September 14, 2002

Agents of Cataclysm

Overflowing with arrogance, short on imagination, the Cheney-Rumsfeld contingent pushes the world to the brink of war
Donald Rumsfeld is quoted in The Daily News as saying that the U.S. could fight a war in Iraq, while tied up with whatever is required in Afghanistan, and still be ready to take on China if China decides to make a move on Taiwan.

Rumsfeld sounds like the Cowardly Lion. "I'll fight ya with both hands tied behind my back." Now here is a scenario where U.S. forces are fighting in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Rumsfeld is actually suggesting the U.S. would happily take on China if China decides to forcibly re-unite Taiwan into the mainland.

Though unsavory, this is not an unlikely scenario. The U.S. foreign policy explicitly supports the "One China" policy, which means that it has recognized for years that Taiwan is part of China, just as Hong Kong is, and should ultimately return just as Hong Kong did. The Chinese government is itching to recover Taiwan, and soon. But aside from the fact that the U.S. has supported this policy, for whatever reason, does Rumsfeld really think the U.S. is ready to go to war against China while it's already fighting multiple wars?

Of course these leftover Nixonians Rumsfeld and Cheney are lunatics, that we know. And they are trying desperately to drag us back to 1974 and redirect the world in the direction they envisioned before that third-rate burglary screwed everything up. But now we have a situation where these fools are dead set on attacking Iraq no matter if the whole world opposes it. They have Tony Blair behind them and practically no one else, not even Tony Blair's party, and certainly not a vast majority of the British population. Even with the skewed polls we are used to seeing in the U.S., a majority opposes the administration's plan to attack Iraq without an international consensus. And the administration is not one step in a journey of a thousand miles toward achieving that.

Their massive arrogance in their behavior on every front has ratcheted up anti-American sentiment around the world to seething, explosive levels. Now Rumsfeld himself is envisioning a situation in which they are taking on Iraq and then going to war against China. Rumsfeld, in his Dr. Strangelove mindset, probably welcomes this scenario because China is getting more powerful by the minute. So he probably would like to provoke a conflict as soon as possible while the odds are at their best. Of course the idea of peaceful coexistence with China eludes him.

Rumsfeld can envision simultaneous wars with Iraq and China while policing Afghanistan, but perhaps his vision stops there, as though real events would conform to his imagined scenario. But think for a moment what would happen at that point. With America tied up in wars with Iraq and China, what do you think would happen to the massive reservoir hatred of America that is growing daily with each one of the administration's acts of arrogance, with each military incursion into another country, with each slap in the face to the international community? Even Rumsfeld would have to acknowledge that the U.S. would have some vulnerability when it is at war with Iraq and China. Has he not noticed that Russia is also opposed to the war against Iraq and has made gestures of trade with Iraq? The Iraq policy has succeeded in uniting Russia with China, the countries of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America. At the moment U.S. vulnerability becomes apparent, the international hatred toward the U.S. will be unleashed. The dam will break.

The U.S. is already engaged in Colombia and the Phillipines and has troops deployed in numerous countries around the world. These same characters in the Nixon administration thought the U.S. could defeat Vietnam with their massive military superiority. They unleashed dreadful weapons of mass destruction and mass murder, wrecked that country about as much as they could, and the Vietnamese never capitulated. They had nowhere to go. It was their homeland and they would not tolerate U.S. control that kept them in barely survivable conditions. They had nothing to lose. So the U.S. lost, because it really had nothing to win.

The Vietnam struggle became an attempt by the power structure of the U.S. to demonstrate to people of the Third World that resistance to U.S. control was hopeless. But it failed and demonstrated instead that oppressed people can be astonishingly resilient. Rumsfeld and Cheney are dying to replay that scenario in a way that restores their failed vision of the 1970s. If they succeed in going forward with their war plans it will be disastrous beyond anything that is being publicly discussed. We could be in a situation analogous to the people at the beginning of the 20th century looking forward to the worldwide wrack and ruin of two world wars and destruction and mass murder that had never been contemplated before.

As they bluster over war with Iraq, the Bush administration has succeeded in uniting the world against the U.S., in consolidating a vast anti-American bloc. This opposition is now only a war of words. When they go ahead with their war plans, it will escalate. Remember, this defense establishment -- massive as it is -- was rendered utterly helpless and unprepared against a small group of men armed only with boxcutters, if you believe their own account.

Rumsfeld and Cheney are locked in a vision that was already retrogressive when they were trying to implement it in the 1970s. Already world history had moved beyond the colonial world order they sought to enforce. Now through corruption of political processes they have been returned to power, though opposed by substantial democratic majority. The administration has thwarted the will of that majority at every turn, favoring a small corporate clique over the interest of millions of people on every issue. But the centerpiece of their program is and always has been war, and they are approaching the implementation of that vision for war with the upcoming attack on Iraq. The stage is set and they are fully intent on going ahead no matter who opposes them. They fully expect civil disturbances to erupt and have already put into place plans for domestic military policing, internment camps, capturing of those they deem to be enemies without due process of law. They are going ahead without regard to consequences.

They have many contingency plans in place, but they can only consider so many possibilities. They are not like the chess genius who can plan ten moves ahead, but more like the player of average intelligence who can plan two, maybe three moves ahead before the multiplicity of alternative scenarios becomes unmanageable. Here in real life we have a chessboard of almost unimaginable complexity and dynamism. And these men, appropriately called "dinosaurs" by Nelson Mandela, are about to unleash their ultimate destructive power. It seems apparent that they do not have the capacity to imagine the possible consequences of their action. What we are very possibly witnessing is the opening acts of a scenario that could be titled The Fall of the Empire. After the sample of destruction shown to America on September 11, 2001, what must concern all sane people is how much will they bring down with them? -- By David Cogswell

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