Iraq, US Politics

The Small Print

When I first heard that Richard Perle were to step down as chairman of the Pentagon’s defence policy board I wondered whether it is an indication that the ongoing war – including reports about understaffed and underequipped US forces – had given the military in the Pentagon enough clout to force Perle, one of the neoconservative civilian bullies, out after it was reported that he was not only advising the Pentagon (for free) but also a bankrupt U.S. telecommunications company, Global Crossings (for a lot of money).

According to the NYTimes, 600,000 US Dollars of Perle’s overall 725,000 Dollar consulting contract depended on the Pentagon’s agreement to the sale of 61,5% of Global Crossing to a joint venture formed by Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Kashing, and Singapore Technologies Telemedia, a phone company controlled by the government of Singapore. Clearly, the NYTimes was rather modest to ask Perle to

„… choose between the gain and the office…“ –

However, let’s not forget that, until now, the Richard Perles of this world did not care too much about possible shifts in public opinion following reports about apparent conflicts of interests – just look at my post from last Friday, written just before the Perle story broke.

So whatever the inside story of Perle’s resignation is – according to Spiegel Online [link in German] Perle himself claims to be a victim of a media campaign – it does indicate that „the boys“ weren’t willing to publicly back him up given the current „Oh-My-God-These-Iraqis-Actually-Do-Have-
Some-Guns-Left“ public opinion .

But however important this this may seem on the surface, the small print indiactes something else. Perle is not actually giving back his security pass to the Pentagon, according to the NYTimes

„Rumsfeld accepted the resignation and said Perle would remain a member of the Defense Policy Board, a bipartisan group that advises him on a wide variety of policy issues. Its 30 members are largely former government officials, retired military officers and former members of Congress.“

So the only differences to last week will very likely be a U.S. public reassured that U.S. media does still at least somewhat control the executive, and that Perle will keep a lower public profile than in recent months. But then again, getting out of the limelight might very well be to „The Prince of Darkness’s“ liking.

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compulsory reading, Iraq, US Politics

A gruesome In-Between Tuesday.

What a weird day. A day so in-between. Between the announcement of the verdict and its execution. Between the certainty of war and the doubts about its justification.

Watching the media report about the imaginary ultimatum that Bush announced last night was even a bit surreal, especially given Ari Fleischer’s declaration that US forces might enter Iraq even earlier in case Saddam Hussein would clearly state he would not leave Iraq. What does he expect of the Iraqi dictator? A collect call to the White House?

More surreal things have been going on today. Some of the very same EU foreign ministers who met in Brussels to discuss the post-war humanitarian help for Iraq will fly to New York tonight to meet at the Security Council tomorrow in order to discuss the Weapon Inspectors’s disarmament schedule, even though the last weapon inspectors have been flown to Cyprus today. I have to say, this does strike me as slightly shizophrenic.

And it’s risky – imagine the Willing starting to fight during the meeting. Embarrassing doesnt even begin to describe the consequences. But that’s just what might happen if the US should feel the meeting is intended to corner it even further. And what else should it be good for? Oh wait, maybe the Iraq ambassador to the UN, Mohammed A. Aldouri, will use a statement about anthrax-alligations to scare the US forces even further that Iraq could indeed use whatever is left of whatever WMDs it once had. I really can’t see what this meeting is good for. Pictures of sulking foreign ministers in a powerless Security Council will not help anyone, least of all the United Nations. Thus, if war has not started by then, maybe tomorrow will be even more surreal than today.

Earlier, I listened to Tony Blair speak in the Commons. He wasn’t as good as usual, one could literally sense his lack of sleep. But his speech in itself was not all that important. The vote was. And as expected, the British government’s position was confirmed by the House – despite Robin Cook’s applauded resignation. In the end, the rebellion was bigger than last time, but smaller than feared – or hoped for – on either side – 139 Labour MPs dissented. Done. I bet Blair asked Bush to let him get some sleep and see his son before starting the war.

