Thursday, June 30, 2011


"No, I'm not all pleased. When my gatekeeper shoots a fox, he doesn't go and hang it up outside the Master of Foxhounds' drawing room; he buries it out of sight. But you just can't shoot a spy as you did in the war. You have to try him....better to discover him, and then control him, but never catch him."

Then British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan on being informed of the capture of the Russian spy, W. John Vassall in September 1962. See: Alistair Horne, Harold MacMillan, Volume II: 1957-1986. (1989). pp. 460-461.

On Tuesday 28 June, former Central Intelligence Director (CIA) & National Security Agency Director (NSA), as well as Deputy-Director of National Intelligence under John Negroponte, General Michael Hayden spoke before a packed room, to members of the Oxonian Society here in Manhattan at the Russian Tea Room. General Hayden who was CIA director from early 2006 to February 2009, had operated at the summit of American intelligence and foreign policy for upwards of a decade, had the following insights which I believe to be of value: i) that due to the changes instituted by the current American Administration, that American policy no longer aimed to 'capture' potential terrorist and other operatives, merely 'kill them'. A policy which the General thought mistaken in view of the valuable intelligence which was regularly provided in the past by captured operatives; ii) that Chinese intelligence was as intelligence agencies go, 'particularly aggressive', and in fact the General told the audience that he was 'in awe' of the PRC's intelligence operations. Noting however that Chinese intelligence behavior was very much par for the course, and 'nothing was out of the ordinary'; iii) being a former head of the NSA, General Hayden had strong views on the secure basis of the Internet. As per the General, 'the Internet that we have built is inherently indefensible'; iv) concerning the recent upheavals in the Near and Middle East, General Hayden noted that the country by country differences are of much greater importance than the more ephemeral similarities. He also cautioned the audience with the sensible comment that Americans should be very leery indeed about 'reading' events in foreign countries through the prism of American narrative discourse. Something which he sees as being very much the case with the semi-intervention in Libya by the USA and its NATO allies. Indeed one sensed that the General if asked his opinion by the current American Administration, would have demurred from intervening in the Libyan conflict; v) Going further afield, General Hayden foresaw the possibility of Persian intervention in the ongoing troubles in Syria. Especially if the regime of Assad Fils were to become seriously at risk of collapsing. Similarly, the General suggested that such Persian intervention might in turn cause Saudi Arabian intervention on the opposing (Sunni) side. Stating that there was a possibility of a proxi-war between these two sides `a la the Lebanon in the 1970's and 1980's. The General expressed a mild surprise that the demonstrations in Syria have lasted as long as they have. He stated that he did not anticipate anything of the kind. Adding that he: 'fears what comes next [aka after the current regime] in Syria'; vi) Staying in the region, General Hayden stated that he found the monarchies of the Near and Middle East, much more stable both in the short term and in the long term, than what he labeled as 'faux republics' `a la Syria, Libya, Egypt, et cetera. Staying on the Persian versus Sunni-Arab divide, General Hayden recalled for the audience that in his experience, most of the Sunni elites were five percent concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and ninety-five percent obsessed with the threat coming from Persia and its local allies; vii) touching base on relations with Pakistan and especially Pakistani intelligence (the ISI), the General stated that the current American-Pakistan relationship was a very troubled one, and that in essence that there was going to be in the near future, a 'parting of the ways', between the two powers, unless Pakistani elites, especially in the military, no longer indulged in their 'obsession' with the alleged threat from India.

Summing up, the General Hayden, noted for the audience that as CIA Director, he never met his Russian counter-part, while he did in his time, meet with as many as fifty other intelligence heads around the world. Of the other intelligence agencies around the world, he in particular expressed admiration for the Israel's Mossad, while noting that it was merely 'a regional player', and not a global one, AKA `a la the CIA. Similarly, while MI-6 was also the recipient of the General's admiration, he once again noted that it was no longer, a global player. The difference between the former and the latter, as per the General, was the a 'regional player', was able to develop a high-level of expertise on very minute and intricate matters, whereas a 'global player', by definition could not indulge to quite the same extent in such minutiae and specifics. Indeed, as per General Hayden, one of the key aspects of the CIA directorships is maintaining functioning relationships with many of the regional players who in essence provide the CIA with local expertise and deep background knowledge. That concluded the General's talk to a very pleased and grateful audience. One might conclude that General Hayden was a natural and one is tempted to say, gifted speaker, who possessed a natural air of command (par for the course in view of his military rank). Speaking with a mild, but noticeable provincial accent, employing the usual demotic and banal metaphors from American sports or television, that many in American officialdom tend to use when speaking to either their fellows or to the general public.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


"Washington has given up its hopes of turning Afghanistan into the Switzerland of Central Asia – now it wants to make the country into the region’s Belgium.

