20 Ιουλίου 2014

Ι) Iran, Russia, Gaza: Why They Need to Be Considered Together ΙΙ) What Will Determine a Ceasefire in Gaza ΙΙΙ) The New Thirty Years’ War ΙV) Interview: Will U.S.-Germany Relations Recover?

Iran, Russia, Gaza:
Why They Need to Be Considered Together

In the face of intense, high-profile, and especially fast-moving problems, the decision-making apparatus for foreign policy and national security has a narrow attention span. Limited policy bandwidth becomes even more of a problem than it normally is. The weighing of relevant considerations is subjected to shortcuts. The most difficult problems tend to be viewed in isolation. Just getting through the day or the week without making such a problem even more difficult becomes de facto a national objective.
But even reasonably careful attention to each serious problem, considered more or less separately, is not good enough. Different problems need to be considered together. This does not mean the kind of ethereally broad, grandly synoptic approach that is the subject of so much armchair strategizing and kibitzing. It instead means a mid-range awareness of how the way we handle one current, concrete problem might affect the nature of some other current, concrete problem.
Right now the United States faces in particular three big, important, fast-moving challenges, each of them worthy of whatever front-page space they get. One is the negotiation of an agreement, or likely extension of negotiations, on Iran's nuclear program as the previously established target date for completion of an agreement arrives this weekend. The second is a new negative turn in U.S. relations with Russia, with the imposition of added sanctions against Russia—a situation that would have been a significant challenge even without the major added complication Thursday of the downing of a Malaysian airliner over the rebellious part of eastern Ukraine. The third is the expansion of Israel's assault against the Gaza Strip, with the aerial bombardment that already had been ongoing being supplemented by a ground offensive. Each of these three situations can complicate the other two.
The most obvious candidate for complication concerns how the downturn in relations with Russia might affect the Iran negotiations. Some earlier worries about whether the Russians would continue to cooperate in its role as a member of the negotiating ensemble known as the P5+1 have not materialized. As Alexei Arbatov's excellent description [Iran, Russia, and the Ukrainian Crisis] of Russian interests in Iran points out, Russia does not want to see an Iranian nuclear weapon and in that respect does want to see an agreement that would be the best assurance against the advent of such a weapon. But the anti-Russian sanctions, and possibly any more severe damage to relations stemming from the airliner incident, have changed Moscow's situation and its calculus enough that a continuation of previous Russian behavior cannot be taken for granted. Russian responses can range from greater resistance to the stand that the United States might want to maintain regarding the permitted scale of Iranian uranium enrichment, to larger departures that might amount to Russia making its own separate deal with Iran. None of this need entail an abandonment of the Russian objectives of getting an agreement and not having an Iranian nuclear weapon; there are genuinely held differences of view even within the United States of what constitutes a good agreement and what is the best way to attain it.
The assault on Gaza crisis also can affect the Iranian negotiations, partly because the party conducting the assault also is the principal opponent of any agreement with Iran. Exactly what the effect will be is hard to determine, however. Given the contrived trade-offs that the Netanyahu government often sees in the balance sheet of its relationship with Washington, perhaps U.S. condoning of the assault will imply an understanding that the government of Israel should have that much less latitude in its efforts to sabotage an agreement with Iran. But the effect easily could work the other way. Impunity in getting away with what is happening in Gaza may impart political headiness in Jerusalem and political momentum in Washington that would mean more, not less, Israeli sabotage of an Iran deal. Whatever public distraction and political gain Netanyahu gets at home from the Gaza operation might make it easier for him to brush aside the voices in Israel who realize that an accord limiting Iran's nuclear program would be in Israel's interests and that sour relations with the administration in Washington are not.
An additional, ever-present factor is how the role of the United States as Israel's principal defender and protector against international criticism or condemnation uses up U.S. political and diplomatic capital. The more that Israeli behavior is subject to such criticism, the more U.S. political and diplomatic capital is consumed. That means there is less of it left to spend on other purposes, including holding together a coalition, and holding it together on U.S. terms, in negotiating with Iran. It also means less capital that might be needed to hold the Europeans together in a similar way in confronting Russia over Ukraine. This factor is likely to become increasing important to the extent that a continued Israeli operation in Gaza incurs moral repugnance among populations in European countries whose governments have not as yet clearly condemned the operation.
There are some symmetries among these three challenges, although not necessarily involving all three at once. The imposition of damaging sanctions on Russia is almost an open invitation for Moscow to become less cooperative regarding the damaging sanctions that have been imposed, under U.S. leadership, against Iran. The death toll in Gaza, after the opening shots on Thursday of the Israeli ground offensive, stood at 246. Given the history of past Israeli attacks there, especially Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, it may take only a couple of more days for the number of dead to match the 298 who perished on the Malaysian airliner.
Paul R. Pillar
The National Interest

