It’s a good question even if the answer is obvious to all but the most die-hard neocons. Ian Williams of the Asia Times tries to answer it without belaboring that obvious answer.
Former United Nations secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who unsuccessfully tried to teach US secretary of state Madeleine Albright the art of statecraft, once noted that neither the Roman Empire nor the US had any patience for diplomacy, which is “perceived by an imperial power as a waste of time and prestige and a sign of weakness”.However, as the Goths, Huns and Vandals, among others, demonstrated soon enough, this was a dangerous misperception for the Romans and is currently proving equally dangerous for the Americans.
[N]o one would accuse either the Bush or even the Clinton administration of Cartesian logic in its recent policy formulations. Indeed, what makes recent US foreign policy so anomalous is how often it is in violation of any rational national interest, let alone of abstract moral and legal principles.In this less than perfect world, real powers with real problems will occasionally bend and stretch the rules, but this administration has gone further. It has challenged the rules themselves, and denied their normative power.
The doctrine of preemptive strikes and unilateral action, and the scorn for the United Nations and its Charter, represented a fundamental threat to the very global order that the US did so much to bring about in 1945.
He sounds surprised. The truth is that that challenge was the whole point of the policy: to prove that the neocon fantasy of American domination is feasible. As with what eagle2 used to call ‘Rocco’s Gang’–a reference to the movie ‘Key Largo’–enough is never enough, more is never enough, they will never feel ‘secure’ or that the country is secure until they own or run everything. As long as there is a perceived enemy or a perceived profit to be made, they will be grabbing for more, more, always more. They will tell us, they will tell themselves that it’s ‘necessary’, ‘the way of the world’, or, more baldly, ‘we deserve it because we’re the greatest country on earth and who should have it if we don’t?’ They will use the excuses of safety, economic survival, and peace but what they will mean is global destabilization, economic ruin for everybody else, and peace at the point of a gun if necessary–and they’ll make sure it is.
Ian is asking the wrong question, in a way. It doesn’t matter whether they’re clever enough; what matters is that they’re strong enough and willing enough to try to do what every empire-dreamer has longed to do since the beginning of civilization: own and operate the planet for their own benefit, which they will assume–and believe–means for our benefit no matter how often and how loudly we tell them that we’re not interested. Daddy knows best. And if he doesn’t? He’ll be holding the gun, so it amounts to the same thing.
They won’t do it because they’re smart enough. They’ll do it because they can and there’s nobody around who can stop them.