So far, the inability to find any
weapons of mass destruction and the veracity of the reports on
uranium by the intelligence agencies has become a big embarrassment.
But it is the specter of a prolonged guerrilla war which is the most
frightening. The longer the foreign troops stay in Iraq, the more
they will be perceived as an occupying force by the local population
leading to more hostilities against them, making it harder to pull
them out. This is called a vicious cycle. The longer the war drags
on, the less popular it will become.
It is not just Iraq, where initial
euphoria about a quick success with minimal casualties is waning
away but the war before Iraq--in Afghanistan--is looking gloomier
everyday. It is becoming apparent that even after a couple of years
of occupation, Afghanistan remains a chaotic and dangerous country.
This situation in Afghanistan makes the other countries reluctant to
get involved in Iraq.
Even more alarming is the prospect of
going after the other members of the “Axis of Evil,” North Korea and
Iran. The Chinese are very concerned because their intelligence
feels that North Korea now has the capability to create a nuclear
bomb. The specter of a nuclear war in their backyard is of course
making them jittery but it should be a great concern for the rest of
the world also.
Similarly, Iran can prove much more
difficult than Iraq because the Islamic government there is much
more firmly entrenched than Saddam Hussein was in Iraq. There is
still another aspect which has to be considered: how war with Iran
will effect the Shiite population in Iraq who are supposed to be
allies against Saddam Hussein.
In a complex and interrelated world,
no country can afford to follow unilateralist policies. The
conventional wisdom states that a multilateral perspective has
always more depth than a unilateral perspective.
India’s refusal to get involved in
Iraq without a mandate from the United Nations is not an isolated
step but is a part of the general trend of India’s moving towards
Russia and China to form a strategic alliance. Similarly, France and
Germany are moving towards a stronger European alliance. All these
countries are realizing that the world order needs a multilateral
approach in order to function. That is the reason that these
countries and a growing number of people all over the world are
being won over by the concept of a multipolar world.
Even now the only hope of a peaceful
solution to the Iraqi crisis may lie in bringing the global
community together and evolving a multilateral approach. At present,
the United Nations has been practically rendered ineffective by a
unilateral action in Iraq. President Bush’s recent trip to Africa
and his trying to address global problems such as AIDS might
represent a realization that a unilateral approach is running into
difficulties. We certainly hope that the prestige of the United
Nations is revived and that it is made relevant and effective again
before it is too late. If the Iraq crisis is not resolved soon by
the multilateral approach of the global community then the crisis
may reach the point of no return. Unilateralism cannot solve the