The island bit over the weekend was a revealing farce. The three wannabe liberators, determined to export popular rule to Iraq, had to flee the protests of their own peoples to an inaccessible retreat in the Azores. How fitting to choose an island chain originally settled by a Portuguese Crusader whose goal was to encircle the Muslim world with Christian armies.
Unlike the other leaders of his tiny "coalition of the willing," George W. Bush can at least claim a slim majority at home in support of his war after selling frightened Americans the big lie that Iraq is connected to 9/11. But how do British and Spanish leaders claim to be acting in the spirit of democracy when almost no one in their countries supports going to war without the backing of the United Nations, which has now been gutted? Instead of a UN vote and a final report from the chief weapons inspectors, Bush jettisons democracy with a forty-eight-hour ultimatum.
How dare Bush and company champion freedom and the rule of law after running roughshod over the UN Security Council following their failed attempt to intimidate or bribe a majority of members into compliance? Clearly, the independence demonstrated by the council among countries large and small was one of the UN's finest moments.
Instead, that independence has been termed treachery by Bush, who singled out the French for his opprobrium. Like some barroom hustler, the President of the United States snarled that the French "showed their cards" and he dismissed their compromise offer of another thirty days for inspections. His fear must be that the inspectors were doing their work all too well and that with even a little more time they would have completely robbed him of his excuse for war.
It is incredible that Bush and Blair show such contempt for France, a democratic ally that has, according to US intelligence sources, played a key role in the war on Al Qaeda. Rather than simply acknowledge that France and most of the world sincerely disagree with us on this one, Bush and other hawks have attempted to bludgeon with chauvinism those nations that have not fallen in line.
And not only are we ignoring world opinion, we have stained our national reputation by throwing around lies. The United States lied to the world when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he had "bulletproof evidence" that Iraq was behind the September 11 attacks and then failed to produce a shred of credible evidence. Bush repeatedly has made a lie of omission by telling us Saddam Hussein "gassed his own people" but neglecting to mention that in the immediate aftermath of that attack fifteen years ago, his father gave Hussein's government $1.2 billion in financial credits.
And Bush lied to the world by telling us Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat. UN inspectors instead have pointed out that they have found no evidence of a nuclear weapons program and that some of the documents they were fed from Western intelligence agencies had been faked.
In the end, it is despicable how the White House has denigrated and short-circuited the clearly effective work of UN inspectors because they failed to manufacture evidence supporting Bush's rationale for preemptive war.
The Azores gang apparently realizes that if it doesn't start dropping bombs now, a peaceful solution to the crisis might actually be found. In this coming war, Hussein, as loathsome as he is, is not the aggressor--we are.
This is a truly frightening moment in history. Acting as if divinely inspired, Washington is now setting out to violently remake the maps and lives of the people of the world. This is an idea that old colonial powers England and Spain should have long ago discarded, after learning the hard way that people need to make their own histories. Whether this war is short or long, extremely bloody or just bloody, the stark fact is that a barely elected President has made the United States the first colonizer of the twenty-first century, openly declaring that he plans to reorder the politics, economy and culture of the Muslim world.
The world's current unprecedented hostility toward the United States, only a year and a half after we enjoyed its deepest sympathy on September 11, is not a statement of naüveté regarding the obvious evil of Hussein but rather a profound alarm over the imperial endpoint of Bush's design for the world.