The U.S government’s announced intention to broaden the war on terrorism beyond Afghanistan has triggered growing concern that other important U.S. foreign policy goals and principles will be subordinated in the process.
If Americans needed any reminding how, during the cold war, U.S. policymakers subordinated Wilsonian principles of self-determination to the larger anticommunist struggle, they should read several secret U.S. documents surrounding Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor obtained and released this week by the independent National Security Archive (NSA). The documents confirm that visiting U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave a green light to President Suharto for the invasion.
There has been increasing attention on Yemen as the possible next major focus in the U.S. campaign against terrorism. Yemeni government forces have begun a crackdown against suspected Al-Qaida members and supporters, and a number of armed clashes have ensued. This comes just weeks after the November 26th meeting in Washington between President George W. Bush and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in which the Yemeni leader promised cooperation in the struggle against terrorism and President Bush promised additional security assistance to support that effort.
The day the World Trade Organisation (WTO) came into existence, on January 1, 1995, the Indian Express had carried a pocket cartoon on its front page. It showed two people walking amidst high rise buildings with huge billboards for popular multinational brands like Pepsi Cola, Coke, Philips, and McDonalds. The cartoon depicted one of the people walking down the street asking: “What does WTO stand for?” The other man replied: “We Take Over.”
Only three days have passed since U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Middle East policy remarks at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center for Political Leadership in Kentucky. Following Secretary Powell’s tribute to a key member in the audience, Kentucky’s Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, one of the fiercest opponents of the PLO and the Oslo Peace agreements, who together with Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, published AIPAC’s (the Israeli political lobby in the U.S.) most recent initiative against the Palestinian Authority (Ha’aretz 22/11/2001), Secretary Powell boldly declared:
Afghans are accustomed to “hoping for the best and expecting the worst.” The fragility of the current situation begs for great care and concern not to repeat past failures of Western policy. Great care must be taken in any steps in formulating a post-Taliban Afghanistan that includes an acceptable government as well as provisions for development and economic stability. Most importantly, efforts must reflect the wishes of ordinary Afghans inside of Afghanistan in order to gain credibility and long-term stability. Sadly, these sentiments seem to be ignored.
The mirage of positive movement in the deadly gridlock between Israelis and Palestinians continued today, uninterrupted by reality. Following U.S. President George Bush’s footsteps, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, during a major Middle East policy address at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, finally confirmed the addition of the word “Palestine” to the U.S. political lexicon. More significantly, Secretary of State Powell explicitly acknowledged, for the first time ever, that Israel’s illegal “occupation” of Palestinian land and people “must end.”
The new Israeli “peace initiative” drafted by Israel’s Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, is no more than a placebo for internal Israeli consumption and consumption by the U.S. and Europe in response to their pressuring Israel for positive movement toward ending the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
Toward the end of President Bush’s September 24 statement about freezing terrorists’ assets, one finds the overlooked but no less remarkable assertion that the U.S. is “working closely with the United Nations, the EU and through the G-7/G-8 structure to limit the ability of terrorist organizations to take advantage of the international financial systems.” Still more remarkably, he declared, “The United States has signed, but not yet ratified, two international conventions, one of which is designed to set international standards for freezing financial assets. I’ll be asking members of the U.S. Senate to approve the UN convention on suppression of terrorist financing and a related convention on terrorist bombings and to work with me on implementing the legislation.”
In summer 2001, when the rising tide of “antiglobalization” protest finally rose to claim the life of a Genoa protester in July, the world’s media knew the drill. They focused on the G8, and in particular on the poses and pronouncements of Big Power summitry besieged by Internet-organized discontent.