One of the good things of in-between days is that they are a great time to reflect about things. As today was the Iraq-War-In-Between-Day, I thought about the imminent war on Iraq.

My reflections were triggered by a chain email that my good friend Sabina sent me today. It included a link to a site with horrible, gruesome pictures of victims of war. You can find this link at the end of this post.

I am linking to the site because with yet another war looming over our heads and the American forces‘ inclination to „shock and awe“ their enemies, these pictures are an important reminder of the reality of warfare; of the fact that weapons, however intelligent, are intended to destroy and to kill. They are a stark reminder why there so many people oppposed to any military action, for whichever reason.

I am not one of them. In my opinion, there are instances in which war can be necessary despite the horrors it will inevitably inflict on everybody involved, innocent or guilty, old or young. Sometimes, only horror can end horror, if philosphically just or not. The allied invasion to end the nazi dictatorship in Europe is often cited to illustrate this. The US-led NATO attack on Serbian forces ethnically cleansing Kosovo, however ineffective it was or was not, is another. So what about Iraq?

To state that there are possible cases for war inspite of its horrors implies the necessity to explore any possibilty to avoid armed conflict. Not just to go the last mile of diplomacy, but far beyond. I know that this a problematic statement, given that much of what is going on these days is high-profile game theory, and, of course, sometimes threats have to be executed to remain credible.

A few hours ago, Tony Blair was laughed at in the House of Commons when he he made that point by comparing the current situation to the Munich conference of 1938, when the civilised world thought it had appeased Hitler, while all the effort really signalled that the great powers would not care enough to forcefully oppose him. The problem at hand is that both, Blair and those who laughed at him, are right – and wrong.

Of course, it is historically untenable to compare the question of disarmament/regime change in Iraq to Hitler’s aggressive, ideologically rooted expansionism. But, on the other hand, people still react to the incentives they face. And Saddam Hussein has only been forced into cooperation with UNMOVIC because of the credible threat of a war signalled by almost 300.000 US and British troops prepared to march towards Baghdad and use their Daisy Cutters on the way.

But however important the lessons of history are, they do not really tell us about the future. The latter is, indeed, unknown.

Regime change in Iraq is desirable. And I know that some argue that ‚real‘ disarmament is only possible in conjunction with regime change. But given the recent rather positive record of Iraqi cooperation, I believe it was unwise to let the US military calendar determine the political agenda. Even if I accept the possibilty of war as last means, I do not believe that the Weapon Inspector process had arrived at that stage.

However much I agree that Iraq will be better off without the current regime – regardless of the world’s suspicion that the US administration is pursuing a secret agenda of its own – I do not believe that the risks of not fighting this war outweigh the risks of fighting it, especially if one thinks about the days after.

The latter aspect has two finer points. The first one is general – while I believe that it is entirely possible to come to a different conclusion, I don’t believe that violently removing Hussein will jump-start Iraqi democracy. The most promising element of the latter calculation is the demographic srtucture of the middle east: increased alphabetisation and education could indeed have important positive effects. But however young the region may be on average – this is a generational project and so far, no one has offered any convincing reason why ousting Saddam would result in a short cut to modernity for a society in which power is still structured by tribal affiliations, and in which distributional conflicts will in all likelihood result in severe ethnic clashes without strong, and thus likely violent, central control. Moreover, if Iraq is to remain in its current borders (as the US has promised Turkey, which is not too thrilled about the thought of an independent Kurdish state South of the territory inhabited by its own Kurdish minority a majority of which seemed to have at last accepted the idea of living in Turkey, according to one German ARD television correspondent in the area) one opressive regime will likely have to be replaced by another one. But in the end, all that is speculation.

The second finer point I am referring to is of specific nature. Even if I would agree that benevolent ‚colonialism‘ and hierarchical modernisation is the right long-term policy, I do not believe that the current US administration is the one to lead the way. Look at Afghanistan. It may be less violent than during the Taliban-Nothern Alliance war, but outside of Kabul, it’s the Warlords‘ territory again. Take this and the recent diplomatic record of the Bush administration and it will become very difficult to factually support their policy.

