Saturday, March 22
Re-ordering the world
The Economist Global Agenda, Mar 21st 2003
It is already clear that whatever the outcome of the war in Iraq, relations between the world's most powerful countries have shifted significantly. How far-reaching will the post-war changes in international relations be?
IT IS always easy, at times of great international turmoil, to spot a turning point that is not there. For many people, the war in Iraq, and the anxious months leading up to it, seem to represent the most dangerous period in their lifetimes.
For those young enough to have only vague memories, if any, of the Gulf war of 1991 or the cold war, let alone the Cuban missile crisis of more than 40 years ago or the Korean war of the early 1950s, their perception might be right. But set Iraq in the context of even relatively recent world history, and it is clear that it is much too soon to gauge what sort of turning point, if any, the current war will be. Is a new world order taking shape? And if it is, what will it look like?
For now, nobody can be certain of the answers. But it is possible to see what issues will determine the shape of international relations in the war’s aftermath. Most important will be the United Nations. America, Britain and others blame the UN Security Council—and especially French intransigence—for its failure to endorse an invasion of Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein.
Those countries that wanted to avoid war argue that America simply wanted backing for actions it planned to take whatever the UN said. There is talk that the UN might now be a busted flush, just in the way the League of Nations was after its failure to stop Italy invading Abyssinia in 1935.[...]