Cold War defrost

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy Views: 4781
4781

As the US right continues to implement its foreign policy agenda, despite the damage done to Washington's standing abroad, many analysts have questioned when the change in US foreign policy started, and who engineered it. Much has been written on the topic, though many questions remain unanswered. In my opinion the seeds of the foreign policy shift were sown some time ago in the US political mindset. The changes we now see in US foreign policy, replete with expansionist ambition, are no more than a variation on an old theme. It is an old ideology in new garb. 

Even before Ronald Reagan came to office in 1981, and certainly throughout his first term, US foreign policy makers may well have wanted to pursue the directions we are now seeing pursued. They were, however, held back by the constraints of the Cold War. But when the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, talk began in earnest about the liberation of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The limitations on US foreign policy that the Cold War had brought disappeared overnight. It was then that the masterminds of Washington's foreign policy began to feel that the sky was the limit.

During the Cold War Washington attempted to contain the Soviet Union through a variety of military pacts and other lines of defense. One important line of that defense was Islam. US foreign policy spared no effort in rallying Islamic countries, institutions and movements -- moderate and extremist -- behind its goals. The US- Islamic alliance, after all, forced an end to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a precursor to the Soviet Union's collapse. Washington's plans to develop the so-called Star Wars technology then placed additional pressures on the Soviet leadership, which had to find resources to counter the new threat.

Why, some may wonder, is the US willing to lose popularity now that foreign policy no longer labors under the constraints of the Cold War? The answer may seem simple, but it is not. One has to keep in mind that Americans are used to being viewed with mistrust by other nations. The Spanish, who opposed the US decision to go to war in Iraq, are a case in point. Some Americans say that the reason Spaniards do not trust US foreign policy has its roots in the US victory over Spain in 1898. The British, America's closest allies, treated US soldiers, posted in their thousands in Britain during World War II, discourteously. Many saw the Americans more as invaders than allies. British writers, from Charles Dickens to Kingsley and Martin Amis, are known to have little love for their trans-Atlantic cousins. Germans, to this day, cannot forget that the US brought about their defeat in two world wars.

Hatred is not the issue here; rather it is an accumulation of historical events that have been misconstrued, mishandled or both. When it comes to the Europeans Americans have always had a persecution complex. The Americans have always felt their country a target for hate, envy, and venom -- something the terrorist attacks of 11 September seemed to confirm. Since then the persecution complex and the suspicion of others has become the driving force behind US foreign policy. Americans are suspicious of everyone, above all those of us who live in the Middle East. Reciprocating the sentiment, Arabs and Muslims feel that US actions following 11 September have been designed to humiliate and hurt them. 

Relations between the US and Arab and Islamic countries, and the schemes these relations spawned, have been much discussed. Some of these schemes go back to World War II, when the terms "Middle East" and "Islamic Crescent", both laden with significance, were coined. Once the US was free of the burden of the Cold War it felt no longer in need of friendship with Islamic countries. The new enemy, in US opinion, is latent in this part of the world, funded and abetted by the locals. The verdict in the US is that the eradication of this new enemy will not be achieved through closer ties with local governments or the revival of old alliances. 

The right-wing US administration, in alliance with like-minded anti-Arab Zionists, has opted for confrontation. No analyst can deny that this region, indeed the entire world, is becoming an arena for the confrontation between the Middle East and its sympathizers -- in Africa, Asia, and Europe -- on one hand and US policy on the other. With the exception of Iraq this confrontation has not yet reached the stage of overthrowing governments or an open declaration of hostility. 

Yet through various threats and dozens of calls for domestic change the US has put most, if not all, Arab and Islamic governments on the defensive. The US has demanded economic reforms that countries in the region can meet only partially. It has demanded political reforms states in the region, without exception, have found hard to swallow. It seems, however, that the US -- despite appearances -- is not insisting that political reforms be introduced immediately. Washington's policy makers are aware that the acceleration of political reform may result in chaos. The US, most probably, hopes to see in the Middle East the type of democracy and plurality common in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Let democracy be introduced if only in form, goes US thinking, and true democratization will follow. 

