The Erosion of Hegemony
By Christian Semler
[This short article originally published in: die tageszeitung, October 23, 2002 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.taz.de/pt/2002/10/23/a0043.nf/textdruck.]
Hegemony as the Wilhelmian jurist and international law scholar Heinrich Triepel once said, presumes superior military and economic instruments of power but only functions with the consent of the objects of this supremacy. This distinguishes hegemony from imperial rule. However hegemony's erosion begins when the hegemon, the only remaining superpower the US, refuses every consultation and all "self-limitation of power" in the hegemonial system that it dominates.
The actors of France and its president in the Iraq conflict are expressions of this divergence. Jacques Chirac's predecessor de Gaulle sought an independent role for France. Now his protégé brings in the harvest.
Chirac promoted the baselines of his Iraq policy deviating from the Bush administration and not leading inevitably to war at a very unexpected place - at the summit of the International Frankophonia conference in Beirut. The place is just as significant as the chosen organization. Lebanon is an Arab country that regards frankophonia as one of the cornerstones of its fragile national identity. The conference3 also includes Algeria whose word has weight in the Arab world.
Since the EU (European Union) is unable to develop a consistent alternative Iraq policy, Chirac operates in a political reference system believed to be overcome. The president emphasizes the special role of the Security Council granted to the superpowers by the UN statutes. He negotiates. A thoroughly political irresolution should be passed for the first time in the history of the conference. Its essential point is that there may be no "fatalite", no automatism of violence against Saddam Hussein. The UN Security Council should have the last word.
Returning home from Beirut, Chirac spoke of his political "vision" according to which good relations to the US should not be founded on the idea that the United States is always right. Whether now a vision or only a platitude, neither chaos nor relapse in the international state of nature of "everyone against everyone else" threatens beyond the hegemonial politics of the US. Politics is possible, great neighbor!