Monday, July 28, 2008


"The next president of the United States must forge a new national security strategy in a world marked by enormous tumult and change and at a time when America’s international standing and strategic position are at an historic nadir. Many of our allies question our motives and methods; our enemies doubt American rhetoric and resolve. Now, more than at any time since the late 1940s, it is vital to chart a new direction for America’s global role. Our core goals today are the same ones envisaged by our founding fathers: the resolute pursuit of security, liberty, and prosperity both for our own people and as the basis for a just and stable international order. The challenge is to advance these goals in a new global landscape. The 21st century is an era of deep interconnectedness, creating unparalleled opportunities but also great dangers from which no nation can be immune. It is also an era of increasingly diffuse power, spreading to many different states and from states to non-state actors of many different kinds. America is well equipped by geography, demography, and national temperament and values to flourish in this environment.

But to do so will require a new kind of American leadership: strategic leadership. Strategic leadership requires making wise and deliberate choices about how, when, and with whom to lead. While America remains the single most powerful country in the world today, it cannot take global leadership for granted, nor can it revert to what worked in previous eras. Both the scope and the limits of American power must be taken into account. Moreover, leadership is not an entitlement; it has to be earned and sustained. Leadership that serves common goals is the best way to inspire the many different peoples of the world to make shared commitments. The United States must lead primarily when our interests most warrant it and when we are most able to achieve the objectives at hand. Despite the prevalent presumption that America must always be in charge, effective leadership is not always centered in Washington. At times, our interests are best served when others lead with us, or even take our place at the helm. Climate change could be an example of shared leadership; regional peacekeeping efforts will likely offer opportunities for other nations to lead. A doctrine of strategic leadership seeks effective action rather than American leadership for its own sake. It exercises judgment as much as resolve.

America’s longstanding allies will continue to be our most valued partners, along with key global and regional institutions. On many issues, however, the United States must be pragmatic and flexible enough to work with a wide variety of states on different issues. Whether they are old allies or new potential partners, we should engage with others, seeking to surface differences of opinion and new insights before views have hardened. And while being clear on its own red lines, Washington should be willing to adapt its positions to gain the consensus ultimately needed for constructive policy making and implementation. Operationally, strategic leadership has five principal requisites: exercising strong statecraft, ensuring 21st century military strength, enhancing prosperity and development, encouraging democracy and human rights, and energizing America at home. It also means setting priorities. Our founders believed that they were creating a nation that would secure life, liberty, and prosperity for all Americans. At the same time, our nation would also stand together with all other people against tyranny, inequality, and injustice. At its best, America has pursued its interests in ways that further those global human interests. It has sought partners and helped build institutions to strengthen the ability of all nations to tackle common problems. And it has been willing to strengthen other nations and help them regain their power and prosperity as members of a spreading zone of liberty and peace. America can and must do so again. Strategic leadership provides a framework for a national security strategy that meets the demands and needs of our current century. Such leadership recognizes that in an interconnected world the best way to secure our own interests is to understand and help secure the interests of others. It understands that in a world in which power has diffused, leadership can mean convening, listening and brokering agreements as well as seizing the initiative and expecting others to follow".

"Strategic Leadership: framework for a 21st century National Security Strategy," in

The 'Phoenix Initiative' (sponsored by the "Center for New American Security") is the product, the latest product one should say of the Democratic Party / the'progressive' wing of elements of the American foreign policy elite. One should qualify that statement by saying the 'younger' elements. Those people who occupied middle-level positions in the Clinton Administration in the National Security Council staff, the State Department and (to a much lesser extent) the Department of Defence. And, who under the Bush regime, went into comfortable exile in various academic departments (invariably in either 'peace studies', or international affairs', 'International Security', et cetera), 'think tanks', and assorted places where out-of-work American apparatchiks go to for monetary sustenance. All one has to do is read off the some of the names associated with this thirty-seven page document: Ivo Daalder, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Michael McFaul with a preface to the report written by Susan Rice (now the junior Senator from Illinois's principal foreign policy advisor).

