Friday, March 28
Whoever Wins the War, The US has Lost the Peace
by Adrian Hamilton, The Independent, March 28, 2003
...In the Allies' Central Command HQ in Doha, they produce images to show the precision of Western bombing and the rapidity of the US push on Iraq. Walk down the road and the studios of al-Jazeera are pumping out images of a Third World country trying vainly to fight back against a hyperpower of infinite technological superiority. There is no doubt which version most of the world believes. Even in India, where anti-Muslim feelings lie close to the surface, you don't meet a single person who thinks this is anything other than an American enterprise fought for selfish reasons. "Why," they ask you in genuinely concerned terms, "is Blair going along with it?"
It's difficult to know what would shift this view. An early victory would only confirm the image of humiliating Western technological superiority. Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons might raise a counter-reaction, although even here many in the Third World would regard this as understandable given the technical disparity. But an outpouring of Iraqi delight at being freed from Saddam won't change opinion, as it would be taken as a byproduct of American actions, not its main intention.
Donald Rumsfeld's suggestion that victory will bring a thousand friends misses the point. [...]This war is being fought by the Americans and British, with a few thousand Australians and a couple of special forces companies from Poland – an entirely Western enterprise.
Other countries have acceded to American requests for facilities, but if they have wanted to keep their help discreet, it is for good reason. Public opinion is clear and unambiguous and the war is only making the streets angrier at their governments' sell-out. It is not for nothing that the ruler of Qatar acts as host to the Allied headquarters and al-Jazeera at the same time, or that Turkey finally failed to give the US more than rights of overflight. Democracy in the Middle East should not be understood to presuppose pro-Americanism. Just the opposite.
If that is what Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney believe then they are fooling themselves, never mind anyone else. [...]