[translated from GegenStandpunkt: Politische Vierteljahreszeitschrift 4–02, Gegenstandpunkt Verlag, Munich]
“They make a wasteland and call it peace …”
If the President of the United States of America were just to frankly and honestly inform the attentively listening world public of the current state of world affairs, namely that he, the leader of the world power and thereby master of the world, intended to annihilate his nation’s last remaining foes — even those who haven’t yet drawn any attention to themselves; that he was determined to neutralize entire states in the wake of this program, simply because he regarded them as strongholds of hostility toward his country; and that he would spare neither time nor scale in executing his plans, since in his opinion, his country from now on would be secure only if he made the rest of the world thoroughly insecure through his wars — then maybe it could happen that somebody would be a bit alarmed in facing a world come to this.
But thank God it isn’t so; rather, a civilized gentleman in a dark suit reports to the world with composure and sympathy concerning the challenges we all face; bears witness to perils that have to do with him and his country only inasmuch as they endanger the highest values of all those who count themselves among the good; in the name of all, and vicariously for all, only carries out responsibilities commanded by moral duty in his fight against evil in the world; yet in addition kindly invites all equally goodwilled people to fight at his side, so as to deliver humanity from evil, in this case called terrorism — such being the case, all his listeners owe him a deep debt of gratitude; for at bottom stands before them only a fighter against everything that frightens them the most.
“The peace of all things is the tranquillity of order”
The “new national security strategy of the United States” concerns everybody in some way. In order that everybody understand precisely why and to what extent it does concern them, the president, in his introductory remarks, gives himself the honor of first of all presenting his great country, which is so anxious about its own security. With commendable straightforwardness, he immediately comes to the essential point; namely to the matter of war and peace. After all, it is precisely through the wars that countries inflict on the globe that they leave their deepest impression on it. This is of course also the case for this mighty country, yet what is more important — if you follow your president — is that in all its likewise rather mighty wars, this nation has really and truly never acted with the selfish motives generally characteristic of nations:
“Our Nation’s cause has always been larger than our Nation’s defense. We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace — a peace that favors liberty.” *
A nation presents itself to an attentive world public as a country whose own national borders are far too narrow for its “cause.” It wastes no time dealing with the mere defense of these borders. It’s “cause” obviously encompasses the entire world, and this nation will not feel secure in the world until it has successfully fought for a peace that seems “just” to it. This in turn will only be the case when a condition called liberty prevails around the world. Only then will this nation be satisfied and declare “peace.”
With that, the states of the world know from the beginning where they stand with this country. There is one state among them that starts out with the assumption that no other states may claim any rights without first getting its seal of approval. There is one state that decides about other states’ merits and demerits, but in no way simply leaves it at that; rather, if necessary, it takes such deep-rooted umbrage at everything it doesn’t like that it advances against the disturbing party. There is one state that thus presides as chief manager and inspector of the entire world’s use of force, forcing all other powers to keep the “peace” that it wants from them — yet a state that, despite everything for which it “fights” and wages its wars, really wants in principle one thing and one thing only: “justice.” And that is roughly what all nations surely want. It’s true that America is the only one among them that has what it takes to put this ideal into practice, but surely all the other states in the world are also accustomed to translating their interests into rights that the rest of the world has to respect, dreaming of a situation in which this equation is valid everywhere in every respect. Sovereign states, all of which tolerate no right above their own, which also on principle only consider what seems right for the promotion of their interests to be just, really ought to be very grateful to America — an America, which fundamentally doesn’t deal with its interests and rights any differently than they do with theirs; even and precisely when it “fights” without pause. One thing for certain, therefore, is that justice in this world was most likely chosen by divine Providence to take up its permanent headquarters in Washington, D.C., so nobody need fear its judgements and sentences, which if necessary are passed over to the enforcement agency in the Pentagon just next door. For if the president and his colleagues in office “fight” not only for peace but for a just peace, which for them and their nation constitutes the highest good on earth, they do so only because, once again, they think as all the other state leaders do: if there is no “liberty,” there cannot be peace. Basically, the president thereby only expresses the self-evident truth that states can’t suffer their interests being restricted, and therefore first see about forcefully removing the barriers they run into before they declare peace. His peace is in no way different. Its only remarkable feature is that it consists of an entire state of the world called liberty, for the defense of which America has always firmly and selflessly done what it could.
