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Opinion: Are World Politics on the Brink of a New Era?

The leadership goals of the United States are colliding with the interests of the rest of the world.

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The Iraq war and its aftermath will have a long-term influence on international politics.

Without a doubt, 2003 was a notable year that the world played out in the best Hollywood style. Especially when it comes to politics. The Iraq war -- sold as the ultimate move in the fight against terror and evil -- has already taken on historical dimensions in the consciousness of protagonists and quiet admirers. And this will have long-term influence on relations between peoples and states.

At the core, this says nothing other than that the United States -- in the future it could be another country -- could change existing rules at its own discretion at any time if it wants to.

If this was really so, then people and nations would be standing on the brink of a new era that would suggest order under a democratically constituted power. In reality, it would be nothing other than the start of an authoritarian team. But luckily we are far away from the introduction of such an order, despite the many apologists (read defenders) and supporters (read admirers) of preventive military hits and simple, transparent team structures.

Divisions are deeper than many believe

There is one thing this eventful year made clear: There are more deep political cracks and graves being dug between people and nations than most want to believe. If one looks at the cracks more closely, one can tell quickly which ones will have long-term consequences. And its is no accident that the ones between "old Europe" and the United States -- symbolized by the Euro -- are on a bad course.

Similar cracks can be found in the relationship between the United States and parts of the new aspiring Asian powers of China, India and Japan -- as well as in relations between Washington and Latin America and Canada.

As diverse as the causes and backgrounds of the cracks might be, they have one thing in common. They represent a political and economic response to the unilateral attempt by the most powerful state. That doesn't require any coordination, because the connecting point -- in this case the United States -- determines the direction of the political march.

U.S. at odds with the world

Whether at the World Trade Organization, in the United Nations or elsewhere: overall in places where internationally binding rules were developed in the past, the desires of the U.S. for absolute leadership are increasingly colliding with the vital interests of the other states. This is an unmistakable sign of a creeping loss of power for the United States, while at the same time indicates the estrangement and emancipation of the politically weak but economically potent states of the super power.

These developments may influence the coming years. And the main event of 2003 -- the Iraq war and its aftermath -- will speed these developments. This is a good thing, because only with power being distributed more broadly can the responsibility in the fight against the world's No. 1 political problem -- international terrorism -- be taken seriously.

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