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Wars and Empire Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. (v.sito)
parte 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
Editing and Design: Lidija Rangelovska, A Narcissus Publications Imprint, Skopje 2003, First published by United Press International – UPI

XI. Iraq's Revenant Sons

Iraqi Jews - a quarter of a million strong - are known in Israel for their haughtiness and broad education, the latter often the cause of the former. They were forced to flee Arab-nationalist Iraq in 1941-1951, following the rise of Nazism and, later, the establishment of the State of Israel.

Yet, though they have left Baghdad physically after 2600 years of continuous presence - many of them are still there emotionally. This holds true for numerous other Iraqi exiles, expatriates and immigrants in the far-flung diaspora. There are 90,000 Iraqis in the USA alone, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau.

But nostalgia may be the only common denominator. Exile groups jostle aggressively for the spoils of war: political leadership, sinecures, economic concessions, commercial monopolies and access to funds. The Washington Times reported yesterday that the Pentagon and the State Department back different cliques. It quoted one Republican congressional aide as saying: "There's a deep and messy war in the administration, and it's in the weeds".

Arab countries are promoting Sunni future leaders. Pro-democracy souls support representatives of the hitherto oppressed Shiite majority. Most exiles oppose a prolonged postwar U.S. presence or even an interim administration. They opt for a government of Iraqi technocrats with a clear United Nations mandate. The fractious Iraqi opposition and the two main Kurdish factions set up an Iraqi Interim Authority, a government-in-waiting with 14 ministries and a military command.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group warned last Tuesday against a provisional administration composed substantially of exiles and expatriates:

``It would be a mistake to short-circuit the domestic political contest by prematurely picking a winner. Under either of these scenarios, the bulk of Iraqis inside Iraq, Sunni and Shiite, Arab, Kurd and others, who have been brutally disenfranchised for over three decades, would remain voiceless.''

The exile groups are out of touch with local realities and, as the Washington Times notes, compromised in the eyes of the Iraqis by their extensive contacts with the CIA and the USA, their political amateurism and their all-pervasive venality.

The finances of such self-rule could come from the $3.6 billion in Iraqi assets in the United States - about half of which have been recently re-frozen. The coffers of the United Nations administered oil-for-food program bulge with $40 billion in undistributed funds - enough to bankroll the entire reconstruction effort.

Saddam and his clan are thought to have stashed at least $6 billion abroad. Everyone, though, tiptoes around the sensitive issue of reimbursing the war expenses of the coalition of the willing.

The Pentagon has other ideas in mind. It has recently formed the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, headed by a retired general, Jay Garner. A few exiles, worried by this "colonial" tendency, have infiltrated Iraq, at great personal risk, to ensure that an Iraqi alternative is in place when Operation Iraqi Freedom achieves its eponymous goal.

Iraqi immigrants are fiercely nationalistic. Though few love Saddam Hussein and his interminable reign of terror - fewer are willing to countenance the occupation of their homeland by invading forces, regardless of their provenance. Many bitterly recall the Shiite rebellion in 1991 when a policy reversal of the United States allowed the dictator to bloodily suppress the uprising.

According to officials in Amman, more than 6500 Iraqis - out of 200 to 300 thousand - left Jordan in Iraqi-arranged free transportation to fight the "aggressors", as suicide bombers if need be. Others are streaming in from Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and North Africa.

Iraqi exiles in Iran - mostly Shiites and invariably mortal foes of the tyrant from Baghdad - have nonetheless denounced the invasion and called it, ominously, a "war on Islam". Aware of this duality, Donald Rumsfeld, the American Defense Secretary, recently warned that Shiite combatants "will be taken as a potential threat to coalition forces. This includes the Badr Corps, the military wing of the Supreme Council on Islamic Revolution in Iraq."

But other Iraqis, Kurds included, are training, in U.S.-sponsored camps in east and central Europe, to liaise with the local population to help non-governmental organizations and the coalition forces deliver humanitarian aid. The program - now suspended - is financed with money allocated from the $97 million 1998 Iraq Liberation Act.

According to the Boston Globe:

"During the four-week course, the volunteers learn battlefield survival skills including navigation, nuclear and biological weapons defense, marksmanship, first aid, and the laws of war and human rights. They also study civil-military operations such as processing refugees, distributing humanitarian aid, and rebuilding infrastructure."

Iraqi professionals abroad with vital skills in administration, agriculture, oil extraction, finance, economics, law, medicine and education are preparing to return. Draft reconstruction plans call for tax incentives and soft loans for homebound entrepreneurs, investors and skilled manpower. There are many of these. Arabs say that Egyptians write, Lebanese publish and Iraqis read.

Aware of this untapped wealth of talent and experience, the American have belatedly started recruiting dozens of expats and immigrants for the future administration of the war-torn country. Some 40 lawyers from Europe and North America will complete tomorrow a fortnight of training provided courtesy of the Justice Department.

The Pentagon and the State Department are running similar programs with 100 and 240 participants, respectively. According to the Knight-Ridder Newspapers, "the ('Future of Iraq') working groups deal with such topics as defense policy, civil society, public health, transitional justice, news media, national security, public finance and anti-corruption efforts."

According to the Washington Post, there is even an Iraqi military contingent of up to 3000 exiles underwritten by the Pentagon and training in Hungary. Some of them are slated to serve as guides and translators for the coalition forces in their homeland. The program is suspended now but the camp in Hungary remains open and it is tipped to be renewed.

And then there is the hoped-for reversal of the last four decades of capital flight. Iraqi merchants, traders, military officers, members of the security services, politicians, bureaucrats and professionals are thought to have secreted away, out of the reach of the rapacious regime, some $20-30 billion. Some of it is bound to come back and inject the dilapidated economy with much needed liquidity and impetus.

Last August, a group of Iraqi-born economists gathered at the Department of State in Washington. One of the participants, Dr. Salah Al-Sheikhly, a former Governor of Iraq's Central Bank, outlined to Washington File his vision of the future contribution of the diaspora to a liberated Iraq:

"People talk of the Iraqi Diaspora as if we have been idle. On the contrary, economists like myself have been working within the agencies of the United Nations and other international institutions. We have been consultants in many Arab countries. And many of us gathered around the table (in Washington) have extensive experience within the kinds of financial institutions that can assist Iraq enter the new world economy."

XII. Forgiving Iraq's Debts

The French were at it again last Friday. Any reduction in Iraq's mountainous $120 billion external debt should be negotiated within the Paris Club of creditor nations, they insisted. It ought not - indeed, cannot - be tackled bilaterally. And what about another $200 billion in war reparations and contractual obligations? This, said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau, is to be discussed.

A day earlier, Paul Wolfowitz, the American Deputy Defense Secretary, prompted the French, Russian and German governments to write off Iraq's debts to them, so as to facilitate the recovery of the debtor's $15 to 25 billion a year economy. He echoed U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow who suggested, in an interview to Fox News Channel, that Iraq's debts should be discarded even as was the dictator who ran them up.

At first, Putin made conciliatory noises upon exiting a gloomy meeting with the two other co-founders of the discredited "peace camp". Russia, he reminded the media, is number one in erasing debts owed it by poor countries.

But he was swiftly contradicted by the Chairman of the Duma's Committee on the State Debt and Foreign Assets Vladimir Nikitin, who called the American proposals "more than bizarre". Iraq's debt to Russia - some "well verified and grounded" $8 billion - is not negotiable. Contradicting his own contradiction, he then added that discussions on debts have to be held bilaterally.

Gennady Seleznyov, the Chairman of the lower house of the Russian parliament, concurred. For good measure, he also demanded $2 billion from the USA for contractual losses due to the war. The Russian government and especially Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Alexei Kudrin, cautioned Wolfowitz that applying his proposal consistently would lead to the scrapping of the debts of another departed evil regime - the U.S.S.R.

Russia needs Iraq's money - especially if oil prices were to tumble. According to Russia's Central Bank, the Federation's foreign debt was up $2.7 billion in 2002 and reached $153.5 billion, of which $55.3 billion is in Soviet-era debt, $48.4 billion were accrued in post-Soviet times and the rest is comprised of various bonds and obligations.

But the U.S. is unfazed. US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow reiterated to the Russian news agency, Rosbalt, his government's position thus: "We intend to organize a conference of creditors in order to discuss ways of finding a balance between the rights of the creditors and the rights of the Iraqi people to develop their economy. In my opinion, it would be unwise to immediately demand large sums of money from the new Iraqi government."

In this debate, everyone is right.

Iraq's only hope of qualifying for the status of a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) is by reaching iron-clad debt rescheduling agreements with both the Paris and the London Clubs. Still, as the Americans envision, creditors can unilaterally forgive Iraqi debt - especially one arising from Saddam Hussein's misdeeds - without hampering the process with the World Bank and without hindering future access to global or internal capital markets.

This is especially true when it comes to the United Nations Compensation Commission which administers Iraqi reparations to victims of Iraq's aggression against Kuwait in 1990-1.

Signs of utter confusion abound. The International Monetary and Financial Committee of the International Monetary Fund, headed by Gordon Brown, Britain's Chancellor, is committed to the Paris Club multilateral route. Yet, James Wolfensohn, the President of the World Bank, a twin institution, plumps for a bilateral resolution of this novel controversy.

Anticipating a beneficent outcome, $2 billion in traded Iraqi sovereign and commercial loans, harking back to the 1980s, have recently doubled in value to c. 20 cents to the dollar. According to The Economist, brokers are betting on a 70 to 90 percent reduction of Iraq's debt. This is way too exuberant. Moreover, not all creditors are created equal.

