Wow Franklin. Your Berkeley boy is a fucking prophet. . .HEADLINE: Why War Is IrrelevantJanuary 9, 1991 BYLINE: By Roger Morris; Roger Morris was a staff member of the National Security Council in the Johnson and Nixon Administrations. DATELINE: SANTA FE, N.M. BODY: As Secretary of State James Baker meets the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, hopes rise that the talks will amount to more than a repetition of the public postures of the two sides. In an era suspicious of secrecy, millions wish devoutly for a hidden agenda today in Geneva. Yet, while the timetable clicks on inexorably in the Persian Gulf, there is a gathering sense of irrelevance about the stark options to which Washington is reduced. Neither war nor a last-minute diplomatic device will resolve the deeper issues that have brought us to this bleak rendezvous in the desert. Whatever the outcome in Geneva, the Administration's choices between battle and backdown betray an underlying futility -- and thus carry the seeds of future crisis. Neither military action nor a status quo ante peace will remedy the incipient turmoil of Arabia, where the vast disparity between rich and poor creates bitter conflict within and among nations, where a U.S. "victory," by arms or ultimatum, will only strengthen belligerent forces like Iran and Syria while hastening anti-American upheavals. Nor can Washington bomb or negotiate away the malignant oil dependence of Europe, Japan and the U.S., which makes this episode such a reckoning on past negligence. No smart weapons or shrewd bargains will alter the caprice of petroleum politics, or the inequities inflicted by the oil market on poor countries. Just as some showdown with Saddam Hussein will not release the resources needed for development and social peace in the Middle East, it will waste precious billions amid a deepening economic agony in the U.S. Nothing in President Bush's strategy promises a creative initiative on the anachronistic Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at once symbol and substance of the larger crisis. No success now envisioned by the White House, whether through blood or bluster, purges that poison, and will probably only deepen it. Least of all do Mr. Bush's options genuinely serve the heralded new world order, the beckoning image of a post-cold-war consortium of nations in which the President has wrapped his venture, and for which thousands of Americans may soon die. With its preponderance of U.S. forces in front of token, rear-guard allies, the martial assembly in the gulf may be the precedent for future Punic expeditions by the Pentagon, but scarcely for a new peacekeeping coalition. Washington's corridor cajolery and economic-political blackmail, simply to gather resolutions and fig-leaf contingents, have hardly lent fresh legitimacy to the U.N. In its reflexive resort to Great Power extortion, the White House squandered a chance for authentic progress toward multilateral responsibility in a new era. It is not merely that American men and women constitute a de facto mercenary force for the Germans, Japanese, Saudis and gulf sheiks, or that the Soviets, Chinese and others are absent. Just as national units of the gulf force cannot even talk to one another effectively in the field, western diplomacy has been fractured. The European Community, like the Arabs before them, is trying desperately to mount a mediation behind Washington's posturing and media polemics. The gulf alliance reflects a sadly outmoded concept of collective security. There is no true collection of interests, no secure understanding of the irrelevance of both the old violence and the old diplomacy in a vastly changed international landscape. No lesson taught the Iraqis seems likely to correct the deep-seated irresponsibility of the regime in Washington: Nothing will erase the fateful prelude to crisis -- a U.S. that had armed and subsidized Iraq for a variety of wanton purposes, that failed for bureaucratic reasons to try to deter aggression months before it happened, that ignored multiple warnings of invasion and left its unalerted citizens to become hostages. On the eve, the Administration all but diplomatically acceded to the Iraqi attack. Then, in propaganda extraordinary even by the usual standards of political hypocrisy, it sought to incite both national idealism and native chauvinism by labeling its recent client another Hitler. Imagine the alternatives: a U.S. that had not cynically armed one more dictator nor rendered itself an energy hostage in the greed of the 1980's; a Washington no longer culpable in profiteering and inequity in world resources, a President dedicated to statesmanlike lifting of the Arab-Israeli curse with genuine international