There were two striking moments in Russian President Vladimir Putin's long interview on French television last Tuesday night at the end of his state visit to France. The first was when he said that Russia was, of course, part of Europe. "Look at the map! Look at our history!" he exclaimed.
"We are the heirs of Greece, of Rome, of Byzantium, we are the heart of Orthodox Christendom." (I am quoting him from memory and may not have recorded his exact words.) The second moment was when, in discussing the Iraq crisis, he declared that Russia's ambition was to see the emergence of a multipolar, rather than a unipolar, world.
Putin's remarks signal that, beyond the trans-Atlantic dispute over Iraq, we are witnessing a rebellion by major European states against the dominance of the United States, a dominance which has characterized international relations since the collapse of the Soviet Union a dozen years ago.
The notion that a single hegemon can dictate terms to the rest of the world and make war on whomever it pleases is being categorically rejected.