L’Irak (…) pourrait être l’un des grands succès de cette administration. Joe Biden (10.02.10)
Comme Obama est déjà en train de le découvrir, tout président s’essayant au 21ème siècle à une grande stratégie à la Jefferson doit faire face à de nombreux défis. A l’apogée de la politique extérieure jeffersonienne dans la politique américaine du 19ème siècle, il était plus facile pour les présidents américains de limiter les engagements du pays. La Grande-Bretagne jouait alors un rôle sur la scène mondiale semblable à celui des Etats-Unis aujourd’hui, fournissant à tous un environnement sûr et stable et favorisant le commerce et les investissements internationaux. Profitant gratuitement du système mondial britannique permettait aux Américains de retirer les avantages de l’ordre mondial britannique sans en assumer les coûts. Mais lorsque la puissance britannique s’affaiblit au 20ème siècle, les Américains durent faire face à des choix autrement plus difficiles. L’Empire britannique n’étant plus capable de fournir à l’ensemble du monde la sécurité politique et économique, les Etats-Unis se virent contraints de choisir entre remplacer la Grande-Bretagne comme point d’ancrage de l’ordre mondial avec toutes les tracasseries que cela impliquait et faire avec dans un monde de désordre. Walter Russell Mead
En dernière analyse, ce que nous laisserons et comment nous partirons sera plus important que la manière dont nous sommes venus. Ryan Crocker (ex-ambassadeur américain en Irak)
En cette veille, sept ans après une guerre dont personne ne voulait, d’une nouvelle et toujours aussi rare élection libre au cœur même du Moyen-Orient …
Au terme de ce que même ses plus farouches opposants sont obligés (jusqu’à, comme un certain Joe Biden, s’en attribuer à présent les mérites!) de reconnaitre comme une victoire …
Et où, signe des temps et sous couvert de comparaisons aussi flatteuses qu’imméritées (l’Agitateur de Chicago serait comme Carter, excusez du peu, un Jeffersonien doublé d’un Wilsonien!), un Walter Russell Mead qui n’a toujours pas digéré la victoire en Irak se voit contraint dans un récent article de Foreign Policy d’utiliser le fatidique « mot commençant par C » pour décrire le 44e président …
Pendant qu’au Pays autoproclamé des droits de l’homme, les derniers dinosaures du Quai d’Orsay et de la PAF (la bonne vielle politique arabe de la France) qui avaient tant soutenu leur ami Saddam il y a sept ans ne semblent pas avoir perdu une once de leur mépris et de leur hargne contre « le petit pays de merde » et seule et unique véritable démocratie de la région …
L’analyste libano-américain Fouad Ajami rappelle l’incroyable accomplissement que, contre tous les pronostics des prophètes de malheur comme l’ensemble des forces de la région et pour beaucoup au prix de leurs propres vies, ont obtenu les GI’s du cowboy Bush:
« un gouvernement représentatif, un état binational d’Arabes et de Kurdes et un pays qui ne se plie ni à la volonté d’un homme ni à celle d’un clan » …
Another Step Forward for Iraq
A democratic country is emerging that answers neither to Sunni Arab states nor to Iranians.
The Wall Street Journal
March 2, 2010
Forgive Vice President Joe Biden the audacity of claiming last month on CNN’s « Larry King Live » that Iraq is destined to be « one of the great achievements of this administration. » The larger point he made—that a representative government is taking hold in Baghdad—is on the mark.
As Iraq approaches its general elections on March 7, we should take yes for an answer. The American project in Iraq has midwifed that rarest of creatures in the Greater Middle East: a government that emerges out of the consent of the governed. We should trust the Iraqis with their own history. That means letting their electoral process play out against the background of the Arab dynasties and autocracies, and of the Iranian theocracy next door that made a mockery out of its own national elections.
In a perfect world, the Iraqis would have left the past alone and avoided the ban that was imposed on some 500 candidates accused of ties to the Baath Party. But this is a matter for the Iraqis themselves. In the twilight of the American regency the United States can’t order Iraqi political life.
Sure, there are some candidates tainted with Baathism who should have been allowed to take part in this round of elections. It would have been the better part of wisdom to let the Sunni parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq participate. He is a gregarious man with natural political gifts, better inside the tent than outside.
