Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation
Last Tuesday, October 1, negotiations between Hans Blix, head of a UN arms inspection commission, and Iraqi representatives, ended in Vienna. Baghdad gave in to all UN demands, including access for UN weapons inspectors, who had been ordered out of the country four years ago, to all military installations where weapons of mass destruction might be kept. It is up to the Security Council to decide whether to press for access to Saddam Hussein's eight palaces
Having expressed, in Vienna, full satisfaction, Blix said that inspectors would return to Iraq in about two weeks' time. On Tuesday, however, upstaging the event, U.S. Secretary of State Powell opposed the return without a new, tougher Security Council resolution. Russia, France, and China - three of the five UN Security Council members - do not think it is necessary.
And so last Thursday, when Blix was back in New York, the Security Council met for a new session. Russia and France reaffirmed their position, as did the Americans. Who is the master of the house? Blix went off to Washington to meet with Powell. Blix's new position: What is the point in sending the inspectors if a new resolution, should it be adopted, will change their mandate? Meanwhile, President Bush has focused on a mandate from U.S. Congress. The House of Representatives has been conditioned to play along. A debate in the Senate is pending next week. Bush shifted the accent: His objective is not to remove (and destroy) Saddam but to disarm Iraq. Iraq is threatening the United States? This is ridiculous, its officials say. But who listens to them?
Of the permanent Security Council members, Washington does have one staunch ally - British Prime Minister Tony Blair, dubbed by The New York Times (after British newspapers) Bush's poodle. Nearly half of his party members and more than half of the country's population are against a war in the Persian Gulf. There are fewer protesters in Washington, but their slogans are highly expressive: No to blood-for-oil!
October has already begun, and the exhausting heat in Iraq is on the wane - a comfortable season for combat action by the Yankees. Several U.S. Representatives have recently visited Baghdad. Democrat Jim McDermott summed up the tactics of Washington hawks: It is wrong to begin with putting a gun to a man's head, and warning him that you will pull the trigger as soon as he blinks. Wrong? But this is just the point of the ongoing provocative pressure: To wait for Saddam to blink. And for Blix, too. And, it seems, for the Security Council. The September 11 terrorist attacks and then the U.S. anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan made Moscow and Washington partners. Also, because Putin's Russia looks at many things through the prism of Chechnya. But Washington's Iraq scenario does not fit into a framework of partnership.
Chechen separatism has a strong flavor of international terrorism, and this seems to broaden a common platform of Russian-U.S. partnership that emerged in the wake of 9/11. The platform apparently ensures a stable advancement of Russian-U.S. relations that ended in a deadlock under Clinton/Yeltsin because our liberals were fawning on American tutors.
But, failing to find bin Laden, our friend Bush decided to dispose of Saddam who has not as yet gone underground. And so the Russian-U.S. alliance, just as the entire international antiterrorist coalition, came up against problems, contradictions, and conflicting interests. Washington thinks global, not local, just as we do in Chechnya. Our complications with Georgia look comical next to Bush's readiness to fight with Iraq - if necessary, in circumvention of the UN; moreover, recarving the political map of the Near Eastern region at his own sweet will. Judging by reports about plans by his most hawkish associates, such as, e.g., Vice President Cheney or Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz, the idea is to remove Iraq from this map altogether, incorporating it into a weak and small Jordan, and putting the king of Jordan, obedient to Washington, in charge of both; also getting full control over the Iraqi oil.
Democrat Gore, former U.S. vice president, criticizes Bush Jr. because his crusade against Iraq effectively destroys the international antiterrorist coalition. This criticism is not enough, even though President Chirac and Chancellor Schroder, at their meeting in Paris last Wednesday, jointly spoke against the U.S. approach and in favor of an Iraqi settlement strictly within the framework of the UN. Russia, too, leaves no one in doubt about its own position. Consciously or subconsciously, Bush - through his conduct on the Iraq issue - is staking out a claim to U.S. world supremacy. The latest case in point is Washington's demand - moreover, one that has been granted by the EU - that U.S. military servicemen and diplomats be excepted from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Also, the latest decision by U.S. Congress to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel - in defiance of a UN resolution, passed more than half a century ago, that the ancient city be divided between Israel and Palestine.
To sum up, mid-term consequences of the disintegration of the world order that evolved with the end of World War II are becoming increasingly pronounced. The basic elements of U.S.-Soviet confrontation have disappeared. There is no opposition to U.S. hegemony, nor is it likely emerge any time soon. Europe is distancing itself from the United States, but West European states, accustomed for decades to rely on Uncle Sam's patronage, are but "political dwarfs," in the definition of one German newspaper.
World domination by one power in the 21st century seems to be at odds with the nature of things. Yet it well fits into the U.S. idea of globalism.
Copyright Moscow News 2002. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .
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