Thus, to cut a long story short, in my personal estimation, all this adds up to the conclusion that this war is not (yet?) necessary.

Even NYTimes columnist Thomas Friedman shares this view, but none the less supports the war for he believes in the Western Prometheus, arguing that it is a war of justified choice, albeit not one of necessity. Here, I can’t follow Mr Friedman. Why would anyone choose war if it is not necessary? Even the most adamant hawks would always claim that fighting Saddam is necessary to achieve their argument of the day.

Ironically, Mr Friedman makes this point in order to explain to the American public (and their government) why international support is so important in this case – when he is in fact explaining some of the reasons for the lack thereof. A large part of the global opposition to war believes exactly this – that the Bush administration has chosen a war – without ever really explaining why it is necessary to pay the price, most importantly, in blood.

I believe there’s a lot of moral clarity in this rule of thumb: As long as a war is not really, really necessary, don’t fight it.

And in case anyone is still undecided about the fundamental truth of these last words, check the link my friend Sabina sent me – but I have to warn you with a necessary disclaimer: if you click on this link, be prepared to be shocked to your core by pictures of death inflicted by war. Don’t click on the link if there are kids or any other people looking at your screen who won’t be able to deal with what they will see. I’m *not* kdding here.

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compulsory reading, Iraq

Downing Street, Number 1441

Robin Cook, former British Foreign Minister and since June 2001 Leader of the House of Commons [and in this position the immediate ministerial superior of Ben Bradshaw, the MP in whose Parliamentary office I worked in 2001] resigned from the British cabinet as as a consequence of Tony Blair’s apparent decision to send British troops to war solely based on UNSC resolution 1441 – [from Blair’s reply to Cook’s letter of resignation – ]

„The government is staying true to Resolution 1441. Others, in the face of continuing Iraqi non-compliance, are walking away from it.“

I’m sure he wasn’t referring to Cook with that last sentence, as he is clearly not walking away. Quite to the opposite, he literally rose through the ranks of the House to deliver his resignation speech from the back-benches.

If you have 11 minutes, watch his speech. Actually, watch it even if you don’t have 11 minutes.

Cook eloquently lays out the case for more inspections and against warNow! in what the BBC’s political correspondent Andrew Marr claims was –
„[w]ithout doubt one of the most effective brilliant resignation speeches in modern British politics.“

While I am not too sure what his resignation as well as his speech will mean for tomorrow’s Commons vote on Iraq, I am sure it will have some effect. The Parliamentry opposition against warNow! will likely rally around him as he has pointed out that he is very much committed to a continued Blair leadership of the Labour Party.

Recently, it seeemed that Blair supporters have been able to rally back-bench support for the government’s case given that some OldLabour MPs had speculated a bit too publicly about a possible leadership challenge on the day after.

Cook is offering NewLabour back-benchers a convenient way to show their opposition to Blair’s position on Iraq issue without signalling to the remaining OldLabour faction that they would suppport a leadership challenge. This, the BBC online’s Nick Assinder believes, will not help Tony Blair’s sleep tonight –

„The prime minister, who was not in the chamber, may have felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle as Mr Cook ended with a call for the Commons to stop the war with its vote on Tuesday night.“

I doubt Blair will lose his case tomorrow, but chances are, a majority will clearly depend on Conservative votes. I guess no explanation is needed as to why it is a huge problem for a PM to be backed by the opposition instead of his own Parliamentary party.

But even in case the rebellion will be less pronounced than commentators expect, and even if the war will take a favourable course – I doubt Blair’s decision to invest almost all his political capital into supporting the US government’s case for regime change will ever pay off. Even without a possible future leadership challenge, Blair will never again be the political star he used to be. Governing will be a lot harder for him in the future than it has been before. There will be too many people wanting to cash in the blank cheques he had to sign for support.