The substance of the report is more or less along the lines that there is not a cliche, a banality that our respected committee of junior foreign policy worthies did not encounter and fall in love with. And, as a result held up to display for the rest of us to look, read and reflect upon. The mere fact that almost everyone within the right side of lunacy, would not in actuality disagree with seventy-five to ninety percent of what they propose is it would seem beyond their purview. Why? One might very well ask. Without supposing that I can offer a full-proof reason, I can only say that one of the prime effects of the Bush regimes time in power in Washington, DC, has been to create a mindset more akin to that old childish cartoon: 'I say that it is spinach, and, I say to hell with it!' And, that is more or less the accumulated response of much of the American foreign policy elites (Democratic or Republican) to the not so splendid idiocy of the Bush years. That since what they represented is black, than what we are is white, and, vice-`a-versa. When in point of fact, that there is much in this report, once one strips away its cliches and dead rhetorical language about our 'founding father's' (where are they now pray tell?), that most, not all of course, but many in the Bush regime, would readily agree with. And, of course conversely there is much in the Bush agenda and policy, that our young Turks, notwithstanding any posturing to the contrary, will also, once they are safely installed in power, will readily take to heart. This I am afraid is part and parcel of any such change of regimes, and, in particular such exercises in note taking banalities, as the report of the Phoenix Project. As an exercise in posturing and positioning, the Phoenix Report is truly erste-klasse. As an exercise in trying to point the way towards new ways and means in American diplomacy and policy, well the less said the better. Such unfortunately is the way of all such documents: exercises in group narcissism.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


"Bien que le recours à la force contre Pyongyang ait été envisagé par les Etats-Unis, il a été décidé, sous George W. Bush comme sous Bill Clinton, de combiner les mesures politiques et économiques à l’encontre de la Corée du Nord avec la confirmation des garanties de sécurité américaines à l’égard des alliés des Etats-Unis dans la région, notamment le Japon et la Corée du Sud. L’acquisition d’une certaine capacité nucléaire par Pyongyang n’a pas entraîné une réaction en chaîne nucléaire dans la région, et, en fin de compte, la voie de la négociation a fini par être rouverte. Ce choix rationnel de la modération militaire par les Etats-Unis a été rendu possible par la crédibilité de la garantie de défense américaine dans la région.

Cette condition-là n’existe tout simplement pas, ou plus, dans le golfe Persique : la débâcle irakienne est passée par là. La retenue américaine vis-à-vis d’un Iran franchissant le seuil nucléaire ne serait pas interprétée comme la démonstration d’une force tranquille, mais comme une preuve de la faiblesse stratégique d’une Amérique humiliée.

Il est possible que cette perception se modifie avec le changement d’administration à Washington en janvier 2009. Cela resterait cependant à démontrer et, dans le meilleur des cas, prendrait du temps, temps qui ne sera probablement plus disponible compte tenu de ce qui sera advenu dans l’intervalle....

Nos pays devront se déterminer par rapport à deux options parfaitement catastrophiques. La facilité consisterait à se voiler la face, à refuser le choix. Cependant, un tel refus équivaudrait à une décision par défaut, à savoir, l’acceptation de la logique de prolifération. Mieux vaudrait, somme toute, poser clairement les thèmes de l’équation : serait-il plus catastrophique de frapper que de ne pas frapper ? Quelles conclusions en termes d’action nos pays devraient-ils tirer de la réponse ? (...)

Si le recours à la force devait être décidé par les Etats-Unis, avec ou sans Israël, quelle pourrait être l’attitude des partenaires traditionnels de l’Amérique ? La réprobation politique serait générale, en l’absence d’une décision du Conseil de sécurité et au vu des conséquences immédiates d’une guerre. Une anecdote permettra cependant de moduler l’affirmation.

Dans le courant de 2006, je demandais à un ami russe, proche de la "verticale du pouvoir" du Kremlin, quelle serait l’attitude de la Russie en cas de frappes américaines, toutes les autres approches ayant échoué. Il répondit : "Nous exprimerions notre préoccupation... (ici une pause) et notre compréhension. Et que ferait la France ?" Je lui répondis que, pour notre pays, cela risquait d’être exactement le contraire : peut-être exprimerions-nous notre compréhension et notre préoccupation...

