Coward Old Universe…

by Jeremy G.

Archive for the ‘International Willingness’ Category

The end of Palestine?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 27, 2007


Who’s fault is it? That’s an issue that has come up repeatedly. Bret Stephens probably provides the best answer in the Wall Street Journal today, but says little about the future. He only points out a fact that scares a whole lot of people: The very notion of Palestine might have died with Hamas’s coup two weeks ago.

If little is said about the future, it is most certainly because the West finds itself in a very unpleasant situation. First, the U.S., and George W. Bush, who advocated a profound change in Palestinian politics back in 2003, actively participated in Arafat’s estrangement, and was the first – and rightfully so – to denounce Hamas’s win in January 2006. So, back to square one and support for the PA? Strange situation, as Robert Satloff points out.

Next in line in this unpleasant situation is the European Union, who accepted the U.S.’s condemnation – and rightfully so – of Hamas, but must now face the monstrous dilemma it created: Choose between corruption and terrorism, knowing that the first nourishes the second. Voices are speaking out, including this one in France – although with a taint of distasteful moral relativism, as Israel, Iran and Hamas are treated on the very same level, but then again, this is the Quai d’Orsay talking… Now, Europe must deal with decades of inaction in the region. Lebanon, under Syrian rule, was the first issue to blow up in our faces. Palestine is second.

So… Where do we go from now? Historical irony let this period coincide with Blair’s departure from Downing Street. My intuition is that Blair‘s legacy will be openness to act on the international stage, and not accept historical fatalism – although some time will need to fly by before he is actually granted such legacy. It’s almost a shame that his departure coincides with Sarkozy’s arrival, as one would have liked to see how the two men’s international willingness – on the issues of Darfur and the European Construction for instance – would have been combined in practice.

But, in all likelihood, Blair will not disappear, and be named the Quartet‘s Ambassador in the Middle East. Perhaps this will be a way for the West to intervene directly in Palestine, and not let “fate” decide what occurs. And perhaps this will avoid today’s dilemma, because it is reasonable to believe that we – Palestinians included – do not need to choose between corruption and terrorism.


Posted in International Willingness, Middle East, World Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Return of International Willingness?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 10, 2007

In a quite bizarre column last Tuesday in the Washington Post, Op-Ed writer Anne Applebaum recited a eulogy in the memory of New Europe.  Her point is simple: The mere fact that Aznar, Berlusconi and Blair are gone shows the limits of the alliances Bush maintained in Europe, and is yet another sign of failure of this country’s administration in the international realm. 

The argument is not dubious, it’s fallacious.  Applebaum selects the cases that suits her reasoning best, overlooking until the end of the article the most notable cases of Germany and France.  Whereas in 2002 Schröder was elected in Germany on an essentially anti-American agenda to cover his own domestic failures, he was quickly ousted from office only four years later by Angela MerkelNicolas Sarkozy, who never hid his admiration for the United States and the closeness he feels with Israel, left no chance to his competitors in the French presidential elections last month, showing in the process that expressed sympathy for America was not a strategy doomed to failure.  And that’s not saying anything about Tony Blair’s re-election in Great Britain in 2005, in spite of what Applebaum calls the “Iraqi failure”, nor the extraordinary circumstances under which Aznar lost power – Aznar was a favorite until the very end in the first election ever decided by Al Qaeda.

The lesson of all of this?  Europeans are not as dumb as some would hope, and understand far better the real stakes of current international politics, beyond the situation in Iraq.  The ludicrous controversy Putin tried to launch on the issue of the missile defense shield fooled no one in Europe, as the issue of Iran is a widely shared concern throughout the West.  It is hard to understand how Putin’s bluff, that this shield was against his own country, was not brushed away as ridiculous sooner.

The true question is whether or not the US political and intellectual class will have the courage to recognize that the current Bush-bashing, related to this Administration’s inability to take care of Iraq, should not prevent Americans from redefining the rules of international activism.  Should the mess created in Iraq lead us to remain arms crossed on all of today’s inacceptable issues?  Has the Iraqi turmoil discredited any type of political activism for the future, and condemn the US to systematic inaction as the world goes south?

Applebaum‘s conclusion – America’s arrogance is all the more so irrelevant that it could collaborate with Germany and France – is unfounded because Washington can find in Paris and Berlin two fundamental allies to redefine the possibilities for broad and ambitious international missions.  Kouchner‘s nomination should be interpreted as such.  One that would involve signalling to Russia that threatening Western Europe with its missiles is inacceptable could be a start.



The picture is still fuzzy…  But who knows?

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Soudan: Kouchner et Sarkozy, main dans la main?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 1, 2007


Un article du Monde  daté du 31 mai fait état de l’omniprésence peu surprenante du nouveau président français sur tous les terrains qu’auraient occupés exclusivement les ministres respectifs en temps normal.  L’article raconte les frustrations au sein des ministères, et les “leçons” apprises au cours de ces premiers jours, après contractions et rappel à l’ordre venant de l’Elysée.

L’intérêt réel de l’article ne réside pas cependant dans ce qu’il relate – quand on accepte d’être ministre de Sarkozy, on sait à quoi s’attendre et que les méthodes vont changer – mais dans ce qu’il omet: Pas un mot sur la nouvelle tête du Quai d’Orsay, Bernard Kouchner, qui n’a pas été pourtant le plus inactifs des nouveaux ministres, en traitant dès les premiers jours de son mandat les dossiers épineux du Liban et du Soudan.

Mercredi soir, sur RTL, dans l’émission On refait le Monde, Alain Duhamel exprimait des sérieux doutes concernant la possibilité que Koucher ait agi sans concertation avec Sarkozy.  Le Soudan a été l’un des premiers dossiers sur la table de Kouchner, et pendant la campagne électorale même, Kouchner avait participé à une réunion publique sur le Darfour – réunion dont le bien-fondé n’a pas fait unanimité; c’est dire si l’on est loin du sujet consensuel.

Plus généralement, cette cohérence sans faille – jusqu’à maintenant – du tandem n’est pas surprenante.  Rappelons-nous du tout premier discours prononcé par Sarkozy.  Ce n’est pas par hasard qu’il a conclut son discours de la salle Gaveau en mentionnant les valeurs de liberté et de tolérance, les opprimés auprès desquels, a-t-il promis, la France sera.  Il s’agit du signe le plus probant du retour du volontarisme international que la guerre d’Irak a tant mis à mal.  Kouchner – comme Sarkozy probablement – avait refusé d’enterrer ce volontarisme en 2003 au nom du pacifisme.  Les deux hommes semblent se retrouver aujourd’hui sur un dossier et non des moindres: le Darfour, qui pourrait devenir le premier génocide du siècle.

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