Consequences Have Begun
by Jeremiah Bourque
Note to readers: This was written before the State of
the Union speech. Too soon to tell what the deeper effects
of that are.
Slowly but surely, the consequences of the Bush victory,
such as it was, concerning the last presidential election,
are being felt across the globe. These consequences will build
on each other until fundamental shifts take place, reducing
America's power and influence around the world.
As was very predictable, these glacial shifts are being wholly
ignored by the corporate media. I frankly doubt that they
I shall demonstrate this by simple argument. Is it not an
important principle of good writing to not overuse puns?
Given that the media overuses puns to ridiculous heights,
seeing a pun not only as part of a good story, but a necessary
component that cannot be done without, these journalists are
not only ignoring one of the fundamental rules they learn
in journalism school, but reveling in rejecting it. Obviously,
most journalists, or at least most editors, view the frequent
use of puns as a sign of intelligent writing.
Given such standards, it does not surprise me that geopolitical
damage is a bit beyond their capacity to understand.
As for the consequences, Germany is a good place to start.
Contrary to the last fifty years of war guilt, Germans, by
and large, are now frightened, concerned for their well being,
and interested in a firm hand to bring them security. Insecurity
reigns all around the average German citizen, with concerns
about the stability of Europe, the stability of the new European
currency, the Euro, with the breakdown of law and order, with
economic stagnation, and with immigration watering down the
ethnic character of the nation. (Or, to put it in terms that
many people will understand, "assimilation.")
Germany is not currently governed by a Bismark or a Hitler.
Rather, it is governed by a liberal by the name of Gerhard
Schroeder. Having survived his alliance with the Greens, who
are now dead men (and women) walking for their political positions
and their selling out for power, at least politically speaking,
Schroeder now faces an election year. Even without the World
Trade Center attacks, as well as the Pentagon attack (mentioned
here because the US is Germany's foremost military ally),
Schroeder would have had difficulties, given economic concerns,
the rise of a generation yet more removed from the past shames,
and a heavy level of distrust of the entire European project.
Let us remember, for the sake of context, that the European
Union was intended to seal Germany's power and neutralize
any ambitions that it might one day regain, once the terrible
Second World War had been forgotten. While Euro-skepticism
in the United Kingdom is seen as little more than traditional
English foot-dragging and small-mindedness, German Euro-skepticism
brings out real concerns.
If the economic dynamo of the new Europe turns its back on
the new Europe, then the new Europe cannot survive. Furthermore,
this would free German ambitions to gain land at expense of
its neighbors, ideas that, while largely irrelevant to younger
generations, have always been quietly maintained by German
elites, notably including the Kohl administration, which refused
recognizing the Polish border as permanent for all time.
There are no racist roots of this German thinking. Rather,
the roots are fear that the United States can be severely
struck, meaning Germany can be struck as well; that even the
united Germany is impotent to prevent terror; that even Germany's
illiberal and paranoid laws against bad speech have not contained
the threat of Islamic terror; and that there is no firm, decisive
leadership against economic slippage. Only the loss of the
old mark, with a coin that some refer to as "the new mark",
has managed to become palatable to the public, largely because
not enough Germans understand hyperinflation.
Perhaps today, and perhaps later in the election year, these
things will have no great consequences. However, Germans do
not have a Bush to guide them. The people do not feel like
the effective head of their government is capable, committed,
and out to get the bad guys, whatever it takes. The desire
for a strong leader will not recede easily. Germany's character
is largely returning to historic norms. With the US largely
leaving them on their own, the Germans will be asked to place
their trust in a united Europe to protect them. This will
probably not be emotionally acceptable. The current conservative
candidate, Edmund Stoiber, is a loud voice of conservatism,
dynamism, and the de-fossilization of society.
The future in Germany may not be a liberal one, largely because
the President of the United States showed them what a "strong
leader" is, and that they do not have one. By this time next
year, they probably will, to America's loss.
Of course, Israel does. That's why Israel is currently committed
to politically and militarily exploiting the situation. With
two strong right-wing leaders, how can Bush criticize? With
many of Bush's political supporters, Israel can do no wrong.
