Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nick Cohen And The Muddle East

The latest zany column from Nick Cohen ends with the Zidane-look-alike (Cohen, like Zidane, lost his grace and vision, as well as his head, when stuck out on the rightwing) writing that the anti-war Left has manoeuvred itself into a corner that “would have to maintain that the war was not an attempt to break the power of tyranny in a benighted region, but the bloody result of a ‘financially driven mania to control Middle Eastern oil…”

In April 2002 Nick Cohen wrote something slightly different, to put it mildly. He wrote that the US “won’t pull out [from the Middle East] because Washington wants to ‘discourage’ the ‘advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership’, while maintaining a military dominance capable of ‘deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’.

“The quotes don’t come from a babbling conspiracy theorist but from the Pentagon’s Defense Planning Guidance, which set out American strategy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A draft was leaked to the New York Times in 1992. Pentagon bureaucrats were appalled because, in their marvellous jargon, it hadn’t been ‘scrubbed’. What they mean was candid language for private consumption hadn’t been swabbed away and replaced with a coating of euphemisms, carefully constituted to avoid any phrase which might stick in the reader’s mind. The leak explained the thinking of a part of the Washington establishment with brutal clarity. If America didn’t ‘stabilise’ - to use a verb which seems particularly inapt at the moment - the Middle East, Europe, Japan and China, which have a far greater dependence on Gulf oil, would move in and protect their interests. Although their interventions wouldn’t necessarily bother America, in the long term they would grow into powers which would challenge its authority.

“America’s friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington.

“Defense Planning Guidance was disowned after the New York Times printed its embarrassingly frank conclusions. Yet interest in it survives, not least because the prospectus for the American empire had impressive supporters. It was written by Paul Wolfowitz for Bush’s father. Wolfowitz is now one of the leaders of the Pentagon hawks. Dick Cheney fought for it to be adopted as official policy in the early 1990s, and he is now Bush junior’s vice-president. Their work from a decade ago keeps coming up when American foreign-policy intellectuals try to explain why US military bases circle the globe.

“Wolfowitz’s supporters believed that solutions to conflicts weren’t necessarily in America’s interests, they wrote. If North Korea, which somehow has been dragged into the fight against al-Qaeda, and South Korea reunited, US troops would pull out of the peninsula and Japan might feel the need to become militarily self-sufficient.

“The greatest worry a friend of America should have is how its insistence that it can leave no part of the world alone has created anti-Americanism not only in Muslim countries but in regions such as Latin America where bin Laden’s theology means nothing. If you dream that everyone might be your enemy, one day they may become just that.”

Quite so, Nick. Quite so. What ever happened to that Nick Cohen, eh, Nick?


Renegade Eye said...

Some of the neocons advocated neutrality in an Iraqi civil war. They said it's crazy to stop it.

Jim Denham said...

I don't think you can answer Dorfman's "letter to an unknown Iraqi" (2003; quoted by Cohen): "Heaven help me, I am saying that I care more about the future of this sad world than the future of your unprotected children".

The self-righteous smugness of the little-England anti-war "left" (and not-so-"left") makes me sick. At least Cohen and Dorfman attempt to deal with the realities of the situation, and rject the objectively pro-fascist politics of the SWP leadership of the "anti-war" (in fact, pro-war - on the side of Ba'athism) "left" (in fact extreme right); never, since the Stalin-Hitler pact, have we seen such a phenomenon.

AN said...

I dunno Jim.

perhaps I am being a bit dim, but i don't understand th pnt you are making regarding Dorfman's letter.

But anyway, there is a wide array of opinins in the STWC. I was at the national steering cttee meeting on saturday, at which 4 different Iraqis spoke, none of whom in the SWP, none of whom support Ba'athism, and actualy none of whom shared the same (or even very similar) analysis. But all of whom want to see the withdrawal of US/UK troops.

It seems it is you who are ignoring the degree to which continued occupation by the US is escalating and nt diminishing the forces towads sectarian violence.

