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Re: [casi] Nutcase Robert Cooper:"Civilise or die"

A reply to this question:

"hello all
 could someone please interpret mr cooper's article? i am unable to deduce
 thesis that is presented. is he disinterring the "white man's burden"
 approach?"  From: <>

To: <>; <>
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2003 3:58 PM
Subject: Re: [casi] Nutcase Robert Cooper:"Civilise or die"

Yes. Guardian and other world newspapers have been warning about Cooper for
a long while. (But not in the US)

Three examples from Guardian, Lebanon Star, Times of India:

A new imperialism cooked up over a Texan barbecue
Sovereignty is being redefined, so why has nobody noticed?

Hugo Young
Tuesday April 2, 2002
The Guardian

Robert Cooper is an unusual public servant. Until recently he was one of
Tony Blair's close personal foreign policy advisers, and he remains the most
adventurous geopolitical thinker in the Foreign Office. He is rare for three
reasons. He is creative beyond the norm. He does his thinking in public:
last week Tam Dalyell called him a maniac, because he wrote an article
advocating new empires as a plausible remedy for current global ills. Most
important, he will be the ghost at the barbecue when Tony Blair spends the
coming long weekend with President Bush in Crawford, Texas.

Mr Cooper acquired, several years ago, a mysterious licence to publish.
Mainline officials almost never write in public, but Cooper has done so many
times. Some benign FCO boss must have decided there was virtue in letting a
chink of light into the hidden world of British foreign policymaking, and
knew that Cooper would show the department at its stimulating best. His
theory of empire, as it appeared last week, is not new-minted. When it first
appeared, in Prospect magazine six months ago, nobody called him mad,
because nobody noticed. Earlier, there were those who thought they detected
a whiff of the master in another Prospect piece, about Germany, written
under the name of Cooper's partner, the great pianist Mitsuko Uchida - but
nobody noticed that either.

The first imperialist essay straddled a key moment. Completed before 9/11,
it appeared shortly afterwards, a learned historical survey of old empires
and their meaning, and an account of how a new idea of empire might help
peace in the world. One can't prove the connection, but the text would have
been helpful to those who crafted Blair's speech to the October party
conference, his own definitive statement of moral imperialism in face of
global terror. But a connection can now be more established with the
thinking of the doves, let alone the hawks, in the Bush administration.

The more recent essay sharpens up the first. Its argument, though
controversial, is not crazy. One must assume that Tam D, and other Labour
MPs whose nerve-ends were righteously electrified by the mere mention of
empire, didn't read it in full. What Cooper proposes, in face of the
pervasive threat from failed states, is a system of voluntary imperialism,
or "cooperative empire", under which nations get together with their
neighbours, the strong with the weaker, to start fashioning a world order
that is less prey than the present one to manifold threats from
international crime and weapons of mass destruction.

The bones of this, he suggests, already exist. The Balkan peace is dependent
on a voluntary international protectorate that brings not just soldiers but
police, judges, prison officers and central bankers to Bosnia and Kosovo.
The system he envisages is one not of imposition, but self-imposition. Duly
encouraged, more nations might want to live under such a system that
voluntarily reduces their so-called sovereignty. It is a sophisticated, far
from incredible argument which, seeping across the Atlantic, now takes on
startling new importance.

For what do we now hear from the State Department? A similar proposition,
directed at more immediate circumstances. Richard Haass is Colin Powell's
director of policy planning. Interviewed in the New Yorker about future
policy against global terrorism, he articulates a new doctrine of the limits
of national sovereignty, to justify the interventions the US is currently

"Sovereignty entails obligations," Haass muses. "One is not to massacre your
own people. Another is not to support terrorism in any way. If a government
fails to meet these obligations, then it forfeits some of the normal
advantages of sovereignty, including the right to be left alone inside your
own territory. Other governments, including the US, gain the right to
intervene. In the case of terrorism this can even lead to a right of
preventive, or peremptory, self-defence."

Speaking explicitly of an attack on Saddam Hussein, Haass states that the
American public wouldn't need much persuading of the need for this. "We'd be
able to make the case that this isn't a discretionary action but one done in
self-defence." He speaks with confidence of being able to sign other major
powers up to this idea of how the world should operate. Or, as Cooper
writes, there'll be circumstances when "we need to revert to the rougher
methods of an earlier era - force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever
is necessary to deal with those who still live in the 19th-century world of
every state for itself".

In Crawford, Blair will be arguing for restraint. His agenda is a wide one.
He wants to talk with Bush about the practicality as much as the morality of
an Iraq attack. He'll be urging maximum fulfilment of all UN processes. We
may be certain that he's quite as aware as we are of the risks, at every
level, of an assault on Saddam. Declining to publish the FCO's new dossier
on Iraqi weaponry shows a proper apprehension about the state of domestic
and Labour party opinion. Blair is being compelled, not before time, to
become less of a personal unilateralist.

But there's a significant gap in his armoury, which would have been
unthinkable six months ago. I asked one of his entourage whether he was
going to Texas in any way as a spokesman for the EU as a whole, and was
told: "no way." This conversation will be between the Anglo-American
leadership, studiously separated from continental Europeans, who are held to
have too many perspectives. The prospect looms of Blair's passionate
moralism being seduced into making common cause with Bush's aggressive
pragmatism, in pursuit of a new doctrine of justifiable intervention which
has not been discussed anywhere outside these two countries.