Consequently, there has existed, and will continue to exist
for some time, a drive to escalate current tensions in the
Middle East until the US says, "Ok, fight your war. We don't
And yet, it is not on this familiar subject on which I shall
dwell. Rather, Israel is doing something much larger than
simply maneuvering against the Palestinians. Israel now has
a strong military relationship with India, which, in turn,
has a strong military relationship with Taiwan, and Russia.
This brewing alliance, supported by Russian arms where they
can be combined with Israeli and Taiwanese electronics and
Indian resources and finances, vaguely resembles the west,
south, east, and north points of a map, aimed inward at the
heart of Asia. It's obvious what Taiwan and India have at
stake. Both want China contained; it's Taiwan's top priority,
and India's second. Israel, a merchant to China until American
pressure pushed them elsewhere, is in the relationship for
money, and for clout in dealing with the Arab states. Whereas
Turkey is a secular Islamic state and is unwilling to act
outside its own direct interests, such as keeping Iraq and
Syria down, or perhaps swallowing parts of both nations in
future wars, India's Hindu nationalist government could not
care less what Moslems think, be they Indian citizens, or
citizens of other countries in the Middle East.
Futhermore, by working together against America's supposed
enemies, these nations take full advantage of their long-standing
and powerful lobbying clout on Capitol Hill. With an inside
track into the decision making process of Congress, these
nations can create a "democratic" clamor to support them against
"terror" as they define it. While not a serious counterweight
to the White House, which has more power to wage war more
freely than any recent administration, this does at least
give them a large advantage over nations which are routinely
criticized for human rights violations, such as Turkey, which
has strategic, but not emotional, value to the United States.
Moreover, these nations are working together to push the
boundaries of the use of American arms beyond that which America
intellectually desires them to be used, using emotional hot
buttons to cover their actions. Also, religion is being used
as a lever whenever possible; an effort is being made to play
up the death sentence of a distributor of bibles in China.
While Judaism and Christianity resonate in the heart of the
President, Islam does not, at least, not the kind of Islam
that he believes that "evil men" practice. Thus, the task
is simple: Portray your enemy as evil men, and you can do
Of course, "anything" includes many actions which are quite
contrary to the United States' national interests. Thus, there
is a conscious tug of war occuring between the allies of the
United States, and the national interest of the United States
itself. The allies clearly expect to win. The outcome is in
doubt, but likely, Bush will try to provide moral support
and avoid materially encouraging reckless warmongering, since
he is unable to realize that Israel and India do not necessarily,
at least in the minds of their leaders, distinguish between
All that I know for sure is, Ariel Sharon is the type of
man to take particular, perverse pleasure in laying the groundwork
for the civil revolt and overthrow of several neighboring
Arab states, including the relatively peaceful ones. The US
will be forced to live with the consequences.
Japan is an altogether different case. At the time of writing,
it has not been 100% confirmed that the armed ship that was
sunk by Japanese naval vessels, with the claim that they were
being fired upon by the well-armed ship, was of North Korean
origin. However, let's assume that it is. Combined with the
anxiety over the economic situation, the 9/11 incident (with
memories not so distant of the sarin gas attack several years
ago) underscoring the vulnerability of modern urban society
to terror, and Japan's "peace constitution," this is all very
Japan is being pushed by the United States to the point where
it must defend itself. In this instance, it did defend itself
and its ships from molestation, though the sinking occured
within China's 200km maritime economic zone. (Of course, when
dealing with island nations, waters between islands and mainlands
can be very crowded.) This is the first time that a Japanese
ship has fired a shot in anger since WWII.
Now, obviously, other nations in Asia are rather concerned
about the prospect of Japanese militarism. To some extent,
they are right, though only because Japan, even now, has the
capacity to equip itself with some very effective weapons
if it desires to do so. Even acknowledging the waste of US
arms manufacturers, Japan's military spending far surpasses
that of its rivals. Though ill suited for conquest, Japan
could do much more to intervene in the domestic affairs of
Asian nations, which is precisely why they regard the prospect
with paranoia and, often, with near-panic. Meanwhile, the
rather peaceful and blissful Japanese civilian population
wonders why everyone fears them so much.
