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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

#11 - JRL 7066
No. 28
February 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
By Fedor BURLATSKY, chairman of the Scientific Council on Political Science of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The USA will unleash a war against Iraq. The matter is not confined to the seizure of the oil riches of this country, although this factor is acquiring special importance in connection with the alternatives of France and Germany, which show great interest in Iraqi oil. Russia has joined them, although our interest in this is considerably narrower than that of Germany and France.

Practically all Russian media are writing about oil and oil markets. Why then did the USA not play this card to the end during its Desert Storm operation? It was so easy to bring the matter to the victorious end and assume control over Iraq and its oil riches.

No, everything is much more complex and dramatic. In the 21st century the world entered an era of American wars - local, peripheral, which, however, have importance common to all humankind. September 11 finally convinced the US leaders - and let us not shut our eyes to this - the US public at large that without such wars, it is impossible to ensure the security of the USA and the rest of the West, for that matter.

Modern technology has made terrorism a terrible force. Suffice it for a handful of kamikazes to take possession of tubes containing anthrax bacilli, the more so, a nuclear mini-bomb that they become capable of dealing deadly strikes at the most powerful states. This is an entirely new factor in the life of humanity.

So, one can understand the feelings of the American people after September 11, 2001. If something of the kind is repeated, the Americans in their righteous despair may resort to desperate steps: withdraw from the UN, stop financing it, overhaul NATO, use armed force without any reason at all.

Preventive wars is the main international-legal problem. It needs discussion and regulation at world forums. Wars against a potential aggressor, which possesses or is capable of possessing mass destruction weapons is not quite a new problem. It will be recalled that Winston Churchill called for such a war during the Munich collusion between Chamberlain and Hitler.

Preventive wars of the USA have yet another specific feature - Messianism. The Americans are convinced of their designation: to bring the ideals of democracy to the peoples of the world. Democracy and freedom are really absolute values for every person. May they be instilled by armed force? The majority of the Americans are convinced that they may.

A preventive war is a dangerous weapon. This is why a certain code of international-legal terms is needed, which, however, is not confined to UN resolutions only. The definition of aggression in its Charter needs additions in the spirit of new realities. New norms meeting the threats of the technotronic age could be drafted within this organization. However, regardless of new rules, America has already taken the path of local preventive wars in the interests of its own security. Afghanistan, Iraq... Who is next? Lebanon, Iran or North Korea?

Russia has already got down to drafting its strategy in new conditions. However, the process is at its initial stage yet. The burden of the legacy of the past decade in the country's foreign policy, when we blindly followed in the wake of US policy without paying due attention to Europe, China and other centers of force, is still too heavy. We need allies now as never before. Germany and France are a good chance, but not on the basis of anti-Americanism.

Fine diplomacy is needed. Escapades are out of place here. A war against Saddam, and on the whole - American preventive wars require a thought-out and weighed strategy from Russia.

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