Saturday, August 05, 2006

Europe and the US on the Middleast.

Excellent article in The Christian Science Monistor on Why Europe, US differ on Mideast:

"The willingness or refusal to engage your adversaries speaks to a larger difference, and it starts with the fact that the US, and this administration, tend to have a black-and-white view of the world," says Charles Kupchan, professor of American foreign policy at Georgetown University in Washington.

"According to that view, the bad guys are unequivocally Hizbullah, Iran, Syria, the insurgents in Iraq - and they must be defeated. The Europeans," he adds, "especially given their long experience in the Middle East, are much more worried about the knock-on effect of the fighting in Lebanon - or Iraq."

"The Europeans have suffered tremendously with war, so their instinct is to stop the fighting," says Jeswald Salacuse, a specialist in international conflict resolution at Tufts University's Fletcher School in Medford, Mass. "They don't see it resolving a crisis, but exacerbating things."

I think there is a point to be made here: while "the Europeans can't forget their Muslim populations at home and want to demonstrate their leadership potential", [their] "position on the current conflict is not driven by anti-Semitism or even domestic pressures, but by a priority of avoiding civil war in Lebanon".

It seems though that a middle-ground is necessary - pacifism [this blog does not believe in pacifism at all cost] can be as dangerous as warmongering. In fact diplomacy only works well with the threat of force. It is a power game after all. Which is why I think the US and Europe can work well together.
However the current US administration leans too much towards a quick use of force, even if it implies asking questions later and gauging the consequences too late. Their view is too short sighted and they do not seem to learn their lesson very well either (Iraq).
It is good to be reminded of a few sensible principles of the traditional view of a "just war" (based Augustine of Hippo):
  1. just cause (like self-defense)
  2. minimum force (to limit excessive and unnecessary death and destruction)
  3. discrimination (Punitive measures are to be limited to those directly responsible for the conflict.)
  4. proportionality (The overall destruction expected from the use of force must be outweighed by the good to be achieved)
  5. the last resort (Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted.)
  6. the probability of success.
If N°1 and N° can be arguably accepted from Israel's perspective, it seems quite clear that the current war fails the other points, which is why it did not make sense to start it and it does not make sense to continue it.

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