OPINION

Fading hopes

The United States of America is very close to staging a showdown with Iraq, judging from comments made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to Russia’s ORT television yesterday. «The United States, with or without UN support, will lead the coalition of countries willing to join us to disarm Iraq by force,» Powell said, rendering any unfavorable UN resolution meaningless. Furthermore, the fact that the US diplomacy supremo made such a statement in public two days before the supposedly crucial Security Council meeting, which is to discuss the new findings of the UN inspectors, demonstrates that Washington has ruled out a «yes» vote at the council and hence snubs the process expected to take place early next week. Washington’s reckoning seems to have been consolidated by the trilateral meeting in France between the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Russia, who hinted that they will not condone a resolution authorizing the recourse to force, should the USA try to pass one. In an unprecedented move, the Russian foreign minister said that Moscow will not abstain from the vote, clearly suggesting that it would veto the move if necessary. The path to war now seems to postulate unilateral US action. The warning by the Turkish army yesterday against its MPs’ rejection of a government motion calling for the deployment of 60,000 US troops in Turkey for a possible war in Iraq, reflects Pentagon pressure on the Turkish military in view of the military campaign. The war appears unavoidable and sources say it should begin about 10 days from now, though nothing can be said with certainty. Nevertheless, the point is not when it will start, but that it looks unstoppable. The repercussions of a war on Europe and the rest of the world would be grave. The government must intensify its efforts to contain the negative fallout – especially economic. The weaknesses of the Greek economy will become particularly pronounced as oil prices will soar, while foreign exchange earning activities, such as tourism, are already under pressure. The economic fallout will by no means be a negligible one, and will come at a difficult time for Greece and Europe in general. The government must take measures now in order to meet the requirements of postwar recovery.