Judging by the Latin American experience this is optimistic. Democracy has not led to political stability in Latin America. Demonstrations, a key aspect of democracy, have succeeded in bringing down five presidents in Latin America in recent years. The Americans -- as well as local opposition -- have come to the conclusion that demonstrations are more effective than military coups, not only in unseating dictatorial governments but also in getting rid of democratic regimes that fail to toe the US line. 

In Georgia, President Shevardnadze has just been overthrown through peaceful demonstrations. In Venezuela the opposition succeeded, with US help, in unseating President Hugo Chavez. Events in the Balkans, Peru, Argentina and Colombia prove that it is much easier to overthrow a democratic than a despotic regime. It is my guess, however, that the US will not escalate its pressure on Arab and Islamic governments to speed up democratization. 

Washington would not hesitate to intervene militarily on the side of any Arab regime that happens to engage in active confrontation with a terrorist group or an extremist trend, regardless of what the US thinks of that regime. I don't think the US has a new map for the region yet, a new Sykes-Picot formulation. But what it does want is to shake up established customs and ways of doing things. It is already putting pressure on Arab and Islamic countries to alter curricula, liberate the economy, allow more freedom of expression, change the status of women, and restrain the role of at least some religious institutions. 

Aside from the above tactics, some of which are already bearing fruit, the US is engaged in policies aimed at undermining movements antagonistic to the US or to reform imposed from abroad. There are attempts to create a deeper sense of humiliation, either through purposely insulting comments by US officials or through disrupting the efforts of Arab and Islamic countries to help the Palestinians at a time when the latter are facing liquidation. The US is also making a point of not humoring regional governments and not providing them with support in the face of political opposition. The aim is to deprive these regimes of any chance to regroup or rehabilitate the Arab regional system. 

The US is using all its strength to get Arab and Islamic countries to capitulate, one after another. Libya and Pakistan are not going to be the last. Washington will continue until the Islamic and Arab community loses cohesion, Islam's penchant for jihad ebbs, and the pan-Arab movement runs out of steam. At which time the "greater Middle East", promised by President Bush in his State of the Union speech, will finally materialize. 

It is noteworthy that both the terms "Middle East" and "greater Middle East" were coined during times of confrontation. The first term came into play during World War II and the second during the US war against the Middle East. Washington is engaged in its biggest confrontation since the Cold War. Once this confrontation is over the US will turn its attention to the Far East. It wants to establish its superiority on earth before moving on to outer space.

The writer is director of the Arab Center for Development and Futuristic Research.

Source: Al-Ahram Weekly


  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy
Views: 4781

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Older Comments:
H.A. FROM YATHRIB said:
Tony Melosh .. really needs a reality check... ..
Even 100's of millions of christians and other non-Muslims do not agree with the West's evil plottings throughout the world since its first day of exit from the dark caves of Europe.

I think he has really fallen in love with lobster he eats sitting in the USA. I hope he did not buy FLOWERS for the lobsters he chews, FOR VALENTINE. Instead, I would suggest he re-direct his resources to Palestinians who are being oppressed and aparthesized by zionists and U.S. tax Payers.

I know it's going to be hard for Sir Tony Melosh to swallow my TRUE words, ..
2004-02-16

ABDUR RAZZAQ FROM USA said:
Tony Melosh:
Yaa akhee, I am not from a Muslim country, and I have only visited 3. But, being from America and knowing its past I have a different perspective. Yes the leaders in the Islamic world are despostic, however we must (1) first know how they got there and (2) understand how they retain power. It is not enough to leave the country and complain or make takfeer, nor is it enough to sit on fence and wait for the US to have a reason to take over a country. More over, in the countries which were liberated by the US, where is the progress and prosperity? Only Japan can truly say that they have benefitted from taking on the US, and alot of there success is a result of their culture (hard work, education, etc). This is where the Muslims need to start. Pushing for economic and educational reform that advances society and adheres firmly to the Qur'an and the Sunnah. We must return to the learned times where children were taught to be huffaz of the Qur'an - and mathematicians, astronomers, scientists, economists, businessmen, etc. From the sunnah of the Prophet and the rightly guided khulafaa ar Rashiduun we learn that the greatest leaders were those who were reluctant to be leaders.
So let us start with ourselves. Are we making the jihad to better ourselves, and our situations, and the leaves of our families, our muslim (and non-muslim) communities, our nations?! Or our we sitting back glad we escaped from the poverty and corruption of some Muslim countries, and getting fat and lazy? May Allah make us beacons of light for Ummatu Muslimuun, and beneficial guardians of His earth.
Ameen
2004-02-14

RAMATHAN RAMZI FROM AFRICA said:
Asalaam Aleikum brothers and sisters!

