- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2000

Is the United States emerging as a de facto world government and the rest of the world as the opposition party? Sounds nuts, but that is how a growing number of world leaders are beginning to see their roles as they search for ways to counterbalance American omnipotence and omnipresence. There is much for our 43rd president to ponder.

The French are not alone in warning about the dangers of the "hyperpower," as they refer to the world's only superpower. They are simply more vocal in venting their frustrations. France is crafting a new ideology that is designed to spearhead a covert global opposition movement to U.S. hegemony.

There are two different opposition groups. The "Official Opposition" consists of France, Russia, China and several other EU members only too willing to let France do the running. They resist the colossus of Washington, for example, by opposing and then breaching sanctions against Iraq; engaging in competitive diplomacy in the Balkans and the Middle East; weakening U.S. control of the international financial system; undermining America's global crusade for democracy and the economic "neo-liberalism" of the Anglo-American world.

The second opposition is a blend of neo-Marxism and the autocratic regimes of the developing world Iraq, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Venezuela and their silent admirers. From the Battle for Seattle in November 1999 to similar cyber-organized demonstrations and riots against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington and Prague; to the visit of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez to Baghdad, the first head of state to confer with Saddam Hussein since the end of the Gulf war 10 years ago; to Fidel Castro's state visit to Venezuela to anoint Mr. Chavez as his successor as Latin America's troublemaker in chief (in return for which Mr. Castro got 100,000 barrels of oil a day at discounted prices), the common thread is a worldwide movement against what they perceive to be America's winner-take-all strategy.

Globalization, seen by many malcontents as a manifestation of U.S. economic imperialism, has spawned a worldwide web of discontent. Mr. Chavez makes no secret of his plan to morph the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries into a champion of the developing world. He told OPEC's first summit meeting in 25 years, "together we will be invincible." The United States imports 15 percent of its oil needs from Venezuela. This was the same Mr. Chavez who went to China last year and embarrassed his hosts by raising his glass to Mao Tse-tung. Mr. Chavez was no sooner back from China than he went on to Cuba to praise Mr. Castro as Latin America's man of the century.

Mr. Chavez argues that Latin America must forge alliances with the Middle East and Asia as a counterweight to United States influence. His posturing finds favor in Paris, Moscow and Beijing. His denunciations of the $1.3 billion Clinton plan to support Colombia's government in its war against Marxist-led guerrillas and drug dealers are echoed throughout Latin America. Mr. Chavez also sides with the FARC guerrillas and supports their incorporation in the Colombian government. This, he hopes, will bring the northern part of Latin America and Panama under his anti-Yankee sway.

Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein has used the anti-Israeli fervor generated in the Arab world by the Aqsa intifada to restore his image in the streets of Arab capitals from Marrakech to Muscat. The Iraqi dictator is reaching for the mantle of the late Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser whose picture was an icon all over the Arab world in the 1950s and '60s. Moderate Arab regimes Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf States feel compelled to refrain from moderate pronouncements as they monitor their own streets where citizens and subjects are lining up to give blood for Palestine. In normally placid Amman, some 40,000 Jordanians, mostly Palestinians, rioted against their government's peace treaty with Israel.The Jordanian prime minister, Ali Abu Ragheb, got the message; he became the first Arab head of government to call on Saddam in Baghdad since Saddam's defeat in 1991.

Erstwhile rivals Iraq and Iran have found common ground in their support for the Palestinian intifada. Iraq signed the final communique at the Oct. 22 Arab summit in Cairo and thus returned to the Arab fold, U.S. opposition notwithstanding. Even Kuwait, the victim of the Iraqi invasion in 1990, did not object. Pax Americana, a near certainty in the early 1990s following the twin victories in the Cold War and the Gulf war, now is being challenged on many fronts.

Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based TV network that has the largest viewership in the Arab world and encourages radical spokesmen to take on the moderate status-quo regimes, has rehabilitated Iraq. The network's talking heads remind the Arab world's "downtrodden masses" that half the world's population of 6 billion is existing on $2 a day or less and that about 1 billion of them are Muslims, stretching from Morocco to Indonesia. CNN and other networks now watched by millions of Arab show the Palestinians being killed in the West Bank and Gaza and their daily funeral processions.

Al Jazeera encourages the growing conviction that the U.S. can never be even-handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because Israel is an integral part of the American body politic. Washington's reluctance to condemn what other Western countries see as Israel's excessive use of force has triggered demonstrations in front of U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East. Intifada II and the terrorist attack against the USS Cole prompted security concerns that led to suspending normal diplomatic activity. America's European and Asian allies can see how U.S. Middle Eastern policy is largely dictated by domestic political considerations and how this pro-Israeli tilt could trigger the Arab oil weapon again. By simply withholding 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil a day from world markets, Saddam Hussein could provide the spark.

In early 1973, Israeli intelligence dismissed as laughable the notion of an Arab oil embargo. Conventional wisdom in Jerusalem at that time was, "What are the Arabs going to do with their oil? Drink it?" On Oct. 16, 1973, at the height of the Yom Kippur War, Gen. Ariel Sharon punched his way back across the Suez Canal and President Anwar Sadat faced military defeat. Saudi Arabia then ordered an oil embargo and the balance of geopolitical power between Arabs and Israelis was established for the first time.

The two terrorists who committed suicide when they disabled a $1 billion guided-missile destroyer are viewed as cowards in the U.S. Among the Arab masses, they are martyred soldiers of holy war against the U.S. and its Israeli ally. On CBS' "60 Minutes" program, religious leaders in Pakistan described their presumed leader, Osama bin Laden, as "Islam's Abraham Lincoln."

When the Soviet empire imploded and the U.S. emerged victorious from a four-decade-long Cold War, Washington assumed the whole world was applauding. But behind the cheers were countless millions of disappointed militants throughout the developing world, and not an insignificant number in the developed world as well. They lied low through most of the 1990s and they are now crawling out of the woodwork.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is chief executive officer of United Press International and editor at large for The Washington Times.

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