Political Earthquake in Palestine
January 31, 2006
The Independent Institute's Ivan Eland weighs in on the recent parliamentary election in the Palestinian Authority, and what it means for U.S. policy in the Middle East.
The article is available at Antiwar.com:
Bush's Call to Stay the Course Is Simply an Act of Folly
January 30, 2006
Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, challenges the president's stubborn insistence on "staying the course" in Iraq.
The article was originally published in The Daily Star, and is available in its entirety online:
Ted Galen Carpenter is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author of seven books, including his most recent America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan.
Peace Candidate, '68 Vintage
The American Conservative's Scott McConnell renders a poignant and personal look at Eugene McCarthy's remarkable rise in 1968, and his subsequent political career, one that cannot be neatly characterized as either liberal or conservative.
The article appears in The American Conservative online:
Scott McConnell is a founding member and director of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. He is the editor of the American Conservative.
Getting Real(istic) About Nonproliferation
Charles Pena challenges those in the arms control community to revisit their assumptions about nonproliferation.
The article was published by Foreign Policy in Focus and can be read in its entirety here:
Charles Pena is a Senior Fellow with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. His book Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism will be published in April by Potomac Books.
Policy of Restraint Offers Best Payoff
January 24, 2006
The Cato Institute's Ted Galen Carpenter explores U.S. options for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions and urges policymakers to proceed with caution.
The article, originally published in The Baltimore Sun on January 24th, can be read in its entirety here:
Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, is the author of seven books and the editor of 10 books on international affairs, including the just published America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan.
America's Coming War with China, Cato Book Forum, 01.25.06
January 16, 2006
On Wednesday, January 25, 2006, the Cato Institute hosted a book forum featuring America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan(Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) with the author, Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; with comments by Clyde Prestowitz, President, Economic Strategy Institute; and Richard C. Bush III, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution.
There is one issue that could lead to a disastrous war between the United States and China. That issue is the fate of Taiwan. A growing number of Taiwanese want independence for their island and regard mainland China as an alien nation. Mainland Chinese consider Taiwan a province that was stolen from China more than a century ago, and their patience about getting it back is wearing thin. Washington officially endorses a "one China" policy but also sells arms to Taiwan and maintains an implicit pledge to defend it from attack. That vague, muddled policy invites miscalculation by Taiwan or China -- or both. The three parties are on a collision course, and unless something dramatic changes, an armed conflict is virtually inevitable within a decade. Carpenter explains what the United States must do quickly to avoid being dragged into war.
To watch or listen to an online archive of the event, visit:
Posted by coalition at 11:24 AM
If Not Empire, Then What?
January 12, 2006
The National Interest and the Nixon Center, in conjunction with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, convened a panel discussion exploring the question "If Not Empire, Then What?"
The event on January 11 was hosted by Nikolas Gvosdev, Editor of The National Interest, and featured initial comments by Jack Snyder and Christopher Preble, as well as Gvosdev, followed by an interesting give and take between the over 20 participants.
Nick summarized his impressions of the event on his blog, which can be found here:
Like Tourists with Guns
January 11, 2006
Christopher Preble of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and the Cato Institute, reviews Robert Kaplan's latest book, Imperial Grunts, in the pages of The American Conservative.
The article can be read in its entirety on The American Conservative's web site:
Christopher Preble is Executive Director of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, and Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. He is the co-author, with Justin Logan, of "Failed States and Flawed Logic: The Case against a Standing Nation-Building Office."
The West's Ukraine Illusion
January 09, 2006
New America Foundation senior fellow Anatol Lieven casts a skeptical glance at the West's relations with Ukraine, and warns of what it could mean for relations with Russia.
With the Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute now settled, in a murky but apparently satisfactory fashion, it is time to reflect on what the affair says about the West's relations with Russia, and still more importantly the West's relations with Ukraine. It would be nice to think that now that the gas to Ukraine has been turned up, the kind that has been swelling many Western pundits in recent days might be turned down a little, but unfortunately a Russian diet always seems to produce in them a particularly volcanic degree of flatulence.
