Neither Rival nor Vassal

Saturday, 10 May 2003 07:57 by: Anonymous
By Claude Weill
Le Nouvel Observateur

Tuesday 06 May 2003

As was foreseeable, the United States, indifferent to critics and cautions, have undertaken to put a ``stabilization force'' in Iraq- otherwise called an administration of occupation -, without the least care in the world to seek the endorsement of the international community.  The U.S. will act without a collective mandate and outside the framework of international law. Without any legitimacy other than that conferred by the will of the victor.

The UN? Out of the game.  For having refused to ratify preemptive war, the UN is reduced to the rank of a humanitarian organization.  A sort of super-Red-Cross, that finds its Baghdad locations today- an unprecedented humiliation- placed under the protection of American soldiers.  That is to say, occupied by them. NATO? Out of the game. Obsolete. The European Union? Out of the game.

And, of course, out of the game the countries of the axis of ``no''- France, Germany and Russia-who obviously have nothing to say in the matter.

No more does the Arab League or any other of these obstructionists of world dominance who would attempt to impede American plans.

America and America only will designate those countries admitted to participation in the ``stabilization'' of Iraq. As it intends to determine the modalities and the timetable. As it intends to hand pick the induction of the new Iraqi institutions that will be called on to progressively take over the country. No international agreement. No debate-unless one counts the one taking place in the hallways that pits Colin Powell's State Department against Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, the developments of which one follows in the press reports of appointments, just as in times past one deciphered the evolution of power relationships in the heart of the Politburo.

An unadulterated triumph of unilateralism.  In the post-war as in the war.  ``It is Austria's duty to direct world affairs'', it was said at the apogee of the Holy Roman Empire. And so it goes today with America.  By what right? The right of the strongest that its military power ensures.  The right of legitimate self-defense that it claims since the Sept 11 aggression. The moral and quasi religious right with which George Bush believes himself to be invested.

In the face of this unprecedented situation, international institutions and great nations remain silent and as paralyzed. The former are reduced to powerlessness: they will not make themselves ridiculous by crying from the rooftops. The latter, the small and medium powers,  grope to see whether there is a third way, between rebellion and capitulation, that would allow them to regain Washington's good graces without having to utterly disavow themselves.

In the new world order being established before our eyes, each must find his own place. Invent his own way.  There are those, like Jacques Chirac, who rose up before the lion, hoping to make it back down.  Without success.  And then there are those, who, like Tony Blair, grab onto the lion's tail, hoping to tame it that way.  Up to now, the results have hardly been more compelling. Most likely, to survive in the world of tomorrow, one must be neither rival nor vassal. But agile, responsive, fast, maneuverable.  Precisely all that great empires are not.


Translation: TruthOut French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher


Claude Weill is Assistant Editing Director of the Nouvel Observateur and this report is broadcast on Radio-Canada

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