When empires become overconfident
By Jalal Al Mashta
Japan Today - February 27, 2003:
What the U.S. is doing today is merely a repetition of what has happened
already several times in history, starting with Alexander the Great and
ending with Adolph Hitler.
When empires become overconfident and their power starts expanding, this
expansion defuses their power and increases the number and intensity of
enmity against them. This setback is not restricted to superpowers, but
reaches anyone whose muscles expand to the point of seeing his brains
Iraq suffered this illness when its leadership resorted to its muscles
rather than its brains when dealing with its enemies. It fought two
destructive wars instigated by the "disease of power." Men have tried to
place moral and legal conditions to curb this "disease," and they are
sometimes enforced effectively, and even excessively, as in the case of
On the other hand, these restraints are sometimes ignored, as is the case
with Israel. However, the American "disease" is more serious, in that it
is the patient and the doctor at the same time, and its intentions in
Iraq will lead to removing all the international restrictions and
heighten the disease of power to the extent that it will threaten the
entire human body, including the U.S.
The institutions on which American democracy rests should normally play
their role in treating this disease; as for the elite, or the country's
brains, they were supposed to curb the recklessness of muscles. But this
never happened, or the efforts that were made were wasted. It could be
argued that the Bush administration did not find a serious opposition to
achieve aims, which the majority controlling Washington agrees on. But
the way these aims are being pursued does not point to considerable
intelligence. It split the world among those who support America and
those who oppose it.
Most probably, there is an inverted relationship between brains and power
in the U.S. It is today the most powerful country in the world, and its
military budget equals the combined budgets of the 20 countries that come
after it; but its current president has nothing of Franklin Roosevelt or
John Kennedy. He is even different from President George Bush 41. His
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "succeeded" in driving the Europeans
to intensify their opposition to the war, by using expressions that are
close to insults.
This situation is reflected in all sectors in the U.S., from business to
popular culture. Enron, which burst like a soap bubble, is the rule and
not the exception in a country that used to boast such giant companies,
which were founded by men such as Ford, Morgan, Rockefeller and others.
The U.S. used to excel in the games of political chess, yet today it
wants to change the rules of the game so as to ensure its victory.
America, which has an extensive nuclear arsenal and a developed economy
and advanced technology, lacks the brains to put some sense into that