A project that is not spoken of in the United States much,
but is a hot topic in Japan, is Japan's economic clout being
used to do nation building in Afghanistan. (Currently the
number being tossed around is half a billion dollars, for
which, intetestingly enough, Japan was eviscerated in an editorial
by The Times of London.) Many in Japan would prefer that the
nation be stronger diplomatically, particularly since the
use of force is undesirable, though it is becoming more legal
every month. The idea that Japan can heal Afghanistan's woes
strikes me as quite naive. This said, while liberal commentators
want Japan's leaders to plead with N. Korea for better ties
and try to kiss and make up and make it all better, the more
likely result, if not now, then in the longer term, is that
Japan will feel abandoned and forced to defend itself, taking
a more active role.
Furthermore, a more active role would primarily involve a
naval strategy, with absolutely no ambitions to be a land
power. This is an important distinction from Japan's behavior
a century ago.
Japan's overall military strategy in WWII, to put it simply,
sucked. The nation was essentially contractually obligated
to give the Army a veto over the government. No Army approval,
no government. This let the Army become a government onto
itself, allowing it to push policies that it desired, regardless
of the cost to the nation.
Armed with such political power, and having kicked some rear
end against Russia at the start of the century, Japan had
a foothold in northern Asia, and eventually found itself deep
in conflict in China, plus in full control of Korea. This
situation, for a nation that had spent the last several hundred
years in isolation for fear of repeating a military disaster
in Korea, and so exhausting the nation that the ruling government
would fall, was remarkable, given Japan's far lower population.
It was also, by and large, an exceptional waste of manpower.
Had Japan conducted its national military strategy with the
Navy in a dominant position, recognized the strategic limits
of its position, and most importantly, avoided antagonizing
the United States through aggression in China which served
national interests poorly, Japan would have, at the least,
been in a far stronger position. War, at the time, may not
have even been necessary; had it come, Japan would have conserved
its resources for things like a better maritime air force,
something which would have proved very important.
The point of all this is rather simple. Since Japan is not
focusing on becoming a mainland power whatsoever, primarily
out of the sense not to go after Russia and China, if Japan
remilitarizes further, the focus will not be on, let's say,
tanks. Japan requires no tanks to defend itself, though American
advisors have apparently convinced it to buy some to appease
American politicians. Thus, there is no reason to spread effort
around. If Japan is to defend itself more effectively, it
must do so with a stronger navy and air force, backed by a
modest territorial army and a highly trained and competent
naval infantry force. (That's what everyone but the US would
The sinking of the N. Korean espionage boat (assuming it
was N. Korean, though N. Korea is known to specialize in such
boats, including selling quite nice modern models to the Tamil
Tigers) will only encourage Japan in this direction, solidifying
its modest naval power. I may call it modest, but with Russia's
military in shambles and China's maritime power barely competent
enough to invade and occupy an uninhabited island, Japan will
be able to pick and choose where to make itself felt. It may
not seem like much, but in such a sensitive region, it will
be seen as the first step of the revival of Japanese power
projection. Since this projection would be more focused, and
not spread out foolishly like in the past, it would also be
more effective, and have a greater proportional impact.
China will likely continue to feel pinched from all sides
by these developments, but it will also continue to feel fairly
helpless to do anything about it. If Pakistan falls, China
will be deeply threatened by Indian expansion, especially
allied with Chinese Communism's old enemies still entrenched
For Russia's part, Putin's latest budget apparently assumes
oil will be $14 a barrel for the next year. I've read silly
speculation about "maybe he knows something we don't." No,
he's just being conservative. That's good. Russia's overestimated
budgets so badly in the past that some financial sanity in
that country is downright... revolutionary.
If Putin can keep the place stable enough to start working
out their long-term economic problems, Russia's future will
slowly brighten. Since Russia is now an American ally, it
can buy itself time and stop America from trying to deliver
a knockout blow to its Asian sphere of influence. America's
missed opportunity will make Russia much stronger when it
is prepared to reassert itself, perhaps in a few decades.
