THE ENIGMA OF RUSSIAN POLICY IN SYRIA
"Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that the UN Security Council would not allow a mandate on the intervention into Syria.
"There will be no external intervention by the [UN] Security Council, I guarantee you," Lavrov told journalists in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana.
Western countries have been attempting to make the UN Security Council take tough measures against the Syrian government, where according to UN statistics some 9,000 have been killed during clashes between government forces and the opposition since March of last year. So far the Security Council has not come to a unanimous decision since both Russia and China have vetoed intervention into Syria so as not to repeat the "Libyan scenario."
Earlier on Thursday, UN special envoy Kofi Annan said his six-point peace plan aimed to stop violence in Syria is "not being implemented."
“Today, despite the acceptance of the six-point plan and the deployment of a courageous mission of United Nations observers to Syria, I must be frank and confirm that the plan is not being implemented,” he told the UN General Assembly.
The six-point plan put forward by Annan in March called for a ceasefire and access for humanitarian agencies to Syria. It also envisioned the release of detainees, a political dialogue with account for the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access of international media to the country.
Russia's Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, also said on Thursday that Russia has proposed holding an international conference on settling the situation in Syria in the near future."
"Lavrov Guarantees 'no external intervention' in Syria." Novosti
. 7 June 2012, in www.en.rian.ru.
"Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin last night called for an end to violence in Syria and moves towards “political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system”, after talks at the G20 summit in Mexico. After days of diplomatic sniping between Washington and Moscow, the two sides were able to issue a joint statement on Syria after talks on the first day of the summit at Los Cabos.
The meeting – the first between the two leaders since Mr Putin began his latest term as Russian president – was overshadowed by mutual suspicion about the respective Russia and US interests in Syria. Although the meeting spawned a joint communiqué, there was no suggestion that Moscow is prepared to back tougher UN sanctions in Syria to help force Bashar al-Assad out of office.
The joint statement gave support to Kofi Annan’s peace drive and calls for the “Syrians themselves” to undertake the transition to democracy while retaining the country’s current boundaries.
“We are united in the belief that the Syrian people should have the opportunity to independently and democratically choose their own future,” the two leaders said.
Mr Obama said that on Syria the two “agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war and the kind of horrific events that we’ve seen over the last several weeks”.
He added: “We pledged to work with other international actors, including the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and all interested parties in trying to find a resolution to this problem.” Mr Putin, said after their two-hour meeting: “From my perspective we’ve been able to find many commonalities” on Syria"'.
George Parker, "Obama, Putin call for end to Syrian Violence." The Financial Times
. 18 June 2012, in www.ft.com.
One of the greatest mysteries of the Syrian Crisis has been the role of Russia. Prior to the crisis, few if any would have identified Moskva as being a very strong or consistent ally of the regime in Syria. That role has been occupied for quite some time now by Persia. In the recent diplomatic crises that Syria has been involved with in the past ten years, Moskva has been conspicuous by its absence as it relates to Syria: the Iraq War, the Lebanon Crisis of 2004-2005 following the murder of ex-Prime Minister Hariri, the Lebanon War of 2006 and finally the Israeli air strike on the Syrian secret reprocessing plant in 2007. In none of these cases as Moskva cared to offer Damascus any assistance, either verbal, much less concrete. Which seems to indicate to me, that there is a good deal of opportunism built-in to Moskva's posturing (and there has indeed been a great deal of posturing) and very public role in the crisis 1. Predominately as a friend and 'ally' of the Assad regime. With even rumors (now denied by Moskva) that Russian troops and or ships are headed for Syrian ports 2. Some commentators, like the usually on the mark Dmitri Trenin, attribute Matushka Russia's policy in the Syrian crisis as based upon realpolitik
calculations (such as the idea that Assad could crush the rebellion `a la what occurred in Bahrain). With Assad (in Trenin's words) "merely a business client
". Not to speak of the advantages (admittedly limited) coming from the naval base at Tartus. However, given the almost international consensus on the need to remove Assad from power and Putin's and Lavrov's statements that there is no possibility of either any type of outside military intervention and that there have not been any type of discussions with the USA about easing Assad from power, one is left to conclude that the motivations for Russian policy must include other elements aside from those mentioned by Trenin 3. Of the possible culprits I would suggest that the most important would be perhaps Putin's felt need to: i) demonstrate Russia's Great Power status by refusing not only to tow the American line, but to do so in as public and as direct fashion as possible (hence Lavrov's various statements on Russia's refusal to consider Assad being eased or ousted from power); ii) in line with 'i' above, is Putin's need to consolidated his base of domestic support. Not that per se, there is a large body of opinion in Matushka Russia, which favors supporting the Assad regime. Far from it. Merely, that due to the diplomatic drum banging by the Putin regime, anything other than a continuation of the Assad regime in power, would be regarded as a major diplomatic and hence political defeat for the Putin regime. Given the current difficulties that Putin faces at home, the very last thing that he needs is a humilation along these lines 4. In short a primat der Innenpolitik
policy. Which is not to gainsay the idea that at a certain point, when perhaps absolutely necessary, faute de mieux
, Putin may indeed 'sell' Assad down the river, as it were. Something however tells me that Putin's idee fixe
about American / Western perfidy and expansionism makes any sort of pragmatic, quid pro quo
bargaining almost impossible to fathom, much less engage in. Time will only tell. Fortunately for Putin, et. al., based upon the joint statement with the American President in Mexico on Monday the 18th, such an 'either or' choice has not yet arrived for
Russian policy 5.
1. Thomas Erdbrink, "Russia and Iran criticize the United States on Syria." The New York Times
. 13 June 2012, in www.nytimes.com
2."Russia Rejects Media Reports of Sending Warship to Syria." Novosti.
18 June 2012, in www.en.rian.ru
; Charles Clover & Abigal Fielding-Smith, "Russia prepares to send warship to Syria." The Financial Times
18 June 2012, in www.ft.com
3. Dmitri Trenin, "Syria Could Unite Russia and China against the US." Carnegie Moscow Center
. 8 June 2012, in www.carnegie.ru
; On the very limited advantages accruing from the Russian naval base at Tartus, see: David Eshel, "Assad Ticket to Putin's Mid East comeback." Defence Update.
