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The Song Remains the Same

A New Face to Bush Foreign Policy?

by JAMES PETRAS

The mass media in the US and Europe has given prominence to the "new style" foreign policy approach of the Bush Administration: Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice visits European capitals and meets with European leaders, declaring that a new era of co-operation is at hand. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld highlights the need for greater transatlantic defense cooperation in a meeting with European Defense Ministers. President Bush on his trip to Europe declares the US-European Alliance is indivisible, the divisions a "thing of the past", and a new era of joint security activity as essential. The language and tone of the Bush Administration has certainly changed: There is no longer gratuitous insults about "Old Europe", there are no longer public threats and declarations of unilateral military action. Only the Zionist neo-conservatives, like Kagan, Kristol and Frum, outside the government, continue to rage against the European negotiations with Iran and declare the "end of the Trans-Atlantic affair" (Financial Times – Jan. 31, 2005). The New York Times and the major columnists and television news commentators speak of a "new turn" toward diplomacy and a politics of reconciliation, of the re-emergence of diplomacy instead of militarism, of multilateralism instead of unilateralism.

While it is true that the tone has changed, the substance, the militarist-war policies, of the Bush Administration has remained the same or even hardened.

This is evident first and foremost in the new appointments to key positions in the Administration as well as the top officials retained in office. Condeleeza Rice, a strong advocate of Middle East warfare and Special Forces operations was promoted to Secretary of State, in charge of US foreign policy and titular head of the State Department. Rumsfeld andWolfowitz remain number one and two in the Pentagon. They are the architects of the Afghan and Iraq War and strong advocates and planners of new wars against Iran and Syria. Moreover according to US journalist, Seymour Hersh, with extensive ties among top officials in Washington, "Defense Department civilians…have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential (sic) nuclear, chemical weapons and missile targets inside Iran" (New Yorker, January 24-31, 2005).

Elliot Abrams, like Wolfowitz unconditional and unquestioning supporters of Israel, has been promoted to Deputy of National Security adviser and continues as senior adviser for the Middle East. The new appointees to the top power positions in the expanding and far-reaching intelligence apparatus include John Negroponte, to head the National Intelligence Agency.

Negroponte was the organizer of the death squads in Honduras and the mercenary terror armies, "the Contras" in Nicaragua. He largely oversaw the slaughter of thousands of Iraqis in Fallujah and the running of the torture and assassination chambers, during his term as Ambassador of Occupied Iraq. He has close ties with Abrams from the 1980′s when the latter was defending the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans under Rios Mont and over 70,000 Salvadorans under the psychopathic Roberto D’Aubuisson. The new head of the CIA, Porter Goss made his reputation in Miami as field officer of the CIA, supporting and promoting clandestine terror operations by Cuban exiles against revolutionary Cuba.

The new head of Homeland Security is Michael Chertoff, rabid Zionist (no less so than Abrams or Feith) who was responsible for the arbitrary arrests of hundreds if not thousands of innocent Arab and South Asian Muslim immigrants ­ simply because of their country of origin or religion. They were held as "terrorism suspects" for months; habeas corpus laws and all constitutional rights were denied. Chertoff is the author of the infamous Patriot Act, which "legalizes" the totalitarian practices which Chertoff applied to the immigrants and can now extend against all Americans. Marc Grossman retains his senior position as Undersecretary of State for Latin American Affairs. He was and is today in the forefront of US violent opposition to President Chavez in Venezuela. Alberto Gonzales, who scorned international law, approved terrorism and torture of Iraqi prisoners, who denies the validity and relevance of the Geneva Accords has been promoted to Attorney General, giving him power to arbitrarily arrest and prosecute whoever he deems a ‘threat’ to ‘national security’.

These appointments and promotions have evoked few if any vocal opposition from the Democratic Party. Most of the critical comments focus on their "professional competence" rather on their murderous and criminal behavior. Progressives and critics have argued that these new leaders do not have the "ethical standing" to administer US foreign policy and that President Bush has committed egregious errors. These criticisms fail to confront the political basis of Bush’s appointments. These appointments and promotions are the perfect and precise choices for a policy of continued war in Iraq, sequential Middle Eastern Wars involving Iran and Syria, greater domestic control and repression in the face of rising discontent over the cost of multiple wars, and unquestioned support for Ariel Sharon’s consolidation and expansion of Jewish control over the occupied West Bank and power in the Middle East.

