Military operations in Iraq have split the world community into two camps
As a result of the confrontation, a serious crisis broke out with consequences still obvious. The reaction of Washington to criticism from those protesting against the war is interesting. The phrase "Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia" is alleged to have been pronounced by US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Many observers treat the words as the basis of US policy. Their force is so loud it explains the massive comments they have generated.
Who gave the US Administration the right to be judge? What are the norms of international law that encourage statements of this kind and action that these statements provoke?
There is only one explanation: US allies and opponents of the war have de-facto admitted the leading role of the US in international affairs. In fact, this means Washington has been given the indulgence of forgiving faults committed and prospective. Indeed, if anything similar to the Iraqi crisis happens again, any harsh criticism in Washington’s address will sound rather unconvincing.
The possibility of military operations by the US Army in Syria and Iran was seriously discussed. When it was, journalists and politicians were not interested in who gave the US the right to plan such action; all they were anxious about was when such operations could be started.
Today, no visible changes have taken place in the tactics (or strategy) of Washington. France is still punished when its plans on the Iraqi problem settlement are turned down. Germany is ignored when Gerhard Schroeder’s conciliatory statements are given no comment.
Russia is being forgiven especially given that Moscow has agreed with the occupation of Iraq; Russia does not object to the US being at the head of the UN peacemaking forces. At the same time, while Russia is cherishing the dream of keeping close relations with Paris and Berlin, at the same time it desires not to spoil relations with Washington that seem to have improved recently.
The problem is that this is impossible to be a success in both directions for a long period; sooner or later, Russia will have to choose which side it takes. Moscow will hardly choose open confrontation with Washington. Rendering support to the US in these or other international issues, in the most important ones, allows Russia to have more concessions in problems that occur in the post-Soviet area. But in this case, it would be strange to speak about Russia's independent foreign policy. So, today Moscow is to decide what is more important for it, a bird in the hand or two in the bush.
The US is working on a new resolution of the UN concerning the Iraqi issue. This resolution is believed to become the basis for making the Iraqi occupation legitimate. The US will hardly face any problems while putting the new initiative to the vote. France has practically pulled out of the resolution discussion; it has already declared it would not turn the resolution down.
Russia is actively negotiating with the US and making attempts to save face. It is said that if there are some contradictions concerning the UN role and the period of the occupation, all parties are currently working on the discrepancies. No doubt, if this time Washington once again ignores Moscow's opinion, Russia will hardly impose the veto on the resolution.
But this is not the issue on which the White House is particularly focused today. Next time, elections are to take place in the US. That is why the incumbent American administration is particularly anxious about too high spending on maintenance of the occupation force and on post-war restoration of Iraq.
The incumbent president of America is less successful than his father, who in 1991 managed to share the burden of spending on the allies in the anti-Iraq coalition. Nowadays, America's allies are not very rich. Poland cannot be compared to Saudi Arabia, which covered almost one quarter of the war spending 12 years ago.
At present, Washington has to promise large incentives to those countries who agree to make up the coalition and send their soldiers to Iraq. This may sound extremely cynical, but in most cases today's allies of the US do not care about the events going on in Iraq. The only thing they need in addition to some material interest is American support that may come in handy some day. Such an ally as the US gives other countries vast opportunities. In fact, the president-day American administration likes performing this role very much.
What is the whole of the world witnessing today? We have become witnesses to a very important historic event: the system of international relations that formed after WWII has collapsed once and for all. And it doesn't matter today if the system was good or bad.
This is more important than that the breakup of the USSR eliminated the counterweight to US dominating aspirations. It takes quite a short period of time to realize this. At the same time, it takes the US much more time to decide how to use the huge resources it has accumulated within the years of rivalry with the USSR.
America discovered a wonderful way out of the situation: it has assumed the role of the universal gendarme. This is said to be done with the good intention of human rights protection all over the world. The slogan had been used while bombing Yugoslavia and later for unleashing the war in Iraq.
As far as this slogan is universal and can be applied in any situation, this may happen so that another war may be started some day. Where and against whom another war can be started?