Only a few weeks short of the first anniversary of 9/11 it describes a growing concern that the international order was turning away from the US march to war, and what ramifications there might be if a balance-of-power coalition forming against the US as the sole super-power in the world. Post includes original commentary in first comment.
A departure from the usual monotonous writing logs. I’ve been browsing international news clips in regards to the war on Iraq this evening. Over the last few weeks country after country it seems has come forward to indicate firmly they are not for a war in Iraq. Germany, Saudia Arabia, China, Britan, Russia. A mix of old allies and enemies alike.
Tonight on reading China’s disapproval I began to think that maybe this reaction has nothing to do with Iraq itself. For nearly a decade over two presidencies now the US has maintained a hegemony over international politics where its interests were at stake that brooked little to no argument. What we wanted to do we did and brought our allies along with us and they came(Somalia, Kosovo/Serbia, Afghanistan etc.). What we didn’t want to do we didn’t do and seemed not to care what our allies or world opinion thought (Kyoto Treaty, ABM Treaty, Mine Ban Treaty, witholding UN funds for internal domestic reasons etc.)
That’s when I began to wonder if this reaction in the last few weeks was even about Iraq at all. My gut feeling is that a lot of frustration building among allies and enemies alike and they feel that this specific issue, at this time, in this environment is one they can all step up and say “No” to the US. The more countries which say “No” the more cover it gives to the next ones down the line to do so as well. What does this mean if by the time we decide we’re ready to go into Iraq every other major and mid-power country around the world has refused to back our play?
The US hasn’t embarked in a significant unilateral military action since Vietnam (picking on the small South American countries in the 80’s excluded). It marks a very significant shift from where we were just eight months ago after Sept. 11th.. I’m not making a moral judgement on the past decisions, or even whether a Saddam regime change is even a good/bad effort. Pragmatically we can’t always see to our interests and our allies at the same time. But also historically it’s unusual for a sole superpower to be backed by mid power nations. Usually it’s the opposite and the mid-power nations form a coallition against the super-power to create balance. It’s happened in the past; Britain, Russia, France vs. Germany in WWI. Britain, Germany, Russia vs. France in Napoleanic times. France, Spain, Germany vs. Britain the 1600’s. Playing the balance of power game in Europe is a pastime over a millenia old.
I’m just wondering if we’ve slipped into that category and what it means for US interests going forward. Some might think that we don’t need to worry about these types of things, “we’re the US and we’ll do what we want to do and screw those who get in our way.” But in each of the situations above the predominant super-power was brought into check over time by the mid-power coallition of nations. I don’t think that would be beneficial for the US in the long run. Or I could be wrong…all the posturing in the media may just be that and when the US puts the rubber to the road the allies will step on board and the enemies will denounce our actions in the press but do little else. Just some rambling thoughts for the evening.