least one man using a Kalashnikov rifle opened fire
today, Tuesday January 21st 2003, on a vehicle carrying
two American civilians near a U.S. military base,
killing one and critically wounding the other. Both
victims were contractors working for the U.S. military
in Kuwait. Their four-wheel drive Toyota was ambushed
and riddled with bullets at a stoplight on Highway
85 near Camp Doha, a military installation serving
as a base for 17,000 troops in the oil-rich Gulf nation.
is the third attack on US personnel in Kuwait
the friendliest Arab country according
to the White House over the last couple of
months. A U.S. Marine was killed and a second was
wounded on Oct. 8 when two Kuwaitis opened fire on
a group of Marines taking a break from training. The
two men were killed by other Marines. On Nov. 21,
a Kuwaiti policeman shot and seriously injured two
U.S. soldiers after stopping their car on a highway.
is the only country in the Gulf that has allowed large
numbers of American ground troops to assemble and
engage in training for desert warfare. The United
States announced on Monday that it is sending a specially
tailored force of about 37,000 soldiers to Kuwait,
spearheaded by the Texas-based 4th Infantry Division
- the largest ground force identified so far among
the nearly 100,000 U.S. troops included in deployment.
came in buses, on trains, in car caravans. Last Saturday's
anti-war march in Washington by some euphoric estimates,
was, as Joni Mitchell sang in another century, half
a million strong. By everyone's reckoning, it
was the largest D.C. anti-war demonstration ever.
that was only one of them. In San Francisco, another
record-breaking crowd, of up to 300,000 people, crowded
the waterfront. Portland, Oregon saw 25,000 the
largest such protest in the city's history railing
against Bush's folly. In Tampa, Florida one of
many cities not accustomed to this sort of thing
2,000 rallied at the gates of MacDill Air Force Base.
Other places reported over a thousand people protesting
last weekend in some place, far more including
cities as diverse as Honolulu, Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis,
Lincoln (Nebraska), Salt Lake City, Spokane, San Luis
Obispo, Tucson, Albuquerque, Ann Arbor, Santa Barbara,
Orange County (at the Nixon Library), and Milwaukee.
In the state capital of Montpelier, Vermont, 3,000
people rallied in a town of 8,000!
as happens every weekend these days, the streets and
squares of other cities were also filled with demonstrations
demanding that America not go to war, and that their
own governments oppose it. On Saturday, the list included
Moscow, Tokyo, Cairo, Christchurch, Paris. In Canada,
marches were held in dozens of cities, with tens of
thousands each in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and
Halifax. And Shannon and Dublin closer at home.
as inspiring as such rallies were for what, in recent
months, have now been millions of participants, one
question hangs over the entire exercise.
Mansergh in a letter to the Irish Times in
December, just before the Season of Goodwill was upon
us, wrote: The United States is a beacon
of democracy, economic opportunity and human advance
an empire. And he continued: Why does
Ireland have to be more neutral than the other neutrals?
he closed his letter, quoting Marx (yes!?!), if
you will the end, you must will the means.
was answering critics of the US foreign policy. He
may have even be referring to my
own article in The Blanket (Sept. 02)
that I tried to develop the hypothesis of the growing
new Empire (Lol!). In passing, MM did no justice to
Thomas Jefferson who wrote in the Empire of
Liberty: I am persuaded no constitution was
ever before so well calculated as ours for extensive
empire and self government. And who would have
been very angry at Mr. Mansergh for denying and denigrating
the American founding fathers life-long work.
But what did those dead old foggies ever know, right?
does one assume that Mr. Mansergh is unaware, when
he vehemently denies any linkage between the oil cartels
and the rape of Afghanistan last year and in the intended
destruction of Iraq today, that one of his opposite
American numbers, very close to the President, has
been sitting for years in the Management Boards of
oil giants who have been drilling in Afghanistans
northern neighbours? In Uzbekistan and Azerbaican?
And is very keen to pump that oil southwards, through
Afghanistan and Iran and to the Gulf, towards the
sea and the tankers?
Mansergh s argumerts are perfectly orthodox
examples of the arrogant hectoring and insolent tone
adopted quite often by (ex-) and present Fianna Fail
that kitch imperial tone (so
dear to Charlie I and McCreevy and Mary Harney) that
boomerangs against them time after time yet whose
lesson does not ever sink in
how not to think
of Molieres Don Juan (V2): Les
vices a la mode passent pour vertus
and inexpertly translated by myself as Trendy
flaws (or vice) passing themselves as virtues.
us focus, momentarily, on Mr.Manserghs defence
of the empire - the core of his argumentation.
A weak zone defence by the subterfuge of pretending
that the Empire does not really exist. For
to defend it straight would have been just too gross.