Iraq owes the IMF and the World Bank a mere $1.1 billion. But there is an abundance of unpaid high priority trade credits and bilateral loans. Private banks and commercial firms come a dismal third. Moreover, following Nigeria's example, Iraq may choose to ignore Paris Club creditors and deploy its scarce resources to curry favor with those willing and able to extend new financing - namely, private financial intermediaries.

Trading Iraqi debt - sovereign notes, letters of credit and papers issued by the central bank and two other financial institutions, Rafidain Bank and Rashid Bank, is onerous. The Economist describes it thus:

"Trading, or even holding, Iraqi paper is loaded with traps. Its validity can expire every few years, according to the statute of limitations in various jurisdictions. Renewing it requires some acknowledgment from the borrower, and that was difficult even before the war. Assigning the debt from buyer to seller requires the borrower's assent, and the Iraqi banks have been unco-operative since 1988. The trick is to apply during public holidays, or when communications are down (as they are now), because the borrower's failure to respond within ten working days can be taken as agreement."

No one has a clear idea of how much Iraq owes and to whom.

According to Exotix, a sovereign debt brokerage, Iraq owes commercial creditors $4.8 billion and other Gulf states $55 billion  -regarded by Iraq as grants to cover the costs of its war with Iran in the 1980s. It owes Paris Club members - excluding Russia and France ($8 billion apiece) - $9.5 billion, the countries of Central Europe, mainly Germany - $4 billion and others - about $26 billion, including $5 billion to the U.S. government and American businesses.

The tortured country's foreign debt alone amounts to $5000 per every denizen. With reparations and commercial obligation, Iraq's destitute inhabitants are saddled with more than $16,000 in debt per capita - or 15-20 times the country's gross national product. Iraq hasn't serviced its loans for well over a decade now.

Others dispute these figures. Frederick Barton compiled, together with Bathsheba Crocker, an inventory of Iraq's outstanding financial obligations for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

According to Barton-Crocker, quoted by the Gulf satellite channel, al-Jazeera and by the Christian Science Monitor, Iraq owes $199 billion in compensation claims to more than a dozen nations, another $127 billion in foreign debts and $57 billion in pending foreign contracts - public and private. Iraq owes Russia $12 billion, Kuwait $17 billion, the Gulf States $30 billion and less than $2 billion each to Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Hungary, India, Bulgaria, Poland, and Egypt.

Most of the pending contracts are with Russian firms ($52 billion) but the French, Chinese, Dutch, United Arab Emirates and Egyptians have also inked agreements with Hussein's regime. The United states and American firms are owed little if anything, concludes al-Jazeera. Debt forgiveness would allow a more sizable portion of Iraq's oil revenues to be ploughed into the American-led reconstruction effort, to the delight of U.S. and British firms.

Russia and France are not alone in their reluctance to bin Iraqi credits. Austrian Minister of Finance, Karl-Heinz Grasser, was unambiguous on Tuesday: "We see no reason why we should waive 300 million Euros of Iraqi debts". He noted that Iraq - with the second largest proven oil reserves in the world - is, in the long run, a rich country.

In the build-up to the coalition, the United States promised to buy the debt Iraqis owe to countries like Bulgaria ($1.7 billion) and Romania. In Macedonia, Dimitar Culev of the pro-government daily "Utrinski Vesnik", openly confirms that his country's participation in the coalition of the willing had to do, among other, longer-term considerations, with its hopes to recover Iraqi debts and to participate in the postwar bonanza.

Poland's Deputy Labor and Economy Minister, Jacek Piechota, on Tuesday, affirmed that Poland intends to recover the $560 million owed it by Iraq by taking over Iraqi assets in a forthcoming "privatization". Another option, he suggested, was payment in oil.

Nor are such designs unique to sovereign polities. According to Dow Jones, Hyundai hopes to recover $1.1 billion through a combination of crude oil and reconstruction projects. During the Clinton administration, American creditors almost helped themselves to between $1.3 and $1.7 billion of frozen Iraqi funds with the assistance of the U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. Luckily for the looming new Iraqi government, the legislation languished in acrimony.

The debt question is not academic. As the London Times observes: "As things stand, no one can write a single cheque on Iraq’s behalf until the question of its towering debts is sorted out. Not a single barrel of oil can be sold until it is clear who has first claim to the money; no reputable oil company would touch it without clear title."

According to Pravda, to add mayhem to upheaval, the Iraqi opposition indignantly denies that it had broached the subject with the USA. Iraq, they vow, will honor its obligations and negotiate with each creditor separately. But, some add ominously, members of the "friends of Saddam" fan club - alluding to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus among others - are unlikely to get paid.

The Iraqi opposition is as fractured as the Western alliance. Some exiles - like Salah al-Shaikhly from the London-based Iraqi National Accord - promote the idea of a big write-off cum grace period akin to the 66 percent reduction in the stock of Yugoslav obligations. Debt for equity swaps are also touted.

The trio of creditors - especially France and Russia - might have considered debt reduction against a guaranteed participation in the lucrative reconstruction effort. But a fortnight ago the House of Representatives approved a non-binding amendment to the supplementary budget law calling upon the administration to exclude French, Russian, German and Syrian companies from reconstruction contracts and to bar their access to information about projects in postbellum Iraq.

XIII.Kosovo's Iraqi Lessons

Should the United Nations administer Iraq? Is it - as Kofi Annan, its General Secretary, insists, the best-qualified to build nations? Or will it act as a bureaucracy out to perpetuate itself by preventing true transformation and indigenous rule? Kosovo is a lucrative post for more than 10,000 exorbitantly overpaid international administrators and perked consultants as well as 40,000 itinerant peacekeepers.

The U.N. has been reasonably successful elsewhere both in peacekeeping and administration - notably in East Timor, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. It widely thought to have dismally failed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the lessons of its involvement in Kosovo - the second longest and least reserved - may be of particular relevance.

In the wake of NATO's Operation Allied Force in 1999, Kosovo was practically severed from Yugoslavia and rendered a U.N.-protectorate under resolution 1244 of the Security Council. UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) was formed to serve as the province's interim administrator. It was charged with institutions-building and a transition to self-governance by the now overwhelmingly Albanian populace.

Its mission was divided to four "pillars": Police and Justice, Civil Administration, Democratization and Institution Building (overseen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and Reconstruction and Economic Development (managed by the European Union). Four years later, Kosovo has its own government, installed last month - and a viable police force.

UNMIK had to spent the first 18 months of its mandate re-establishing basic services in a land scorched by 78 days of massive bombardment. It also put in place the rudiments of a municipal administration. A parliament and presidency followed. Surprisingly resilient, they survived two - bloodied - elections. The U.N. is planning to transfer, over the next few months, many of its "competencies" to the three-party broad coalition in power. Last month, a transfer council was established to manage the transition.

But Kosovo is an unsettled place. Its status is unresolved. Is it to be independent, as its legislators demand - or an inseparable part of Serbia, as the late assassinated Serbian prime minister, Zoran Djindjic claimed? UNMIK's travel documents and its license plates, for instance, are still not recognized by many countries.

Investors - including wealthy diaspora Kosovars - are deterred by this uncertainty and the social and civil unrest it fosters. Had it not been for KFOR, the 35,000-strong NATO-commanded military detachment, Kosovo might well have reverted to civil war, or crime-infested anarchy. That, astoundingly, Kosovo has no law to deal with foreign investment does not help.

Partly because of that, Kosovo's economy is still a shambles. The United Nations - and the acronym soup of multilateral development banks, aid agencies and non-governmental organizations that descended on the region - failed to come up with a coherent plan for endowing Kosovo with a sustainable economy.

Where UNMIK, with European Union assistance, did intervene - in setting up institutions and abetting economic legislation - it has done more harm than good. The establishment of workers' councils, for instance, inhibited the proper management of socially owned enterprises and rigidified the budding labor market with dire consequences.

One in two Kosovars is unemployed. Whatever activity there is, is confined to trading (read: smuggling), retail and petty services. The wild construction or reconstruction of 250,000 houses wrecked by the war is fizzling out and the absence of both mortgage financing and a sizable domestic industry of construction materials are detrimental to the sector's viability.

Tenders for complex infrastructure jobs are usually snatched by foreign competitors. Reputable Kosovar-owned construction multinationals hint at discrimination and worse. But the business segment of the economy is illusive and dilapidated. Of 861 socially-owned firms identified by the International Crisis Group, only 330 are viable, according to UNMIK.

Kosovo has no private sector to speak of - though it has registered 50,000 small and medium, mostly paper, typically ad-hoc, enterprises. Of 2774 members of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce - 1667 were fly-by-night construction outfits.

The majority of economic assets are still in public or "social" hands. In an interview granted to the Far Eastern Review last year, Ali Jakupi, Minister of Trade and Industry of Kosovo, diplomatically pointed the finger at UNMIK's glacial pace of reform.

Land ownership is a contentious issue. The privatization of utilities is a distant dream, despite the creation of the Kosovo Trust Agency, a convoluted attempt to dispense of certain assets while skirting the legal no man's land which is Kosovo.

Despite all efforts, commercial law is scant and poorly enforced. No one understands why the number of commercial bank licenses is limited, why, until recently, UNMIK worked only through one bank and why establishing an insurance company is such a harrowing - and outlandishly expensive - ordeal. Kosovo is the only place on earth where price cartels (for instance, in the assurance sector) are not only legal - but mandatory.