But then, too, de-Baathification has never been ably defended and explained to the American public. In time, the idea has taken hold that de-Baathification was a matter of sectarian revenge: the newly ascendant Shiites striking back at their Sunni tormentors.
There was willfulness in this reading of de-Baathification. In the new Iraq, released by American power from its long nightmare, it was either de-Baathification or mass slaughter of yesterday’s tormentors. The American regency in Iraq made its share of blunders. But that order No. 1 issued by proconsul Paul Bremer, banning the Baath, was a boon to the new Iraq. On the whole, the hand of vengeance was stayed. It was remarkable how little violence was unleashed on those who had perpetrated on Iraqis a reign of the darkest terror.
Nor is it true that a sister republic of the Iranian theocracy is emerging in Baghdad, as some American officials have suggested. This is a slur on Iraq and Iraqis, and on the vast Shiite majority to be exact.
So Iran has designs on Iraq. Well what of it? A long border, the traffic of centuries in faith and commerce, runs between the two countries. But no Iraqi project in the offing contemplates making Iraq a satrap of the Persian state. The Iraqis are neither Lebanese seeking outside patronage, nor Palestinians in need of money and guns from foreign donors. They are a tough breed, they have their own material means, oil aplenty, and a determination to keep their country whole and theirs.
If anything, that border with Iran concentrates the Iraqi mind. The Iraqis know their Persian neighbors. The kind of romance about Iran entertained in the Bekaa Valley and Greater Beirut, or in the Gaza Strip, has no takers in Iraq. The Shiism of Iraq is tenacious and Arab through and through.
The sacred geography of Shiism is in Iraq, and clerics in the holy city of Najaf, or in Kazimiyya on the outskirts of Baghdad, display no deference to the theology of Qom. I hazard to guess from discussions with many Shiite jurists in Iraq that no one of any consequence in the clerical hierarchy believes that Iran’s « Supreme Leader, » Ali Khamenei, is a scholar of genuine standing and religious authority.
Iraqis of all stripes are wary of Iran. In the provincial elections of 2009, pro-Iranian candidates were trounced and Iraqi nationalists carried the day.
There plays upon Iraqis the hope that their country can make its own way, defying the obituaries of doom written for their new order in neighboring lands and beyond. There is a transparent parliamentary culture in Iraq, and we for our part ought to be proud of what we have given birth to.
Leave it to the Egyptians and the Arabs of the Peninsula and the Persian Gulf to belittle the new order in Iraq. They threw everything at it but it managed to survive. Peace has not settled upon Baghdad, but this Iraq, the dictatorships of the Arab world.
There will be irregularities in the Iraqi elections. Some votes are destined to be bought. But is the Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak, with the same man at the helm for three decades now, entitled to sit in judgment? The rulers around Iraq tax this Iraqi order with illegitimacy, dismiss it as a handmaiden of the Americans. But from one end of the Arab world to the other, countless regimes are in the orbit of the Pax Americana. Wily survivors, the Arab rulers frighten us with the scarecrow of a Shiite state in Baghdad.
For decades, American policy makers have imbibed the Sunni orthodoxy of the Arab holders of power. That view seeped into the American official consciousness. It survived the terrors of 9/11 and the doctrines of the Sunni jihadists. America remained wedded to the idea of Shiite radicalism. Now a Shiite-led state in Baghdad could yet make its way into the American security structure in the region, and the Sunni rulers have taken up sword against it.
In the received wisdom of those who never took to the justice or the wisdom of the Iraq war, the balance of power in the region was upended by the destruction of the Saddam Hussein regime that had presumably served as a buffer against the Iranian theocracy.
But that view grieves for a golden era that never was. It was in the 1980s and the 1990s, when the tyranny of Saddam Hussein ran a regime of extortion and plunder in the region, that the Iranians made their way to the Mediterranean, formed and trained Hezbollah in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, installed their proxies in southern Lebanon on Israel’s northern border. It was in that fabled time that the Iranians spread mayhem all around and stoked the furies of the Sunni-Shiite schism that has poisoned the life of Islam.
