OPINION

Iraq and Cyprus

Why is it that George Bush spends a lot of his precious time in telephone conversations with Costas Karamanlis and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussing the fate of oil-scarce Cyprus while turmoil persists in Iraq? One must first answer this question if one is to see the Cyprus issue in the light of the volatile geopolitical landscape of the region. The possibility of American withdrawal from Iraq would be a worse outcome than what has been described as «Bush’s Vietnam.» Despite its political and ideological gravity, America’s defeat in Indochina neither challenged its role as the leading power of a united West nor its economic and geopolitical supremacy over the Eastern bloc. A defeat in Iraq, on the other hand, would be the beginning of the end for the American hegemony and provide a boost to rival powers like Europe and Russia. Bush could seek an exit strategy from the Iraqi minefield on the basis of an historic compromise with the big Eurasian powers and internationalize the occupation behind the UN mantle. However, inviting in those who objected to Washington’s war plans by giving them a share in the spoils of victory would be seen as a humiliating concession for Bush and the US. As a result, Washington sees no other option but to repress resistance by resorting to crude force and by mobilizing its regional allies. Hence America’s haste to impose the UN plan for Cyprus. It is less because they need a giant air base in the southeastern Mediterranean (they already have this anyway) and more because they want Turkey to play a more active role in the Iraqi crisis and are pushing for its EU entry so as to undercut the bloc’s political momentum. However, both the ongoing violence in Iraq and developments over Cyprus show that America’s penchant for resolving issues by forceful intervention in other states provokes the opposite results from what it set out to achieve.