It's urgently necessary that it should be. For the Richard Haass
formulation, echoing so resonantly that of Robert Cooper, looks set to
become a basic text of coming decades. If the campaign against global terror
is to last as long as Donald Rumsfeld predicted - and it shows every sign of
doing so - the new unsovereignty of nations will soon be as central to daily
life as the UN charter. The imperial idea, however benignly refashioned,
cannot be allowed to slide into the orthodoxy without the world having a
chance to contest and refine, if not reject, it.

The original thinker, meanwhile, has returned to the FCO. Downing Street,
reorganising itself after the election, decided Mr Cooper did not fit. But
not because of his ideas. He just wasn't enough of a bureaucrat. Mr Blair's
needs moved on. He wanted close to him someone more at home with the nuts
and bolts of the European Union, better equipped to make the prime minister
a leader and shaper there. He may prove to have been a mover and shaker in
the wider world too, exporting the thoughts of his adventurous former
servant from east to west. But now he travels west himself, for a perilous
meeting in which two countries begin to line up behind the new imperialism
all on their own. --April 2002


Call to Raj but India no longer white man's burden


As Tony Blair snatches up his pith helmet and designer-bleached pair of
jodhpurs and awkwardly adjusts the white man's burden on his back, let us
yet again recall Kipling, who poetically made it kosher to fight "the savage
wars of peace". In 1899, the man who was arguably the greatest of Mumbai's
imperial literary exports, declaimed, "Take up the White Man's burden/ In
patience to abide, / To veil the threat of terror / And check the show of

Can we wonder in our post-September 11 terrorised world, if Kipling was not
an ink-stained prophet of some sort, dimly forseeing the threat of terror
and the show of pride that America, Britain and much of Europe have now
pledged to bludgeon into submission?

We can wonder, but we already know the answer. Kipling didn't have a clue
about what shape and form the 21st century's phobias would take or indeed
the fancifully modern European Union-led imperialism recently extolled and
advocated by Blair's foreign policy guru, a thoughtful diplomat by the name
of Robert Cooper. Cooper's arguments are important because for all that he
is repeating a theory he has personally cogitated on, developed and
propounded since 1996, this is really and truly His Master's Voice. The call
to empire - and by extension, its regulation kit of jodhpurs and pith
helmets - comes in a pamphlet that tellingly carries a foreword by Blair

Even so, the unofficial poet laureate to yesterday's Raj might have quibbled
about the workaday prose of tomorrow's empire-builders. For, Cooper, a
thinker but not clearly a writer, uses words like "defensive imperialism",
"pre-modern states" and "zones of chaos" to justify his call for a new moral
interventionist colonisation of countries that step out of line.

Kipling's Raj had a poetic imperative: "To wait, in heavy harness, / On
fluttered folk and wild -- / Your new-caught sullen peoples, /Half devil and
half child". The Blair-Cooper regime offers only brute "force, pre-emptive
attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live
in the nineteenth century world…". But eventually, the new empire will be
patronising and prosaic and provide its "citizens with some of its laws,
some coins and the occasional road".

Should India be alarmed and repulsed in equal proportion? Yes, even though
this time round history has dealt us a better hand. This time, we are
largely safe from the attentions of those who seek to don nuclear
attack-proof solar topis . Cooper deigns to call us a "modern state", on a
par with China and on somewhat dubious parity with Pakistan. The latter is
commended by the new Raj as a state that behaves "as states always have,
following Machiavellian principles and raison d'état".

So much for Kipling's exhortation to those who left the playing fields of
Eton only to command vast tracts of our land with "dear-bought wisdom".

At last then, we have seen the workman-like first draft of the old empire
writing back, but with rather less sophistication than before and no cadence
or rhythm at all. Can one wonder that so few are persuaded?


>From the Daily Star, Lebanon, 04/02/02:

Anger over Cooper's Influence on Blair

Cooper argues that active intervention is sometimes necessary, even if
Western countries may break the rules. “Among ourselves, we operate on the
basis of laws … but when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states
outside the post-modern continent of Europe, we need to revert to rougher
methods of an earlier era – force, pre-emptive attack, deception.” To make
sure he is perfectly understood, Cooper adds that “when we are operating in
the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle.” So much for British

One wonders why Blair’s government, before offering its PR services to
Israel, does not first think of improving its own image in the world, not to
mention within its own ruling party. Labor MPs were said to be absolutely
furious about Cooper’s influence on Blair, and about his pamphlet. “The
Tsarina of Russia was better advised by Rasputin than the prime minister is
by this maniac,” said Tam Dalyell, one of the leading Labor backbenchers
opposing a war on Iraq.

It appears that Blair will go to any length to find some justification for
the war on Iraq, or even for other wars of which we are still not aware. The
Cooper pamphlet comes in the midst of obstinate opposition within Britain to
armed intervention in Iraq (nearly 140 MPs have now signed the Commons
Motion against it), and after the nuclear option was proposed last week by
Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon. But Hoon had more to say this week, going a
step further in provoking anger within party ranks when he said that Britain
could join a strike on Iraq without prior approval from the UN. Hoon said on
ITV that “as far as I understand the position, legally we would be perfectly
entitled to use force as we have done in the past, without the support of a
United Nations Security Council resolution.”

He also took this opportunity to repeat that Britain would use “appropriate,
proportionate responses” (including nuclear weapons) against the Iraqi
regime. --Daily Star 04-02-02

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