Kosovar banks still keep most of their clients' deposits abroad for lack of an indigenous legal framework of collateral and bankruptcy. Interest rates are prohibitively high and repayment terms onerous. The only ray of light in a decrepit financial system is the euro, Kosovo's official currency and a source of monetary stability and trust.

The new Ministry of Finance and Economy has introduced customs duties and a few taxes with modest success. But the government's revenue base is pitiful and a Byzantine, import-biased, tax law makes export-oriented manufacturing a losing proposition. Kosovo's trade deficit is almost equal to its gross domestic product. Had it not been for generous remittances from Kosovar expats and immigrants - pegged at $1 to 1.5 billion a year, the province's economy would have crumbled long ago.

Nor has Kosovo's infrastructure been rehabilitated despite the $5 billion poured into the province hitherto. Electricity, for instance, is intermittent and unpredictable. The roads are potholed and few, the railways derelict. Fixed line penetration is low, though mobile telephony is booming. This sorry state was avoidable.

Kosovo is not as poor as it is made out to be by interested parties. It has enormous lead reserves, coal and lignite veins and loads of zinc, silver, gold, nickel, cobalt and other minerals, including rumored mines of uranium. The territory actually used to export electricity to both Macedonia and Montenegro.

Official statistics ignore a thriving informal economy, encompassing both the illicit and the merely unreported. Kosovo is a critical node in human trafficking, cigarette and oil derivatives smuggling, car theft and, to a lesser, extent, drugs and weapons trading networks. Revenues in service businesses - cafes, restaurants, gambling institutions, prostitution - go unreported. Kosovo is one of the global centers of piracy of intellectual property, notably software and movies.

The Central Fiscal Authority of Kosovo estimated that, in 2001, duties and taxes were paid only on $590 million worth of imports (at the time, c. $540 million euros) - only about 30 percent of the total. These figures are proof of the entrepreneurial vitality of the Kosovars and their aversion to state interference.

USAID chief Dale Pfeiffer praised Kosovo, in an interview granted to the daily paper, Koha Ditore:

'There is bureaucracy, there is a corruption, but if we compare with neighboring countries, it seems to be at a lower level. Since 1999, Kosovo is building its own new governmental structures. Mainly, your government is more modern than government in Serbia, Macedonia or even Bosnia. I think that corruption is not even same at the level as neighboring countries. Although corruption is something that can grow very easily, currently it doesn't seem to be a big obstacle for businesses."

Still, he reverted to typical counterfactual condescension. Federal Yugoslavia, of which Kosovo was a part, was a modern state, more advanced than many EU members. Yet, Pfieffer professed to be worried.

"Day by day, more competencies are being given to the Kosovo Government. My concern is, does the Government have the ability to manage its own competencies. I think there should be a balance; you must gain competencies which can be applied."

Many observers think that had it not been hobbled by the indecision and overbearing officialdom of the international community, Kosovo would have fared better. Even evident economic assets - such as nature parks, vineyards and ski slopes - were left undeveloped. Because it hasn't met EU regulations - Kosovo is unable to export its wines, juices and agricultural produce.

But to hold this view is to ignore UNMIK's contribution to the containment of organized crime - mostly imported from Albania and Macedonia. Admittedly, though, UNMIK failed to defend minority rights. Kosovo has been ethnically cleansed of its Serbs. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and OSCE warned last month that minorities "continue to face security problems and lack access to basic services (such as) education, health services and equitable employment."

Kosovo teaches us lessons which should be diligently applied in Iraq. The involvement of a long-term active military component intended to guarantee basic law and order is crucial. U.N. administrations are good at reconstruction, rehabilitation - including humanitarian aid - and institution-building.

But they are utterly incompetent when it comes to the economy and to protecting minorities from the majority's wrath. Pecuniary matters are best left to private sector firms and consultants while helpless minorities better start praying.

Worse still, as opposed to an occupying army, whose top priority is to depart - U.N. bureaucracies fast gravitate towards colonialism. The U.N.-paid and U.N.-sanctioned rulers of both Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina exercise powers akin to erstwhile British viceroys. Nor do they have any incentive to terminate their position - gratifying as it is to both their egos and their wallets.

UNMIK is the reification of the concept of conflict-of-interest. If it succeeds to render the natives economically and politically independent - it is no longer needed. If it fails - it survives on a bloated budget. To be an international official in Kosovo is to endure the constant clashes between one's professional conscience and one's propensity to live the good life. Only saints win such battles. Whatever UNMIK is - it is decidedly not saintly.

But, as Augustin Palokaj, Brussels correspondent for Koha Ditore, notes, comparing Kosovo to Iraq can go too far:

"Kosovo has no oil and one-third of the population of Baghdad, and it is not interesting for investments ... Iraq will have an easier time when it comes to political status. Iraq is, and will remain, a state. It is still not known what Kosovo's fate will be. Unlike in Kosovo, there will be both aid and investment in Iraq. The Iraqi people will decide on the status of their country, whereas the Security Council, that is to say China and Russia, will decide about Kosovo."

And does he think the United Nations should administer a postwar Iraq?

"The UN would only complicate things, but the Americans will give it a role, just for the sake of it, which will satisfy the bureaucrats that must get their huge salaries. Americans are also aware of the danger that if the UN takes over the administration of postwar Iraq ... criminals from various countries would be infiltrated into Iraq, as they have done in Kosovo. How can peace be established by an organization whose policemen allowed eight war crimes suspects to escape from prison, as happened to UN policemen in Kosovo. Instead of feeling shame for such things, the chiefs of UNMIK Police produce propaganda about their successes. The key American role in postwar Iraq will prove what was learned from Kosovo."

XIV. The Madman and the Iraqi War

It is the war of the sated against the famished, the obese against the emaciated, the affluent against the impoverished, the democracies against tyranny, perhaps Christianity against Islam and definitely the West against the Orient. It is the ultimate metaphor, replete with "mass destruction", "collateral damage", and the "will of the international community".

In this euphemistic Bedlam, Louis Althusser would have felt at home.

With the exception of Nietzsche, no other madman has contributed so much to human sanity as has Louis Althusser. He is mentioned twice in the Encyclopaedia Britannica merely as a teacher. Yet for two important decades (the 1960s and the 1970s), Althusser was at the eye of all the important cultural storms. He fathered quite a few of them.

Althusser observed that society consists of practices: economic, political and ideological. He defines a practice as:

"Any process of transformation of a determinate product, affected by a determinate human labour, using determinate means (of production)"

The economic practice (the historically specific mode of production, currently capitalism) transforms raw materials to finished products deploying human labour and other means of production in interactive webs. The political practice does the same using social relations as raw materials.

Finally, ideology is the transformation of the way that a subject relates to his real-life conditions of existence. The very being and reproduction of the social base (not merely its expression) is dependent upon a social superstructure. The superstructure is "relatively autonomous" and ideology has a central part in it.

America's social superstructure, for instance, is highly ideological. The elite regards itself as the global guardian and defender of liberal-democratic and capitalistic values (labeled "good") against alternative moral and thought systems (labeled "evil"). This self-assigned mission is suffused with belligerent religiosity in confluence with malignant forms of individualism (mutated to narcissism) and progress (turned materialism).

Althusser's conception of ideology is especially applicable to America's demonisation of Saddam Hussein (admittedly, not a tough job) and its subsequent attempt to justify violence as the only efficacious form of exorcism.

People relate to the conditions of existence through the practice of ideology. It smoothes over contradictions and offers false (though seemingly true) solutions to real problems. Thus, ideology has a realistic attribute - and a dimension of representations (myths, concepts, ideas, images). There is harsh, conflicting reality - and the way that we represent it both to ourselves and to others.

"This applies to both dominant and subordinate groups and classes; ideologies do not just convince oppressed groups and classes that all is well (more or less) with the world, they also reassure dominant groups and classes that what others might call exploitation and oppression is in fact something quite different: the operations and processes of universal necessity"

(Guide to Modern Literary and Cultural Theorists, ed. Stuart Sim, Prentice-Hall, 1995, p. 10)

To achieve the above, ideology must not be seen to err or, worse, remain speechless. It, therefore, confronts and poses (to itself) only questions it can answer. This way, it is confined to a fabulous, fantastic, contradiction-free domain. It ignores other types of queries altogether. It is a closed, solipsistic, autistic, self-consistent, and intolerant thought system. Hence the United States' adamant refusal to countenance any alternative points of view or solutions to the Iraqi crisis.

Althusser introduced the concept of "The Problematic":

"The objective internal reference ... the system of questions commanding the answers given"

The Problematic determines which issues, questions and answers are part of the narrative - and which are overlooked. It is a structure of theory (ideology), a framework and the repertoire of discourses which - ultimately - yield a text or a practice. All the rest is excluded.

It is, therefore, clear that what is omitted is of no less importance than what is included in a text, or a practice. What the United States declines or neglects to incorporate in the resolutions of the Security Council, in its own statements, in the debate with its allies and, ultimately, in its decisions and actions, teaches us about America and its motives, its worldview and cultural-social milieu, its past and present, its mentality and its practices. We learn from its omissions as much as we do from its commissions.

The problematic of a text reveals its historical context ("moment") by incorporating both inclusions and omissions, presences and absences, the overt and the hidden, the carefully included and the deliberately excluded. The problematic of the text generates answers to posed questions - and "defective" answers to excluded ones.

Althusser contrasts the manifest text with a latent text which is the result of the lapses, distortions, silences and absences in the manifest text. The latent text is the "diary of the struggle" of the un-posed question to be posed and answered.