As the US steps up its diplomatic push following the decision last week from Barack Obama, president, to draw down the 33,000-strong troop surge, Washington officials say defusing Indian-Pakistan rivalries within Afghanistan remains a main challenge.

In particular, Pakistan, which has long cultivated ties with Afghanistan to offset India’s strategic advantages, can play a near-decisive role in hindering or facilitating talks with the Taliban. In little-noticed comments, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, recently suggested that to address the problem the US could look to the past, namely to the 1814-15 Congress of Vienna, which established Belgium as a neutral buffer state and ushered in a century of relative stability.

Indeed, US officials say that Washington’s diplomatic efforts are largely aimed at achieving a regional compact, whereby countries agree not to use Afghanistan as a battleground for their rivalries.

The Obama administration is turning its back on more ambitious nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, which officials now dismiss as doomed efforts to build a Switzerland or a “Central Asian Valhalla”.

Asked by Richard Lugar, the senior Republican Senator, about the importance of bringing countries such as India, Russia and central Asian states to the table, Mrs Clinton endorsed his suggestion that the Congress of Vienna be a model.

“The Congress of Vienna is an interesting historical example because there was a pact made among regional powers that in effect left the Benelux countries as a free zone,” she said.

“If we could get to that point with the regional powers in South Asia, that would not recommence with the great game in Afghanistan, that would be a very worthy outcome.”'

David Dombey & Matthew Green, "US aims to turn Afghanistan into neutral zone." The Financial Times. 27 June 2011 in

"Now, the third surge is our diplomatic surge. It is diplomatic efforts in support of an Afghan-led political process that aims to shatter the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaida, end the insurgency, and help to produce more stability. To begin, we are working with the Afghans on a new strategic partnership declaration that will provide a long-term framework for bilateral cooperation and NATO cooperation, as agreed to, again, at Lisbon. And it will bolster Afghan and regional confidence that Afghanistan will not again become a safe haven for terrorists and an arena for competing regional interests....

But we believe that a political solution that meets these conditions is possible. The United States has a broad range of contacts at many levels across Afghanistan and the region, that we are leveraging to support this effort, including very preliminary outreach to members of the Taliban. This is not a pleasant business, but a necessary one, because history tells us that a combination of military pressure, economic opportunity, and an inclusive political and diplomatic process is the best way to end insurgencies. With bin Ladin dead and al-Qaida’s remaining leadership under enormous pressure, the choice facing the Taliban is clear: Be part of Afghanistan’s future or face unrelenting assault. They cannot escape this choice.

Special Representative Marc Grossman is leading an active diplomatic effort to build support for a political solution. What we call the Core Group – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States – has met twice and will convene again next week. At the same time, we are engaging the region around a common vision of an independent, stable Afghanistan and a region free of al-Qaida. We believe we’ve made progress with all of the neighbors, including India, Russia, and even Iran. Just this past Friday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to support reconciliation by splitting its sanctions on al-Qaida and the Taliban into two separate lists, underscoring that the door is open for the insurgents to abandon the terrorists and choose a different path.

We welcome these steps, and for the United States the key diplomatic priority and indeed a lynchpin of this entire effort is closing the gap between Kabul and Islamabad. Pakistan must be part of this process. Earlier this month, the two countries launched a joint peace commission and held substantive talks at the highest levels. Also, very significant, was the full implementation on June 12th of the Transit Trade Agreement, which will create new economic opportunity on both sides of the Durand Line and lay the foundation for a broader vision of regional economic integration and cooperation. This agreement started being negotiated in the early 1960s. It therefore took decades, including great, heroic effort by the late Richard Holbrooke and his team. But the trucks are now rolling across the border".

Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, "The Way Forward in Afghanistan." Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 23 June 2011, in

The ideas being bounced around by the American Secretary of State in the last week, of course have a very very old vintage indeed. As that is as it relates to Afghanistan. Namely that the Americans should sit all of the neighboring powers into a room, and cobbled together some agreeablemodus vivendi that serves the interests of all the powers in the region. Which per se is fine. However, as a practical matter, such suppositions have an element of a very very untried ballon d'essai aspect to it. The only problem with this proposition is that if say, India and Pakistan (as is present the case) are completely at loggerheads over Kashmir and the rest of their relationship is hardly warm, one begs to know why either power, apropos of nothing would necessarily agree to come to terms over Afghanistan's future. Simply put, unless and until these two powers in particular (and the other 'outside' powers' interest in the country is minuscule compared to these two) make up their differences (particularly over Kashmir), then the likelihood of some plausible modus vivendi over Afghanistan is something in the nature of a utopian aspiration. At best. Which of course explains why nothing came of such aspirations in either late 1980's or the 1990's.

Au fond of course, the real American, nay Western interest in Afghanistan, is a negative one: denying this particular bit of real estate to anyone be it state, para-state, terrorist groupings, et cetera. Who may use it as a launching pad for attacks elsewhere in the world and in particular in the Western world. Whether or not this can be done, if there is a full American and Western military withdrawal from the country in the next four to five years time seems questionable to me. Which does not obviate the fact that a re-position of forces along the Biden / Rumsfeldian 'light-touch' strategy, is: i) called for and indeed overdue; ii) will serve the purpose of denying Afghanistan as a base to 'hostile' or potentially hostile forces. Without at the same time tying down excessively large number of American and Western forces in the country; iii) still allow the Americans to launch when convenient and or necessary drone strikes on targets in Pakistan (and one presumes in the future, if needed parts of Central Asia). The factum is that any 'diplomatic surge', will not obviate the need to retain at the very least a light foot-print in Afghanistan along the Biden & Rumsfeldian lines. And that there is nothing per se, which the 'outside' powers can provide which is meaux than the strategy outlined above. At least as it serves Western and American interests in this region.

Finally, as it concerns the Congress of Vienna, and the foundations of Belgium as useful examples from history, what may one say but that as usual American officialdom (and most unfortunately enough a certain British journalist) is extraordinarily stupid and historically illiterate? By definition the Congress of Vienna analogy does not apply merely by virtue of the fact that said Congress was au fond a Congress of the victors of the long Napoleonic Wars. In essence the diplomatic gathering in Vienna in 1814-1815 ratified the military victory over Bonaparte 1. In the case of Afghanistan since there has not been a military victory over the Taliban, nor does the American administration look towards such a result, there can hardly be a diplomatic omnium gatherum or Congress to endorse such a non-event. And as we have seen in the absence of a demonstrative military victory and at the very least a modus vivendi, if not an entente between Pakistan and India, there can be no doubt that the other 'outside powers' will be lured or interested in serious pourparlers which will have meaningful results for the Afghani people. As for the 'Belgium' model need one add that: a) the foundation of Belgium has nothing to do with the Congress of Vienna, the latter event taking place more than fifteen years prior to the former; b) the foundation of Belgium, was in effect intended as an anti-French manoeuvre, as the goal achieved by the foundation of the country was to deny Paris any possibility of annexing French-speaking portions of what was formerly the southern portions of the United Netherlands and prior to 1789 the 'Austrian Netherlands' 2. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of fighting to come, via either air strikes, drone attacks and ground assaults until Afghanistan can be said to approach being the 'Belgium of Central Asia'.

1. On the purposes of the Congress of Vienna from a diplomatic perspective, see: Paul Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics, 1763-1848. (1994), pp. 517-635.

2. On the purposes of the original Dutch-Belgium united Kingdom of 1815 and Belgium's later fufillment of the same fifteen years later, see: Schroeder, op. cit., p. 560-563, 671 and 688-691.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


"The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people's conflicts. Non-interference has long been considered an important principle of international order. And it is not one we would want to jettison too readily. One state should not feel it has the right to change the political system of another or foment subversion or seize pieces of territory to which it feels it should have some claim. But the principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects. Acts of genocide can never be a purely internal matter. When oppression produces massive flows of refugees which unsettle neighbouring countries then they can properly be described as 'threats to international peace and security'. When regimes are based on minority rule they lose legitimacy – look at South Africa....

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, "Doctrine of the International Community", Economic Club, Chicago, 24 April 1999.

