In the wake of Colin Powell’s bellicose presentation to the UN on Wednesday, the US media’s story line has significantly hardened in insisting war is inevitable. Now it is presented as a matter of days, not even weeks.
From the start of Bush’s march to war last September, the US media has contemptuously dismissed all opposition from “Old Europe” as irrelevant and certain to collapse under intense and “irresistable” diplomatic and economic pressure from George Bush and Colin Powell. UN Resolution 1441, which resulted from weeks of intense negotiations to prevent “automatic” war following renewed inspections, was falsely presented as a complete capitulation by Europe to Bush’s unstoppable will.
Since Powell spoke, the US media has systematically dismissed all of the statements by European leaders. According to the US media, the corrupt French will support Bush after the US makes a side deal to give French oil companies a small stake in Iraq’s oil. Germany, which is hopelessly controlled by socialists and greens, is now no more important than Libya or Cuba.
Naturally, Jacques Chirac and Gerhardt Schroeder are not pleased at being dismissed, and as the week progressed they became ever more emphatic in their insistence on further inspections. But the US media wants war now, and doesn’t want to hear these tired old objections. So whatever European leaders say is simply shouted down by US leaders, as evidenced by the latest dismissive NY Times headline: “Rumsfeld Rebukes U.N. and NATO on Approach to Baghdad.”
(It goes without saying that public opinion is completely irrelevant. The fact that 20,000 Germans protested outside the hall in which Rumsfeld issued his “rebuke” is barely considered worthy of mention. And the fact that MILLIONS of people around the world are preparing for the LARGEST anti-war protest in HISTORY on February 15 is systematically scrubbed from all reports.)
But suddenly this story line is about to change. Germany and France – dismissed only days ago by Donald Rumsfeld as “Old Europe” – have come up with a comprehensive plan to avoid war by sending thousands of UN troops to take effective control of Iraq.
The plan was revealed by Germany’s leading weekly magazine, Der Spiegel. While the plan is still in draft form, the plan is ambitious and serious. and in order to counter expected US opposition, Germany and France have enlisted Russia, China, the European Union, and even Pope John Paul. Instead of collapsing in disunity, “Old Europe” is on the verge of uniting all of the world’s secondary powers in direct and firm opposition to Bush’s War.
Will Bush welcome this peace plan? Of course not – Bush has made it abundantly clear that he wants war, no matter what. Donald Rumsfeld and Condi Rice have never had a moment’s hesitation about war, and Colin Powell has discarded whatever small hesitations he once had. (1)
Still, if Bush is going to dismiss the German-French plan, he will have to offer the world a reason. But what possible reason could he offer? After all, Bush himself has repeatedly insisted that the UN had to demonstrate its “relevance” by taking effective action to eliminate any threat posed by Iraq.
It is now time for the US media to change its story line. With this plan, the UN has proved its “relevance.” If a majority of the UN Security Council coalesces around this plan, Bush’s forced march to war will be forced to a screeching halt.
The stakes here are larger than Iraq. The question now before the world is whether George Bush will himself support the “relevance” of the United Nations, or whether Bush has truly transformed the US into a “new Rome” that is determined to rule the world through imperial might. If Bush launches an aggressive war in direct defiance of a majority of the UN Security Council, he will destroy the UN and the entire post-war order.
The world is at a tipping point, swinging on the fulcrum between the rule of international law and the raw assertion of US imperialism. The stakes for the future of the world could not be higher.
Will the US media tell the people? Or will Americans be the last to know?
(1)The reaction from Karl Rove was immediate – and furious. Moments after the Der Spiegel story broke, Thom Shanker of the NY Times got a call from Rove:
The influential Der Spiegel weekly, in advance copies released today, reported that France and Germany were considering a plan to deploy thousands of United Nations peacekeepers and hundreds more weapons inspectors to prevent military conflict in Iraq.
Livid American officials denounced the fact that they first heard of the possible plan from reporters.
“That’s not the way to have a winning hand with the United States,” said a senior American official. In fact, the official said, Mr. Rumsfeld asked the German defense minister, Peter Struck, about the report, and was told, “We’re not ready to talk yet.” The American official indicated that the United States would not support the plan, citing the failure of United Nations forces to prevent massacres in Bosnia.
Of course, the analogy between Bosnia and Iraq is ridiculous. Bosnia was plunging into a civil war, with rival ethnic groups murdering each other. Iraq’s rival ethnic groups are being kept at peace by Saddam’s brutal rule. The only event that would trigger civil war would be a US invasion and overthrow of Saddam!
Secondly, the U.N. sent a small number of unarmed monitors to Bosnia, not armed soldiers. They were a purely symbolic presence, not a military force. The Franco-German plan calls for a large force of armed soldiers.
As for “preventing massacres” in Iraq, US forces have a dismal record. In Gulf War I, US forces under George Bush Sr., Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell pulled out of Iraq after 100 hours, leaving Saddam in power but severely weakened. Bush I believed Iraqi troops would overthrow Saddam in anger; when that didn’t happen, Bush’s CIA encouraged Iraqi Kurds and Shiites to rebel. They did – and they were massacred by Saddam.
Finally, Republicans vehemently opposed Bill Clinton’s decision to send US forces to Bosnia, and tried repeatedly to cut off funding for the operation. So it is more than a little hypocritical for Republicans to argue that US forces should not have been used then, but absolutely must be used now.