Edward Herman on the Imperial New World Order

Principles of the Imperial New World Order
By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson / April 21, 2008

We have to recognize that in the Imperial New World Order (INWO), with the Soviet Union gone, and an aggressive and highly militarized United States projecting its great power across the globe, destabilizing and devastating in all its major areas of operation in the alleged interest of liberation and stability, a revised set of principles should be discernible. Most of these are hardly new, but even more audaciously than in the past they translate power relationships into affirmations of rights or the denial of these very same rights, with the ensuing double standards applicable pretty much across the board. The real-world significance of these INWO principles thus depends on three factors: (a) whether Washington affirms them for itself (and directly or by implication for its close allies, clients and hangers-on); (b) whether Washington denies them to its enemies; and (c) whether Washington doesn’t care one way or the other. As we show below, these power-based affirmations or denials of rights are accepted among the powerful, from the leaders of the Western states, political candidates, and top UN officials, to the establishment media and the intellectuals whose voices can be heard. They represent the institutionalization of a system of power in which justice is inoperative and its perversion hidden in clouds of rhetoric and obfuscation.

1. Aggression rights: The United States enjoys first-class aggression rights and has long been able to violate the UN Charter prohibition against the “supreme international crime” as a matter of course and without the slightest penalty (Vietnam and the whole of Indochina, Panama, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq). Its most important client, Israel, has been able to do the same (Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, along with Syria, Algeria, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories), also without penalty. Among the intellectual and political classes of both countries, the objections raised to these aggressions have been almost entirely pragmatic and concerned with their effectiveness, costs (to the aggressor), and possible mismanagement. But the aggression rights have not been challenged, either within the aggressing states or internationally. The rule of law implicitly applies only to others.

In sharp contrast, in the cases of cross-border invasions by countries on the U.S. and Western enemies-list, such as Vietnam invading Cambodia in 1979 or Iraq occupying Kuwait in 1990, indignation by Western leaders and pundits is intense, and both invaders were severely punished (a retaliatory Chinese invasion of Vietnam, U.S. sanctions against Vietnam, and the Khmer Rouge awarded Cambodia’s seat at the UN; Iraq forced out of Kuwait by a massive Security Council-approved U.S.-led war that devastated Iraq and laid the basis for 13 years of sanctions and, ultimately, the March 2003 U.S. invasion). One key difference between 1979 and 1990, however, is that whereas in 1979, the Soviet Union vetoed a draft Security Council resolution calling on Vietnam to withdraw its forces from Cambodia, despite the Australian ambassador’s remark that “We cannot accept that the internal policies of any government [Cambodia], no matter how reprehensible, could justify a military attack on it by another government [Vietnam],”[1] during no Council debate following Iraq’s August 2, 1990 invasion of Kuwait did a member of the Permanent Five veto a resolution calling for Iraq to withdraw its forces or imposing sanctions on the aggressor. The relevant difference was the existence of the Soviet Union as a world-power in 1979 versus 1990 and beyond.

2. Terrorism rights (and the right to kill large numbers without being labeled terrorist): This parallels aggression rights, as the borderline between terrorism and aggression is fuzzy and is commonly simply a matter of scale; in either case, U.S. actions in bombing and killing are not designated with the invidious words.