"The Sultan's one fear appears to be lest he should do anything which would sacrifice the apparent independence of his country. But the independence of Turkey, though it is written in the Public Law of Europe, though it is guaranteed by the Treaties of Berlin and Paris, is yet a very special kind of independence. It is an independence that exists by reason of the agreement of the other Powers that they will not interfere with it and that they will maintain it; and the danger of course, which the Powers have felt from the first time that the policy was initiated has been lest in maintaining the Turkish Empire, in protecting it from the ambitions of other Powers, in giving it a stability which it would not naturally possess, they would be working for a mechanism which does not work for human happiness and progress, but rather shows tendencies towards weak government and towards free license to the antagonism of creed and race, which have for many centuries been the curse of Provinces of the Turkish Empire....How long the present state of things will go on I confess appears to me more doubtful than it did twenty years ago. The noble Lord (Lord Rosebury) himself said that the permanence of the Sultan's rule was involved in the conduct he pursued. If, generation after generation, cries of misery come up from various parts of the Turkish Empire, I am sure that the Sultan cannot blind himself to the possibility that Europe will at some time or other become weary of the appeals that are made to it, and the factitious strength that is given to his
Empire will fail it."

Lord Salisbury, Speech in the House of Lords, 15 August 1895, Hansard, Volume XXXVI, p. 50.

The article in the Financial Times by its chief diplomatic correspondent, Gideon Rachman, points up to certain essential facts of international relations which from time to time, are conveniently forgotten and then, tout `a coup, suddenly 're-discovered' 1. Au fond what Rachman seems to be saying is that it is only due to certain very contemporary aspects of the international scene, which will most likely allow the regime of Assad Fils in Syria to survive without interference by the international community. This seems to me to be a fundamental mis-reading of the realities of international relations, both now and in the recent past, as well even prior to that. First, concepts such as the recently enunciated 'responsibility to protect', only work against regimes which, to put it in ultra-demotic terms: 'cannot fight back'. Regimes such as North Korea, Persia, and of course Syria, among others, which are in military terms, second-rate military powers, have tended to be left alone by the international community. For the simple reason that intervening against such powers, is a very costly business indeed, and cannot be undertaken either easily, or in fact, at all. At least not voluntarily. It is only with third-rate military powers, or failed states, such as Afghanistan, Liberia, Haiti, Iraq, and now Libya, does one see any enthusiasm by the international community to intervene with military force. For the simple reasons that these states' military apparatuses do not allow scope for any sustained and real military response to outside intervention. Certainly nothing which will result in very heavy military losses by the intervening powers. In the final analysis, 'humanitarian intervention', is in the terms of international politics, simply a luxury which can be only afforded on occasion, and if and only if that it does not cost too much. A lesson which the great Lord Salisbury learned in the late 19th century at the time of the Armenian massacres by the Ottoman Turks, and which statesman in the intervening period have learned and relearned ever since 2.

1. Gideon Rachman, "Why Syria will get away with it," The Financial Times. 13 June 2011, in

2. For the best discussion of Salisbury's policy of endeavoring to interest the other powers in a joint military intervention to stop the Turkish massacres of the Armenians in 1895-1896, and the military difficulties involved in unilateral military action which in effect vetoed the idea, see especially: William Langer, The Diplomacy of Imperialism. (1935), pp. 195-210 and passim.

Monday, June 13, 2011


"A MONTH ago seasoned watchers of Syria reckoned that the regime’s ferocious crackdown would keep the lid on dissent, albeit with President Bashar Assad’s legitimacy badly impaired. Now the prevailing wisdom is changing. Rather than subside, the protests are spreading and intensifying. Having started in the south and spread to coastal cities such as Banias, they moved to Homs, Syria’s third-biggest city, and the surrounding central districts. More recently they have gripped Hama, the country’s fourth city, famed for its uprising in 1982, when 20,000 people may have been killed by the then president, Hafez Assad, the present incumbent’s father. After starting in the rural areas, the unrest has hit cities all over the country. And the death toll, well past 1,200, has begun to rise more sharply. On June 3rd, at least 70 people are reported to have been killed in Hama alone.

