September 15, 2013
In his international bestseller “The Post-American World and the Rise of the Rest”, the host of CNN’s flagship foreign affairs show “GPS” Mr. Fareed Zakaria had pointed out a preliminary study over the world after the fall of American imperialism. The author had made clear that even if other world powers, like Russia or China, were to increase their geopolitical leverage worldwide, the United States would still remain “the” global power that would define international developments, whether these could arise in politics, economics, trade, or warfare. Until the break-up of the Syrian civil war, his insights were still remaining plausible. But what about the new shift in global balances with the proposition of Russia to put Syria’s chemical weaponry under international surveillance?
In a previous article of mine regarding the intention of the US to invade Syria, I had directly questioned the chances of such an invasion, explaining a series of facts that would press Washington’s administration to seriously re-consider such a decision. From the very beginning I had my concerns over the side-effects of the US invasion, mainly focused on the aftermath of preemptive strikes for the post-war peace-building in Syria and the peripheral repercussions of such a decision for the Middle East. In this context, the decision of the Britons to cease down such a scenario and the well-prepared proposal of Moscow to put the chemical weaponry of Syria under international surveillance came to solidify my prediction.
Many journalists and scholars were rushed to reckon that if the US were not to intervene militarily, the international prestige of the country could go under serious damage. On the contrary, I do believe that the second thoughts of President Obama are moving into the right direction. The US should and had to reconsider their international role not as a retaliatory power or an international patrol of “justice and human rights”, but as a meaningful and respectful guardian of the international public law.
The proposal of President Putin was diplomatically astonishing as it combined two aspects of the US strategic mindset of intervention: the first is that by putting into the table of negotiations such a proposal for weaponry control, which interconnects intervention and firm respect towards Syria’s sovereignty, Russia has catered US patrolling reflexes. The second is that Moscow has achieved to unblock Washington’s stalemate over the possible military intervention by launching a new series of negotiations that, finally, came closer to post-war estimations of the Pentagon over the effect of a military strike in the entire region. From a wider perspective, Putin’s proposal has literally helped the US to avoid any domino effect that could knot the country down both militarily and politically in the Middle East.
Further, I have to admit that if the proposition of Russia is to be finally accepted, President Putin would have achieved to maintain balances in the Middle East and set his country as equal or even superior mediator in global affairs along with the US. Such a development could possibly bring fundamental changes in the global scene and provide Russia with the advantage of building new partnerships and nourishing a series of negotiations for major international disputes, from the nuclear program of Iran and the Kurdish issue, up to Palestinian negotiations and the future of democracy and secularism in Egypt and Lebanon. Who could imagine such a development other than President Putin himself and his strategic bureau.
Nonetheless, someone could read this development from a different perspective and stress out that Russia has made clear that in its wider neighborhood nobody is welcome to intervene other than Russia itself. Even this analysis has its strong credentials, given that what we have experienced since the end of Cold War is a variation from the old model of bilateral collision between Russia and the US with a new, most delicate and interconnected one.
After all, and departing from Mr. Zakaria’s book, the prediction of a post-American world where no significant changes in global balances against the US’s leading role would be seen, could now be under serious re-examination.Dimitris Rapidis