The reason why a serious debate is necessary in the West is that in recent months, and even over the past ten years, the West's strategy towards Ukraine has been founded on a bizarre illusion: that Ukraine would leave Russia's orbit and "join the West", and that Russia would pay for this process. If continued, this self-deception could lead to a severe geopolitical defeat.
Consider the figures: Until the latest price hike for gas, Russia was supplying Ukraine with a de facto annual energy subsidy estimated by independent experts at somewhere between $3 billion and $5 billion a year. That is more than the whole of EU aid in the 14 years since Ukrainian independence. As to US bilateral aid, last year it stood at a mere $174 million - and this after all the talk of US admiration and support for Ukraine's Orange Revolution. Even after the latest price rise, Ukraine will remain greatly favored by international standards, though now more at the ultimate expense of Turkmenistan than Russia.
Equally important for the Ukrainian economy have been the remittances sent back annually by the millions of Ukrainians working legally in Russia. Once again, contrast Western approaches to this question: It remains extremely difficult for Ukrainians to gain permits to work legally in Western countries; and when the last German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, tried to relax the terms for entry into Germany, the result was an outburst of chauvinist hysteria in Germany about a supposed resulting flood of Ukrainian criminals and prostitutes.
Recent days have seen a great deal of self-righteous moralizing in the US and European media about Russia using energy as a political tool. It would be better if the Americans and French in particular turned the question round and asked themselves whether there would be the slightest possibility of their countries giving aid on this scale without expecting massive and concrete geopolitical and economic benefits as a result.
The underlying thinking in Brussels and Washington concerning Ukraine is rather different, with as so often Europeans holding the prize for cynicism, and Americans for recklessness. Under all the talk about Ukraine's European path, a majority of West European governments and EU officials privately hope that any real prospect of Ukrainian EU membership can be postponed virtually indefinitely - at least until after Turkish membership, which may come to the same thing. They are certainly not going to ask their voters to come up with anything like the massive aid that Ukraine needs in order radically to reform its economy along Western lines.
Nor of course is the US going to take up this burden. Instead, a growing number of US officials and politicians seem to see early NATO membership for Ukraine as a cheap alternative, with little economic cost to the US, and that little offset by benefits to US arms manufacturers.
This however would mean taking into what remains in effect an anti-Russian alliance a country which is still deeply entwined with Russia economically, demographically and culturally; where in the free last round of the presidential elections, 44 per cent of the population voted against a Western path and in favor of alliance with Russia; and where according to opinion polls an overwhelming majority of the population is opposed to NATO membership.
In addition, as events since the Orange Revolution have demonstrated, Ukraine remains a volatile and unconsolidated democracy, whose political and business elites remain deeply ambivalent about real economic reform. And a future world economic crisis, especially one consequent on international energy sources, could completely redraw both the political and geopolitical maps of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, unless Russia can somehow also be integrated into the West, Ukraine's successful move out of the Russian orbit would face Russia with another set of terrible economic, cultural and geopolitical defeats, including in the long term the loss of Ukrainian markets for Russian goods and a severe diminution of the international reach of the Russian language.
Russia's opposition to this threat to its vital interests may therefore be crudely and incompetently conducted, but it is entirely understandable in terms both of history and of the likely behavior of the US and France in similar circumstances. At the very least, for the West to expect Russia to pay for its own defeat is crazy as well as utterly hypocritical.
Anatol Lieven is a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, and a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. His latest book is America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism.
This article was originally published in the International Herald Tribune, January 6th 2006, and is reprinted here by permission of the author.
The Imperious President
January 06, 2006
Empire leads inexorably toward the expansion of executive power, but George Bush has taken the practice to new heights, as David Isenberg of the British-American Security Information Council (BASIC) explains.
This article, which can be read in its entirety here, comes to us courtesy of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information.
David Isenberg is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. He is an adviser to the Straus Military Reform Project and a senior analyst with the British-American Security Information Council. The views expressed are his own.