I suppose, the days when flashing a personal invitation to Downing Street was in itself an important political property have passed. Certainly interesting times on Whitehall.

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Iraq, US Politics

Tongues Against Terror

Freedom Kissing - Tongues Against Terror

A very European joke I had in mind since I first read about those Congressional „Freedom Fries“… should anyone be interested in a larger version, let me know. I thought it would be a good idea to post it before making fun of the US Supreme Commander would likely make me an enemy combattant and strip me of my human rights. Besides, the next weeks very likely are not going to be too funny, as warNow! will probably begin Tuesday or Wednesday night.

As for those 24 last hours of diplomacy, I still think there’s a slight chance to preserve peace for the time being, peacefully disarm Iraq through UNMOVIC and, most importantly, allow W a face saving withdrawal.

Any second resolution would have to involve a common global threat of military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime – France, Germany, and Russia would have to accept some version of the British bullet point list and commit themselves not only to political support, but also to significant military engagement in a future war, should UNMOVIC not decide at the agreed date that Iraq’s compliance is in the 99th percentile (100% is impossible, as there will always be misunderstandings that could then be used by one party or the other to back their non-agreed-upon actions – recent stories about how the US forged intelligence and how the latest British Iraq dossier has its main origin in a political science paper – don’t get me wrong here, I studied that myself – it’s just that you would assume that MI6 has more resources than a library). Basically, it would involve to credibly back up the European formula of war as last means.

In this case, I believe, it would be hard for Bush and even more so for Blair to renounce this offer. And more time would, first and foremost, allow everyone in the game to reposition themselves and explore new options – apart from Saddam Hussein, given the scrutiny that he is under these days.

So will it happen? I doubt it. Mostly because personal stakes have been now chained so firmly to national positions. Just imagine Schroeder or Chirac trying to explain this to the German or French public. Moreover, if everyone believes that the US would not accept a positive UNMOVIC verdict in the end, US unilateral action would be even worse for global governance than it will be now when everybody can still pretend that resolution 1441 does indeed offer some legal recourse for lonely unilateralists.

So it is very unlikely that tomorrow’s UNSC session will yield something like the strategy I sketched above. But don’t say that diplomacy is dead until it really is.

May the force be with them.

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Iraq, US Politics

Wargames.

Well, it might not be a game for much longer. But for the time being, clicking „next“ on the The Guardian’s interactive strategy map regarding a possible future US(-led?) war on Iraq, will not actually send troops to Baghdad.

I don’t know where The Guardian found the information to put this map together, but it looks like the „take-Baghdad-first“ parachuting strategy has been abandoned.

Quite interesting.

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compulsory reading, US Politics

Some Things, They Never Change…

So someone sent The Observer an email that is rather embarrassing for the Bush administration and even more so for the US agency community. They will probably have to sit down and discuss the meaning of „secret“ after this. And for the media effect, it does not even matter if it’s really true. I doubt there will be any official reply to the alligations. So it will take some decades until we will finally know what really happened – if at all.

What happened – according to the Oberserver’s article

„[t]he disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency – the US body which intercepts communications around the world – and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input. The memo describes orders to staff at the agency, whose work is clouded in secrecy, to step up its surveillance operations ‚particularly directed at… UN Security Council Members (minus US and GBR, of course)‘ to provide up-to-the-minute intelligence for Bush officials on the voting intentions of UN members regarding the issue of Iraq.“

Seriously folks, what’s the story here? The only interesting thing I can see is that a classified email leaked from the NSA, should that actually be the case. As The Observer backs the story somewhat credibly, someone could lose his job and pension over this. But the eavesdropping bit?

