- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2003

Are the consequences of the U.S. invasion of Iraq likely to be a secular, democratic Middle East and a victory over terrorism, as the Bush administration claims? Or has the Bush administration embarked on an adventure with unintended consequences beyond its imagination?

Hegemonic powers are not immune from miscalculation. When Napoleon marched his Grand Army into Russia, he overlooked that defeating Russia was different from seizing its capital, and that wintering in distant Moscow would give his European enemies ample opportunity to plot against him. In his haste to return to Paris, Napoleon lost an army to freezing temperatures and guerrillas. The consequence of humiliating the Russians by driving them from their capital was a great diminution in Napoleon’s military resources.

When Adolf Hitler began World War II proclaiming “a thousand year Reich,” he had no idea that the consequence of his aggression would be a Germany politically impotent for 60 years and now about to become a mere province in a European state. Hitler could not have imagined that the consequence of his “final solution” would be a Jewish state armed with a powerful psychological weapon that prohibits criticism of Israel’s own expansionist policy.

President Bush’s military adventure also will have unintended consequences. We can see that already. The U.S. occupation of Iraq and the resistance to it bear no resemblance to the rosy scenario concocted by Mr. Bush’s advisers. Despite the presence of 130,000 U.S. troops armed with massive firepower, Iraqi insurgents have successfully attacked fortified U.S. compounds and driven the United Nations, the Red Cross and various aid agencies out of Iraq. Routine guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops have caused more American casualties than the invasion itself. The United States is not in control of Iraq, and analogies to Vietnam no longer seem implausible.

Successful occupation or not, the larger strategic consequences are more ominous. The blatant exercise of U.S. and Israeli hegemony over Muslim states is radicalizing Muslim populations and could result in the fall of Western-imposed secular rulers.

The West has been able to dominate hundreds of millions of Muslims because the latter are disunited and have impotent states, many of them dependent on U.S. aid. The U.S. invasion and threats of invasion and Israel’s creation of a Palestinian ghetto are uniting Muslims in anger. Growing Islamic resistance, described in the West as terrorism, is a direct and predictable result of the U.S.-Israeli exercise of hegemony.

In the Western democracies, culture and religion have been deracinated. In pursuit of diversity, the United States no longer attempts to assimilate the massive inflow of immigrants or even to enculturate its native-born population. The American aim, apparently, is to be a Tower of Babel.

In contrast, Muslims retain a sense of themselves. The concepts and emotions that caused 19th-century Western gentlemen to fight duels over honor drive Muslims to violence today. The United States can defeat Muslim armies, but unless it resorts to genocide, the United States cannot occupy a hostile Middle East either directly or, as in the past, through surrogates.

One consequence of Mr. Bush’s invasion of Iraq could be that the United States will be driven out of the Middle East, both politically and commercially. Another result could be that Middle Eastern states will redirect their oil flows to Asia’s rising economic powers.

If Muslims overthrow the U.S.-supported Pakistani military ruler, Muslims would possess nuclear weapons. This would checkmate U.S. hegemony and could prompt an Israeli or an Israeli-Indian-U.S. pre-emptive attack on Pakistan, an event that would change the world in unpredictable ways.

Israel has squandered its moral capital by its brutal treatment — born of frustration — of Palestinians. And the United States, frustrated that its military superiority cannot deter insurgency and terrorism, is likewise becoming increasingly brutal in Iraq, bulldozing homes and orchards, and sealing off towns with barbed wire and automatic weapons.

Mr. Bush speaks propagandistically when he says Muslims hate us for our freedom. They hate us for the disrespect we show them. Invasion, threats, orders, brutality and the killing of civilians make them hate us more.

The United States and Israel isolating themselves in the world. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the only fig leaf Mr. Bush has for his naked aggression against Iraq. The world is too large for any state, no matter how powerful, to base leadership on fear.

U.S. leadership in the 20th century was founded on the U.S. claim to the moral high ground. By their own brutal actions, the Japanese, German National Socialists and communists ceded the moral high ground to the United States.

With the exception of propagandized Americans, the entire world recognizes that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was based on fabrications akin to those used by Hitler to justify his invasion of Poland.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq is the first adventure of neoconservative Jacobin ideologues willing to use any means to impose their “democratic” agenda on the rest of the world, especially the Middle East.

America’s new service to an aggressive ideology is a turning point in history. Nothing good will come of it.

Paul Craig Roberts is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.

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