Naturellement, il s’agissait de réponses spéculatives, tout étant ici affaire de circonstances. Dès lors que les Etats-Unis ne forceraient pas le Conseil de sécurité à aller à un impossible vote d’approbation, les partenaires des Etats-Unis pourraient assortir leurs réactions de toutes les nuances de l’arc-en-ciel diplomatique. A l’inverse, il est probable qu’aucun des alliés des Etats-Unis, à l’exception possible d’Israël, ne participe activement à de telles opérations aériennes.

Pour certains, le contrecoup d’un engagement imprudent au côté des Etats-Unis en Irak en sera la cause : le Royaume-Uni, l’Italie, l’Espagne notamment, ne s’y feront probablement pas prendre à deux fois. Pour d’autres, et parfois les mêmes, ce sera aussi la crainte d’attaques contre leurs ressortissants et leurs intérêts dans le monde musulman ou encore le risque d’émeutes dans leur population d’origine musulmane.

Au-delà cependant de telles considérations, pas toujours glorieuses, les partenaires des Etats-Unis considéreront que le recours à la force est lui-même la conséquence de la dégradation massive de la situation stratégique résultant de l’aventure américaine en Irak. En d’autres termes, c’est la crédibilité de Washington qui est en première ligne et c’est aux Etats-Unis de la rétablir. Ce point de vue ne manque pas de justification.

En tout état de cause, la question du recours américain à la force ne devra pas être traitée par les Européens de la même façon que l’hasardeuse entreprise des Etats-Unis en Irak. L’administration américaine, à quelques exceptions près, est aussi peu disposée à s’engager contre l’Iran qu’elle était désireuse d’envahir l’Irak. Le renseignement américain sur l’Iran n’a pas cherché à gonfler la menace nucléaire iranienne ; au contraire, les estimations américaines ont été généralement plus conservatrices que celles de la France ou du Royaume-Uni ou, a fortiori, d’Israël.

Certes, la machine de propagande américaine se mettrait en marche si était fait le choix de l’intervention ; mais c’est à reculons et à contrecoeur que l’Amérique voit approcher l’heure du choix. Les Européens, comme les autres partenaires des Etats-Unis, devront se positionner sur ce sujet sur ses mérites propres, et non à partir de son contexte créé par l’invasion de l’Irak.

Pour un Français, hostile à la guerre d’Irak, ressortissant d’un pays ayant mené le combat politique contre cette guerre, il est sans doute plus facile d’appeler à une appréciation dépassionnée d’une éventuelle intervention américaine en Iran que pour certains de nos partenaires échaudés par leur participation à l’expédition du président Bush en Irak.

Il n’en reste pas moins qu’une condamnation par avance et sans nuance d’une action militaire n’est pas de mise. Si nous voulons éviter un Moyen-Orient où la possession, et le cas échéant l’emploi, d’armes nucléaires devienne la règle, nous devons faire une croix sur les réflexes de rejet, parfaitement compréhensibles au demeurant, que peut inspirer le bilan catastrophique de l’administration Bush. La politique des Etats européens doit s’inspirer de leurs valeurs de base et de leurs intérêts vitaux : la non-prolifération des armes nucléaires est au coeur des unes et des autres".

Francois Heisbourg, "L'Iran, et la bombe, la guerre, ou la paix", 13 September 2007 in

The last five to six weeks, has seen a case of a war of nerves opening up between the State of Israel, its American ally and the Persians over the issue of the latter's nuclear ambitions. In the latter part of the month of June, the American newspaper the New York Times, published an obviously leaked report that the Israeli air force had engaged in an extensive series of exercises which were said to have been a trial run of a possible future Israeli air strikes or air strikes intended to wipe out and or seriously set-back Persia's nuclear programme. What the American online journal, called, "telegraphing an Israeli punch" (see: "Mediterranean Flyover: Telegraphing an Israeli Punch?", in Similar such 'telegraphs' have recently included warnings from various official or semi-official figures in Israel that the failure on the part of the International community to 'resolve', the Persian issue as it relates to its nuclear ambitions, may very well result in Israel taking the matter into its own hands, in the latter part of the Bush Administration, say sometimes between the second week of November and the third week of January. Whatever the exact degree of psychologial warefare is involved in such exercises is for my purposes irrelevent. The real issue is that at the present time, there is a real possibility that military action is being prepared to set-back or even completely destroy Persia's nuclear programme. Which in turn raises the issue: is the possibility of Persia acquiring such weapons significant enough to raise the possibility of military action?