“A sword dedicated solely to the good!”
The presently incumbent American world judge has learned the following about pushing through this state of the world:
“The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom — and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise. In the twenty-first century, only nations that share a commitment to protecting basic human rights and guaranteeing political and economic freedom will be able to unleash the potential of their people and assure their future prosperity. People everywhere want to be able to speak freely; choose who will govern them; worship as they please; educate their children — male and female; own property; and enjoy the benefits of their labor. These values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every society — and the duty of protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages.”
This is indeed quite a surprise! The nation that honest-to-god always, and now once again, fights solely for liberty was really not even there alongside “freedom” during its greatest victory? Freedom has really been fighting along by itself since 1914? Always against one and the same “-ism”? Two naked principles confront one another, one of them prevails in the contest of arguments — and out comes an unbeatable national model for success? That’s all there was to it? But of course, if the president found this out, then that’s just the way it might have been in the twentieth century. If it really was not their superior weapons that carried the “forces of freedom” to victory, then perhaps only the judgement of history stands behind the Mendelian emergence of the freedom “model.” And if that is so, then divine Providence has turned the success of this “model” in finishing off its competition into a model of success for all nations in the twenty-first century. The president thus has only to say what counts and prevails in this model, since first of all it counts anyway and has to prevail, and second of all because after all America “fights” for it: “freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.” Once more with his typical straightforwardness, he comes directly to what he thinks about the great value of freedom, namely to private interest aimed at capitalistic enrichment; and when he places democracy somewhere between this value and the liberties that capitalists need for their businesses, then why contradict him? It may very well be that only those nations that, as he puts it, “guarantee” their citizens all that a proper capitalistic economy needs can profit properly from capitalism; those nations, that is, that mark out the sphere their citizens may use in all their permitted freeness. Yet at the same time, things also appear to stand exactly the other way around for the president, with everything that comes down from above in the way of freedom, rights, and capitalism being, properly seen, only the fulfillment of an urgent task handed out to people like him from quite a different place: from the “people,” who indeed “everywhere” call for the freedom the president promises to bring about. He, at any rate, has listened to them carefully in every corner of the earth and heard more or less the following: they “want” to — just imagine — live, speak, worship, and vote exactly as people are allowed to do in the country where he is president, although they have never even been there! An El Dorado of bliss erupts when one gets freedom, democracy, a market economy, and simply everything that makes life in his country worth living, from the right to one’s own God to the right to one’s own submachine gun; this is for him the sole dream of mankind — simply “right and true” everywhere in the world! All because nature has implanted the desire to live more or less as an American into the genes of mankind!
At least into almost all of them, for some people appear not to have heard the Gospel of salvation America preaches: even after the demise of the false doctrine of salvation with its “-ism” there still seem to be “enemies” of freedom on hand — even though that is absolutely impossible! But God’s own country with its “freedom” mission does after all also exist, and what follows from that needs to be reinforced.
“He stood with pride for what is right against the tyrants he did fight”
Just imagine the piece of luck that has been given to the president and to the country that divine Providence has chosen for the fight on behalf of the five greatest values of mankind:
“Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence.”
Not only does this nation have a mission that applies to the entire world: it also has the necessary means to successfully convert the world to its “cause.” Where other nations lack even enough transport aircraft to get into the freedom-exporting business, America not only has what it takes but twice and three times over. Surely this is the sole reason, but not the only one, that no other nation can get around this nation. America is — as its president knows; after all he just has to know it — not only “unparalleled” in the world, thanks to its weapons, but also has the “economic” and “political” “influence” befitting a genuine world power. The good he brings mankind thus has a genuine chance of making some real headway. The president is therefore justified in being pleased with everything his great country is able to take pleasure in — and, once again, nobody in the world has to be frightened by him and the might backing him up. All who can hear his words should welcome both him and America as true gifts from God, since such a great and beneficent power has truly never before been seen, one which on principle uses its ample means for nothing other than that the rest of mankind can make their “lives better:”
“In keeping with our heritage and principles, we do not use our strength to press for unilateral advantage. We seek instead to create a balance of power that favors human freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty. In a world that is safe, people will be able to make their own lives better. We will defend the peace by fighting terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. We will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.”
