How America Became the World's Dispensable Nation
January 31, 2005
Michael Lind, Whitehead Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, explains how the United States has isolated itself from the rest of the world, and explores the ramifications for U.S. security over the long term. The entire article is available here .
Transatlantic Relations After the Inauguration 1.31.05
January 27, 2005
The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) will host a roundtable discussion on Transatlantic Relations After the Inauguration with Steven C. Clemons of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and The New America Foundation; Peter Schneider, Author and Political Commentator; and Michael Werz, German Marshall Fund of the United States/University of Hanover. The event will be moderated by Jeffrey Peck, AICGS/Georgetown University.
Date: Monday, January 31, 2005
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Stein Room, The Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
Since the dispute over the Iraq war, it has become commonplace to assert that relations between the United States and its European allies continue to deteriorate.
Bush supporters were angered by European preferences for the Democratic candidate during the U.S. presidential election. Since his reelection and in his inaugural speech, however, President Bush has made concerted efforts to speak of international collaboration, multilateralism, and partnerships. His first trip abroad will be to Europe in February to underscore his administration’s intention to improve transatlantic relations. President Bush will travel first to Brussels, then to Germany, and finally to the Slovak Republic.
What has been the response of Europeans and the European Union to President Bush’s inaugural remarks? Do Europeans and Americans interpret his inaugural speech as a blueprint for future cooperation in the transatlantic and global spheres? Are the Europeans prepared to cooperate with a second Bush administration? Can these assurances overcome the differences of the recent past? Or did the speech add to the alienation of European publics already suspicious of the President's rhetoric?
The panelists will address these questions and will provide their perspectives on the prospects for repairing the transatlantic partnership. They will assess whether both sides can overcome their differences and focus on common agendas in which they share responsibilities and goals using different resources and capabilities.
For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Ilonka Oszvald at 202/332-9312 ext. 125; e-mail email@example.com
January 26, 2005
By Martin Sieff
President George W. Bush's powerful and moving Second Inaugural was a clarion call to aid the spread of liberty around the world at a time when that is already dramatically happening. But the forces determined to confound his vision have been growing at a dramatically rapid pace too.
Bush's vision had obvious echoes and resonance from the speeches of Ronald Reagan, who repeatedly presented the United States to the world as a shining city on a hill, an example of liberty for others to follow. But ironically, in the substance of its foreign policy strategy, it owed far more to two Democratic presidents: Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy.
"We are led by events and common sense to one conclusion," Bush ringingly declared. "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
Those statements drew loud cheers and applause. But while they have often been true in history, they certainly have not invariably been so.
Britain and France were both democracies when they ruled over and additionally conquered more than 30 percent of the land surface of the planet in the 19th century. Both countries were genuine democracies when their populations joyfully embraced total war against Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I. And it is now forgotten that those two Central Powers had freedom of the press, an independent judiciary and free democratic elections at that time too.
The United States itself was its most aggressive in terms of territorial expansion in its very first era of popular democracy in the 30-plus years starting from the election to the presidency of Andrew Jackson in 1828.
President Bush rightly declared, "America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal, instead, is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way."
However, from Russia to China to Iran, the United States, especially following its intervention in Kosovo and its lightning fast campaign to occupy Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein last year, is widely seen and feared -- not just by elite government circles, but according to polls and opinion surveys, by vast elements of the general populations - as being determined to use the rhetoric of liberty simply as a mask and excuse to impose on countries the governments that Washington insists upon.
The president is certainly right that the past few years -- and even the past few weeks -- have seen tremendous, genuine and moving triumphs of democratic values -- almost always in non-violent ways -- in countries great and small across the globe. Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation in the world and the most populous Muslim one, went through a profound transition in 1998-2000 to full democracy after 32 years of tough, centralized military dictatorship under President Suharto. Only last year, defeated President Megawati Sukarnoputri peacefully, gracefully and smoothly handed over power to her freely elected successor, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
In November 2003, President Mikhail Sakaashvili came to power in former Soviet Georgia's moving "Revolution of Roses." In the past two months, the Ukrainian people peacefully forced a free and open re-run of an intensely controversial and apparently fraudulent vote count in the second round of their own presidential election, leading to the victory Dec. 26 of President-elect Viktor Yushchenko, who will take the oath of office this Sunday.
