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AMERICAN DIPLOMACY COLLATERAL DAMAGE
Gloom is settling on those who want to look beyond Iraq to repair America's relations with the rest of the world
Our task, said Tony Blair delicately, is to work out "the diplomatic implications of recent events for the future." He was speaking before his meeting last week with President George Bush at Camp David. But his words reflect a concern which goes beyond Britain: that the diplomatic crockery1 smashed before the Iraq war needs to be glued back together, for everyone's sake-and the sooner, the better.
The diplomatic costs of war in Iraq, at least in the view of the rest of the world, have been large. Relations with France and Germany, once two of America's closest allies, are barely cordial. For 50 years, Turkey too was one of America's most reliable partners. Now, Turkish peasants have taken to stoning American military vehicles, and America is moving its aircraft from Turkish bases to Kuwait.
Still more collateral damage has been done to America's relationship with Russia, which had been steadily growing warmer during Vladimir Putin's presidency. Mr Bush paid slight attention to Russian objections to an attack on Iraq. This has emboldened hardliners who have long argued that their country was not getting enough from improved ties with America. Russia's parliament has refused to ratify a treaty cutting American and Russian nuclear arms by two-thirds.
Mr Blair is not alone in worrying about the implications of all this for international order and security. Others also seem to want to cool tempers. Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, last week said he thought "a sensible working relationship" with Mr Bush was still possible. He left open the chance that Germany might contribute financially to Iraqi reconstruction. Officials have hinted that Germany might also be willing to back a United Nations resolution endorsing an American-led transitional government in Iraq, so long as authority was handed over to the UN as soon as possible.
Even Jacques Chirac, the French president, has been downplaying his differences
with Mr Bush. Now the French leader says that he, too, wants to avoid
an adversarial relationship with the world's only superpower.
Repairing ties with Turkey should be relatively straightforward, because
there is an obvious bargain to be made: a resumption of American support
for Turkey over EU membership and over backing from the International
Fund in exchange for Turkish co-operation during the war, especially in the sensitive task of dealing with the Kurds. It is not yet clear whether this bargain will stick. But here, at least, is a chance for America to piece together some of the crockery.
Two other issues present a much bigger challenge: the so-called "road map" for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the question of who will run a post-Saddam Iraq. At his summit with Mr Blair, Mr Bush promised to publish the road map-a series of steps which America wants the Palestinians and Israelis to take to restart the peace process. This could, in theory, improve America's relationship with both the Arab states and Europe.
The trouble is that the map has already run into criticism from both parties who, though they have accepted it in general, want to make a dozen amendments. It seems unlikely that publication itself will change much. It is also unclear how much negotiations on the basis of the road map would improve American ties with the Arab world: the general Arab attitude is that the road map is a surrender imposed on a crippled Palestinian Authority. Moreover, any progress would require America to put real pressure on Israel. No one in the Bush administration has so far shown much stomach for this.
An equally big stumbling block to patching up relations with others will
be the fraught question of who will run a post-Saddam Iraq. On March 28th,
the Security Council voted to restart the UN's oil-for-food programme
under Kofi Annan's authority. The programme had fed more than half of
Iraq's population. To win agreement, the Americans dropped their insistence
that the UN co-ordinate its relief efforts with the American military
command in Iraq. Before that, at the Azores summit on the eve of war,
Mr Bush said he wanted the UN to endorse the post-war interim government
in Baghdad. That suggested he was willing to give others a role.
In short, the question of international involvement in the post-war settlement is open, at best. There are few signs that the Bush administration really wants others to participate in reconstruction and even fewer signs that others have accepted what the administration wants, an American-controlled interim authority.
Perhaps this impasse is temporary. The White House itself is entangled in a basic rule of politics - the immediate drives out the urgent. It is also worth pointing out that there was a stage in the Afghan conflict when no one knew who would run the interim government or where reconstruction money would come from. Suddenly Hamid Karzai appeared, and the Tokyo conference promised billions. As one senior official puts it: "We're not yet in a post-conflict situation. The most important thing is to win the war."
That said, there are more daunting obstacles. The administration is divided, as usual. The State Department wants to mend the crockery. Diplomats apply the term "post-war reconstruction" to America's broken alliances, not just Iraq. But two groups within the administration oppose them. One group says it is too early for diplomacy. The outcome of the Iraq war will fix automatically most of the difficulties, it claims. Engaging in diplomatic processes for their own sake is foolish. The other group, more brutally, wants revenge. Mr Bush's White House believes fervently in loyalty - and Messrs Chirac and Schröder are regarded as disloyal.
Worryingly, neither of these two groups accepts what is so evident abroad: that war in Iraq has caused significant damage to American interests. Two weeks of combat, after a failure to win a second UN resolution, have not been enough to change their minds. Until that happens, Mr Bush seems unlikely to follow Mr Blair in investing real political capital in the transatlantic alliance. Those hoping for a big American diplomatic effort may be waiting in vain.
1 crockery - pots, plates, cups, dishes and other utensils especially made of china or baked clay.
R: O texto afirma que o custo diplomático
da guerra contra o Iraque foi considerável, mas afigurou-se ainda
mais prejudicial nas relações americanas com antigos países
aliados americanos, como a França, a Alemanha e a Turquia, além
da Rússia, um aliado recente e promissor sob a presidência
de Vladimir Putin.
O texto enumera uma série de desafios que os Estados Unidos precisarão enfrentar para restabelecer as boas relações diplomáticas com seus parceiros internacionais. Que desafios são estes?
R: Além dos entendimentos já
iniciados por Colin Powell com a Turquia, mas de resultados ainda indefinidos,
há dois desafios maiores a serem enfrentados pelos Estados Unidos:
a busca de uma solução para o conflito Israel-Palestina
e a definição do governo iraniano pós-Saddam.
R: Segundo o texto, há dúvidas de que
o governo americano esteja disposto ou mesmo preparado para corresponder
às expectativas internacionais. Como de hábito, a administração
Bush encontra-se dividida. O Departamento de Estado quer restabelecer
as alianças internacionais rompidas com o Iraque e com os demais
países, mas dois grupos se opõem dentro do governo: um grupo
alega que esforços diplomáticos são prematuros e
desnecessários, uma vez que a maior parte das dificuldades resultantes
da guerra acabarão automaticamente solucionadas e, o outro grupo,
mais radical e defensor fervoroso da lealdade entre aliados, prefere a
vingança contra Chirac e Schröder, que são vistos como
desleais. Nenhum dos dois grupos aceita aquilo que parece evidente para
a comunidade internacional - que a guerra no Iraque trouxe profundos prejuízos
para os interesses americanos. Enquanto este equívoco persistir,
ficarão frustrados aqueles que esperam um esforço diplomático
genuíno por parte dos americanos, como sugerido por Tony Blair.