23 December 2006, in www.defence-update.com
; Vladimir Isachenkov, "Russia denies discussing Syria's post-Assad Future." The Boston Globe
. 15 June 2012, in www.boston.com
4. Talal Nizameddin, "Better the devil you know." The World Today
. (June / July 2012), pp. 32-34.
5. Patrick Wintour & Ewin MaCaskill, "Obama fails to secure support from Putin on solution to Syrian Crisis." The Guardian
18 June 2012, in www.guardian.co.uk
THE NEW ENDGAME IN EGYPT: A COMMENT
Today, Egypt's constitutional court delivered the coup de grace by refusing to disqualify Mubarak's former prime minister Ahmed Shafik from the race and effectively dissolving the elected parliament by declaring the individual election of one-third of its members illegal. The former decision was probably the right one, to be frank, though it was a missed opportunity for a "hail Mary" political reset. But the latter was absurd, destructive, and essentially voids Egypt's last year of politics of meaning. Weeks before the SCAF's scheduled handover of power, Egypt now finds itself with no parliament, no constitution (or even a process for drafting one), and a divisive presidential election with no hope of producing a legitimate, consensus-elected leadership. Its judiciary has become a bad joke, with any pretence of political independence from the military shattered beyond repair.
The SCAF's power grab in the final days looks more like panic than the execution of a carefully prepared master scheme. It likely reflected a combination of fear of rising Islamist power, self-preservation, and growing confidence in its ability to control street protests. The prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood controlling Parliament and the presidency likely scared them more than many people conditioned by speculation about a MB-SCAF alliance recognized -- a dynamic that Robert Springborg captured extremely well for Foreign Policy a few months ago. Of course it wanted to preserve its economic empire and political protections. But both of those were constant over the course of the transition, and don't explain its heavy-handed moves at the climax of the process.
What was new, and which likely emboldened this reckless behavior at the end of the transition, was its belief that it had effectively neutered revolutionary movements and protestors. The SCAF likely believes that a renewal of massive, sustained protest is no longer in the cards through a combination of its own repression and relentless propaganda, along with the strategic mistakes by protestors themselves. It doesn't feel threatened by a few thousand isolated protestors in Tahrir, and probably is gambling that they won't be joined by the masses that made the Jan. 25 revolution last year. They may also feel that the intense rifts of suspicion and rage dividing the Muslim Brotherhood from non-Islamist political trends are now so deep that they won't be able to cooperate effectively to respond. Or they may feel that the MB would rather cut a deal, even now, than take it to the next level. They may be right, they may be wrong. But I wouldn't bet on stability....
The SCAF, in other words, may look to have won this seemingly decisive round. But it's not the endgame. It's only the beginning of a new phase of a horribly mismanaged "transition" that is coming to its well-earned end. What's next? A replay of Algeria in 1991? A return to Jan. 25, 2011? Back to 1954? A return to the petulant slow fail of latter-days Mubarak? An alien invasion using nano-weapons and transgalactic wormholes in the Pyramids? Nobody really seems to know... but I'm pretty sure we're not going to see a return to stable CloneNDP-SCAF rule. Of course, this being Egypt, maybe tomorrow the Court will just overrule itself and we can all go back to normal..."
Marc Lynch, "That is it for Egypt's so-called Transition." Foreign Policy 14 June 2012, in www.foreignpolicy.com">.
"As you can see from Mr. Evans' memorandum, the opposition to the C.R.C. (Council for the Revolutionary Command) may be regarded as partly political and partly due to economic discontent....Meanwhile as you can see from Mr. Evans' analysis, the C.R.C. do not enjoy the support of any adequate political organization. The Liberation Rally has not so far supplied the need. The attitude of the Moslem Brotherhood, which in the early stages gave the regime valuable support, is now equivocal and potentially hostile. The Government at present relies on the Army and pending the development of broader political support, either through the Liberation Rally or otherwise, the regime has been forced to adopt the policy of neutralising hostile elements and discrediting their leaders, most of whom have certainly provided plenty of sensational maiterial for this purpose by their past misdeeds. Neither the Wafd nor the Moslem Brotherhood under their present leadership would appear to be in a position to fill the vacuum which has been created. Whether the Liberation Rally can do so remains to be seen."
Robin Hankey (Cairo) to Lord Salisbury (Acting Foreign Secretary), 29 September 1953, in F[oreign] O[ffice] 371/102706/JE1015/133
. Public Records Office, Kew (copy in my possession).
The decision on Thursday by the Army High-Command controlled Egyptian Supreme Court in dissolving the newly elected Egyptian Parliament, immediately prior to the second and definitive round of the Egyptian Presidential elections has had bells ringing all over the Near and Middle East. With to-day's Financial Times
mentioning that armed troops have surrounded the Parliament Building. As the article above by Marc Lynch and other clearly show, the mots
'coup d'etat' and or 'soft-coup', et cetera, are all upmost in peoples minds at the moment. As well as the 'Algerian model' of the late 1980s 1. A model which was mentioned here in this journal in February of last year (see: "Egypt Without Mubarak: 'Revolution' or Regime Musical Chairs?
") 2. With all that being said, where does this week's actions by the Army High-Command take us? I for one, while quite willing to believe that the Army would like to: i) ditch the existing Parliament (now accomplished) and force new elections which would see a diminished Moslem Brotherhood & Islamist presence in the chamber; ii) see the Army's preferred candidate, General Shafiq elected President over the Moslem Brotherhood candidate (this second goal of course is dependent upon what happens over this week-end's election results); The question I have is: how willing are the Army Generals to go to see 'their' man elected President? Per se
, with the existing Parliament dissolved, and with new elections probably resulting in a Parliament friendlier to the Army's interests, the election of the Army's preferred candidate to the Presidency is not actually needed to protect the Army's interests. That General Shafiq should become President Shafiq is no doubt from the Army's perspective the ideal choice. It is not entirely a necessary choice. Nor does the Army's policy choices in the sixteen months since Mubarak was ousted, lends itself so clearly to their now supporting an outright coup d'etat
. With their being so many examples of 'stop' and 'go', 'yes' and 'no' or perhaps 'maybe', to count. On the other hand, it could be that the Generals have learned in the past six months that a policy of pire ca va, mieux ca est
coupled with Fabian
tactics, has rendered the young protesters of 2011, mute if not entirely neutered. Perhaps! Alternatively, it could be that the army's tactics at this stage, especially if the Presidential elections are deliberately falsified, could end up reaping the whirlwind. And that instead of a Bonapartist 18th Brumaire
, we will have another failed Kornilov Coup d'etat
of September 1917. At this stage unfortunately no one has a crystal ball into the murky Egyptian political endgame. What the Egyptian Generals intend to do and what their opponents, both the Moslem Brotherhood and the young protestors of last year do in response, time will soon enough tell all. As Hankey's cover letter to Lord Salisbury shows, in essence the same forces: military, Islamic and secular liberals have been locked in opposition to each other for almost sixty years. Au fond,
I have the gravest doubts that the Army High-Command wishes at this juncture to wager everything it controls on a very dangerous game of va banque