In the Palestinian-Authority-ruled territories, the death of Yasser Arafat was followed by the clear and decisive democratic victory of Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen as his successor.
However, two disturbing trends counterbalance this encouraging picture. First, the very nature and definition of democratic liberty for different nations means they are free to choose whatever course they will. And there is no guarantee, to put it mildly, that every democratically elected government will choose to support the policies of the United States.
Only last March, the Spanish people voted out of office a strongly pro-American government and replaced it with the current Socialist one whose first action was to pull Spanish forces out of Iraq where they had been serving alongside the United States.
Department of Defense planners in particular appear to be underestimating the massive popular nationalistic feelings in Iran, where support for the country's drive to develop a nuclear weapons potential appears immensely popular across the board, including in the very circles who want increased secularization and who have protested at some of the more domestically repressive policies of the Islamic Republic.
Secondly, fear of growing U.S. global power and the widespread belief that democratic rhetoric is being used as an excuse and justification to spread it further, is feeding massive reactions in the major Eurasian nations of Russia, China and Iran,
This means that Bush's rhetoric threatens to isolate the United States from some of its most crucial allies in the war on terror. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has given crucial support to the U.S. military operation to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Russian, Saudi Arabian and Syrian security services have all given the United States crucial intelligence in the global struggle against al-Qaida. But a broad U.S. policy seen as seeking to undermine and destabilize these governments would certainly end this cooperation.
Also, Bush's expressed policy in his inaugural flies in the face of the cautious, realpolitik policies of every previous Republican president of the past half a century.
President Dwight D, Eisenhower authorized CIA intervention to help organize military coups against democratically elected and popular governments in Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s. President Richard Nixon supported militarily-ruled Pakistan against democratic India for the same reason. President Ronald Reagan authorized extremely important U.S. military and intelligence aid to Saddam Hussein himself after the Iraqi dictator had invaded Iran in 1980. Reagan also supported ruthless military regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala to prevent the spread of communism in the region.
Any literal and blanket application of the new Bush doctrine would prevent the United States from supporting such regimes ever again. It also rejects the doctrine of former Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick that the United States should make a distinction between authoritarian regimes and totalitarian ones around the world, and that it should feel no compunction in supporting authoritarian ones.
The policy also flies in the face of that followed by one of Bush's greatest heroes the great British statesman Winston Churchill, whom the neo-conservatives dominating foreign policy making in the current administration have embraced as their saint.
Churchill enthusiastically embraced Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, the greatest killer in modern history, as Britain's strategic ally against Nazi Germany in World War II. He had earlier advocated making common cause with Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in Italy in order to contain the far greater menace of Nazi Fuhrer Adolf Hitler. For that matter, Nixon did the same thing with Mao Zedong, the founding father of Communist China, in order to counter-balance the growing military power of the Soviet Union in 1972.
Bush's speech Thursday was as powerful, as sincere and as stirring as John Kennedy's pledge 44 years ago to bear any burden, and fight any foe in defense of liberty around the world. Within five years, that policy sincerely applied for the most idealistic of reasons, had led half a million American soldiers deep into the bloody rice paddies of Vietnam.
It remains to be seen if Bush's vision will lead to a happier outcome, or a worse one.
Martin Sieff is a Senior News Analyst at United Press International. This article was originally published by UPI on January 20, 2005.
Spreading Democracy Worldwide
by Leon Hadar
US President George W Bush has attempted to set the tenor and the goals of the second term in office, when he declared in his inaugural speech that in the next four years he would commit himself and the American people to spreading democracy and liberty 'with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world'. These words signal a major shift in US foreign policy from one that was based on the promotion of American interests and values to what amounts to be a global crusade to promote a universal democratic ideal.
