Administering the chaos

The war of the US and Britain against Iraq has entered its final phase. Horrible as the images of civilian casualties are, America’s occupation of this Arab country is a dramatic development with unpredictable repercussions for the whole world. To date, the US has influenced the Mideast through affiliated regimes and support for Israel – whose security it guarantees – and Turkey, on the basis of its NATO obligations. Washington’s move to take over Baghdad will radically transform the landscape because of Iraq’s key position. Washington’s strong military presence there will alone suffice to promote US interests in the area. The US may ultimately alienate itself from Turkey, but not from Israel. At the domestic level it will be military occupation, along with reconstruction and the spread of Western values, as happened, mutatis mutandis, in Japan after World War II. Europe’s main powers, France and Germany, and even Britain, are nervously watching the advancement of US policies and are struggling to assert some control over postwar developments by promoting the need for UN involvement. However, as US Secretary of State Colin Powell said, having shouldered the economic and political cost of this campaign, the US will also have the final say. What European leaders don’t want to accept is that an almighty America, convinced about the soundness of its principles and permeated with a sense of mission, is actually a power outside Europe’s world view. So instead of building an independent system, they are eying a rapprochement with the US. This, however, can only occur on Washington’s terms. Regardless of outside reactions and of the figures in the White House today, the US is an unmatched superpower who will eliminate any resistance in its way to build an American-based system.