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World War IV - Introduction

Perhaps the most central conflict of the Cold War, probably the defining conflict, was the division of Germany. Thus, arguably, 09 November 1989 marked the end of the Cold War, as it marked the effective end of the division of Germany between east and west, and the end of the threat of a thermonuclear World War III. The Cold War era was characterized by what Jimmy Carter termed an "inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear". But this was also a well-founded fear of inadevertent escalation of a conflict with the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan may have talked the talk, but he did not walk the walk.

World War IV began within days of the end of World War III. On 15 December 1989, the National Assembly of Panama declared that a state of war existed with the United States. and adopted measures to confront foreign aggression. In the days that followed, service members and dependents were harassed, and a Marine lieutenant was killed. On 17 December 1989 the national command authority (NCA) directed the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to execute PLAN 90-2 - Operation Just Cause.

The United States has been at war continuously since. By 2014, the American legions have either been blowing someone up, getting ready to blow someone up, or coming back from blowing someone up. An entire generation of Americans has been born and come to maturity knowing of nothing but war.

The United States today is the only truly global power. Its military reach extends to every corner of the world. Its economic achievements fuel international trade and industry. Its political and cultural traditions and values appeal to people around the world. And while no one questions America's paramount position, many raise the issue of how the United States is trying to transform this unique power into sustainable influence.

The US is deemed the biggest threat to the world by a whole 24 percent of people around the globe, a poll by the reputed Gallup International suggested in March 2014. However, those lands that the West calls "focal points of evil and threat" hardly reached a little under ten percent of the vote, with Russia coming the very last in the rating. The poll was carried out in late 2013 as a part of the global research project "Global Barometer on Hope and Despair", with 70,000 respondents from 65 countries taking part. Every participant could name just one country either in the on-line vote, speaking to an interviewer personally, or, alternatively, by phone.

In almost all global macroregions the US topped the list of the most threatening countries. Among all nations Russians are most inclined to see the US in that way, 54 percent of those polled. In Asia the average vote for America reached 25 percent, in the Middle East - 33 percent, in Pakistan 44 percent, while the second highest disapproval rate was in China at 49 percent. Every region has its own "threat locus." Africans are thus most concerned about Somalia, whereas Israel is more worried about other Middle East states. Russia trails well behind all the rest of the "most threatening" countries, accounting for just two percent of votes on average. In the US and western Europe the percentage is a bit higher about three percent and five percent respectively.

September 11th may have marked the end of the age of geopolitics, defined by containment and balance of power. It also signaled the advent of a new age - the era of global politics, primarily focused on global threats. It has become a demarcation point for U.S. foreign policy, now rooted in the two new phenomena of the times catastrophic terrorism and American uni-polar power. Although America's pre-eminence began with the collapse of the Soviet Union over a decade ago, until Nine-eleven the United States did not see itself as a global policeman. Nine-eleven made it clear the United States had enemies capable and willing to inflict substantial damage to its interests at home and abroad.

These new threats to US and global security necessitate a rethinking of the organizing principles of international order, say analysts. But America's new assertiveness in setting standards, determining threats and using force many find harmful to the fabric of the international community and political partnerships. This new preventive doctrine negates the sovereignty of other nations by insisting on the right of the US to interdict other nations in advance of an act of aggression. The doctrine announced by the US is based on perception, possibilities, something that might happen or could happen. It announces the right of America to take up arms against another.

States have never abandoned the right of preemption, nor have proponents of multilateralism always acted under the framework of the United Nations. It is only recently that anyone has claimed the United Nations was the sole legitimator of international action. European states did not disagree several years ago when the United States and NATO acted in Kosovo without a UN sanction. Theorists argue that if there is superpower that throws its weight around, the result will be an incentive for other powers to gather together to check the hegemon. China is a rising power, and there is at least the possibility of Russia making some sort of resurgence. To avert such developments, US policies could go beyond an almost exclusive focus on achieving security through force.