Such a deconstructive or symptomatic reading of recent American texts reveals, as in a palimpsest, layers of 19th century-like colonialist, mercantilist and even imperialist mores and values: "the white man's burden", the mission of civilizing and liberating lesser nation, the implicit right to manage the natural resources of other polities and to benefit from them, and other eerie echoes of Napoleonic "Old Europe".

But ideology does not consist merely of texts.

"(It is a) lived, material practice - rituals, customs, patterns of behavior, ways of thinking taking practical form - reproduced through the practices and productions of the Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs): education, organized religion, the family, organized politics, the media, the cultural industries ..." (ibid, p.12)

Althusser said that "All ideology has the function (which defines it) of 'constructing' concrete individuals as subjects"

Subjects to what? The answer is: to the material practices of the ideology, such as consumption, or warfare. This (the creation of subjects) is done by acts of "hailing" or "interpellation". These attract attention (hailing) and force the individuals to generate meaning (interpretation) and, thus, make the subjects partake in the practice.

The application of this framework is equally revealing when one tackles not only the American administration but also the uniformly "patriotic" (read: nationalistic) media in the United States.

The press uses self-censored "news", "commentary" and outright propaganda to transform individuals to subjects, i.e. to supporters of the war. It interpellates them and limits them to a specific discourse (of armed conflict). The barrage of soundbites, slogans, clips, edited and breaking news and carefully selected commentary and advocacy attract attention, force people to infuse the information with meaning and, consequently, to conform and participate in the practice (e.g., support the war, or fight in it).

The explicit and implicit messages are: "People like you - liberal, courageous, selfless, sharp, resilient, entrepreneurial, just, patriotic, and magnanimous - (buy this or do that)"; "People like you go to war, selflessly, to defend not only their nearest and dearest but an ungrateful world as well"; "People like you do not allow a monster like Saddam Hussein to prevail"; "People like you are missionaries, bringing democracy and a better life to all corners of the globe". "People like you are clever and won't wait till it is too late and Saddam possesses or, worse, uses weapons of mass destruction"; "People like you contrast with others (the French, the Germans) who ungratefully shirk their responsibilities and wallow in cowardice."

The reader / viewer is interpellated both as an individual ("you") and as a member of a group ("people like you..."). S/he occupies the empty (imaginary) slot, represented by the "you" in the media campaign. It is a form of mass flattery. The media caters to the narcissistic impulse to believe that it addresses us personally, as unique individuals. Thus, the reader or viewer is transformed into the subject of (and is being subjected to) the material practice of the ideology (war, in this case).

Still, not all is lost. Althusser refrains from tackling the possibilities of ideological failure, conflict, struggle, or resistance. His own problematic may not have allowed him to respond to these two deceptively simple questions:

(a) What is the ultimate goal and purpose of the ideological practice beyond self-perpetuation?

(b) What happens in a pluralistic environment rich in competing ideologies and, thus, in contradictory interpellations?

There are incompatible ideological strands even in the strictest authoritarian regimes, let alone in the Western democracies. Currently, IASs within the same social formation in the USA are offering competing ideologies: political parties, the Church, the family, the military, the media, the intelligentsia and the bureaucracy completely fail to agree and cohere around a single doctrine. As far as the Iraqi conflict goes, subjects have been exposed to parallel and mutually-exclusive interpellations since day one.

Moreover, as opposed to Althusser's narrow and paranoid view, interpellation is rarely about converting subjects to a specific - and invariably transient - ideological practice. It is concerned mostly with the establishment of a consensual space in which opinions, information, goods and services can be exchanged subject to agreed rules.

Interpellation, therefore, is about convincing people not to opt out, not to tune out, not to drop out - and not to rebel. When it encourages subjects to act - for instance, to consume, or to support a war, or to fight in it, or to vote - it does so in order to preserve the social treaty, the social order and society at large.

The business concern, the church, the political party, the family, the media, the culture industries, the educational system, the military, the civil service - are all interested in securing influence over, or at least access to, potential subjects. Thus, interpellation is used mainly to safeguard future ability to interpellate. Its ultimate aim is to preserve the cohesion of the pool of subjects and to augment it with new potential ones.

In other words, interpellation can never be successfully coercive, lest it alienates present and future subjects. The Bush administration and its supporters can interpellate Americans and people around the world and hope to move them to adopt their ideology and its praxis. But they cannot force anyone to do so because if they do, they are no different to Saddam and, consequently, they undermine the very ideology that caused them to interpellate in the first place.

How ironic that Althusser, the brilliant thinker, did not grasp the cyclical nature of his own teachings (that ideologies interpellate in order to be able to interpellate in future). This oversight and his dogmatic approach (insisting that ideologies never fail) doomed his otherwise challenging observations to obscurity. The hope that resistance is not futile and that even the most consummate and powerful interpellators are not above the rules - has thus revived.

Just a War or a Just War?

In an age of terrorism, guerilla and total warfare the medieval doctrine of Just War needs to be re-defined. Moreover, issues of legitimacy, efficacy and morality should not be confused. Legitimacy is conferred by institutions. Not all morally justified wars are, therefore, automatically legitimate. Frequently the efficient execution of a battle plan involves immoral or even illegal acts.

As international law evolves beyond the ancient percepts of sovereignty, it should incorporate new thinking about pre-emptive strikes, human rights violations as casus belli and the role and standing of international organizations, insurgents and liberation movements.

Yet, inevitably, what constitutes "justice" depends heavily on the cultural and societal contexts, narratives, mores, and values of the disputants. Thus, one cannot answer the deceivingly simple question: "Is this war a just war?" - without first asking: "According to whom? In which context? By which criteria? Based on what values? In which period in history and where?"

Being members of Western Civilization, whether by choice or by default, our understanding of what constitutes a just war is crucially founded on our shifting perceptions of the West.

Hitler and the Invention of the West

In his book - really an extended essay - "Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order" - Robert Kagan claims that the political construct of the "West" was conjured up by the United States and Western Europe during the Cold War as a response to the threat posed by the nuclear-armed, hostile and expansionist U.S.S.R.

The implosion of the Soviet Bloc rendered the "West" an obsolete, meaningless, and cumbersome concept, on the path to perdition. Cracks in the common front of the Western allies - the Euro-Atlantic structures - widened into a full-fledged and unbridgeable rift in the run-up to the war in Iraq (see the next chapter, "The Demise of the West").

According to this U.S.-centric view, Europe missed an opportunity to preserve the West as the organizing principle of post Cold War geopolitics by refusing to decisively side with the United States against the enemies of Western civilization, such as Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

Such reluctance is considered by Americans to be both naive and hazardous, proof of the lack of vitality and decadence of "Old Europe". The foes of the West, steeped in conspiracy theories and embittered by centuries of savage colonialism, will not find credible the alleged disintegration of the Western alliance, say the Americans. They will continue to strike, even as the constituents of the erstwhile West drift apart and weaken.

Yet, this analysis misses the distinction between the West as a civilization and the West as a fairly recent geopolitical construct.

Western civilization is millennia old - though it had become self-aware and exclusionary only during the Middle Ages or, at the latest, the Reformation. Max Weber (1864-1920) attributed its success to its ethical and, especially, religious foundations. At the other extreme, biological determinists, such as Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) and Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), predicted its inevitable demise. Spengler authored the controversial "Decline of the West" in 1918-22.

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) disagreed with Spengler in "A Study of History" (1934-61). He believed in the possibility of cultural and institutional regeneration. But, regardless of persuasion, no historian or philosopher in the first half of the twentieth century grasped the "West" in political or military terms. The polities involved were often bitter enemies and with disparate civil systems.

In the second half of the past century, some historiographies - notably "The Rise of the West" by W. H. McNeill (1963), "Unfinished History of the World" (1971) by Hugh Thomas, "History of the World" by J. M. Roberts (1976), and, more recently, "Millennium" by Felip Fernandez-Armesto (1995) and "From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life" by Jacques Barzun (2000) - ignored the heterogeneous nature of the West in favor of an "evolutionary", Euro-centric idea of progress and, in the case of  Fernandez-Armesto and Barzun, decline.

Yet, these linear, developmental views of a single "Western" entity - whether a civilization or a political-military alliance - are very misleading. The West as the fuzzy name given to a set of interlocking alliances is a creature of the Cold War (1946-1989). It is both missionary and pluralistic - and, thus, dynamic and ever-changing. Some members of the political West share certain common values - liberal democracy, separation of church and state, respect for human rights and private property, for instance. Others - think Turkey or Israel - do not.

The "West", in other words, is a fluid, fuzzy and non-monolithic concept. As William Anthony Hay notes in "Is There Still a West?" (published in the September 2002 issue of "Watch on the West", Volume 3, Number 8, by the Foreign Policy Research Institute): "If Western civilization, along with particular national or regional identities, is merely an imagined community or an intellectual construct that serves the interest of dominant groups, then it can be reconstructed to serve the needs of current agendas."

Though the idea of the West, as a convenient operational abstraction, preceded the Cold War - it is not the natural extension or the inescapable denouement of Western civilization. Rather, it is merely the last phase and manifestation of the clash of titans between Germany on the one hand and Russia on the other hand.

Europe spent the first half of the 19th century (following the 1815 Congress of Vienna) containing France. The trauma of the Napoleonic wars was the last in a medley of conflicts with an increasingly menacing France stretching back to the times of Louis XIV. The Concert of Europe was specifically designed to reflect the interests of the Big Powers, establish their borders of expansion in Europe, and create a continental "balance of deterrence". For a few decades it proved to be a success.