1. Roula Khalaf, "Putschist shadow cast over Egypt."
The Financial Times
15 June 2012, in www.ft.com
. And, Borzou Daragahi, "Egyptian troops surround Parliament." The Financial Times
16 June 2012, in www.ft.com
2.See: Diplomat of the Future
, 15 February 2011, in www.diplomatofthefuture.blogspot.com
THE PAKISTAN CONUNDRUM: A COMMENT
"KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The United States stepped up pressure on Pakistan Thursday as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said "we are reaching the limits of our patience" with a nominal ally that continues to provide a safe haven to al-Qaida-linked militants. It was the latest sign that the U.S. is now getting tougher with Pakistan after years of muting criticism and looking the other way on the premise that an uneasy friendship was better than making the nuclear-armed country an outright enemy. As U.S. forces draw down in neighboring Afghanistan, the Americans appear to be pushing Pakistan harder than ever before to squeeze insurgents who find sanctuary within its borders. Panetta, in the Afghan capital, told reporters he was visiting Kabul to take stock of progress in the war and discuss plans for the troop drawdown. But he used a press conference to strike across the border instead, saying the Pakistani government needs to do more — and soon — to root out the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani terrorist network. Panetta repeatedly emphasized U.S. frustration with attackers crossing the border from Pakistan. It is essential that Pakistan stop "allowing terrorists to use their country as a safety net in order to conduct their attacks on our forces," he said alongside Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak.
"We have made that very clear time and time again and we will continue to do that, but as I said, we are reaching the limits of our patience," Panetta said. The U.S. clearly wants Pakistan to take on the Haqqanis before the bulk of U.S. troops have left the region by the end of 2014. After that, the Afghans would have more trouble contending with the militants, who carry out large-scale attacks in Kabul and elsewhere. In Washington, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference that the U.S. needs to continue working with Pakistan, despite frustrations. "It's our view that those Haqqani, notably, the Haqqani network, is as big a threat to Pakistan as it is to Afghanistan and to us, but we haven't been able to find common ground on that point. So that's been very frustrating," he said".
Deb Riechmann, "Panetta: Patience with Pakistan 'reaching limits." The Associated Press
. 7 June 2012, in www.google.com
"86. The Melian representatives answered: "The quiet interchange of explanations is a reasonable thing, and we do not object to that. But your warlike movements, which are present not only to our fears but to our eyes, seem to belie your words. We see that, although you may reason with us, you mean to be our judges; and that at the end of the discussion, if the Justice of our cause prevail and we therefore refuse to yield, we may expect war; if we are convinced by you, slavery."
87. Athenians: Nay, but if you are only going to argue from fancies about the future, or if you meet us with any other purpose than that of looking your circumstances in the face and saving your city, we have done; but if this is your intention we will proceed.
88. Melians: It is an excusable and natural thing that men in our position should have much to say and should indulge in many fancies. But we admit that this conference has met to consider the question of our preservation; and therefore let the argument proceed in the manner which you propose.
89. Athenians: Well, then, we Athenians will use no flue words; we will not go out of our way to prove at length that we have a right to rule, because we overthrew the Persians; or that we attack you now because we are suffering any injury at your hands. We should not convince you if we did; nor must you expect to convince us by arguing that, although a colony of the Lacedaemonians, you have taken no part in their expeditions, or that you have never done us any wrong. But you and we should say what we really think, and aim only at what is possible, for we both alike know that into the discussion of human affairs the question of justice only enters where the pressure of necessity is equal, and that the powerful exact what they can, and the weak grant what they must".
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War
. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. Edited by A.P. Peabody. (1883), Book Five.
The statements from the American Secretary of Defence and from others in official and indeed unofficial Washington point up to the fact that the current regime in Pakistan is simply incapable of taking a proper hand at destroying the terrorist and guerrilla groupings which operate inside its borders. Partly for reasons of realpolitik
(the need to cultivate possible future rulers of Afghanistan), partly for reasons of ideology
(the need to keep on the shelf for possible future use, anti-Indian groupings for use in Kashmir), and partly for reasons of weakness
(no regime truly has felt strong enough in recent years to dismount the Islamic fundamentalist elephant that Islamabad has conjured into being), the sheltering if not worse of various networks, which operate in both Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir continues unabated. Notwithstanding over ten years of American finger waving about this activity. Given the fact that said finger waiving has singularly failed. As has also bribing Pakistan with military and economic assistance over the self-same time period, one may only conclude that the time has indeed come for the employment of brass tacks
. Meaning? Specifically, more drone attacks, more cross-border raids by American-NATO forces, both by ground and air forces. Cutting off any future economic & trade assistance by both Europe and the USA. Let the regime in Pakistan know, that if they do wish to defy both the Americans and NATO, that they like the Melians
will pay the price for their defiance and thereafter count the costs accordingly. Given the fact that there will for the next two and half years be based in Afghanistan, sizeable numbers of American-NATO troops in Afghanistan, it is most definitely time (in the mots
of Furst von Bismarck
) to 'wield the sledge hammer'
. After all, if not now when?
SYRIA: THE ALTERNATIVES
"Let's be clear: Washington is pursuing regime change by civil war in Syria. The United States, Europe, and the Gulf states want regime change, so they are starving the regime in Damascus and feeding the opposition. They have sanctioned Syria to a fare-thee-well and are busy shoveling money and helping arms supplied by the Gulf get to the rebels. This will change the balance of power in favor of the revolution. It is also the most the United States can and should do. President Barack Obama does not want to intervene directly in Syria for obvious reasons, and he is right to be cautious. The United States has failed at nation-building twice before in the Middle East. The Libyan example of limited intervention by using air power alone could suck the United States into a protracted and open-ended engagement. One cannot compare Libya to Syria. The former is a relatively small, homogeneous, and wealthy society. Syria has a population four times larger, which is poor and wracked by an increasingly violent civil war across religious lines. Moreover, the chance that the United States can end the killing in Syria by airpower alone is small.
