
Saginaw Valley State University
University Center
Saginaw MI, 48710

> -----Original Message-----
> From: wsn-owner@csf.colorado.edu
> [mailto:wsn-owner@csf.colorado.edu] On Behalf Of Boris Stremlin
> Sent: Monday, September 30, 2002 1:29 AM
> Subject: Re: questions for discussion
> It is hard not to notice a distinct trend in European (not to mention
> Arab) willingness to go along with US-led wars since the end
> of the Cold War. In that "wonderful moment" in late 1990, not 
> only did everyone support the war to bring about the New 
> World Order, but a great many countries actually sent troops 
> to support the US in Desert Storm.  In Kosovo in 1998, the 
> support was much more tenuous, and as a result, the use of 
> ground troops was ruled out (ultimately ensuring that the 
> final settlement would be a negotiated one).  Today, there is 
> widespread opposition, and the success of any possible 
> resolutions supporting war against Iraq in the Security 
> Council is up in the air.  There are also governments in 
> Europe elected on a platform of opposition to US foreign 
> policy - a stance which would have been unimaginable 10 years 
> ago.  Even assuming that the US eventually obtains support 
> and achieves a quick and decisive victory in Iraq, there is 
> every reason to suppose that this trend will continue, 
> because the Bush administration will continue to press for 
> war against other countries, because the rebuilding of Iraq 
> will likely be no less haphazard than that of Afghanistan, 
> and because European corporations will get short-changed in 
> the division of the spoils.
> It is also not entirely accurate to argue that the European
> opposition is momentary, and triggered by the policies of a 
> particularly hawkish administration.  Although it is true 
> that the present administration is especially militaristic 
> and prone to hardball foreign policy, the difference between 
> it and previous administrations is not as great as looks.  We 
> should recall that the first Gulf War was engineered by the 
> first Bush administration, which initially gave the green 
> light for Iraq to invade Kuwait, and then purposely sabotaged 
> Gorbachev's peace plan. The same thing happened before the 
> Kosovo War at Rambouillet (who can forget Madeleine 
> Albright's immortal phrase "what we say, goes"?)  There are 
> plenty of hawks among Democratic foreign policy people (the 
> most influential is Albright's mentor Zbigniew Brzezinski, 
> whose strategic blueprint has the US taking control of 
> Central Asia).  So the opposition between European and US 
> interests appear quite deep-seated, and growing.
> PS - In his translation of Patrick Tyler's NYT article, Steve
> noted the pious wishes of the administration regarding 
> eventual support of the US position by France, China and 
> Russia.  I would only add that these pronouncements regarding 
> UN support are almost identical in tone to the president's 
> insistence that those who are getting into the market right 
> now are "buying value".  This sort of magic is the red thread 
> that runs through all the policies of this administration.
> --
> Boris Stremlin
> bstremli@binghamton.edu

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