It has only been a little over a year since the attack on Saddam Hussein began and, according to a survey by Oxford Research International published a few days ago in The Economist, most Iraqis say things are better compared to ‘when they were worse’. More than 70% of them are convinced life will only get better in the year-ahead.
But among non-Iraqis, a minority known as Cassandras continues to ignore the benefits brought on by the end of the dictatorship. Like Cassandra, the daughter of Priam, King of Troy, who despite her gift of prophecy was condemned never to be believed, this small tribe, on its way to extinction, scattered across various European metropolises is pursuing a policy of overt war-mongering propaganda. This even when the average Iraqi understands that the worst is past and the war is over.
But the war is not over in Chirac’s Europe which, while recognising the simple prophecy of a multi-polar world as true, is open to any servility towards any power which is an ‘alternative’ to the ‘rivals’ on the other side of the Atlantic.
For months, Chirac’s Europe and tribe of Cassandras have tried to encourage Europeans to get hold of rainbow peace flags of doubtful taste, in the name of "another world", of "international law", "European diversity" or "cultural relativism," in name of the ‘ignoble lies’ of the Empire, ‘stability’." All in the name of what has inappropriately been called ‘peace’. But one year on, what concrete political action has Europe taken in the name of peace? What alternative does it present to the oh so hated ‘regime change’ of those awful Neoconservatives?
Chinese grandeur and French cynicism
Chechyna is possibly the icon of European ‘peace’ where the strategic partnership with the Tzar Putin prevents Europeans from taking any stand. If ‘peace’ means silence, then silence there has been on the kidnapping of 17 relatives of Umar Khanbiev, the exiled Chechen Minister for Health. There is silence over the numerous difficulties facing the freedom of movement for Chechen exiles. There is total silence in that small corner of Europe where, for once, Chirac seems to think like Bush.
But this idea of ‘peace’ does not mean inertia. At times even Europeans show their teeth. Paris superbly took the opportunity to launch their first joint navel manoeuvres with the Beijing fleet during one of the tensest moments in the relationship between the Chinese dictator and the small Republic of Taiwan. It was on the eve of a nexus of events: extremely tight presidential elections, a referendum on the fate of Chinese-Taiwanese relations and a failed assasination against the outgoing President and his Vice President. Between unruly Communist China and the precarious if viable democracy that is Taiwan, the choice could not have been more inopportune and explicit.
‘Cultural diversity’ according to Brussels
As for ‘soft power’, while the United States was launching Al Hurra, an Arabic language programme, the European Culture Commissioner Viviane Reding, during a session of the European Parliament, was singing the praises of China as a model for ‘cultural diversity’. It has been well known for years that the Chinese authorities’ enthusiasm for cultural diversity is clearly evident in the fading native cultures of Tibet and East Turkestan. China, a country where ongoing censorship deprives hundreds of millions of brains of creative spiritual nourishment.
One year ago Europeans took to the streets demonstrating in the name of a Europe which refuses to take part in certain wars. But today this same Europe continues to finance dictators, turning a blind eye to ongoing violation of fundamental democratic rights. It welcomes its tyrannical friends as Emperors. This Europe is incapable of sustaining the democratic movements desired by people on the other side of the Mediterranean over fundamentalism. It is a Europe which, if it could, would have no scruples in supplying weapons to the worst regimes. Every month it puts to the vote lifting the weapons embargo with China.
If there were a World Organisation for Democracy it would give first prize for cynicism to this Europe which so shamelessly preaches ‘peace’, multi-lateralism and ‘international law' but ignores these precepts when it suits her. Even the pacifist hordes would admit it if the Cassandras spoke their mind every so often and told the truth – the whole truth – without any embellishment.