Bush isn't backing down

It is a good thing that the US is prepared to go it alone if necessary,
says Des Moore

Canberra Times,10 September2002.

Some Australians have concluded that, by repairing to the UN Security Council, President Bush has signalled abandonment of the forcible removal of Saddam’s regime.  And a good thing too, these Australians say.

They are twice wrong:  Bush is engaged in tactical manoeuvering, not strategic capitulationism; and a good thing too.

These Australians, opposed to a war, say that Bush has been forced to come to his senses by several belated realisations:  that the military task and the post-war transformation of Iraq would be too difficult and costly; that he cannot rally to his cause even his own administration, let alone the Congress and American opinion; and that the USA would be without the necessary international support.

But the reality is different.  Nothing Bush has recently said or done contradicts his longstanding view that new UN Security Council resolutions are not legally needed; that renewed anywhere, anytime arms inspections would not be allowed by Iraq except on unacceptable conditions; that even if they were allowed, they could not give proof that could be relied upon; that as the decade-long attempt to change the Iraqi government’s policies by containment and constrainment has proved unavailing, the only thing left
open is to change the government; that sufficient domestic and international support will be forthcoming once the administration joins the debate full on; that a war is both winnable and necessary; and that the USA should act on its own if its preferred course of a coalition proves impossible.

Bush is prepared to sound out the Security Council and to get from it what he can.  But he has no intention of allowing the likes of France, Russia and China - let alone the nobodies among the non-permanent members of the Security Council- to dictate US security policy.

For he knows full well that the calls to pass to the Security Council the decision for war spring not from a belief that that is legally necessary but from a desire to exercise control over the USA.  Where America’s vital national interests are at stake, Bush cannot allow that.

What are those vital interests?  Foremost among them is to demonstrate that no state - even, or especially, if it has WMD - can count on being left alone if it has an expansionary policy, or if it uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy, or if it even harbours or tolerates or finances terrorists while not actually directing them.

For though terrorists are armed NGOs, they cannot function without state support or at least toleration.  So 11 September did not mark a bouleversement (upheaval) of the established state-based international order but at most a caesura (break); states, and their governments’ policies, are still of first order importance.   For terrorism - at least that (unlike the IRA) aimed at influencing or even changing a government other than that of the state from which the terrorists operate - is simply a new instrument of state policy.

So no terrorist-harbouring state can be left to feel that it is safe from suppression, or that by acquiring WMD it can proof itself against regime change from the outside.

And so it is an entirely good thing for world order that the USA is prepared to go it alone if necessary.

Likewise, it is a good thing that the USA rejects arguments that the Palestine-Israel issue must be settled before Iraq is dealt with.  For only by first dealing with Iraq will it be possible to settle the Palestine-Israel issue and then to go on to take the necessary actions to rearrange the whole Middle Eastern neighbourhood  - not territorially but politically  - for the good of all.