The rise of a unified, industrially mighty and narcissistic Germany erased most of these achievements. By closely monitoring France rather than a Germany on the ascendant, the Big Powers were still fighting the Napoleonic wars - while ignoring, at their peril, the nature and likely origin of future conflagrations. They failed to notice that Germany was bent on transforming itself into the economic and political leader of a united Europe, by force of arms, if need be.

The German "September 1914 Plan", for instance, envisaged an economic union imposed on the vanquished nations of Europe following a military victory. It was self-described as a "(plan for establishing) an economic organization ... through mutual customs agreements ... including France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Austria, Poland, and perhaps Italy, Sweden, and Norway". It is eerily reminiscent of the European Union.

The 1918 Brest-Litovsk armistice treaty between Germany and Russia recognized the East-West divide. The implosion of the four empires - the Ottoman, Habsburg, Hohenzollern and Romanov - following the first world war, only brought to the fore the gargantuan tensions between central Europe and its east.

But it was Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) who fathered the West as we know it today.

Hitler sought to expand the German Lebensraum and to found a giant "slave state" in the territories of the east, Russia, Poland, and Ukraine included. He never regarded the polities of west Europe or the United States as enemies. On the contrary, he believed that Germany and these countries are natural allies faced with a mortal, cunning and ruthless foe: the U.S.S.R. In this, as in many other things, he proved prescient.

Ironically, Hitler's unmitigated thuggery and vile atrocities did finally succeed to midwife the West - but as an anti-German coalition. The reluctant allies first confronted Germany and Stalinist Russia with which Berlin had a non-aggression pact. When Hitler then proceeded to attack the U.S.S.R. in 1941, the West hastened to its defense.

But - once the war was victoriously over - this unnatural liaison between West and East disintegrated. A humbled and divided West Germany reverted to its roots. It became a pivotal pillar of the West - a member of the European Economic Community (later renamed the European Union) and of NATO. Hitler's fervent wish and vision - a Europe united around Germany against the Red Menace - was achieved posthumously.

That it was Hitler who invented the West is no cruel historical joke.

Hitler and Nazism are often portrayed as an apocalyptic and seismic break with European history. Yet the truth is that they were the culmination and reification of European history in the 19th century. Europe's annals of colonialism have prepared it for the range of phenomena associated with the Nazi regime - from industrial murder to racial theories, from slave labour to the forcible annexation of territory.

Germany was a colonial power no different to murderous Belgium or Britain. What set it apart is that it directed its colonial attentions at the heartland of Europe - rather than at Africa or Asia. Both World Wars were colonial wars fought on European soil.

Moreover, Nazi Germany innovated by applying to the white race itself prevailing racial theories, usually reserved to non-whites. It first targeted the Jews - a non-controversial proposition - but then expanded its racial "science" to encompass "east European" whites, such as the Poles and the Russians.

Germany was not alone in its malignant nationalism. The far right in France was as pernicious. Nazism - and Fascism - were world ideologies, adopted enthusiastically in places as diverse as Iraq, Egypt, Norway, Latin America, and Britain. At the end of the 1930's, liberal capitalism, communism, and fascism (and its mutations) were locked in a mortal battle of ideologies.

Hitler's mistake was to delusionally believe in the affinity between capitalism and Nazism - an affinity enhanced, to his mind, by Germany's corporatism and by the existence of a common enemy: global communism.

Nazism was a religion, replete with godheads and rituals. It meshed seamlessly with the racist origins of the West, as expounded by the likes of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). The proselytizing and patronizing nature of the West is deep rooted. Colonialism - a distinctly Western phenomenon - always had discernible religious overtones and often collaborated with missionary religion. "The White Man's burden" of civilizing the "savages" was widely perceived as ordained by God. The church was the extension of the colonial power's army and trading companies.

Thus, following two ineffably ruinous world wars, Europe finally shifted its geopolitical sights from France to Germany. In an effort to prevent a repeat of Hitler, the Big Powers of the West, led by France, established an "ever closer" European Union. Germany was (inadvertently) split, sandwiched between East and West and, thus, restrained.

East Germany faced a military-economic union (the Warsaw Pact) cum eastern empire (the late U.S.S.R.). West Germany was surrounded by a military union (NATO) cum emerging Western economic supranational structure (the EU). The Cold War was fought all over the world - but in Europe it revolved around Germany.

The collapse of the eastern flank (the Soviet - "evil" - Empire) of this implicit anti-German containment geo-strategy led to the re-emergence of a united Germany. Furthermore, Germany is in the process of securing its hegemony over the EU by applying the political weight commensurate with its economic and demographic might.

Germany is a natural and historical leader of central Europe - the EU's and NATO's future Lebensraum and the target of their expansionary predilections ("integration"). Thus, virtually overnight, Germany came to dominate the Western component of the anti-German containment master plan, while the Eastern component - the Soviet Bloc - has chaotically disintegrated.

The EU is reacting by trying to assume the role formerly played by the U.S.S.R. EU integration is an attempt to assimilate former Soviet satellites and dilute Germany's power by re-jigging rules of voting and representation. If successful, this strategy will prevent Germany from bidding yet again for a position of hegemony in Europe by establishing a "German Union" separate from the EU. It is all still the same tiresome and antiquated game of continental Big Powers. Even Britain maintains its Victorian position of "splendid isolation".

The exclusion of both Turkey and Russia from these re-alignments is also a direct descendant of the politics of the last two centuries. Both will probably gradually drift away from European (and Western) structures and seek their fortunes in the geopolitical twilight zones of the world.

The USA is unlikely to be of much help to Europe as it reasserts the Monroe doctrine and attends to its growing Pacific and Asian preoccupations. It may assist the EU to cope with Russian (and to a lesser extent, Turkish) designs in the tremulously tectonic regions of the Caucasus, oil-rich and China-bordering Central Asia, and the Middle East. But it will not do so in Central Europe, in the Baltic, and in the Balkan.

In the long-run, Muslims are the natural allies of the United States in its role as a budding Asian power, largely supplanting the former Soviet Union. Thus, the threat of militant Islam is unlikely to revive the West. Rather, it may create a new geopolitical formation comprising the USA and moderate Muslim countries, equally threatened by virulent religious fundamentalism. Later, Russia, China and India - all destabilized by growing and vociferous Muslim minorities - may join in.

Ludwig Wittgenstein would have approved. He once wrote that the spirit of "the vast stream of European and American civilization in which we all stand ... (is) alien and uncongenial (to me)".

The edifice of the "international community" and the project of constructing a "world order" rely on the unity of liberal ideals at the core of the organizing principle of the transatlantic partnership, Western Civilization. Yet, the recent intercourse between its constituents - the Anglo-Saxons (USA and UK) versus the Continentals ("Old Europe" led by France and Germany) - revealed an uneasy and potentially destructive dialectic.

The mutually exclusive choice seems now to be between ad-hoc coalitions of states able and willing to impose their values on deviant or failed regimes by armed force if need be - and a framework of binding multilateral agreements and institutions with coercion applied as a last resort.

Robert Kagan sums the differences in his book:

"The United States ... resorts to force more quickly and, compared with Europe, is less patient with diplomacy. Americans generally see the world divided between good and evil, between friends and enemies, while Europeans see a more complex picture. When confronting real or potential adversaries, Americans generally favor policies of coercion rather than persuasion, emphasizing punitive sanctions over inducements to better behavior, the stick over the carrot. Americans tend to seek finality in international affairs: They want problems solved, threats eliminated ... (and) increasingly tend toward unilateralism in international affairs. They are less inclined to act through international institutions such as the United Nations, less likely to work cooperatively with other nations to pursue common goals, more skeptical about international law, and more willing to operate outside its strictures when they deem it necessary, or even merely useful.

Europeans ... approach problems with greater nuance and sophistication. They try to influence others through subtlety and indirection. They are more tolerant of failure, more patient when solutions don't come quickly. They generally favor peaceful responses to problems, preferring negotiation, diplomacy, and persuasion to coercion. They are quicker to appeal to international law, international conventions, and international opinion to adjudicate disputes. They try to use commercial and economic ties to bind nations together. They often emphasize process over result, believing that ultimately process can become substance."

Kagan correctly observes that the weaker a polity is militarily, the stricter its adherence to international law, the only protection, however feeble, from bullying. The case of Russia apparently supports his thesis. Vladimir Putin, presiding over a decrepit and bloated army, naturally insists that the world must be governed by international regulation and not by the "rule of the fist".

But Kagan got it backwards as far as the European Union is concerned. Its members are not compelled to uphold international prescripts by their indisputable and overwhelming martial deficiency. Rather, after centuries of futile bloodletting, they choose not to resort to weapons and, instead, to settle their differences juridically.

As Ivo Daalder wrote in a review of Kagan's tome in the New York Times:

"The differences produced by the disparity of power are compounded by the very different historical experiences of the United States and Europe this past half century. As the leader of the 'free world,' Washington provided security for many during a cold war ultimately won without firing a shot. The threat of military force and its occasional use were crucial tools in securing this success.

Europe's experience has been very different. After 1945 Europe rejected balance-of-power politics and instead embraced reconciliation, multilateral cooperation and integration as the principal means to safeguard peace that followed the world's most devastating conflict. Over time Europe came to see this experience as a model of international behavior for others to follow."

Thus, Putin is not a European in the full sense of the word. He supports an international framework of dispute settlement because he has no armed choice, not because it tallies with his deeply held convictions and values. According to Kagan, Putin is, in essence, an American: he believes that the world order ultimately rests on military power and the ability to project it.