Tawfiq Chahboune said...

Jim Denham can't sustain his argument and so he has to resort to calling us pro-fascist. It's the sign of someone who knows he can't persuade anyone with a reasoned argument. That is quite clear. So let's run through the arguments, then. Jim Denham does not deny that a leaked document has the US wanting to control Middle East oil. Other declassified documents have the US categorically stating this very case. Now, contrary to what was said before the invasion, we have the open privatisation of Iraq's oil. All of that is irrelevant.

The fact that most Iraqis did not wish to be invaded is irrelevant. The fact that most Iraqis consider the killing of "coalition" troops legitimate is irrelevant. The fact that approximately 80% of Iraqis want the occupation to end today or within the next year, with troops withdrawal to start immediately, is irrelevant.

Moving on, the shoring up of the Saudi "fascist" mafia is irrelevant, as with all the other despotic regimes we are supporting. All of this, apparently, does not mean anything. The plots against Chavez are irrelevant, because the war against "Islamo-fascism" starts with socialists in South America.

I would certainly like to hear what Jim Denham has to say about what Saudis should now do? Should they thank the UK? How would Jim Denham feel if Saudis were to warn the UK that by arming their oppressors the UK is open to attack? Would Jim Denham support an attack on Saudi Arabia? If not, then, by his own standard, he too is a fascist (or pro-fascist). When the UK supported Saddam Hussein, would Jim Denham have supported an attack on the UK?

Presumably, by Jim Denham's standard that we are Saddamists, he must find it gratifying the disaster that has beset Iraq. Well, of course that would be a nonsensical interpretation of his views. The reverse - opposing invasion is not to condone Saddam - is unthinkable.

Stalin-Hitler Pact? Why not refer to the Hitler-Chamberlain Pact?

Louisefeminista said...

Jim: I became more and more speechless by your incomprehensible rants against the anti-war left and the SWP. How does Cohen et al deal with the realities of war? Well, to me it smacks of utter capitulation.

And this nonsense about the SWP being pro-fascist is laughable. I really cannot take it seriously as you chuck around words like "fascist" with no real understanding or meaning. Arguing with you Jim, I get a sense of deja vu!

But what about the fact that the oil in Iraq is being swiped from under the noses of the Iraqis? Western oil companies will take about 75% of the profits and the stabilisation clauses override Iraqi sovereignty.

Oh and Jim will you support the Southern Oil Workers Union in their fight against oil privatisation?

Anonymous said...

I don't know why people give so much prominence to these 'celebrity columnists'(same for the last article).

Who gives a stuff what Nick Cohen or Nobby Clarke thinks? I think less and less people buy papers - and when I do, I never bother with a columnist as I (often vainly) hunt for news.

AN said...

But neither are they irrelevent Southpaw, and they do literally play the role of "opinion formers"

Toff is correct to dissect the laziness of theri arguments, and chellenge their selective use of facts.

Jim Denham said...

I support *all* Iraqi trades unions. unlike the "Stop the War Coalition" and their friend Mr Galloway, who denounce them all and (on the quiet)support the sectarian militias who murder trades unons - first having tortured them. That's the heroic "resitance" that the SWP and Galloway support: and I'm exaggerating to call them (the SWP and galloway) "pro-fascist? I think not! More to the point, people like you, who prevarocate on this matter, have now to make up your minds on which side you stand: with the iraqi workers, or with the fascistic , Islamist militias?

AN said...


The Stop the war Coalition has never denounced any trade unions in Iraq. What you seem incapale of undrstanding is that the STWC is a coalition, and therefore includes people of differing opinions.

And it seems biarre to write that a moment of choice os comeing between Iraqi workers and Iislamist militias, as you seem to have invented a much bigger role for the Iraqi workers movement than is actually true.

In any event, yhe key issue for the workers moevemt at the moment is opposition to privatisation, which is biein puched through by the occupiers not by militias.