What Will Determine a Ceasefire in Gaza

Anyone who reads about the carnage in the Gaza Strip and has at least an ounce of humanity is hoping that a ceasefire will come soon. Jodi Rudoren's coverage in the New York Times suggests that current calculations of the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu involve weighing the crippling of the physical ability of Hamas to attack Israel against international condemnation of Israel that is likely to mount as long as the Israeli operation continues. Those considerations are no doubt part of the Israeli government's thinking, but only a part and a rather tactical part at that. In anticipating when Netanyahu and his cabinet will call a halt to the operation, a more strategic view is required—or at least what Netanyahu would consider strategic.
So far Israel has sustained less condemnation than one might think, given that its explanation for the hugely disproportionate civilian casualties its operation has inflicted—that they are a result of Hamas's unprincipled hiding of its military assets among the civilians—patently lacks credibility. The infliction of death and destruction on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip is, as with so many other Israeli military offensives and as with the blockade and economic strangulation of Gaza itself, intended to reduce popular support for whatever group of government Israel happens to be opposing.
The paucity of appropriate condemnation is due first and foremost, as always, to the political pusillanimity of American politicians of both parties [AIPAC Is the Only Explanation for America's Morally Bankrupt Israel Policy] who are more concerned about not jeopardizing their reelection chances by crossing a powerful lobby than about advancing the long-term interests of the Israel they claim to support, let alone the United States they are supposed to serve. Little counterweight to this perpetual tendency is coming from European leaders, who are disinclined to sanction Israel at a moment when they are preoccupied with the latest turn in the Ukraine crisis and have economic reasons to be disinclined to do much about sanctioning Russia [Flight MH17: Europe Unlikely to Enforce Tougher Sanctions on Russia].
There will be a ceasefire after this round of fighting, as there has been after previous Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip. Maybe a ceasefire is a week or so away, which would make Operation Protective Edge about as long as Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, in which some 1400 Palestinians died. Netanyahu does not want to keep mauling Gaza indefinitely, not only because of direct human costs to Israel (which so far consist—quite unlike the far greater Palestinian casualties—almost entirely of soldiers engaged in offensive operations) but also because he does not want to destroy Hamas. Netanyahu needs Hamas. Netanyahu may be blind to how his policies endanger Israel's long-term interests, but he is staunchly committed to the medium-term objective of retaining the West Bank. Having Hamas around as a hated, continually invoked reason never to get serious about negotiating a comprehensive settlement with the Palestinians serves that objective.
As the sequence of events preceding the current round of violence [Asymmetric Warfare in Gaza] makes clear, Netanyahu saw as the biggest threat to that strategy the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the dominant party in the Palestinian Authority. If the agreement held, excuses for not being serious about negotiating a comprehensive peace agreement and establishing a Palestinian state to replace the occupation would become too flimsy to maintain. So Netanyahu did everything he could to destroy the reconciliation, including the mass round-ups of Hamas members and other applications of force that led almost inevitably to the onslaught that followed. Netanyahu was aided and abetted in that strategy by the U.S.-led West, which accordingly shares responsibility for the bloodshed that has ensued. Now Netanyahu's government can continue to make all the familiar claims about how Israel doesn't have a negotiating partner, how half of the Palestinians are ruled by a terrorist group supposedly dedicated to the destruction of Israel, how rockets coming from Gaza show how Israel can never risk ending occupation of the West Bank, etc. etc.
He also can say that Hamas is resisting a ceasefire. Hamas deserves strong criticism for fighting on even when it knows this means the possibility of casualties among innocent Israeli civilians as well as the certainty that significantly more Palestinian civilians will die from Israeli bombs and gunfire. Sometimes it appears that the group forgets there are more important things than its objective of having political power over all Palestinians. But the response by Hamas certainly is not surprising. The Israeli government has succeeded in structuring the situation such that Hamas figures it has nothing to lose by continuing to fight, because it has nothing to gain from not fighting. It tried the peaceful route, by observing a ceasefire in the year and half since the previous ceasefire despite Israeli violations, and by surrendering much of its political power through the reconciliation pact, in which it agreed to support a Palestinian government with no Hamas members and with a commitment to negotiating a peace agreement with Israel. Netanyahu made sure Hamas got no payoff whatsoever for following the peaceful route, and instead paid a price for it.
All that Hamas can now see as in its immediate interests is to try to bolster its popular support and credibility by, as a first choice, holding out for some relief to Gazans from their status as inmates in what amounts to an open-air detention camp. Haunting that pursuit, however, will be the knowledge that after the deal Hamas struck with Israel in November 2012, the ceasefire that was called for did take hold, but the easing of the Israeli blockade of Gaza that also was supposed to occur largely did not—another example of an Israeli disincentive to Hamas to negotiate peacefully. Beyond that is an interest in getting Israel to observe the prisoner exchange deal that it violated by re-arresting hundreds of former prisoners. And if all that fails, there at least is whatever catharsis comes from futile whacks at Israel with a few more rockets or some fighters sneaking through tunnels. The more death and destruction that Israel inflicts on the Gaza Strip, the stronger will be the popular desire for catharsis and revenge.
Unless the underlying issues are addressed, the next ceasefire will not stop this tragic cycle. The stage will be set for another round, when Israel will mow the lawn again. Absent regime change in Israel, the cycle will continue until and unless political leaders in the U.S.-led West summon political courage they have not displayed and acknowledge that the objectives the current Israeli government is pursuing are not in their own country's interests, or even in Israel's.
Paul R. Pillar
The National Interest