Among rogue states, those most aggressively seeking to acquire or develop WMD and their means of delivery, are Iran and North Korea, followed by Libya and Syria. It is also the case that these states are among those the US identifies as state sponsors of terrorism. The Bush Doctrine aims not just to prevent the spread of WMD, but also to "roll back" and ultimately eliminate such weapons from the arsenals of rogue states, and ensure that the terrorist groups they sponsor do not acquire weapons of mass destruction.

In 2001 the US State Department identified seven countries -- Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria -- as sponsors of international terrorism. Prior to 2003 Iraq was a sponsor of anti-Israel terrorism. Among the terrorist groups that maintained offices in Baghdad are the Palestine Liberation Front and the Abu Nidal Organization. Iraq also supported the Mujahedin-e-Khalq's terrorism against Iran.

The primary target of Iranian-sponsored terrorism is peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Iran provides the terrorist groups Hizballah, HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command with weapons, funding, training, logistics, and safe haven. Iran is encouraging these groups to increase terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Iran also supports terrorist groups operating against Algeria and Turkey and permits Uzbek terrorists to broadcast over Iranian radio. Syria is another country that supports terrorist groups opposed to Israel. Syria gives safe haven and support to Fatah-the-Intifada, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, HAMAS, and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. Damascus serves as the primary transit point for weapons from Iran to Hizballah terrorists in Lebanon.

Sudan has expelled some terrorists, but it continues to harbor associates of the Afghanistan-based Al-Qaida terrorist organization, led by Usama bin Laden. Sudan also protects terrorists from the Egyptian group, al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and HAMAS. Libya continues to maintain links to terrorist groups like the Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Of the other state sponsors, North Korea is reported to have sold weapons to Philippine terrorists. And Cuba provides safe haven for Basque ETA terrorists. Cuba also has longstanding ties to Colombian terrorist groups.

In his State of the Union speech in January 2002, President Bush said "We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

In a major speeches defining the Bush Doctrine delivered on 01 June 2002 at West Point, Bush placed his ideas in historical context: "For much of the last century, America's defense relied on the cold-war doctrines of deterrence and containment. In some cases, those strategies still apply. But new threats also require new thinking. Deterrence-the promise of massive retaliation against nations-means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizen to defend.... Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons or missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies.... We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systematically break them. ... If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. . . . [T]he war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act."

In a prime time news conference on October 11, 2001, President Bush called Afghanistan the " first battle in the war of the 21st century. ... how long will this last? This particular battlefront will last as long as it takes to bring al Qaeda to justice. It may happen tomorrow; it may happen a month from now; it may take a year or two."

Norman Podhoretz argues that America should militarize the clash of civilizations, as it is George W. Bush's mission "to fight World War IV-the war against militant Islam." Podhoretz credits Eliot Cohen with the phrase "World War IV." Podhoretz suggests that after September 11th, "having previously been unsure as to why he should have been chosen to become President of the United States, George W. Bush now knew that the God to whom, as a born-again Christian, he had earlier committed himself had put him in the Oval Office for a purpose. He had put him there to lead a war against the evil of terrorism."

In March 2002, Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and President of The Project for a New American Century, declared that "for the US, the world really changed on September 11. ... We are no longer prepared to rely mainly on negotiations, trade pressures, arms control regimes and international institutions in order to solve critical world problems. The Israeli operation against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in Osirak is our new paradigm. Time is not on our side. We need to act soon, act preemptively, and act alone if necessary. Osirak is now the model of how foreign policy has to be conducted," said Kristol. Indeed, today the US is committed to forcing regime change in Iran, Iraq, and North Korea," continued Kristol. "We will be much more aggressive in pursuing this goal; no longer are we content to wait for history to work things through. Unfortunately, Europe does not yet seem to understand our new world. They wish to return to pre-September 2001 rules."

James Woolsey stated on 02 April 2003 at a speech at UCLA that the war on Iraq is the opening of a much-to-be-desired "Fourth World War" and that the governments of Iran and Syria are "America's enemies" in this war. Woolsey stated that "We are fighting "World War IV, a war that will last longer than World Wars I or II. As we move toward a new Middle East," Woolsey said, "we will make a lot of people very nervous," including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. "We want you nervous," said Woolsey. "We want you to realize that now, for the fourth time in 100 years, this country and its allies are on the march and that we are on the side of those whom you - the Mubaraks, the Saudi Royal family - most fear. We're on the side of your own people." A few days later, Woolsey suggested that "In World War IV, as was true in WW III, we must understand that different enemies require different tactics. South Korea in 1950 could only be saved by American military power, but Poland in the '80s required a very different touch. Freedom in Iran may well arrive in Polish guise."