While the sentiments President Bush has expressed are bold and laudable, they may reflect a certain level of American overconfidence, if not arrogance, that could stir up opposition among both rivals and allies abroad and interfere with the advance of the realistic goals such as the containment of international terrorism.
It's true that almost all of the American presidents of the 20th century expressed in their addresses strong commitment to strengthening the foundations of political and economic freedom around the world. But those commitments were integrated into a larger and realistic vision of US place in the world that was based on the recognition of the limits operating on American diplomatic, military and economic power. Indeed, for most US presidents, considerations of national interest and security almost always override lofty commitments to democratic values, which explains why the United States allied itself with the Soviet dictatorship as part of a strategy to defeat German Nazism and Imperial Japan, or why US containment of the Soviet Union was grounded in Realpolitik fundamentals - and why the United States and its allies had won both World War II and the Cold War.
The problem with President Bush's call for a global democratic crusade is that it does not set forth a pragmatic strategy to achieve coherent goals that are based on a lucid reading of the political and economic realities. The interests of the US and its allies lie today in dealing with the threat of international terrorism and in strengthening the global economy. Indeed, fighting terrorism requires building partnerships with non-democratic regimes in South and Central Asia as well as with the authoritarian governments in China and Russia. Ensuring that the process of economic globalisation is successful entails continuing American engagement with nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa that are moving very slowly and at their own pace on the road towards democracy.
In fact, all the leading pro-American governments in the Arab world - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco - are non-democratic. If anything, a free and open elections in those countries would almost certainly bring to power anti-American religious fundamentalist parties.
Moreover, as the American occupation of Iraq is demonstrating now, the United States does not have the means to impose a democratic system on nations. In a way, the United States also has neither the obligation nor for that matter, the right to engage in such a costly exercise.
This article was originally published in Business Times, January 25, 2005. Copyright 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
Folly in Exporting 'Liberty'
By Michael Desch
In his second inaugural address last week, President George W. Bush boldly declared: "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Even as these stirring words were still ringing across the Washington Mall, debate began about whether he was announcing a radically new foreign policy agenda for his second term.
Senior Bush administration officials hastened to assure Americans and their allies abroad that this policy did not represent a radical departure, but was rather "an acceleration, a raising of the priority" consistent with efforts of previous US administrations to foster global democracy.
In one sense, Bush's spin-doctors are right: the promotion of democracy has been a part of US foreign policy, at least since the 1970s. Jimmy Carter made democracy and human rights the centrepiece of his foreign policy. Ronald Reagan famously promised to roll back the "Evil Empire" and replace communist autocracy with liberal democracy. And for Bill Clinton, the expansion of democracy was the cornerstone of his strategy for keeping the peace in the post-Cold War world.
In another sense, however, Bush's renewed commitment to "the expansion of freedom around the world" marks a dramatic departure from previous US policies. Unlike Carter, Reagan or Clinton, Bush is willing to have the US wage this crusade unilaterally, if necessary, to spread liberty. And historically unprecedented hegemony has convinced many in his administration that the US can accomplish this massive exercise in global social engineering. Thus, there are grounds for seeing the speech as heralding a new era of assertive US democratic activism.
Bush argued: "America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one," presumably because he believes with many adherents of the "democratic peace" theory that democracies do not go to war with each other, are more likely to trade with each other, and do not sponsor terrorism against each other. By fostering the expansion of liberty around the world, the US is making itself better off and also keeping faith with its values, in their view.
But can the US really spread democracy to large portions of the world? And even if it can, would the global spread of democracy really serve both US interests and values as the President and his supporters maintain?
Take the question of whether the US can reasonably expect to spread democracy to large swaths of the globe. History teaches us that democracy is a fragile flower that blooms only in the most hospitable soil. Without the requisite economic and cultural preconditions, which most of the world lacks, the prospects for spreading stable democracy are poor. Outside efforts have rarely brought democracy, the much discussed post-World War II German and Japanese cases notwithstanding.
Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington shows that of the roughly 35 cases of democratisation between 1974 and 1990, only Grenada and Panama came about through direct US military intervention. Both were small countries right in the US's backyard and neither became a robust democracy. In the other 33 cases, democracy was largely the result of internal developments in those states.
The US is so powerful that it can probably topple other authoritarian regimes, as it did with the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and impose elections on those countries. But because they lack the requisite institutional and cultural foundations, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq will likely become stable democracies. And weak and unstable democracies usually suffer from serious internal problems and are more likely to go to war than non-democratic regimes.
But even if the US has reasonable prospects for fostering democracy around the world, history makes clear that it has not believed the spread of democracy always furthers its interests. Over the past 50 years, the US has found it to be in its national security interest to overthrow democratically elected regimes in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), and Chile (1973). Today, US economic interests have led it to make the authoritarian People's Republic of China its largest trading partner and the Bush administration maintains close relations with Vladimir Putin's increasingly autocratic regime in Russia.
Nor is the spread of democracy a panacea for terrorism. Even established democracies such as Britain, Spain, and Israel have faced long-lasting and deadly terrorist movements in Northern Ireland, the Basque region and the Occupied Territories. And despite common democracy, relations with Europe appear to be worsening, with the BBC reporting that more than half of the people it surveyed in Europe regarded Bush's re-election as making the world a more dangerous place. This does not bode well for his efforts to hold together the global democratic coalition fighting the war against terrorism.
Indeed, the countries that have been among the US's closest allies in the global war on terrorism have been authoritarian regimes such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. In an influential article in the late 1970s, neo-conservative pundit Jeane Kirkpatrick took to task the Carter administration for pushing democracy and human rights and undermining friendly authoritarian regimes in Iran and South America in the face of the global struggle against Soviet communism.
Today's neo-conservatives are in danger of being hoisted on their own petard when they argue that the global spread of democracy is a critical component of the war on terrorism.
Given unprecedented US military preponderance, there is little to stop the Bush administration from trying to spread democracy around the globe.
But while the US may be able to topple a few tyrants and hold some elections, Americans should not fool themselves that they are really planting the seeds of stable democracy around the world, as events in Iraq and Afghanistan make clear. Indeed, Bush should be careful what he wishes. Despite democracy's many virtues, spreading it around the world may not necessarily serve US interests or make the world safer.
Michael Desch holds the Robert M. Gates chair in Intelligence and National Security Decision-making at the George H.W.Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. This article originally appeared in The Australian on January 25, 2005.
Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Stalemate Will Help Win the War on Terror
by Michael Desch and Robert Jervis
The recent election of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazzan) as president of the Palestinian Authority offers the United States a crucial opportunity for ending the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate. Doing so will help us chieve our primary national-security objective in the Middle East: winning the global war against Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network. This is an opportunity we don’t want to miss.
While it is true that bin Laden’s primary casus belli was not the Israeli occupation but rather the presence of “infidels” in the Muslim holy lands, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nonetheless undermines our ability to defeat his network. As part of its strategy for winning the global war on terrorism, the United States needs to work together with those Middle Eastern governments that share its geo-strategic and geo-economic interests and we also need to discourage individual Arabs and Muslims from answering bin Laden’s call to join his global jihad against the United States. The fact that the United States is widely viewed as providing unconditional support for Israel’s continued occupation of Arab lands -- including Islam’s third-most holy site in Jerusalem -- makes it harder for us to find allies in the global war against al Qaeda and prevent individual Muslims from joining his global jihad.
Ariel Sharon’s policies of continuing Israel’s occupation of large parts of the West Bank and the consolidation of Jewish settlements there is harming U.S. interests in the Middle East. The inability of Palestinian residents of those territories to determine their own political future increases anti-American sentiments among Arabs and Muslims and makes it more difficult to pursue the war on terrorism. The late Yasser Arafat’s inability or unwillingness to contain anti-Israeli violence and focus on preparing the Palestinians for effective self-government also prolonged the conflict, but his passing provides a new opportunity to end this conflict once and for all.
