Sun, 14 Sep 2003

On Uncle Sam vs the world

I refer to the letter by David Wallis titled Uncle Sam vs the world published in The Jakarta Post on Sept. 1.

This aptly titled letter is a sad reflection of the state of U.S. relations with, not all, but much of the world. The U.S. administration garnered little support for the second Iraq war because the U.S. could not convince the majority of nations of the rightness of its cause nor how best to deal with the acknowledged problem of the regime in Iraq.

Informed commentators gave ample warning, before the fact, that war with Iraq would intensify global terrorism rather than decrease it. Events in post-war Iraq have proven them correct.

After all the prewar U.S./UK distortions of the facts about Iraq, Wallis is left with the feeble justification that Saddam was "a known and despised dictator". Well, that he was, but that is all he was. He was not within decades of producing a nuclear device, certainly not capable -- within 45 minutes or even 45 days -- of deploying weapons of mass destruction and he was not aiding and abetting terrorism.

The modern world is still littered with "known and despised dictators", many of whom were strengthened by U.S. support, including Saddam Hussein. Witness the U.S. struggle with post- Revolutionary Iran, in which Saddam was a tacitly supported ally. Or even closer to home General Noriega in Panama, who was in the employ of the CIA for years before his excesses became untenable.

Indonesians need look no further than the kleptocracy of former president Soeharto, whose invasion of East Timor occurred, surprise, surprise, immediately following U.S. secretary of state Kissinger's departure from Indonesia. That invasion took almost 30 years to rectify, let's hope the people of Iraq are better served.

In this post-Cold War world, the sooner the U.S. stops playing the world's bumbling policeman, the better for us all. Guts and money as well as lives are wasted without a valid cause, a viable post-war plan and a workable exit plan. Lacking these the only thing likely to get close to Wallis' mouth is his own foot.

The best way forward for Iraq is through a well supported UN administration. Or would that get in the way of thriving U.S. big business in Iraq?