Terrorisme, guerre, mondialisation, démocratie...
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Après le 11 sept. 01


Charles Moore , The Daily Telegraph (6 February 2003)
Why Washington's hawks see further than Europe's doves

In the 1991 Gulf war, Colin Powell famously advocated that America should not travel the road to Baghdad. Yesterday at the UN, he travelled the road to Damascus. The outstanding "dove" of both Bush administrations, who, well into last year, worried that America did not have the evidence to justify an attack on Iraq, presented that evidence to the world.

Precisely because he appears to have the zeal of the convert, Mr Powell was the right man for the job. Most European politicians are Powellites, not Bushies. They think that Mr Powell is a sane and moderate man of the world, whereas George W. Bush is ignorant and Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, is hard-faced and Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, is positively frightening. Mr Powell, therefore, is the man to drop them a rope to help them up the steep learning curve that he has himself climbed.

Well, Mr Powell is indeed sane and moderate, and he was brilliantly persuasive yesterday, but the European elites will continue to misread the situation if they suppose that it is Mr Powell who drives the policy and does the thinking. The Foreign Office and the Quai D'Orsay hate to recognise it, but the "hawks" are not hicks. It is those hawks - chiefly Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz - who thought about all this first. And it is those who are first with the ideas who tend to shape events.

Every time I go to Washington - I returned from there this week - I find a seriousness and depth of thought about terror, the Middle East and the nature of power that, whether one agrees with it or not, is not matched by an alternative vision this side of the Atlantic.

As long ago as the 1980s, thinkers such as Andrew Marshall, the head of the Office of Net Assessment in the Pentagon, were predicting the global re-ordering that would follow the end of the Cold War. They spoke of what has been termed the "revolution in military affairs", in which technology mattered much more for Western superiority, and the enemies of the West, unable to win any spending race, would resort increasingly to terrorism.

This fused with a political analysis. As long as ago as the 1970s, Wolfowitz was warning (in a document still classified today) of the international threat posed by Saddam Hussein. He saw the Middle East as a crucible in which were commingled the hatred of America and Britain, the resentments of an Arab world whose politics prevented both democracy and economic progress, the loathing of Israel and the adaptation of Islam for extreme political ends.

The hawks - and remember that the hawk is a bird that can see things from a long way off - thought that the threat of "asymmetric warfare" (ie terrorism, often by "non-state actors") was serious. They thought that fast-growing Muslim populations, whose proportion of young men both in Europe and in the Arab world far outweighs that of European Christians, would be drawn towards extremists.

They also saw how wretched was the lot of most of these Muslim populations and how corrupt were many of the "moderates" who ran their countries. If you like, they accepted certain elements of Osama bin Laden's analysis of an unstable, unequal world, though they detested his aims and remedies.

It followed from all this that the hawks were the only Westerners not surprised by September 11. The attacks that day fitted with how they thought the world was going, and they were therefore ready with the analysis and with the counter-attack. The "war against terrorism" and the "axis of evil" were not mere phrases - they were formulations of doctrine.

Because the hawks are so dark in their view of what is happening, European elites make two mistakes about them. The first is to suppose they are "gung-ho" and rush unilaterally into action. This is not so. President Bush got Nato and the world behind him before the attack on Afghanistan, and yesterday's performance by Mr Powell was only the latest whirl in a long diplomatic dance with the UN that, he hopes, will at last sweep even the French off their feet. Yes, America reserves its right to act unilaterally, but it bases its policy on the paradox that it is only by convincing people of your readiness to be unilateral that you can win multilateral support.

The second false analysis of the hawks' position is that, because it is fierce, it is pessimistic. If it has a fault, it is dangerously in the opposite direction. The hawks scorn the importance of preserving stability in the Middle East because they think it does not exist, except, as one of them put it to me last week, as the "stability of the graveyard".

They doubt the attempt to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians not because they think nothing can be done, but because they think the structure for negotiation must be rebased. Yasser Arafat cannot deliver peace because he remains committed to war; the Israeli settlements are certainly a problem, but they are not the problem.

Violence is the problem, and violence will continue if the Arab world and the EU continue to abet it, and if the Palestinian people are offered no beginnings of a plural society with institutions of law, property rights - and, as an eventual consequence, a proper ballot. That was what Mr Bush's speech on June 24 last year was all about.

As in Palestine, so in Iraq, the hawks reject the idea implicit in the views of the chancelleries of Europe that the only people who can effectively run the place are evil bastards. They think that the four million Iraqi exiles and most of the people still living in the place would like the chance of a civil society and, with help, could start building one.

To the European cynic, an Iraqi leader such as the head of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, who shares Western values, is a mere "saloniste". To the hopeful hawk, he is a big step in the right direction. And if Iraq can be reborn, the same optimist reasons, something similar might start to happen in all the broken polities of the Islamic world.

Is some of this rather starry-eyed? Perhaps. Is it a rhetoric that seeks to justify in moral terms the bald assertion of American power? Certainly. But if the conflict is between extremists who hate the West and want to destroy it and the political and cultural values that all European nations claim to share, why is it so wrong? And what, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroder, is the alternative?



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Dernière mise à jour: 12.02.2003

François Brutsch - Genève (Suisse) & London (UK)