The U.S.’s initial “shock and awe” attack on Iraq was openly planned to terrorize Iraqi military personnel and civilians, and the U.S. assaults on Fallujah[2] and elsewhere have had an open terrorist design. The same is true of Israeli military attacks. It is a matter of political form in the West that Israel only “responds” to and “retaliates” against terrorists, but never terrorizes. The introduction to House Resolution 951, adopted on March 5 by the overwhelming margin of 404 to 1 even as Israel’s Defense Force was savagely attacking Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza,[3] proclaims that “the Government of Israel’s military operations in Gaza only target Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” and adds that “the inadvertent inflicting of civilian casualties as a result of defensive military operations aimed at military targets, while deeply regrettable, is not at all morally equivalent to the deliberate targeting of civilian populations as practiced by Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups.”[4] This is straightforward apologetics for Israeli state terror. For one thing, Israeli leaders from Abba Eban to Ariel Sharon and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today have openly admitted to the aim of terrorizing the Palestinian civilian population. Second, it glosses over the fact that the allegedly “inadvertent” killings of Palestinians by Israelis have exceeded that of the allegedly deliberate Hamas and Palestinian killings of Israelis by a huge ratio (before the second intifada, 25 to 1; since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, 4.6 to 1).[5] Third, the allegedly “inadvertent” killings by Israel are in actual fact quite deliberate, given that the Israeli forces don’t hesitate to use their powerful weapons in crowded civilian areas of Gaza and in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, where the civilian deaths are predictable and numerous.[6]

3. Rights to ethnically cleanse: The West finds ethnic cleansing reprehensible, and sheds a sea of tears over its victims—but only when carried out by, or when it can be imputed to, target entities such as the Bosnian Serbs and Milosevic’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the Sudan’s Muslim government today. In fact, the ethnic cleansing by the Bosnian Serbs was carried out in a largely tit-for-tat process of a civil conflict in which the competing groups (Bosnian Muslims and Croats) did their own share of cleansing. Milosevic in Kosovo did not ethnically cleanse to replace Kosovo Albanians with Serb settlers; the population flights were features of a civil war and then, with the NATO bombing, a much wider war.[7]

Following in this misleading frame, the New Republic finds “Plenty of parallels between Darfur today and Kosovo in 1999….When rebellions came to Kosovo and Darfur, both Belgrade and Khartoum decided to fight the guerrillas by targeting the civilian populations from which they sprang.”[8] But TNR’s facts are as wrong with respect to Darfur as they are for Kosovo; the only real parallel here lies in the selectivity and ideological uses to which Western powers put the two theaters of conflict. In 2007, an assessment by the UN Environment Program found that “Environmental degradation, as well as regional climate instability and change, are major underlying causes of food insecurity and conflict in Darfur….[T]he region is beset with a problematic combination of population growth, over-exploitation of resources and an apparent major long-term reduction in rainfall. As a result, much of northern and central Darfur is degraded to the extent that it cannot sustainably support its rural population.”[9]

On the other hand, the truly genuine case of ethnic cleansing, and one that has had global implications because of the Arab and Muslim resentment that it inspires, has been the steady Israeli expulsion of Palestinians from their lands in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to allow Jewish settlements. The phrase “ethnic cleansing” is almost never applied to this case in the West. This despite the fact that it has been openly acknowledged by Israeli leaders for many years that the aim of these settlements is to displace Palestinians with Jews, and that in the process they have killed many thousands, demolished over 18,000 Palestinian homes since the occupation began in 1967,[10] and pushed out scores-of-thousands of non-Jews. John Dugard, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has repeatedly warned of Israel’ efforts “to make the city more Jewish,” and thereby deprive any future Palestinian state of a capital. “The clear purpose of these changes is to remove any suggestion that East Jerusalem is a Palestinian entity capable of becoming the capital of a Palestinian State,” Dugard explains. “The construction of the wall, the expansion of settlements and the de-Palestinization of Jerusalem threaten the viability of a Palestinian State.”[11] Yet, in a marvel of Western double standards and hypocrisy, this decades-old systematic ethnic cleansing process has been given positive support by Western leaders and media, and Israel has been honored while its target victims are villainized.[12] Despite the clear Israeli intent to ethnically cleanse, and to steal land belonging to the Palestinians, the process is rationalized in the West on the grounds of Israel’s “security needs”—in the racist double standard of the West, Palestinians have no “security needs,” and the fact that the latter are mainly responding to Israel’s wholesale terror and the dispossession process is ignored. This is the true Israeli “miracle.”

Read all of it here, with notes. / Z-Net

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