Vice President Dick Cheney said on 13 May 2003 that "Clearly, we are locked in the kind of the struggle that will continue for a good many years, that calls upon the very best in the United States military.... The only way to deal with this threat ultimately is to destroy it. There's no treaty can solve this problem. There's no peace agreement, no policy of containment or deterrence that works to deal with this threat. We have to go find the terrorists.... the only sure way to security and stability and the protection of our people and those of our friends and allies is to go eliminate the terrorists before they can launch any more attacks. And this President is absolutely bound and determined to do that."

The US has adopted a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. President George W. Bush announced the policy on 06 November 2003, at a twentieth anniversary celebration of the National Endowment for Democracy. He celebrated the success of countries from Eastern Europe to Latin America, to parts of Asia and Africa that have moved from dictatorship to democracy. "In June of 1982, President Ronald Reagan spoke at Westminster Palace and declared the turning point had arrived in history. He argued that Soviet Communism had failed, precisely because it did not respect its own people...." But, President Bush said, "In many nations of the Middle East, countries of great strategic importance, democracy has not yet taken root ... "The questions arise: Are the people of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even to have a choice in the matter? I for one do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free. ... The advance of freedom is the calling of our time."

President George W. Bush says, the greatest security for the U.S. and for all countries comes from the advance of human freedom: ". . . because free nations do not support terror. Free nations do not attack their neighbors. Free nations do not threaten the world with weapons of mass terror. Americans believe that freedom is the deepest hope and need of every human heart. And I believe that freedom is the right of every person. And I believe that freedom is the future of every nation." The cause of freedom led the United States and a coalition of nations to liberate Iraq. Now, says Mr. Bush, the coalition is working to help the Iraqi people build a democratic country that is at peace with its neighbors -- an Iraq free of oppression, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism.

The great democratic movement got underway in the 1970s. Portugal, Spain, and Greece held free elections. By the 1980s, there were new democracies in Latin America, and free institutions were spreading in South Korea, Taiwan, and elsewhere in Asia. By the end of 1989, every Communist dictatorship in central Europe had collapsed. In 1990, the South African government released Nelson Mandela from prison; four years later, he was elected president. In 1991, the Soviet Union broke up, and many of its newly independent republics began moving toward democracy.

It's not a new idea but it is a new doctrine in practice. It is a change from decades of the practice of foreign policy in the United States where, because of the Cold War and the conflict with the Soviet Union, the US pushed democracy around the world depending upon how it affected the power struggle with the Soviet Union, which meant that the US would be friends with a dictator if that dictator was an enemy of the Soviet Union. The Administration is hoping that if the US can successfully establish a democracy in Iraq, that will have a demonstration effect. The people in the next-door countries who are in similar circumstances would feel that they deserve the same kind of thing. When there is local ferment and pressure, the US can come in and insist that the government not fire on crowds. This would begin the movement internally in all of these countries towards democracy.

Unhinged from the containment of Soviet power, the sources of US unilateralism, and its military manifestation of "preemption", are rooted in the logic of unipolarism.

Leaders in countries ranging from China, Russia and Iran to many European capitals share deep anxieties about the emergence of the United States as a "benevolent hegemon" -- seeing a "rogue superpower" instead. Short of joining forces formally, the outlines of a counterveiling bloc are seen in the convergence of threat perceptions. Russia is disquieted by the post-September 11th American incursions into traditional Caucasus-Central Asian security zone. China remains uneasy over the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, while fixing a at a "new Silk Road" allowing unfettered access to the Middle East and Eurasia. The Islamic Republic of Iran is emerging as a frontline state in ther global lineup against US hegemony is prevalent in the Chinese and Russian foreign-policy community.

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Page last modified: 27-09-2014 20:04:47 ZULU