we don't want allies, we want satellites

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    America has lost its world leadership in a dizzyingly short time

    By Special To Citizen-Times

    12/11/04 -- The collective groan heard around the world when President Bush was re-elected was audible to everyone but the White House. Bush's pronouncements on the U.S. role in the world have cast him as a Lone Star iconoclast. In a recent survey conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, distrust and dislike of the United States have doubled and tripled during the past year in every region of the globe.

    Until this last election the international community looked upon the Bush administration as an aberration in American politics. Overseas its legitimacy was questioned by its having initially assumed power through manipulation of votes cast in a manner more characteristic of Zimbabwe than of a Western democracy. Reinforcing that impression was the Bush administration's scrapping most of the diplomatic accomplishments of previous Republican and Democratic administrations since World War II. During its first two years it abrogated, undermined and ignored more international agreements than the rest of the world put together during the previous 30 years.

    Among others, these included refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; undermining the Convention on Chemical and Biological Weapons; rejection of the Convention against Torture; scuttling the Convention on Limiting International Traffic in Small Arms; rejection of the Kyoto Protocol; refusal to ratify the Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination against Women; and refusal to ratify the Convention Against Use of Child Soldiers.

    The post-Nov. 2 worldview of America is the Bush administration's retaining power through a triumvirate coalition that makes U.S. participation in world affairs again open to question at best. During the past four years, leading political analysts in Europe viewed the foreign policy of the United States being conducted by a small clique of neo-conservative ideologues. They now see the power of this group just having been reinforced by two other ominous groups: a corporate oligarchy and mobilized religious fundamentalists. Historically the influence the latter group exerts on this administration resembles the role of the Third Estate in pre-revolutionary France, a position then enjoyed by the Catholic Church. Cardinal Richelieu, the political adviser of the Third Estate to French kings, now has a very capable modern American equivalent, Karl Rove, Bush's political guru.

    The "political capital" which Bush claims that he has gained by virtue of this election ends at our shores. Overseas he is bankrupt. The Bush presidency was viewed as the most powerful catalyst in bringing the 25 nations of the "old" and "new" Europe together in approving their new constitution for the European Union (EU) in Rome last month. The driving force in its ratification is the hope of creating a major collective economic and political entity on the world scene which could challenge American hegemony in world affairs.

    How could this animosity toward the U.S. have happened in so short a time? In the days following Sept. 11, 2001, the United States had global support. There was full backing by the United Nations and NATO for military action in Afghanistan, where the majority of troops deployed was and still is from NATO countries, including several thousand from France and Germany. At U.N.-sponsored donor conferences European and Asian countries are contributing to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Recent elections there were held under U.N. oversight.

    All this cooperation and collaboration were lost with the publication of the new National Security Strategy of the United States on Sept. 19, 2002. For the first time the United States claimed the self-validating right to unilaterally wage preventive pre-emptive wars of choice with overwhelming unparalleled military might against any presumed potential enemy. Both the global aspirations of this document and its absence of any sense of limits give the perception of an American Empire in the making. In the words of Vice President Cheney, "The United States must discourage the advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." Translation: we don't want allies, we want satellites.

    The obsession with invading Iraq, predetermined by the neo- conservatives long before Sept. 11, was to serve as the test case for this new policy. Unlike Afghanistan, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 is viewed as "Bush's War," which is why we bear all the costs and almost all of the casualties.

    Tragically this administration's unprecedented arrogance in its dealings with former allies and its manipulation of faulty intelligence and outright deceptions to muster support for invading Iraq have cost us good-will and credibility worldwide, critical assets in mustering world opinion and cooperation. It is small wonder that the rest of the world now views with bafflement or hostility the country they not so long ago admired. We may have massive military might, but it is impossible to wage a successful global campaign against terrorism without the trust and participation of other nations.

    Petrequin is a former faculty member, Department of National Security Policy Studies, The National War College. As a Coast Guard officer he served in the Korean Theater and in Vietnam during those conflicts. He lives in Black Mountain.
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