UNILATERALISM IS OVER

Resistance against US foreign policy grows. Peking and Moscow appear increasingly self-confident, Global balance of power shifts to Washington’s disadvantage

By Rainer Rupp

[This article published in: Junge Welt, 6/1/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.jungewelt.de/2006/06-01/001.php?print=1.]


International headlines like this headline from last week would have been inconceivable a few years ago. Within a few days the US government saw itself forced to climb down in two central foreign policy questions. Firstly, the “Middle East quartet” that includes Russia, the European Union and the UN alongside the US succeeded in stopping Washington’s efforts to completely cut off the Palestinian authority’s money supply. Then in the Iraq question, the Bush administration was maneuvered offside in the UN Security Council. China and Russia were opposed. Unable to act unilaterally as usual, Washington was reluctantly “convinced” by its European allies to hold back with sanctions or military strikes against Iran and instead waits for the outcome of the next round of negotiations between Teheran and the EU-trio France, Germany and Great Britain.

MOSCOW REACTS

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin reacted sovereignly to Dick Cheney’s attacks. Before heads of state of the “new” Europe in Lithuania, the US vice president reproached the Putin government at the beginning of May as an “enemy of reforms who turns back the advances of the last decades,” and “cuts down the rights of people in a dishonest and unfair way. Cheney accused the Russian head of state of extorting and intimidating its neighbors. Putin was in no way impressed by Cheney’s sweeping attack. In his address on the state of the Russian nation, he remarked, “the gossip of the end of the arms race is premature.” Relations between Washington and Moscow have obviously become frostier. Moscow’s new agenda includes strengthening Russian armed forces and intensifying Russian-Cuban relations.

PEKING COLLECTS POINTS

The series of silly insults of Chinese president Hu Jintao by the Bush administration during the state visit in Washington at the end of April strengthened all those forces in Peking that have no illusions about the character and goal of US superpower policy. Without Washington being able to react, Peking is expanding its diplomatic relations to more and more countries that were traditionally in the US sphere of influence like Saudi Arabia. After his visit to Washington, state president Hu Jintao proclaimed amid applause that Peking wants to play a greater role in the future in the Middle East to “assure peace and growth” and “cooperate closely with Arab governments.”

Turkey, long regarded as one of Washington’s closest allies, is increasingly keeping a distance. The action of the US in the Middle East, particularly against Iraq without regard for Ankara’s strategic interests, has sounded the alarm bells. A US attack on Iran would have more fatal consequences for Turkey. Foreign minister Abdullah Gul wont allow the use of US bases in Turkey for attacks against Iran. Washington tried in vain to entice Turkey with the building of a nuclear power plant.

STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE

A reaction of the community of nations to the arbitrary and unbridled exercise of power by the sole superpower was inevitable. A broad strategic perspective undergirds the resistance to Washington’s Iran policy. In preparation for the meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in June 2006, Peking supports Moscow’s efforts to accept Iran as a member. Kurdistan, Kazakhstan, Tadschikistan and Uzbekistan already belong to the SCO called into being by Russia and China to force back the expansion of the US in Central Asia. The closing of US bases in Uzbekistan in November 2005 and the threatened cancellation of US bases in Kurdistan are the first consequences of this policy.

LATIN AMERICA IN REBELLION

The political pendulum is swinging against Washington in Latin America that was regarded until recently as a US backyard. The region as a whole is as poor as ever – after over a decade of Washington’s neoliberal economic policy. The poor have become poorer and the rich even richer. The most important political developments are happening outside Washington’s direct sphere of influence. Bolivia’s president Evo Morales is not afraid of nationalizations that are demonized in the West. Despite the grave economic problems, Argentina proves that the sky does not fall when directives of the International Monetary Fund in Washington are not followed.

For the US government, these are provocations that would not have been tolerated a few years ago. Nothing seems left now of its carelessly lost international respect than to watch the bustling activity. The fact that China has become an increasingly important trading partner for the countries of Latin America and begins to take over the traditional US role in training the local military worries Washington. All this indicates the fundamental change of the global balance of power against the US.


GERMAN RESISTANCE AGAINST US WAR PLANS

By km

[This article published in: Zeit-Fragen, Nr. 22, 5/29/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/index.php?id=764&type=98.]


In the last weeks, the resistance in Germany against the US war on Iran and German involvement in that war has grown. On May 12, different groups of the German peace movement (e.g. Attac, IPPNW and Netzwerk Friedenskooperative) began a “joint campaign against further escalation of the conflict around the Iranian nuclear program” and passed an online resolution that can be signed. The resolution text is directed at the German government and the five veto powers in the UN Security Council with the demand not to pass any resolution according to Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. No military action should be legitimated. The policy of the US president will be criticized when he visits the German city Stralsund on July 14, 2006.

From the ranks of the SPD (social democrats), there is massive criticism of the plans of German minister of defense Franz Josef Jung (CDU) to change the German constitution expanding the German army’s mandate beyond the defense mandate. In the middle of May, the SPD presented a three-page paper from the study group on security questions. According to this paper, defining religious fanaticism or plagues as potential cases for the German army contradicts “our understanding of political security.” Making military acts out of terrorist attacks and speaking of defense in a case of terrorist attacks is not justified. The ideas of the Defense minister to secure the supply of raw materials with the military and German “nuclear participation” are rejected. In the SPD-base, there is resistance against any German war involvement. Germany must be a European peace power. Germany may not be forced into a war by provocations. The past foreign actions of the German army are very dubious and cost the lives of more and more German soldiers.

On May 17, the Internet journal Telepolis (www.heise.de) published a survey on the goals and methods of German foreign policy. At the end of the article, the author recalls the political desire for peace of the former SPD-chairperson, German chancellor and Nobel Prize winner Willy Brandt and his address upon being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1971. Brandt spoke of the “aberrations of the just war” and urged the “cause of a just peace.” For the Nobel Prize winner for peace, war was “another word for extreme irrationality,” “the ultima irratio and not the ultima ratio.” Brandt as German chancellor championed international law: “I support the universal principles of international law that are so often ignored. They have their binding expression in the principles of the Charter of the United Nations: sovereignty-territorial integrity-nonviolence-right of self-determination of the nations-human rights.”

PEACE POLICY MUST BE THE CENTRAL THEME OF GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY

The resolution of the Munich SPD worries about the continuity of Germany’s foreign policy. Germany’s reputation as a European peace power developed over decades may not be endangered under any circumstances. Peace policy must be a central theme of social-democratic and German foreign policy.

For the case of military actions against Iran not authorized by the Security Council of the United Nations, we demand the federal Republic of Germany hold to its neutrality duty binding in international law and not offer direct or indirect support for the authors of aggressions violating international law – and not to join directly in any combat actions against the Iranian people with the German army or other state organs. Contradictory activities of the coalition partner may not be accepted in any case by social democrats. If necessary, the coalition must be ended.

If any act of violence (for example, politically or religiously motivated assassination, terrorist attacks, military coup and so forth) occurs that could serve as a grounds or trigger for war, we urge the full, complete and understandable enlightenment of these events before political or military conclusions are drawn.

The highest principle of German government policy must be respect for international law, the constitution and human rights.