OPINION

Opinion

So far, moderate US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s line seems to be prevailing. This policy gives priority to the maintenance of the global alliance, reinforcing the position of the USA in the long term and preparing the ground for military cooperation with Russia and China. Powell would like to see the campaign against Afghanistan concluded by mid-November so that the USA will not have to bomb a Muslim state during Ramadan, a fact which could undermine the cohesion of the alliance. At the same time, Powell has criticized Israel and sided in favor of promoting a plan for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in an attempt to change the climate in the Muslim world. These positions have been rejected by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and other hardliners who deem that the USA has no need of the countries from which they derive little advantage while they should not distance themselves from Israel, their closest ally. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a hardliner, has even rejected Powell’s view in public. Invoking historical evidence, he said that no Muslim state has ever respected Ramadan at a time of war and hence the USA has no reason to do so either. This internal rift will have a defining effect on the Mideast dispute, on US relations with the Islamic world and, more generally, on future international developments. The new government lineup fully reflects his preferences. However, the time that Simitis has at his disposal has been halved while the challenges have remained in place. The unfavorable global situation has added to the various delays.