initiative, a world in which 400,000 Americans need not be in the gulf because a principled foreign policy was there before them. Instead, it is to the Bush Administration -- without effective check or balance because of the foreign policy abdication of Congress -- that America and the rest of the world will still be prey, whatever happens in the next few weeks. Perhaps that is what makes Washington's expected victory in the Persian Gulf already so Pyrrhic. The ultimate irony is that the crisis presents a chance to deal with fundamental challenges of the post-cold-war world. In the grim concentration of global attention, these last days of peace afford an opportunity like no other in this century, and a singular moment for U.S. statesmanship. A comprehensive and farsighted American peace effort would begin with authentic negotiations with Baghdad, not to reward aggression but to see it in proportion and to look beyond to ethnic, territorial and economic grievances dating to the Ottoman Empire. Iraq would be given equitable national treatment on disputed petroleum and access to the gulf. Kuwaiti sovereignty would be restored under U.N. auspices with an end to predatory oil practices. U.S. and allied armies would be withdrawn in favor of U.N. buffer forces. The price of Iraq's violence would be the dismantling of its threatening arsenals, though part of a larger regional settlement in which concessions would be security for all sides. Washington would let the European Community take the lead on the Palestinian issue, recognizing the Europeans' stake and credibility as well as setting a precedent for shared responsibility. Simultaneously, every resource of American diplomacy would be applied to forging a united Arab commitment to settlement, to ridding Israel of its indispensable enemy by pan-Arab demilitarization, on the model of Mikhail Gorbachev's arms initiatives toward the U.S. To Israel the U.S. would pledge, by a joint resolution of Congress, that any invasion of its pre-1967 territory (excluding Gaza) would be equivalent to an attack on the U.S., requiring our full defense. We would urge the U.N., and particularly the Soviet Union, to join us. But with or without their participation, the U.S. commitment would be unequivocal. If Israel failed to join promptly in European-sponsored negotiations, it would be the U.S. position that our principled support does not extend to mutual suicide, and that Israel would be economically sanctioned like any other international obstructor. To the Palestinians, the U.S. would pledge its matching commitment to the establishment and integrity of a sovereign state on the West Bank and in Gaza, in return for an immediate end to the intifada and prompt settlement negotiations. As with Israel, Palestinian hostilities under any guise would bring new, U.S.-sponsored international sanctions. Washington would lead a world consortium to provide special aid to Jordan, and technical and educational assistance to Palestine, enabling them to gain their peaceful equilibrium. Civil rights of Arab citizens in Israel and Jewish citizens in Palestine, along with the multicultural status of Jerusalem, would be enforced by the U.N., a first act of the new world order. The U.S. and other wealthier nations would press for a new Middle East commonwealth -- adama tziburit in Hebrew, al-tharwa al-oumoumiya in Arabic, the ancient, concept of a shared land and resources, economic and spiritual. A regional development bank would equitably redistribute from rich Arab nations to poor, away from chaos toward equity and vested interests in peace. The U.S. would support a Middle Eastern community, Arab and Jew, no less than it supported European unity, and for similar historical reasons. A Middle East demilitarization conference, nuclear and conventional, would be convoked by U.S. leadership through the U.N., on the principle of "trust but verify," with international inspection of all states. Regional arms control would parallel U.S.-Soviet-European arms reductions. The White House would launch at home a program for energy diversification and alternative fuels, aimed not only at domestic realignment but also at international conservation, conversion, and planetary management of scarce resources, environmental hazards and imbalances in development. That -- not the anachronistic and unavailing punishment of Iraq -- would give meaning to the words new, world and order. If only the rhetorical fictions of politics, the false practicalities and irrelevant experiences did not impede such a breakthrough. If only an American President, letting a petty dictator claim what he will in a small corner, could move confidently beyond to build a legitimate peace and receive his own rightful credit.