Cracks in the global faade

The war for globalization, also -- perhaps better -- known the war against terror, is in essence a quest by those forces seeking global domination to eliminate their enemies and silence any who might be presumptuous enough to call for a measure of world-wide justice. It is a war the US continues to push into a second phase. On 21 March US Vice President Dick Cheney concluded a 10-day tour of 10 states (the United Kingdom, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Israel and Turkey), his stated aim being to discuss ways to deter so-called terrorists and rogue states from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Behind that aim, however, was the real agenda -- to win Arab support for a strike against Iraq. He was not successful.

What does the US administration hope to achieve from this war? Announcing his goals during this second phase, President Bush told a gathering at the White House that he intended to deprive "terrorists" of shelter and support. He called on America's allies to help eliminate the terrorist "parasites" that endanger world peace. He asked for concerted international efforts to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of "terrorist" organizations, reminding Washington's allies that "inaction is not an option." The US president promised that Washington would continue to confront countries supporting terror or seeking to obtain nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. He warned that terrorists would have no qualms about using such weapons and made promises to help Georgia, the Philippines and Yemen hunt down Al- Qaeda members.

In this second phase of the war for globalization US policy seems to be fairly clear. Washington has accused certain countries, groups, and individuals of involvement in "terror". It wants its allies to get more involved, because "they have no other option." On 30 January, 2002 Bush delivered his first State of the Union speech. He railed against the "underground world of terror." He made reference to Hizbullah, Hamas, Al- Jihad, and Pakistan's Sipah-e-Sahabah (Army of Prophet Mohamed's Companions), claiming that these groups operate in 12 countries. He also coined the term "axis of evil" and in doing so identified Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as likely candidates for future actions.

President Bush promised to send hundreds of US troops abroad, deploy the US navy more effectively and initiate closer cooperation with Russia, China and India. Old enmities should be set aside, he said, noting that the so-called war against terror could cost up to $30 million a day. Domestic security, he said, would have to take into account the possibility of biological terror, security at borders and airports, improved intelligence performance and formulate a mechanism for rapid response to emergencies.

In the course of Cheney's tour, the US vice president told the American troops that the US administration was determined to prevent terrorists, and the regimes supporting them, from threatening the United States and its allies. In particular, Cheney said, Washington wants to prevent "terrorist" groups and countries supporting them from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The remark was an obvious reply to Arab officials who had urged him not to wage an attack against Iraq.

Michael Gordon, who covered Cheney's tour for the International Herald Tribune, noted the shift in focus. In the immediate aftermath of 11 September attacks the US vice president said there was no evidence linking Iraq to the attacks. But that was during the first phase, the Afghanistan part of the war. Once the second phase Cheney began stressing the imminent danger Iraq supposedly poses to the United States.

Why is Washington so intent on attacking Iraq in this second phase of the war? There are two obvious reasons. One is domestic: the Bush Administration wants to keep the war going for as long as possible so as to divert public attention from its errors of policy and judgment. The other is external: the United States wants to stay ahead of the international game. Not just ahead, but in absolute control, which is why US strategists now speak of total victory as being the aim and hint at the possibility of an offensive nuclear war.

The way the US is conducting its war against terror has puzzled most of its allies, particularly in Europe. Flora Lewis, writing for the International Herald Tribune, notes that President Bush speaks in clear, certain terms about this war, suggesting that there can be no immunity or neutrality in the war he envisions. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, meanwhile, is skeptical. Vedrine finds US policy simplistic, vague, and unsubstantiated. And he is not the only one. Terror, the designated enemy in this war, does not exist on any map and can appear anywhere.

For the time being the US continues to press its second phase of the war for globalization. It has managed, so far, to conspire against the Intifada, back the atrocities committed by Zionist colonialism, and alienate many of its friends. How long can Washington keep this up before totally disrupting the very alliances it needs to maintain its global stature?

The writer is a Palestinian scholar and political activist.

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