Mr. Mansergh is not an apologist
he is not, a
Rumsfeld or a Powell or a Robinson
no, no. Hes
(he was?) the special advisor to the Irish
Government and, as such, he prefers to don the invisible
cloak, to play it the cute way.
to deny the existence and development of the Empire
is futile though. I believe that over the last 10-15
years there has been a shift - a shift that makes
perfectly clear and possible today to bring together
diverse economic, political and military powers, to
realize, in other words, a properly capitalist
order. This, I estimate, must become the point of
departure for a discussion of whether the Empire exists
and what its doing and what it plans
for tomorrow. It operates with a new notion of right,
or rather, a new inscription of authority and a new
design of the production of norms and (para)legal
instruments of coercion that guarantee profits and
capitalist stability and resolve minor
or even major conflicts.
more. In Empire there is peace
in Mr Manserghs
words like the European Union ensuring peace for
50 years. Despite, of course, Cyprus, the Palestinian
question, the Basque country, Bosnia, Kosovo and the
6 Counties to mention a few not so peaceful situations.
And the violent dismemberment of the old socialist
bloc countries. In Empire there is the guarantee for
justice for all
The concept of Empire, therefore,
is a global concept under the direction of a single
conductor, a unitary power that attempts to maintain
the social peace and produces its ethical truths:
human rights, like respect of
minorities, like, when necessary just
wars at the borders against the barbarians (with
their alleged weapons of mass destruction and their
Authorities now, their Bin Ladens and Mullah Muhammeds
yesterday, their Milosevics the day before)
that and internally against the rebellious.
And who knows who is on the list tomorrow? North
Korea, Iran, the Saudis? The Cubans, Colombians
or the Brazilians?
a serious questioning of national sovereignty and
the entire juridical superstructure built internationally
since the late 40s. And the Empire assumes
unilaterally, in the Roman tradition the imperial
right to do almost as it pleases. For it controls
the bomb(s), it controls money and it controls space
and the ether.
anti-war movement that has blossomed worldwide in
the last four months, and that today continues to
grow and spread, is essentially in uncharted waters.
There is no unifying ideology, no single organization
rallying the (anti-) troops. No major political leaders
are voicing the opinions being mouthed by the protesters;
while media treatment has been more respectful than
in many past years, it has still been sparse and patronizing,
treating the opposition as more of a political sideshow
than a major factor in whether America will invade
many ways, the Empires entire political establishment
is missing the boat. While polls show Americans and
Europeans divided on the issue of war, the depth of
anger among those who dislike Bush and what he represents
is remarkably strong. That anger springs not just
from Bush's apparent enthusiasm for the shedding of
other peoples' blood, but for many other reasons born
of Bush Administration excess, and the excesses of
the entire American political system. What angers
many people most about Bush the corruption,
the racism, the favoritism for the rich, the zeal
for more power, the arrogance, the bullying, the contempt
for international norms, for domestic law, and for
the constitution itself was all present in spades
under Clinton, and Bush I and Reagan before. But Bush
is the natural outgrowth of these trends, the perfect
who will most influence the decision to go to war,
in the Empires heartlands, and to support the
war, in countries such as ours or England, Scotland
or Wales, are presently so immersed in a culture that
accepts American military aggression as a natural
thing to do and support, and so inclined to publicly
defer to the White House even if they privately disagree,
that what is happening in the streets and schools
and offices and churches and living rooms may well
be no more than a distant, inconsequential murmur.
Moreover, the same arrogance that such decisionmakers
show for the rest of us is also a staple of their
attitude toward the people all over we're ignorant,
we don't know what they know, it's none of our business.
that it is, of course, our business not simply
because we pay the taxes that will fund and support
this wretched military excess, but because it is the
oppressed multitudes who will be the targets and sacrificial
victims of the virulent anti- feelings sweeping the
world. We'll be the ones in the exploding office towers
and under the jet planes of tomorrow. And it is each
of us that has grown up being fed a powerful (if frequently
mythic) notion that America was founded with a radical
and unique vision of a government controlled by its
people. And that the American people are our friends
and that we owe them a lot that the missiles will
be killing and the stealth drones will be spying on
confirming the hits.
the extent that the American people, or us here in
Ireland, ever had that control, we're losing it, and
the people know it. Contrary to what happened in the
case of Vietnam or the war in the 6 Counties, we are
trying to prevent a war before that war has even begun,
a task that has never been attempted by this many
people and never been done successfully. And most
of all, we are trying to influence a public policy
decision when there are virtually no decisionmakers
on the inside championing our views.
just may work anyway. As the White House itself keeps
insisting, an invasion of Iraq is not a foregone conclusion,
even as the United States masses over 100,000 troops,
and growing, for a prospective march to Baghdad. But
while they bluster and threaten, feverish efforts
are underway on countless fronts to prevent the use
of direct force. Both the United States and a host
of Arab countries are negotiating behind the scenes
to find a way for Saddam Hussein to leave power and
go into exile, probably in Saudi Arabia. Rumsfeld
said so. Such a development would not only forestall
war, but would regardless of what he is replaced
by be probably welcome for an Iraqi public that,
even without another war, has already suffered brutally
under two decades of constant war, privation, and
dictatorial repression. The future, however, may be
another story. See the examples of Iran and the Shah
- followed by Khomeini. And last year, of the puppets
in Kabul replacing the Taliban. Things to think about.
those negotiations, there is the U.N. weapons inspection
team, which despite the Bush Administration's
best efforts to distort and pervert its findings as
a rationale for invasion is expected, next week,
to issue a report that is anything but damning. There
is the virtually unanimous global consensus, including
a majority of U.N. Security Council members, that
war should be a last, not first, resort; those governments
are all working behind the scenes to stop Bush. At
the heart of the Empire, there is the opposition of
virtually the entire Pentagon establishment, including
the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There is the prospective
cost of an invasion and possible occupation, at a
time of economic downturn and exploding budget deficits.
And then there is the wild card of massive public
opposition, globally and especially in the United
it be done?
Martin Mansergh, we know enough to will the end, have
we got the courage and the vision to will the means?
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