DOCTRINAIR FORCE ONE:

November 28, 2005

Bush to Asia: Freedom is More than Markets (Dan Blumenthal, Thomas Donnelly, November 28, 2005, Washington Post)

Obscured by the unblinking spotlight on Iraq, the most significant strategic development of President Bush’s second term is occurring in the shadows. If it can overcome the well-entrenched yet outdated policies of the past, the Bush Doctrine may be coming to East Asia, and the mere possibility is making foreign policy realists run the way the citizens of celluloid Tokyo used to run from Godzilla or the giant winged Mothra.

The president’s just-concluded Asian trip bore signs that his devotion to democracy is beginning to shape American strategy beyond the “greater Middle East,” calling into question the policy of economic engagement and the belief in the democratizing power of free trade that Washington has followed up until now. And military preparations are underway to give substance to the rhetoric of liberty. [...]

The rhetoric and the realignment have alarmed some traditional Asian hands, who have invested decades in a policy of engagement. A recent New York Times editorial reflected the concern, fretting that the “Bush administration has been going out of its way to build up its military ties with countries surrounding China.” Leaving aside the editorial’s assertion that the “two most troubling” examples of Bush’s alliance-building are the region’s two most powerful democracies–Japan and India–what is the alternative? Would the engagement crowd favor a unilateral approach to counterbalancing China’s power? Does anyone really mean we should move out of the way and let authoritarian China become the dominant power in Asia?

Many foreign policy realists and Asia hands take China’s view that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is worrisomely nationalistic. But in Bush’s view, Koizumi is a longtime ally with “common values, common interests, and a common commitment to freedom,” as he said in his Kyoto speech. These are the same words Bush used this past July in a summit with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which Bush’s critics also faulted. Never mind the potential for a broad strategic partnership, the critics said, India is not committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Yes, but like Japan, India is more likely part of the solution in Asia, rather than the problem.

A reshaping of the U.S. defense relationship with Japan has been in the works for more than a decade. The United States will reposition its forces and base a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in a Japanese port when the non-nuclear USS Kitty Hawk is retired from active service. The United States and Japan will also work together more closely on common security concerns.

This new combination of Bush Doctrine rhetoric and military reposturing represents more than a hedge against the traditional American approach to the region, particularly when it comes to dealing with Beijing.

While China’s inevitably going to arrive at the End of History, it would be irresponsible not to be prepared to squash them in the meantime and un-American not to keep pushing them in the right direction.


THE REALIST DIVORCE FROM REALITY:

November 28, 2005

BREAKING RANKS: What turned Brent Scowcroft against the Bush Administration? (JEFFREY GOLDBERG, 2005-10-31, The New Yorker)

Scowcroft is a protégé of Henry Kissinger—he was his deputy when Kissinger was Richard Nixon’s national-security adviser. Like Kissinger, he is a purveyor of a “realist” approach to foreign policy: the idea that America should be guided by strategic self-interest, and that moral considerations are secondary at best. [...]

The war began on January 16, 1991. An air campaign that lasted five weeks greatly weakened Iraq’s military capabilities. On February 24th, General Schwarzkopf, the commander of American and allied forces, unleashed a ground attack that quickly turned into a rout; the Iraqi Army collapsed, and its soldiers fled Kuwait on foot. The road to Baghdad was clear, but, on Bush’s instruction, the Americans did not take it. Although Bush had publicly compared Saddam to Hitler, the goal was never to liberate Iraq from his rule. “Our military didn’t want any part of occupying that big Arab country, and the only way to get Saddam was to go all the way to Baghdad,” James Baker told me recently.

Afterward, Bush was criticized for the decision to end the ground war at its hundredth hour. Even some officials of the Administration were unhappy at what they saw as a premature end to the fighting. In “Rise of the Vulcans,” James Mann recounts that Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis Libby, who were then aides to Cheney, believed that a coup d’état might have occurred had the Bush Administration waited to announce that the war was over.

At the time, though, no one close to Bush expressed doubts about the ending of the war, much less about its strategic goal. “For a bunch of years, a lot of people who should know better have said that we had an alternative,” Powell told me. “We didn’t. The simple reason is we were operating under a U.N. mandate that did not provide for any such thing. We put together a strong coalition of Gulf states, and Egypt and Syria, and they signed up for a very specific issue—expelling Iraq from Kuwait. Nor did President Bush ever consider it.”