From my perspective, following in the footsteps of a book by Monsieur Francois Heisbourg ('Iran, le choix des armes?'), the head of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, and, an adviser for many years to various French govenments, the issue is what are the ramifications of Persia acquiring the bomb? And, what are the ramifications of using force to stop the possibility ("serait-il plus catastrophique de frapper que de ne pas frapper?")? If one looks at the matter in that fashion one comes to two conclusions: a) that Persia's acquiring nuclear weapons, and, thus thumbing its nose at both the International Community and what remains of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, are as bad as; b) the Americans with or without Israel or vice `a versa, but, certainly without even a shred of international support or legitimacy, using force to attempt to destroy Persia's proto-nuclear programme.

Which leaves us where exactly you might well ask? Well it leaves us as follows: the need indeed the absolute necessity of following the long, arduous road of coercive diplomacy vis-`a-vis Teheran in an attempt to stop the mad Mullahs of Persia from continuing with their attempts to go down the nuclear road. The current negotiations between the Persians and the members of the UN Security Council with Germany, so far have not shown that Teheran will readily agree to stop even temporarily their efforts at enrichment of nuclear materials. The crux of the matter will be resolved, diplomatically in one fashion or other, within the next four to six weeks. As is their want, the Persians will endeavor to a) string the talks along; b) not make any concessions whatsoever. If at the end of the six weeks time frame, a stalemate is arrived at, then what needs to be done, is something along the lines of a programme of coercive diplomacy by the international community. That and only that, can and will show Teheran that it cannot engage in activities which are repugnant, nay indeed dangerous to the Security Council and the International Community. What will be needed at that point, is the full range of sanctions across the entire gamet of economic activity. Anything less will be viewed by Persia as a mere slap on the wrist. In essence a green light to proceed with its enrichment activities. And, of course also provide a green light to the Israelis and possibly their American allies to plan on the possibility of using force to stop the Persians before it is too late. If the latter alternative is to be avoided, horrible as that may perhaps be, than the former alternative must also be avoided. Concerted action by the great powers of the world is the only means to avoid either course of action. Let us hope that this particular road will in fact be taken before it is too late indeed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


"Regret what? This secret operation was an excellent idea. It lured the Russians into the Afghan trap, and you would like me to regret that? On the day when the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote president Carter, in essence: "We now have the opportunity to provide the USSR with their Viet Nam war." Indeed for ten years Moscow had to conduct a war that was intolerable for the regime, a conflict which involved the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet Empire.

Le Nouvel Observateur: And also, don't you regret having helped future terrorists, having given them weapons and advice?

Zbigniew Brzezinski: What is most important for world history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? Some Islamic hotheads or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Le Nouvel Observateur: "Some hotheads?" But it has been said time and time again: today Islamic fundamentalism represents a world-wide threat...

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Rubbish! It's said that the West has a global policy regarding Islam. That's hogwash: there is no global Islam. Let's look at Islam in a rational and not a demagogic or emotional way. It is the first world religion with 1.5 billion adherents. But what is there in common between fundamentalist Saudi Arabia, moderate Morocco, militaristic Pakistan, pro-Western Egypt and secularized Central Asia? Nothing more than that which connects the Christian countries..."

Former American National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, interviewed by Le Nouvel Observateur, 15-21 January 1998, translation by Jean Martineau, in

When one reads that Monsieur Brzezinski has been interviewed once again in some newspaper (the Financial Times, the New York Times, et cetera), or writes an opinion piece, one is tempted to read and take seriously what this august and learned gentleman presents to us the public. Afterall, not only is this gentleman a former National Security Advisor, one of the few who has filled well this role in the formulation of American foreign policy (the others being Bundy, Kissinger, and General Scowcroft [twice]), but, in his earlier career as an academic in the fifties and early sixties he was a major presence in the academic scene in the field of sovietology. His collaboration with Carl J. Friedrich, made him one of the originators of the theoretical concept of 'totalitarianism', in the American academic mainstream. He was also an early adherent of the idea that the 'Soviet Bloc', was ripe for potential fissures which made for the possibilities that the so-called People's Democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, eager to possibly escape or at least lessen the bonds of Soviet-Russian hegemony.

