In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

New Cold War or War onTerror?

Posted by seumasach on June 15, 2014

Cailean Bochanan

15th June, 2014

The betrayal of the Iraq army leadership facilitating last week’s capture of Mosul by the so-called ISIL may become a watershed in US foreign policy in providing a significant diversion from the Ukrainian fiasco and turning attention from quasi-cold war tensions towards the new Obama doctrine already outlined in his West Point speech, anticipated by Blair’s 23rd April speech and ratified by an intervention by Kofi Annan last week on BBC Newsnight.
What is this new doctrine? It is called, with great originality, the War on Terror. Thus, we return to 2001 and the post-9/11 doctrine but in a geo-political environment which has become completely transformed. In 2003 , on the eve of the Iraq War, the USA was still regarded as the undisputed global superpower, even though a resurgent Russia and China were already disputing that status. Today it has suffered a series of military reverses and the catastrophic state of its economy and society can longer be hidden. After the dismissal of Rumsfeld in 2006 in a palace coup the stage was set for Obama to turn around US foreign policy in the aftermath of the failed Iraq and Afghan wars. He is generally regarded as having failed in this respect and that judgement has seemed to have been confirmed by the dramatic events of the last week. We appear to be condemned to relive the historical cycle of US military intervention.
But, as I say, the context is completely different. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan post-9/11 were the beginning of a global war for hegemony. This war failed and no such perspectives are in sight for a severely weakened USA. Rather than being the opening shot in an attempted roll-back of Russian and Chinese power War on Terror II could lead to a re-engagement of these two emerging superpowers by Washington. Tony Blair’s above-mentioned speech already prefigures this development:

“In this speech I will set out how we should do this, including the recognition that on this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and cooperate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China.”
This was followed up by Kofi Anna’s call for a de facto alliance with Russia , China and Iran:
“Mr Annan – the UN’s former envoy to Syria – said he did not believe that there was the “stomach” for “boots on the ground”, but that a group made up of permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and possibly Egypt could agree a common approach.”
Already, the ISIL surge has raised a prospect that was previously unthinkable: joint US-Iranian military co-operation.
I have, for some time, been talking up a strategic alliance between Washington and Moscow as the great paradigm shift in global geo-politics. It was, admittedly, difficult to see how such a shift could come about. Indeed, the failure of Obama’s reset was just another amongst a litany of seeming failures. But if that remains a strategic goal of Obama, and I believe that it must, then War on TerrorII would be the key to its realization.

The roller-coaster unleashed by the Arab spring continues. The events in Iraq last week serve as a cover for the surreal Ukraine fiasco, which in turn obscured defeat in the Syrian war which in turn diverted the world’s attention from the chaos engendered in Libya by NATO intervention. Since the hand of the NATO and Western intelligence assets is clearly present in all these scenarios you might think Obama’s strategy is merely to cover failure with even more failure. But their may be a different logic at play,a convoluted logic of end of empire. If so, the cycle may be broken in Iraq and by the time the ISIL has been checked we may see the clear outlines of a new international order.

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