The first of two big questions is whether the revolt will get going in Damascus and Aleppo, the capital and Syria’s second city respectively, which have been relatively but by no means entirely quiet. The second big question is whether the security forces, on which the regime was founded when Assad père took over in 1970, will stay loyal. If the army’s middle and lower ranks, drawn mainly from the country’s Sunni majority, which comprises some 75% of the population, begin to turn against the senior ranks where the Alawite minority (10%, including the Assad family) predominates, the regime could begin to fall apart. The events of June 5th in the town of Jisr al-Shughour, near the north-western border with Turkey, suggest that this may be starting to happen".

The Economist, "The Syrian uprising: the balance of power is shifting." The Economist. 9 June 2011, in

"As night fell, on the surface everything in order. But then a succession of events occurred which to this day astonished with their suddenness and scope: a mutiny of the Petrograd garrison which in twenty-four hours transformed half the troops into rioters and by March 1 had the entire contingent of 160,000 uniformed troops in open rebellion....The survival of the Tsarist regime ultimately depended on the loyalty of the army since the usual forces of order---the police and the Cossacks---did not have the numbers to cope with thousands of rebels. In February 1917, these forces consisted of 3,500 policeman, armed antiquated Japanese rifles, and Cossack detachments which, for an unaccountable reason, had been divested of nagaiki, their dreaded whips. Nicholas [Tsar Nicholas II] showed that he was aware of his dependence upon the troops when he assured the British Ambassador the army would save him. But the troops loyalty wavered when ordered to fire on unarmed crowds".

Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution. (1990), pp. 278-279.

The analysis in last week's Economist is similar to others that has recently appeared in the Anglo-American press concerning the current crisis in Syria 1. According to this line of thinking, the fact that the regime in Damascus has singularly failed to stop the protests by its populace, notwithstanding the employment of armed troops in various towns and provincial cities, means that the 'climate of fear', which has previously enveloped the country has disappeared and that inevitably the regime's days are numbered. With whether or not what follows is a transition `a la Egypt & Tunisia or a civil war `a la Yemen, Libya or (to go back some years) Iraq, is still up for discussion. To my mind, the above analysis seems to be putting the cart before the horse. The fact that the regime was able to relatively quickly re-assert control over the border region with Turkey which perhaps saw last week a minor military mutiny seems to indicate that it is quite willing and able to deploy force in such a fashion that prevents the opposition from even thinking about acquiring a base of operations against the regime 2. With that being said, how stable is the government at present, and how likely is it to remain in power? To my mind, the crux of the matter is that as long as the regime retains the loyalty of its corps d'elite of Alawite troops and security personnel in the major cities, particular those of Aleppo and Damascus, then in the absence of foreign intervention, Assad Fils, will remain in power for quite awhile to come. The only real possibility of a dislodging the Baathist regime would be if: i) there were a coup d'etat by a regime 'insider', who Samson-like, would manage by his actions to bring the entire edifice crashing down, tout`a coup. So far, no such individual has chosen to play the role of Konrad Wallenrod. For good reasons of course...ii) if there were major demonstrations in either Damascus or Aleppo, which the security forces (police, para-military, secret police, et cetera) available were unable to deal with immediately. In such circumstances, the regime's ability to count upon the loyalty of its military units in the immediate vicinity of either urban centre, might be less than what the circumstances call for. The key here is that unlike in a provincial capital or town, where by virtue of its isolation from the rest of the country, the regime can at its leisure crush any uprisings, in the case of either Aleppo or Damascus, speed and timing would be a vital variable. With the longer that any uncontrolled situation exists, the greater likelihood that it would naturally tend to escalate. And in that circumstance, 'escalation' by definition means away from the regime and towards the opposition (whoever they may be in that particular circumstance). If and only if, something akin to the above scenarios were to come about, do I for one, foresee the downfall of the Assad regime.

1. See for a typical examples: Leader, "Syria unraveling." The Financial Times. 11 June 2011, in; Elliott Abrams, "After Assad, Democracy in Syria?" The Council on Foreign Relations. 10 June 2011, in As well as any of the recent postings in the past month in Joshua Landis' online journal: Syria Comment (

2. Liam Stack, "Syrian Troops Retack Control of Rebellious Town in North." The New York Times. 12 June 2011, in

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


"How do you do more with less? The EU defence ministers agreed last week that the way to limit the impact of the economic crisis on their defence budgets lies in more co-operation. In a joint statement, they called for more military 'pooling and sharing': joint development and procurement of weapons, and partial integration of European militaries. EU member-states have trialled such ideas before but with limited success. Deep co-operation remains highly sensitive: governments are reluctant to build joint units because this may require them to share decisions on how and when to use them. The ministers' conclusions are correspondingly cautious: they call for a "structured" and "long-term" approach while offering few specific guidelines. It need not be this way: past pooling and sharing attempts offer plenty of lessons on what makes military collaboration successful.