There is a better way of « balancing » Iran: a regime in Baghdad endowed with the legitimacy of democratic norms. Of all that has been said about Iraq since the time that country became an American burden, nothing equals the stark formulation once offered by a diplomat not given to grandstanding and rhetorical flourishes. Said former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker: « In the end, what we leave behind and how we leave will be more important than how we came. »
We can already see the outline of what our labor has created: a representative government, a binational state of Arabs and Kurds, and a country that does not bend to the will of one man or one ruling clan.
Mr. Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is the author of « The Foreigner’s Gift » (Free Press, 2007).
The Carter Syndrome
Barack Obama might yet revolutionize America’s foreign policy. But if he can’t reconcile his inner Thomas Jefferson with his inner Woodrow Wilson, the 44th president could end up like No. 39.
Walter Russell Mead
Neither a cold-blooded realist nor a bleeding-heart idealist, Barack Obama has a split personality when it comes to foreign policy. So do most U.S. presidents, of course, and the ideas that inspire this one have a long history at the core of the American political tradition. In the past, such ideas have served the country well. But the conflicting impulses influencing how this young leader thinks about the world threaten to tear his presidency apart — and, in the worst scenario, turn him into a new Jimmy Carter.
Obama’s long deliberation over the war in Afghanistan is a case study in presidential schizophrenia: After 94 days of internal discussion and debate, he ended up splitting the difference — rushing in more troops as his generals wanted, while calling for their departure to begin in July 2011 as his liberal base demanded. It was a sober compromise that suggests a man struggling to reconcile his worldview with the weight of inherited problems. Like many of his predecessors, Obama is not only buffeted by strong political headwinds, but also pulled in opposing directions by two of the major schools of thought that have guided American foreign-policy debates since colonial times.
In general, U.S. presidents see the world through the eyes of four giants: Alexander Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson. Hamiltonians share the first Treasury secretary’s belief that a strong national government and a strong military should pursue a realist global policy and that the government can and should promote economic development and the interests of American business at home and abroad. Wilsonians agree with Hamiltonians on the need for a global foreign policy, but see the promotion of democracy and human rights as the core elements of American grand strategy. Jeffersonians dissent from this globalist consensus; they want the United States to minimize its commitments and, as much as possible, dismantle the national-security state. Jacksonians are today’s Fox News watchers. They are populists suspicious of Hamiltonian business links, Wilsonian do-gooding, and Jeffersonian weakness.
Moderate Republicans tend to be Hamiltonians. Move right toward the Sarah Palin range of the party and the Jacksonian influence grows. Centrist Democrats tend to be interventionist-minded Wilsonians, while on the left and the dovish side they are increasingly Jeffersonian, more interested in improving American democracy at home than exporting it abroad.
Some presidents build coalitions; others stay close to one favorite school. As the Cold War ended, George H.W. Bush’s administration steered a largely Hamiltonian course, and many of those Hamiltonians later dissented from his son’s war in Iraq. Bill Clinton’s administration in the 1990s mixed Hamiltonian and Wilsonian tendencies. This dichotomy resulted in bitter administration infighting when those ideologies came into conflict — over humanitarian interventions in the Balkans and Rwanda, for example, and again over the relative weight to be given to human rights and trade in U.S. relations with China.
More recently, George W. Bush’s presidency was defined by an effort to bring Jacksonians and Wilsonians into a coalition; the political failure of Bush’s ambitious approach created the context that made the Obama presidency possible.
Sept. 11, 2001, was one of those rare and electrifying moments that waken Jacksonian America and focus its attention on the international arena. The U.S. homeland was not only under attack, it was under attack by an international conspiracy of terrorists who engaged in what Jacksonians consider dishonorable warfare: targeting civilians. Jacksonian attitudes toward war were shaped by generations of conflict with Native American peoples across the United States and before that by centuries of border conflict in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Against « honorable » enemies who observe the laws of war, one is obliged to fight fair; those who disregard the rules must be hunted down and killed, regardless of technical niceties.