The president promises to use the power he wields for the benefit of all. He intends to see to it that no nation has any weight, but rather that all of them together are kept in balance by him — this is the first “advantage” for everyone that he exports to the world. He then promises the rest of mankind and all “societies” the possibility of choosing freely — so that they choose the liberty he “seeks” for them. The fantastic “reward” they get in return is certain — it exists in the “challenges” that people living in liberty apparently have to be up to if they are even to bear their great gift. They then get far and away the biggest CARE packet from America: a “safe world,” which they can receive from Mr. Bush as the fundamental condition for happiness and prosperity. For as long as there still exist these “terrorists and tyrants,” who are simply not willing to be taken by the hand by this oh-so-solicitous hegemon of the world, then these Bin Ladens, Sadams, and Kims not only disrupt our world but are also responsible for all the hunger and poverty in it. As long as these still exist, the most powerful advocate of peace can therefore leave nothing to chance. The cause of peace is best served when the president of the world peace power takes peace entirely into his own hands; when he makes himself the guarantor of good relations among the “great powers” — between each other and with America; good relations being those that secure the ground for American-managed freedom. And so fundamentally does he loathe all political rule and state oppression that he also promises all the other, not-so-great powers practical charity on the spot and — whether they even want this or not — to make sure that nothing but “free and open societies” exist across all borders and continents. Admittedly, these societies are to be exactly as free and open as America wants them to be, so that in fact, this practicing anarchist from Texas then only takes offense at how others rule, not at rule itself. And this is what he then makes perfectly clear when explaining to the world his commitment to liberty in times of danger.
“They carried their right in their weapons and everything belonged to the brave”
Of course it is not at all so, that the president would first have to start exporting the American way of life into each and every corner of the world. One of the achievements his nation can “enjoy” is undoubtedly the success of his commendable predecessors — of his father not least — in having done away with the enemies of freedom & democracy: so thoroughly in fact, that this nation is simply no longer confronted with another state that is hostile toward it:
“Defending our Nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the Federal Government. Today, that task has changed dramatically. Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America.”
— and in the end it surely wasn’t too difficult to cope with these enemies: thanks to bigger but above all more powerful armies, which one’s own even more extensive industrial capabilities helped one to get, one could confront them with a far greater threat than they would ever have been capable of on their part, could in this way first contain them, then drive them back, and then in an arms race gradually race them to death. Yes, those were the days, but now…
“Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank. Terrorists are organized to penetrate open societies and to turn the power of modern technologies against us.”
His country didn’t spare any expense then in taking an entire power bloc to pieces — yet America still has enemies. And moreover, enemies who from the start have been breaking all the rules of civilized competition: “individuals” who represent no power at all and thus have none, who cannot even afford a single tank, who have therefore from the beginning so fully discredited themselves in their opposition to America that they are simply a profoundly reprehensible evil, and as such are to be eradicated. But being so powerless, the threat they do manage to present is all the more ubiquitous: after all, without any fixed national home address, they can’t be caught anywhere — so they settle in practically everywhere a little money can instigate “great chaos.” That’s the kind of enemy he has to go up against. The president, a person inclined to think in much broader contexts — liberty good, enemy evil — and not being an expert in more subtle differentiation, obviously insists on a distinction in this case: when he speaks about “individuals” who terrorize his open society with private power and inexpensive high-tech devices, he does not refer to the many amateur sportsmen in his own country who would like to be — and indeed sometimes become — snipers. Obviously, he refers exclusively to the “individuals” who have his twin towers on their conscience, and no sooner has he remembered them, then he abruptly stops differentiating: in no way did these “terrorists” intend to strike America, they targeted “us!”