Honestly. How surprising is it that the U.S. administration is actually using its intelligence services to gather intelligence about foreign diplomats living on US soil? You’re right. Not at all – as those observed will know and as The Observer finally admits –

„While many diplomats at the UN assume they are being bugged, the memo reveals for the first time the scope and scale of US communications intercepts targeted against the New York-based missions.“

Fair enough. As for previous scale and scope of US eavesdropping on the UN delegations – below are a few paragraphs about the humble beginnings of both the NSA and the UN from James Bamford’s book „Body of Secrets – Anatomy Of The Ultra-Secret National Security Agency“ [taken from pp 21, hardcover edition]. These paragraphs really offer something for everyone, even notorious French-bashers… some things, they really never change. Enjoy.

„On April 25, 1945, as TICOM [Target Intelligence Committee, a predecessor of the NSA ] officers began sloshing through the cold mud of Europe, attempting to reconstruct the past, another group of codebreakers was focused on a glittering party half the earth away, attempting to alter the future.

Long black limousines, like packs of panthers raced up and down the steep San Francisco hills from one event to another. Flower trucks unloaded roses by the bushel. Flashbulbs exploded and champagne flowed like water under the Golden Gate. The event had all the sparkle and excitement of a Broadway show, as well it should have. The man producing it was the noted New York designer Jo Mielziner, responsible for som of the grandest theatrical musicals on the Great White Way. ‚Welcome United Nations‘ proclaimed the bright neon marquee of a downtown cinema. The scene was more suited to a Hollywood movie premiere than a solemn diplomatic event. Crowds of sightseers pushed against police lines, hoping for a brief glimpse of someone famous, as delegates from more than fifty countries [yup, a little bit of diversification has occurred since…] crowded into the San Francisco Opera House to negotiate a framework for a new world order.

But the American delegates had a secret weapon. Like cheats at a poker game, they were peeking at their opponents‘ hands. Roosevelt fought hard for the United States to host the opening session; it seemed a magnanimous gesture to most of the delegates. But the real reason was to better enable the United States to eavesdrop on its guests.

Coded messages between the foreign delegations and their distant capitals passed through U.S. telegrpah lines in San Francisco. With wartime censoship laws still in effect, Western Union and the other commercial telegraph companies were required to pass on both coded and uncoded telegrams to U.S. Army codebreakers. … By the summer of 1945 the average number of daily messages had grown to 289,802, from only 46,865 in February 1943. The same soldiers who only a few weeks earlier had been deciphering German battle plans were now unraveling the codes and ciphers wound tightly around Argentine negotiating points. …

The decrypts revealed how desperate France had become to maintain its image as a major world power after the war. On April 29, for example, Fouques Duparc, the secretary general of the French delegation, compalined in an encrypted note to General Charles de Gaulle in Paris that France was not chosen to be one of the ‚inviting powers‘ to the conference. ‚Our inclusion among the sponsoring powers,‘ he wrote, ‚would have signified, in the eyes of all, our return to our traditional place in the world‘. …

The San Francisco Conference served as an important demonstration of the usefulness of peacetime signals intelligence. … From the very moment of its birth, the United Nations was a microcosm of East-West spying. Just as with the founding conference, the United States pushed hard to locate the organization on American soil, largely to accomodate the eavesdroppers and codebreakers of NSA and its predecessors.“

And now that I have actually written something about the NSA in my blog… I would like to welcome you guys and your computers. Enjoy my posts.

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compulsory reading, Iraq, US Politics

It’s A Fine Line…

between gratefulness and subservience as well as between provoking journalism and tasteless propaganda.

Yesterday, Gentry Lane told me about this report from Normandy, published in the New York Post. The article tells the story of Howard Manoian, an American who participated in the D-day liberation of France in 1944, and has settled there 18 years ago.

On the one hand, the article is telling Mr. Manoian’s personal D-day story – and as so many personal war stories, his story, too, is a reminder of the horrors of war. On the other hand, the author, Steve Dunleavy, is using this powerful tale to denounce France as ungrateful traitor. Unfortunately, Mr. Manoian’s story is not even really representative of Mr. Dunleavy’s ranting – if you read the article, you will realize that almost all of the jingoist rethoric is not between speechmarks. It has leaked out of Mr Dunleavy’s pen.