The argument that the United States could have avoided radicalization and civil war in Iraq by toppling Saddam Hussein in 1991 is unconvincing. Similar arguments are now being offered to talk Americans into jumping into Syria. Iraq was not a mature nation-state and was likely to fall apart. The fact that it imploded into civil war when the United States roto-rootered Saddam's regime should have been expected. U.S. intervention in Syria will likely lead to something similar: civil war and radicalization. Syrians have never agreed on basic questions of identity and policy, and it is unlikely that they will decide these issues peacefully today....If anyone tells you they are going to build democracy in Syria, don't buy it. Democracy is unlikely to succeed there anytime soon. The two social indicators that predict the success of democratization with any accuracy are median population age and per capita gross domestic product. According to a recent study, autocracies with a median population age of over 30 years old are most likely to transition to liberal democracies -- Syria has a median age of 21. This is the same as Iraq's and just slightly older than Gaza's and Yemen's. Because of its poverty and youth, political scientists give it small chances of becoming democratic and stable any time soon. Beware of drinking the democratization Kool-Aid....
If the United States becomes militarily involved -- destroying the presidential palace in Damascus and military installations -- it will own Syria. Will it discipline the dozens of militias that have sprung up to represent the revolutionary forces? If the death toll rises after the Assad regime is taken out, will the United States continue to dedicate itself to stopping the killing?"
Joshua Landis, "Stay out of Syria." Foreign Policy
. 5 June 2012, in www.foreignpolicy.com
"Speaking Thursday before the U.N. General Assembly, just one day after the latest massacre of civilians by government-affiliated forces, Kofi Annan warned that the crisis in Syria was on a disastrous course. “If things do not change, the future is likely to be one of brutal repression, massacres, sectarian violence and even all-out civil war,” he said. “All Syrians will lose.”
Annan, of course, is not the first to evoke the term “civil war” in reference to the crisis in Syria, which has already resulted in more than 10,000 dead and 50,000 missing. The term has become a favorite of opponents of intervention in Syria, who use it to conjure up the image of a human swamp of chaos, destruction and mayhem that is bloodier than what Syria has suffered over the past sixteen months, less tractable to resolution, and violently inhospitable to outsiders. The unspoken assumption is that while such a scenario may be horrible for Syrian civilians, it would not rise to the level of an international crisis -- at least not one that would have much impact on the United States. But if commentators have mostly been justified in raising the specter of civil war, they have mostly been wrong in assessing its consequences. If Syria descends into the chaos of all-out civil war, it's not only Syrians who will lose out, as Annan suggests. Very clear American interests are also at stake....
The threat of loose chemical and biological weapons tops the agenda of American and Israeli military planners. In late May, the PKK took responsibility for a suicide bombing attack by a cell that crossed the Syrian border and killed a Turkish policeman and wounded 18 others. A senior Jordanian intelligence official alerted me recently to his abiding fear of Assad using Palestinian refugees as political pawns. Already two Lebanese have been killed and many wounded by Syrian troops shooting across the border or hunting down escaping refugees on Lebanese territory. And although only a few hundred al-Qaeda-type militants have joined the Syrian opposition movement so far, the jihadization of the Syrian uprising has been on everyone's mind for more than a year....
Preventing these calamitous outcomes should be a high priority. But it is reasonable to ask whether prevention -- in the form of outside intervention -- will itself trigger some of these scenarios. Might it be better to let the current fighting take its course and not stir up the hornet's nest even more?
The answer is no. Left to its own, the Syrian rebellion may eventually succeed in bringing down the Assad regime, but the key to preventing these negative outcomes is speeding up the pace of change. A slow, grinding conflict in which the regime continues its merciless but ultimately futile whack-a-mole strategy is the most likely backdrop for these nightmare scenarios. In contrast, swift and decisive action to hasten Assad's departure is the best way to immunize against this set of terrifying outcomes. While Assad may unleash some of his fury in the face of assertive international action, chances are more likely that a clear display of resolve in support of the opposition is the key ingredient to fracturing his surprisingly resilient governing coalition and bringing the regime tumbling down".<
Robert Satloff, "Why a Syrian Civil War would be a disaster for U.S. National Security." The Washington Institute
. 8 June 2012, in www.washingtoninstitute.org
"Assuming the undue dependence on the Arab and Iranian [Persian] oil to have been removed, would the United States have any vital interest in the Near East? (Please bear in mind that this question contains the word 'vital', which ought not to be used lightly.) I cannot see that the United States could be said to have any such interest."
George Frost Kennan. The Cloud of Danger: Current Realities of American Foreign Policy
. (1977), p. 80.
In two very opposing ways, Professor Landis and Dr. Satloff pieces outlined in acute form the possible, albeit extreme stances that may be taken on the problem of Syria. A problem which appears to becoming worse by the day 1. With that being the case, how does one evaluate possible courses of action by the Western powers in this most unfortunate situation? It would appear to me, that notwithstanding the cri de coeur
issued by Dr. Satloff, and others of his (neo-conservative / neo-liberal) ilk `a la Elliott Abrams, id est., those who brought us the Iraqi debacle of very recent memory, that at the present time, a studied 'wait and see' attitude is perhaps the very best that can be done by the Western powers at present 2. The perhaps 'unheroic cunctation'
, would be the very best characterization of this policy. It however is perhaps the very best insofar as it absolves the West of the moral responsibility (by virtue of actively intervening in the conflict) of ensuring that the problem of Syria is resolved in such a fashion that does not involve the persecution and exile of the mass of the Christian and non-Sunni population. And it is without a doubt, the response which most truly adheres to the fundamental question wich George Kennan's above referenced statment raises. That being: are there for the Western powers, any fundamental interests involved in this conflict? Which is not to gainsay the fact that au fond
, a peaceful overthrow of the Assad Fils
regime and the installation of a non-sectarian, non-Muslim Brotherhood government, would indeed be very much in the interests of the Western powers. Especially since such a regime, would at the very least be anti-Persian and anti-Hezbollah. The question which follows such an assertion is: at what cost is this plus ultra result to be purchased
? That is the essential problem. This optimum possible result, is not, when one tabulates the variables, so important that an active, American-Western military involvement, is called for. An involvement which would by necessity have to be both on the ground and in the air. As far as I can see, there is not much in the way of any real enthusiasm or even much active concern in Western public opinion for overtly intervening in this admittedly horrid conflict. Now, if it were in fact the case, that a successful military involvement by the West could be staged managed `a la
the Libyan intervention, then I for one would be reluctantly in favor. However, at the present time, there is absolutely no chance of any such type of intervention working. Not to speak of the fact that the United Nations Security Council would not approve of any such intervention. This fact may of course, change over the next several months and if so, then perhaps Western military intervention might indeed be both sensible and plausible. At present it is neither. To conclude, 'unheroic cunctation', may perhaps be a less than pleasant place to be situated diplomatically speaking, but faite de mieux,
it is certainly better than being actively involved in the ongoing Syrian quagmire.