And most commendably, the president also lets us know immediately how we have to think about the key words ‘terrorist threat’ from now on, and in fact exclusively:
“To defeat this threat” — as stated above: America lost two towers and some people on duty there in the service of free enterprise — “we” — meaning the remaining states of the world — “must make use of every tool in our arsenal: military power, better homeland defenses, law enforcement, intelligence, and vigorous efforts to cut off terrorist financing.” The states of this world, whether they like it or not, are thus at war alongside America, and that means the following for them: “The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain duration.” — and thus takes place everywhere on the globe, and always when and where America sees itself threatened. But don’t worry: “America will help nations that need our assistance in combating terror.” — and that is certainly no empty promise. Since the help these nations need consists precisely in the services America expects from them and, when necessary, calls from them for its fight against terror. It goes without saying that they perform these services with pleasure:
“And America will hold to account nations that are compromised by terror, including those who harbor terrorists — because the allies of terror are the enemies of civilization. The United States and countries cooperating with us must not allow the terrorists to develop new home bases. Together, we will seek to deny them sanctuary at every turn.”
In this way, the freedom-loving nations of this world —there is no other kind left, as mentioned before — are in fact confronted with certain obligations. And moreover, it is also clear who does the obligating. But it should be just as clear to them — the president once again attaches great importance to this — that America once more only obligates them to what is already important and holy to them: this time around it is civilization that is the indisputable good and irrefutable value to be defended — since civilization itself was attacked along with America, the home of all things civilized on the globe. It is therefore only proper and logical that the self-defense of this nation take place by means of a globally-waged, permanent war. After all, what is at stake after the demise of the evil empire — which at least could be precisely designated — is nothing less than the entirety of civilized mankind, now endangered by “shadowy networks.” At the same time, it is certain that civilization, so absolutely worthy of defense, is going to be damaged a bit in the course of this. After all, war is war; particularly since there is quite a lot more than “shadowy networks” and “home bases” to be smoked out — as was recently the case in the exemplary, civilized engagement in Afghanistan.
“Take heed, take heed! The world is filled with murder!”
It has already been mentioned above that subtle differentiation is not exactly the president’s forte, he being much better with more simplistic depictions of the facts that matter. It is then all the more amazing how cautiously, once again, he comes to the point of the next great chapter of world history he is about to write:
“The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology.”
Now that is indeed remarkable: after all, there is probably no more radical way of siding with a value — freedom, peace, prosperity, capitalism, civilization, etc. — than he himself does in the name of, and on behalf of, his nation’s cause. Superior technology is likewise something he appreciates beyond all measure as a source of his might, so that his own person might provide a rather exemplary guide to understanding what one in the best case could mean by the key words, ‘crossroads of radicalism and technology:’ a resolutely steadfast will that also has the means to get on with its mission — was it not precisely this that so pleased the president of the world power when he surveyed America’s military inventory and held it out for all the world to see? So some additional effort in differentiation seems to be necessary, as far as these items at the crossroads constituting an enormous danger are concerned; and George W. Bush doesn’t falter here either:
“Our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United States will not allow these efforts to succeed. We will build defenses against ballistic missiles and other means of delivery. We will cooperate with other nations to deny, contain, and curtail our enemies’ efforts to acquire dangerous technologies. And, as a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed. We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. So we must be prepared to defeat our enemies’ plans, using the best intelligence and proceeding with deliberation. History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed to act. In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action.”