Today, I find an instapundit.com link to the comment section of Mr. Dunleavy’s article, which features an interesting, and intense discussion of the subjects I mentioned above – the fine lines. Europe will always be grateful for D-day. But the very success of the American attempt to help the torn continent back to its enlightenment roots logically excludes thoughtless subservience.

When it comes to more than words, the difference between gratefulness and subservience becomes a fine line indeed. As for the other fine line, the one between provoking journalism and tasteless propaganda, I recommend you read the comments yourselves. Here are two that indicate the wide range of opinions concerning the article.

February 11, 2003 — As I opened my Post this morning, the anger I’ve felt over these past few weeks reached a total rage when I read Steve Dunleavy’s column from Normandy („Sacrifice,“ Feb. 10). I was born in France, married my wonderful American husband of 41 years in Paris, came to the United States in 1963 and became an American citizen. France can now disappear into the ocean as far as I’m concerned.

Claudette Davison, Brick, N.J.

The twisted logic and blatant antagonism of using the Normandy cemetery as an indictment against French reluctance on Iraq is worthy of Joseph Goebbels. Rather than exploit the dead of a just cause like WWII, why don’t you run a piece about the massive folly of Vietnam? You could show a French military graveyard with the headline: „The French warned us, and we were too arrogant to listen.“

Mark McCarthy, Manhattan

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German Politics, Iraq

Dear Gerhard,

Why can’t you just cut the crap and just tell us what we already know. Now I know you might not have spoken to many ordinary (that is non party-affiliated) people lately to avoid a heavy beating by angry tax payers. So believe me if I’m telling you that, really, everybody in this country knows that,

  • no, German troops will not actively participate in conquering Bagdad. And let’s face it, Donny & Conny & Tommy (Rumsfeld, Rice, Franks…) are most likely rather grateful that the US armed forces will not have to babysit ze Tschermans while trying ot invade Iraq, but
  • yes, Germany (ahm, you) will do pretty much everything else the US ask for to facilitate their (and token British) strike on Saddam’s regime. Yes, we know that includes all the „eventualities“ you still refuse to discuss, especially some sort of involvement of the ABC clearing tanks only deployed in Kuwait for operation Enduring Freedom and those German soldiers in NATO AWACS planes – only „protecting“ NATO territory, of course.

Ple-heease. We know you’ve been „framing the truth“ all along. And yes, even those who voted for you two months ago knew it. But they liked your irredentist behavior. Bashing the rich and powerful is a natural socialist instinct (which, by the way, all too often led to schizophrenia once socialists had become rich and powerful…) and we like some good political entertainment.

But now we know how the story ends and there’s not too much repeat viewing value to it. So can you please save yourself and all others a lot of time by just telling us what we all know?

P.S.: And while you’re about to make some useful decisions, please fire Olaf Scholz (your party’s general secretary who does not believe Germany needs a makeover). I guess you hired him to make yourself look better in comparison. That’s fair enough. And I guess he did not even understand why he got that job… but seriously, that guy is lowering the level of this comparison to levels rarely seen in postwar politics.

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compulsory reading

Suicide terrorism. It’s all about grapes.

This is one of the best scientific insights I have read about this year. And if it weren’t for all the innocent victims of suicide terrorists, it would be really funny, in some sense.

Well, I suppose that most of us have heard about the infamous parts of the Koran in which those dying in Jihad are promised that they would instantly go to Paradise where they would then be pampered by 70 big eyed (eternal!) virgins („huris“) to which they will be married. Given the rigid religious and sexual customs and otherwise poor living conditions in a lot of muslim countries these days, I suppose that the suggestion of such a sensual adventure in heaven will indeed have a certain seductive power for mostly uneducated and indoctrinated youngsters. The fact that the Koran is taken literally by most Muslims does add even more salience. That’s all common knowledge. Well…

Today, I read a review in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of a new book by a German Islam researcher called Christoph Luxenberg (pseudonym, to avoid a Fatwa) who suggests some linguistic interpretations: His book is called „The syro-aramaean interpretation of Koran. A contribution to the decryption of the language of the Koran„.

