OPINION

Global restructuring

The military attack by the USA on Iraq, which started Thursday morning and continues relentlessly, has alienated European public opinion and caused an upsurge of anti-Americanism, and has highlighted the essential differences separating the US from Europeans. But apart from the feelings of horror sparked by the inexorable attack as it sinks into the awareness of every family via television, there is an inability to comprehend the rationale of US President George W. Bush’s enterprise, even though he has set out his goals with absolute clarity. The attack on Iraq is just part of a campaign in a wider war, which aims at the restructuring – by military or other means – of an extensive geographical region, and whose pre-announced targets are Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is, in other words, a gigantic intervention into a specified area, which aims at restructuring – a word that dominates the vocabulary of the globalized economy and which has fascinated analysts and corporate executives everywhere, even in Greece. The so-called restructuring or liberalization of markets and the attempt to demolish the traditional structures of labor and production was done in the name of development and competition, while the political restructuring of the Mideast is being carried out in the name of democratizing countries and emancipating individuals. The rationale for restructuring, readily accepted by some economic modernizers, is rejected with revulsion when met with in politics. Bush’s Iraq policy, which, on general lines, a Democratic president would also have adopted, is an attempt to manage the globalization phenomenon, and the only way to re-establish control on such a broad scale at present is by the use of violence. Everyone acknowledges that the US is the only superpower and the most powerful country ever on earth, but paradoxically, they expect it to behave in a traditional fashion, as if the bipolar system or the balance of power that applied in 19th century Europe were still in force. Washington’s European partners are horrified at the sight of an emancipated America which not only scorns European models but is also trying to crush the traditional structures of political behavior. It is indicative that the Vatican, that timeless point of reference for Western Europe, is one of the most outspoken critics of US policy on Iraq. American policy is not simply a reflex response to the September 11 attack; it does not simply serve the tendency to dominate, or traditional economic interests, but is profoundly subversive of the old order, regardless of its manifestation. From this comes its genuine rejection of old European ways of operating.