When the United States is attacked, Jacksonians demand action; they leave strategy to the national leadership. But Bush’s tough-minded Jacksonian response to 9/11 — invading Afghanistan and toppling the Taliban government that gave safe haven to the plotters — gave way to what appeared to be Wilsonian meddling in Iraq. Originally, Bush’s argument for overthrowing Saddam Hussein rested on two charges that resonated powerfully with Jacksonians: Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction, and he had close links with al Qaeda. But the war dragged on, and as Hussein’s fabled hoards of WMD failed to appear and the links between Iraq and al Qaeda failed to emerge, Bush shifted to a Wilsonian rationale. This was no longer a war of defense against a pending threat or a war of retaliation; it was a war to establish democracy, first in Iraq and then throughout the region. Nation-building and democracy-spreading became the cornerstones of the administration’s Middle East policy.
Bush could not have developed a strategy better calculated to dissolve his political support at home. Jacksonians historically have little sympathy for expensive and risky democracy-promoting ventures abroad. They generally opposed the humanitarian interventions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Haiti during the Clinton years; they did not and do not think American young people should die and American treasure should be scattered to spread democracy or protect human rights overseas. Paradoxically, Jacksonians also opposed « cut and run » options to end the war in Iraq even as they lost faith in both Bush and the Republican Party; they don’t like wars for democracy, but they also don’t want to see the United States lose once troops and the national honor have been committed. In Bush’s last year in office, a standoff ensued: The Democratic congressional majorities were powerless to force change in his Iraq strategy and Bush remained free to increase U.S. troop levels, yet the war itself and Bush’s rationale for it remained deeply unpopular.
Enter Obama. An early and consistent opponent of the Iraq war, Obama was able to bring together the elements of the Democratic Party’s foreign-policy base who were most profoundly opposed to (and horrified by) Bush’s policy. Obama made opposition to the Iraq war a centerpiece of his eloquent campaign, drawing on arguments that echoed U.S. anti-war movements all the way back to Henry David Thoreau’s opposition to the Mexican-American War.
Like Carter in the 1970s, Obama comes from the old-fashioned Jeffersonian wing of the Democratic Party, and the strategic goal of his foreign policy is to reduce America’s costs and risks overseas by limiting U.S. commitments wherever possible. He’s a believer in the notion that the United States can best spread democracy and support peace by becoming an example of democracy at home and moderation abroad. More than this, Jeffersonians such as Obama think oversize commitments abroad undermine American democracy at home. Large military budgets divert resources from pressing domestic needs; close association with corrupt and tyrannical foreign regimes involves the United States in dirty and cynical alliances; the swelling national-security state threatens civil liberties and leads to powerful pro-war, pro-engagement lobbies among corporations nourished on grossly swollen federal defense budgets.
While Bush argued that the only possible response to the 9/11 attacks was to deepen America’s military and political commitments in the Middle East, Obama initially sought to enhance America’s security by reducing those commitments and toning down aspects of U.S. Middle East policy, such as support for Israel, that foment hostility and suspicion in the region. He seeks to pull U.S. power back from the borderlands of Russia, reducing the risk of conflict with Moscow. In Latin America, he has so far behaved with scrupulous caution and, clearly, is hoping to normalize relations with Cuba while avoiding collisions with the « Bolivarian » states of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.
Obama seeks a quiet world in order to focus his efforts on domestic reform — and to create conditions that would allow him to dismantle some of the national-security state inherited from the Cold War and given new life and vigor after 9/11. Preferring disarmament agreements to military buildups and hoping to substitute regional balance-of-power arrangements for massive unilateral U.S. force commitments all over the globe, the president wishes ultimately for an orderly world in which burdens are shared and the military power of the United States is a less prominent feature on the international scene.
While Wilsonians believe that no lasting stability is possible in a world filled with dictatorships, Jeffersonians like Obama argue that even bad regimes can be orderly international citizens if the incentives are properly aligned. Syria and Iran don’t need to become democratic states for the United States to reach long-term, mutually beneficial arrangements with them. And it is North Korea’s policies, not the character of its regime, that pose a threat to the Pacific region.