A principal reason that the Bush Administration gave no thought to unseating Saddam was that Brent Scowcroft gave no thought to it. [...]

Rice’s conversion to the world view of George W. Bush is still a mystery, however. Privately, many of her ex-colleagues from the first President Bush’s National Security Council say that it is rooted in her Christian faith, which leads her to see the world in moralistic terms, much as the President does. Although she was tutored by a national-security adviser, Scowcroft, who thought it intemperate of Ronald Reagan to call the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” she now works comfortably for a President who speaks in terms of “evildoers” and the “axis of evil.”

Rice’s split with her former National Security Council colleagues was made evident at a dinner in early September of 2002, at 1789, a Georgetown restaurant. Scowcroft, Rice, and several people from the first Bush Administration were there. The conversation, turning to the current Administration’s impending plans for Iraq, became heated. Finally, Rice said, irritably, “The world is a messy place, and someone has to clean it up.” The remark stunned the other guests. Scowcroft, as he later told friends, was flummoxed by Rice’s “evangelical tone.”

Scowcroft told me that he still has a high regard for Rice. He did note, however, that her “expertise is in the former Soviet Union and Europe. Less on the Middle East.” Rice, through a spokesman, said, “Sure, we’ve had some differences, and that’s understandable. But he’s a good friend and is going to stay a good friend.”

Yet the two do not see each other much anymore. According to friends of Scowcroft, Rice has asked him to call her to set up a dinner, but he has not, apparently, pursued the invitation. The last time the two had dinner, nearly two years ago, it ended unhappily, Scowcroft acknowledged. “We were having dinner just when Sharon said he was going to pull out of Gaza,” at the end of 2003. “She said, ‘At least there’s some good news,’ and I said, ‘That’s terrible news.’ She said, ‘What do you mean?’ And I said that for Sharon this is not the first move, this is the last move. He’s getting out of Gaza because he can’t sustain eight thousand settlers with half his Army protecting them. Then, when he’s out, he will have an Israel that he can control and a Palestinian state atomized enough that it can’t be a problem.” Scowcroft added, “We had a terrible fight on that.”

They also argued about Iraq. “She says we’re going to democratize Iraq, and I said, ‘Condi, you’re not going to democratize Iraq,’ and she said, ‘You know, you’re just stuck in the old days,’ and she comes back to this thing that we’ve tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth,” he said. Then a barely perceptible note of satisfaction entered his voice, and he said, “But we’ve had fifty years of peace.”

Tell it to an Israeli, a Marsh Arab, a Kurd, a Kuwaiti….


pROTESTANTIZING ISLAM:

November 28, 2005

“There is a Real Fear of Radical Imams” (Der Spiegel, 11/28/05)

The recent riots across France have raised new questions about the integration of immigrants into European society. Muslims have faced particular scrutiny following terrorist attacks in Spain and Britain. SPIEGEL ONLINE interviewed Jytte Klausen, the author of a new book looking at the challenges from the perspective of European Muslim leaders. [...]

SPIEGEL: Some countries, like Germany, are already taking steps to foster the growth of a so-called “Euro-Islam” and you mention in the conclusion to the book that you believe this European Islam is emerging. How would you characterize it?

Klausen: The revolutionary new Islam is what is called Islam of the Book, and it is based very much on an individual’s own readings of the Koran, on each person sitting down as part of a prayer group and figuring out what Islam means to them. Usually there is no imam, and everybody has the same relationship to Islam because they can all read the text. That is already the Islam of Europe, the Islam of the next generation, the inter-ethnic Islam. It is all about a textual reading of the Koran, in local languages, and there are broad variations of interpretation, everything from neo-orthodox understandings where people say: “I must wear the hijab, because that’s what the book tells me.” Other groups say: “There is nothing in the Koran which tells women they must wear a hijab, only that both men and women should be dressed modestly.” I think what is important is that when European governments step in and try and resolve issues around Islam, that they are attuned to this diversity, that they do not just work with traditionalists, because if they do, then we are going to short-change that new thinking which is going on and which should be stimulated and encouraged.

What’s important is that if you recognize the bases of Western Civilization you can Reform Islam so that it conforms to them.

MORE:
Non-Christian clerics urge the Kirk to push religious teaching in schools (EDDIE BARNES, 11/27/05, Scotland on Sunday)

HINDU and Muslim leaders are urging the Kirk to boost religious teaching in schools in order to counter the “secular society”.