The reviwer, Wolfgang G. Lerch, suggests that Luxenberg indeed succeeded to make new sense of a lot of Sures by starting from the syro-aramaean etymological roots of Arabic, which, according to the article, was not a fully developed language at the time the Koran was written.

Translations are always a great way to get rid of meaning. As long as everyone is willing to accept that fact and tries to mitigate the consequences by analysing the0 context the problem can possibly be alleviated. But for a lot of Muslims in many islamist countries, and especially their more knowledgeable leaders, interpreting the Koran is religiously inacceptable (as it would likely begin to 0undermine conservative leadership structures and their justification.) The problem is, that we all have to bear the consequences of their unwillingness.

Since, as Mr Luxenberg shows, if correct, it’s not all about girls, but all about grapes. In syro-aramaean „hur“ means „white grapes“. And following the syro-aramaean interpretation, the Koran says that in Paradise there’s a lot of them. Good food for hungry dead warriors. But over time, the syro-aramaean roots appear to have been forgotten about (or that was politically engineered), and thus the virgin „huris“ became the uncontested way to read the Koran.

Too bad for all of us, for I don’t think there would be as many eager young guys with an overload of testosterone blowing themselves up for grapes. I am very interested in the islamic public’s reception of this interpretation.

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German Politics, Germany, Iraq, Political Theory, US Politics, USA

A deeper rift? Some context…

Firstly, a noteworthy article by Robert Kagan concerning the fundamental policy-style differences between Europe and the US, published in May in the Washington Post.

Secondly, The Economist’s analysis of these differences. Thirdly, a paper called „Mutual Perceptions“ by Peter Rudolf of the German Institute for Foreign and Strategic Policy (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Berlin), presented at a conference of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies on Sept. 10, 2002.

Some key quotes from the latter :

„The American and the European publics, including the German public are also not so far apart in their view of the world. They do not live on different planets, the one on Mars, the other on Venus, as Robert Kagan`s now famous dictum says. Looking at the collective preferences on both sides of the Atlantic, we are no way drifting apart. In their majority, Americans and Europeans do share a positive view of international institutions, Americans are more multilateral than unilateral oriented; Europeans, even Germans, are by far less opposed to the use of military force, although they are inclined to support it for humanitarian purpose and for upholding international law. Although the use of military means for combating terrorism finds support among a majority of people across Europe, the preferred measures to combat terrorism lie – to a greater extent than among Americans – in the economic realm: in helping poor countries to develop their economies. Thus, Americans and Germans do not live on different planets but those neoconservatives do, those – to quote former President Carter – „belligerent and divisive voices“ now seemingly dominant in Washington, those whose vision of America`s role in the world implies a basic strategic reorientation of American foreign policy. Using the dramatically increased perception of vulnerability to asymmetric threats and instrumentalizing the „war on terror“ as the legitimizing principle, the hegemonic – or better: the imperial – wing of the conservative foreign policy elite effectively dominated the political discourse and left its imprint on a series of decisions..“ (p. 2)

„Should the neoconservatives succeed in turning the United States into a crusader state waging so-called preventive wars, German-American relations will head to further estrangement. If the current debate on Iraq is indicative of things to come, the expectation of American neoconservatives that their European allies will in the end jump on the bandwagon might be disappointed, at least in the German case. In their despise of their irrelevant amoral European allies and in their overconfidence in American hard power resources, they simply ignore the value dimension of the current transatlantic conflicts. It is a conflict about different visions of world order.“ (p. 6)

Lastly, for those who can read German, another SWP study – „Preventive war as solution? The USA and Iraq.“ For those who don’t read German, the footnotes are a remarkable collection of mostly English language documents concerning the intra-US-administrative discussion as well as the international one. I’ll probably post some key references later.

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