Professor Pillar retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the U.S. intelligence community, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Earlier he served in a variety of analytical and managerial positions, including as chief of analytic units at the CIA covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. Professor Pillar also served in the National Intelligence Council as one of the original members of its Analytic Group. He has been Executive Assistant to CIA's Deputy Director for Intelligence and Executive Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster. He has also headed the Assessments and Information Group of the DCI Counterterrorist Center, and from 1997 to 1999 was deputy chief of the center. He was a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution in 1999-2000. Professor Pillar is a retired officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and served on active duty in 1971-1973, including a tour of duty in Vietnam.
He is now a non-resident senior fellow at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies, as well as a nonresident senior fellow in the Brookings Institution's Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence. He was a visiting professor at Georgetown University from 2005 to 2012. He is a contributor to The National Interest.

The New Thirty Years’ War

It is a region wracked by religious struggle between competing traditions of the faith. But the conflict is also between militants and moderates, fueled by neighboring rulers seeking to defend their interests and increase their influence. Conflicts take place within and between states; civil wars and proxy wars become impossible to distinguish. Governments often forfeit control to smaller groups – militias and the like – operating within and across borders. The loss of life is devastating, and millions are rendered homeless.
That could be a description of today’s Middle East. In fact, it describes Europe in the first half of the seventeenth century. In the Middle East in 2011, change came after a humiliated Tunisian fruit vendor set himself alight in protest; in a matter of weeks, the region was aflame. In seventeenth-century Europe, a local religious uprising by Bohemian Protestants against the Catholic Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II triggered that era’s conflagration.
Protestants and Catholics alike turned for support to their co-religionists within the territories that would one day become Germany. Many of the era’s major powers, including Spain, France, Sweden, and Austria, were drawn in. The result was the Thirty Years’ War, the most violent and destructive episode in European history until the two world wars of the twentieth century.
There are obvious differences between the events of 1618-1648 in Europe and those of 2011-2014 in the Middle East. But the similarities are many – and sobering. Three and a half years after the dawn of the “Arab Spring,” there is a real possibility that we are witnessing the early phase of a prolonged, costly, and deadly struggle; as bad as things are, they could well become worse.
The region is ripe for unrest. Most of its people are politically impotent and poor in terms of both wealth and prospects. Islam never experienced something akin to the Reformation in Europe; the lines between the sacred and the secular are unclear and contested.
Moreover, national identities often compete with – and are increasingly overwhelmed by – those stemming from religion, sect, and tribe. Civil society is weak. In some countries, the presence of oil and gas discourages the emergence of a diversified economy and, with it, a middle class. Education emphasizes rote learning over critical thinking. In many cases, authoritarian rulers lack legitimacy.
Outside actors, by what they did and failed to do, added fuel to the fire. The 2003 Iraq war was highly consequential, for it exacerbated Sunni-Shia tensions in one of the region’s most important countries and, as a result, in many of the region’s other divided societies. Regime change in Libya has created a failing state; lukewarm support for regime change in Syria has set the stage for prolonged civil war.
The region’s trajectory is worrisome: weak states unable to police their territory; the few relatively strong states competing for primacy; militias and terrorist groups gaining greater influence; and the erasure of borders. The local political culture confuses democracy with majoritarianism, with elections used as vehicles to consolidate power, not share it.
Beyond the enormous human suffering and loss of life, the most immediate byproduct of the region’s turmoil is the potential for more severe and frequent terrorism – both in the Middle East and emanating from it. There is also the potential for disruption of energy production and shipping.
There are limits to what outsiders can do. Sometimes, policymakers need to focus on preventing things from getting worse, rather than on ambitious agendas for improvement; this is one of those times.