David Lacy, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said senior clerics from other faiths were now telling him to offer a more “strident” view of Christian beliefs, in order to provide young people with more moral teaching.

The non-Christian leaders added that the Kirk had been “too concerned” with being inclusive at the expense of laying down its own beliefs in schools.

The surprising calls come with religious communities preparing to mark Scottish Inter Faith Week from today, in which the links between the country’s main faiths will be celebrated.

Their leaders will present the Scottish Parliament with a framed compilation of quotes from their respective scriptures which support the values engraved on the Scottish Mace.


PAGING DAVID CAMERON (via Robert Schwartz):

November 27, 2005

Brussels publishes list of first seven pan-European crimes (Anthony Browne, 11/24/05, Times of London)

The ruling means that for the first time in legal history, a British government and Parliament will no longer have the sovereign right to decide what constitutes a crime and what the punishment should be.

The highly controversial announcement, made possible by a European Court of Justice ruling in September, would represent a huge transfer of power from national capitals to the EU. At present member states jealously guard their right to decide what constitutes a criminal offence, and when their citizens should be fined, imprisoned or given criminal records.

The Commission suggested several other offences, including racial discrimination and intellectual property theft, which could become European crimes in the future. It will also set out the level of penalty, such as length of prison sentence, that would apply to each crime.

The announcement is strongly opposed by Britain and many other member states. The Commission is using powers granted by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the EU’s supreme court, and governments fear that there is little they can do to prevent it. The court ruled that the EU had the right to require member states to create criminal offences, and could dictate the length of prison sentences.

The case before the court in September applied only to environmental law, but the Commission says it means that it can create criminal penalties to enforce the entire body of EU law. A Commission statement said that the court’s reasoning can be applied “to all Community policies and freedoms which involve binding legislation with which criminal penalties should be associated in order to ensure their effectiveness”.

The Tories can break Labour, Europe or both if they use this well.


AT THE BOTTOM OF THAT MINE LIES A SMALL, SMALL MAN:

November 25, 2005

Syria caves in to UN over Beirut murder (Tim Butcher, 26/11/2005, Daily Telegraph)

Syrian defiance of the United Nations inquiry into the killing of a former Lebanese prime minister collapsed last night as Damascus agreed to give up five senior regime members to be interviewed in Vienna by UN investigators.

Damascus had earlier refused to obey UN demands for its senior figures to be interviewed outside Syria and on Thursday the foreign minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, publicly criticised the chief UN investigator, Detlev Mehlis.

But faced with threats of UN sanctions unless it co-operated, Syria capitulated.

Thanks, Kofi.


YUP, IT'S HAPPENING IN COMPLETE ISOLATION…:

November 25, 2005

Unfamiliar questions in the Arab air: As al-Qaeda scores own-goals in its backyard, many Arabs, including some Iraqis, are beginning to rethink their position on violence in the name of resistance (The Economist, Nov 24th 2005)

The global al-Qaeda franchise, whose Iraqi branch claimed responsibility for the Amman atrocity, has scored many own-goals over the years. The carnage in such Muslim cities as Istanbul, Casablanca, Sharm el-Sheikh and Riyadh has alienated the very Muslim masses the jihadists claim to be serving. By bringing home the human cost of such violence, they have even stripped away the shameful complacency with which the Sunni Muslim majority in other Arab countries has tended to regard attacks by Iraq’s Sunni insurgent “heroes” against “collaborationist” Shia mosque congregations, funeral processions and police stations.

In Amman, al-Qaeda’s victims included not only Mr Akkad and his daughter Rima, a mother of two, but also dozens of guests at a Palestinian wedding. The slaughter of so many innocents, nearly all of them Sunni Muslims, in the heart of a peaceful Arab capital, inspired a region-wide wave of revulsion. Far from being perceived now as a sort of Muslim Braveheart, the man who planned the attack, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, may be the most reviled person in Jordan, the country of his birth. His own tribe, which had previously taken some pride in its association with the Iraqi resistance, has publicly disowned him. Tens of thousands of Jordanians have taken to the streets of Amman to denounce terrorism. Opinion polls, which had previously shown Jordanians to be at best ambivalent about jihadist violence, now show overwhelming distaste for it (see tables).

