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America rules the waves
The global thoughts of Richard Haass and life inside the parachute regiment
Eamonn McCann, 11 Dec 2002
The influence of Richard Haass has been entirely positive.”
“It would behove all parties to pay particular heed to Mr. Haass.”
“The wise words of Mr. Haass.”
The quotes come from Irish daily newspapers in the week ending November 23. None that I’m aware of has expressed any contrary view. Nor has any mainstream political party. Haass is presented on all sides as an all-round good guy, with the best of benign intentions towards Ireland.
Even folk with a generally sceptical attitude towards George W. Bush appear to hold Haas in high esteem. Bush’s crowd may be a bad lot as far as Iraq, Palestine, the environment etc. is concerned. But, fair’s fair, the guy who handles Ireland for him seems AOK, does a good job striving patiently to prop up the peace.
A load of baloney, of course. Richard Haass is a well-mannered thug.
On November 11, 2000, just after Al Gore’s victory in the US election but before judges appointed by Ronald Reagan engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Bush’s brother Jeb to rob the presidency from the people, Haass, in a lengthy article in the influential specialist journal, Foreign Affairs, set out his thoughts on the role of the US in the new world opening up.
Haass’ starting point is that “the United States is first among unequals. This is and will likely remain a world of distinct American primacy. No country or group of countries will be in a position to balance American economic, military, and cultural power for the foreseeable future.”
The “fundamental question” is, what should the US do with this “surplus of power”. Haass reckons that US policy-makers should keep in mind that while “other countries and non-state actors” might not be able to match the might of the US, some will, inevitably, eventually, in various ways, try to cock a snoot at US hegemony. Prudent measures should be put in place to counter any such challenge.
From what cess-pools of political evil might these threats emerge? Haass lists four likely suspects: Osama Bin Laden; “George Soros and one of his hedge funds”; Amnesty International; and the International Criminal Court.
As to the methods the US might have to deploy to counter these malign entities, Haass offered the thought that “De Tocqueville’s judgment that democracy is ill-suited for the conduct of foreign policy goes double for world leadership.”
The new world order which the US must lead towards has a number of “fundamental building blocks”. Among the most crucial is “economic openness,” defined “not only by the movement of goods, capital, and services across national lines but also by openness within states, i.e., transparent markets that favor private sector activities.”
Mature democracies, Haass allows, might be expected to work these matters out for themselves. “Alas, the same cannot be said for immature democracies, which are all too prone to being captured by nationalist forces. Still, promoting democracy should be a consideration for foreign policy, but not a fundamental one, given that other vital interests often must take precedence.”
The “other vital interests” include “civil society and the market.”
The market. Everywhere you look in the world according to Haass, there’s the market.
A free-market world of distinct American primacy, however desirable, will not come about of its own accord, Haass warns. “Building and maintaining such an order would require sustained effort by the world’s most powerful actor, the United States. For it to be successful would in turn require that Americans re-conceive their role from one of a traditional nation-state to an imperial power.”
“An imperial power!?” Not to worry. Haass goes on to explain that, “An imperial foreign policy is not to be confused with imperialism.” (Phew!)
How would this non-imperialist imperial foreign policy work?
“The US role would resemble 19th century Great Britain. Influence would reflect the appeal of American culture, the strength of the American economy, and the attractiveness of the norms being promoted as much as any conscious action of US foreign policy. Coercion and the use of force would normally be a last resort; what was written by John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson about Britain a century and a half ago, that ‘The British policy followed the principle of extending control informally if possible and formally if necessary,’ could be applied to the American role at the start of the new century.”
Or, as Gallagher and Robinson didn’t put it – “Kiss my ass and I won’t blow your fucking brains out.”
Will the rest of world accept US dominance of a global free market? Haass seems confident. “Both Russia and China clearly want to be seen as great powers, as members of the inner circle of those shaping international relations. Only by working with the United States can they avoid the emergence of a pattern in which they and the UN Security Council are bypassed.”
Russia, China and the United Nations can kiss our ass, too. Or we’ll blow their fucking brains out as well.
Might the US find itself overstretched as it undertakes these huge responsibilities? “To be sure, there is always the risk that a great power will exhaust itself by doing too much. The greater risk facing the United States at this juncture, however, is that it will squander the opportunity to bring about a world supportive of its core interests by doing too little. Imperial understretch, not overstretch, appears the greater danger.”
Islamic extremism, maverick capitalism, international law and human rights tossed onto the same refuse heap... A world of distinct American primacy upon which the sun shall never set... Irish political leaders putting their petty differences aside as they bow their heads in unison to imperial inevitability... Cowen, Trimble, Adams, Durkan. The Indo, An Phoblacht, the Irish News, the Newsletter... Like subaltern princes of dusty lands, local squabbles temporarily suppressed, pledging fealty to the Empress from over the water...Welcome to the world of Richard Haass.
Perched on my pew at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, as the British Army’s case to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry falls apart, my eye strays toward reports of another tribunal involving the Parachute Regiment.
An Employment Tribunal in Norwich has been hearing evidence from Hackney, London, man Timur Kalayaci. A Muslim from a Turkish background, Timur’s boyhood dream was to join the paras. He believed the romantic tales of a life a derring-do serving queen and country in exotic lands, enjoying the respect and camaraderie of the elite regiment. He excelled in training and was marked down as “officer material”.
Last September, however, Timur was discharged, diagnosed as suffering from severe stress. At the tribunal, he has been describing months of racist abuse and threats orchestrated by para officers.
He says he was headbutted by a fellow para, that a sergeant held a knife to his throat and threatened his life, that he was regularly called “nigger”, “Paki” and “coon”, that a corporal threw a bottle of correction fluid at him and said, “You’re not British, go and put this over your body.”
Timus also says that an official complaint which he made after members of the regiment made two attempts to run him over was ignored.
Some clues here, perhaps, to the making of the men who erupted into the Bogside on January 30, 1972?