Don't you dare, Prime Minister Blair
What is it that Milinda Moragoda and Tony Blair have in common, besides a receding hairline I mean? Both are keen to wave the stars and stripes as though the US flag is a natural appendage of their physical self. When Milinda Moragoda goes to a security conference in Hawaii and advocates US leadership of the world, it does not come as a complete surprise.

All you have to do is turn to the writings of rightist neo-conservative thinkers, particularly those that have emerged after the end of the Cold War, and there will be enough jingoistic piffle to tickle many a fancy. And when you find yourself in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii that was stolen-okay annexed- by the United States more than a century ago and geopolitical and geostrategic thinking is hardly your cup of tea, why not repeat American neoconservative thinking and hand over the whole world to Washington, lock, stock and barrel?

Even if such dangerous political advocacy shocked the more sagely participants who would have wondered at the depressing quality of Sri Lankan thinking on international affairs after decades of promoting non-alignment, at least it would have earned the gratitude of Moragoda's American hosts. But one would hardly have accepted British Prime Minister Tony Blair to sing from the same hymn sheet as he did last week when he admonished French President Jacques Chirac for trying to create different centres of power. If he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to join him in the praise of America, the bloody nose Blair received in Moscow, metaphorically speaking of course, should have served as a timely reminder that not all European leaders are keen to sell their soul to the White House.

Estranged as he is from the mainstream of western European thinking, Tony Blair is trying, in the name of a single power centre to impose on the world a cultural and political monolith. He is either more naïve than most people think or this is a dangerous conspiracy hatched in Christendom.

Such thinking is gaining ground in the United States, especially with the return of the Republicans and junior Bush to the White House. But why Blair should help spread the gospel in Europe demands the attention of a psychoanalyst than a political analyst. On the eve of a visit to China by President Clinton almost five years ago, Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Foundation spoke in almost the same terms, bemoaning those inside and outside the United States who called for an end to US hegemony.

As proof that American dominance is essential for international peace and stability, Kagan argued that despite calls for multipolarity, no nation wants to undertake the task of managing global crises. He did not, of course, mention that many crises are created by Washington. Interestingly enough he pointed to the case of Iraq where only Washington stood between Saddam Hussein and international order and argued that this long term goal was undermined by France and Russia for short term gains.

I wonder what Kagan would be writing now, particularly when more and more evidence of US duplicity, concocting of evidence and double standards are emerging beside Washington's violation of international law and undermining of the United Nations.
The call by Blair and Moragoda, like Kagan's, for American dominance appears to derive from some hitherto undisclosed divine right to tell the world what it is permitted to do and how it should be done. It is strange that Kagan, for instance, who believes that the world would be less democratic without US hegemony advances a principle that is the very antithesis of democracy-the right or power of one nation to tell others how to mind their affairs. One wonders whether Washington has indeed helped advance democracy worldwide, has been very selective in its pursuit of this goal or undermined elected governments.

One could hardly credit the last presidential elections in the US as democratic, what with the president's brother Jeb Bush playing such a prominent role. While pushing for democracy in China, for example, Washington under so many administrations before and after the cold war, has been extremely lackadaisical- to be charitable- in converting the feudal monarchy of Saudi Arabia to embrace the democracy it preaches to others. What about its own backyard? Washington was so obsessed with trying to make a democrat out of Fidel Castro in Cuba that it embraced as allies many notorious rightwing dictatorships in Latin America.

Even when it did not have the internationally dominant role it has today, Washington conspired to topple democratically-elected governments such as that of Chile's Salvador Allende without making these countries safe for democracy. Allende was replaced by the rightwing dictator Agusto Pinochet who was responsible for one of the most repressive of dictatorships where thousands of civilians were killed, disappeared or imprisoned. We in Sri Lanka know enough about the US involvement in Vietnam and the atrocities committed including the use of weapons of mass destruction, in the name of the free world. What is less well known is how Washington under President Nixon took the war to Cambodia without the knowledge of the Congress, armed and supported the Khmer Rouge and later helped Pol Pot, the genocidal maniac.

Pol Pot was one of the biggest mass murderers in history, a product of American help just as the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Noriega, all consigned to the rubbish heap of history when Washington has done with them. It is because of America's dubious and ugly behaviour on the world stage that other countries have become increasingly conscious of the danger of a single dominant power trying to decide norms of international conduct which it does not necessarily follow.

An unfortunate effect of this hegemonistic role that the US has assigned to itself and is being assiduously encouraged by the Blairs and Moragodas of today, is that when Washington changes its policy everybody is expected to faithfully follow.Ironically President Clinton who visited China in 1998 came to the White House castigating George Bush, the present president's father, for his China policy. Clinton saw George Bush as appeasing the Beijing leadership that was responsible for the Tiananmen Square killings of June 1989. In the intervening years Clinton's policy on China changed perceptibly and he later entered into a strategic partnership with one of the few surviving communist countries in the world, a policy which Bush junior has again reversed.

The danger in this hegemonistic, single centre of power role pursued by Blair and Moragoda is that the international cop could easily become the international bully as the world has just seen with unjust and illegal military attacks on Iraq, killing of friend and foe, deprivation of humanitarian needs and garnering of rehabilitation work for the financial benefit of American companies.

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