Iraq: A Multipolar Restart

When the US began its military adventure in Iraq in 2003, many Western scholars noted that Washington’s unilateral aggression was leading to a rethinking of international processes, as well as the legitimisation and institutionalisation of multipolar thinking. There were various analyses of these events, from concepts of using force to ideology.

Criticising America’s actions in the Middle East, for example, the Asia Times noted, “This war is a self-destructive cancer growing inside US neo-imperialism.”

While considering that the Bush administration was making a serious mistake with its Iraq campaign, Immanuel Wallerstein saw more serious reasons behind the decline of American strength associated with a change in the world-system[1].

Clifford Kiracofe, a former senior staff member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, blamed the distortion of US foreign policy on George W Bush and his entourage.

In his view, the Bush administration’s mistake was disrupting US continuity in international affairs. One of the most well-known authorities in the field of international relations and diplomacy, John Bassett Moore, wrote that, “American statesmen sought to regulate the relations of nations by law, not only as a measure for the protection of the weak against the aggressions of the strong, but also as the only means of assuring the peace of the world.”[2] But George W Bush used Nazi Germany’s concept of Machtpolitik, which led to an imbalance of power in the world.

Thus, the US neocons that had a great deal of influence in the White House and the US State Department in the early 2000s were often compared to Hitler’s Nazis.

The Bush
Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and National Constitution Center Committee Chairman Doug DeVos (right) present former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush with the 2018 Liberty Medal during ceremonies at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on November 11, 2018.

But most revealing of all in 2003 was the decision by America’s European allies (except the UK) to refuse support for US aggression against Iraq. Europe’s resistance was led by France and Germany.

It goes without saying that Russia was also opposed to America’s unjustified military intervention, which killed millions of Iraqi civilians and sowed the seeds for a new kind of terrorism that later evolved into ISIS.

Commenting on the Iraqi crisis in an interview on French television in February 2003, Vladimir Putin noted: “if we want the world to be more predictable, more prognosticated, and then safer, it has to be multipolar, and all the participants of international intercourse have to abide by certain rules, namely, the rules of international law.”

Now, the US has done virtually the same thing again by using military drones to kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, one of the leaders of Iraq’s Shi’ite militia, and several others. Some believe it to be a fatal error by Donald Trump, who is unknowingly being taken advantage of by America’s warmongering Iranophobes. Others see it as an act of provocation in the interests of Israel. And there are other conspiracy theories.

More alarming, however, are the possible scenarios for the region and for the world as a whole. Depending on how the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies, including the Hezbollah network in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, choose to respond, the estimated consequences range from a limited armed conflict in the region to World War Three.

A possible scenario that may be the best option for regional security, however, is to change the foreign policy agenda of a number of countries and create a strategic alliance. In other words, using the situation to step up the establishment of a polycentric world order, seeing as the US has become an unwelcome partner not just in the Middle East, but in most of Eurasia. The US-led world order has been demonised by members of the US establishment themselves. And the numerous protests against war with Iran, as well as the speeches by US politicians condemning the political assassination, testify to an emerging new wave of political crisis within the United States.

The first steps have already been taken.

The Iraqi parliament voted in favour of the withdrawal of US troops from the country and an investigation into the targeted murder of Iraqi and Iranian citizens by Americans. Other countries need to support this initiative, despite the threat of harsh sanctions coming from America. Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria could undertake specific commitments in support of Iraq and put the necessary pressure on neighbouring Jordan. The involvement of China and other Asian countries, particularly Muslim ones, could also help shift the balance of power towards multipolarity and portray the US in a negative light, since the principle of diplomatic immunity has been violated.

An important factor in Iraq will be the decision of the Kurds in the north of the country, since they once provided a support base for the US against the regime of Saddam Hussein. But after Trump’s cynical decision, which the Kurds regarded as an act of betrayal, it’s unlikely that Washington will be able to take advantage of Erbil quite so easily this time. Russia has some political clout in the eyes of the Kurds, among other things because it has various ways of influencing Turkey on the Kurdish issue.

US embassy in Iraq
U.S. troops fired tear gas on January 1, 2020 to disperse protesters who were gathered outside the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad for a second day.

As well as its military response to the murder of Soleimani, Iran also reached a political decision – to withdraw from the nuclear agreement once and for all. This could give the West an incentive for further escalation. Iran’s partners could also play an important role in preventing any aggressive US actions against the country.

It is telling that Pakistan has officially declared it will not allow the US or any other country to use its territory or assist with military operations against another country, thereby pre-empting speculation about the country’s role in a possible conflict. Qatar has also rejected the possibility of its territory being used.

The US is hurriedly looking to other NATO countries for support, but given how Trump used to troll NATO in an effort to drag its members into a new venture, the US will have to pay a high price. Turkey is a key player in this regard, but if Ankara refused to lend its support to the US in 2003, the chances of it doing so in 2020 are slim.

One also needs to understand that Americans are still under attack in Afghanistan and a number of other countries, where their presence leads to backlashes.

Incidentally, after the Somali al Shabaab group successfully attacked a US military base in Kenya, killing at least three Americans and destroying flight and ground equipment, both Donald Trump and the US State Department remained deathly silent. As if it wasn’t Americans who were killed and it hadn’t been a terrorist attack. Earlier, the White House had officially declared in a statement that, “Qasem Soleimani is terrorist number one”, but it did not provide a scrap of evidence to justify this. Why such a selective approach to the regions and the choice of targets? It is obvious that the US was not particularly concerned about the actions of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which was led by the late General Soleimani.

At the same time, the US is using its fight against terrorism as official justification for its presence in the Horn of Africa. But why, then, did it allow militants from neighbouring Somalia to cross freely into Kenya and blow up six aircraft, including a twin-engine turboprop aircraft configured for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and equipped with multi-sensor platforms? The material losses suffered as a result amount to tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars, while the benefit of using such technology and the effectiveness of US intelligence and special forces are reduced to zero, since the attack could not be prevented.

Apparently, America’s real objectives in East Africa were completely different and the fight against terrorism is just a cover for other activities, including the establishment of military and political control over the region. Could these objectives have something to do with current events in the Middle East, perhaps?

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.


[1]      Wallerstein I. Precipitate Decline: The Advent of Multipolarity.//Harvard International Review. Spring 2007. Pp. 54-59.

[2]      Moore, John Bassett. American Diplomacy. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1905, pp. 251-252.

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