End this Evasion on Permanent Army Bases in Iraq
January 05, 2006
Former U.S. Senator Gary Hart asks when the Bush administration will formally commit to removing all U.S. bases from Iraq, and he ponders what steps are needed to ensure that the president makes good on those promises.
It has been the dream of Republican neoconservatives at least since 1998 - and probably years before - to overthrow Saddam Hussein and to use the new client state of Iraq as the US's military and political base from which to pacify the complex and troubled Middle East. Leaving aside the plausibility of this notion, it is not one with which the great American leaders of history would have identified and certainly not one they would have attempted to carry out in secret.
Having failed in this enterprise, as some of us predicted, the question is: what now? There is still the possibility that a central remnant of this secret scheme may yet be salvaged. Surprisingly, the trick has drawn little attention from the American audience. It is to help install at least the semblance of a "democratic" government in Baghdad, even one that in author Fareed Zakaria's perceptive term is an illiberal democracy; to construct permanent US military bases at strategic points throughout the country and then persuade the new "democratic" government to invite us to stay.
So, now that the debate has finally turned not on whether to stay or to go but on how soon and under what conditions we should leave, it would be a mistake of epic proportions to assume things are that simple. There is an old movie line my friend Frank Mankiewicz, the veteran political adviser, is fond of quoting: "These are desperate men and they will stop at nothing." This he said during the Watergate years and we all knew what he was talking about, but it also applies today. For those of us who warned against kicking a Middle East hornets' nest, to assume that now it is simply a question of timing would be to assume that the neo-con Houdinis who gave us Vietnam-in-the-desert are out of tricks.
Any attempt to find out whether the US is, or is not, constructing permanent military bases meets with frustration. The few who have attempted to get a direct answer to this question are met with evasion and purposeful confusion over what is or is not "permanent". But this is the ultimate test of true Bush administration intentions in Iraq. If we are, in fact, constructing permanent bases, "leaving" simply means a reduction of forces and the permanent stationing of US brigades in Iraq. If this "compromise" solution appeals to you, you might wish to refresh your memory about the disastrous French experience in Indochina or even certain phases of the British occupation of Iraq.
Under circumstances where Congress was performing its constitutional oversight responsibilities, and where the press was less intimidated by power, it would be a straightforward exercise to determine whether a final neoconservative trick is afoot. Congressional committees would have senior civilian and uniformed Pentagon and State department officials answer direct questions about US plans. "Mr or Madame secretary, are we, or are we not, constructing permanent military bases in Iraq and, if so, for what purpose?"
But this Congress has made clear it is a purely partisan institution, not a separate branch of government, and that it has no intention of fulfilling its duties to oversee the executive branch and inform the American people. Obviously, reporters could do the same with the White House press secretary (with no serious hope of an honest answer) or, even better, the president.
And to forgo predictable semantic sleights of hand, let us define "permanent" as: fixed, solid, durable and lasting. In practical terms, that means pouring concrete and welding steel, not tents and ditch latrines.
It is a shame for any American to distrust the veracity of his or her leaders. But the current crop has given us more than enough reason to do so. So when the president says: "When they [Iraqis] stand up, we will stand down," it cries out for an explicit definition of what "stand down" means in practice. Otherwise, "stand down" will quickly join "stay the course" and "support the troops" as rhetorical substitutes for policy and the equivalent of the scarves magicians use to obscure the concealment of an ace up the sleeve.
The art of deception does not require outright lies. It may simply lie in refusing to reveal the truth, the art of the trick. Given all the purposeful obfuscation, deception and card-shuffling that went on during the run up to the Iraq war, and the shuck-and-jive since things turned ugly, does anyone seriously believe the neoconservative magicians are out of tricks?
The writer, a former US senator, was twice a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. His new book, The Shield and The Cloak: The Security of the Commons, is out this month (Oxford University Press).
Originally Published in the Financial Times on January 4th, 2006, and reprinted here by permission of the author.