Sat Jul 15th, 2006 at 02:11:15 PM EST
Excellent piece in the Indpendent today by Rupert Cornwell. Sadly hidden behind subscription wall, so I shall make extensive transcript to get his idea across
Iraq burns, Afghanistan boils, and a nuclear North Korea tests its missiles with impunity. Iran, meanwhile, mockingly plays on both chess boards simultaneously, refusing to give up its nuclear ambitions, while employing its Hizbollah surrogates to lure Israel into a new Middle East war. Truly, it is hard to know where to begin in the hunt for famous last words uttered in the past six years by the rulers in this imagined seat of global empire on the Potomac river where I live.
Do we start with George Bush, with his line "sometimes a show of force by one side can really clarify things" at his first National Security Council meeting on 30 January 2001? That nostrum of statecraft, after all of 10 days in power, was delivered to an alarmed Secretary of State Colin Powell, after the President had declared that it wasn't worth America continuing to waste time on the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Well, we've got the show of force right now. Clarification, alas, is quite another matter....[snip]
..Madelaine Albright has called the (current) interlocking crises as a perfect storm in international affairs.
Their outcome cannot be predicted. But one lesson historians will surely draw is that over the past year or so, the limits of American power have been exposed. Yet watching American TV these past few days, you would have little inkling of the change....[snip]
The emperor's chief policy adviser was about to speak and, we were led to believe, everyone would be brought to heel. In fact, the best she could come up with was an appeal for calm by all sides. This was America speaking, but it might have been Portugal or Argentina for all the difference it made...[snip]
Awareness of this changed state of affairs is growing even at the heart of the Empire. Time magazine's cover proclaims "The End of Cowboy Diplomacy", while the man who sneered at the United Nations when he went to war in Iraq can hardly utter a sentence that does not contain the word diplomacy. But we in Europe should not be so smug...[snip}
The limits of Pax American may have been laid bare. But the fact that we acquiesced in the vbery notion is proof of how we depended on it....Pax Americana, like Pax Romana, or even Pax Britannia, might have been resented, but in so many respects it made life easier for those who were subject to it....[snip]
Maybe no solution is possible, in which case we will move by default into an era of competing power blocks. We can support the US or separately sink. But for now, The Middle East burns, Iran threatens-but where, oh where, is Europe ?