Evident is the fact that today the USA is the most powerful country in unequal environment. 21st century starts with doubtless domination of the USA on the international scene. It is the strongest country in almost all aspects – military strength, economic and scientific potential, which controls global markets through the system of transnational corporations and banks predominantly owned by American capital. Being a leading country in the sphere of diplomacy and international relations, the United States has created a network of global alliances yet during the period of cold war, and today the country exercises its ability to “project” its strength on practically every region of the world. And today, according to views of many political scientists, America exercises its power in unprecedented scopes. American domination is a fact that is obvious in short and incontestable in middle-term run. But the long-term perspectives of American global policy will be determined by the American ability to take proper use of its domination today. Today, America faces a problem: it should become aware of its domination, but nevertheless conduct its policy as if there were a number of centers of force worldwide. In the nearest future no power source comparable to the United States is likely to emerge. Today, the US foreign policy has become “the factor number one” for virtually every state in the world and international system on the whole.
However, the status of the USA as the only global superpower was put under question under 9/11 attacks. On the one hand, the power, security and inviolability of the global center of force were proven to be a little bit exaggerated. The USA turned out to be as vulnerable as every other state in the world and not very capable of securing its own protection. On the other hand, creation of joint anti-terrorist coalition, a solitary cooperation of the majority of the states supporting American policy in fighting terrorism and attacking Afghanistan and offering tangible assistance to the American forces, followed by almost unilateral actions of America against Iraq, give the ground to conclude that the United States has somewhat ceased to take heed of international opinion and act as if they were only influential power on the globe without need for international support and compliance with the rules and obligations of international behavior.
These facts pose a lot of questions as to the nature of international system that is being shaped today and the problems it encounters. This paper will present the comprehensive overview of the major aspects of the issue.
A number of problems focus on the issues of international anti-terrorist coalition and perspectives of combating international terrorism. Also, new image of international security is being formed, and this one contains numerous problems. Thus, despite process and tendencies which took shape after the events of 9/11, such as creation of anti-terrorist coalition, acquiring a new, forceful and almost aggressive role by the US policy, integrative processes in Europe, and rapprochement of Russia and West, in reality, uncertainties take dominant place in global processes. Uncertain is the perspective of development of numerous major processes within international system, which take their root in destruction of bipolar system. The new system of international relations that was to take shape seems to take long time for its creation. Today’s state of international security is characterized by combination of elements inherent to both old a new systems, existing in 19 and 21 centuries, aggravated by continued distrust inherited from the bipolar period. On the one hand, the military campaign against Iraq revealed numerous problems and contradictions, and on the other hand it served as a catalyst for new processes and tendencies which gradually emerged.
Therefore, modern international system, under effect of events following 9/11, has acquired traits of uncertainty. The world, states and politic elites, which over fifty years got used to live in strictly determined, though highly explosive and dangerous, international system, have hard time adapting to new realities, and therefore feel insecure and uncomfortable. Of course there exist some certain moments, but uncertainty shows and very often dominates on numerous directions. Tragic events of September 11 revealed these uncertainties which were formed still in 1990s. Becoming aware of these tendencies is of particular importance for elaboration of both strategy and tactics of any state, especially the large one.
The first set of uncertainties of early 21st century has formed and continues to form around the USA and its foreign policy. On the one hand it is evident that Washington strives to take use of the situation it found itself after the Cold War. This situation, according to many American political scientists, is the unique for international system since decline of the Roman Empire. Therefore the aim of the Washington is to ensure to the maximum possible extent the achievement of tactic and strategic goals and ambitions on the basis of unique and recognized in the world military and economic power. The United States can remain the most powerful state for considerably long time, though not always – the history of the Roman Empire, compared nowadays with the USA, reminds of that.
But the set of instruments and mechanisms of American achievement of its goals poses many questions, is uncertain and, taking into account the scale of American activity, may cause system shifts and implications in international relations (for example in Europe) and security which are at the moment difficult to define and predict.