A recent series of polls conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and the Brookings Institution makes clear that the United States is deeply unpopular in the Middle East. Even among such traditional U.S. allies as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, between 79 percent and 95 percent of the public holds unfavorable attitudes about America. Seventy percent of those respondents explain that their negative feelings about the United States are rooted in the belief that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists because the United States supports Israel without reservation.
President Bush has done much to reinforce this belief. He routinely conflates our war against al Qaeda with Israel’s struggle against the Palestinians. He has forged political links with some of the most intransigent proponents of “greater Israel.” He has adopted a policy of benign neglect towards the continued expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. And he recently endorsed Sharon’s proposal to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank in advance of a comprehensive political settlement.
Americans should be deeply concerned that we are so unpopular in the region inasmuch as it makes it harder, rather than easier, for us to achieve our major national-security objective in the Middle East.
There is much to be said for less U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The historical record suggests that the parties seem to make better progress without us and that excessive reliance on the United States diminishes their responsibility for their own future and teaches others that America is the world’s policeman.
But there is also something to be said for an active -- though evenhanded -- American role in solving the conflict. Unfortunately, the Bush administration’s policies combine the worst features of each approach. Bush has strongly intervened, but only to put pressure on the Palestinians, and he has encouraged Ariel Sharon’s Likud government to believe that they will not need to make major concessions on the West Bank.
Therefore, the United States needs to assist in negotiating a formal end to the occupation. This negotiated solution should include:
1) A clear and equitable “final status,” preferably something along the lines of what the two sides came close to agreeing to at Taba in January 2001, and more recently in Geneva, which would have produced an independent Palestinian state on nearly all of the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
2) International support for Israel’s efforts to bolster its security in anticipation of the creation of a truly independent Palestinian state through the construction of a security barrier along the 1967 “Green Line” border, rather than the current barrier which in places runs deep into the West Bank.
3) International encouragement of the Palestinian Authority to develop effective and responsible leadership and assistance to rebuild its government institutions -- especially its internal-security forces -- so it can take responsibility for governing the territories that will come under its control.
Lingering hostility towards America likely will not be resolved by the United States simply washing its hands of the conflict. Success in the war on terror will require success in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In his second term, President Bush should make this a top priority.
Michael Desch holds the Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security Decision-making at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Robert Jervis is the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University. Both are members of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy.
Christopher Preble discusses John F. Kennedy and the Missile Gap
January 20, 2005
Coalition member Christopher Preble will discuss his new book, John F. Kennedy and the Missile Gap.
John F. Kennedy and the Missile Gap (Northern Illinois University Press, 2004) explores the interaction between politics and economics in the debate over U.S. national security strategy in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Preble shows how Kennedy tapped into the deep anxiety of the late 1950s, as millions of Americans feared that the Soviet Union's technological successes posed a direct and imminent threat to U.S. security. This perception of insecurity, encapsulated in the phrase missile gap, extended well below a concern over missiles and rockets, and included broader doubts about America's capacity for fighting and defeating communism abroad.
John F. Kennedy and the Missile Gap is a historical case study that informs contemporary discussions of national security strategy and the structure of the nation's military.
Preble will discuss his book at Barnes and Noble, 555 12th Street, Washington, DC.
The event begins at 7:00 pm, and is open to the public.
For more information, contact Heather Haines at (202) 347-0176, or Christopher Preble at (202) 218-4630.
Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Stalemate and US National Security
January 06, 2005
A Coalition News Conference
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
National Press Club (Murrow Room)
529 14th St., NW
Washington, DC 20045
Featuring former Ambassador Edward Peck, former Chief of Mission in Baghdad and former deputy director of White House Task Force on Terrorism; William B. Quandt, University of Virginia, former National Security Council staff member; Steven Van Evera, Professor of Political Science at MIT; Michael Desch, Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security Decision-Making at the George Bush School of Government and Politics at Texas A&M University; and Anatol Lieven, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The results of the Palestinian elections, scheduled for January 9, will have major consequences for the prospects for peace in the Middle East, which could do much to advance U.S. interests in the region. On January 12, Middle East and national security experts will explain why it is important for the United States to reengage in the peace process. Ambassador Peck and Professor Quandt, who will observe the Palestinian elections this weekend, will provide first-hand accounts. Desch, Van Evera and Lieven will reflect upon the challenges and benefits of greater U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, a diverse group of scholars, analysts, and former government officials from across the political spectrum, recently published a statement in The Economist outlining how ending the stalemate will enhance U.S. national security. The complete statement can be found on the Coalition's Web site, www.realisticforeignpolicy.org, where additional information about the Coalition can be found.
For further information, please contact Jonathan M. Block, Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy director of media relations.
Jonathan M. Block, director of media relations, 703-200-5748, firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2004 - Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy - All rights reserved.
Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy
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Washington, DC 20005-4018
Rift is Real, but Curable
January 04, 2005
By Wayne Merry
Can trans-Atlantic relations get worse? Yes, and they will if the United States and Europe do not candidly recognize what divides them, and what binds them.
The problem is that policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic treat the relationship forged in the Cold War – America as servant of European security, Europe as loyal auxiliaries to U.S. policies – as a permanent norm rather than as an aberration lasting four decades. The true historic norm of trans-Atlantic relations is one of extensive economic interaction in parallel with sharply different societal choices and roles in the world. The Cold War glue supplied by the Soviet Union is gone for good, but the economic mortar for a new partnership exists, if both sides can build with it.
For European governments and populations, the issue is not Iraq, but the scope of American power in the world and whether that power can be constrained by non-American interests. However, Europe helped create today’s unipolar world by its own economic inertia and political lethargy--a world where European interests are a backwater of American strategy.
European leaders pursue two approaches to restrain American power: Tony Blair’s constructive engagement and Jacques Chirac's candid opposition.
Neither has accomplished much. Blair is accused of being Washington’s poodle, while Chirac reminds one of the Chinese proverb that "the dog barks but the caravan goes on."
In contrast, Washington expects Europe to support and supplement American power as it did during the Cold War through NATO, currently called a "toolbox" for U.S. power projection around the world, with little concern for the views of the "tools." This attitude enjoys bipartisan support, as Senator John Kerry believed he could engage NATO in Iraq despite firm allied refusal even under very heavy pressure by President Bush.
Still, America and Europe do communicate. While the political dialogue is at cross purposes, broader trans-Atlantic relations have never been healthier. New York, Chicago and other American communities have no difficulty communicating with Europe through the medium of money. This is a genuine two-way dialogue involving four-tenths of global trade, most of its foreign direct investment, and tens of millions of jobs. It continues the norm of trans-Atlantic relations from colonial times: America and Europe linked by trade and investment but with diverging visions of the state, society and citizenship. Only the crisis of the European system in the previous century interrupted the norm, injecting American power into Europe to restore and preserve peace.
That crisis ended more than a decade ago. The Cold War was a temporary conjunction of trans-Atlantic interests to deal with the challenge from Soviet Russia. Like most alliances, NATO was created as a conservative risk-sharing mechanism to respond to a shared problem, and not as a permanent temple of "shared values." It is a truism of history that alliances do not long outlive victory, nor should they. With the end of the Cold War, there was much rhetoric of a "new world order" without much recognition that the Soviet collapse had removed the essential unity of the Atlantic Alliance. Today, people who grew up with the Cold War and NATO have great difficulty letting them go, and still more in accepting our differences.
Americans should accept that Europe will not play a political and security role in the world commensurate with its economic size (although it can certainly look after its own region) and Europe will remain risk averse, allergic to the use of force, and isolationist. Europe’s psychology is the product of massive self-inflicted trauma of the past century and is reinforced by weak demographics and political fragmentation.
