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Failure Behind Gun Power

Francis Daehoon Lee (PSPD)

Since the infamous announcement of "the axis of evil" by George W. Bush, do we still have some signs of hope for peace?

Now more and more people pay attention to the dissident voices among staunch allies of the U.S. We hear from American allies calling Washington's world view "absolutist and simplistic", "absurd", not "thought through" and "aimed for domestic politics", "crazy" and calling Bush's diplomats as "Mafia-type". These days American Embassies abroad have to report to Washington that most people around the world consider Bush, not Saddam Hussein, as the main threat to peace. Look at major American allies such as England, Spain, Germany, Italy and Germany, not to mention South Korea; the public opinion runs highly furious and unequivocal against the American war on Iraq.

Spending 40 percent of all military budget of the world, selling and occupying 40 percent of the global arms market, unilaterally controlling the space for military purpose and being able to see, listen, and send unbeatable armies to anywhere in the world, and standing as the singular military hyper-power, possessing unchallengeable power to use weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. still cannot dictate the world. Yes, it dictates the ruling elites in many countries, but it fails to win hearts of the people. Have we seen an Empire so much universally hated and despised like this one? We should now claim loudly this failure, as the failure of the rule by force, the rule of gun power.

If we look at the facts, there is nothing new about the behaviour of Bush administration or its militarist attitude. However, what is more meaningful in his rhetoric of the axis of evil is what is implied by its helpless simplicity. This good-and-evil binary and dead-or-alive type male paranoia are in a good contrast to the growing awareness in other parts of the world on the complexity of the global problems we face today. In the United Nations agencies and fora, as well as in most of the multilateral talks, today we see a growing understanding that problems are complicated and there are no simple solutions. Poverty in poor regions of the world is not just a matter of giving aid or development, but intrinsically related with political stability, arms trade, corporate involvement, environmental degradation, ethnic tensions, etc. The massive global movement of immigrants from the South to the North is an outcome of the poverty and instability of their home region. The rapidly increasing drug cultivation and drug trade in the South is close related with the plunder of economic globalisation and the consumption in the North.

However, in contrast to such complexity of global issues, all we hear from Bush's seemingly resolute addresses is all about "protecting American interest" and "American values" by good-and-evil demarcation. There is a big omission here. While he says that these interest and values are pursued by "dead or alive" type military aggression, we hear nothing about how meaningful these American interest and values are for the rest of the world. The fact that the US fails to address the link between global problems and the American interest and values implies a lot. On the one hand, it is tantamount to recognising that the so-called American interest and values are already ridiculed by the world: now most people know what it means to war in the Middle East that Bush and many elite families are from oil or defense companies, for example. On the other hand, it is tantamount to ignoring vast area of non-American problems that occupy most of the peripheral countries, such as poverty, drug, migration, intra-state conflicts, environmental degradation, etc. While the dreadful reality of the global periphery resembles every symptom of the failed colony, the global unitary hegemon is obsessed with evil-good mythology.

Highlighted by Bush's remarkable rhetoric, today's problematic world shows that there is the mighty hegemon and very much of its dictating by force, while there is little management of the problems. Instead of addressing dire problems of the world, the US is increasing opting to walk out from the global rule books, for one example, from the Kyoto Protocol. By destroying the global rule book, they succeed in losing people's hearts.

What is essentially implied by this simplistic politics of threat is rather revealing. It implies that the global outcome of the American way of life is finally the absolute military dominance and militarist approach to manage problems. Democratic politics move with options. But, the fact the US came to limit its option to militarist one is a reflection that it is running out of more rational options. The American politics, backed by its 'unglobalised public' unable to refrain their oil-dependent, highly consuming life-style, is now unable to do otherwise and opts to force others rather than persuading them. For colonial regimes of the bygone times, this implies the end of colonial management. For today's global hegemon, Bush's "axis of evil" politics is like a confession of failed management of global affairs. What is left of us is to prepare for better managers. Out sign of hope lies here - the old ruler is running of wit. In due time, people and democracy will prevail.


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