Bush’s project leaves US weaker

When George W. Bush began implementing the neoconservative ‘Project for a New American Century’ manifesto, little did he know that his actions would boomerang leaving the superpower economically, strategically and morally weaker than before. The idea was to use “a new Pearl Harbor” as a catalyst for a show of US military power that would leave the rest of the world in no doubt as to which nation was the planet’s boss.

The Middle East, the Gulf and beyond were given special attention due to their strategic location between Europe and Asia—and more importantly because of the region’s precious oil and gas resources. If all went to plan, by now, the US should have inserted obedient pro-Western puppets in Afghanistan and Iraq and persuaded their respective populations that Uncle Sam was a benign benefactor, protector and deliverer of freedom and democracy.

If things were worked out, US company giants would have greatly fattened coffers, Americans would be benefiting from cheap oil, America’s global competitors would be out in the cold and US soldiers would be looked up to as liberators by grateful populations. Moreover, even after the withdrawal of occupying troops, there would be massive American military bases dotting those purportedly sovereign countries. The endeavour failed because it was drawn-up by intellectuals based on theory without taking into account human complexities or cultural/religious differences.

Ties with Pakistan

Ten years on from the US-led invasion of Afghanistan not only are the Taliban stronger than ever, their leaders are gradually being invited back into society’s mainstream by America’s former ‘man in Kabul,’ President Hamid Karzai. I use the word ‘former’ because Karzai is fed up with being criticised by Washington and is appalled at the cavalier fashion occupying forces treat innocent human life. Untold numbers of Afghan villagers have been killed by US drones tracking one or two Taliban fighters.

Karzai wants the Americans out and is clearly at the end of his tether judging by his recent statement to the effect his government would back Islamabad in the event Pakistan and the US were to engage in armed conflict. And, in fact, that possibility exists at a time when US-Pakistan relations have been at their lowest since 2001 when the US warned the then Pakistani government that if it didn’t play ball with Washington, it would be bombed back to the Dark Ages.

At that time, Pakistan responded to US sticks and carrots but now even America’s friends there are feeling humiliated that their country’s sovereignty was breached by US Navy SEALS on a mission to assassinate Osama Bin Laden. Pakistan’s military and security services are seething over US accusations that they were harbouring the white-haired militant all along while, according to US Admiral Mike Mullen, the pro-Taliban Haqqani network, considered responsible for a truck bombing and an attack on the US embassy, is a “veritable arm of the ISI.”

Congress is said to be shocked at Karzai’s outburst but there’s nothing shocking about it. It makes perfect sense. Afghans and Pakistanis share the same neighbourhood, the same religion and, in some instances, are members of the same tribes. Why would any Afghan’s allegiance lie with the people who bombed, invaded and occupied his country; foreigners from the other side of the world? Congress thinks Karzai should be grateful, which is laughable. Afghanistan today is a security nightmare and the lives of ordinary people are anything but free. For Afghanistan and nuclear Pakistan to reach a military pact makes perfect sense.

The White House thinks Iraqis are ungrateful, too, for not acceding to US troops staying in Iraq beyond the end of this year with immunity from prosecution, despite unrelenting US pressure to do so. Most Iraqis view the American presence as an anathema, a visible reminder of eight years of pain and humiliation, while most top members of Nouri Al Maliki’s government are under the sway of Tehran. I suspect it won’t be too long before Washington is told to reduce its 17,000 ‘diplomatic’ personnel scheduled to remain within the world’s largest US embassy in Baghdad and in US consulates around the country.

It’s ironic that the US taxpayer has paid over $1 trillion (Dh3.67 trillion) for those wars and their aftermath yet ,from their perspective, nothing beneficial has been achieved. On the contrary, Afghanistan and Pakistan are getting cosy while the same goes for Iraq and Iran. It’s also ironic that while countries the US occupied are on an economic upward path, greater numbers of Americans are relying on food stamps. The real new American century envisaged by Bush is not one of US domination after all. A 22-nation Pew Poll conducted in July shows that most Western Europeans believe China already has or will supplant the US as the world’s leading power.

The people who conceived Bush’s foreign policy and conducted foolish military adventures have gotten away with criminally squandering America’s respected place in the world, while the US taxpayer is still picking up the tab.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at heardonthegrapevines@yahoo.co.uk.

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