OPINION

Commentary

Amid criticism of US President George W. Bush from the American and European liberal political elite for declaring war on global terrorism, considerable steps are being taken in the diplomatic realm to build a broad coalition to back Washington’s campaign. The ongoing rapprochement between Iran and the West is one of the most striking developments of the Bush administration’s approach. This particular aspect of American policy is actually being promoted by Britain, the USA’s closest ally. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s visit to Tehran, which makes him the first British foreign secretary to visit Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979, conveyed two significant political messages. One came from Iranian Foreign Minister Kemal Kharrazi, who did not exclude military action against Afghanistan, emphasizing the need for international consensus on this issue. The other was conveyed through Straw’s remarks ahead of his arrival in Tehran. One of the factors that helps breed terrorism is the anger that many people in this region feel at events over the years in Palestine, he said. Straw’s link between terrorism and the present situation in Palestine at this crucial moment is no coincidence, and it reinforces the impression that the international community is promoting a more balanced intervention in the Mideast dispute along with attempting to crack down on the global terrorist network. This is the approach of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has not rushed to advocate use of the most efficient war machine in human history. However, deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz has tried to torpedo this approach with hyperbolic statements reminiscent of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Were Wolfowitz’s ideas to prevail, they could well jeopardize the USA’s and Europe’s relations with the Arab world. As regards the war and the crusade declared by Bush, these must be interpreted as a way to overcome obstacles raised by Congress, secure the necessary funds, and rally around him the Americans who voted him into power, rather than the intellectuals or liberals who did everything to prevent his election.