In direct contrast to the frivolous media reports about Bush’s "overtures" to Europe, Bush and the new appointees have tightened their hold over the military and secret police apparatus, have greater power and monstrous budgets to engage in new wars. All factual indications demonstrate that Bush’s Administration "charm offensive" is a deliberate and provocative façade to divide and conquer European leaders to back old and new wars. With Iraq, the US has not moved toward Europe ­ it has increased its war funding and fighting troops and demands Europe provide money and training officers to prepare the Iraqi colonial army to buttress the US occupation. The US talks of multilateral policy with European partners, but rejects joining the "partners" diplomatic negotiations with Iran, while its Defense Department Zionists plan with Israel a massive unilateral or bilateral bombing of Iran. Europe improved relations with Cuba and Venezuela; while Goss, Grossman and Rice increase military threats, arm Colombia as a surrogate aggressor and plan new destabilization efforts and assassination plots. Europe proposes to increase its trade and investments with China, including military exports, while Goss describes China as a military threat to US supremacy in Asia and defends the policy of military encirclement. Rice and Rumsfeld secure a new military security treaty with Japan, clearly aimed not only at North Korea, but China, as the Chinese clearly recognize.

As is evident there is little substance and no changes between the Old and New Bush regimes. If Europe moves ‘closer’ to Bush Administration, it will be because the Europeans have retreated from their diplomatic policies and have adapted to US militarism. So far, apart from rhetorical, diplomatic language, European leaders have only sought to play down their real differences with the Bush Administration not to renounce them. Europe will probably agree to provide some funding (not very much) and a few advisers to train Iraqi military and police officials, but only a token number, up to now less than 10% of what was agreed a year ago. At a time when US’ European clients like the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria are reducing their small military contingents in Iraq it is hardly likely that the Western European powers will commit resources, especially when there is so much to gain by having the US spend itself into bankruptcy and un-competitiveness over an un-winnable colonial war. Likewise US aggression against Venezuela, China and Russia has led to greater efforts at military defense, trade diversification and monetary decisions which weaken the US dollar and destabilize the financial architecture of imperial wars.

Why has the US "reached out to Europe" if it is intent on pursuing the same unilateral military policies? Why the diplomatic trips to Europe and the adoption of a conciliatory style if the purpose is to continue to play the war card in the Middle East and to stand unconditionally with Sharon’s resettlement of Gaza settlers in the Palestinian West Bank? There are several hypotheses:

The "diplomatic offensive" is a public relations campaign to influence the US public and to secure support form vulnerable European allies like Britain’s Tony Blair and Italy’s Silvio Berlosconi. Washington can subsequently pursue its military agenda, claiming they "gave diplomacy a chance" but the Europeans failed to grasp that "hard power" (military aggression) is a necessary accompaniment of "soft power" (diplomacy). This is clearly the case with the Middle East, where the powerful Zionist policymakers and ideologues, who have been unsurprisingly absent from the European trips, have already "predicted" the Europeans will fail to act (militarily) against Iran and Syria when the negotiations "fail" (in terms of US and Israeli military interests).

The second hypothesis is that the prolonged war in Iraq and the growing deficits and costs have forced the US to seek, via diplomatic gestures, to secure European financial aid and assistance in the building up of the Iraqi colonial army and state apparatus. The European overtures are directed toward bringing in Europe as a "partner" in the construction of a neo-colonial state in which Iraqis pay for the war and provide the soldiers, while the US retains ultimate control.

The third hypothesis is that the Europeans are "turning right". In this line, Washington may think that with the colonial run elections in Iraq, Sharon’s resettlement from Gaza to the West Bank (so-called "withdrawal") and feigned "openness" to European reconciliation, it may be able to convince Europe to join Bush’s unlimited crusade for "democracy and freedom".

It is extremely doubtful that Washington will secure any lasting agreement with Europe on any basic question. The reason is simple, the civilian militarists who run US foreign policy, the newly appointed and promoted, are profoundly enamored with the military route to world power. Their biographies and their immediate pronouncements and actions are convincing proof that they are incapable of any open negotiations, compromise or diplomatic settlements. European leaders will have to choose between pursuing their divergent path of global power via trade, diplomacy and selective coercion or capitulate to a regime dominated by civilian-militarist extremists driven by an irrational desire to militarily confront China, intervene in Venezuela, destroy the Middle East adversaries of Israel and provoke Russia.

It is abundantly clear that organizers of death squads, terrorist planners and global militarists won’t change their policies. There’s nothing new here.

JAMES PETRAS, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50 year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in brazil and argentina and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed). He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu