After the fall of Baghdad, the US-European relations still remain far from friendly

April 14 -20, 2003



The US-led forces finally 'liberated' Iraq around sunset on April 9 Pakistan time. Their entry into Baghdad came three weeks of unexpected fierce resistance by the Iraqi army, paramilitary forces and people. The prized destruction of Saddam Hussain's giant statues was broadcast live across the world amidst the plunder and loot in a city which braved thousands of missiles and some of the most horrific bombs in the 21-day war.

Perhaps the most important commentary about the role, or lack of it, of the United Nations to stop the US invasion of Iraq without the approval of the Security Council, has come from Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He said that "the Iraq war has rendered the UN meaningless." There are many who agree saying that UN's failure to protect Iraq from the attack of a fellow member state without approval of the Security Council has severely eroded the authority of the UN.

The unilateral use of force by the US has fragmented the world like never before. It has not only turned the world into two major blocks; US and others, but has also created divisions within the developed world itself. Some of the closest allies of the US and its fellow G-7 states like France and Germany had strongly opposed military action in Iraq. France, a permanent member of the Security Council, threatened to veto the resolution while Germany, a non-permanent member, said it would vote against it. Another permanent member Russia also said that it would veto the resolution allowing use of force in Iraq. China also took a similar stand.

Sensing the mood in the 15-member Security Council, the US withdrew the resolution saying that it needed no authorization from the UN to disarm Iraq from the weapons of mass destruction for the security of its country and people.

All along the 21-day war, France, Germany and Russia reiterated their demand that the UN should play the central role in the rebuilding of Iraq. The US snubbed their demand saying that only the US and its allies, particularly the UK, deserves to play the role because it were they who sacrificed the most to 'liberate' Iraq. The push came to shove when the US Congress passed a bill prohibiting France, Germany and Russia to benefit from contracts for the rebuilding of a country ravaged by over a decade of economic sanctions and the recent war.



The majority of the developing world, including Muslim states, pussyfoot the US diktat. Despite overwhelming anti-war sentiments the governments of these countries aligned themselves with the US appearing neutral at best and indifferent at worst. Many of them chose to remain silent as if nothing was going on.

How the world has been fragmented is obvious from the fact that the US government and public opinion turned hostile to an otherwise longtime friend France for its refusal to endorse the Security Council resolution. French fries and French toast were no longer available in the US and UK only Freedom fries and Freedom toast were. There were drives to boycott of all things French.

After the fall of Baghdad, the US-European relations still remain far from friendly despite the softening of the language. Two days after the fall German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warned the US against any new wars, "I caution against a repetition." He also said that the primary task now "was to avoid a humanitarian disaster in Iraq and to return the country 'as soon as possible into the hands of a legitimate Iraqi democracy."

Pakistan, where public support and sympathies lie heavily with Iraq and Iraqis also said that it want early end to hostilities. "We want Iraqi people to have control of their country and we want UN to play a role," said Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan.

A television address by the US President George W. Bush meant for Iraqis was aimed at soothing a war-ravaged people: "A long era of fear and cruelty is ending... You deserve better than tyranny and corruption and torture chambers. You deserve to live as free people." His vow was matched by most staunch ally in war, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair who added, "The money from Iraqi oil will be yours, to be used to build prosperity for you and your families... This Iraq will not be run by Britain, or by the US, or by the UN. It will be run by you, the people of Iraq."

Meanwhile the hawks in Washington kept issuing warnings to other countries in the region and beyond. The Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz warned Syria sternly, "The Syrians are behaving badly, they need to be reminded of that and they continue, we need to think about what our policy is." Damascus, in return, called for the "end of occupation" adding that "In view of the dangerous circumstances facing the Arab nation, the Syrian Arab Republic reiterates its full commitment to the unity of Iraq-land and people."

The hawks in Washington have also advocated action against Tehran; "It's time to bring down the other terror masters. Iran, at least, offers US the possibility of a memorable victory, because the Iranian people openly loath the regime, and will enthusiastically combat it, if only the United States supports them in their just struggle." So wrote Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute in his article "Syria and Iran Must Get Their Turn".

Is the Iraq war really about liberation and democracy in the country and the whole of the Arab world. The US should think twice because it would mean loss of American-friendly leaders in a region where the aspirations of the masses have never coincided with their leadership.