It is this reflexive reliance on power that renders the United States suspect. Privately, Europeans regard America itself - and especially the abrasive Bush administration - as a rogue state, prone to jeopardizing world peace and stability. Observing U.S. fits of violence, bullying, unilateral actions and contemptuous haughtiness - most European are not sure who is the greater menace: Saddam Hussein or George Bush.

Ivo Daalder:

"Contrary to the claims of pundits and politicians, the current crisis in United States-European relations is not caused by President Bush's gratuitous unilateralism, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's pacifism, or French President Jacques Chirac's anti-Americanism, though they no doubt play a part. Rather, the crisis is deep, structural and enduring."

Kagan slides into pop psychobabble when he tries to explore the charged emotional background to this particular clash of civilizations:

"The transmission of the European miracle (the European Union as the shape of things to come) to the rest of the world has become Europe's new mission civilisatrice ... Thus we arrive at what may be the most important reason for the divergence in views between Europe and the United States: America's power and its willingness to exercise that power - unilaterally if necessary - constitute a threat to Europe's new sense of mission."

Kagan lumps together Britain and France, Bulgaria and Germany, Russia and Denmark. Such shallow and uninformed caricatures are typical of American "thinkers", prone to sound-bytes and their audience's deficient attention span.

Moreover, Europeans willingly joined America in forcibly eradicating the brutal, next-door, regime of Slobodan Milosevic. It is not the use of power that worries (some) Europeans - but its gratuitous, unilateral and exclusive application. As even von Clausewitz conceded, military might is only one weapon in the arsenal of international interaction and it should never precede, let alone supplant, diplomacy.

As Daalder observes:

"(Lasting security) requires a commitment to uphold common rules and norms, to work out differences short of the use of force, to promote common interests through enduring structures of cooperation, and to enhance the well-being of all people by promoting democracy and human rights and ensuring greater access to open markets."

American misbehavior is further exacerbated by the simplistic tendency to view the world in terms of ethical dyads: black and white, villain versus saint, good fighting evil. This propensity is reminiscent of a primitive psychological defense mechanism known as splitting. Armed conflict should be the avoidable outcome of gradual escalation, replete with the unambiguous communication of intentions. It should be a last resort - not a default arbiter.

Finally, in an age of globalization and the increasingly free flow of people, ideas, goods, services and information - old fashioned arm twisting is counter-productive and ineffective. No single nation can rule the world coercively. No single system of values and preferences can prevail. No official version of the events can survive the onslaught of blogs and multiple news reporting. Ours is a heterogeneous, dialectic, pluralistic, multipolar and percolating world. Some like it this way. America clearly doesn't.

When the annals of the United States are written, its transition from republic to empire is likely to warrant special attention. Nor is the emergence of this land and naval juggernaut without precedent. Though history rarely repeats itself in details - both Ancient Rome and Byzantium hold relevant - albeit very limited - lessons.

The first teaches us how seamless the transformation from democracy to military dictatorship appears - when it is gradual and, ostensibly, reactive (responding to external shocks and events). The second illustrates the risks inherent in relying on mercenaries and insurgents as tools of foreign and military policy.

Arnold Toynbee, the distinguished historian correctly observed that the last days of empires are characterized by grandiose construction schemes, faraway conquests and a materialistic spree of conspicuous consumption. Is the United States about to disintegrate?

The notion sounds preposterous. Hale, affluent, mighty, victorious and assured - the USA appears to be beyond destruction. But so did the U.S.S.R. in 1981. As history accelerates, processes which used to unfold over centuries, now consume mere decades. Telecommunications, global transports and information networks, such as the Internet - pit the likes of the USA against the ultimate superpowers: world opinion and global capital.

But first, Rome.

The disintegration of empires is rarely the outcome of merely one or more external shocks. For these to have their deleterious effects, the edifice must be already rotten, the pillars crumbling, the consensus gone, the ethos disputed and adversity rampant. As internal tensions mount and the centrifugal outweighs the centripetal - democracy is surreptitiously and incrementally eroded and replaced by an authoritarian form of government.

In his tome, "The Future of Freedom", Fareed Zakaria bemoans the existence of "illiberal democracy" - with all the trappings of one but without its constitutional substance and philosophical foundations. The United States is: ''increasingly embracing a simple-minded populism that values popularity and openness as the key measures of legitimacy. . . . The result is a deep imbalance in the American system, more democracy but less liberty.''

Herodotus (Histories, Book III) would have concurred:

''In a democracy, malpractices are bound to occur . . . corrupt dealings in government services lead . . . to close personal associations, the men responsible for them putting their heads together and mutually supporting one another. And so it goes on, until somebody or other comes forward as the people's champion and breaks up the cliques which are out for their own interests. This wins him the admiration of the mob, and as a result he soon finds himself entrusted with absolute power.''

As would Jose Ortega y Gasset (The Revolt of the Masses, 1932):

"A characteristic of our times is the predominance, even in groups traditionally selective, of the mass and the vulgar. Thus, in intellectual life, which of its essence requires and presupposes qualification, one can note the progressive triumph of the pseudo-intellectual, unqualified, unqualifiable..."

The columnist Chris Deliso notes in that "since September 11th especially, the country has suffered draconian restrictions on civil liberties and the rapid erosion of judicial and governmental transparency. At the same time, the increasing expenditure of taxpayer dollars has been conducted at variance with traditional ideals of free market competition and avoidance of embedded government cronyism. Now, with the invasion of Iraq, the nadir has been reached: long-suppressed desires for empire have come out into the open."

Deliso ascribes these worrisome trends to "three toxic substances. The first is relentless paranoia of the outside world. According to this, all kinds of civilian restrictions and pre-emptive foreign wars become justified for the sake of 'national security.' Second is the all-pervasive cronyism between government oligarchs and corporations, which retard the practice of a free market economy. Finally, there is a belief in the ineluctable nature of 'progress,' i.e., a teleological narrative that describes America's political system as supreme, and destined to supercede and convert those of all other nations."

As others have noted, America's transition from republic to empire is remarkably reminiscent of Rome's. The irony is that as the United States inevitably becomes less democratic - it will also become less elitist. The mediocre and inapt peripatetic representatives of the popular will be replaced not by disinterested technocrats and expert civil servants but by usurpers, power brokers, interest groups, and criminal-politicians.

The Founding Fathers looked to Rome as a model. It is often forgotten that Rome has been a republic (509-27 BC) for as long as it has been an empire (27 BC - 476 AD). Hence the Senate, the bicameral legislature, the institutions of jury and professional judges, the interlocking system of checks and balances and other fixtures of American life.

Rome, like the USA, was a multicultural, multiethnic and inclusive melting pot. The family and religion - the mainstays of the American value system - were also the pivots of Roman society. Their work ethic was "Protestant" and their conduct "Calvinistic": frugality, self-reliance, steadfastness, seriousness, "fides" (good faith and reliability) were considered virtues.

From 287 BC, Rome was a full-fledged democracy and meritocracy - one's acquired wealth rather than one's arbitrary birth determined one's place in life.

The Roman takeover of Italy is reminiscent of the expansion of the United States during the 19th century. Later, Rome claimed to be "liberating" Greek cities (from Macedonian domination and other Middle Eastern tyrants) - but then proceeded to establish a series of protectorates throughout Asia Minor, Greece and today's Israel, Palestine, Syria, Egypt and North Africa.

As Rome's sphere of interests and orbit of alliances widened to include ever growing segments of the world, conflicts became inevitable. Still, early Roman historians, patriotic to a fault, always describe Roman wars as "just" (i.e., in "self-defense"). Rome was very concerned with international public opinion and often formed coalitions to attack its foes and adversaries. It then typically turned on its erstwhile allies and either conquered or otherwise absorbed them into its body politic.

Roman commanders and procurators meddled in the internal affairs of these territories. Opposition - in Carthage, Corinth and elsewhere - was crushed by overwhelming force. Lesser powers - such as Pergamum - learned the lesson and succumbed to Roman hegemony. Roman culture - constructed on Greek foundations - permeated the nascent empire and Latin became the Lingua Franca.

But, as Cato the Elder forewarned, foreign possessions and the absence of any martial threat corrupted Rome. Tax extortion, bribery, political machinations, personality cults, and moral laxity abounded. Income equality led to ostentatious consumption of the few, contrasted with the rural and urban destitution of the many. A growing share of gross domestic product was appropriated for the state by the political class. Rome's trade deficit ballooned as its farmers proved unable to compete with cheap imports from the provinces.

A whole class of businessmen - the equites, later known as the equesterian order (the equivalent of today's "oligarchs") - lucratively transacted with the administration. When erstwhile state functions - such as tax collection - were privatized, they moved in and benefited mightily. The equites manipulated the commodities markets, lent money at usurious rates, and colluded with Senators and office holders.

Sallust, the Roman historian, blamed the civil wars that followed on this wealth disparity. Cato the Elder attributed them to moral decadence. Cicero thought that the emergence of the armed forces and the "mob" (the masses) as political players spelt doom for Senatorial, republican Rome.

Some are comparing the relentlessly increasing weight of the Pentagon since 1941 to the rise to prominence of the military in republican Rome. Yet, this is misleading. The role of the army in the Roman republic was enshrined in the centuriate assembly (the army as a voting collective) and the consuls, magistrates in chief were, invariably, former army generals. Though many American presidents, starting with George Washington, were former generals - the ethos of the United States is individualistic, not military.