1.David Gardner, "Syria Savagery suggests regime in despair." The Financial Times
. 12 June 2012, in www.ft.com
2. See: Elliott Abrams, "The Syrian Charade turns ghastly." The Council on Foreign Relations
. 7 June 2012, in www.cfr.org
. And: John Bolton, "What to to about Syria." The National Review
. 11 June 2012, in www.nationalreview.com
. The tenor of this article, has the mots 'van banque'
written all over it.
Contending with Kennan Revidivus
"I don’t think Kennan should be given
particular credit for showing that there was “a path between
appeasement and inevitable war.” The reason is that I don’t
think people like Secretary of State James Byrnes, the real
maker of American policy in the immediate post-World War II
period, ever believed that those were the only two possibilities.
He and other key U.S. policy makers had little trouble grasping
the point from the very start (and especially at Potsdam) that
a division of Europe in general, and of Germany in particular,
was a perfectly viable solution to the problem of how the two
sides could coexist without a war.
Was it the case, however, that only Kennan (in the X-article) could give
a convincing rationale for the containment policy? The X-article, to my
mind, was scarcely convincing on its own terms. It put forth an
internalist interpretation of Soviet foreign policy, which was very odd
for someone like Kennan whose whole approach to foreign policy was
supposed to be grounded in realist principles....
But maybe we pay too much attention to the X-article and containment when
we think about Kennan. Looking at his career as a whole, there’s a lot
about him I find appealing. I personally like Kennan’s 1950 book
_American Diplomacy_, especially the lecture about Wilson and World War I,
a lot more than Jervis does. It certainly made an enormous impression on
me when I first read it, and played a key role in shaping my own approach
to foreign policy. Jervis calls it “an inferior work of history,” but I
think it should not be viewed as a work of history at all, but rather as a
work that used history as a vehicle for presenting ideas about policy. I
also like the fact that Kennan was inclined -- although perhaps a little
too inclined, as Jervis suggests - -to lean against the prevailing wisdom....
One last point about Kennan, and that has to do with why the Kennan
myth-how he was the architect of containment and so on--is so persistent.
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that when an interpretation
of the recent past first takes shape, people seize on what’s most visible.
The X-article got a lot of attention at the time; it was thus natural to
take it, along with other prominent events like the Truman Doctrine
speech, as one of the building blocks of a consensus interpretation when
people first felt the need for something of that sort. And once that
interpretation takes shape, it is often--far too frequently in my
view--more or less impervious to the arguments historians make based on
Marc Trachtenberg, "Response to Gaddis, RT." H-Diplo
. 8 May 2012, in www.h-net.org/~diplo/roundtables/PDf/roundtable-VIII-24/.pdf.
"First, the matter of Kennan's impact on the origins of the Cold War. No one, I believe, who actually has had a chance to talk with those policy
makers who were "present at the creation" can deny the importance of
Kennan's 1946 "long telegram" from Moscow. From Harry Truman on down
American policy makers (as opposed to the foreign service diplomatic
intellectuals) were basically pragmatic deal-makers puzzled and angered by
a Soviet foreign policy that seemed inclined toward a belligerence and
expansionist thrust at fundamental variance with the agreements Russian
leaders were perceived to have given at Yalta and Potsdam. They had no
comprehension of either revolutionary ideology or the more
historically-based character of Russian expansionism.
The long telegram brought it altogether for them. It was widely read at
the top-level national security policy-making level by actors from Truman
on down, clearly had a big impact, and provided an intellectual framework
for what came to be called the policy of containment. The great irony of
course is that "containment" as implemented had a greater military
dimension that Kennan thought necessary. It may be argued as to just who
had the better judgment on this score. But Kennan's importance as a
catalyst seems undeniable to me".
Alonzo L. Hamby,"Measuring Kennan's Influence." H-Diplo
. 15 May 2012, in www.h-net.org/~diplo
"In George Frost Kennan the Presbyterian elder wrestled with the Bismarkian geopolitician: that struggle produced the 'X' article".
Lloyd Gardner. Architects of Illusion
. (1970), p. 285.