At this strategic level, Obama’s foreign policy looks a little bit like that of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. In Afghanistan and Iraq, he hopes to extract U.S. forces from costly wars by the contemporary equivalent of the « Vietnamization » policy of the Nixon years. He looks to achieve an opening with Iran comparable to Nixon’s rapprochement with communist China. Just as Nixon established a constructive relationship with China despite the radical « Red Guard » domestic policies Chinese leader Mao Zedong was pursuing at the time, Obama does not see ideological conflict as necessarily leading to poor strategic relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic. Just as Nixon and Kissinger sought to divert international attention from their retreat in Indochina by razzle-dazzle global diplomacy that placed Washington at the center of world politics even as it reduced its force posture, so too the Obama administration hopes to use the president’s global popularity to cover a strategic withdrawal from the exposed position in the Middle East that it inherited from the Bush administration.
This is both an ambitious and an attractive vision. Success would reduce the level of international tension even as the United States scales back its commitments. The United States would remain, by far, the dominant military power in the world, but it would sustain this role with significantly fewer demands on its resources and less danger of war.
Yet as Obama is already discovering, any president attempting such a Jeffersonian grand strategy in the 21st century faces many challenges. In the 19th-century heyday of Jeffersonian foreign policy in American politics, it was easier for U.S. presidents to limit the country’s commitments. Britain played a global role similar to that of the United States today, providing a stable security environment and promoting international trade and investment. Cruising as a free rider in the British world system allowed Americans to reap the benefits of Britain’s world order without paying its costs.
As British power waned in the 20th century, Americans faced starker choices. With the British Empire no longer able to provide political and economic security worldwide, the United States had to choose between replacing Britain as the linchpin of world order with all the headaches that entailed or going about its business in a disorderly world. In the 1920s and 1930s, Americans gave this latter course a try; the rapid-fire series of catastrophes — the Great Depression, World War II, Stalin’s bid for Eurasian hegemony — convinced virtually all policymakers that the first course, risky and expensive as it proved, was the lesser of the two evils.
Indeed, during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first two terms, the United States pursued essentially Jeffersonian policies in Europe and Asia, avoiding confrontations with Germany and Japan. The result was the bloodiest war in world history, not a stable condominium of satisfied powers. Since that time, Jeffersonians have had to come to terms with the vast set of interlocking political, economic, and military commitments that bind the United States to its role in the postwar era. Jeffersonian instincts call for pruning these commitments back, but it is not always easy to know where to cut.
The other schools are generally skeptical about reducing American commitments. Wilsonians interpret Jeffersonian restraint as moral cowardice. Why, they ask, did Obama refuse to meet the sainted Dalai Lama on his way to kowtow to the dictators in Beijing? Jacksonians think it is cowardice pure and simple. And why not stand up to Iran? Hamiltonians may agree with Jeffersonian restraint in particular cases — they don’t want to occupy Darfur either — but sooner or later they attack Jeffersonians for failing to develop and project sufficient American power in a dangerous world. Moreover, Hamiltonians generally favor free trade and a strong dollar policy; in current circumstances Hamiltonians are also pushing fiscal restraint. Obama will not willingly move far or fast enough to keep them happy.
The widespread criticism of Obama’s extended Afghanistan deliberations is a case in point. To a Jeffersonian president, war is a grave matter and such an undesirable course that it should only be entered into with the greatest deliberation and caution; war is truly a last resort, and the costs of rash commitments are more troubling than the costs of debate and delay. Hamiltonians would be more concerned with executing the decision swiftly and with hiding from other powers any impression of division among American counsels. But Obama found harsh critics on all sides: Wilsonians recoiled from the evident willingness of the president to abandon human rights or political objectives to settle the war. Jacksonians did not understand what, other than cowardice or « dithering, » could account for his reluctance to support the professional military recommendation. And the most purist of the Jeffersonians — neoisolationists on both left and right — turned on Obama as a sellout. Jeffersonian foreign policy is no bed of roses.
In recent history, Jeffersonian foreign policy has often faced attacks from all the other schools of thought. Kissinger’s policy of détente was blasted on the right by conservative Republicans who wanted a stronger stand against communism and on the left by human rights Democrats who hated the cynical regional alliances the Nixon Doctrine involved (with the shah of Iran, for example). Carter faced many of the same problems, and the image of weakness and indecision that helped doom his 1980 run for re-election is a perennial problem for Jeffersonian presidents. Obama will have to leap over these hurdles now, too.
