Bush’s new world order dismissed as sham

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 27 May 2002 12:30:26 +0100

GEORGE Bush spent yesterday strolling through the streets of St
Petersburg, chatting with students and politely admiring some of the
millions of artworks of the Hermitage Museum. 

But as the US President relaxed with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir
Putin, the gloss on their historic arms reduction treaty began to fade. 

For all its fanfare, the forthcoming Russia-Nato summit near Rome, where
Russia will be given virtual partnership status with Nato, is widely
regarded as window-dressing. 

The future of Nato is not clear and it is not certain that the Bush
administration has any belief in the Atlantic alliance.Therefore
Russia’s association with Nato may have little value. 

In Afghanistan, the administration view is that the European members of
Nato have no air power to speak of, and that they will only start
second-guessing American military decisions and get in the way. 

Bush’s tour has been dogged by the growing tensions on military,
diplomatic and economic issues that have caused America’s international
relationships to deteriorate as memories of the attacks of September 11

Right from the start of Bush’s trip, the intended symbolism backfired.
On Wednesday, his first day in Europe, his address to the Bundestag in
Berlin was intended to be a celebration of the transatlantic solidarity
that won the Cold War. 

But instead of the rapturous reception given to previous American
presidents, Bush was greeted by 20,000 hostile demonstrators, requiring
the largest police operation in Berlin since the Second World War. For
Berliners the main concern seemed to be that the excessive security
threatened hundreds of local businesses. 

At the heart of the problem is the ‘Bush doctrine’, which perceives the
greatest threat on the horizon as the combination of terrorist groups
and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of "rogue states". 

Neither Europe nor Russia sees things that way. Nothing Bush has said in
calling for Europe to join the US in fighting international terrorist
"blackmail" has removed misgivings over his intentions towards Saddam
Hussein, whom he calls "a threat to civilisation itself". 

It now appears that the practical difficulties of invading Iraq are
becoming more apparent in Washington, which should reduce international
tension. But Europe is also angry over the US decisions to renege on
international treaties, including those on chemical and biological
weapons, global warming and the international criminal court. 

On the economic front, Bush has roused European ire with import tariffs
to protect American steel, and Brussels is already threatening
retaliation against US farm subsidies approved by Congress, which run
counter to promises made at the global trade talks in Delhi. 

The EU is set to impose sanctions on US goods from next month if
Washington does not agree to compensation for the steel tariffs it has
imposed on foreign imports. 

There are further strains over what the Europeans consider the Bush
administration’s uncritical support for the Israeli prime minister Ariel

Philip Gordon, of the Brookings Institution in Washington, says: "You
can’t unsign the ICC, tear up the Kyoto Treaty, call Sharon a man of
peace, talk about the axis of evil, disparage Nato, put protection on
steel and agriculture and then go make a speech and say, ‘but everything
is fine’." 

Four days of Bush’s tour were spent in Russia, where he and president
Putin signed an arms control treaty slashing their strategic nuclear
arsenals to about a third of present levels. 

But cynics are calling talk of a brighter tomorrow a sham that masks a
grimmer reality rooted in the problems of today. 

One Russian TV commentator described it as a "Potemkin partnership",
designed to impress but bearing no substance, while American experts say
if it were not for the war on terror Bush could have stayed at home. 

"The US would like to make Russia friendly without really giving
anything to the Russians," said Fiona Hill, a Russian analyst at the
Brookings Institution. 

Even the centrepiece of the summit - the nuclear arms reduction deal -
is not a high priority for the world at a time when the threat from
terrorists carrying suitcase-sized nuclear bombs is much more credible. 

What America really wants is the end of Russian sales of nuclear
technology to Iran, part of Bush’s "axis of evil". 

Equally badly, Putin needs American favours to accelerate the
Westernisation of his country’s feeble economic system. He also wants
reassurances that America is not intending to attack Iraq, a
long-standing Russian ally. None of these issues was on the summit

Bush chose not to announce that the US now regards Russia as a market
economy, the kind of fillip Putin and his supporters need to show the
conservative old guard that there will be a payoff for a pro-Western
policy that one retired Russian general has described as "geopolitical

Instead, it was announced that the US commerce department will take a
decision by June 14. Last week, the Senate also chose not to end 30
years of trade restrictions on Russia, opting instead to pass a
non-binding resolution calling for permanent normal trade relations with
Russia "in an appropriate and timely fashion" - legislative shorthand
for putting an issue on the back burner. 

For his part, Putin was in no hurry to end the deal Russia signed with
Iran in 1989 to transfer technology for the "peaceful use of nuclear
energy". America believes it has sufficient evidence to demonstrate the
diversion of Russian technology into weapons programmes. 

While no one close to the administration will talk openly about any kind
of pressure that might be exerted to make Russia withdraw from its
agreement with Iran, some officials are saying privately that economic
sanctions are on the table. 

Some analysts suggest it will be not be easy for Russia to gain entry to
the West’s markets as long as the country’s internal policies fail to
measure up to Western standards of decency and fairness. 

Andrew Kuchins, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in
Washington, said: "The US should not be willing to trade off Moscow’s
support for the war on terrorism and on security issues in exchange for
turning a blind eye to Russia’s creeping authoritarianism and human
rights violations in Chechnya." 

Source:  The Scotsman on Sunday

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