In the wake of Russia’s counterattack against the Georgian invasion of the breakaway region of South Ossetia last month, Turkish President Abdullah Gul observed that the era when the United States alone could set the world agenda had ended. “I don’t think you can control all the world from one center,” he said, “There are big nations. There are huge populations. There is unbelievable economic development in some parts of the world.” Instead of “unilateral actions,” Gul called for states to “act all together, make common decisions and have consultations with the world. A new world order . . . should emerge.” Even if the US remains the world’s most powerful country, it is a diminished force and time is not on its side.
These developments have major implications for Israelis, Palestinians and the broader region. For Israel, Georgia represents another in a series of setbacks and embarrassments. Israel attempted to downplay its involvement for fear that Russia would step up support to Israel’s adversaries in retaliation. In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars of Israeli weapons and training had poured into Georgia–where the US has major energy and “strategic” interests–along with over two billion dollars of American military support. Israel played a similar role during the Cold War, arming at America’s behest the apartheid regime in South Africa and the extreme right-wing US-backed regimes in Central America. In order to shore up its own American support, as well as for economic gain, Israel always does its part to help its patron.