In a recent CER report, 'Surviving austerity: The case for a new approach to EU military collaboration', May 2011. I suggested ways for European countries to avoid past mistakes. Partial military integration works best when participating countries have similar strategic cultures, a high level of mutual trust, comparable attitudes to defence industry, and relatively low corruption in defence procurement. It also helps if countries are roughly similar in size, and serious about defence matters: that is, they are willing to use their armed forces and keen to maintain their ability to fight for future contingencies.

Several conclusions for EU defence ministers flow from these observations. Since many factors have to align for pooling and sharing to succeed, future defence integration will remain an exception rather than the rule. The conditions listed above only occur in some – and not necessarily geographically connected – parts of Europe. Hence, the idea that EU defence could begin around a single core group, the emergence of which would encourage others to join in a 'snowballing' effect, seems unrealistic. Future events may well prod European militaries to create a single, coherent military force. But no such outcome is foreseeable currently given widely varying levels of threat perception, political interest and military cultures across the Union....

The EU's ability to nudge member-states towards such co-operation will be limited: the capitals will want a final say on with whom to partner, and to what end and depth. But this is not so say that there is nothing that the EU can do; in fact, European institutions have already been helpful. Their key role lies in spreading lessons learned in one region to the rest of Europe. The European Defence Agency, which EU countries set up to facilitate collaboration, has been collecting data on past and current examples of pooling and sharing; it should also catalogue why some have succeeded better than others. The EU military staff, which advises the EU high representative, has conducted a similar but forward-looking exercise: it collected information on what military skills or facilities the member-states are willing to pool and share. It should now use the data to highlight opportunities for collaboration....

Pooling and sharing will never compensate for inadequate defence budgets: when average spending in Europe, as percentage of GDP, drops by half – as it has over the past two decades – militaries will inevitably suffer. The EU member-states will almost certainly do 'less with less' rather than 'more with less'. However, properly applied, pooling and sharing can partly offset the impact of lower budgets. So while EU countries will still lose some of their military power to budget cuts, they will be better off with pooling and sharing than without".

Tomas Valasek, "EU Ministers tackle defence austerity," Centre for European Reform. 1 June 2011, in

"The supreme importance of the military instrument lies in the fact that the ultima ratio of power in international relations is war. Every act of the state, in its power aspect, is directed to war, not as a desirable weapon, but as a weapon which it may require in the last resort to use....Potential war being thus a dominant factor in international politics, military strength becomes a recognised standard of political values."

E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis: An introduction to the Study of International relations. Second Edition. (1962), p. 190. Emphasis in the original.

One's mind can do nothing other than mentally shake one's head about the above referenced report. Although as a professionally trained historian, I am reluctant to employ such subjective terms as 'la decadence'; however if one uses the term in the sense that the late, great, 20th century, French diplomatic historian, Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, used it in his magisterial study of entre-deux guerre, French foreign policy, of the same name, then the above referenced attitude & policies by the current European Union pays legal seems to fit perfectly. As the current NATO campaign in Libya proves, force and the use of force are very much still actions which the nations and the peoples of Europe need to utilize from time to time. However much they, in a monumental sort of historically illiteracy, would prefer to forget this fact. Indeed, as Andrew Gilligan, writes in the Spectator this week:

"The Royal Air Force, an organization so badly weakened by recent defence cuts that it can deploy just 18 strike jets over Libya. Further cuts this month are due to take out two more squadrons of Tornadoes, the very aircraft doing the lion's share of the British air campaign....France is contributing more forces than us, and several smaller European nations also pack a punch. But some of these are already exhausting their capabilities, and will withdraw at the end of the month....In the absence of major American involvement (the US is still doing enormous amounts of other flying), European limitations are exposed even more graphically than normal."

