|Do Americans Realize the Growth of Anti-US Alliance?
Manuel L. Quezon III
It boggles the mind that Osama Bin Laden has had the time and resources to catch up on his reading. And yet this is precisely what his most recent, recorded, statement suggests. A Reuters report says that after Bin Laden endorsed “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower” by Mark Blum to the American people (after warning them of Al-Qaeda attacks to come, Bin Laden said, “It is useful for you to read the book “The Rogue State”), sales of the book took off like a rocket.
The Reuters story says Blum’s book “was ranked 209,000 on Amazon.com’s sales list before Bin Laden mentioned it in an audiotape released on Thursday. By Friday, the book was No. 30 on the Amazon.com list.” The author himself told Reuters television, “I was quite surprised and even shocked and amused when I found out what he’d said,” but that still, “I was glad. I knew it would help the book’s sales and I was not bothered by who it was coming from.” Blum went on to state that “If he (Bin Laden) shares with me a deep dislike for the certain aspects of US foreign policy, then I’m not going to spurn any endorsement of the book by him. I think it’s good that he shares those views and I’m not turned off by that.”
Perhaps more mind-boggling, however, is a new kind of convergence taking place, when it comes to the objectives of people like Bin Laden, and an energized, increasingly daring, left, not only in the United States (where Blum’s book is used as textbook in classes taught by “liberal” and “progressive” professors: As one such professor candidly stated in a mailing list, “the students, many of whom are already liberal and progressives, couldn’t believe that the US has become a rogue state. I guess, they wanted to remain naive about US foreign policy and so be able to maintain a vestige of trust in its so-called democracy. Blum’s book is meticulously documented”), but around the world.
In Latin America, there is a socialist renaissance taking place, the victory of the new President of Chile being merely the latest example of this trend. The Defense Minister of Spain (also under a socialist government) went from a visit to the Philippines straight to a visit to Venezuela, where he signed a deal to sell armaments to President Hugo Chavez.
The socialist renaissance is taking place because the American prescriptions for globalization and related policies that foster it, benefit a percentage of the populations of these countries, but exacts a toll in the uncompetitive majority. Combine these new lessons with the old lessons of the past – banana republics with dictators elevated and then deposed depending on American interests — and you have a continent eager to apply its Western education to finding a middle path between communism and American laissez-faire capitalism.
In a sense, Latin America has embarked on a direction other countries are inevitably finding themselves headed, because of the American response to global terrorism. If American policy in the past was too pragmatic, it is now all too thoroughly ideological; in either case, American allies find themselves wrestling with the imperatives of US military and economic policy, which requires an almost suicidal devotion to Washington D.C. At least in terms of governments that are elected: Tony Blair has been embattled since he became America’s chief ally; governments such as Spain’s previous conservative administration have lost at the polls, and countries such as the People’s Republic of China and India are increasing their regional influence (both more influential now in South East Asia; China making inroads in South America), as America withdraws its resources from one area, to focus on Iraq and the Central Asian, oil-rich republics.
The Philippine government itself, according to sources that claim to be in on the shadowy goings-on in the diplomatic and intelligence fields, was prevented from imposing emergency rule, or at least engaging in a crackdown against its opponents, by a combination of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld telling Philippine Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, Jr. that emergency rule would not be supported by the United States. American intelligence chief John Negroponte, too, made an apparently unscheduled stopover in Manila, to tell the Philippine government the same thing. The reason? The first American experiment in regime change and nation building, the Philippines, can’t abandon democracy just when the United States is engaged in building democracy in Iraq.
Yet the Philippines faces two threats to its stability and security: A decades-long communist insurgency (one of only two in the world, the other being in Nepal), and rebellions being fought by various Muslim groups – among which the rebels influenced by Jamiyah Islamiyah are in the ascendant, in terms of their determination to keep fighting). In other words, a perfect combination of two anti-democratic and anti-Western trends: Though in the Philippine experience, the socialism being fought for in the jungles and in urban hideaways is obsolete and extremist, far different from European socialism and even more extreme if measured by the socialism espoused by Chavez and Fidel Castro; and a kind of extremism in keeping with the thinking of Bin Laden and his ilk.
One has to wonder, now that Bin Laden has made it explicit, whether Americans are truly coming to terms with the unofficial but obvious alliance between socialists, Communists, and extremists, set on dismantling US influence around the world. And where this leaves nations still allied with the United States, or who do not welcome a future under socialism or extremism.