Similar changes in attitude have overtaken other Arab societies. Some 150,000 Moroccans marched in Casablanca earlier this month to protest against al-Qaeda’s threat to kill two junior Moroccan diplomats kidnapped on the road to Baghdad. The execution by Mr Zarqawi’s men of two Algerian diplomats and the Egyptian chargé d’affaires in Iraq earlier this year aroused similar indignation in their home countries. Two years of bloody jihadist attacks in Saudi Arabia have rudely shaken the once-considerable sympathy for radical Islamism in the conservative kingdom. A top Saudi security source reckons that 80% of the country’s success in staunching violence is due to such shifts in public feeling, and only 20% to police work. [...]

Noteworthy in all these subtle shifts is the fact that they are, by and large, internally generated. Few of them have come about as a result of prodding or policy initiatives from the West.

Which is like arguing that because the Counter-Reformation was internal to the Catholic Church it was not a product of the Reformation.


THE CALLING FROM BEYOND THE STARS:

November 25, 2005

The Author of Liberty: Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy (John B. Judis, Fall 2005, Dissent)

Since the country’s founding, Americans have invoked the Bible and Christian, often specifically Protestant, beliefs to explain their role in the world. Presidents from John Adams and Andrew Jackson to Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan attributed America’s role to “Providence” or “Destiny.” In his inaugural address, Adams thanked an “overruling Providence which has so signally protected this country from the first.” During the Second World War, Roosevelt told Congress, “We on our side are striving to be true to [our] divine heritage.”

Many high officials have invoked an American “mission” or “calling” to “further freedom’s triumph.” Woodrow Wilson saw America’s leadership in the new League of Nations as leading to the “liberation and salvation of the world.” During the 1960 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon said that America had come “into the world 180 years ago not just to have freedom for ourselves, but to carry it to the whole world . . . ” And in his second inaugural, Reagan described Americans as “one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.”

In short, many presidents before Bush have invoked religious concepts or quoted the Bible to justify or explain a foreign policy dedicated, they claimed, to the spread of freedom and democracy. [...]

Religion has entered into Americans’ thinking about foreign policy primarily by framing how Americans understand their role and responsibilities in the world. There are three key components of this framework.
The first is the idea of America as God’s “chosen nation”—from Abraham Lincoln’s “the last, best hope of earth” to Madeleine Albright’s “indispensable nation,” to George W. Bush’s claim that the United States has “a unique role in human events.” The second is the idea that America has a “mission” or a “calling” to transform the world. God, Senator Albert Beveridge declared during the debate over the annexation of the Philippines, had “marked the American people as His chosen nation to . . . lead in the redemption of the world.”

The third component of the framework is the idea that the United States, in carrying out its mission, represents the forces of good against those of evil. William McKinley’s secretary of state, John Hay, described the Indian wars as “the righteous victory of light over darkness . . . the fight of civilization against barbarism.” In 1942, Roosevelt warned that in the war with Germany and Japan, “There never has been—there never can be—successful compromise between good and evil.” Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as “the evil empire.” And George W. Bush declared at West Point in May 2003, “We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name.”

The specific terms of this framework—exactly what kind of world Americans want to create and exactly who stands in the way—have changed over the last two and a quarter centuries. The first generation of Americans, for instance, saw themselves creating what Thomas Jefferson called an “empire of liberty” against the opposition of Old World tyranny; Jacksonian Democrats wanted to build a continental Christian civilization against the opposition of “red demons”; Theodore Roosevelt’s generation envisioned the spread of Anglo-Saxon civilization against the opposition of barbarians and savages; and Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and their successors wanted to create a global democratic order against the opposition, first, of imperial Germany, then of fascism, and then of communism. [...]

In addition to its formulation in explicitly religious terms, the framework is religious in two other important ways. First, it is specifically rooted in the Protestant millennialism that was brought to America from England in the seventeenth century. The English Puritans originally believed that England was to be the “new Israel”— the site of the millennium and of the climactic battle of Armageddon predicted in the Book of Revelation. After the collapse of Oliver Cromwell’s revolution in 1658, they transferred their hopes to the New World. New England, Cotton Mather wrote in 1702, is “the spot of Earth, which the God of Heaven spied out as the center of the future kingdom.” Jonathan Edwards, the leading figure of the Great Awakening of the 1740s, predicted that “the dawning, or at least the prelude, of that glorious work of God . . . shall begin in America.”