Given the current and future levels of defence spending and following from which, the levels of troops which can be employed 'extra-theatre', id est, outside of Central and Western Europe, it is difficult to imagine that left to themselves, even the British and the French, could deploy larger numbers of troops required for a successful military operation against say a second-rate military power (nota bene: Libya only qualifies as a third-rate one..). In short, the European Union, a entity with a population of roughly half a billion people, cannot muster military speaking as many troops as did the Netherlands in its colonial war in Indonesia (well over one-hundred thousand)2. Shall one say: 'Edouard Daladier anyone?'

1. Andrew Gilligan, "Lost in Libya,"The Spectator. 4 June 2011, in [pp. 12-13].

2. Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. (2005), pp. 280-281. As per Judt, the Dutch had approximately 140,000 troops involved in the Indonesian conflict at its peak in 1947-1949.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


"Lawrence S. Eagleburger, a troubleshooting diplomat and senior foreign policy adviser to presidents who served the country for more than 40 years, including 42 days as secretary of state at the close of President George Bush’s term, died on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. He was 80.

Lawrence S. Eagleburger, center, served as a foreign policy adviser to presidents and as secretary of state for the first President George Bush. He specialized in crises, specifically in the Balkans. The cause was pneumonia, according to a spokeswoman for the family, Anaïs Haase, who said he died at the University of Virginia Medical Center after having a heart attack earlier in the week. He lived in Charlottesville, on a 40-acre estate.

Mr. Eagleburger, a Republican who rose to prominence as the top aide to Henry A. Kissinger in the Nixon and Ford administrations, was candid in his confidential advice and outspoken in his public comments, particularly regarding his unhappiness about the Iraq war started by President George W. Bush.

Over a Foreign Service career that began in the early 1960s, Mr. Eagleburger became known for his dry, sometimes caustic wit, rumpled suits and reliance on a cane, forced upon him by a knee injury and a muscle disorder. Chronic asthma required him to use inhalers, though he continued to smoke.

He specialized in crises, often in Europe and specifically in the Balkans, where he spent seven years over two tours of duty. In the early 1980s, when he served as the ambassador in Belgrade, he was unable to keep Yugoslavia from dissolving several years later.

During the first Bush presidency, Mr. Eagleburger was second in command at the State Department under James A. Baker III, and because of his previous experience in the Middle East as Mr. Kissinger’s aide, he was sent on a delicate mission to Israel in 1991, at the start of the Persian Gulf war, which had been mounted to eject Iraq from Kuwait.

Mr. Eagleburger’s task was to persuade the Israelis under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to stay out of the fight, even though Iraqi Scud missiles were landing in Israel. The United States was concerned then, as it would be 12 years later in the war in Iraq, that Israel not be seen as a military partner, fearing that such a perception would alienate Arab and Muslim states willing to help. His success eventually led to his appointment as secretary of state, the first Foreign Service officer to be so elevated"

Bernard Gwertzman, "Lawrence Eagleburger, a Top Diplomat, Dies at 80," The New York Times. 5 June 2011, in

"The other was Eyre Crowe, 'the Bird', red-headed, crinkled, dowdy, meticulous, a conscientious agnostic with small faith in anything but his brain and his Britain, and with no possessions but a dazzling application which already proclaimed him to be what he was to become, the greatest public servant of his age."

Lord Vansittart, The Mist Procession: The autobiography of Lord Vansittart. (1958), p. 45.

Former Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, is one of the last of the Kissingerian old-guard, and one of the last, truly erste-klasse, ultra-professional practicioners of the subtle art of diplomacy 1. With his passing the other day, other than Dr. Kissinger himself, there only remains General Scowcroft and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III. It is truly depressing when one thinks about it, that Eagleburger's tenure at the State Department in the regime of Bush the Elder, has been followed by a unmitigated succession of mediocrities and time-servers: Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and currently Hillary Clinton. Given this unimpressive roster of individuals in the past nineteen years in the Secretary's chair, is it any great surprise that American diplomacy and indeed American grand strategy, has been so lackluster if not indeed dysfunctional? I for one, do not see any likelihood of great improvement, as long as the post of Secretary of State, is occupied by individuals who are almost completely unequipped for the post and its powers and functions.

1. In volume two of his memoirs, Kissinger refers to the following individuals as: "my close associates - General Scowcroft, Larry Eagleberger, Winston Lord, Jonathan Howe, Richard H. Solomon, and Peter Rodman". See: Henry A. Kissinger, Years of Upheaval. (1982), p. 366. One might point out though that the above list omits, two essential figures in Kissinger's coterie: Alexander Haig and William Hyland.