The Twenty-year War: America Isn’t the End of History
By Walid Sharara – Al-Akhbar Newspaper
Translated by Staff
The “War on terrorism” has never been just ideological and devoid of a framework promoted by the imperial positions over the last two centuries to justify their expansion. However, “The Project for the New American Century” that had embraced September 11th attacks as a “historical opportunity” to establish the pillars of dominance was just a “monument of illusions, so it descended”. The US didn’t learn the lesson from Vietnam, so it insisted that it will win a war that became like a “religion.” It kept reproducing itself year after year, until fleeing became America’s last haven.
The function of the “War on Terrorism” ideology was no different from the preceding ideologies that were promoted by the imperial centers over the past two centuries to justify their expansion around the world and dominance over it. Starting from “The Civilizing Mission” and “The White Man’s Burden” that both emerged at the beginning of the 19th century, reaching the concept of “Anti-Communism” that appeared in the second half of the 20th century, such centers camouflaged their projects of invasion, occupation, and plunder with stories full of the same buzzwords about freedom versus tyranny, civilization versus barbarity, forgiveness against hatred, open-mindedness against isolationism and bias, and the like of such hallow concepts. And over two centuries, the “real” humans were humiliated and killed in the name of the “neutral man’s rights.”
The group that mostly comprised neoconservatives and formed the “War on Terrorism” ideology in the early 2000s, had established a center called “Project for the New American Century” on June 3rd, 1997. Such project was based upon an article in the Foreign Affairs magazine entitled “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy” by Robert Kagan and William Kristol. It was published in the summer of 1996, and it harshly criticized Bill Clinton administration’s approaches towards the foreign affairs, urging to go for more aggressive orientations that would consolidate the leading position of the US internationally regarding its “benign” dominance.
Twenty five people signed the center’s founding statement. Ten of these people, among them Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz held key posts in the George W. Bush’s first administration three years later. Reformulating the Middle East starting from Iraq as the main condition for enhancing Washington’s global dominance was the central idea proposed by this group.
When the attacks of September 11th, 2001 took place, the “historical opportunity” of putting this project in practice was provided. In an article written twenty years later, entitled “The Unexpected Gift from Bin Laden to China and Russia” and published in “Worldcrunch”, Dominique Moisi who is a French geopolitical expert and right-wing intellectual close to the circles of making decisions and fortune in the Euro-American West, cites the quote of Karl Marx in his famous book “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” that goes as “Men make their own history, but they don’t make it as they wish.” The word “men” according to Moisi refers to Al-Qaeda organization that failed in fulfilling its final goal of firing the US from the Islamic World and reviving the ‘Caliphate State’, with China and Russia as the primary real beneficiaries from the attacks and their consequences. But the French expert ignores the fact that this quote applies to what the neoconservatives, along with all the successive US administrations since the attacks, had done. The Middle East is really being reformulated, but against Washington’s plans, and the “Project for the New American Century” was a “monument of illusions that descended.”
The Lesson of Vietnam Forgotten
The global American dominance was based upon two main pillars: A qualitative military edge over all the countries and a spreading web of military bases (800 bases) in them, with a wide web of alliances that included many regimes, some of which in the southern countries served only as a local agency for Washington. Washington didn’t hesitate sending advisors or special units to help an agent or another, when necessary, but dominance and control were practiced remotely.
The first time this type of dominance was seriously shaken had been during the war on Vietnam, when the US involved tens of thousands of its troops in a long-term war and occupation that ended with a major defeat. “The Vietnam Hitch” resulting from the defeat led to open opportunities before the national liberation movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America that allowed them to accomplish a series of victories, similar to what happened in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, and Iran.
The key lesson that some people in the military association recognized at that time was the necessity of avoiding direct military involvement and seeking a remote victory. This paved the way for the huge investment in the so-called “Revolution in the military affairs” that assumed winning the war depending on the new technologies without direct fighting in battles. The first war on Iraq in 1991, under the pretext of liberating Kuwait, was a creative translation for this revolution. What made the Americans forget the painful “Vietnamese Lesson” were factors like the imperial arrogance that resulted from winning the cold war after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its communist system, in addition to a strong belief in the “supernatural” nature of the American power based on a blind confidence in the technological edge in the military and civil domains, and finally the unique pattern that became an everlasting horizon to all the humanity.
He who has noticed that the neoconservatives sought ‘Israelizing’ the external foreign policy after the September 11th attacks was not wrong. They tried to do that by defending concepts like “War on Terrorism”, “the proactive war”, and the long-lasting occupation of certain countries to prevent “the terrorists” from staying in power or returning to it. They did that to serve ‘Israel’ in the first place, and all of them are radical Zionists, as shown by many scholars and experts who had elaborated on the analysis of the backgrounds and reasons of the 2003 war on Iraq, considering it as an “optional, unnecessary” war.
This was proved by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their referential book “The ‘Israel’ Lobby and US Foreign Policy” published in 2008. Dismantling the Iraqi state to rebuild it under the supervision of the US occupation forces, overthrowing the Taliban regime, and “rebuilding a nation” have all required, at some point, re-waging a bloody high-cost war of counterinsurgency. Such policies plunged the US in the “muds” of the Middle East with long-term consequences that exist till this very day. The Resistance forces in the region along with resistance movements are working on reforming it away from Washington’s hands. This latter has forgotten the lesson from Vietnam and the gradual then accelerating rise of China and Russia.
Non-American New Era
Some weighty voices in the political class like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and Richard Hass have early warned of the consequences of plunging into the Middle East and neglecting the political, economic, and social dynamics taking place in other regions of the world, especially in countries eligible for competition at the same level with the US. Many assert that Barack Obama was aware of these facts when he decided to withdraw from Iraq at the end of 2011. He delivered his famous speech about “Turning to Asia” in 2012, yet he was unable to take the decision of withdrawing from Afghanistan despite his promise of that. He even sent thousands of troops to that country targeting insurgency.
He didn’t want to be accused of a withdrawal synonymous with admitting defeat, and so did Donald Trump. Joe Biden, however, has taken this decision, but the incidents seen by America’s enemies as well as friends in Kabul Airport will always stay in their memories.
“War on Terrorism” has ended. Washington finds itself today in front of two strategic competitors, one of them is China that enjoys economic and technological capabilities and a central position in the world capitalist economy, with an ascending strategic and military partnership with Russia that places it in a level far from that of the USSR.
Competition is at its climax in technology, where China has the pioneer role of developing it, as well as in the global capitalist system, which it is part of, in addition to military and strategic fields. Will the containment theory, inspired by an earlier era against an opponent that doesn’t have the same qualities and features, along with the arms race, succeed in curbing the rise of China? It isn’t fast to answer No to this question, if we take into consideration factors like the deep internal sociopolitical fracture in the US, the shaken confidence of its allies in it, and their reluctance to blindly follow it in a “crusade” against China and maybe Russia. Washington’s insistence on going for such plans instead of coming to agreements and arrangements with Beijing might be a new strategic fault that would strengthen its regression, as did the long-term consequences of the “War on Terrorism” in dispelling the “New American Century” illusions.