Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Letter to Democrats on Foreign Policy

The Hon. Kendrick Meek
1039, Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Dear Kendrick,

I am enclosing a copy of a letter that has been sent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair by a group of fifty former British ambassadors and senior diplomatic officials, including former British ambassadors to Israel, Iraq and the United Nations. According to former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, this letter also had the support of currently serving ambassadors in the Middle East who cannot publicly criticize their government’s policy.

The letter expresses “deepening concern” at British support for illegal U.S. policies on the Arab-Israeli problem and for the war in Iraq, and at the inability of the British government to “exert real influence as a loyal ally”. It concludes, “If that (influence) is unacceptable or unwelcome, there is no case for supporting policies which are doomed to failure”.

This comes at a time when our country is increasingly isolated. Recent weeks have seen Spain, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Norway, Thailand, New Zealand, Kazakhstan and Singapore withdraw all their forces from Iraq, and large majorities in the UN Security Council and General Assembly opposed this war from the outset. The violence against civilians in Falluja and Najaf and the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib are only serving to strengthen resistance in Iraq and increase our isolation from the civilized world.

It is easy to criticize President Bush’s unilateral and violent policies, but they are the culmination of a larger failure of U.S. policymakers to develop a vision and a strategy for the post-Cold War era based on international law, peaceful cooperation, and incremental disarmament. Instead, our governing institutions have indulged in opportunistic and self-serving policies to exploit our present economic and military dominance at the expense of more general interests and concerns that are shared by the rest of the world. The resulting international isolation in which we find ourselves fifteen years after the end of the Cold War serves neither the narrow interests we have defined for ourselves nor the broader interests of humanity as a whole. This has been a sad experiment in “lose-lose” policymaking.

This election season is a belated opportunity for the Democratic Party to define a new vision for the 21st century and present it to the American people. We are listening. And so is the rest of the world.

Yours sincerely

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Letter to Congress on U.S. Defeat in Iraq

The Hon. Kendrick Meek
1039 Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Dear Kendrick,

So, a little more than a year after it began, the U.S. occupation of Iraq is effectively over. Like their predecessors, the inexperienced troops who just rotated into Iraq were misled about the nature of their mission, and they have swiftly lost control of two major cities, three main highways, and, to varying degrees, much of the country. They are unable to supply larger forces than the small detachments deployed around Falluja and Najaf, and any further military victories will in fact prove to be decisive defeats in the political and economic struggle for Iraq.

All that remains to be determined by the United States is whether we will leave the field like a gentleman defeated in a fair fight, ruffled but dignified, through some face-saving arrangement with the United Nations, or whether we will behave like a spoiled child denied a new toy, and lash out at the people who are saying “No” to us. Our country’s history gives some clues as to how our government may behave. President Nixon’s “Peace with Honor” exit strategy from Vietnam took six years, and left millions of people dead, cities in ruins, arable land defoliated and poisoned, and two neighboring countries destroyed for good measure. We must hope that our country has grown up in the past 36 years, and that we learned enough from this history to avoid repeating it.

As to the future of Iraq, we should leave that for others to determine. New Iraqi leaders have emerged during the current crisis: Ayatollah al-Sistani; Abdul-Karim al-Mohammedawi, the “Prince of the Marshes”, who led resistance to Hussein in the southern marshes; Dr. Salama al-Khufaji, a chador-wearing Professor of Dentistry at Baghdad University; the Sunni Islamic Clerics Committee, who have been managing U.S.-Iraqi negotiations in Falluja; and many of Iraq’s tribal leaders, who have acted responsibly to avoid bloodshed throughout this difficult period. These Iraqis have established their political legitimacy by maintaining their independence from the U.S. occupation. Al-Mohammedawi has suspended his membership of the occupation’s “governing council”, and an aide to Muqtada al-Sadr told his congregation that “Salama al-Khufaji’s shoe is of more value than the entire council”.