It is not only Americans who will challenge the new American foreign policy. Will Russia and Iran respond to Obama’s conciliatory approach with reciprocal concessions — or, emboldened by what they interpret as American weakness and faltering willpower, will they keep pushing forward? Will the president’s outreach to the moderate majority of Muslims around the world open an era of better understanding, or will the violent minority launch new attacks that undercut the president’s standing at home? Will the president’s inability to deliver all the Israeli concessions Arabs would like erode his credibility and contribute to even deeper levels of cynicism and alienation across the Middle East? Can the president execute an orderly reduction in the U.S. military stake in Iraq and Afghanistan without having hostile forces fill the power vacuum? Will Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez be so impressed with American restraint under Obama that he moderates his own course and ceases to make anti Yanquismo a pillar of his domestic and international policy? Will other countries heed the president’s call to assume more international responsibility as the United States reduces its commitments — or will they fail to fulfill their obligations as stakeholders in the international system?
A Jeffersonian policy of restraint and withdrawal requires cooperation from many other countries, but the prospect of a lower American profile may make others less, rather than more, willing to help the United States.
There is an additional political problem for this president, one that he shares with Carter. In both cases, their basic Jeffersonian approach was balanced in part by a strong attraction to idealistic Wilsonian values and their position at the head of a Democratic Party with a distinct Wilsonian streak. A pure Jeffersonian wants to conserve the shining exceptionalism of the American democratic experience and believes that American values are rooted in U.S. history and culture and are therefore not easily exportable.
For this president, that is too narrow a view. Like Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama doesn’t just love the United States for what it is. He loves what it should — and can — be. Leadership is not the art of preserving a largely achieved democratic project; governing is the art of pushing the United States farther down the road toward the still-distant goal of fulfilling its mission and destiny.
Obama may well believe what he said in his inaugural speech — « we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals » — but as any president must he is already making exactly those tradeoffs. Why else refuse to meet the Dalai Lama? Why else pledge support to the corrupt regime of President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan or aid Pakistan despite the dismal track record of both the civil and military arms of the Pakistani government when it comes to transparent use of U.S. resources? Did the administration not renew its efforts to build a relationship with the regime in Tehran even as peaceful democratic protesters were being tortured and raped in its jails? Is Obama not taking « incentives » to Khartoum, a regime that has for more than a decade pursued a policy in Darfur that the U.S. government has labeled genocidal?
It is hard to reconcile the transcendent Wilsonian vision of America’s future with a foreign policy based on dirty compromises with nasty regimes. If the government should use its power and resources to help the poor and the victims of injustice at home, shouldn’t it do something when people overseas face extreme injustice and extreme peril? The Obama administration cannot easily abandon a human rights agenda abroad. The contradiction between the sober and limited realism of the Jeffersonian worldview and the expansive, transformative Wilsonian agenda is likely to haunt this administration as it haunted Carter’s, most fatefully when he rejected calls to let the shah of Iran launch a brutal crackdown to remain in power. Already the Wilsonians in Obama’s camp are muttering darkly about his failure to swiftly close the Guantánamo prison camp, his fondness for government secrecy, his halfhearted support for investigating abuses of the past administration, and his failure to push harder for a cap-and-trade bill before the Copenhagen summit.
Over time, these rumblings of discontent will grow, and history will continue to throw curveballs at him. Can this president live with himself if he fails to prevent a new round of genocide in the Great Lakes region of Africa? Can he wage humanitarian war if all else fails? Can he make these tough decisions quickly and confidently when his closest advisors and his political base are deeply and hopelessly at odds?
The Jeffersonian concern with managing America’s foreign policy at the lowest possible level of risk has in the past helped presidents develop effective grand strategies, such as George Kennan’s early Cold War idea of containment and the early 19th-century Monroe Doctrine. If successful, Obama’s restructuring of American foreign policy would be as influential as these classic strategic designs.