That last thought — that the only path to peace is a warpath — is surely not so easy to comprehend, but somehow it works. One need only recall that early on in his country, a famous gun carried the name ‘peacemaker,’ and one gets some idea of the theoretical premise that the president starts from in laying out, point by point, just what is to be done “in the new world” — a premise he perhaps remains quiet about only because it is the most natural thing in the world for him: the weapons America has at its disposal are on principle good weapons, since they are the carrier systems of the freedom the president intends to export all over the world. However, each annihilation device buried outside of American silos, not puzzled out in U.S. laboratories and not deployed over the oceans under an American flag, is evil: after all, it can only be directed against America’s good weapons — unless it belongs to a good American friend, to be used on American instruction and therefore under American license. The atomic, biological and chemical devices of the highest technological level, which America has at its disposal and of course also plans to deploy in its fight against evil, thus first of all contrast pleasantly with, as well as stand out absolutely from, the like devices in the hands of others — where they are thus called “weapons of mass destruction.” Secondly, everybody knows that America’s enemies want to get hold of these tools of evil, otherwise they would hardly be America’s enemies. So thirdly under no condition can it be permitted; their efforts must be “denied, contained and curtailed.” The rest is being taken care of by the same “common sense” that was once able to tell which among America’s original inhabitants — ‘…a dead Indian’ — were the ‘only good’ ones: the best thing one can do is to act against “threats” before being threatened by them at all — since then one can’t be threatened by them any longer. Finally, it follows fourthly from this that every state merely suspected of having “weapons of mass destruction,” — only America’s enemies have them, apart from America and its friends — needs to be disarmed by America. This “self-defense” of America — and of all the “friends” of this nation in one go — just follows the dictates of pure reason: after all, who waits for his “enemies” to translate the profoundly evil “plans” they’re concocting into action? Who sits back and watches “emerging” threats “coming” right at him? That would be a sort of risk-taking that “history” only frowns upon. History only rewards those who stand at the crossroads of their radical ability to discern friend from foe and the appropriate technology, and who, trusting in the findings of their secret intelligence agencies, take preventive strikes — of course always “with deliberation.”
“Any part not in harmony with its whole is offensive”
Perhaps the president was told by his secretary of state, or perhaps it occurred to him all by himself: there are other great powers in the world apart from his own, and he is concerned about them, too.
“As we defend the peace, we will also take advantage of an historic opportunity to preserve the peace.”
— are his actual words: a tautology in plain English. This is however only convincing coming from a president who defends peace with his wars and can therefore only maintain peace with the same means. At any rate, his historic opportunity for doing this is, once again, also an opportunity for all the others; what he means by this becomes apparent once again as he continues:
“Today, the international community has the best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the seventeenth century to build a world where great powers compete in peace instead of continually prepare for war. Today, the world’s great powers find ourselves on the same side — united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos. The United States will build on these common interests to promote global security. We are also increasingly united by common values. Russia is in the midst of a hopeful transition, reaching for its democratic future and a partner in the war on terror. Chinese leaders are discovering that economic freedom is the only source of national wealth. In time, they will find that social and political freedom is the only source of national greatness. America will encourage the advancement of democracy and economic openness in both nations, because these are the best foundations for domestic stability and international order. We will strongly resist aggression from other great powers — even as we welcome their peaceful pursuit of prosperity, trade, and cultural advancement.”