In any case, the fate of Iraq must of necessity be out of our hands from this point on. We can take some credit for the creation of a united front of Shia and Sunni, and an independent Iraq may belie the fears of civil war that were used to justify the U.S. occupation. We have some homework to do now to learn the lessons of this episode. Strategies of unilateral invasion and military occupation by great powers had diminishing success through the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, and we clearly cannot rely on them in the 21st century. On the other hand, a new American commitment to the development and rule of international law and to multilateral cooperation and institutions could indeed provide a stable basis for the future. I realize that this would require a historic restructuring of U.S. foreign and defense policy, and it is one that I would wholeheartedly welcome.

Yours sincerely

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Letter to President and Congress on Iraq

Senator Bob Graham
524, Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

“This (is) a person who (is) trying to say, we don’t want democracy – as a matter of fact, we’ll decide the course of democracy by the use of force. And that is the opposite of democracy.” - President Bush, speaking about Muqtada al-Sadr, 4/5/04

“90 percent of Iraqis share a vision of democracy – not of power enforced at the end of a gun barrel.” – Ambassador Bremer, 4/5/04

Dear Senator Graham,

The above statements, made without deliberate irony by senior U.S. leaders, provide confirmation to the world that they are no longer able to distinguish fact from the strange post-Orwellian fiction of their Iraq policy. One could dismiss such statements as political rhetoric for domestic consumption, but they inadvertently reflect a real and continuing blindness to the serious and fundamental fallacies that underlie U.S. policy in Iraq and elsewhere.

In 1990, National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft argued against an invasion and occupation of Iraq because it would lead unavoidably to elections that “our guys would lose”. The present U.S. plan is to gradually transfer power to “our guys”, while systematically eliminating the alternatives, until the Iraqis have no choice but to elect “our guys”. This plan insults the intelligence and sophistication of a proud people and was never realistic. Iraqi leaders like Ayatollah al-Sistani have acted with wisdom and restraint to minimize bloodshed, but have made it clear that Iraq will be independent, one way or the other. Yesterday, a U.S. Special Forces officer at Baghdad airport gave a British reporter a reality check, “Things are very bad and they’re going to get worse, but no-one is saying that – either because they don’t know or because they don’t want you to know”. As we watch the disintegration of our country’s Iraq policy in the coming months, I hope that we can finally learn some of the lessons that history and the rest of the world have been trying to teach us for the past sixty years.

Americans have been led to believe that the failures of U.S. policy towards the Third World have been attributable to a lack of commitment of either money, blood or political will, and that, given sufficient commitment of these commodities, there are no limits to American power. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is myth, not history. In reality, it is in the countries where the United States has actually made its most extensive commitments that it has experienced its greatest failures, from China and Korea in the 1940s to Lebanon (twice) to Cuba to Vietnam to Iran to Palestine. In each case, policy was formulated around myths of democracy and American power in place of accurate analyses of our resources and interests relative to the history, politics and culture of the country in question, even though such analyses were always readily available. The result was that popular movements in all these countries frustrated U.S. ambitions and won military and political victories in spite of huge economic and military imbalances in favor of the United States.

An accurate analysis would tell us that we have relied far too much on military power, and that our successes owe more to our “soft” power and good will, and our leadership in the development of international law, the very strengths that we have so readily squandered since 1989 in our pursuit of corporate “globalization” and military dominance. In response to the current crisis in U.S. foreign policy, I would ask you to support the following proposals: -

1) President Bush must order an immediate ceasefire by U.S. forces in Iraq; they must cease all offensive operations and begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq.

2) President Bush must recommit the U.S. Government to honor all previously signed and ratified international treaties, as required by Article VI of the United States Constitution.

3) President Bush must initiate an international cooperative effort to address the problems and grievances of the Muslim and Arab peoples of the world. The centerpiece of this would be a U.N. mandate for the Palestinian territories, with sufficient peacekeepers to actually keep the peace, and control of land borders with Egypt and Jordan. All U.S. aid to Israel would become conditional on Israel’s full cooperation with the U.N.

4) President Bush must commit our country to peacefully aid other countries that need our help, by honoring the U.N. request that developed countries dedicate 0.7% of their GNP for this purpose.

By these actions, we can make it clear that our country truly desires to live in peace with the rest of the world, and that we recognize the special responsibility that comes with our strength and prosperity. The world will find that our country can be a great friend, as our people have always been to our fellow people of the world.

Yours sincerely