What this calls for, above all, is prevention of nuclear proliferation (beginning with Iran), whether through diplomacy and sanctions, or, if need be, through sabotage and military attacks. The alternative – a Middle East in which several governments and, through them, militias and terrorist groups have access to nuclear weapons and materials – is too horrific to contemplate.
Steps that reduce global dependence on the region’s energy supplies (including improvements in fuel efficiency and development of alternative sources) also make great sense. Economic assistance should go simultaneously to Jordan and Lebanon to help them cope with the flood of refugees. Democracy promotion in Turkey and Egypt should focus on strengthening civil society and creating robust constitutions that diffuse power.
Counter-terrorism against groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (which now calls itself simply the “Islamic State”) – whether by drones, small raids, or the training and arming of local partners – must become a staple of policy. It is time to recognize the inevitability of Iraq’s break-up (the country is now more a vehicle for Iran’s influence than a bulwark against it) and bolster an independent Kurdistan within Iraq’s former borders.
There is no room for illusions. Regime change is no panacea; it can be difficult to achieve and nearly impossible to consolidate. Negotiations cannot resolve all or even most conflicts.
That is certainly true, for the time being, of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Even if this changes, a comprehensive settlement would help the locals but not affect the dynamics of neighboring countries or conflicts. That said, a narrow ceasefire between Israel and Hamas should be pursued.
Likewise, diplomacy can work in Syria only if it accepts the reality on the ground (including the survival of the Assad regime for the foreseeable future), rather than seeking to transform it. The answer is not to be found in drawing new maps, though once populations have shifted and political stability has been restored, recognition of new borders might prove both desirable and viable.
Policymakers must recognize their limits. For now and for the foreseeable future – until a new local order emerges or exhaustion sets in – the Middle East will be less a problem to be solved than a condition to be managed.
Richard N. Haass
Project Syndicate

Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a position he has held for more than a decade. He is the author or editor of twelve books on American foreign policy and one book on management. His most recent book is Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America's House in Order.

Will U.S.-Germany Relations Recover?

Interviewee: Karen E. Donfried, President, German Marshall Fund, USA. Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor.

New allegations of U.S. espionage on its German ally have brought bilateral tensions to a "full boil," explains Karen Donfried, former top advisor for Europe at the National Security Council. But she says that Berlin remains a critical partner across a range of issues, including Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran. "I wouldn't reduce the German-American relationship to the issue of spying," she says. But as both countries look to mend ties, Donfried notes that the dispute over surveillance could remain a stumbling block.
What is the mood in Germany on relations with the Unites States? I saw a recent poll showing that only 38 percent of Germans look favorably on the United States.
There is no question that public attitudes towards the United States among Germans have been soured for over a year now by the spying issues. The first chapter, starting last spring, focused on the National Security Agency's bulk collection of metadata. President Obama actually visited Berlin last June and spoke about it at length at a press conference in the Chancellery.
The second chapter hit last October with allegations that the United States tapped Chancellor [Angela] Merkel's cell phone. And President Obama immediately came out and said, "We are not and will not tap her communications," [but did not deny it had occurred in the past].
Now, we are in the third chapter with the allegations about possible U.S. double agents in Germany. So this is an issue that has been with us for over a year, and it clearly has taken a toll on German public attitudes toward the United States.

And this led to the expulsion of the CIA's top officer in Germany?
Yes, Germany asked the CIA station chief to leave. But it's important to note that, while this is certainly a very damaging issue in the relationship, we shouldn't forget what a critical ally Germany is to the United States and that we're working very closely with Germany on a whole host of other issues.
Secretary of State John Kerry was together last weekend with Foreign Minister [Frank-Walter] Steinmeier in Vienna because of the talks about Iran's nuclear program. We also work very closely on Afghanistan, on Syria; you can go down the list of issues. So I wouldn't reduce the German-American relationship to the issue of spying.