However any such tendency to take entirely seriously what the good Professor says these days says should be held in check. Unfortunately, as a long stream of endlessly written and easily forgotten books since his time in government in 1981 (if one does not include his memoirs, the total is seven), easily proves, much of what Brzezinski says is said less for the purpose of any deep analytical thinking, and, much more for purposes of pour epater. Who is being epaterat the given moment, is also a secondary factor for the good Professor. At times his targets have included Gorbachev, George Bush the Elder's Persian Gulf War, non-intervention during the Bosnian Conflict, non-support for independence of Chechnya, the demonization of the Putin regime, et cetera, et cetera, the list being a rather a long one. The larger point, is that rather than reflecting the judgment of someone who has thought long and hard about policy in a deep and serious way, Brzezinski's pronouncements in the past twenty-five years, have all of the gravitas and substance of a stuffed turkey. Sad but unfortunately all too true. As per his latest table talk to the FT, what can one say but that he: a) wants to be once again blimelight by backing the Presidential campaign of the junior Senator from Illinois; b) his own son, Mark is an advisor to the self-same Presidential candidate. A further thought is that the analogy used in the interview is rather off-base insofar as it is somewhat unlikely the Sovietskaya Vlast would have been 'defeated' in Afghanistan, sans, all that American and Saudi money and equipment to the Afghan resistance. Last time I checked the Taliban, while being able to play on regional and tribal antagonisms to the Karzai regime in Kabul, is not supported by any outside actors, not even the Persians. In absence of such, while it is likely that the Taliban will continue to be a threat in quite a few of the eastern, and southeastern provinces where the Pashtun predominant, it is also unlikely to be able to re-stage a comeback to their former predominance `a la the 1994 to 2001 period.

Quad erat demonstratum.

For those who wish to read the interview, please see below:

"Brzezinski warns against repeating Soviet Experience", By Daniel Dombey

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US national security adviser and prominent supporter of Barack Obama, has warned the Democratic presidential candidate that he risks repeating the defeat suffered by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Mr Obama has called for up to 10,000 more US troops to be deployed in the country, where the USSR once sent tens of thousands of soldiers only to suffer cataclysmic military failure.

But in an interview with the Financial Times Mr Brzezinski warned: "It is important for US policy in general and for Obama more specifically to recognise that simply putting more troops into Afghanistan is not the entire solution . . . We are running the risk of repeating the mistake the Soviet Union made . . . Our strategy is getting in deeper and deeper."

He added that while the Soviets invaded the country thinking there was a communist Afghan elite on which they could rely, "we have to be careful not to overestimate the appeal of the democratic Afghan elite, because we run the risk that our military presence . . . will gradually turn the Afghan population entirely against us".

Afghan society was deeply conservative and resistant to dramatic change, he said.

Mr Brzezinski is sometimes seen as a controversial figure because of his trenchant criticism of Russia and his calls for US policy on the Middle East not to be "subordinated to Israeli interests". Today he depicts himself as a supporter who has declined to join the Obama campaign because of his unwillingness to be kept quiet or on message during the duration of the election.

"I realise that in an electoral campaign you don't want to antagonise large groups which are highly motivated," he said.

Nevertheless, their personal contact has left its mark on the 80-year-old former Harvard and Columbia professor, a veteran of the Johnson and Carter administrations. He said that of all the presidential candidates since 1960, he was most impressed by Mr Obama and John Kennedy, both of whom he considered "in tune with the music of the time". But he argued it was more difficult today for Mr Obama to define a clear foreign policy position than it was for Kennedy.

"This is a very dangerous period of time with very unpredictable consequences," he said, referring to tensions between Iran and Israel and the US. "You have three countries doing a kind of death dance on the basis of confusion, division and fear.