The fine web site H-Diplo
recently had a very elongated and quite learned roundtable of professional diplomatic historians (among others Frank Costigliola, Walter Hixson, Wilson Miscamble) discussing the premier, second-half of the twentieth century diplomatic historian, John Lewis Gaddis's recent biography of perhaps the most influential professional diplomat in 20th century American history, George Frost Kennan
(to be reviewed subsequently in this journal). Post-facto
to the exchanges, was Professor Trachtenberg's piece. A piece which raises a fundamental point: exactly how influential and indeed important was George Kennan circa 1946-1948? This period in time, often being viewed as the ne plus ultra
of Kennan's influence in official Washington. Perhaps without intending so, Trachtenberg's piece in turn provoked other historians (Professor Hamby being one of the same) to respond to the question raised. From my own perspective, I do believe that George Kennan, in those two years, which we can mark as coming to a close with Dean Acheson's returning to the State Department in January 1949 , enjoyed an unusual degree of power and influence at the center of American diplomacy. Not that per se
, all of his ideas were very 'original' (as was correctly pointed out, Kennan's former Ambassador William Bullitt had already sent to President Roosevelt in 1943, a memorandum which in some way, anticipates much in Kennan's own thinking three years later). However, to ask for 'originality' from police-makers, particular in mid-20th century America (or elsewhere) is to make a quite erroneous assumption about how policy-makers actually go about 'making' policy. In writing his famous 'long-telegram' from the American Embassy in Moskva in February of 1946, Kennan's dispatch, which in some ways has all of the hallmarks of a cri de coeur
, Kennan provided quite unintentionally (as Professor Hamby aptly shows), the upper tier of the American government, with 'an idea', a 'concept' to explain the whys and the wherefores of Stalin's policies. This is not to gainsay the fact that, sans
Kennan's existence, that eventually American policy-makers would have come to conclusions which were similar in nature, if not as quite well expressed. Indeed, as the opening of the British Foreign Office documents proved, Kennan's opposite number in the British Embassy, the future Sir Frank Roberts
, at almost the same time, penned his own series of influential telegrams for London, which came to many of the same conclusions about Russian policy that Kennan did 1. Merely that if Kennan did not exist, then the road to containment, would have been a much less straightforward one, certainly it would have been a much less elegant one as well. The heart of the matter is that at that particular point in time, not in 1942 and certainly not in 1957, Kennan's thought processes, were matchable to those of his colleagues and superiors in government. Or as Hegel once put it:
"The great man of the age is the one who can put into words the will of his age, tell his age what its will is. 2"
Indeed, one can very well say much the same of Eyre Crowe
and his famous Foreign Office memorandum of the 1st of January 1907, as has been said of Kennan. That much of the thinking in the memorandum was hardly very original and that indeed there were not only logical inconsistencies but, factual errata
in the memorandum as it related to the recent past of Anglo-German interaction (as the then just retired Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Lord Sanderson pointed out subsequently) 3. What made Crowe's memorandum so influential in the Foreign Office was the fact that its conclusions seemed to dovetail with both the current thinking and the past experiences of the 'coming cohort' of rising stars in the Office: Sir Francis Bertie, Sir Charles Hardinage, Sir Arthur Nicolson, et. al
., all accepting as gospel truth the charge sheet against Berlin as formulated in Crowe's memorandum 4. To a lesser extent the same was true in London after Frank Robert's dispatches were read in the early Spring of 1946. To conclude it seems to me, by every empirical variable that in that short, window of time George Kennan was indeed as influential as a policy-maker as most historians have been averring for upwards of forty plus years now 5. In retrospect what seems remarkable is that Kennan's window of opportunity turned out to be so short. Unlike say either Crowe or Roberts or even exact American contemporaries like Paul Nitze. My own surmise on that mystery is that in many respects, Kennan too much of the conflicted romantic moralist as per Lloyd Gardner's canny description, to succeed at, much less enjoy the bureaucratic infighting and intrigue which a prolonged period at Foggy Bottom would have required. In that respect, Kennan's alienation from contemporary American society was too long-lasting and deep-rooted to afford him any patience to remain at the centre of power. His short stay at Foggy Bottom after returning from the Moskva Embassy was probably as much as he could endure. To unfortunately America's ultimate loss.
1. Sean Greenwood, "Frank Roberts and the 'Other Long Telegram': the view from the British Embassy in Moscow." The Journal of Contemporary History
. (January 1990), pp. 103-122. On the Bullitt memorandum, see: Robert Dallek. Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945
. (1979), pp. 399-410 and passim.
2. G. W. F. Hegel. The Philosophy of Right
3. See: "Memorandum on the Present State of Britain's Relations with France and Germany." in British Documents on the Origins of the War
. Volume III. Edited G.P. Gooch & Harold Temperley. (1928), pp. 397-420. See, Ibid, pp. 428-431, for Sanderson's critique and Crowe's rejoinder.
4. As a noted scholar on this period of British Foreign Policy, noted the effect of Crowe's memorandum was huge inside the Foreign Office as it: "expressed in a coherent and comprehensive form the ideas, which, instinctively held, had to an increasing extent governed the actions of the professional diplomats in the preceding years. Here for the first time the practical policies of the Foreign Office, substantially accepted by Grey as Foreign Secretary, were codified and synthesised into a system of remarkable power and intelligence
." It would not be going too far to say that if one were to replace 'Grey' with Marshal & Truman' and 'Foreign Office' with 'State Department', that the reader would naturally assume that one was referring to Kennan and the long-telegram. For Crowe's memorandum effect inside the Foreign Office, see: George Monger. The End of Isolation: British Foreign Policy, 1900-1907
. (1963), pp. 313-316. A final point of comparison between the two situations is that unlike Kennan, Sir Eyre Crowe, remained for years after penning his memorandum virtually 'invisible' to even the educated lay, public. For an example of which, in his volumnious study in 1915 of Anglo-German relations before the Great War, Bernadotte Schmitt's index does not mention Crowe once. Indeed, the only Foreign Office official mentioned was the Sir Charles Hardinage, and that was merely in passing. See: Bernadotte Schmitt, England and Germany, 1740-1914
. (1916), pp. 183-184.
5. See in particular: Louis J. Halle. The Cold War as History
. (1967), pp. 105-109, and of course: John Lewis Gaddis. The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947
. (1972), pp. 303-305 and passim.
PUTIN IN PEKING: THE FOREIGN POLICY OF STUPIDITY
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Hu Jintao have instructed their governments to draw up proposals by fall to expand bilateral cooperation between their countries in the oil and gas sectors, Russia's foreign minister said on Wednesday.
The prime ministers of the two nations will meet in fall this year to discuss the proposals, Sergei Lavrov told journalists in Beijing. Putin is in the middle of his three-day visit to Beijing to bolster bilateral ties. The leaders also pledged cooperation in aviation, space and information technologies, Lavrov added
"Russia, China to 'Expand Oil, Gas Cooperation'". Novesti
. 6 June 2012, in www.en.rian.ru
"Russia and China have pledged to give priority to development of bilateral ties and to oppose foreign intervention in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in China Tuesday for a three-day visit expected to focus on the Middle East, energy cooperation and regional trade policy. Mr. Putin, who is making his first trip to Asia since starting his third term as president last month, met with Chinese President Hu Jintao soon after his arrival. Mr. Hu announced their agreement at a joint press conference.