While am partly for the article, Tony Melosh and Sam Nicholas'repostes were rather callous and self-defeating in case of the latter.

There's no debate as to what the intentions of the Washington-led monster machine is up to - annihilation of Islam because in their view it posses a threat to their version of civilisation.

What the world needs today is a bit of tolerance, reinforced with a systematic drift towards participatory governance systems - democracy. Islam can co-exist with the west that is essentially founded on disguised Christian principles, much of which they chose to collectively lump together as secular. The Islamic world should be afforded a chance to practice what they popularly deem apt for them.

Surely, most Middle East countries are led by brutal regimes, many of them owing their survival to the double-headed labyrinth that the US foreign policy appears to be. In the midst of its mystique lays the true objectives of Washington. Iran is touted as reformist at one point because its drifting away from a radical Islamic theocracy but becomes an axis of evil because 'reforms' aren't as good as Washington expects - abandonment of the Islamic tag.

Brother Nicholas ought to understand that, wrongly approached, the changes he anticipates could lead to the destruction of the Islamic setup and heritage as we know it today. Much as the anti-Islamic forces may rejoice, our children and generations to come will not have mercy on us.

We must find a collective solution to contemporary issues like terrorism and bad governance through approaches that don't produce offsprings like Islamophobia. To me terrorists are common criminals who must be seen as such and isolated. The hypnotic trance in which most of the world's over one billion Muslims are trapped will fade and could backfire, bringing about ultra-radical movements that could send the Washington-based right-wing extremists not to the drawing
2004-02-11

TONY MELOSH FROM USA said:
Asalamu Alaikum,

It has been historically documented that it is always the foreigners who do the Muslims harm. Why can't we blame it on the real perpetrators, the corrupt and tyrannical leaders of the Middle East? Why are we always pretentious and fake in terms of how we approach the subject matter? Allah has promised that if Muslims do not care about their brethren in true and genuine ways, Hell will be their abode, not only in the Hereafter but also here in this world. This is exactly what we are seeing. So let us not be hypocrites and drive those "blood suckers" out before there is nothing left of Islam. Let me make it clear one more time; it is those corrupt and despotic leaders who are behind all the mess. You cannot blame it on colonialism, imperialism, cannibalism, hashishism, marijuanism, etc. This is insane!! One has to clean his/her house before he/she can blame it on someone. Come on! The Middle East needs democracy and this is what Bush is waking them up to. Until when are we going to wait for the dictators to do anything good for their citizens. Eternity, I believe! Now that Iraq has been liberated, the moronic Kaddafi and puffed up Bashar Al Assad are coming to terms with their oppressive regimes and are trying to look decent. It is truly a joke! Why does Bush have to do it for them while our American brothers and sisters are dying over there. I rest my case.
2004-02-10

HASSAN AHMED FROM USA said:
Why muddy the picture with petty details and your opinions. This site is for Umma's awareness to facts. There is a bigger picture and larger events do not happen randomly. Consider a few facts:
1) Petro Dollars were agreed to be used for the stuff of modern civilization. i.e. oil. Do a internet search on Brent Woods and Nixon/Kissenger with the Saudi Royalty. Currently two trillion Middle East Dollars deposited in US while Islam is starving for development funds. I bet they will not get it back. In this process crating mysery for the our brothers and sisters in the third world.
2) Only thing the US cares for is the oil and recycling of this perto Dollars (weapons) the US is got the muslims going and coming.
3) Please read works of Authors like Chomsky, a famous linguist from MIT.
4) Ask your selves the relation ship between the European/american white women sex trade and the well connected oil derived royalty. Do not want to go there do you?
5) Santions and killing of Iraq while the whole Arab 'leadership' either helped or were helping but did not want to appear so.
6) Coorparations and Banks control the whole planet and the 'Muslim' leaders are very forth coming to serve these big intrests.
7) My brother in Islam, today Islam only lives in the home and at token places of worship. Hajj has simply become a sybmol and a ritual. The awakening has not happed. It is getting late and I believe the bus is leaving the station.

