The U.S.-led bombing of Iraq last week was criticized heavily by a number of European powers, who saw the four-day barrage as a unilateral act that ignored the position of the world community. Russia was the first to protest by removing its ambassador to Washington. After the bombings stopped, Russia’s defense minister called on the armed forces of the former Soviet states to cooperate more closely because quote–“the United States had become unpredictable.” This as Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said he favored a strategic triangle involving China, India and Russia to ensure regional geo-political stability, during a recent summit in New Delhi. China eventually rejected this idea, but that it was raised in the first place points to Russia’s discomfort with Washington’s unilateralism in geo-strategic affairs.
And while the UN Security Council discussed the future of the sanctions against Iraq, a former French defense minister accused Washington of humiliating UN secretary general Kofi Annan by attacking Iraq without UN approval. Paul Quiles, a member of the National Assembly’s defense committee, wrote in the daily paper Liberation that the credibility of Annan and the UN Security Council were badly damaged by the bombings. He added that this was one of the indirect aims of the unilateral decision to bomb Iraq. What do these developments tell us about the relationship between the United States and Europe?
- Daniel Singer, European Correspondent for the Nation magazine.