February 13, 2003

Old Europe Raises Its Head

According to a Reuters release, all but four of the 15 UN Security Council countries want to continue inspections instead of launching war against Iraq. The countries in the Security Council who support the US are Britain, Spain and Bulgaria. This, apparently is what Old Rumsfeld calls "The New Europe." A pretty stunning line-up, Rummy! These governments were all bought off one way or the other, but you can be sure the vast majority of the people in these countries are opposed to the war. Of course it's always the poor, the middle class, the rank and file, the working people who pay the cost of war. And the warmongers get all the booty. But to paraphrase Bob Dylan, "Can all your money buy back your soul?"

Maybe "Old Europe" isn't so dumb after all. The Bush axis, these upstart Ghengis Khans and their ragtag followers, think everyone else is old news. But the regime has taken on the whole world, drawn a line in the sand challenging anyone to challenge its self-proclaimed dictatorship over the world. In an immediate sense, the Bush administration could prevail in any situation by overpowering any adversary and not respecting any rule as applying to it. But if you take on the whole world, the whole world sooner or later just might have a response. Looks like that is happening.

It's simple mathematics, the most fundamental game theory. The US can take on any adversary. Theoretically. It has the most massively financed military machine in history, more or less the entire raison d'etre for the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld crowd. When it comes to armed conflict, America's big Ace, no country could hope to challenge it. Rumsfeld keeps upping the number of countries the U.S. could fight wars with at any one time. Sooner or later it's going to go beyond the capacities of the empire to extend itself.

But there are other kinds of power besides military might, though the Bush gang has forgotten them. They've tried a little experiment: what happens when you are totally intractable, pay no attention to anyone's rights, but just take whatever you want and push everyone else around? Now, perhaps for the first time, they are meeting limits. And they are furious.

Belgium's Foreign Minister Louis Michel said, "When one has to take a slap in the face such as the insulting remarks... by Mr Rumsfeld, who comes to teach a thing or two to 'old Europe', the Europe of democratic values, humanist Europe, the Europe of the Age of Enlightenment, personally I find that this hurts." (See BBC) Of course Rumsfeld's New America cares nothing for democracy, humanism. He may not have even heard about The Enlightenment. (That's really old.)

When one hurts others, sometimes they strike back. This is very basic stuff. As in "Lord of the Flies," the Bushmen hurled the world back to its primitive beginnings. A world in which only brute force ruled and there was no such thing as civility, trust, fair play. But sooner or later other principles of order will assert themselves.

I'm sure Rumsfeld, Rove, Cheney, all the Bushes and all their ilk believe that this is just a bump in the road and nothing will stop them. And they will redouble their efforts, become ever more relentless and determined to get their way. And they may get it. They may get their war with Iraq and they may get several more after that. But they have met meaningful resistance now and their limits have been drawn. They are not invincible.

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