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On how to make enemies 

Are the new enemies of the US of its own making? 

By Mohamed Hakki 

09/25/03: (Al-Ahram Weekly. Egypt) In a brilliant article entitled "The conceited empire", French historian Emmanuel Todd commented that the US was steadily losing allies. One gets the impression that an office, located somewhere in Washington, has been assigned the task of making plans on a daily basis for the acquisition of new enemies. Todd is the French historian who published a book in 1976 predicting the fall of the Soviet Union. He is now saying that the power and influence of the US "is being overestimated, that there will be no American Empire". The world is too large and dynamic to be controlled by one power. 

What attracted my attention to this article was the idea of the existence of a US bureau whose sole purpose is to propagate ideas which effectively create new enemies of the US. How is it possible to explain why the post-9/11 outpouring of pro-US sentiment has long since evaporated. Or, as Gerald Baker said in the Financial Times (in my opinion the only paper worth reading in America today), "Where did all the love for America go?" 

Gerald says he was struck by how angry, cynical and frightened people are about the US. And that was just in Britain, America's staunchest ally. Most of these sentiments, to be sure, are directed not against America itself, but against its current leadership. 

Most of this anger, cynicism and fear of America did not come about as a result of America's war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. After all, America had UN backing and the support of most Muslim and Arab countries. This anger appeared after the invasion of Iraq. It happened because the US declared that it alone had the right to carry out a preventative war -- preventative that is, not preemptive -- using military force to eliminate a perceived threat, whether invented or imagined. Preventative war was condemned at the Nuremberg trials after World War II. And according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which the US is a signatory, "people under foreign military occupation have the right to militarily engage armed uniformed occupation forces". 

Some people are now taking comfort in the fact that Colin Powell has approached the UN for international military and financial support for the Anglo-American military occupation. Some have even gone as far as saying that the neo-conservative agenda for pax-Americana is losing steam. It has been said that President George Bush's speech to the nation marked the weakening of the steep unilateralist trajectory on which neo-conservative and right-wing hawks set US foreign policy two years ago. Some leading senators -- both Republicans and Democrats -- such as Chuck Hagel and Joseph Biden, have said that Secretary of State Colin Powell may actually be moving into the driver's seat. But the battle for control is far from over. Recently, Vice President Cheney spearheaded the neo-conservative counter attack, churning out again those justifications which have proved to be completely foundless: that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction which are nuclear, biological and chemical in nature, and that he had 20 years to hide them from the view of all international inspectors. 

Cheney said he was sure that former UN weapons inspector, David Kay, would "soon" provide conclusive evidence that Iraq possessed these weapons. It is interesting to note that Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector, said on 25 August in The New York Times that soldiers of the Third Infantry Division allowed all of the 12,500 pages of "full, final and complete declaration" provided by Iraq to the UN in the autumn of 2002, to be looted. This included not only the actual documentation, but also every interview conducted by the UN inspectors with Iraqi scientists throughout the 1990s, which were videotaped and stored at the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate in Baghdad. Now, both Cheney and President Bush are saying that Kay will present a case to the effect that he has, indeed, found evidence of an illegal weapons programme. Scott Ritter, however, is very sceptical. He says that, should this case be worthy of merit, "without being able to compare it to the Iraqi version of events, I am not sure how convincing it will be to the American people, or to the rest of the world". 

The main thing is, regardless of whether inspector Kay can make a case or not, he will be unable to satisfy either the American people or the Arab people as a whole. At this point I would like to refer back to Emmanuel Todd's question regarding the existence of a particular bureau whose job it is to acquire new enemies for America. 

The Arab world is convinced of the existence of a relentless campaign to discredit almost all Arab countries. Slandering Saudi Arabia is the current flavour of the month, and never a day goes by without the appearance of an article, TV interview or television programme vilifying Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Royal family. This last month alone saw the publication of two books which placed Saudi Arabia in an extremely negative light. The first book is entitled "Sleeping with the Enemy" and written by a low- ranking former CIA official -- Robert Baer, and the second is "Why America Slept" by Gerald Posner, who claims the information quoted in the book is based in intelligence provided to him by administration sources. 

Both books are a deliberate attempt to link the Saudi Royal family -- through innuendo and misinformation -- with the events of 9/11. The sad fact is, as Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabian ambassador to Britain, pointed out in a TV interview, that Posner has based his arguments on "leaks from sources in the administration, one in the White House and one in the CIA". But who are these sources? When Posner was interviewed by Chris Matthew on TV, Matthew asked him bluntly if his sources were connected with the Mossad. 

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University wrote an article which said that "the real target of the war in Iraq was Saudi Arabia". In it, he quoted Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (from an interview with Vanity Fair) as saying that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were nothing but a bureaucratic pretext behind which to hide the core motives for war, including the scaling-down of the US military presence in Saudi Arabia. Sachs said that Wolfowitz's remarkable statement seemed bizarre at the time, "but was allowed to pass in the US without scrutiny". 

Gerald Seib thinks that all of this is part of the war of ideas. In The Wall Street Journal, the vanguard of these attacks against Islam and the Arabs, he asked, "can the West and the Islamic world learn to exist in harmony?" According to Seib, the battle between the West and the Islamic world will dominate global politics for the next decade, "much as the ideological battle against fascism dominated the 1930s and the struggle against communism dominated the decades that followed". 


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