Caesar Bush and the New Imperialism?
Thanks to Ray Ison for sending me a link to Jay Bookman’s remarkable editorial in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which is not exactly a leftist mag. ” The official story on Iraq has never made sense”, Bookman writes. “The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence.
The pieces just didn’t fit. Something else had to be going on; something was missing. In recent days, those missing pieces have finally begun to fall into place. As it turns out, this is not really about Iraq. It is not about weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N. resolutions.
This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the “American imperialists” that our enemies always claimed we were. “
It’s a fine article — all the more so given its mainstream publication. One finds echoes of it in Anatol Lieven’s long piece in the London Review of Books. Many of the conclusions both writers draw about the ‘new Imperialism’ now rampant in the Bush administration are said to have their origins in a report published in 2000 by the so-called ‘Project for the New American Century’ entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” and written by some of the crazies now propelling Bush over the precipice.
But (as this Diary modestly pointed out on April 14 last), this kind of thinking does not have a wholly American provenance. In fact, my own newspaper (i.e. the one for which I write) printed an essay by British diplomat Robert Cooper in which he outlined a more judicious version of the same thesis.
“The most logical way to deal with chaos”, wrote Cooper, “and the one employed most often in the past, is colonisation. But this is unacceptable to postmodern states. Empire and imperialism are words that have become a form of abuse and no colonial powers are willing to take on the job, though the opportunities – perhaps even the need – for colonisation is as great as it ever was in the nineteenth century. Those left out of the global economy risk falling into a vicious circle. Weak government means disorder and that means falling investment.
All the conditions for imperialism are there, but both the supply and demand for imperialism have dried up. And yet a world in which the efficient and well-governed export stability and liberty seems eminently desirable.
What is needed is a new kind of imperialism, one compatible with human rights and cosmopolitan values: an imperialism which aims to bring order and organisation but which rests today on the voluntary principle.” “
Wolfowitz & Co agree with most of that, but they see no need for the ‘voluntary’ principle’.