“China and Russia will strengthen our bilateral support and cooperation, and improve our long-standing relationship. We will strengthen our strategic cooperation on international issues, work together for the revitalization of both our countries, and safeguard the peace, stability and security of the region.”
Mr. Hu also said the two countries will increase military cooperation.
In terms of economy, Russia and China hope to sign agreements aimed at boosting bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015 during Mr. Putin's visit. The Russian leader said the trade between the two countries has been increasing and that the goal will be reached.
“Bilateral trade between Russia and China increased by 40 percent in 2011…” (pauses for Chinese interpreter translation) “… and I firmly believe that the goal we've set for bilateral trade in 2015 and 2020 will be achieved.'"
"Russia, China Pledge to Boost ties on Trade, Foreign Policy, Military." Voice of America.
5th of June 2012, in www.voanews.com
The papers show that Grazhdanin Putin is in Peking for both the Shanghai Summit and for bilateral talks between Russia and China. As one can see from the above referenced reports, as well as a story in yesterday's Financial Times, the Chinese pursuit of Russian energy resources and other raw materials continues apace. With the two countries setting-up a 'joint fund', to invest in Russian hard assets, such as 'timber, logistics and agriculture', also mentioned as possibilities are 'ports and infrustructure' 1. Also mentioned of course is that both countries remained united in endeavoring to 'set the global political and economic order in a more fair and rational direction' 2. In view of the fact, that for quite some time to come, the only country on the face of the planet who: i) Russia has fought a conventional war with (admittedly undeclared and for a short duration)since September 1945; ii) and who has an overt interest in lands lying within the borders of the current Russian Federation, is of course the PRC, makes the mere fact of Putin's policies not only currently, but for some time past, difficult to fathom. Indeed, if one were inclined to employ vulgar sloganeering, one would characterize the current Russian President as a super-sized Neville Chamberlain. Except of course that Chamberlain made sure to appease Hitler and Mussolini with other countries assets and not his own. Putin of course has improved upon the original. Ergo the title of this piece: the foreign policy of stupidity. Just how wrong-headed this stance is, can be revealed by the fact, that the PRC's policies vis-`a-vis Moskva follows precisely the same pattern of policies that Russia / Soviet Union under Graf Witte and Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, followed towards Peking. Endeavoring to utilize a very close relationship with a weaker partner, in order to exploit the latter, economically speaking. As Graf Witte put it in language which one would almost think comes straight from a communique of the recent talks between the two powers:
"our aim was to achieve this end [Russian investments and concessions in the Manchu Empire] by peaceful means for the mutual benefit of all parties concerned 3".
The fact that Grazhdanin Putin is seemingly ignorant of the less than positive future for matushka Russia, which his policies vis-`a-vis Peking are leading can only be put down to his obsession with the fact that Sovietskaya Vlast lost the Cold War. A result so he thinks of needless appeasement of the Western powers by then Soviet leader Gorbachev. In short, his own version of the 'Dolchstosslegende'
('stab in the back' legend) 4. Since, the PRC was a bystander to the implosion of Sovietskaya Vlast, and indeed is ruled by a regime which au fond is a much more successful version of Sovietskaya Vlast, Putin's willingness to appease the latter appears to know no bounds. What may you ask will be the ultimate end-game in ten to twenty years hence, presuming that Putin's policies towards the PRC are not changed? Simply put, Russia's isolation as a great power and ultimately another Tartar Yoke. As the British academic, David Kerr recently wrote on this score:
"As China looms larger on its Asian frontiers, Russia may not only experience pressure on its sphere of autonomy, but may feel increasingly exposed trying to deal with China in a space that requires it to be detached from the West. In essence, China's rise will change the frontiers between East and West, and may force Russia to conclude that its belief it could stand apart from the West was something of an illusion" 5.
1. Kathrin Hille & Jamil Anderlini, "Russia and China to Strengthen trade ties." The Financial Times
. 6 June 2012, in www.ft.com
2. Ibid. See also: Leader, "United in distrust." The Financial Times
. 6 June 2012, in www.ft.com
3. Graf Witte. The Memoirs of Count Witte
. Edited and Translated by Sydney Harcave. (1990), p. 229.
4.Field-Marshal von Hindenberg, The Great War
. Edited and Translated by Charles Messenger. (2006), pp. 184-185 and passim. First published in 1920. This particular passage was one of the earliest examples of this rather horrid genre.
5.David Kerr, "Central Asian/Russian perspectives on China's emergence." International Affairs
(January 2010), pp. 127-152, the quote is on page 152. See also the following observations from perhaps the premier, English language scholar dealing with Russian foreign policy, Dmitri Trenin, whose observations on this topic lose nothing by way of topicality by virtue of being a few years old: "Although Russian-Chinese collaboration is growing-as within the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization]-China is emerging as the state driving the bilateral agenda. For the first time in 300 year, China is more powerful and dynamic than Russia--and it can back up its economic and security interests with hefty infusions of cash
". See: Dmitri Trenin, "Russia Reborn." Foreign Affairs
. (November / December 2009), p. 73.
AN UPDATE ON THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TALKS WITH PERSIA
MOUSAVIAN: On the nuclear negotiations, the ultimate decisionmaker is the Supreme Leader. This is not only on nuclear issues. By the Iranian constitution, the main issues on foreign policy are all decided ultimately by the religious leader. It doesn’t matter who rules Iran—monarchy or clerics. If clerics, it is an Islamic Republic. If the president is moderate like Rafsanjani or reformist like Khatami or radical or conservative like Ahmadinejad, it doesn’t matter. This is the red line: no nuclear bomb but nuclear technology....
CARVER: It seems that in the last few weeks, the whole tone of the negotiations with the West have become more positive. Is that right, do you think?
MOUSAVIAN: Definitely there is a much more positive atmosphere. It is not only in the West. It is also within Iranian public opinion and Iranian politicians are much more optimistic today. And the reason is because of the recent meeting in Istanbul.
The P5+1 accepted to find a solution within the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Before, they were always asking for requirements from Iran beyond the NPT, like zero enrichment.
They have admitted the principle of reciprocity. This was something that since 2003 we were telling them. That if you are going to find a face-saving solution, we need reciprocity. If we take one step, you should take one step and go forward.
