The View From Outside

Monday, August 15, 2005 at 08:07 AM

I'm sure this makes me an "America Hater" in the eyes of the far right, but....while Washington raises the alarm over the axis of evil and nuclear development programs, all dutifully reported by the media, there's a lot less attention paid to the possible reasons that the rest of the world (1) finds the US position hypocritical, and (2) thinks that developing nuclear weapons may be the only way they can feel safe from attack.

On the first point:
The article "US is urged to back 2 nuclear treaties--Lack of support may increase risk, diplomats say," By Bryan Bender in the 3/14/05 Boston Globe is one of the few mainstream media pieces about our own country's attitude toward nuclear proliferation and testing. see

My understanding is that we are in the process of developing new nuclear weapons, which would obviously entail additional nuclear testing.

There was also a report in 2002, reissued in 2003, on the overall retreat of the US from international agreements on all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, and biological.  The Report is titled "Rule of Power or Rule of Law? An Assessment of U.S. Policies and Actions Regarding Security-Related Treaties," and was compiled by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy. table of contents, description, and some portions of the report are available at

From the publisher's press release on that report:
"The United States has violated, compromised, or acted to undermine in some crucial way every treaty that we have studied in detail," said Nicole Deller, principal editor and co-author of the report. "Recent shifts of U.S. policy toward greater reliance on military force, including nuclear weapons, as the main component for securing the people of the United States from a variety of threats sets a dangerous course and a poor example." Ms. Deller, a lawyer, was a consultant to IEER and LCNP during the preparation of the report.

On the second point, I recall that an Iraqi officer was interviewed while the initial battle for Iraq was underway, and said something to the effect that there simply was nothing that his military, equipped as they were, could do to resist the US and Britain, equipped as they were, and that having nuclear weapons would be their only hope.

The issue should certainly be viewed in light of the increasingly frequent claims from political pundits that the US is an Empire, should be an Empire, and, in fact, has a duty to be an Empire.  This view is openly advocated on right wing blogs and web sites; see, for example, "Why war in Iraq is right for America," by Benjamin Shapiro, 8-11-05, stating that "we are unquestionably the world's only superpower, the world's remaining empire"

It is advocated by people bearing mainstream neoconservative credentials, such as Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; see for example,  "The Case for American Empire; The most realistic response to terrorism is for America to embrace its imperial role," by Max Boot, in the 10-15-01 issue of The Weekly Standard. []  Mr. Boot advocates beefing up our military with foreigners, whose reward would be citizenship in the US.  He also wrote in the Wall Street Jounral that he was "looking forward to a new era when America, like the British Empire, will always be fighting some war, somewhere, against someone."

My understanding is that this view first raised its head in any respectable forum in 1992, with a confidential military report.  If memory serves, this would have been when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense.  It's my understanding that the Pentagon initially rejected the notion of America as the world's policeman.

This was followed by the Project for a New American Century's manifesto (the groups Statement of Principles), dated June 3, 1997,  urging just such a role on the US.  see That was signed by several names that are now familiar from reading the major newspapers,  including: Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney,  I. Lewis Libby,  Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

And, of course, there's every reason to believe that while public talk of an American Empire is new, the necessary infrastructure has long been around.  According to The Economist, "America's defence spending, over $450 billion in 2004, may soon equal that of every other country combined..."

When "they"--foreigners, strangers, all those "outside" the swirl of the US--look in at us, they are seeing these
things.  And they seem them in light of our President's many statements about smoking "them" out, hunting "them" down, etc.  They see them in light of Abu Ghraib and the interrogations at Gitmo and in Afghanistan.  They see them in light of Ann Coulter's advice to invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.  They see them in light of increasing evidence that we ardently manipulated and misrepresented reality in order to go to war in Iraq.  They see them in light of our fervent attack upon our "old" allies like France and Germany who do not toe the US line.  They see them, in short, in a very, very bad light.