THE 'WHIPPING BOY' OF IRAQ

By William Markiewicz

For me, the present crusade against Saddam is an enigma. Even if he is sitting on weapons of mass destruction, he is like a hen sitting on an egg much too big for her. Saddam remains a small cog in the wheel. He knows well that a single use of his terrifying devices will transform Iraq into one big cemetery for him and his people. So, the whole turmoil around Iraq is just one more display of politics' ugly face. It is good for the giant and his clients to have one mean little guy as a 'whipping boy' like those in old England's Court. We witness one super giant shaping the face of the world and incontestably this super giant could be worse, as the USA is still a democracy. The spirit of freedom, in spite of the media and the politicians' manipulations, is too strongly embedded in the American social fabric to easily fade. You can obstruct freedom in the US but it is harder to kill freedom there as the people at their local levels know very well what they need and want and will not tolerate interference from some outside bureaucratic power. But the same people will not object, and may even support, any disastrous decision that doesn't touch their own areas directly. In such a situation, the outside world becomes a playground for a to powerful giant with no defined vision of what he really wants. He challenges but will not tolerate any challenge. A show of power may be motivation in itself.

Today there are basically four entities challenging, more or less, the US world leadership: Russia, China, the Islamic world and Latin America. China is not in the forefront of potential adversaries because it is an important business partner and too big to mess with, no matter how many mass destruction weapons it has accumulated. Only those who pose no threat have no right to dangerous toys. The Islamic world, for the time being, lacks unity and is not a serious threat. Also, it represents a huge potential market for U.S. business. So, whatever its turmoil and fringe elements, the Muslim world is still acceptable. Latin America, like the Islamic world, lacks unity and the U.S. remains rather comfortable there. Only Russia is not tolerated -- too poor to be a market and big enough to be an independent voice of disagreement. So, Russia is a thorn in the U.S. side. In one of his essays Zbigniew Brzezinski stated that 'Russia is still too big' and Siberia should be independent (sic).' Too big for whom and why? It's well known that China eyes Siberia, considering it part of its heritage. If China enters 'independent Siberia' would the US be ready to go to war? It is not Saddam Hussein who is dangerous but the overgrown giant read to play with history and provoke a 'causus belli.'

Saddam as whipping boy may serve as a warning to Russia and others who are 'too big' and too independent. Another whipping boy -- Castro -- is temporarily shielded by the Pope's recent visit to Cuba.

All these exterior exercises of power are directed toward the American voters. Just like ancient Rome: conquests for the glory of Rome and the population jubilant even if they got nothing out of it. The U.S. never really distinguished between exterior an interior policy; for the giant, everything is interior. As for the U.S. media, no longer satisfied with reporting news; they contribute to 'making' history by forming public opinion with selective news and comments.

Russia claims that the bombing of Iraq can produce general contamination not only for Iraq but for its neighbours including southern Russia. But who cares for them? Yeltsin warns that bombing Iraq may lead to a third world war. What kind of 'world' does he have in mind? Who can challenge America? Maybe Russia is warning the American public that, even if the US wins this hypothetical third world war, it will bring a chaotic end to the American way of life and American prosperity for many years to come. This is probably true but the American public, in the great majority used to victories and not to apocalypses on their territory, will not believe nor react in time to stop the absurdity. Does Russia hope to get China or the Islamic world on its side? A very doubtful outcome. In the beginning China may even profit from Russia's doom by siding with the U.S. and entering Siberia. The Muslim world may be a nuisance but not a threat. After the apocalypse, victorious America may remain the ultimate shaper of the future but -- will it have been worth it?




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