The demons begged him, If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine. And [Jesus] said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the swine; and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters. — Matthew 8:31-32
In six short years, the Bush regime has transformed the United States from an exemplar of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, to a pariah and a threat to international law and order. A recent BBC poll of twenty-six countries has found that, by a plurality of 49 to 32 percent, the United States is believed to play a “mainly negative” role in the world. These scores report a continuing decline in international respect for the United States. As Dave Zweifel writes: “We no longer are viewed as a beacon of freedom for the world, but a nation to be vilified for its war-mongering, its torturing and its refusal to work with other countries.”
This transformation is due, in no small part, to the Neoconservative determination to have the United States impose a so-called “benevolent global hegemony” upon the world, and to the subsequent implementation of this objective in Iraq.
The Neocon “new world order” would be accomplished through the threat or use of the unrivaled military power of the one remaining super-power, the United States. This remarkable plan for a “Pax Americana” was no secret. It was, in fact, clearly articulated in 1997 by a policy group, the "Project for the New American Century” (PNAC). When first published, the PNAC “project” was merely a proposal. But with the appointment of George Bush to the presidency in 2001, the project was promoted to the status of United States policy, as most of the PNAC founders joined the Bush Administration. (For a history and analysis of PNAC, see Bernard Weiner: “Bush’s Grand Game: A ‘PNAC Primer’ Update.”).
The sub-text of the PNAC message to the world is, “we have the power to impose this hegemony, and you can like it or lump it. But no matter, you are helpless to stop us.”
The reaction of the international community and the capacities of that community indicate that this arrogant policy must fail, likely sooner than later. For, in fact, the rest of the world is not “helpless” to contain, and if necessary, overthrow “Pax Americana.” Because:
- The Iraq occupation is demonstrating (as did Viet Nam), that the US military, however equipt with “shock and awe” weaponry, can not defeat an insurgency supported, or even simply tolerated, by the population.
- The United States economy is hostage to its international debt. The US is, in effect, “owned” by its foreign creditors, primarily China and Japan. Should those creditors so decide, they can bring down the US economy by abandoning the dollar as international currency, and by unloading the US debt on the international market. They can also withdraw foreign capital from the US economy. As William Greider wisely observes, “any profligate debtor who insults his banker is unwise, to put it mildly.” While such retaliations would have serious impacts on the world economy, these would be infinitely less than a world war waged to overthrow the American Emporium.
- Similarly, the American economy is almost entirely dependent upon imported resources, especially oil. Less than half of the oil consumed by the US is from domestic sources. If an international embargo on oil imports were imposed upon the United States, the consequences would be catastrophic. Most notably, the production and distribution of food would be drastically curtailed. (See my The Oil Trap).
- The American industrial base and technological “know-how” that provided “the arsenal of democracy” in World War II, has been outsourced and exported, while federal support for basic scientific research is being curtailed. Accordingly, the US has sold-off its technological pre-eminence and its economic independence. Thus we might, for example, find ourselves in the absurd situation of aiming at China, deterrent ICBMs that contain microprocessors manufactured in China.
In short, if the United States chooses to force a “hegemony” upon the world, the world can defeat the US and destroy its economy without firing a shot. No matter that the US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. This only indicates that no coalition of nations can defeat the US in conventional war. It does not follow that no coalition of nations can defeat the US by other means. Clearly, if the international community finally runs out of patience with an arrogant American regime, it can put a decisive end to the American “global hegemony.” And that patience may soon be exhausted. An unprovoked attack upon Iran just might trigger that massive and effective non-military global response.
Accordingly, Caligula’s motto, Oderint dum metuant – “Let them hate us so long as they fear us” – does not apply to the American “hegemon.” While more and more of the world’s people are coming to hate us, they have no need to fear us.
So the PNAC “project” is fundamentally false: there can not be, and therefore will not be, an “American Century.” Even so, the attempt to implement this “American Century” has cost us the respect of the rest of the world.
Restoration of that respect must come from within. If we the American people and our political institutions — the rule of law, congressional checks and balances, and the constitutionally enumerated rights — cast out this evil and outlaw regime that has brought infamy upon our nation, the sins of the past six years will be upon the overthrown culprits, and credit will be due to the institutions and the people that threw them out. Like the devils that possessed the poor wretch brought before Jesus, the abuses and outrages that besmirch our international reputation can be attached to the culprits. And if they are exposed and cast out from our body politic, the world will be better prepared to accept the United States back into the international community.
A restoration of the international reputation of and respect for the United States must involve:
- Withdrawal, “with all deliberate speed,” from Iraq. Also all prisoners held at Guantanamo and other military prisons must either be brought to a speedy and fair trial, or released immediately with reparations.
- Immediate Congressional legislation restoring habeas corpus and the Constitutional rights violated by the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, accompanied by the rescinding of those acts.
- Rigorous and uncompromising Congressional investigations and disclosure of the crimes of the Bush administration, followed by remedial legislation.
- Following this, the impeachment of Bush, Cheney, and culpable subordinate executive officials, followed by trial and conviction in the Senate.
- Acknowledgment that international treaties are enforceable laws of the United States (as stipulated in Article Six of the Constitution). Most urgently, this would include the Geneva Conventions (concerning torture) and the Nuremberg Accords (regarding war crimes).
And finally, there is the matter of election reform.
During the first Bush administration, one often heard from abroad, “we hate Bush, but not the American people.” Then came the 2004 election, whereupon the word from abroad was “how could the American people have re-elected this wretch and his criminal regime?”
The exculpatory answer might be: “well, the American people did not elect Bush and Cheney – not in 2000 and not in 2004.”
As I have argued repeatedly, there is abundant evidence that these presidential elections were stolen. I will not repeat that evidence here, except to note that the evidence continues to accumulate.
And yet both the mass media and, amazingly, the Democratic Party, refuse to take note, investigate, and report this evidence. It has been the task of the internet and independent citizens (too numerous to mention), to keep the issue alive.
And so they have. Thus a recent poll reports that less than half of the American public confidently believes that Bush won the 2004 election “fair and square,” and a third of the public is “not at all confident” that he did so.
If the electoral crimes of the past four national elections are exposed and the criminals are indicted, tried and convicted, this will probably be the result of state or local criminal investigations. But if and when this is accomplished, the onus of responsibility for the crimes and outrages of the Bush Administration will be further removed from the American people.
If we the people of the United States and our political institutions successfully remove the Bush Administration from power and remove Bush’s supporters from the Congress, the international community might regain its respect for those institutions and the American people.
However, that outcome depends upon the dedication and persistence of the Democratic Congress and its constituents. Early indications from the Congress are not encouraging, though it is too early to fairly evaluate that Congress or guess what might be ahead. Are the congressional Democrats intimidated or are they shrewd? Are they avoiding their responsibility to the Republic and its people, or are they waiting for the evidence to speak for them and against the Busheviks? In either case, the people should not passively await the answer. Instead they must put constant pressure on their legislators, and demand action: investigate, build a case, impeach, and convict.
The Bush/Cheney administration has done enormous damage to the reputation of the United States throughout the world. But the damage need not be permanent. Not if people and politicians of good will and loyalty to the United States and its principles and traditions act courageously, vigorously and persistently.
It will not do to stand on the sidelines and wait to see what happens. We the people of the United States must make things happen.
For only the Americans can restore America’s honor.