The proof of a pudding is whether it tastes good and doesn’t make you ill. If the ‘War on Terror’ was a dessert, we’d all be suffering from food poisoning. It’s a failure, and according to numerous leaked documents, that’s official. But when, oh when, will the myopic ones inhabiting the White House and Number Ten admit it?
A report published by the British think tank Chatham House suggests the US-led pre-emptive wars waged under the umbrella of the ‘War on Terror’ have produced only one beneficiary – Tehran.
Then hard on the heels of that piece of analysis was a leaked advisory compiled by intelligence agencies indicating Iraq is not only tipping towards civil war, it has also become a cause célèbre for Jihadists.
Okay. It’s true that most reasonably sane people now realize that Iraq was a blunder of massive proportions. Everyone can make a mistake.
But surely only Mother Teresa could forgive almost the entire US executive branch, intelligence agencies, as well as Congress and their British sycophants for squandering so many lives in search of WMD (well over 600,000 by the latest Lancet estimate).
The problem is though while a country that obviously didn’t have any has been devastated by the protagonists of the Mid-East’s new dirty word “democracy, its fellow “Axis of Evil nations have seemingly been given free rein to pursue their nuclear ambitions with wild abandon. In the case of Iran, it has greatly expanded its regional influence, consolidated economic and military partnerships and is now the new best friend of Venezuela, whose president is vehemently opposed to US hegemony.
North Korea has few allies, apart from China, but as the newest member of the nuclear arms club it’s shown it doesn’t much care by threatening to declare war on the United States.
Naturally, the American president is reluctant to tarnish his born-again presence by holding bilateral talks with such “evil entities.
What happened to the concept of holding one’s friends close and one’s enemies even closer?
In truth, America has never been as feared and hated globally as it is now. The Bush doctrine has manufactured enemies where there were none, increased religious tensions, and fuelled anti-Americanism to the extent Americans often travel the world pretending their Canadians.
Today, the US flag ranks as a global best seller due to its incineration value. Polls show that Europeans see the United States as a greater threat to world peace than Iran or North Korea.
America’s status as a natural leader among nations has also been reduced as witnessed when UN General Assembly delegates gave a standing ovation to Hugo Chavez’s “Devil tirade (erased from the official UN video).
Yes, America was attacked on September 11, 2001. Yes, the government needed to react to those attacks on its own soil. The argument centers on the way that reaction was framed.
What if the 19 had been thought of as criminals instead of “Islamic terrorists ? After all, the IRA weren’t considered “Christian terrorists out to establish a Christian caliphate in Northern Ireland.
What if the United States had capitalized on the massive outpouring of sympathy post-9/11 to elicit the help of the international community in tracking down the organizers of that criminal act?
Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf was told to get on board the ‘War on Terror’ or be bombed back to the Stone Age. Those tactics may have borne fruit in the short term but his successors would be less than human if they didn’t harbor a grudge. How many other nations were proffered a similar ultimatum? We’ll probably never know.
Have those aggressive tactics achieved their objective? Do we even know what that objective was? If it was making America or its regional satellite Israel safer, then the Bush strategy has turned out to be a gross miscalculation. North Korea has missiles that can reach San Francisco. The Iranian leader has verbally threatened Israel s existence.
If it was securing America’s role as the sole superpower then it has backfired with nations rallied by the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lining up with Russia and China to cement an opposing power bloc.
If it was decapitating Osama and the Taliban, it hasn’t worked either. There is a major Taliban resurgence with NATO troops reporting the fiercest fighting since Vietnam. The one-eyed Mullah Omar was last glimpsed five years ago and, as for Osama, he is suspected of having slipped away from natural causes.
If it was ousting Saddam so as to turn Iraq into a model state worthy of being emulated by its neighbors, excuse me while I wipe away my tears. They’d be tears of laughter if this weren’t so gut-wrenchingly tragic. I’m still haunted by the sight of little Ali, a small boy whose mother, father, siblings and arms fell victim to ‘made in America’ bombs, as well as the nauseating images of Abu Ghraib, Fallujah and Tel Afar.
With its war chest depleted and its armies tied up in Iraq, the Gulf and South East Asia, the United States has rarely been as vulnerable. What began at the hands of renegades with a grudge against Uncle Sam for having polluted Saudi Arabian soil with military bases has morphed into a global movement with a growing list of genuine grievances.
Before we are faced with a no going back apocalyptic scenario, the Bush administration and its allies must acknowledge their mistakes and say their mea culpas. Pension off the neocons and the warmongers! Put their will to power strategies where they belong in the dustbin of history and take a path towards rapprochement!
Our fragile planet cries out for engagement not enragement before it’s too late. Is anyone listening?
Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Mid-East affairs and co-author of a book titled The Enemy of Apathy. She can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org. She wrote this commentary for The Daily Star Egypt.