Globalization by Another Name

War Erases Differences

The vise is tightening on a still-elusive quarry. Vast military resources are being deployed, quietly and at the deliberate pace proper to heavy weaponry. Meantime, the American government is doggedly pursuing the diplomatic isolation of the Taliban. Saudi Arabia had to give in, at least in appearance, and break off relations with the Islamic warriors of Kabul. And Russia has opened its airspace to the offensive and is offering real cooperation with the Americans.

Rarely has the maneuvering that precedes a war been carried out with such concern for maintaining a united front. Perhaps the United States is soliciting the approval of almost every other nation only in order to remain free to do exactly as it decides. But even if that turns out to be the case, it’s clear that this prelude to war is already acting as a strong influence for globalization.

The United States has already forgiven India and Pakistan for their nuclear follies, a British minister has for the first time in ages stepped onto Iranian soil, and in Israel, Ariel Sharon’s diplomatic yo-yoing betrays the pressure that is finally, privately, being put on him. The clampdown on the bank accounts of Islamic movements implies a demand for transparency in international finance that may have other applications in the future. And the specter of recession is pulling various economic actors to take better advantage of the relationships among them.

It’s impossible to know whether this kind of minimum solidarity will survive once U.S. armed forces get down to combat. Terrorism’s global reach—clearly shown by the attacks of Sept. 11—has triggered a counterreaction that the United States is now riding for all it’s worth but that Washington will have to consider in the future. Thus the United States is reinventing, involuntarily perhaps, something very like the United Nations. Which brings to mind: Didn’t Congress just vote to pay America’s debt to the United Nations?