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The Slippery Slope of Regime Change

Doubters of Paul Wolfowitz's brave new world preemption/regime change policy continue to rear their ugly heads, challenging the wisdom and design of the doctrine that President Bush has chosen to link his presidency with.

This time the doubters are not in “old Europe”, but right here in North America. First it was Vicente Fox, Mexico's President. Now it's Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister of Canada. Having first attempted to forge a compromise this week in regard to the amount of time the U.N. inspectors in Iraq would have to document Iraqi non-compliance, only to have it summarily rejected by the U.S., a clearly annoyed Chretien asked a question that most sane observers both inside and outside of the U.S. have to be asking at the moment: "If you start changing regimes, where do you stop, this is the problem. Who is next? Give me the list, the priorities." Chretien added, zeroing in on the little problem of an ever-shifting bull's-eye in regard to the U.S.' & Britain's diplomatic efforts, "I think that if I read 1441, it's talking about disarmament of the government of Saddam Hussein. That is the resolution that we are working on. If you read it, it is not talking about a regime change".

Putting aside the specific issue of Resolution 1441, we should all be as interested in receiving an answer to Chretien's first question as he is. Just what are the principles that will govern this new policy of regime change? Will they be completely subjective? That is, X is an evil dictator and I don't like his looks; or, will these principles have very specific tests – like the possession of WMDs, the absence of free elections, documentation of specific, long-term human rights abuses (and presentation of such before either the United Nations or the World Court), a history of threats and acts of aggression against neighbors, etc.? Clearly, these tests will have to be very carefully, and artfully, constructed, lest they immediately qualify current Security Council members as candidates for regime change, not to mention a whole host of nations not currently engaged in hostilities with either U.N. forces or the United States itself. As part of this process, will the United States suggest that all nations completely eliminate their storehouses of WMDs, including their nuclear arsenals? If so, will it also insist on its right to keep its own WMDs...just in case?

The Pax Americana vision of Paul Wolfowitz postulates that military supremacy is to henceforth be official United States policy - without quite specifying how this supremacy will be paid for in the coming era in which the Social Security/Medicare time bomb is slated to explode, and when nations such as China or Russia inevitably decide that they don't quite like the idea of being perpetually at the mercy of the good intentions of any given United States administration. One would think that the coupling of two in-your-face foreign policy doctrines like regime change and perpetual military superiority is likely to spur, rather than stem, an escalation of international tensions, and with them, both dramatically increased military spending and an even wider proliferation of WMDs. But, clearly, interpersonal and collective psychology – or even a vague notion of the tell-tale signs of obsession and trauma-induced insanity - isn't an area of expertise of the current Bush Administration.

Matthew Carnicelli, © 2003. All rights reserved.