Run down to the war

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Thu Jan 23 16:26:16 MST 2003


The dispatching of Australian troops has focused people's minds here on the
coming war.  Some interesting, surprising even, positions have
emerged.  The Returned Services League (RSL) - a bastion of right wing
military reaction - has come out against any war which is not sanctioned by
the UN.

This is indeed remarkable.  However I still believe the UN will be bullied
into supporting this war.  I also think that France and Germany will either
capitulate now or crowd around like jackals hoping for a bit of the kill
when the war is over.  It will all be done in the name of goodness,
democracy and sympathy for the people of Iraq. The hypocrisy is as stifling
as a dust storm.

Inexorably we are moving into a new political epoch. Some of the habits and
thought patterns of the old way, though, are still with us.  The nature of
the New American Imperium is as yet obscured to the majority.  But the
crude and brutal nature of the Bush regime cannot be hidden.  At present
their debate how to divide the future spoils - the glittering prizes - that
they will get their hands on in Iraq, is being run along the lines of to
privatise or not to privatise. The meaning of that debate has not reached
popular consciousness.  When it does all will know that what is at foot now
is not simply some crude adventure but the construction of a new Imperium
though conquest.

True, it seems as if nothing can stand in the way of American Imperial
Power.  A reading of Perry Anderson's latest piece in New Left Review
reveals how widespread is the pessimism caused by the seeming impossibility
of confronting the American military. Anderson calls this the 'revolution
in military affairs' (RMA). And goes on to say

"What the RMA meant was a fundamental change in the nature of warfare, by
comprehensive application of electronic advances to weapons and
communications systems. The NATO campaign against Yugoslavia was still an
early experiment, with a good many technical flaws and targeting failures,
in the possibilities for one-sided destruction that these innovations
opened up. But the results were startling enough, suggesting the potential
for a quantum jump in the accuracy and effect of American fire power. By
the time that plans for retaliation against Al-Qaeda were in preparation,
the RMA had proceeded much further. The blitz on Afghanistan, deploying a
full panoply of satellites, smart missiles, drones, stealth bombers and
special forces, showed just how wide the technological gap between the US
armoury and that of all other states had become, and how low the human cost
to the US of further military interventions round the world might be. The
global imbalance in the means of violence once the USSR had vanished has,
in effect, since been redoubled, tilting the underlying constituents of
hegemony yet more sharply towards the pole of force. For the effect of the
RMA is to create a low-risk power vacuum around American planning, in which
the ordinary calculus of the risks or gains of war is diluted or suspended.
The lightning success of the Afghan operation, over forbidding geographical
and cultural terrain, could only embolden any Administration for wider
imperial sweeps."  <http://www.newleftreview.net/NLR25101.shtml>


What is missing from Anderson's calculations is any feeling that popular
will from below can alter the current balance of power.  Yet these popular
forces are already in play, especially within the USA.  More and more
people are saying  'no' to the power of the New American Imperium and the
coming invasion and conquest of Iraq will only add to their number.

Regards

Gary


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