Sunday, July 23, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" part xiii


This section pretty much writes itself--the thrust of American foreign policy has been the same since WWII; The Soviet Union and the Communist threat were nothing but a convenient excuse for American interference in other nations; the failure in Vietnam taught the U.S. that it is easier to arm a guerilla army and destabilize a country covertly rather than install and prop up a pro-American regime overtly; the fall of the U.S.S.R. and the decline of terrorism in the 1980s worried U.S. elites who needed a new threat to act as a pretext; the solution was to tie intervention to the spread of American ideals; the people who developed these ideas often later worked for the last few Administrations; the 'new world order' calls for a weakening of national sovereignty; humanitarian intervention as a policy was a solution in search of a problem--and Kosovo finally gave its authors a chance to make it happen.

I have to pause my rather glib (that's just about what this boilerplate rehash of a section deserves) with this quote:

"The relatinship between Afghanistan in 1979 and Kosovo in 1999 is uncanny. In both cases, out in front there was the discourse on human rights, and in the background, drug traffickers, retrograde clan warlords, and even Osama bin Laden."

Well, Afghanistan and Kosovo are both mountainous areas with largely Muslim populations, so there's that. One really needs to squint--hard--and deliberately shut out the plentitude of differences, and the historical contexts, to make this parallel seem "uncanny," or front-and-center.

You also need to mix up your chronology quite a bit--something Balkan genocide revisionists are quite adept at. And lets say you DO want to focus on the parallels: Well then, Ms. Johnstone, were the Soviets the rightful rulers and/or liberators in Afghanistan, or was the Serbian police and army unjust invadors in Kosovo?

Then this:

"It is noteworthy that until the 11 September attacks, the United States had consistently chosen to ally with the most obscurantist fundamentalist Islamic fanatics, whose center is Saudi Arabia, against nationalist secular governments."

I don't know about "consistantly"--the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt might have something to say about that--but it is true that the U.S. supported the mujahideen in Afghanistan to combat the Soviets, to the detriment of the Afghan people. This was, of course, exactly the kind of realpolitik Johnstone was implicity endorsing a few pages ago.

"Islamic fundamentalism is compatible for U.S. globalization in that it cares nothing for national boundries and does not threaten to establish national governments that can serve as a progessive model of alternative development."

She wrote this, I hasten to add, after the September 11 attacks. Enough said.

"The plight of Afghan women was of no concern to the Western chamions of "human rights" so long as the enemy was the Soviet Union, whose support of the education of girls and women incurred the muderous wrath of the U.S.-backed "freedom fighters." "

There is no righting-of-past-wrongs in Johnstone's world; the present always must pay for the sins of the past. And, I would add, the plight of Afghan women was of no concern to Ms. Johnstone when she criticized the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban just a few pages ago.

1 comment:

Owen said...

The word "uncanny" is like a man waving a red flag as warning of something odd following immediately behind him.