Here is a rather lengthy...
- From: "henry alminas" <halminas@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2005 09:32:42 -0600
For educational purposes only:
..... and, frankly, boring lecture to
all ya gringos sinking in yer "hubris"
(he seems to just loove that word).
At any rate - one can but hope that
ol' Bush reads it and straightens out
his act - soonest. I wonder if ol'
Pentti voted along with the girls
(giggle, giggle) - as brought up in a
post by John.
While I am on the podium I guess I
might indicate my amazement at the
enthusiastic Euro dancing on the
gringo bodies resulting from Katrina
(for many haven't even been found
yet - let alone buried). Reading some
forums and even the press you get
quite a variety of "Schadenfreude".
Some crazy russkies blame the storm
on the CIA - they are running some
form of weather modification program
- no doubt in conjunction with the
building industry. Some krautoids seem
to like the "punishment of God" theory
(no doubt punishing the "hubris")
whereas others find it to be just punishment
for the lack of a US signature on the
Amazing - just amazing though I imagine
that John and the girls (giggle, giggle)
Best - - Henry
From: Helsingin Sanomat
By Pentti Sadeniemi
A return to table manners
The armchair pundits of international politics are already
coming around to the thought that the attitude to the
surrounding world held by the administration of President
George W. Bush has either changed or is at least in the
process of changing.
The right to unilateral action is not being specifically
underlined as it was in Bush's first term, tactlessness
and insensitivity are already giving way to the normal
pleasantries, and certain pros are being seen in cooperation,
and not just the cons.
The dust that gathered on diplomatic skills in the intervening
period is being brushed off.
It is difficult to be completely confident about the extent
or depth of the change, since this administration is not
known for acknowledging a shift of course or a reversal
of former doctrines. Bush's last speech on the situation
in Iraq and the "war on terror" repeated almost word
for word what he has been claiming from the very outset.
No adjustments to policy, no doubts about its
In as much as a change is nevertheless in the air, it would
appear to have several root causes. The new Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice uses the same sort of language
as her predecessor, but the difference from Colin Powell
is that Rice also has the ear and confidence of the President.
There is less interest in spoiling for a fight with foreign
governments, when domestic differences over Iraq are
gathering momentum all the time. Similarly, a second-term
President no longer needs an injection of drama for his
own campaign, and even mid-term Congressional elections
are still some way off.
The bitter lessons learned in the first term could be a still
more significant reason. Bush's foreign policy was then
guided by a series of assumptions that were posited on the
thinking of the so-called neo-con fraternity.
The members of this conservative school of thought readily
describe themselves as "former liberals who have been mugged
by reality", and who have thus changed their outlook on the
However, after the conquest of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, reality
came back and smacked them around again. Although many
of them have not noticed this themselves, or at least are reluctant
to admit it, within the administration it does seem to have been
recognised. The initial assertions proved to be quite unfounded
and seriously hurt the interests of the United States.
The starting-point for neo-conservative thinking was the
overwhelming military supremacy of the United States, coupled
with a belief in the nation's hold on absolute moral authority
as the very cradle of democracy and freedom. This double-bill
gave the United States what was seen to be an equally absolute
hegemony in the world.
The position of dominance was not supposed to be wasted
on simply leading international discussions. The United States
had instead to take a different approach, acting unilaterally
without regard for the protests of others, the shackles of
international law, or - above all - the decisions of the United
The thinking was that success would bring retroactive
acceptance and would also get friends to come on board, who
could then be rewarded according to their alacrity in providing
It did not happen like this. The international pre-eminence was
almost squandered through the belief that no rules should tie
the hands of the leader. The moral high ground was lost in the
false notion that the supreme guardian of human rights could
grant itself special dispensations in its own respect for those rights.
The sense of national self-conceit whipped up by the neo-conservatives
only led to a situation where the widespread and genuine
admiration felt towards the United States began to melt away
with astonishing speed.
Sustained success in Iraq might have actually strengthened the
political dogma that winners always find friends to pat them
on the back. However, the difficulties piled up.
Military might enabled the relatively easy taking of Baghdad,
but its capabilities were rapidly exhausted. For all the awesome
firepower available, it no longer served to calm things down on
the ground or improve the Iraqis' economic straits.
It may yet be that something can be salvaged of the
neo-conservatives' grand design, if in the next year or two
Iraq can be turned around into at least a halfway stable and
constitutional state. The results thus far, however, look to
be a fairly precise reverse-image of the original intentions.
The world was not presented with proof of the absolute
nature of U.S. supremacy, but rather the opposite - the finite
limits to the application of that pre-eminence.
The war of conquest did not bring new friends, but instead
alienated old allies. What actually emerged were even some
cautious efforts to balance the might of Washington, as we
could deduce from the recent joint military exercise held by
Russia and China.
Iran's mullah leadership was not driven into a diplomatic
corner by the war, as had been the intention. By contrast, Tehran
actually gained more room to manoeuvre, an unexpected measure
of influence within Iraq, and a powerful new motive to seek
entry to the nuclear-arms club..
The situation that has come to pass is not good for the United
States or for its friends, nor indeed for the rest of the world.
Fortunately, the damage done is probably not irreparable. In
their hubris, the neo-conservatives believed their school of
thought held all the answers, and the exposed intellectual
bankruptcy of their ideas is unreservedly good news, provided
that it is at least quietly acknowledged in Washington. As
mentioned earlier, there are already signs of this happening.
The democratic world truly does need a leader, and that leader
can only be the United States. Where necessary, the U.S. can
perfectly legitimately act alone, provided that the case is an
exceptional one and not a permanent exemption from the
restraints of international law.
The return to common values will not require much more than
a decision to dismantle the Guant namo Bay detainment
camp and other similar institutions, which have in any case almost
without exception harmed the interests of the United States.
It is hardly on the cards that the Bush administration would
perform such an obvious U-turn. The shattered confidence in
the President himself could hardly be completely restored in
the remaining three years of his term.
Nonetheless, even a partial change of course would be of
great benefit. Bush's successor, whoever that may be, should
in any case be given the wherewithal to recover the position
of leader of the Western world, a rank that the occupant of
the White House can only lose through relying on
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 28.8.2005
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