Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, April 04, 2003
Commentary: Will the World Pattern Change?
The development of the situation over the past few months, particularly since the outbreak of the Iraq War, indicates that although the Iraq War launched by the United States, the sole superpower in today's world, has exerted immense impacts on the system of international relations, however, no substantive reversal has taken place in the historical trend toward multi-polarization of the world pattern.
Expert Comments: The development of the situation over the past few months, particularly since the outbreak of the Iraq War, indicates that although the Iraq War launched by the United States, the sole superpower in today's world, has exerted immense impacts on the system of international relations, however, no substantive reversal has taken place in the historical trend toward multi-polarization of the world pattern.
Will the United Nations be rendered unworkable and be made an empty shell, weakened and even be replaced by some sort of other organization?
Superficially, the launch of the Iraq War by the United States without the authorization and bypassing the United Nations seems to indicate that the authoritative status of the United Nations has been weakened by the United States, making it impossible to stop the unilateral actions of the United States. However, viewed from another angle, the fact that over the past five months, the United States had all along been striving to get UN authorization on the use of force against Iraq shows that the United States is aware of the weight of the UN "passport". However, having failed in its plot to "have the emperor in its power and order the dukes about in its name", the United States could not but revoke its motion for authorization on the use of force, this precisely indicates that the United Nations is no longer a "submissive tool" of the United States, and that US ability to order everything about has not been strengthened, but has been weakened, and the United Nations still keeps its deterrent functions over the United States. That is the first point.
Major differences have occurred more than once in the history of the United Nations: The Soviet Union and its successor Russia had cast over 120 votes of rejection, and the United States cast over 70 votes of rejection. US-Soviet contention for hegemony once plunged the United Nations to a state of semi-paralysis. But none of the two superpowers could cast away the United Nations, because the United Nations is the most authoritative and widely representative global inter-governmental organization set up after World War II, its purpose is to safeguard world peace, and its role is irreplaceable. Even during the most difficult Cold War period, the UN made great efforts for the solutions of many common issues confronting humanity, issues such as disarmament, refugees, de-colonization and poverty, and formulated numerous regulations standardizing international relations. After the end of the Cold War, big-power relations moved toward relaxation, the cooperative atmosphere became stronger within the United Nations, the number of votes of rejection was greatly reduced. It is the hope of the world people that the United Nations will make still greater contribution to world peace and development. Against such a background, the US act of creating a split in the United Nations over the Iraq issue is most unpopular. The world countries' call on the United States to return to the United Nations for the solution of the Iraq issue shows that the authoritative status of the United Nations has not been shaken by the US unilateralism. Recently, the United Nations passed a resolution on adjusting the Iraqi "oil for foods" plan. In the future, to solve the problems such as the postwar reconstruction of Iraq, the global anti-terrorism war, and the prevention of nuclear proliferation, the United States can hardly do without the United Nations. That is the second point.
Because the United Nations did not grant the United States authorization for armed attacks on Iraq this time, some American figures became angry, threatening that they would "transform the United Nations" or set up another kitchen, meaning setting up an "obedient" global organization. But this is only wishful thinking. Reform of the United Nations can only develop in the direction of limiting unilateralism. As to the establishment of a new organization, because France, Germany, Russia, China, India and many medium and small countries do not agree with the United States on the Iraq issue, so it appears that these countries are not qualified to participate in this "obedient" global organization. However, with a lack of so many countries, can this new organization be called a global organization? That is the third point. It is clear that the authoritative status of the United Nations in defending world peace is unshakable.
Will big-power differences and the adjustment of big-power relations lead to the reemergence of opposite groups?
The wide difference in the stand of the United States and those of France, Germany, Russia, China and some other big countries over the Iraq issue has led to a rift in the UN, NATO and EU. Some Americans threatened that they would consider imposition of sanctions on France and Germany. However, with the progress of economic globalization, the interests of various countries have been closely mingled and become a powerful material force restraining US hegemony. Take France for instance: the United States and France both have direct and indirect investments in each other's countries, for example, the US Pension Fund has purchased 40 percent stocks of France. Sanctions against France mean sanctions against US transnational corporations in France and against US pension receivers. How, then, is this practicable?
