Vice President Richard Cheney of the Bush Administration was wheeled out of the White House last January. Symbolic, isn’t it? He was followed out by his team-mates, the super-hawks who had for eight straight years been mapping out US policy. Judging by what the Obama Administration did on arrival in the White House; their departure was one of the most important results of last year’s presidential election. George W. Bush was taken hostage by a closely-knit group of neo-conservative friends whose political creed was defined in the late 1990s. Their initially-classified manifesto for the new American century advised Washington to use force without paying attention to the United Nations and allied countries. It said it was up to the United States to make decisions on the use of force in, for example, attempts to overthrow unfriendly governments. Allies of the United States of America were simply expected to tag along. Their manifesto was co-authored by then Defence Secretary Dick Cheney, would-be Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and a close friend of George W. Bush’s, Paul Wolfowitz.
It was, since 2002, known as the national defence strategy of the Bush Administration, or, simply, the Bush doctrine. It rests on three main pillars, unsurpassed military superiority, a concept of preventive warfare that allows America to take military action before the USA happens to come under attack, and willingness to counterbalance unsuccessful attempts to forge alliances with unilateral efforts. This brain-child of the Bush-Cheney team was handed down to the Obama Administration. It has not been rejected formally, which is why, the principle of political continuity says, it remains a working document. What the Obama Administration decides to do with it poses quite an important question.
Another thing the Obama Administration has inherited from the string-pulling Cheney team is the lost war in Iraq. Orders for the invasion of Iraq, which placed an unbearable burden on the US economy and helped trigger off the economic crisis, were given by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Vice President Cheney never tired of insisting on continued warfare. Mr Cheney wanted to cash in on the war in Iraq because, with Saddam Hussein dead and gone, his Halliburton Corporation would assume control of large fields of Iraqi oil. The super-hawks, who nested on Washington’s Mount Olympus, bear moral responsibility for those changes for the worse in Russian-US relations which left a negative imprint on the global situation.
What seemed to have sunk into oblivion, the words “Cold War”, were brought back to life by Mr Cheney, whose Vilnius address of about three years ago is, stylistically and as a matter of fact, a relic of the Cold War. Vice President Cheney’s Vilnius address spelled the first, although not the last, top-level attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of Russia and an unvarnished verbal attack on that country. The infamous departure of the incomparable Bush-Cheney Administration wrote the finis to abortive efforts to realise the neo-conservative agenda. I do hope that the politically-disconnected relics of the Cold War were, together with the politically-bankrupt Dick Cheney, wheeled out of the American corridors of power. I do not think I will have to wait long before I see whether the Obama Administration is really capable of pressing the reset button in politics and adding an element of constructiveness to the policies of the United States.
20 February 2009
A View from Moscow
Voice of Russia World Service