‘War aimed at changing ME regimes’
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: The consequences of the invasion of Iraq are likely to be “mixed” and “possibly catastrophic,” according to Joseph Cirincione, director of the non-proliferation project at the Carnegie Endowment for International peace, one of the principal think tanks in America.
In a brief analysis, he maintains that there are four likely consequences of what he calls “America’s first pre emptive war”. For “administration hawks,” he believes, Iraq is the beginning, not the end. Iraq is the start of a plan to change all the regimes in the Middle East. In support of this view, he quotes Richard Perle, an important member of the Bush “thinking machine” who said some time ago that if Saddam could be removed so could other “tyrants.”
Cirincione is of the view that the mass movements in the wake of the war are likely to be anti-American, nor pro-democracy. Arab citizens, already inflamed over what they consider brutal military assaults of the Sharon government will see American troops as “Israeli reinforcements, not Iraq’s liberators.” Fatwas are already flowing from mainstream clerics urging Muslims to resist the US-led invasion. He is of the opinion that while there are no “credible connections” between Baghdad and al Qaeda, in Bush’s mind the two are one. “But the war, whatever the outcome, will likely increase both amateur and organised terrorism. Much of the terrorism will be spontaneous outrage at the invasion and deaths, striking out at close by identifiable American targets,” he adds.
The Carnegie scholar says never before has a US President so scorned world opinion as Bush, adding, “The United Nations and NATO will never be the same. They and other multilateral institutions are now under pressure from both sides. US conservatives have already targeted the United Nations for destruction.” He notes that of the 200 countries in the world, while the US claims support from 40 of them, the people of almost all those nations have actually opposed the attack on Iraq in “overwhelming numbers.” If the war goes well, he adds, world publics may fear emboldened postwar US intentions even more. The Bush doctrine seems likely to generate exactly the anti-US coalitions that it was designed to discourage.
Cirincione believes that if inspections in Iraq had been allowed to work, it would have been seen as a “tremendous victory” for Bush and as the world’s enforcement of international treaties. “This is now Bush’s war, a highly personal vendetta and exercise in raw power. Worse to justify war, the Bush administration has disparaged inspections, thus undercutting future applications in Iran and North Korea. But the impact may be more immediate.”
He argues that if the Iraq was destabilised Pakistan, nuclear weapons, materials and scientists may flow to other nations or terrorist groups. North Korea, ignored during the crisis, may go overtly nuclear, pushing nuclear ambitions in South Korea or even Japan. Iraqi military officers or scientists, fearing war crime trials, may flee invading US troops carrying their knowledge or even weapons with them to other nations and groups.
The Carnegie expert argues that the “bold stroke” so long sought by Bush administration hawks has now hammered not only Saddam Hussein’s regime, but the international institutions so patiently constructed by Democrats and Republicans over the past 60 years. “It will destabilise the region, increase terrorism, decrease alliance unity and make the spread of deadly weapons more likely without measurably increasing our national security,” he concludes.