Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Okay, it was partly the weather, partly hormones (allayed partly by sour-cream and onion potato chips, a glass of white and a good cry), and mostly this which got me down yesterday:

The Vanity of Power.

Six years have gone by since the September 11th attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington which burst open the contradiction between America superpower and vulnerability. For the first time since the war with Great Britain in 1812, the United States were attacked on their own soil*. They acted as a "hyperpower," looking to drag their allies, and, beyond that, the entire international community into a total war against terrorism.

They succeeded in forming the "Coalition of the Willing" to fight the Taliban, who'd welcomed and supported Bin Laden. They failed at recreating this alliance when they wanted to take Saddam Hussein down by force. The quasi-spontaneous solidarity of which they were the objects the day after September 11th, 2001 was reduced to, at best, mistrust, at worst hostility. The popularity of the United States and its President was never weaker worldwide.

In increasing surveillance and not hesitating to limit individual liberties (especially those of foreigners on their soil), the Americans have, until present, managed to save themselves from other Al-Qaida attacks. This does not mean that they have become any more invulnerable than other democracies. Six years after September 11th, 2001, they are just barely less vulnerable and are no longer all-powerful. If the United states is still the strongest militarily, their power runs up against, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, the harsh realities of guerrilla warfare. The technological revolutions in military affairs does not appear to be any more adapted to this situation than large battalions.

The political side of things over the past six years have not been particularly stellar, either. The Utopian idea of democratization of the Middle East has gotten stuck in the sands of Mesopotamia. On the other hand, the "Axis of Evil" has been strengthened with the Iran of Ahmadinejad. He looks to profit from the unpopularity of Americans and of the West in general, which he judges to be on the defensive everywhere - from Afghanistan to Palestine. Persuaded that George W. Bush, caught in the morass of Iraq, cannot engage in another conflict, he continues his nuclear program paying no mind to warnings and sanctions.

The American president is convinced that the present difficulties are but passing incidents in the scheme of things, and that History will do him justice. While waiting, he puts other western democracies and his allies in the most uncomfortable position: that between disapproval of a dangerous politic and petitioning the friendship of a great people who are mistaken.


La Liberation and Marianne (France's Guardian and Independent) had the tact to lay off, since they probably couldn't say anything remotely nice. I guess I'd have expected better of Le Monde.

Of course, the roles played and methods used to bring us to this point are not aboive debate. What's really getting to me is (aside from the historical innacuracies/rewrites...don't even get me started on France's part in all this since around the late 18th century) the clear relish with which the writer regards the takedown of the great, mistaken hegemony.

Having heard first-hand from practically 9/11/01 that we may well have deserved this from some members of my European contingent**, I can personally attest to there never having been much good will to squander. Reading this brings up the memories of the trauma of that day (as well as other traumas), makes my mind reel and my stomach churn.

(Had to give it a day before I could look at it again to translate, as the anger was giving me a headache.)

* Pretty major error in the second sentence. I wonder if this is a record.

** Really poor taste given the time and place.

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