Recent decades, however, have seen diminishing Jeffersonian influence in U.S. foreign policy. Americans today perceive problems all over the world; the Jeffersonian response often strikes people as too passive. Kennan’s modest form of containment quickly lost ground to Dean Acheson’s more muscular and militarized approach of responding to Soviet pressure by building up U.S. and allied forces in Europe and Asia. The Nixon-Kissinger policy of détente was repudiated by both the Republican and Democratic parties. Carter came into the White House hoping to end the Cold War, but by the end of his tenure he was supporting the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, increasing the defense budget, and laying the groundwork for an expanded U.S. presence in the Middle East.
In the 21st century, American presidents have a new set of questions to consider. The nature of the international system and the place of the United States in it will have to be rethought as new powers rise, old ones continue to fade, and attention shifts from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The rapid technological development that is the hallmark of our era will reshape global society at a pace that challenges the ability of every country in the world to manage cascading, accelerating change.
With great dignity and courage, Obama has embarked on a difficult and uncertain journey. The odds, I fear, are not in his favor, and it is not yet clear that his intuitions and instincts amount to the kind of grand design that statesmen like John Quincy Adams and Henry Kissinger produced in the past. But there can be no doubt that American foreign policy requires major rethinking.
At their best, Jeffersonians provide a necessary element of caution and restraint in U.S. foreign policy, preventing what historian Paul Kennedy calls « imperial overstretch » by ensuring that America’s ends are proportionate to its means. We need this vision today more than ever: If Obama’s foreign policy collapses — whether sunk by Afghanistan or conflicts not yet foreseen — into the incoherence and reversals that ultimately marked Carter’s well-meaning but flawed approach, it will be even more difficult for future presidents to chart a prudent and cautious course through the rough seas ahead.
Walter Russell Mead is Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World. He blogs at The American Interest
Seize hauts diplomates français suggèrent à Nicolas Sarkozy une « initiative de paix » au Proche-Orient
Le Nouvel Observateur
Seize hauts diplomates français «qui ont terminé leur mission publique mais qui ont gardé leur ambition pour la France » viennent d’adresser au Président de la République une lettre ouverte (dont on trouvera au dessous le texte intégral et la liste des signataires) dans laquelle ils suggèrent que la France prenne une initiative pour relancer les négociations entre Israéliens et Palestiniens, dans le but de mettre un terme à un conflit qui « demeure au cœur de l’avenir du Proche-Orient et affecte l’ensemble du monde arabo-musulman ».
Constatant que « les principes d’une solution » depuis longtemps connus ont été réaffirmés par l’Union européenne, le 11 décembre, à Bruxelles – allusion aux « Conclusions » du Conseil des ministres des Affaires étrangères européens qui avaient provoqué la colère du gouvernement israélien – ils proposent que la France présente au Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies une « résolution contraignante » traçant le cadre et définissant les objectifs « de l’ultime négociation à mener entre les parties ».
Cette négociation se déroulerait « sous le contrôle d’une conférence internationale qui veillerait à la mise en œuvre, dans des délais déterminés, de l’accord à intervenir et des garanties nécessaires ». A leurs yeux, le Quartette (Etats-Unis, Union européenne, Nations Unies, Russie) « devrait jouer un rôle majeur dans le suivi de cette prescription internationale ». « Fait exceptionnel, relèvent-ils, un accord est intervenu entre les 27 pays membres [de L’Union européenne] pour rappeler à Israël ses devoirs à l’égard de la communauté internationale et les graves conséquences d’une situation qui perdure depuis plus de quarante années d’occupation (le mur, les colonies, les spoliations, l’accaparement de Jérusalem) ».
« Jamais le gouvernement israélien, pressé par ses colons, n’a été aussi intransigeant, jamais la représentation palestinienne divisée n’a été aussi faible. Et cependant les chances de la paix sont réelles », estiment les auteurs de cette lettre, qui constatent la « modération » palestinienne et « l’offre arabe de reconnaissance pleine et entière d’Israël, si l’Etat palestinien est créé selon une équité historique avec Israël ».
Les principes de base de la négociation qu’ils préconisent se fondent sur les « termes de référence » établis depuis les accords d’Oslo et repris par la Feuille de route de 2003. Les frontières de l’Etat palestinien à créer doivent être celles de 1967 (sauf échanges de territoires mutuellement agréés), Jérusalem doit être partagée, avec garantie d’accès aux lieux saints, et une solution doit être apportée au problème des réfugiés.
