Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 14 May 11 - 17, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
American Agenda Now Becoming Clear
superpower like the United States does not invade a pipsqueak power like Iraq -
outside the framework of international law and against worldwide opposition -
only for its publicly stated reasons, in this case, fighting terrorism,
liberating Iraq and triggering a domino effect for the democratization of the
real American agenda is only now becoming clearer.
conquest of Iraq is enabling a new Pax Americana that goes well beyond the
much-discussed control of oil, as central as that is to the enterprise.
is redrawing the military map of the region with amazing alacrity. It has pulled
its bases out of Saudi Arabia and Turkey in favour of less-demanding hosts.
relations with Egypt have been placed on the back burner.
is no accident that those three nations are the region's more populous. And that
America's newest partners - Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates -
are thinly populated and tightly controlled monarchies.
are a problem for America in the Arab and Muslim world. They are bristling with
anti-Americanism, principally over the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
pullout of 10,000 U.S. troops from a Saudi air base was long overdue, not just
because it was a favourite target of Osama bin Laden. It so embarrassed the
ruling House of Saud that the Americans had to be kept in purdah, away from the
public at a remote base in the desert.
base is obviously no longer needed since Saddam Hussein is gone. But its
closure, in fact, is America's answer to Saudi resistance to the war and the
fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were bin Laden Saudis.
the two nations begin a new chapter in their 50-year relationship, America will
be less dependent on, though not free of the need for, Saudi oil.
kingdom with the world's largest oil reserves and the highest output will lose
clout as America controls the second-largest reserves in Iraq.
too, has to renegotiate its relations with Washington.
now has a vise grip on the region, with 14 new post-9/11 bases, from eastern
Europe through Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Pakistan and Afghanistan to the two
Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
singular feature of all those new allies is that they are weak states. Most are
undemocratic, if not repressive.
America is replicating its failed model of using unrepresentative regimes to
suppress the people, but doing it on new turf.
short-term gain, therefore, may come at the expense of long-term pain. And even
that will depend on how well America does with its "road map" for
peace in the Middle East, so inextricably linked are Muslims to the plight of
Iraq itself, the dawn of a democratic era is not unfolding as advertised.
the name of stopping the emergence of an Iranian-style theocracy in favour of
what the White House has called an "Islamic democracy" (whatever that
means), America seems determined to install its own puppet regime in Baghdad.
majority Shiites are being shunted aside.
protesting the American presence, including the minority Sunnis in the cities of
Falluja and Mosul, are being shot and killed by American troops.
distance between American words and deeds is nowhere more evident than in George
W. Bush's triumphalist declaration that he has licked terrorism in Iraq.
turns out that he has a very selective dislike for terrorism.
he has quietly cozied up to a most notorious terrorist group, the leftist
Mujahideen-e-Khalq in Iraq.
to the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Khalq was accused of killing Americans
there. Post-revolution, it reportedly supported the student takeover of the U.S.
embassy in Tehran. But frozen out of the spoils of power, the group turned
against the Islamic regime, killing scores of civilians.
out of Iran, it set up guerrilla bases in Iraq from where to harass and attack
the diplomatic front, the Khalq took full advantage of America's antipathy to
Iran and convinced 150 members of Congress to blindly sign petitions in its
favour. But the U.S. and the European Union eventually caught up and branded it
the terrorist organization that it has long been.
the early days of the war on Iraq, American planes started bombing its bases.
But the Khalq PR machines swung into action in Washington to get the guerrillas
a secret ceasefire deal, signed April 15 but not released until Wednesday, the
Bush boys agreed to let the Khalq be. The group even gets to keep all its
the Khalq moves from Saddam's patronage to Bush's.
much for wiping out terrorism and terrorists.
together, these American moves do not reflect the high principles of Bush's
rhetoric. Rather, they bear an uncanny resemblance to the British colonial
enterprise of nearly a century ago, the price of which is still being paid by
the people there.
May 4, 2003