Thursday, November 11, 2004

Flabby fist 

So I heard a bit of Scott Taylor'sinterview on John Gormley Live yesterday -- Taylor, who edits Esprit de Corps magazine, survived five days as a hostage in Iraq in September.
He described Fallujah as "the Alamo" for Iraqis -- regardless of whether the US wins its offensive there, the city will remain a symbol of Iraq resistance, and the more destruction the greater its symbolic value.
Then today I read James Wolcott's piece
On Borrowed Time about the hollow core of the so-called American empire: "the US can no longer back up the big mouths of its leaders. If America chooses to go it alone in future conflicts, it'll be because it has no choice."
He goes on to quote from Emmanuel Todd's After the Empire:
"Todd, a French demographer and author of a book correctly foreseeing the fall of the Soviet Union, says the US has become a "big little bully" incapable of picking on anyone its own size. It makes a show of force attacking the weak--dirtpoor countries with no air defences, such as Iraq and Afghanistan--because a "show" is precisely what it is. "These conflicts that represent little or no military risk allow the United States to be 'present' throughout the world. The United States works to maintain the illusory fiction of the world as a dangerous place in need of America's protection." Problem is, the fiction is only fooling Americans. The rest of the world has wised up. Todd points out that Germany, Russia, France, and even Turkey declined to join our great adventure in Iraq, and guess what?--nothing happened! Apart from sappy boycotts and juvenile gestures ("freedom fries"), they went unpunished. . . "We should not follow America's military leaders for whom the term 'theater of operations' has ceased being a metaphor. Fighting alongside the Americans in Iraq would only amount to playing a small role in a bloody vaudeville show." . . . The US assault on Fallujah is a prime example of what Todd calls "theatrical micromilitarism.". . . For months the US has been touting this incursion and publicly built up forces outside the city for weeks, giving the enemy plenty of time to rig explosives and/or skip town. Billing it as a "decisive battle"--another fraud. Guerrilla warfare operates on an entirely different set of rules; as has been oft pointed out, America won every major battle during Vietnam and still lost. What's unfolding is not a decisive moment but a ghastly production that trains hellfire on a symbolic target and "plays well" to American citizens as a flex of muscle . . . Civilian casualties, the destruction of homes and livelihoods, the absence of any significant capture of insurgent ringleaders, these are secondary to getting good action footage over which benedictions can be said. Under a second Bush term, the neocons are more entrenched and missile-rattling than ever, eyeing Iran, Syria, even China. But the fist they shake at the world is a flabby one, as the world has somberly, resentfully come to recognize. "As for George W. Bush and his neoconservative helpers, they will go down in history as the grave diggers of the American empire."

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