Plase, brother try to be a little more original next time.
2004-02-10

DARIA HAIG FROM USA said:
Washington will continue until the Islamic and Arab community loses cohesion...

I didn't realize this article was intended as a humorous bit.
2004-02-10

SAM NICHOLAS FROM USA said:
Salam Alaikum,

I am a Muslim-American. I do not identify myself with the Islam of the Middle East. The leaders of that region have warped our religion, perverted our Islamic culture of peace, and preyed on people's emotions to stay in power. I will never support them in any way whatsoever. I will support my beloved country, the USA. I have immigrated to this country for a brighter future, one which would have never materialized anywhere in the ME if I had chosen to live there. Those leaders have robbed us of our past, present, and future. I could have never achieved the kind of life I have in the US in those countries. They plundered our resources; they oppressed us, our friends, and our families. What is there left for us to hope for over there? NOTHING! America has given us the dignity and the freedom to do things we could never hope to do over there. This is the true essence of Islam. After all, there are no coercion, no oppression, and no plunder in Islam. It is time to wake up and overthrow those thugs of the Middle East. May Allah bless Bush and may He crush the likes of Saddam and his cronies!
2004-02-10

MADMAX FROM MAGHREB said:
That's right ACC, keep singing we all love that tune, but you added to much tremolo to that song, that's not the way the composer wrote it, I guess it's due to the emotional libretto. By the way you left your caps key on, it somehow hurts people's eyes reading a whole text with capital letters, it looks obnoxious, unless you always speak with a loud voice but don't even realize it, could also be the nature of the arrogant. Get some tea with honey, it's good for the esophagus.
2004-02-10

ACC FROM USA said:
AMERICA WAS ATTACKED ON 9/11 AND WHEN AMERICA
TAKES SELF-DEFENSIVE MEASURES IT HURTS THE FEELINGS OF PEOPLE. GET USED TO IT. THIS GREAT NATION IS NOT GOING TO TAKE THE STUPID, ILLITERATE NONSENSE FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT
CONTRIBUTED ANYTHING TO THE PROGRESS OF MANKIND FOR THE PAST 750 YEARS. THE BIBLE SAYS THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN. DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE SOVIET UNION, WE HEARD NOTHING BUT HOW BAD
CAPITALIST AMERICA WAS (EVEN THOUG USSR HAD NOT REPAID WORLD WAR II LEND-LEASE DEBTS TO THE GREAT USA). NOW AGAIN WE ARE HEARING FROM THE JOHNNY-COME-LATELIES WHO NEVER HAD TO FIGHT NAZISM
HOW BAD AMERICA IS. WHAT A SHAME THAT IMMIGRANTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES REMIT MORE THAN 50 BILLION A YEAR TO THEIR FAMILIES BUT THERE IS NOT A WORD OF GRATITUDE FOR AMERICA!! IT ONLY REFLECTS
THE CULTURE AND MINDSET OF PEOPLE WHO DO NOT EVEN THE GRACIOUSNESS TO APPRECIATE THEIR BENEFACTOR.
YET THESE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO CRITICIZE AMERICA WHICH IS THE ONLY ENGINE OF PROGRESS AND UPLIFTMENT FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD, INCLUDING THE MIDDLE EAST. YES. AMERICA WAS ATTACKED ON 9/11 AND YES SADDAM HUSSEIN HAD BUILT A STALINIST STATE BUT SINCE HE WAS ARAB HE COULD DO NO WRONG. THANK GOD FOR AMERICA'S GUTS IN CONFRONTING THIS DEMON AND THAT OTHER DEMON
OSAMA. WHEN IT IS ALL OVER, THE WORD JEHAD WILL JOIN THE THE WORDS COLD WAR IN THE GARBAGE CAN OF HISTORY. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND MAY THOSE WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED NOTHING FOR THE PAST 750 YEARS
EXCEPT VIOLENCE AND PLUNDER IN THE NAME RELIGION LEARN SOME HUMILITY AND DECENCY FOR A CHANGE.
IF KADAFI HAS MOVED FROM BLINDNESS TO LIGHT THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST.
2004-02-09

ALEX FROM USA said:
Mr. Bush and his adminstration has created a world of religious extremists.. Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. I am afraid a clash of civilizations has been put into motion.
2004-02-09