Living with the Empire
Living with the Empire
By Michel Schifres
Friday 30 May 2003
An American President's every move outside of his country is obviously symbolic. This observation is even more specifically justified under the administration of George W. Bush. The United States today are the only power to prevail globally. It's not much use to enjoy or to deplore this fact. Those feelings have no power on the state of affairs.
The American Empire dominates the rest of the world in every domain and there is no longer any issue of importance that can be settled without its endorsement. And if some ultimate demonstration of this superiority was necessary, the next few days will supply indisputable evidence: Bush will visit his new ally, Poland, will proceed to yesterday's enemy become the grateful friend, Russia, will appear alongside the other, but less influential, powers for the G-8, and will finish his trip by participating in meetings of the Arab countries to try to make progress in the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This litany in itself illustrates omnipotence.
Like all the empires which have succumbed to that temptation, America's imagines itself invested with a mission. Its crusade against evil, evil which it considers itself the only one capable of determining, is only beginning, as it is a question of simultaneously defending the West and promoting democratic ideals. Like all the empires which have succeeded one another in history, the United States' already shows the faults, notably moral, in resorting to lies to achieve its ends, and the weaknesses, such as the difficulty organizing the liberated countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. But it would be as vain as it would be stupid to expect everything from a failure heralding a decline.
On the contrary, it's necessary in a parallel movement to confirm one's adhesion to the same values as the United States and to assure their identity. This issue principally concerns Europeans. Between wild resistance and cowardly resignation, there is organization. In this sense the Polish Foreign Minister's remarks resemble those of a neophyte for whom whatever is new is good. He hopes Bush will give a new start to transatlantic relations. That, however, is the task first and foremost for Europeans to apply themselves to. Otherwise they risk continuing to be towed along by America.
Let's not rest under any illusions: the war in Iraq revealed a Europe largely favorable to the theses and the methods of the United States. France, apart from several undoubtedly whipped-up supporters, found itself alone to affirm its belief in the rules of law. Today, America continues to remember what it considers a breach. We're left, not to renounce anything from this recent past, but precisely to allow that it is the past. And to take up the Pilgrim's crook to convince Europe of the necessity to be an actor and not only a suppliant. One must be able to live alongside the Empire.
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