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Another Casualty of War: American Moral Authority

October 09, 2003|Rami G. Khouri | Rami G. Khouri is the executive editor of the Beirut-based regional newspaper, the Daily Star.

BEIRUT — Half a year after the United States easily conquered Baghdad and ousted Saddam Hussein's regime, that act of unilateral American militarism half a world away has reaped predictable consequences: The U.S., by taking matters into its own hands, has forfeited the right to criticize other countries when they do the same thing.

After having brazenly defied the majority of the world last March without a formal U.N. Security Council mandate, the United States now finds itself with little authority to tell others what to do.

This became strikingly clear this week when Israel attacked what it said was a Palestinian guerrilla training camp in Syria. This was a clear and futile escalation of the Middle East conflict -- internationalizing the situation in a manner that could destabilize the entire region. Yet the U.S. was virtually silent, confining itself to saying that Israel had the right to self-defense but that it should be careful.

The fact is, the neoconservative penchant for using military muscle to address political and economic problems around the world means the U.S. must increasingly interact with other states primarily on the strength of its military and economic clout, rather than its powerful moral values and political principles.

The U.S. today is shackled by the consequences of its own militarism, unilateralism and arrogance. By relying more and more on its firepower and cash during the last few years, the hypocritical U.S. also has sparked wider and deeper anti-American resentment around the world.

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