For their part, Europeans reacted to the U.S. election with their persistent delusion that America is somehow just an extension of European culture, no matter how often the American round peg refuses to fit into a European square hole. Europeans should accept that America has long-since developed a non-European identity, and also recognize that America’s interests and attention link it increasingly with the restored power and prosperity of Asia.
Throughout the 20th century, Europeans saw America's purpose in the world as serving European interests, and bridled when Washington pursued policies reflecting a broader self-identity. Today, Washington sees Europe's purpose in the world as serving American interests, and bridles when Europe conducts policies reflecting a narrower self-identity. In many ways, our global roles have reversed in the past hundred years, but the perception gaps remain.
The foundation of genuine trans-Atlantic partnership lies in our immense economic interchange. This can be a permanent bond, but using it for mutual political benefit requires respect for cultural differences, realistic expectations, plus divestiture of the mentality and institutions of the ever-receding Cold War.
It is long overdue for Europe to take full responsibility for its continental and regional security, inheriting the infrastructure and shared experience of NATO, and for the United States to welcome an independent Europe with its own interests and outlook. American public opinion supports a stronger European role. As partners, there will doubtless be many disagreements, but also an opportunity to reduce the rancor and resentments infecting trans-Atlantic ties today.
Wayne Merry, a former State Department and Pentagon official, is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and a senior associate at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington.
Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Stalemate
January 01, 2005
A new statement from the Coalition urges the United States to assist in negotiating a formal end to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate as a way to improve U.S. national security objectives in the Middle East.
Download PDF version of this statement.
Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Stalemate Will Strengthen U.S. National Security
We, the undersigned, represent varied intellectual and personal backgrounds, but we all agree that current US Middle East policy is not in the U.S. national interest, not morally defensible, and ultimately not beneficial to the inhabitants of the region.
The United States has two major national security objectives in the Middle East:
1. Winning the global war against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.
2. Ensuring continued access to Persian Gulf oil.
Both objectives are threatened by the continuing Israeli-Palestinian stalemate. Ariel Sharon's policies of continuing Israel's occupation of large parts of the West Bank and the consolidation of Jewish settlements there are harming U.S. interests in the Middle East. The inability of Palestinian residents of those territories to determine their own political future increases anti-American sentiments among Arabs and Muslims and makes it more difficult to pursue the war on terrorism. The late Yasser Arafat's inability or unwillingness to contain anti-Israeli violence and focus on preparing the Palestinians for effective self-government also prolonged the conflict, but his passing provides a new opportunity to end this conflict once and for all. We believe that an end to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate would help Washington advance its global interests in important ways.
A recent series of polls conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and the Brookings Institution makes clear that the United States is deeply unpopular in the Middle East. Even among such traditional U.S. allies as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, between 79 and 95 percent of the public holds unfavorable attitudes about America. Seventy percent of those respondents explain that their negative feelings about the United States are rooted in the belief that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists because the United States supports Israel without reservation.
President Bush has done much to reinforce this belief. He routinely conflates our war against al Qaeda with Israel's struggle against the Palestinians. He has forged political links with some of the most intransigent proponents of "greater Israel." He has adopted a policy of benign neglect towards the continued expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. And he recently endorsed Sharon's proposal to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank in advance of a comprehensive political settlement.
Americans should be deeply concerned that we are so unpopular in the region inasmuch as it makes it harder, rather than easier, for us to achieve our major national security objectives in the Middle East.
Consider first the global war on terrorism against al Qaeda. While it is true that bin Laden's primary casus belli was not the Israeli occupation but rather the presence of "infidels" in the Muslim holy lands, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nonetheless undermines our ability to defeat his network. As part of its strategy for winning the global war on terrorism, the United States needs to work together with those Middle Eastern governments that share its geostrategic and geo-economic interests and we also need to discourage individual Arabs and Muslims from answering bin Laden's call to join his global jihad against the United States. The fact that the United States is widely viewed as supporting Israel's continued occupation of Arab lands-including Islam's third-most holy site in Jerusalem-makes it harder for us to find allies in the global war against al Qaeda.
