Youssef M. Ibrahim: Neo-cons, Part II
Gulf News - 6 August 2004:
For three years the world fumed over the chauvinism, arrogance and policies of Republican neo-conservatives (neo-cons as they are known) riding over George W. Bush's administration. They advocated regime changes and wars-of-choice. They dumped the western alliance, forged even stronger bonds with Israel, dropping the Palestinians altogether, and occupied Iraq.
But for those millions, who aspire to better days under a Democratic administration led by Senator John Kerry, think again. The Democratic Party's neo-con vampires are a lot worse than the current ones - the second movie could be more frightening than the first.
One of the Democratic Party neo-con intellectual gurus, Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations has proposed in a New York Times Opinion-Editorial a few months ago the partition of Iraq, stirring quite a fuss, but no real objection by anyone of weight inside the Kerry camp.
Gelb's answer to how American troops get out of Iraq is to split it into three states: Shiites in the South, Kurdish in the North and one Sunni state in the middle. Then American troops can leave a new mess, and say bye-bye.
Another major guru of the Democratic neo-cons, Peter W. Galbraith, wrote a huge analysis in the New York Review of Books on May 13 (volume 51-number 8) in which he argued this model would "solve" many of the contradictions of modern Iraq.
"The Shiites could have their Islamic republic, while the Kurds could continue their secular traditions. Alcohol would continue to be a staple of Kurdish picnics while it would be strictly banned in Basra... The three-state solution would permit the United States to disengage from security duties in most of Iraq," Galbraith asserted. Of course, America would keep some American military bases - just in case.
Never mind that such a solution would result in shifting out major segments of populations, like the two million Shiites living in Baghdad's Sadr city district, as well as hundred of thousands of Sunnis Arabs from Kurdistan and from the South. Far worse, it is a guaranteed formula for a bloody civil war, the destabilisation of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait next door and the entry of Iran into this mess.
The rest of the democratic neo-cons world vision is even more frightening. For the Greater Middle East, their view is to appoint Israel in effect the American pro-consul for the Arab world by supplying it with more military and financial aid while diminishing such aid to Egypt and other Arab countries.
This would permit Israel to complete its ongoing takeover of the West Bank of Jordan and squeezing most Palestinians into a tiny pseudo state in Gaza whose land, sea and sky borders would be under Israeli control - a cage in which the Palestinians can rot. They will not be able to fly, sail or drive in or out of it without Israeli permission. Nor will they have open borders with Egypt or Jordan.
The other chief target in the Democratic neo-cons crosshair is Iran. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in America, has made it clear to both Republicans and Democrats that Iran must be contained again because after the demise of Iraq it remains the only danger to Israel.
Among other things, AIPAC has asked that Iran be stripped of nuclear research facilities and that sanctions be imposed on Russia if it continues to help Iran in this area.
In fact, the Greater Middle East strategy of Democratic neo-cons is the same as the existing ones: what is good for Israel is good for America. It goes without saying that establishing diplomatic relations with Israel by all Arab countries will become a must for maintaining friendly relations with America.
The next target is the "reform" of Muslim countries and Muslim doctrines. The "war against terror" will become the war against Islam in various forms, targeting school programmes, religious education, public institutions, economic reforms, all under the guise of human rights, free economy and democracy.
There is nothing wrong with more democracy - God knows this region can use it - as long as it is not a Trojan horse for more control by the west and Israel.
Finally, Europe, both new and old, must be neutralised in the sense of understanding it cannot and will not have any influence that is separate or different from America's. This of course will include new pressures to bring an increasingly independent Russia back into line.
In the view of Democratic neo-cons, Vladimir Putin the Russian president, is far too independent for their taste. Russia cannot be allowed to rise again as an industrial, strategic or even oil power.
Russian oligarchs, many of whom happen to be strong supporters of Israel, have already been cultivated and "prepped", as they say, to use both their money and influence in support of the taming of Putin, or, his removal in favour of a more pliant Russian leader. Economic sanctions and such threats should, the Democratic neo-cons believe, be invoked too if necessary.
So if you are upset about the current movie "Republican Vampires" watch out for part two, "Democratic Vampires". Things could get scarier.
Youssef M. Ibrahim , a former Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and Energy Editor of the Wall Street Journal, is Managing Director of the Dubai-based Strategic Energy Investment Group, a consulting firm specialising in assessing political risk in the Gulf, Middle and Near East region. He can be contacted at ymibrahimgulfnews.com