January 23, 2003

This is the end

So ten hours after someone decides that Jarre is Kraftwerk for old people, someone else decides that Henry Kissinger is a reliable source of foreign policy and that George Bush the Lesser is actually quite a lot like Winston Churchill. What kind of world is it where people started to take Greg Sheridan, that barely spack fillered old DLP stooge, seriously? Worse, having presented the smooth face of the new popular conservatism (and what a terribly misused term that is) to the world, Sheridan is now trying to convince us that Kissinger's bang-on, George W Bush is a statesman and that there are real parallels between World War 2 and our current global political situation.

Of course Henry Kissinger thinks pre-emption is a good idea and that we need to legitimate it by agreeing on who can do it and when. Kissinger always thought that, and it's what earned him such a bad reputation - he was the one who thought covert adventurism in South-East Asia was a great way to sort out the Vietnam War. It's got nothing to do with the "new security paradigm" and everything to do with Kissinger trying to restore his reputation. Taking your advice from the guy who thought carpet bombing Cambodia was a good idea doesn't make you smart, it makes you part of Kissinger's legacy. Rogue state, non-rogue state, terrorist, Communist bloc, Kissinger thought that "regime change" and pre-emptive strikes were part of the unacknowledged toolkit of foreign policy. After all, he's the one who helped engineer the CIA's work to unseat Salvador Allende in Chille and who helped set up Operation Condor, a demonstratedly murderous CIA project in Latin America.

So the idea that Bush is Churchill gets undone when you remember who's advising him. If Kissinger is still wielding influence in the White House, you can bet that Bush is not much more than the right bunny in the right warren at the right time. None, absolutely none, of the current Bush foreign policy is new, and absolutely none of it is anything like the "targeted response to a new world" that its propagandists claim for it. The components, when you break them down, are up to thirty years old.

Unilateralism and the desire to break the UN goes back to Reagan, when Paul Wolfowitz was touting it around. It almost made it under Bush senior, but was sat on by the traditional conservative Brent Scowcroft.

Regime change for unstable and unliked governments is pure Kissinger and was widely practiced in Latin America. Even before that, the OSS (the CIA's precursor) was having a crack at it in the 1940s.

The US would do well to show concern over which weapons are being used by whom. The push to ban chemical weapons begins in World War 1, and lasts until this day - led by the US, who also lead in the field of weaponised pathogens, gases, nerve agents and psychological impairment agents. Concern over the diffusion of nuclear weapons begins in 1945. The British and the Americans have gone noticeably quiet over landmines, too.

To end, a note on Churchill's career. Prior to his short-lived Prime Ministership, he was a military planner in the Home Office. One of his early projects was the World War 1 campaign in the Dardanelles. The one that aimed to break Turkey from the south. The one that called for the Gallipoli landing. Sheridan had better hope that Bush really isn't Churchill.

posted on January 23, 2003 at 11:00 AM by darren.