In the late eighteenth century, America’s founders transformed this biblical millennialism into what historian Nathan Hatch has called America’s “civil millennialism.” They translated Protestant millennialist doctrine into the language of American nationalism and exceptionalism. The chosen people—whom Edwards and Mather had identified with the Visible Saints of New England’s Congregational churches—became the citizens of the United States; and the hopes for New England were transferred to the new United States, which, Thomas Barnard declared, “are now His vineyard.” The millennium became a thousand-year-reign of religious and civil liberty where, in Timothy Dwight’s words, “Peace and right and freedom greet the skies.” And the adversary became English tyranny and an Old World Catholicism that was trying to destroy “the church in the wilderness.”

Second, Americans approached these grand objectives, and the obstacles that seemed to stand in their way, with a religious mentality, characterized by an apocalyptic outlook characteristic of seventeenth-century Protestant millennialism.

Indeed, America’s wars fit on a simple continuum, from the wars against aboriginals and the Brits to establish our own republic of liberty to the wars against imperialists, Nazis, Communists and now Islamicists to help preserve or establish such republics for others. It is the argument of


THE NOOSE AROUND THE ARABS:

November 25, 2005

Turkey and Israel start defense cooperation (Hurriyet, 11/25/05)

Turkey and Israel have commenced their defense contract cooperation with a ceremony to mark the joint production of upgraded M60A1 tanks for the Turkish military. The ceremonies held at Kayseri, the site of the new production line, were attended by top Turkish and Israeli officials on Tuesday. There was some initial tension over the delay of the contract by Israel, as it conducted field tests on technologies needed for the upgrade, however this seems to have been solved.

The program will cost $688 million and calls for the upgrade of 170 M60 tanks to front-line condition based on advanced technologies and systems developed for Israel’s Merkava main battle tank. Israel committed to transferring to Turkey a significant amount of technology needed to ensure efficient in-country conversion and production of the modernized platforms, under the contract concluded by the two governments in 2002.


FOR ITS OWN SAKE:

November 25, 2005

Capital monuments (Charles Krauthammer, Nov 25, 2005, Townhall)

[W]ashington has a second distinction, more subtle and even more telling about the nature of America: its many public statues to foreign liberators. I’m not talking about the statues of Churchill and Lafayette, great allies and participants in America’s own epic struggles against tyranny. Everybody celebrates friends. I’m talking about the liberators who had nothing to do with us. Walk a couple of blocks from Dupont Circle at the heart of commercial Washington, and you come upon a tiny plaza graced by Gandhi, with walking stick. And perhaps 100 yards from him, within shouting distance, stands Tomas Masaryk, the great Czech patriot and statesman.

Masaryk, in formal dress and aristocratic demeanor, has nothing in common with the robed, slightly bent Gandhi with whom he shares the street except that they were both great liberators, and except that they are honored by Americans precisely for their devotion to freedom.

Farther up the avenue stands Robert Emmet, the Irish revolutionary, while one block to the west of Masaryk looms a massive monument to a Ukrainian poet and patriot, Taras Shevchenko. And then gracing the avenues near the Mall are the Americans: great statues to Central and South American liberators, not just Juarez and Bolivar but even the more obscure, such as General Jose Artigas, father of modern Uruguay.

Discount if you will (as fashionable anti-Americanism does) the Statue of Liberty as ostentatious self-advertising or perhaps a relic of an earlier, more pure America. But as you walk the streets of Washington, it is harder to discount America’s quiet homage to foreign liberators — statues built decades apart without self-consciousness and without any larger architectural (let alone political) plan. They have but one thing in common: They share America’s devotion to liberty. Liberty not just here but everywhere. Indeed, liberty for its own sake.

America has long proclaimed this principle, but in the post-9/11 era, it has pursued it with unusual zeal and determination. Much of the world hears America declare the spread of freedom the centerpiece of its foreign policy and insists nonetheless that America’s costly sacrifices in Iraq and even Afghanistan are nothing more than classic imperialism in search of dominion, oil, pipelines or whatever such commodity most devalues America’s exertions. The overwhelming majority of Americans refuse to believe that. Whatever their misgivings about the cost and wisdom of these wars, they know how deep and authentic is the American devotion to liberty.

