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?