What a golden age is dawning now! The ranking powers are now at last able to reap the harvest of their economic competition in the most perfect peace by far instead of “continually” preparing for absolutely superfluous wars — why on earth didn’t they catch on before? Presumably because America is only now telling them that they are all “united” together, and above all what this means for them: they are simply to let America wage the one war that is still, but absolutely, necessary. Or even better, they are to wage this war side by side with their great friend. For they are certainly threatened by this same threat to the same extent that America sees itself threatened, and are therefore “united” wholly of their own accord in a common front against the one, common enemy. This axis of good is therefore already settled — at any rate it should be — so that the architect of “global security” residing in the White House just needs to issue their respective marching orders. He can then turn the rest of his attention entirely to the two other powers of importance that, aside from his friends, still exist; and he is full of confidence about them, too. The new Russians are in principle on the right track, yet must mind that they not disappoint the “hopeful” expectations for their good conduct held by the highest freedom-controlling authority in the world. People are also “reaching” — at least in part — in the right direction in China. The Chinese only have to stop committing the fatal error that the “source of national wealth,” which they have opened up in their own country with their capitalism, might also be something like a path to “national greatness” for them: rather, its “source” — in fact the “only” one! — lies in China being ruled the same way America in principle wishes for governments everywhere in the world; namely, roughly as America is ruled. For the president however, this is not the case so long as he finds something offensive in the subchapters of freedom — “economic,” “political,” and “social.” And as he does so find, he not only cannot certify real “national greatness” to this Asian country; he is also once again reminded of his ongoing mission by everything that suggests a denial of respect in this regard. He, the savior of the freedom that is to save the world, then once again has something to do: he simply has to “encourage,” on the spot, the “advancement” that he has just discovered to be the leading tendency in the world, and has internalized so thoroughly that there is no longer a shred of difference between the world and what in his opinion it is supposed to “advance” to. But with that, he is not yet finished. “Even as” all the other great powers do just about everything right for him in their “pursuit,” plaguing their people with hardships so perfectly democratically that he himself couldn’t do any better, providing furthermore the “economic openness” from which America makes first-class profit, and on top of everything even going along with the “cultural” standards of the great culture nation by transferring royalties to Hollywood — even then they are not yet finished with their obligations to the freedom that America defends. Of course, the president doesn’t disclose at what point exactly their — in principle — “peaceful pursuit,” which he naturally warmly welcomes, turns into “aggression.” But don’t worry, he’ll let them know in due time. And if not, they’ll certainly notice when his world power “strongly resists” them.
“Always look on the bright side of life!”
The president has now unburdened himself of everything important he had to say, even repeatedly so that nobody can possibly misunderstand him; so he gradually heads to the conclusion:
“Finally, the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world. The events of September 11, 2001, taught us that weak states, like Afghanistan, can pose as great a danger to our national interests as strong states. Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists and murderers. Yet poverty, weak institutions, and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks and drug cartels within their borders.”
But still: hardly does he become a bit concrete in his message of welcome to the somewhat less well-off states than the tremendous “benefits of freedom” fade into mere “hopes!” And what he promises to take to the hopeless states and their starving wretches in “every corner of the world” is rather low-calorie: just a lesson he intends them to learn — namely that, if the Devil gets to them, even the most pitiful state and miserable goatherd can somehow develop into a security risk for America! Poverty may indeed be nasty, but in no way does it justify any sort of resistance against the free world of wealth. But the worst part about poverty is that it causes one’s defenses against the temptations of evil to wither.
The president therefore has to make his offer to the states qua poorhouses of this world — that they either take their place in the realm of hope or put themselves on America’s hit list — just a bit more palatable. Firstly: where America is present, liberty is continually fertile and bearing fruit. A state need only harvest the fruit and its citizens are full: “The United States will stand beside any nation determined to build a better future by seeking the rewards of liberty for its people.” Secondly: the juiciest fruit of liberty is free trade. Where there is free trade, there is also wealth; one can marvel at America’s and hope to get some for oneself: “Free trade and free markets have proven their ability to lift whole societies out of poverty” — now that just has to convince precisely those societies that have been made to understand by a capitalistic world economy what hunger is: more of it fills you up! Thirdly, once more the same, put differently: where there is free trade, not only does the wealth of the seven to twelve successful trading nations grow. Believe it or not, when America looks after a world in which it gets rich, everyone else also gets rich, somehow: “So the United States will work with individual nations, entire regions, and the entire global trading community to build a world that trades in freedom and therefore grows in prosperity.” Fourthly: within those trading nations that wealth these days more notoriously flows out of than into, something in lieu of wealth is at long last growing; namely, the responsibility to make no mistake in governing the poverty that has caught on; in other words, to make everything as right as it has been up to now. America will assist with this as well: “The United States will deliver greater development assistance through the New Millennium Challenge Account to nations that govern justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom.” Fifthly: where America is, there is salvation; since where it is not, the virus reigns: “We will also continue to lead the world in efforts to reduce the terrible toll of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.”