Thus, when the tribune Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (133 BC) embarked on a land reform, he was opposed by the entrenched interests of the nobility (the optimi). Undeterred, through a series of piecemeal, utterly legal steps, Tiberius Gracchus sought to transform himself into a despot and neutralize the carefully constructed system of checks and balances that sustained republican Rome. The Senators themselves headed the mob that assassinated him. This was the fate of his no less radical brother, Gaius, ten years later.

These upheavals gave rise to the populares - self-appointed populist spokesmen for the disenfranchised "common man" in the Senate. They were vehemently confronted by the nobility-backed Senators, the optimates. To add instability to earthquake, Roman generals began recruiting property-less volunteers to serve as mercenaries in essentially private armies. Lucius Cornelius Sulla, an impoverished aristocrat turned army commander, actually attacked Rome itself twice.

To secure popular support, Roman politicians doled out tax cuts, free entertainment, and free food. Ambitious Romans - such as Julius Caesar - spent most of their time electioneering and raising campaign finance, often in the form of 'loans" to be repaid with lucrative contracts and sinecures once the sponsored candidate attained office. Long-established, prominent families - political dynasties - increased their hold on power from one generation to the next.

Partisanship was rampant. Even Cicero - a much-admired orator and lawyer - failed to unite the Senators and equites against assorted fanatics and demagogues. The Senate kept repeatedly and deliberately undermining the interests of both the soldiery and the equites, Rome's non-Senatorial businessmen.

This clash of vested interests and ulterior motives gave rise to Gaius Julius Caesar, a driven and talented populist. Caesar crossed the Rubicon, the river that separated Gaul from Italy, and subdued a rebellious and obstructive Senate. He was offered by an intimidated establishment, the position of dictator for life which he accepted. The republic was over.

Life in Rome improved dramatically with the introduction of autocracy. Roman administration was streamlined and became less corrupt. Food security was achieved. Social divisions healed. The republic was mourned only by the discarded ancien regime and by intellectuals. Rome the city-state was no more. It has matured into an Empire.

And now, to Rome's crippled successor, Byzantium.

The modus operandi of the United States involves ad-hoc alliances with indigenous warlords, drug czars, terrorists, guerrilleros, freedom fighters, and armed opposition groups aimed at ousting unfriendly incumbent regimes, imposing political settlements or military solutions, countering other foreign influences, attaining commercial goals, or securing long-term presence and say in local affairs.

America's "exploit and discard" or "drain and dump" policies consistently boomerang to haunt it.

Both Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Manuel Noriega in Panama were aided and abetted by the CIA and the US military. Later, America had to invade Panama to depose the latter and conquer Iraq for the second time to force the removal of the former.

The Kosovo Liberation Army, an American anti-Milosevic pet, provoked, to great European consternation, a civil war in Macedonia two years ago. Osama bin-Laden, another CIA golem, "restored" to the USA, on September 11, 2001 some of the materiel it so generously bestowed on his anti-Russian outfit - before he was dumped unceremoniously once the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan.

Normally the outcomes of expedience, the Ugly American's alliances and allegiances shift kaleidoscopically. Pakistan and Libya were transmuted from foes to allies in the fortnight prior to the Afghan campaign. Milosevic has metamorphosed from staunch ally to rabid foe in days.

This capricious inconsistency casts in grave doubt America's sincerity - and in sharp relief its unreliability and disloyalty, its short term thinking, truncated attention span, soundbite mentality, and dangerous, "black and white", simplism. It is also a sign of short-sightedness and historical ignorance. All major empires fell prey to rampant mercenaries, erstwhile "allies" turned bitter enemies.

At its peak, the Ottoman Empire ruled most of the Balkan, up to the very gates of Vienna, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, Greece, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt, North Africa including Algeria, and most of the Arab Peninsula. It lasted 600 years. 

The Ottomans invaded Europe while still serving as a proxy army of mercenaries and guerilla fighters. When not at war with Byzantium, they were often used by this contemporary superpower (Byzantium) to further its geopolitical goals against its enemies - very much as the Afghan Mujaheedin or the Albanian KLA collaborated with the USA and its sidekick, the EU, during the last two decades of the twentieth century.

Not unlike the Moslem Afghani warriors of 1989, the Ottomans, too, turned on their benefactors and brought on the demise of Byzantium after 1000 years of uninterrupted existence as a superpower.

The Ottomans were named after Osman I, the Oguz (Turkmen) tribal leader, the off spring of a noble Kayi family. They were ghazis (Islamic Turkish warriors).  Fleeing from the Mongols of Genghis Khan, they invaded Anatolia in the second half of the 11th century. They immediately and inevitably clashed with Byzantium and delivered to it the first of a string of humiliating and debilitating defeats in the battle of Manzikert, in 1071.

They spread inexorably throughout the fertile Anatolia, confronting in the process the Byzantines and the Mongols. They were no match to the brute efficacy of the latter, though. They lost most of Anatolia to the Mongols and maintained a few autonomous pockets of resistance in its eastern fringes. One of these anti-Mongol principalities (in the northwest) was led by Osman I. 

Osman's was not the strongest principality. Its neighbour to the east, the Germiyan principality, was much stronger and more sophisticated culturally. Osman, therefore, drove west, towards the Bosporus and the Marble (Marmara) Sea. His desperate struggles against the corrupt and decadent Byzantines, made him the Robin Hood, the folk hero of the millions of urban unemployed, nomads, and dislocated peasants turned brigands - from Syria to the Balkan. Osman offered to these desperados war booty, a purposeful life, and Islamic religious fanaticism. They joined his armies in droves.

Byzantium, his avowed enemy, was no longer prosperous and powerful, but it was culturally superior and vital, Christian, and modern. But it was decaying. Its social fabric was disintegrating, corroded by venality, hubris, paranoia, avarice, inter-generational strife, and lack of clear religious and cultural orientations. Its army, much reduced and humbled by defeats and budget cuts, was unable to secure the frontier. Economic, religious, and social discontent undermined its consensus.

Gradually, it lost its erstwhile allies. The Ilhanid dynasty in Persia refused to back it against its tormentors. Byzantium, high handed and conceited, was left to fight the Islamic terrorism on its borders all by itself. Mercenaries imported by the Byzantines from Europe served only to destabilize it further. Osman's successors tore Byzantium to hemorrhaging shreds, conquering the rest of Anatolia and the Balkan. They even employed Christian mercenaries against the Byzantines.

When Orhan, a successor of Osman, secured a territorial continuum and access to the Sea of Marmara, he took on another Turkmen empire, based in Aydin. 

The people of Aydin were mercenaries at the service of competing factions in Byzantium (Thrace versus Constantinople). Orhan wanted to cut into this lucrative business. He started by defeating emperor Andronicus III and his advisor, John Cantacuzenus in the battle of Pelekanon in 1329. This unleashed the Ottoman troops upon Nicaea (1331) and Nicomedia (1337).

Faced with the loss of the historic heart of their empire, the Byzantines accepted a Faustian deal. They made peace with the Moslem Turks and recruited them as allies and mercenaries against the Christian enemies of Christian Byzantium - the Serbs, the Italians, and the Bulgarians. Orhan became the principal ally of the young and dynamic Byzantine politician (later emperor) John VI Cantacuzenus, thus gaining entry, for the first time, into Christian Europe. 

Andronicus III died in 1341and another civil war broke out in Byzantium. John Cantacuzenus, deprived of the much expected regency, confronted Alexius Apocaucus, the patriarch John Calecas, and the powerful and cunning empress mother Anne of Savoy.

The Serb king Dusan wavered between support and rejection for Cantacuzenus, who was crowned as Emperor John VI in Thrace in 1346. The new emperor, aided by hordes of Turkish troops, demolished the coalition set against him. A revolution erupted in Thrace and Macedonia. "The Zealots", having seized power In Thessalonica, declared an independent community which lasted till 1350.

Byzantium was reduced to penury by these events and by the Black Death of 1347. It fought with Venice against Genoa only to lose tax revenues hitherto paid by the Genoese. Foreign powers - the Turks included - manipulated the hopelessly fractured Byzantine ruling classes to their advantage. 

In the meantime, Orhan was introduced to Europe's modern weaponry, its superior tactics of laying siege, and its internecine politics by his Byzantine masters. After he helped Cantacuzenus grab the Byzantine throne from John V Palaeologus, the new emperor granted him the right to ravage both Thrace and his own daughter, Theodora, whom Orhan married.

Ottoman raiding parties between Gallipoli and Thrace became a common sight. The loot was used to attract all manner of outcasts and dispossessed and to arm them. Byzantium was thus arming and financing its own worst enemy, facilitating its own demise.

In 1354, Ottoman mercenaries occupied and fortified the earthquake shattered Gallipoli. The Ottomans crossed permanently into Europe. When Orhan's son, Suleyman, transformed Gallipoli into an ominous base from which to overpower Christian Europe - the emperor (and other Christian nations) protested.

The Ottomans ignored them and proceeded with their expansionary preparations. They raided the Balkan as far as Adrianople. Cantacuzenus was toppled and denounced for his collaboration with the Turks. Europe woke up to the nightmare on its doorstep. But it was way too late. 

It was the emperor John V Palaeologus who forced Cantacuzenus to abdicate and to retire to a monastery. John V appealed to the Pope, and through him, to the Western world, for help against the Turks. But the Popes were more concerned with the three centuries old schism between the Roman Church and the Church in Constantinople. John V has begged for help for more than a decade. In 1366, he visited Hungary and pleaded for assistance, but in vain. 

