Friday, August 24, 2007
By Tony Karon
".......Iraq is hardly the only theater in which U.S. power is clearly on the wane. Whether it be the grandstanding of Russia and Venezuela or the more understated (and much more profound) challenge of China to U.S. geopolitical hegemony, encroaching at will now in the traditional U.S. “sphere of influence” of Latin America, sewing up Africa, and so on. A few years ago, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, comprising Russia, China, the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iran (with observer status) would have been dismissed as a kind of geopolitical sour-grapes club. Instead, it represents a growing challenge to U.S. influence throughout the region. As Dilip Hiro noted recently, “No superpower in modern times has maintained its supremacy for more than several generations. And, however exceptional its leaders may have thought themselves, the United States, already clearly past its zenith, has no chance of becoming an exception to this age-old pattern of history.”.....
Hardly surprising, then, that Maliki — like all Iraqi politicians — is hedging his bets, assuming a U.S. withdrawal is inevitable at some point, and doing his best to strengthen his position for the conflicts that will follow. I wouldn’t bet on his surviving. Then again, Maliki may also be aware of a corollary to the trend of declining U.S. power most graphically illustrated in the plight of the likes of Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian Territories and Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan (if she continues on the path of making common cause with Musharraf at Washington’s behest): Right now, in many different parts of the world where the U.S. has vital interests at stake, being allied with Washington is less of a boon than it is a political kiss of death."