“For justice thunders condemnation A better world's in birth”
(international folk song)
And with that, everything has been said. At any rate, the president is sure of his efforts at persuasion, but trusts in persuasive actions of global peace-making — which he promised, after all — to iron out any possible deficits. This is how he finally comes to the climax and conclusion of his message:
“In building a balance of power that favors freedom, the United States is guided by the conviction that all nations have important responsibilities. Nations that enjoy freedom must actively fight terror. Nations that depend on international stability must help prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Nations that seek international aid must govern themselves wisely, so that aid is well spent. For freedom to thrive, accountability must be expected and required.”
The spokesman for the united world’s interest in fighting evil announces the duties all other nations have: free nations do not have freedom, but must serve the “stability” threatened by “terrorism.” The difference is this: America’s responsibility is based upon the “conviction” that it must spell out to all the others how they can “help” bring about a stable world, which they depend on after all. Other nations’ freedom consists in doing what they simply have to do, whereas one special nation, America, is so free as to be able to dictate what this means for them in any particular case: for a start, what is “expected” of them in the course of their free thriving consists in each of them serving America’s war against terror. And of course, the president has already pointed out right at the beginning what happens when America’s expectations are disappointed. Since this might really confirm all too strongly the displeasure evinced by slogans such as ‘unilateralism’ and ‘cowboy mentality,’ the president passes on another of his convictions as a precaution to soothe his friends’ feelings; namely, they are of course allowed to do some things in the world, but one thing is absolutely off-limits: taking the same liberties as America does in the name of liberty for managing their world order. Of that he’s certain.
“We are also guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone. Alliances and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations. The United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of American States, and NATO as well as other long-standing alliances. Coalitions of the willing can augment these permanent institutions. In all cases, international obligations are to be taken seriously. They are not to be undertaken symbolically to rally support for an ideal without furthering its attainment.”
The world power doesn’t dictate anything to anybody, because strictly speaking, it is only a global alliance power and as such is itself “committed” to everything that all of its alliance partners are also committed to. But hardly does the president credibly assure his freedom-loving partners of his “conviction,” never under any condition to undertake anything “alone” without them in building a “better world,” than he lets it slip out yet again. He feels urged, which is just the way he is, to simply make clear that the finest alliances are naturally merely “symbolic,” nothing but lip service, as long as the alliance members shirk their war duties — as long as there isn’t someone like him who simply goes and, with determination, puts all the alliance’s underlying fine ideals into effect. And whatever particular ideals “multilateral institutions” like the UN, WTO, NATO, IMF and the World Bank may wish to cultivate: in the end all these ideals rather unilaterally boil down to the fact that these institutions, together with the American president, have to control what he wants to have put into effect as his ideal of a world free of enemies of America, a free world at last.
And so he closes as every good speaker does, wrapping up everything that has been said by returning once more to the beginning, and offering to his public one last time a modern commentary on Tacitus:
“Freedom is the non-negotiable demand of human dignity; the birthright of every person — in every civilization. Throughout history, freedom has been threatened by war and terror; it has been challenged by the clashing wills of powerful states and the evil designs of tyrants; and it has been tested by widespread poverty and disease. Today, humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to further freedom’s triumph over all these foes.”
This is the brilliant response to a false fundamentalism: the fundamentalism of freedom is the only true one! Hardly have all civilized people learnt — and with difficulty — that ‘force is no means of politics,’ than they have to digest the next chapter of their political education. From now on, they have to realize that only a proper world war for freedom can bless them with a freedom that is no longer threatened by war; that a proper terror not only frees them from terrorists and tyrants, but in addition also delivers them from every other evil that plagues them; and that wars which pave the way for freedom also make them healthy and wealthy to boot! One thing is now clear: they’d better be thankful, and they can also learn how that works from the president. The latter is simply delighted with himself, since he is firstly the president, secondly the president of the United States of America, and thirdly he loves it that way: “The United States welcomes our responsibility to lead in this great mission.”
* President George W. Bush, West Point, New York, June 1, 2002. Cited in National Security Strategy of the United States of America, White House, Washington, September 17, 2002. In the following, we go through Bush’s introduction to this manifesto line by line, including all the repetitions, to which the president attaches so much importance.
© GegenStandpunkt 2003