On the other hand, lately, the United States has been particularly
rude, crude, and brazenly bullying to Russia, sending a new
message: "You're on our side now, heh heh... now you're forced
to agree to everything that we want. Don't even think of trying
to back out now. You're in no position to refuse. Now we can
wrap up all our Cold War business, and since you took our
side so publically, now we can screw you over at will, and
even criticize your human rights violations when we're crushing
peasant villages daily. (What suckers...)"
After reading various stories about the US' resumed frostiness
to Russia, deliberate slaps to Putin to take advantage of
his praise of the US for the war on terrorism, resumed State
Department sniping, and all-around noose tightening, I began
to wonder: Have these people any brains whatsoever? Their
strategy seems to be titled, "Ten Easy Steps To Make Russia
A Long-Term Enemy." Indeed, they are easy steps. It is the
results which are hard to swallow.
It is cases like these that make me wonder, what if the United
States was just a little more humble, like Bush said he wanted
it to be? A little respect to Putin could have gone a long
way right now. Instead, he'll remember this junk about storing
and not destroying nuclear warhead "cuts" that Bush insisted
should not be subject to a treaty (because no sane Russian
would sign on to this!), for as long as he remains in power
in Russia, which currently stands to be quite a long time.
China, on the other hand, may not even survive as a unified
nation that long, depending on how things go. The Communists
are clearly concerned for their survival, and likely rightly
so. How they approach their challenges is going to have a
substantial effect on the region, if for no other reason,
because China would like to be a sort of German-like protector
of Chinese minorities in other nations, encouraging them to
not start a massacre of a couple of million here and there.
(Such massacres have occured in relatively recent history,
and who knows? They may happen again.)
America is doing an excellent job of destabilizing smaller
nations, as well. Without a single shot fired, it has killed
Argentina's economy, making the dollar peg (proposed by Bush's
father's administration) totally unsustainable, encouraging
the IMF to make increasingly heavy ransom demands for financial
breathing room, and washing America's hands of the whole thing.
More people saw this coming than Enron's collapse, and yet,
Argentina was allowed, even encouraged, to fail as a state.
Don't think no one in S. America noticed. They know.
America also is apparently working hard to arm every two-bit
tyrant and bandit group capable of taking military action
against those believed to be connected with Al Qaeda separatists.
Somalia's transitional government has apparently been targeted
for elimination, since the US is arming and training anti-transitional
government forces. In Yemen, the US has encouraged the central
(?) government to crack down. Elsewhere, the US seems to be
working hard to grease palms and get other people to do the
dirty work, under its supervision.
Now, that may be a great way of avoiding casualties, but
it's certainly not something that will help stabilize these
nations. Since the US seems to think this will be a decades-long
effort, it seems that the Cold War is back; the end justifies
the means, and the side effects. Who knows what scum we've
allied ourselves with?
Finally, the US is gaining a reputation for making running
jokes out of its best allies, like the Brits. Tony Blair is
now seen as a sort of lapdog, a modern-day Jimmy Carter who
actually runs a country as his night job. Those who stand
by the United States, except specifically in the face of common
threats (like urban terror), are seen as dunces and dupes,
people who should know better, but don't.
The whole "you're with us or against us" argument is straight
from Athens vs. Sparta. Neutrals are glad to see that things
aren't that bad yet, but they're bad enough. America's policy,
if taken to its logical conclusion, will result in the military
and economic crushing of random nations that fail to be "with
us" enough. It's not happening yet... but no small nation
seems to be discounting the possiblity. In the future, war
with loosely aligned allies may not be merely a fantasy by
an hysterical blond female columnist who shall remain unnamed,
but a grim reality.
More to the point, recognizing the possibility will continue
to turn friends away from the United States. Trying to brow-beat
the entire world into submission inevitably has consequences.
Those consequenes have begun. They stand to continue for dozens
of years, all begun, not because of a terrorist attack, but
because of selfish, arrogant attitudes on the part of American
policymakers, attitudes formed years and even decades ago
as they decided that America deserves compliance, and need
not do anything to earn that compliance.
The global backlash has only just begun.
It will continue.
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