And, of course, Germany is the leading economic power on the continent, and the United States would very much like to get this overall trade and investment treaty accomplished. Where do we stand on that?
The United States and the European Union in 2013 launched negotiations to conclude a Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Germany has been very enthusiastic and supportive of TTIP, but, interestingly, German public attitudes on TTIP have gone quite negative—there has been a bleeding over of the NSA spying issues.
When you look at German attitudes about TTIP, it's a mix of three things. Part of it is upset with the United States—a spectrum of the German public believes the U.S. is trying to use TTIP to force lower standards on Germany—for instance, to force Germans to eat chlorine-bleached chicken and [genetically modified foods.] There is also an anti-globalization element in the German debate, and also an anti-Brussels attitude. Germans complain that the European Union has not been transparent about the negotiations, and [so all of this] is creating a toxic brew among the German public.

But Obama was so popular when he visited Germany as a candidate in 2008.
When Barack Obama went to Berlin as a candidate, hundreds of thousands of people came out to hear him—there was incredible enthusiasm about the Obama presidency, but that clearly has been tempered over time for many reasons.
First, expectations may simply have been too high. But, secondly, there was disappointment that on some of the issues—such as closing down Guantanamo or the use of drones— Obama's policy was not as different as what they'd hoped for.
Thirdly, the spying issue over the past year has taken a toll as well. But there are still a lot of Germans who think that Barack Obama captures what is so special about the United States and the opportunity it presents for people from all kinds of different backgrounds.

U.S.-German relations have had these ups and downs. I'm old enough to remember when President Kennedy gave the speech Berlin in 1963, proclaiming "Ich bin ein Berliner," and there was German enthusiasm for the U.S. after the Berlin Wall went up. And then, of course, there was anger that arose later in Germany during the Vietnam War...
There are always ups and downs in any relationship. And, as we've seen, when Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Steinmeier met together in Vienna, Steinmeier was quoted as saying that the "ties between the United States and Germany are necessary and essential for both of us, and we want to work on reviving the relationship." So there is certainly a commitment on both sides to move past this.
But Angela Merkel also mentioned in a TV interview last Saturday that the U.S. and Germany have fundamentally different views on how to manage spying, so there isn't a ready mechanism to get us past this.

What is the issue holding up a resolution on the spying?
There was an interest last year on the German side to have a no-spy agreement with the United States, but the Obama administration made it clear that the U.S. doesn't have a no-spy agreement with any country, so that would not be an option.
In January of this year, President Obama had a quite significant review of U.S. policy as it relates to the intelligence community, and gave a speech on the 17th where he announced changes to the metadata collection and talked about extending some of the privacy provisions that apply to Americans to foreign nationals. And, interestingly, on that day, the only television interview he did was on German television, showing the fact that he realized how sensitive this issue was.
Then there was, in late June, a meeting of something called the U.S.-German cyber dialogue, which people thought might be one way of moving forward—talking about the role of technology in the 21st century and what that means for surveillance.
So there have been very serious efforts made on both sides to try to resolve this, but certainly the recent allegations brought the issue to a full boil in the relationship again.

That's called the "Five Eyes"—as some people have characterized it, a "lets spy together" agreement. But that's essentially an agreement about intelligence cooperation, not a no-spy agreement.
And it is not at all clear that Germany is interested in joining the Five Eyes arrangement. This has to do with Germany's own relationship to intelligence, surveillance, and even some legal limits on the role Germany can play in that realm.

Για περαιτέρω ιχνηλάτηση και πληρέστερη προοπτική

- Το μέλλον της Ε.Ε, η Ανατολική Ευρώπη -η Ουκρανία- και τα Βαλκάνια, ο Huntington, ο Brzezinski και οι πλανητικές πολιτικές των Η.Π.Α. Τα «Ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα», η «σύγκρουση των πολιτισμών» και τα «Ευρασιατικά Βαλκάνια» ως βαλκανοποίηση της υφηλίου και καλλιέργεια της ελεγχόμενης αναρχίας. Η απόρριψη του διλήμματος μεταξύ πυρηνικού ολοκαυτώματος ή πολιτιστικής ανυπαρξίας - προς μιας νέα ιστορική σύνθεση που θα εναντιώνεται στις θεωρίες και τους υπολογισμούς γραφείου-εργαστηρίου.