Det danske Fredsakademi
Kronologi over fredssagen og international politik 24 september
2012 / Timeline September 24, 2012
23. September 2012, 25. September 2012
EPLO nyt september
How Hawkish Are Americans?
By Lawrence S.
In the midst of a nationwide election campaign in
which many politicians trumpet their support for the buildup and
employment of U.S. military power around the world, the American
public’s disagreement with such measures is quite remarkable.
Indeed, many signs point to the fact that most Americans want to
avoid new wars, reduce military spending, and support international
The latest evidence along these lines is a nationwide opinion
survey just released as a report (Foreign Policy in the New
Millennium) by the highly-respected Chicago Council on Global
Affairs. Conducted in late May and early June 2012, the survey
resulted in some striking findings.
One is that most Americans are quite disillusioned with the Iraq
and Afghanistan wars of the past decade. Asked about these
conflicts, 67 percent of respondents said they had not been worth
fighting. Indeed, 69 percent said that, despite the war in
Afghanistan, the United States was no safer from terrorism.
Naturally, these attitudes about military intervention in Iraq and
Afghanistan fed into opinions about future military involvement.
Eighty-two percent of those surveyed favored bringing U.S. troops
home from Afghanistan by 2014 or by an earlier date. Majorities
also opposed maintaining long-term military bases in either
country. And 71 percent agreed that “the experience of the
Iraq war should make nations more cautious about using military
force to deal with rogue states.”
Certainly Americans seem to believe that their own military
footprint in the world should be reduced. In the Chicago Council
survey, 78 percent of respondents said that the United States was
playing the role of a world policeman more than it should.
Presented with a variety of situations, respondents usually stated
that they opposed the use of U.S. military force. For example, a
majority opposed a U.S. military response to a North Korean
invasion of South Korea. Or, to take an issue that is frequently
discussed today – Iran’s possible development of
nuclear weapons -- 70 percent of respondents opposed a U.S.
military strike against that nation with the objective of
destroying its nuclear facilities.
Yes, admittedly, a small majority (53 percent) thought that
maintaining superior military power was a “very important
goal.” But this response was down by 14 points from 2002.
Furthermore, to accomplish deficit reduction, 68 percent of
respondents favored cutting U.S. spending on the military -- up 10
points from 2010. Nor are these opinions contradictory. After all,
U.S. military spending is so vast – more than five times that
of the number 2 military spender, China – that substantial
cuts in the U.S. military budget can be made without challenging
U.S. military superiority.
It should be noted that American preferences are anti-military
rather than “isolationist.” The report by the Chicago
Council observes: “As they increasingly seek to cut back on
foreign expenditures and avoid military entanglement whenever
possible, Americans are broadly supportive of nonmilitary forms of
international engagement and problem solving.” These range
from “diplomacy, alliances, and international treaties to
economic aid and decision making through the UN.”
For example, the survey found that 84 percent of respondents
favored the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty (still unratified
by the U.S. Senate), 70 percent favored the International Criminal
Court treaty (from which the United States was withdrawn by
President George W. Bush), and 67 percent favored a treaty to cope
with climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. When
asked about China, a nation frequently criticized by U.S. pundits
and politicians alike, 69 percent of respondents believed that the
United States should engage in friendly cooperation with that
The “isolationist” claim falls particularly flat when
one examines American attitudes toward the United Nations. The
Chicago Council survey found that 56 percent of respondents agreed
that, when dealing with international problems, the United States
should be “more willing to make decisions within the United
Nations,” even if that meant that the United States would not
always get its way.
Overall, then, Americans favor a less militarized U.S. government
approach to world affairs than currently exists. Perhaps the time
has come for politicians to catch up with them!
Dr. Lawrence S. Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor
of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is "Working for
Peace and Justice: Memoirs of an Activist Intellectual”
(University of Tennessee Press).
Iran: Automatic Escalation To World War III?
By John Scales Avery
A few days ago Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh , who is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards missile systems told Iran's Arabic-language television network that should Israel and Iran engage militarily, “nothing is predictable... and it will turn into World War III”.
He added that Iran would deem any Israeli strike to be conducted with US authorisation, so “whether the Zionist regime attacks with or without US knowledge, then we will definitely attack US bases in Bahrain, Qatar and Afghanistan.”
The first point to notice is that an attack by Israel on Iran would be both criminal and insane, criminal because it would be a violation of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles, and insane because it would initiate a conflict that might escalate in an unpredictable way. Such a conflict might easily be the start of a Third World War.
But what General Hajizadeh proposes in his statement is perhaps even more criminal and even more insane.
Let us suppose that Netanyahu's and his government carry through their totally irresponsible plan of attacking Iran. If Iran then responds by attacking US bases in Bahrain, Qatar and Afghanistan, then the escalation of the conflict would be absolutely automatic. US leaders would then have no choice. They would be forced to respond by attacking Iran, despite the danger that Russia, China and Pakistan would be drawn into the conflict on the side of Iran.
One is reminded of the start of World War I, when a small conflict aimed at punishing the Serbian Panslavic Movement escalated into a global disaster which still casts a shadow over the world almost a century later. The difference is that today we possess all-destroying thermonuclear weapons, and a new world war could lead to the destruction of human civilization and much of the biosphere.
Netanyahu is unquestionably a madman. Must we allow the actions of one insane person to start a conflict that could lead to the deaths of ourselves and our children?
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