"If we end up with war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran at the same time, can anyone see a more damaging prospect for America's world role than that?" he asked. "That's the fundamental foreign policy dilemma at the back of this election. A four-front war would get us involved for years . . It would be the end of American predominance." 21 July 2008 in Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008


As those who have read this journal from time to time, know quite well, I have always had the highest admiration for Joshua Landis' own journal, Syria Comment. And, from time to time, have posted entries by the good Professor. On this occasion, I have decided to post a contribution from one of his regular contributors, who goes by the name of 'Observer'. While I do not think much of his comments, about either Europe ("the population see an incompetent parasitic bureaucracy that is out of touch with reality," as opposed to where exactly? Syria? Persia? China? Russia? One truly wonders), or even Syrian foreign policy outside of the region ("in Paris Assad got all he wanted", except of course an EU trade agreement, and, access to all that EU / IMF / World Bank aid money...), I do highly commend his comments about the current regime in Damascus. That as he notes, it is riding high, the Bush regime's attempt at a sotto voce form of 'overthrow', from 2003 to 2007, has not worked, and, probably will not work in the very near future. So, in essence any future American administration will have to work with and through Damascus in order to put into effect its goals in the area. The ideas of 2002-3003, that there would be a cleaning of the Augean stables, in the Near East, beginning with Iraq, to be followed by Persia and Syria is no longer (if even at that time) tenable. Assad Fils, is here to stay for the short and medium term, and, all things being equal perhaps that is for the best, considering what has happened in Iraq since 18th of March 2003. It is precisely that realization that has lead Olmert in Tel Aviv to opt to attempt to settle with Damascus diplomatically the issues of the Golan Heights and Syria's ties with Persia. Which I am much less pessimistic about being able to be broken than "Observer" is. For the right price of course...

So, for our American amici, allow me to sum matters up by saying: Assad Fils and his Syria are here to stay: get used to it, and, be prepared to act accordingly. Anything else is the merest form of wishful thinking of the worse sort.

“Some Remarks on Syria,” by Observer

"Observer," one of Syria Comment's keenest commentators, sent in this note on his recent trip to Syria. He writes:

"I just returned from a trip to Europe and Syria with a short stay in Lebanon as well. Here are my observations

1. The Syrian regime never felt any significant pressure from being so called isolated. As long as the foundations of the regime remain stable and strong, they do not care one bit whether tourists come or stay home, investments flow in or out, and so on and so forth.

2. The state which I felt a mere three years ago was going towards a failed situation has recovered well. Infrastructure is being built and more importantly being maintained and repaired. It is by no means similar to what a first world country does, but it is a remarkable improvement.

3. The public is happy with stability and disgruntled with nepotism and corruption. If the last two items are tackled the populace will rally behind the regime even more

4. The ability to absorb and manage the near 2 million refugees from Iraq is a feat to be absolutely commended. Some are doing well having brought money and invested in local business, others are quite poor and destitute but still not hungry and all are sheltered.

5. The price of commodities has people unhappy but I saw much fewer begging than before and certainly a lot less than what I saw in Prague.

6. The alliance with Iran is unbreakable, the two countries have mutual investment and military and economic ties that will be near impossible to break short of a real threat of regime change.

7. The military is transformed into a more efficient force, although still in conventional terms no match for Israel, training is being conducted day and night. I happen to have stayed near an army shooting range and I could hear the firing both days and nights.

8. The KSA invested 1.5 billion dollars and with the Jordanian secret service trained the Hariri militia into a state that was completely destroyed in less than four hours by HA with the full awareness and even help from Syria as they poured 600 highly loyal and very well trained Druze into the Shouf mountains to put Walik Bek in his place while at the same time helping fully with the Alawite community near Tripoli.

9. In Paris, Assad got all he wanted, cooperation, recognition, while not committing to anything substantial and at the same time snubbing Olmert and more importantly Mubarak.

10. The Lebanese may opt for partition of the country if encouraged and helped by France and the US to avoid having the state de Jure that is non present, be controlled by the non-state but active HA. This will be a disaster for the country, especially since the Foreign policy of France is being conducted by impulsive Sarko le premier.

11. The entire south and the Dahyia has been fully rebuilt with Iranian help. The transformation is absolutely remarkable.