After the end of the Cold War, the control force of the United States over traditional military alliances had declined, therefore it was compelled to use some new methods to push its own global strategy. If the United States still could rely on NATO and EU in the Kosovo War, then it had to organize a new, loose "international anti-terrorism alliance" to attain its goal in the Afghanistan War. In the present Iraq War, the United States has to temporarily join hands with countries like Britain and Australia to patch up a "voluntary alliance". While France, Germany, and Russia have formed "an antiwar alliance". Such phenomenon of forming "temporary" new alliances in light of specific questions indicates the diversification of big-country interests.
On the other hand, the global issue has caused the interlacing interests of big countries. Differences in some questions cannot influence the common interest and cooperation in some other questions. Britain and France, holding opposite opinions, recently expressed their desire for "close cooperation" on the question concerning the postwar reconstruction of Iraq. Since it is impossible for any big countries and big-country groups to independently solve a series of complicated issues facing today's world, therefore, there is the need for dialogs and cooperation between big countries. In his recent phone calls given to the leaders of various big countries, US President George W. Bush invariably expressed his hope for continuing dialogs and cooperation. It is clear that despite the serious differences existing between big countries over the Iraq issue and despite the uncertainties brought about in international relations by the regrouping of various big countries, the possibility for the reemergence of group confrontation in the world is not big.
Does the "asymmetric war" under hi-tech conditions imply that small countries cannot escape the destiny to be conquered by the United States?
In recent years, the United States has widely spread the myth that the United States is sure to win in the "asymmetric war" under high-tech conditions and this has influenced world opinion. The 10-odd-day process of the Iraq War indicates that the prediction on attacking and occupying Baghdad in one week has been broken. Given this situation, the press circles again hold discussion on the question of how much time will US troops still need to win victory. But the press circles seem to have forgotten this example that the strong force cannot win and even fail in the "asymmetric war". The Korean War and the Vietnam War were two "asymmetric wars" fought by the United States with all its strength in the last century. Under the circumstances prevailing at that time, what the United States used was also the most advanced technology. At the end of the war, the United States failed to win in Korea and was forced to sign the truce agreement; the United States suffered utter defeat in Vietnam.
These two historical facts remind us that the Iraq War may have other two possible outcomes. One possible outcome is that under the extensive resistance put up by the Iraq people, the war will drag on, the United States will finally return to the United Nations to seek a political solution. The other possibility is although the United States may win military victory, the US plan to transform Iraq and Middle East countries with US-type democracy is likely to create long-term confusion in the region. Can the victory won in the battlefield which failed to achieve its political aim be counted as genuine victory? The question merits people's deep thinking. Although we have not seen the final result of the Iraq War, we firmly and unshakably believe in this point: the people of developing countries want independence, and their desire to be masters of their destiny is irresistible. An "asymmetric war" under high-tech condition cannot guarantee that the United States can establish "a world order under its rule" as it hopes.
Toward which direction will the world move-to a mono-polar world or a multi-polar world?
Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated on March 28 that the US-led war against Iraq is the most serious global crisis erupted since the end of the Cold War. This is rue. The war started by the United States against Iraq without the authorization of the United Nations has created a wide split and triggered great debate that are sweeping the whole globe. Will world affairs of the 21st century be decided in accordance with what the United States itself says, or be handled through discussions on equal footing among various countries of the world? Is the world heading for a mono-polar world or a multi-polar world? The development of the situation over the past few months indicates that whether in the UN conference hall or on the streets where demonstrations have been staged by the people of various countries, a strong voice has been uttered: The United States has no right to act as world police and overlord. The progress of history and the will of the people do not allow the world to return to "the Stone Age in which fist meant truth". Making a fetish of high-tech weapons can only bring endless disasters to the people of the world and the American people. The multi-polarization of the world pattern is the historical need for the realization of democratization in international relations and the establishment of a new international political and economic order. The "asymmetric war" which uses high-tech weapons is unable to change the historical direction of world multi-polarization.