What was before the collapse of the USSR? There were two powerful blocs: the Soviet bloc, which included the socialist camp, and the American bloc, with Western Europe, and both competed, vying for supremacy. If some developing countries supported the States, the USSR supported their rivals in opposition. There was mutual deterrence and a certain counterbalance between the two superpowers. Yes, not everything and not always was reasonable in this confrontation, but each side carefully weighed its actions and there was no complete domination of either country.
And then came the collapse of the Soviet Union. The White House rejoiced and issued a medal for winning the Cold War, deciding that the whole world would now live by American rules. What’s good for America is good for everyone else. And this unipolarity has led, in my opinion, to absolutely catastrophic consequences on the political map of the world. A vivid example of this is the current situation in the Middle East.
Now the Middle East resembles a powder cellar, to which a safety fuse has been brought and fire is already running through it. It seems that no one doubts that it will go up in flames. So far, everyone is trying to predict how massive the explosion will be, how many countries it will affect and what geopolitical changes it will lead to.
No one sees a good solution yet.
Will the Israelis conduct a ground operation? So they are already conducting one, maybe not as large as predicted, but more and more IDF troops are being drawn into it. The strategic idea of the Israelis, as I understand it, is to cut the Gaza Strip open with troops and do a complete sweep of the northern part first. The Netanyahu government has no other option. After all, if it is not carried out, the Arab world and Iran will decide that Tel Aviv has been weakened, and this could prompt them to engage in armed aggression against Israel. In addition, the Arab street will realize that Israel’s patron, Washington, is no longer the same, and this could lead to further Arab aggression and further expansion of Iran’s influence.
After all, if Tel Aviv launches a full-scale ground operation, it will hit Israel itself and the United States hard, just look at the scale of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe and the United States itself, not to mention developing countries. Now the world is frozen in anxious anticipation: will this conflict be limited to the Middle East or will it turn into a large-scale World War III?
Having become a hegemon in the Middle East after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the White House created its own order there, which led to the current completely deadlocked situation. Both Israelis and Palestinians are now having to pay for this order.
After the 1991 Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, during which the United States demonstrated its power, the Madrid Peace Conference was convened to form a new order in the region. Representatives of Israel and Arab countries attended. But Iran was not invited. And then Iran organized a meeting of anti-Israeli forces in spite of it, getting closer to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which it had not been attracted to before. Considering itself the leading power in the region, Iran decided to show that the order that the Americans want to establish here will not pass without it. It clearly demanded that its interests be taken into account. But the Americans again thought that they were able to solve Middle Eastern problems alone.
Then came September 11, 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the 2003 invasion of Iraq that followed. It seemed to the Americans that the overthrow of Saddam would demonstrate US military strength and set the stage for democracy in the entire Middle East. After all, there is still only one democratic state there, Israel, a U.S. ally.
After that, the Islamic world considered America its enemy. The U.S. «brilliant victory» led to the strengthening of Iran, which had been at war with Iraq for several years. And the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, which took 20 years to complete, again contributed to the strengthening of Iran, which decided to retake the banner of the protector of Muslims. And when, after 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the US fled from there, leaving behind mountains of armaments, the Arab countries strongly questioned the power of the US and its army.
Eventually, thanks to the «skillful» policies of the Americans, Iran improved its strategic position, which alarmed Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Further, under Trump, the US withdrew in 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program (JCPOA), an agreement hammered out by the «six» mediators, namely: US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany. This led to Iran restarting its nuclear weapons program.
To replace the JCPOA, the Trump administration drafted the Abraham Accords,”which included bilateral treaties to normalize relations between Israel and Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan. But it must be recognized that these states were not already at enmity with Israel, and did not address the Palestinian problem in any way.
The succeeding Biden administration seemed to follow the same path, supporting an Israeli government that was drifting increasingly to the right, building up settlements and conflicts around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, sacred to all Muslims. But it seemed to the Americans that they had to convince the Saudis to join the Abrahamic Accords, and peace in the Middle East under American patronage would be established for centuries. In return, Saudi Arabia was promised an American security guarantee and assistance with its nuclear program. The Biden administration was already anticipating its geopolitical victory, forgetting about Palestine. But the latter, realizing that if one of its main sponsors, the Saudis, signed the Abrahamic Accords, it could be forgotten and shut out of world politics, launched a brutal attack on Israel on October 7 with the obvious subtext: without us, all your decisions are nothing.
And now, after the escalation of the conflict over Gaza, the Abraham Accords with the Saudis are in such a distant and vague future that it is unclear whether they will be signed at all. In addition, the Biden administration made another miscalculation in its Middle East policy: it failed to pull Saudi Arabia away from rapprochement with China. With Beijing’s help, Riyadh and Tehran established relations, which was not in the White House’s plans at all.
Thus Washington’s attempt to monopolize the peace process in the Middle East, primarily excluding Russia from it, simply failed, as evidenced by the increasingly heated conflict. The current escalation on the Israel-Gaza front has once again proved that building a unipolar world under the current conditions is simply impossible. It is enough to look at the UN vote on the Palestinian issue, where the majority of countries are against Washington. Pax Americana, the American order established by the US after World War II, is coming to an end.
What did the States get by single-handedly ruling the Middle East after the collapse of the USSR? War in Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, civil war in Libya, half-destroyed Lebanon, weakened Egypt. The strengthening of Islamic terrorist groups, Iran, which is getting closer and closer to building an atomic bomb, Israel, which has not received the long-awaited peace. The Palestinian problem, which is still unresolved.
All American foreign policy can generate is to create crises and then try to solve them, creating situations that take decades and thousands of lives to resolve.
What can they do now to defuse the acute phase of the Israeli-Hamas confrontation? At most, return to the starting point of October 7, before the Hamas attack. That is, back to the point at which they started. But it is obvious that this is again a postponed conflict. As long as the U.S. believes that it is still the master of the destinies of the world, there will be no peace in the Middle East.
For now, watching the situation around the Gaza Strip, it is obvious that no one in Washington itself knows what to do next. So far, the United States is pressuring the countries of the Middle East, trying to convince them not to join the war on the side of the Palestinians, sending aircraft carriers and marines to the region. And Israel is losing the information war with each new day of shelling the Gaza Strip, as evidenced by the many thousands of demonstrations around the world, including in NATO countries. And together with Israel, the United States is also losing. What to do next, how to find a way out of this situation, it seems that the White House does not know.
And now President Biden himself says that a new world order is needed: «I think we have an opportunity, <…> if we’re bold enough and have enough confidence in ourselves, to unite the world in ways that it never has been. We were in a post-war period for 50 years where it worked pretty damn well, but that’s sort of run out of steam. Sort of run out of steam. It needs a new — a new world order. And the United States can build it».
So what is actually being proposed is a reformatting of the existing world order, but again with the United States at the helm. To change without changing anything.