Thus, despite all its power and constant declarations that the US is able to act on international arena on its own, in reality America cannot do without its allies. In military actions it needs allies’ armies, airports and other infrastructure, air space, political and informational cooperation and many other assets. The USA a priori relies on traditional international instruments and mechanisms, which in a number if cases began to fail and malfunction due to the position of individual states. Especially evidently these problems showed during and after anti-Iraq campaign. Enthusiasm of the part of the allies, such as Great Britain, Spain, a number of new Central-European states – NATO members – Poland and Hungary, isn’t shared by all European states, not to mention other regions. For instance, Italy behaves warily in its support of Washington, but the most serious disturbing factor from both Iraqi campaign viewpoint and possible long-term implications was objection to American actions by the two most powerful European countries – France and Germany. In European Union 10 countries out of 15 (at that time their number was 15) opposed the US actions to different degree. In NATO, the number of opponents made up 11 out of then-19its members.
The new anti-Iraq coalition is considerably inferior by its solidarity and cohesion to the one formed in 1991 during “The Desert Storm” operation. Actual split in the camp of American closest allies seriously weakens transatlantic security structures that have been the basis of cohesion for more than 50 years after the end of World War II.
The policy of the USA is the evidence of the fact that the USA still hasn’t found a model of transition from the old world to the new one. Dealing with the realities of 21st century, it tries to sometimes apply not only the methods of 20th century, but even of the 19th with its interventionism, strive to privatize everything in the international relations, including antiterrorism. The mixture of new and old methods and worldviews is the source of uncertainties and potential dangers, obstacle in the process of creating new, realistic international relations system of the 21st century.
The new tendencies are apparent in Europe, where still recently the development has been stable and predictable. The decisive point of the Europe’s new policy is position of France and Germany that was acutely revealed in decisive opposition of these counties to anti-Iraq operation. The special position of France and Germany deals with all set of European and transatlantic relations. Recently a new initiative on creating Franco - German federation emerged and became sensation indicating geopolitical shift in today’s international system.
Significant uncertainties deal with the destiny of NATO. The Alliance proved incapable of participation in anti-terrorist campaign against Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan. The USA, its allies and partners actually acted in contravention of NATO. It is difficult to evaluate if the Alliance will be able to confront new challenges, and if so, how quickly it will adapt to new circumstances. Military operation against Iraq, especially position of Turkey, revealed the scope and the depth of the issues that NATO has to solve to pertain its positions as effective military-political organization.
By counteracting to the “old” European leaders – France and Germany- and relying upon today’s favorites – Spain, Italy, Great Britain and new Alliance members, the USA catalyze the split processes within the NATO organization. Taking into account all the contradictions that showed during the Iraqi crisis but have deep system roots, one cannot exclude the possibility that tendencies of prosperous development of Europe will be disturbed. Therefore, Europe has become another complex of uncertainties in the result of the events of 9/11.
Another uncertainty touches upon the security systems and their development trends in the 21st century. Despite predictions that after the end of the Cold War the security system supported by military methods will cease, today we witness the processes when military aspects of security become the decisive factor once again. The use of interventionism has become a widespread and common international practice, conflicts continue to emerge, weapons of mass destruction increasingly proliferate. Mega terrorism adds to this picture its final sinister accent. Also, the paradigm of threats to national security has undergone cardinal change. If in 2002 the main attention was drawn to threats emerging from non-state institution, such as Al-Qaeda, today the whole states (Iran, Iraq, North Korea) are claimed to be the new sources of threats. The mixture of old, traditional threats to national security with the new ones further complicates already contradictory system of international relations.
What can be done to meet all those challenges and reduce their negative effects? Again, the proper policy of the global superpower is needed. The USA should reconsider its global behavior from rejection of international principles, direct economic and power pressure on its allies, which causes growing resistance and has the adverse effect of diminishing American influence on the international arena, to setting comprehensible rules and strict adhering to them ensuring that the view of the majority of international actors is taken into account and their interests are not ignored. Only in the spirit of cooperation, acting as if the USA weren’t the most powerful state on the globe, can it preserve its leading positions and secure the unipolar status of international system.
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