U.S. Blind to Harbinger of Its Decline
The first step for turnaround is to bring troops home
By Ramzy Baroud
-- -- The miscalculated policies of the U.S.
administration in the Middle East are quickly depleting the
country's ability to sustain its once unchallenged global
position. Winds of change are blowing everywhere, and there is
little that Washington's ideologues can do to stop that.
The above claim is increasingly finding its way into the realm
of mainstream thinking, despite all attempts to mute or relegate
A recent speech by U.S. Republican congressman and chairman of
the House of international relations committee, Henry Hyde was
the focal point of analysis by Martin Jacques in The Guardian
"Our power has the grave liability of rendering our theories
about the world immune from failure. But by becoming deaf to
easily discerned warning signs, we may ignore long-term costs
that result from our actions and dismiss reverses that should
lead to a re-examination of our goals and means," Hyde said.
In his poignant analysis -- decoding Hyde's deliberately
implicit thoughts -- Jacques argued, "The Bush administration
stands guilty of an extraordinary act of imperial overreach
which has left the U.S. more internationally isolated than ever
before, seriously stretched financially, and guilty of neglect
in east Asia and elsewhere."
Ironically, the invasion of Iraq with its "thousands" of
"tactical" mistakes -- as recently admitted by Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice -- was meant to solidify and ensure the
U.S.'s post Cold-War global dominance. According to Jacques, as
inferred from Hyde's notable speech, "It may well prove to be a
harbinger of its decline."
It can also be argued that the U.S. adventurism in Iraq has
provided the coveted opportunity to other countries to further
their national and regional interests without the constant fear
of U.S. reprisals.
In a recent interview with Radio Havana, MIT professor Noam
Chomsky -- known for his sharp critique of U.S. foreign
policies, particularity in Indochina, Central and Latin America
-- delineated a new global political reality that is being
forged as the U.S. stubbornly insists on fighting a lost battle
"What's happening is something completely new in the history of
the hemisphere. Since the Spanish conquest, the countries of
Latin America have been pretty much separated from one another
and oriented toward the imperial power. For the first time, they
are beginning to integrate and in quite a few different ways."
That integration is evident, according to Chomsky, not only by
examining the unbridled rise of the Left in these countries and
the almost immediate alliances -- economic cooperation, for
example -- that these populace governments have achieved. There
is a simultaneous rise of the political relevance of the
indigenous Indian population in Bolivia, and the opportunities
it represents to the Indian population of Ecuador and Peru.
Moreover, there is a noteworthy South-South integration that is
already breaking regional boundaries and significantly
undermining the overpowering grip of the IMF, which has played
the infamous role of the unfair middleman between the rich and
China and India, on the other hand, continue to achieve
astounding economic growth with China's economic might and
relevance to soon surpass that of the United States. In fact,
there is an intense diplomatic clash underway between the U.S.
and China, since the latter has dared to violate the
understanding of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which gave the
U.S. alone the right to manage its Latin American domains.
For the first time since then, says a BBC news analysis, a
foreign country has challenged American influence in that
region, and successfully so. Indeed, China is upgrading its
economic relations with Brazil -- both increasingly formidable
economic powers -- in ways that will eventually help Brazil
break away from a domineering U.S. hold.
These are all part of the "warning signs" to which Hyde was
refereeing in his speech. While there are indications that
Washington is finally waking up to this grim reality, which it
has helped create, there are no signs whatsoever that a
fundamental change of course in U.S. foreign policies in the
Middle East is taking place: the U.S. destructive war in Iraq
rages on; the self-inflicting damage of unconditionally backing
Israel in its endless colonial ambitions perpetuates; and the
same detrimental policy line used with Iraq is employed, almost
identically with Iran. U.S. policy planners seem as ever
insistent on following the same destructive course that has
compromised their nation's global standing like never before.
Instead of healing the many woes, which it helped to mold, the
Bush administration is desperately trying to recover some of its
Southeast Asia losses by signing a nuclear treaty with India, an
action that reeks with hypocrisy and further miscalculations.
Moreover, the administration has recently lifted the ban on
sales of lethal arms to Indonesia in recognition of its "unique
strategic role in Southeast Asia," despite outcries of major
international human rights groups to maintain the ban.
Despite President Bush's recent "historic" trip to India and
other top U.S. officials' hasty attempts to reassert U.S. global
dominance, there should be no illusions that the United States'
chief foreign policy debacle starts and ends with the Middle
East, particularity its unwarranted, yet "special" relationship
with Israel. While the latter has served the role of the client
state since its establishment on ethnically cleansed Palestinian
territories, this relationship was significantly altered in
recent years, with the pro-Israeli lobby taking center stage,
not simply by influencing U.S. foreign policies toward Israel,
but eventually by directing that policy altogether in the
The rise of the neoconservatives (also known as the Likudists
for their open support of, and direct involvement with Israel's
right wing policies) helped create the false impression that the
U.S. and Israeli policies are one and the same, including their
mutual interests in maintaining Israel's military "edge" over
its neighbors, which eventually led to the invasion of Iraq.
While the neocons are washing their hands from any
responsibility in the deadly Middle East impasse, the U.S.
administration's arrogance is stopping it from immediately
withdrawing its troops from Iraq and seriously reassessing its
relationship with Israel.
The world is changing, yet the U.S. government refuses to
abandon its old ways: militaristic, self-defeating and
overbearing. Indeed, the U.S. must remold, not only its policies
in the Middle East, but also its hegemonic policies throughout
the world. For once, the U.S. administration needs to tap into
its sense of reason, and discern the "warning signs," that
should lead to "the re-examination of [its] goals and means." A
first step is to bring the troops home, and with them the entire
doctrine that unrestrained violence and perpetual wars can
further the cause of an already dishonored superpower.
Veteran Arab American journalist Ramzy Baroud teaches mass
communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology,
His most recent book is entitled, "Writings on the Second
Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto
Press, London.) He is also the editor-in-chief of the Palestine
Chronicle online newspaper.
Click below to read or post comments on this article