The Israeli-Palestinian stalemate also threatens the West's continued access to the lifeblood of our economy: inexpensive Middle Eastern oil reserves. Recall that it was the Arab-Israeli conflict that first led the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to wield the oil weapon against Western countries thought to be too supportive of Israel. While economic self-interest makes it highly likely that all but the most militant Arab states will continue to sell oil to the rest of the world, the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict hinders the trade of an essential resource with an element of political tension that undermines U.S. interests.
There is also the question of the financial burden of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since 1973, Israel has received directly over $200 billion in 2001 dollars in U.S. foreign aid, and the indirect costs of U.S. support have likely been considerably higher. The United States continues to spend billions of taxpayer dollars in the Middle East every year, yet peace is more remote than ever and America is not seen as an honest broker. For the good of American taxpayers and in order to be a more impartial force in the region, America should thoroughly re-evaluate its foreign-aid spending in the Middle East.
There is much to be said for less U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The historical record suggests that the parties seem to make better progress without us and that excessive reliance on the United States diminishes their responsibility for their own future and teaches others that America is the world's policeman. But there is also something to be said for an active -though evenhanded-American role in solving the conflict.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration's policies combine the worst features of each approach. Bush has strongly intervened, but only to put pressure on the Palestinians, and he has encouraged Ariel Sharon's Likud government to believe that they will not need to make major concessions on the West Bank.
The signatories recognize that the lingering hostility toward the United States likely will not be resolved by the United States simply washing its hands of the conflict. Therefore, the undersigned urge the United States to assist in negotiating a formal end to the occupation. This negotiated solution should include:
1. A clear and equitable "final status," preferably something along the lines of what the two sides came close to agreeing to at Taba in January 2001, which would have produced an independent Palestinian state on nearly all of the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
2. International support for Israel's efforts to bolster its security in anticipation of the creation of a truly independent Palestinian state through the construction of a security barrier along the 1967 "Green Line" border, rather than the current barrier which in places runs deep into the West Bank.
3. International encouragement of the Palestinian Authority to develop effective and responsible leadership and assistance to rebuild its government institutionsespecially its internal-security forces-so it can take responsibility for governing the territories that will come under its control.
Robert Art, Brandeis University
Andrew J. Bacevich, Boston University
Doug Bandow, Former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan
Nicholas Berry, Director, Foreign Policy Forum
Richard Betts, Columbia University
Michael E. Brown, Georgetown University
Juan R. Cole, University of Michigan
Michael Desch, Texas A&M University
Michael Doyle, Columbia University
Carolyn Eisenberg, Hofstra University
Sumit Ganguly, Indiana University
Paul Gessing, The Free Liberal
Leon Hadar, Author, Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East
David Hendrickson, Colorado College
George Herring, University of Kentucky
Joseph P. Hoar, General, U.S.M.C. (ret.)
Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard University
Samuel Huntington, Harvard University
G. John Ikenberry, Princeton University
Robert Jervis, Columbia University
Miles Kahler, University of California, San Diego
Stuart Kaufman, University of Delaware
Peter F. Krogh, Georgetown University
Christopher Layne, Contributing Editor, The American Conservative
Anatol Lieven, Carnegie Endowment
Ian Lustick, University of Pennsylvania
Scott McConnell, Executive Editor, The American Conservative
John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago
Andrew Moravcsik, Princeton University
Augustus Richard Norton, Boston University
Edward L. Peck, Former U.S. Ambassador
John L. Petersen, President, The Arlington Institute
William B. Quandt, University of Virginia
Paul Schroeder, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Tony Smith, Tufts University
Stephen Van Evera, MIT
Jon Basil Utley, Editor, ConservativesForPeace.com
Stephen Walt, Harvard University
Kenneth Waltz, Columbia University
William Wohlforth, Dartmouth College
*This statement reflects the opinions of the individual signatories. Institutions are listed for identification purposes only.
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