A cracking alliance

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a Soviet ally during the fierce Arab-Israeli clash and a US protege during the Iraq-Iran war, has managed to cause a deep rupture in NATO, succeeding where the USSR failed. The crisis does not reflect Saddam’s abilities but rather the fact that unrivaled US military power is not matched by any ability to manage the international system, which is being strongly challenged. The US views the world through a theocratic lens, as if it possesses the absolute truth about good and evil, and it does not hesitate to promote good as it sees it. Friday’s UN Security Council session showed that in the wake of September 11, the US will not hesitate to take unilateral action, perhaps with the backing of some of their allies. European leaders, on the other hand, made the mistake of underestimating the Bush presidency and its warning that «whoever is not with us is against us.» It is a secondary concern whether US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was wrong to divide Europe into «new» and «old» or whether the French are caught up in an illusion of greatness. More importantly, the clash has caused a huge crack in NATO and the EU, and the Franco-German axis has built a common front with Russia against the US on a crucial international issue. The emancipation of Western Europe was bound to come through a rift with the US. At the same time, Germany and France can’t help but have an eye fixed eastward for geopolitical and historical reasons. This broader crisis has been exported to Greece, which may be an ally of the Western European powers but remains dependent on the US as far as security is concerned. It would be naive to foresee a US withdrawal from Europe because of a veto in the Security Council. However, the fact that it was Saddam who sparked this crisis was beyond the imagination of the Iraqi dictator.