Many around the world find such sentiments and the accompanying declarations hard to credit. Europeans, in particular, with their long tradition of realpolitik, cannot conceive of a Great Power actually believing such hopeless idealism.

Likewise, who else but the Anglospheric nations, the Poles, and the notably pre-Revolutionary French who helped us win our Revolution, have many of their soldiers buried in the soil of nations they helped to win their liberty? The singular fact about the crusade to democratize the Middle East — the one that neither the Left nor the far Right — can reckon with is that it is entirely consistent with our history.


SURE THE REGIME IS EVIL, BUT WHAT DO THE OTHER EVIL REGIMES SAY WE SHOULD DO?:

November 24, 2005

America and Europe should listen to a whispered message from Isfahan: Visiting Iran, I found a regime wedded to violence and a society eager for peaceful change. We must address both (Timothy Garton Ash, November 24, 2005, The Guardian)

If you see it at first hand, you will have no doubt that this is a very nasty and dangerous regime. I will never forget talking in Tehran to a student activist who had been confined and abused in the prison where Iranian-Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi was beaten so severely that she later died of her wounds. Half the Iranian population are subjected to systematic curtailment of their liberty simply because they are women. Two homosexuals were recently executed. The backbone of the political system is still an ideological dictatorship with totalitarian aspirations: not communism, but Khomeinism. The Islamic republic’s new, ageing-revolutionary president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a subordinate but still important part of that power structure, has just revived Ayatollah Khomeini’s call to wipe Israel off the map. According to an official spokesman, some 50,000 Iranians have signed up in a recruitment drive for “martyrdom-seeking operations”. Elements connected to the regime have almost certainly supplied weapons across the frontier into southern Iraq, where they are used to kill British soldiers. And, yes, the mullahs probably are trying to get nuclear weapons.

So, as this argument about Iran develops, let’s have none of those confused and/or dishonest apologetics on the European left that, out of hostility to American policy, try to pretend that the other side (Pol Pot, Brezhnev, Saddam) is not half as bad as Washington says it is. Taking our lead from George Orwell, it’s entirely possibly to maintain that Saddam Hussein ran a brutal dictatorship and that the invasion of Iraq was the wrong way to remove him. Now it’s right to say that the Iranian mullahs run a very nasty regime and that it would be a huge mistake to bomb them.

For the second thing you find if you go there is that many Iranians, especially among the two-thirds of the population who are under 30, hate their regime much more than we do. Given time, and the right kind of support from the world’s democracies, they will eventually change it from within. But most of them think their country has as much right to civilian nuclear power as anyone else, and many feel it has a right to nuclear arms. These young Persians are pro-democracy and rather pro-American, but also fiercely patriotic. They have imbibed suspicion of the great powers – especially Britain and the United States – with their mother’s milk. A wrong move by the west could swing a lot of them back behind the state. “I love George Bush,” one young woman told me as we sat in the Tehran Kentucky Chicken restaurant, “but I would hate him if he bombed my country.” Or even if he pushed his European allies to impose stronger economic sanctions linked to the nuclear issue alone.

Our problem is that the nuclear clock and the democracy clock may be ticking at different speeds. To get to peaceful regime change from within could take at least a decade, although president Ahmadinejad is hastening that prospect as he sharpens the contradictions within the system. Meanwhile, the latest US intelligence assessment suggests that Iran is still a decade away from acquiring nuclear weapons. But significant, non-military action to prevent that outcome clearly has to come sooner; for as soon as dictators have nukes, you’re in a different game. Then, as we have seen with North Korea and Pakistan, they are treated with a respect they don’t deserve.

This is where we need to hear the other half of the message from my friend in Isfahan: stick together and be consistent. If Europe and America split over Iran, as we did over Iraq, we have not a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving our common goals. To be effective, Europe and America need the opposite of their traditional division of labour. Europe must be prepared to wave a big stick (the threat of economic sanctions, for it is Europe, not the US, that has the trade with Iran) and America a big carrot (the offer of a full “normalisation” of relations in return for Iranian restraint). But the old transatlantic west is not enough. Today’s nuclear diplomacy around Iran shows us that we already live in a multipolar world. Without the cooperation of Russia and China, little can be achieved.

Perhaps it’s as easy to differentiate us as Mr. Garton Ash makes it: to be a transnationalist is to be willing not to do the right thing if France, Germany, Russia or China opposes doing so.


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