MOSCOW (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov)
- When talking once with a West European monarch, Pope Julius III produced one of the great maxims of human history: "Do you not know, my son, with what little understanding the world is ruled?"
If money and the U.S. police allowed, I would have this maxim spelled out in gold letters somewhere near the foot of the Statue of Liberty. For this saying, it seems, has inspired more than one generation of Oval Office occupants. Sometimes I think that it is these words that Bush Sr. told Bush Jr. before the inauguration. Otherwise, how can one explain the dashing foreign-policy moves of the incumbent U.S. administration?
No elections in recent years have caused quite such a storm of emotion in Washington as the one in Iran. The White House is clearly feeling the stress, which is quite alarming, as it may be on the way to a nervous breakdown. Mahmoud Akhmadi Nejad's victory is a touchstone that checks the common sense of modern political leaders.
On the one hand, popular opinion has it that the man who has come to power in Tehran is a radical and a populist who speaks openly about confrontation with the United States and his firm intention to continue with the nuclear program that could potentially lead to the emergence of another nuclear power. On the other hand, this is the democratic choice of the Iranian people. And as such it should be respected. Washington and London's repeated declarations about the elections being flawed is just so much demagogy. The poll in occupied Iraq accompanied by the roar of explosions was democratic, but the one in Iran, with a run-off and a convincing victory for Nejad, was not. Yet this is a specific feature of democracy: People you do not like can come to power.
If we recall the long-time mutual "love-in" between the United States and Iran, if we consider all of America's pre-election threats against Tehran, if we add Washington's consistent pressure on the IAEA, Russia and Europe about Iran's alleged nuclear dossier, we can see that it was the Americans who were largely responsible for the outcome of the elections. This is a rare occasion when I have to agree with Hezbollah, which immediately after the poll said that the result was a slap in America's face.
Of course, Iranian voters had other considerations apart from the desire to pique Bush. There is, for example, the problem of daily bread, of which after many years of liberal reforms there is not enough for the majority of the population. Nejad promised social changes, and people voted for him. But the American factor played a no less significant role.
The Bush administration does not seem to realize it, but it fact it has reached deadlock. According to recent polls, even most Americans think that the United States has got bogged down in Iraq. Now the Iranian problem has got worse, and not without interference from the White House.
You can guess what common sense torture has befallen George W. Bush. His inner desire to wipe the "damn ayatollahs" off from the face of the earth is easy to see, but the American empire, which seemed all-mighty but yesterday, has reached the limit of its capabilities - which, incidentally, have proven not that great. True, the Americans can bomb Fallujah, but they have failed to establish elementary order in Iraq, to say nothing of democracy. The military-strategic and political aims of the Iraqi operation have been a mess. And, what is worst for the U.S., its policy moves by inertia: Bush recently confirmed once again that America would stay in Iraq as long as necessary. Apparently this means at least until the next elections at home.
As a result, America's borders have become no safer than after September 11. No one can guarantee that tomorrow a bomb will not explode somewhere in the United States. Moreover, the huge international sympathy generated by September 11 has been shamefully wasted by the Bush administration. The U.S. image is as low as during the Vietnam War. Challenging the UN and international law has not made it any more likable. To get out of this powerful isolation it has had to use all of its resources, including stitching together a huge puppet coalition. This is not the global leader's signature, but some kind of frank pledge.
Even Europe has been hit on the rebound. Its current problems are to a large extent an echo of the Iraqi crisis and the split within the European Union itself. It is always more difficult to come to terms after mutual resentment. So, while formally favoring the united Europe, its ally in the war on terror, the White House has only weakened it.
The anti-terrorist coalition will not become more united after the election in Iran. Russia and Iran have normal political relations and economic partnership, so American sanctions - the least the Bush administration can and will definitely do - will hit Moscow. This will only aggravate bilateral relations.
It will not be easy for Bush to deal with countries that have already come out against the war in Iraq. These countries react to developments in Tehran much more soberly than does Washington. Paris, for instance, has announced it will continue dialog with the new Iranian government, but will remain "alert in issues of concern such as nuclear non-proliferation and human rights."
Here is an example of sensible thinking.
But the wish to strike is so strong, especially as the globe is right at hand. "Do you not know, my son, with what little understanding the world is ruled?"