12. In Iraq, the US have stabilized the situation somewhat by doing essentially what Saddam did all along. Fear, co-opt some, bribe some, pay some, and divide some. Outside of the Green zone, there is really no true government but warlords, gangs, bandits, factions, and the like. Iran has essentially played a major role in stabilizing Iraq by having its hand in with every faction except the hard line Sunnis. Here Syria has been able to help due to the ties between the two Baath party factions.

13. Europe is tired of competing, and the population is fully frazzled at having to work harder, longer, and in a more frantic way than ever before. The elite have a vision of Europe equal to that of the US in all measures and the population see an incompetent parasitic bureaucracy that is out of touch with reality.

14. Returning to the US, I see that the public here is so oblivious to what the rest of the world is doing that it is truly amazing. In terms of energy efficiency every toilet has a water sparing system and every lighting is motion activated to reduce energy costs in every place I went to even in Syria and here we are still refusing to see the train coming down the track full speed ahead at us. The deer in the headlight is an apt description.

15. Finally the consensus in the ME from the 2006 war is that the Israeli public and the Israeli society have moved into a stage of development that they no longer are willing to fight. 3000 HA fighters fought to a standstill 30 000 Israelis. I wish you could see the pictures of Nasrallah in the region to have an idea of the depth of popularity that he enjoys".

Thursday, July 17, 2008


"This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire".

Voltaire, 1756.

"People today do not have a single idea that corresponds to the greatness of the age. But it would be the ruin of Europe if on this occasion it would not find a possible form of permanence and community".

Kurt Reizler, Aide-de-camp to Imperial Chancellor, Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg, Diary entry, 4 September 1914.

"It would be more sensible to put the Lisbon treaty on ice for several years, and try to rescue those parts that are important, uncontentious, and capable of being carried out without treaty amendment. That does not include creating a semi-permanent president of the European Council, but it does mean beefing up an EU diplomatic service, and giving more resources to the EU high representative for foreign affairs.

Europe does not need to turn the drama of the Irish No vote into a fully-fledged crisis of confidence. Everyone is fed up with negotiating new treaties. The priority should be to make the EU work better with practical policies - on energy security and climate change, for a start - with its present rules and 27 member states. The Nice treaty is not ideal, but losing Lisbon should not be seen as the end of the world".

"Time to put the EU Treat on Ice", 14 June, in

The reference in the FT's leader to the 'gnashing of teeth', by European leaders both at the time and since, serves to sum up the bien-pensant feelings and views of urope's post-enlightenment, cosmopolitan elites, for whom the Irish vote, coming as it does on the heels of the similar 'non' votes by the French and Dutch a few years prior, was another slap in the face by the demos concerning the dream of their Europe. But, the focus on the immediate intricacies of the Irish vote, serves to merely highlight how irrelevant and unimportant, in true power political terms the entire EU project has become in the past twenty-fiver years or so. It was possible, at one time, in the distant past in the sixties and the seventies to imagine that a united Europe, would be, could be a machtstaat, `a la the USA (if perhaps not so maladroit). No one today, or for many many years past has any such illusions. The EU of Messieurs Delors, Junker, Prodi,et. al., is a union much more akin to Voltaire's Holy Roman Empire. It is neither one thing nor the other: neither an Empire, nor a nation-state, nor a traditional sovereign state, nor a 'power state', nor is it merely what it began life as: a free trade union. In short, the EU as it is currently constituted is incapable to fulfilling any recognized role and as a consequence, is completely unable to legitimate itself to the peoples of Europe, for whom the nation-state, traditionally constituted, represents the summit (such as it is) of political allegiance and loyalties. If people questioned the need to 'die for Danzig', in the summer of 1939, how much more so, do the peoples of Europe today, question the need to die for Brussels, with its army of bureaucrats and elected MEP's, who no one votes for and who more often than not, serve no one but themselves. As some recent investigations into the finances of the members of Europe's supreme legislature show.

Europe, had a chance to be united, in some normative sense circa 1914, under German hegemony. For good or for ill, it flubbed that chance. The rest of European history since are piecemeal and failed attempts to make up for the original failure. The EU is merely another failed attempt and nothing more.