The Ottomans embarked on three centuries of unhindered conquests, arrested only at the gates of Vienna in the 17th century. Recurrent international (read European) alliances and crusades failed to constrain them. The Serbs, the Bulgars, the Hungarians were all routed in bloody battlefields.

Cut off from its grain supplies and tax base, proud Byzantium accepted the suzerainty of the Ottomans, their former mercenaries. When emperor John V united the churches of Constantinople and Rome in a vain and impetuous effort to secure the military involvement of the West - he only succeeded to fracture Byzantium further.

Murad, the Ottoman ruler, incorporated large parts of Christian southeastern and central Europe into his burgeoning feudal empire. Local kings and emperors were left to govern as administrators, vassals to the Ottomans. They paid annual tribute and provided contingents to the Ottoman army. These achievements were consolidated by later Ottoman rulers for centuries to come.

In 1449 the sultan Mehmed II prepared to assault Constantinople. The West wringed its hands but provided no material or military help. The union of the two churches - Rome and Constantinople - was celebrated in the magnificent church of in Hagia Sophia in 1452. But the people of Byzantium revolted and protested against this opportunistic move. Many said that they preferred the rule of the Turks to being enslaved by the Latin West. Soon their wish would come true. 

On May 29, 1453 Turkish soldiers forced their way into the shattered city. Most of the commanders (among them Venetians and Genoese) were dead or wounded. Constantine, the last emperor, fought, on foot, at one of the gates and was seen no more.

Constantinople was plundered and savaged for three long days and nights by the triumphant Turks. 

The Encyclopedia Britannica (2002 edition) sums it up thus:

"The Ottoman Empire had now superseded the Byzantine Empire; and some Greeks, like the contemporary historian Critobulus of Imbros, recognized the logic of the change by bestowing on the Sultan all the attributes of the emperor. The material structure of the empire, which had long been crumbling, was now under the management of the sultan-basileus. But the Orthodox faith was less susceptible to change. The Sultan acknowledged the fact that the church had proved to be the most enduring element in the Byzantine world, and he gave the Patriarch of Constantinople an unprecedented measure of temporal authority by making him answerable for all Christians living under Ottoman rule.

The last scattered pockets of Byzantine resistance were eliminated within a decade after 1453. Athens fell to the Turks in 1456-58, and in 1460 the two despots of Morea surrendered. Thomas fled to Italy, Demetrius to the Sultan's court. In 1461 Trebizond, capital of the last remnant of Greek empire, which had maintained its precarious independence by paying court to Turks and Mongols alike, finally succumbed; the transformation of the Byzantine world into the Ottoman world was at last complete."

XV. Just War or a Just War?

In an age of terrorism, guerilla and total warfare the medieval doctrine of Just War needs to be re-defined. Moreover, issues of legitimacy, efficacy and morality should not be confused. Legitimacy is conferred by institutions. Not all morally justified wars are, therefore, automatically legitimate. Frequently the efficient execution of a battle plan involves immoral or even illegal acts.

As international law evolves beyond the ancient percepts of sovereignty, it should incorporate new thinking about pre-emptive strikes, human rights violations as casus belli and the role and standing of international organizations, insurgents and liberation movements.

Yet, inevitably, what constitutes "justice" depends heavily on the cultural and societal contexts, narratives, mores, and values of the disputants. Thus, one cannot answer the deceivingly simple question: "Is this war a just war?" - without first asking: "According to whom? In which context? By which criteria? Based on what values? In which period in history and where?"

Being members of Western Civilization, whether by choice or by default, our understanding of what constitutes a just war is crucially founded on our shifting perceptions of the West.

Imagine a village of 220 inhabitants. It has one heavily armed police constable flanked by two lightly equipped assistants. The hamlet is beset by a bunch of ruffians who molest their own families and, at times, violently lash out at their neighbors. These delinquents mock the authorities and ignore their decisions and decrees.

Yet, the village council - the source of legitimacy - refuses to authorize the constable to apprehend the villains and dispose of them, by force of arms if need be. The elders see no imminent or present danger to their charges and are afraid of potential escalation whose evil outcomes could far outweigh anything the felons can achieve.

Incensed by this laxity, the constable - backed only by some of the inhabitants - breaks into the home of one of the more egregious thugs and expels or kills him. He claims to have acted preemptively and in self-defense, as the criminal, long in defiance of the law, was planning to attack its representatives.

Was the constable right in acting the way he did?

On the one hand, he may have saved lives and prevented a conflagration whose consequences no one could predict. On the other hand, by ignoring the edicts of the village council and the expressed will of many of the denizens, he has placed himself above the law, as its absolute interpreter and enforcer.

What is the greater danger? Turning a blind eye to the exploits of outlaws and outcasts, thus rendering them ever more daring and insolent - or acting unilaterally to counter such pariahs, thus undermining the communal legal foundation and, possibly, leading to a chaotic situation of "might is right"? In other words, when ethics and expedience conflict with legality - which should prevail?

Enter the medieval doctrine of "Just War" (justum bellum, or, more precisely jus ad bellum), propounded by Saint Augustine of Hippo (fifth century AD), Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in his "Summa Theologicae", Francisco de Vitoria (1548-1617), Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) in his influential tome "Jure Belli ac Pacis" ("On Rights of War and Peace", 1625), Samuel Pufendorf (1632-1704), Christian Wolff (1679-1754), and Emerich de Vattel (1714-1767).

Modern thinkers include Michael Walzer in "Just and Unjust Wars" (1977), Barrie Paskins and Michael Dockrill in "The Ethics of War" (1979), Richard Norman in "Ethics, Killing, and War" (1995), Thomas Nagel in "War and Massacre", and Elizabeth Anscombe in "War and Murder".

According to the Catholic Church's rendition of this theory, set forth by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in his Letter to President Bush on Iraq, dated September 13, 2002, going to war is justified if these conditions are met:

"The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations [is] lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated."

A just war is, therefore, a last resort, all other peaceful conflict resolution options having been exhausted.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy sums up the doctrine thus:

"The principles of the justice of war are commonly held to be:

(1) Having just cause (especially and, according to the United Nations Charter, exclusively, self-defense)

(2) Being (formally) declared by a proper authority

(3) Possessing a right intention

(4) Having a reasonable chance of success

(5) The end being proportional to the means used."

Yet, the evolution of warfare - the invention of nuclear weapons, the propagation of total war, the ubiquity of guerrilla and national liberation movements, the emergence of global, border-hopping terrorist organizations, of totalitarian regimes, and rogue or failed states - requires these principles to be modified by adding these tenets:

(6) That the declaring authority is a lawfully and democratically elected government

(7) That the declaration of war reflects the popular will

(Extension of 3) The right intention is to act in just cause.

(Extension of 4) ... or a reasonable chance of avoiding an annihilating defeat

(Extension of 5) That the outcomes of war are preferable to the outcomes of the preservation of peace.

Still, the doctrine of just war, conceived in Europe in eras past, is fraying at the edges. Rights and corresponding duties are ill-defined or mismatched. What is legal is not always moral and what is legitimate is not invariably legal. Political realism and quasi-religious idealism sit uncomfortably within the same conceptual framework. Norms are vague and debatable while customary law is only partially subsumed in the tradition (i.e., in treaties, conventions and other instruments, as well in the actual conduct of states).

The most contentious issue is, of course, what constitutes "just cause". Self-defense, in its narrowest sense (reaction to direct and overwhelming armed aggression), is a justified casus belli. But what about the use of force to (deontologically, consequentially, or ethically):

(1) Prevent or ameliorate a slow-motion or permanent humanitarian crisis

(2) Preempt a clear and present danger of aggression ("anticipatory or preemptive self-defense" against what Grotius called "immediate danger")

(3) Secure a safe environment for urgent and indispensable humanitarian relief operations

(4) Restore democracy in the attacked state ("regime change")

(5) Restore public order in the attacked state

(6) Prevent human rights violations or crimes against humanity or violations of international law by the attacked state

(7) Keep the peace ("peacekeeping operations") and enforce compliance with international or bilateral treaties between the aggressor and the attacked state or the attacked state and a third party

(8) Suppress armed infiltration, indirect aggression, or civil strife aided and abetted by the attacked state

(9) Honor one's obligations to frameworks and treaties of collective self-defense

(10) Protect one's citizens or the citizens of a third party inside the attacked state

(11) Protect one's property or assets owned by a third party inside the attacked state

(12) Respond to an invitation by the authorities of the attacked state - and with their expressed consent - to militarily intervene within the territory of the attacked state

(13) React to offenses against the nation's honor or its economy

Unless these issues are resolved and codified, the entire edifice of international law - and, more specifically, the law of war - is in danger of crumbling. The contemporary multilateral regime proved inadequate and unable to effectively tackle genocide (Rwanda, Bosnia), terror (in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East), weapons of mass destruction (Iraq, India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea), and tyranny (in dozens of members of the United Nations).

This feebleness inevitably led to the resurgence of "might is right" unilateralism, as practiced, for instance, by the United States in places as diverse as Grenada and Iraq. This pernicious and ominous phenomenon is coupled with contempt towards and suspicion of international organizations, treaties, institutions, undertakings, and the prevailing consensual order.

In a unipolar world, reliant on a single superpower for its security, the abrogation of the rules of the game could lead to chaotic and lethal anarchy with a multitude of "rebellions" against the emergent American Empire. International law - the formalism of "natural law" - is only one of many competing universalist and missionary value systems. Militant Islam is another. The West must adopt the former to counter the latter.