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Martin LeFevre: Beyond Bush and American Power

Meditations (Politics) - From Martin LeFevre in California

Beyond Bush and American Power

Does the slow-motion collapse of the international order, greatly accelerated by America’s opening up a black hole in Iraq, present an opportunity to prepare and build a true world order?

The United States, which was the driving force for the United Nations and Bretton Woods institutions, has been demolishing the international system since George Junior came into office.

Therefore, as the “coalition of the willing” loses members and grows less willing, the question is not only: what to do about Iraq, but what will replace the post-World War II world order?

Involving the United Nations will not solve the problem of Iraq; it will just suck the UN back into the vortex the Bush Administration has generated there.

A friend in the UK writes, “This is a dangerous period because of the imperialistic aspirations of the USA.” But the doctrine of permanent domination by the hyper-power did not make the world situation dangerous; it made it into a crisis on the verge of a catastrophe. And that crisis is not resolvable within the philosophical paradigm and political framework of the international system.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a crucial balance of power ended, allowing the military and economic power of the United States to grow to obscene proportions. Since “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” a vacuum of leadership inevitably opened up at the center of the international community. Of course, the central tenet of the Bush Administration is, as columnist Joe Klein said, “the moral sanctity of American power.” This is why the chaos in Iraq, the Middle East, and the world can only grow worse.

However the Bush Administration is simply accelerating the demise of the international order, which was well under way before the Bushites came into power. A multilaterally disposed American government under John Kerry will not remove, and may not even diminish the crisis, which now has a momentum of its own.

The collapse of the international system will continue and intensify, with the world going from one calamity to another until a non-nationalistic way of thinking in a sufficient number of world citizens gives rise to an effective architecture of global governance (including an authentic global body that both supersedes and complements the UN, WTO, and World Bank).

The Bush Administration believes it can define and dispense sovereignty in Iraq. But since most of the world does not subscribe to the peculiarly American mindset that insists ‘perception is reality,’ the harder the Bush bunch tries to tell the Iraqis that sovereignty means the kind of government the US wants, the more odious the occupation becomes to them and the entire world.

Brahimi and the UN desperately hope to find a diplomatic way out of this mess, both because the entire Middle East could spiral out of control, and because the viability of the UN as an honest broker (much less as an emerging institution of global governance) are at stake.

Again however, no resolution based on American power, especially one fictitiously operating within the international framework, will work. Even more, the ripple effect of the crisis in Iraq is compelling a multi-level shift in thinking and response.

Sovereignty is indeed the issue, but not just for the unfortunate Iraqis. The supremacy of nation-states is a thing of the past. To stop the erosion of the international system, and salvage its necessary institutions (as a truly global architecture and body are built to augment them), there must be a new definition of sovereignty--the sovereignty to humanity.

Iraq, the cradle of civilization, is sucking the marrow out of the international system. To stop the hemorrhaging, we must think beyond nation-states and the international order.

The same pressures that compel species in nature, when facing new environmental conditions, to radically change or perish, are demanding radical changes in human consciousness, philosophy, and political architecture. In the end it comes down to this: which will prevail, self-interest or human-interest?


- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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