They were not ready. They were always telling us, “You should take steps.” And in the end, they agreed to a step-by-step plan. In my book, I have explained that all proposals we made since 2003 were step-by-step plans. But the P5+1 and EU3 were looking at a piecemeal approach. Iran has always been looking for a broad package to be implemented step by step because Iranians always want to see the end state, the end game.
CARVER: Do you think that military action against Iran is likely?
MOUSAVIAN: I think this is not very likely because the United States has learned a lot about the military strikes they conducted against Afghanistan and Iraq. As far as I understand, neither the United States nor the Europeans are ready for a third war in the Middle East. And I cannot imagine Israel would go for a unilateral military strike against Iran without U.S. engagement or U.S. backing.
CARVER: And if it were to happen, the effect on the regime would be what?
MOUSAVIAN: If there is a military strike, from either Israelis unilaterally or with Americans, it would be a disaster. On the nuclear issue, I’m convinced Iran would withdraw from the NPT and no one can guarantee then that Iranians would not divert to a nuclear weapon because this would be an existential threat for Iran. And the consequences would engulf the whole region and beyond. This would be catastrophic".
Seyed Hussein Mousavian interviewed by Tom Carver, "An Insiders Account of Iran [Persia] Nuclear Negotiations
." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
29 May 2012, in www.carnegieendowment.org
"Iran has said it will continue to stockpile highly enriched uranium and has ruled out the inspection of a suspect military site in a sign of Tehran’s frustration that concessions on its nuclear programme may not result in relief from international sanctions. Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, said over the weekend that there was “no reason” to end enrichment of uranium at 20 per cent concentration, which is easy to transform to the 90 per cent level needed for a bomb. He had previously indicated that Iran, which insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, could halt production of 20 per cent uranium after enough material was produced for domestic civilian consumption....
Iran’s disappointment comes after its two-day meeting with the European Union and six main powers – the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany – in Baghdad revealed fundamental disagreements between the two sides and ended without progress. Mr Abbasi also said that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, had not yet convinced Tehran why it needed to inspect the Parchin military complex – south-east of Tehran, which the IAEA suspects may have been a site of research related to nuclear weapons development.
“We have no nuclear site in Parchin,” Mr Abbasi stressed.
Iran was believed to have been considering offering access to inspectors prior to the Baghdad talks. Mr Abassi’s comments will deepen the frustration of some western diplomats who believe that it will be difficult to make progress with Iran over its nuclear programme after last week’s two-day meeting in Baghdad. One senior diplomat told the FT he simply did not know whether any progress could be made at the next session of talks in Moscow on June 18 – or whether the process would completely collapse. One factor that allows Iran to maintain its tough stance is that it knows the Obama administration does not want negotiations to collapse before November’s US presidential election. The collapse of the talks would bolster Israeli leaders who believe an attack should take place this summer or autumn.
Iranian analysts believe Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say in all state affairs, has given Iran’s negotiating team greater authority than ever to break the current impasse through a step-by-step approach, while insisting on the country’s right to continue enriching uranium, although at a lower grade. However, Tehran realised in Baghdad that it was being offered spare parts for civilian aircraft in return for conceding an important early bargaining chip: freezing production of more highly enriched uranium. Western diplomats also refused to discuss Iran’s right to enrich lower grade uranium....
Meanwhile, reform-minded politicians fear that if the nuclear talks fail it would empower those inside the regime who insist the US is only interested in regime change in Tehran. One political analyst said that the failed talks would push Iran towards more aggressive policies in the Middle East because “the mentality is language of force needs to be responded by a language of force”. Kayhan daily newspaper, which is the mouthpiece for Iran’s hardliners, said nuclear negotiations with the six powers was like “playing in the enemy’s court” and that it was 'better not to attend the next meeting in Moscow or anywhere else'".
James Blitz & Najmeh Bozorgmehr, "Iran [Persia] defiant on Nuclear Programme." The Financial Times
. 27 May 2012, in www.ft.com.
"There are some other factors in Middle Eastern nationalism which Mr. Fellowes does not mention, but which must be taken into account. The Middle Eastern peoples are excessively subjective, find it difficult to face facts and are unduly swayed by emotion. This is vitally important, particularly when connected with their resentment of Western superority described by Mr. Fellowes and needlessly embitters their relations with the West. Secondly, from short-sightedness, and because politics in the Middle East has always been a lucrative profession, politically-conscious people tend to see political issues in the light of the internal struggle for power. This means that the Middle Eastern statesman often does not consider issues of foreign policy on their own merits but on their bearing on his own political career."
Christopher Gandy, "Observations on Mr. Fellowes' paper 'Nationalisation (sic) and policy in the Middle East'." March 1952, in FO[Foreign Office]371/98244/E1026/1
. PRO, Kew. Copy of original in author's personal archive.
The negotiations in Baghdad last week, between the Western Powers, Russia, China and Persia had unfortunately no positive results. Notwithstanding the positive noises coming out of Tehran, of which Mr. Mousavian comments were part and parcel. As can be seen from the article in Tuesday's Financial Times
, it would appear that the Mullahs in power in Persia have come away from the talks, believing that in the absence of a substantive Western climb-down on the implementation of oil sanctions (due to come into effect by the end of June), that any pour parlers
with the 'six' are worthless and (to quote from the FT story above), Tehran's "mentality is the language of force", pur et simple. How true is this? Outside observers can hardly surmise in any real sense. One can only ascertain what the regime's policies are based upon its behavior and its rhetoric. Which, post-facto to the Baghdad negotiations are unfortunately highly aggressive and not in the least optimistic about the future talks to be held next in Moskva. The Foreign Office's Mr. Gandy from its Eastern Department would not of course have been in the least surprised by this latest development, and nor perhaps should we...With that being said, at this stage there are no substantive alternatives to talking and negotiating with the Persians. However maddening, if not worse they can be at times. To resort prematurely to a policy of force, would be to my mind be a serious erratum. Force may perhaps at a later stage, say in 2013 or later be necessary as a last step, but to employ force prematurely, when hard sanctions have just been imposed seems to be merely a recapitulation of Furst von Bismark's
dictum that the logic of preventative war, is the same logic which requires one to jump out of one's window, for fear of catching the plague. Nothing in the one-hundred plus years since that greatest of all statesman made this statement, has lessened its logic one bit to my mind. The example of the Iraqi debacle being of course the best illustration, if one was needed of the perils of preventative war.