There are two reference points as to when the new world of the 21st century was born. One is September 11, 2001, the day when the terrorist threat replaced the threat of a nuclear war between global powers. The other, the least known of the two, is October 7, 2002, the day of the first bombing of Kabul, i.e. the first day of the war in Afghanistan.
Just how this date will go down in history is yet unclear. Right at this moment, it looks like it was the first day of a new world order, in which there is only one global power. It is still unclear, however, if the USA is going to become a lone giant or an important member, perhaps even a leader, of a powerful international anti-terrorist coalition. As of this moment, what with Washington's attempts to twist the arm of its allies, rivals and the whole of the United Nations for the sake of unleashing war against Iraq, the coalition has turned into a phantom.
When the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda was just beginning on October 7, 2001, the USA had the whole world assisting it. Back then, the US Department of State listed 60 countries among members of the anti-terrorist coalition, including Russia, China and even Iran. It's no secret that the USA would not have achieved quick success in Afghanistan despite of its overwhelming military power if it hadn't been for the key part played by Russia, India, Pakistan and a few other countries.
But even in need of allies, Washington was nevertheless striving to act independently from everyone, even from NATO. It was an echo of that situation that we heard one of these days, when NATO Secretary-General George Robertson attacked Washington for one-sided activity in Afghanistan at a moment when all global powers were offering the USA to stand "nip and tuck in the struggle against international terrorism," whatever that means. A funny situation: Robertson is now offering to join efforts with Russia to meet new terrorist threats while criticizing the USA for ignoring the Alliance...
It has by now become clear that the weirdness of US-NATO relations is not a mere coincidence. One sees it from the nuances of the US National Security Strategy - a document that says America may deal preventive blows to the countries that it thinks could pose a threat in the future, and includes a clause about other nations not being allowed to use the preventive principle "as a pretext for aggression." A unique situation: international law is applied to everyone except the USA. Could this have begun in Afghanistan 12 months ago, when America misinterpreted general international support and sympathy?
One can spend a long time reflecting on what it was that accounted for a situation when all of the United States' former allies wish they knew how to constrain the American madness. Probably the reason lies with the threatening economic situation. It turned out that during the military year 2001, direct capital-productive investments dropped by 700 billion worldwide. That does not mean, however, that no one wants to invest: investments in the USA and in Europe dropped by 60%, while those in Eastern Asia fell by some 24% only. Apparently, the way capital moves does not suit George Bush...
That is, the crisis which is cropping up is not just American but global, and a very unpredictable one too. Destabilization of the situation in the Mideast, which will inevitably happen once the war in Iraq begins, could hardly solve the crisis. And that is what the 12 months of war with Afghanistan prove. They prove, for instance, that in the Mideast one never knows what is better, tranquility or shooting.
It turns out that in Afghanistan, US soldiers have no one to fight against because the enemy dodges the blows. But the situation is disquieting because the relationship with the local population does not get any better. According to The Washington Post, the military campaign against the surviving bits of Taliban and Al-Qaeda comes to the digging of wells and rebuilding of schools and bridges. One instantly remembers similar reports from the 1980s, the ones that followed the engagement of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. By the way, those reports were true. They did try to improve their relations with locals. Everyone knows what that ended in.
In the meantime, Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, a well-known figure of the 1980s whom everyone knows as Engineer, has returned from Iran to Afghanistan and is reportedly consolidating the surviving Taliban and Al-Qaeda people in the Pashto-inhabited South, which is occupied by American soldiers. They say Hekmatyar advocates the idea of "uniting Moslems against the infidels." Bin Laden's cause lives and triumphs?...
Peaceful activities of 8,000 soldiers from the 82nd Division and US special task forces have begun on request from Hamid Karzai's government, which was worried about the growing hostility of fellow compatriots towards the US presence. Since the appeal, Afghan women have been searched for weapons and explosives only by women soldiers.
What is also typical of US activity in Afghanistan is its independence: the 82nd division lives its own life, separately from the European-Turkish contingent. The same goes for the economic programs of aid to Karzai. Allow me to repeat once again that the principle of one-sided actions was adopted by Americans from the very beginning, i.e. a year ago. All we do now is wait and see if the United States' actions in Iraq are going to be one-sided as well.