« Les incertitudes qui pèsent sur une région essentielle pour la paix mondiale avec les menaces de recours à la force brutale ou de la montée des extrémismes dans cette partie du monde où le péril est contagieux, les souffrances d’une population délaissée … tout marque l’urgence et l’opportunité de revenir au droit international qui seul peut fonder la paix et un ordre durable », insistent-ils, avant d’inviter Nicolas Sarkozy à donner « enfin aux Israéliens et aux Palestiniens les conditions d’une vie pacifique à laquelle ils aspirent pour aujourd’hui et pour demain ».
TEXTE INTEGRAL DE LA LETTRE DES AMBASSADEURS
Lettre ouverte à M. Nicolas Sarkozy, Président de la République
Monsieur le Président de la République,
Permettez à des serviteurs de l’État qui ont terminé leur mission publique mais qui ont gardé leur ambition pour la France de vous exprimer leurs préoccupations et leurs suggestions dans un domaine capital de la vie internationale: le conflit israélo- palestinien. Il leur semble que dans la onjoncture actuelle une initiative s’impose.
Bien que ce conflit ne soit plus à ce jour dans une phase violente, il demeure au coeur de l’avenir du Proche-Orient et affecte l’ensemble du monde arabo-musulman. Or l’impasse politique de ce conflit est totale. Jamais le gouvernement israélien, pressé par ses colons, n’a été aussi intransigeant,
jamais la représentation palestinienne divisée n’a été aussi faible. Cependant, les chances de la paix sont réelles: modération du coté palestinien (le Hamas se fortifie jusqu’à présent de l’échec de toute négociation bilatérale) et offre arabe de reconnaissance pleine et entière d’Israël si l’Etat palestinien est créé selon une équité historique avec Israël et dans le cadre du droit international: frontières de
la ligne verte de 1967 (sauf échange de territoires mutuellement agréé), partage de Jérusalem avec garantie d’accès aux lieux saints, solution au problème des réfugiés palestiniens.
Ces principes d’une solution, depuis longtemps identifiés, viennent d’être réaffirmés de façon éclatante par l’Union Européenne, le Il décembre à Bruxelles. Fait exceptionnel, un accord est intervenu entre les 27 pays membres pour rappeler à Israël ses devoirs à l’égard de la communauté internationale et les graves conséquences d’une situation qui perdure depuis plus de quarante années d’occupation (le mur, les colonies, les spoliations, l’accaparement de Jérusalem). Il est en particulier urgent de mettre un terme à l’enfermement dans la bande de Gaza d’une population d’un million et demi de personnes en violation du droit humanitaire international, situation à laquelle il serait possible de remédier par l’envoi de casques bleus aux accès à ce territoire.
Que faire maintenant pour ancrer dans la réalité diplomatique et sur le terrain ce qui reste une pétition de principe? Le recours à une résolution contraignante du Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU paraît nécessaire. Cette résolution tracerait le cadre et les objectifs de l’ultime négociation à mener entre les parties sous le contrôle d’une conférence internationale qui veillerait à la mise en oeuvre dans des délais déterminés de l’accord à intervenir et des garanties nécessaires. Le quartet (ONU, Etats-Unis d’Amérique, Europe, Russie) devrait jouer un rôle majeur dans le suivi de cette prescription internationale. Qui serait le mieux placé pour présenter une telle résolution d’inspiration européenne sinon la France, membre permanent du Conseil de Sécurité et dont la politique au
Proche-Orient a toujours visé à assurer la sécurité d’Israël et la reconnaissance des droits du peuple palestinien? Une telle initiative serait conforme à la ligne suivie par les présidents successifs de la Vème République et qui vous a inspiré, Monsieur le Président, dans vos discours courageux à la Knesset et en Algérie. Elle viendrait en appui à la novation esquissée par le Président Obama dans son discours du Caire et remettrait notre pays à sa place traditionnelle dans la défense du droit et de la paix.
Les incertitudes qui pèsent sur une région essentielle pour la paix mondiale avec les menaces de recours à la force brutale ou de la montée des extrémismes dans cette partie du monde où le péril est contagieux, les souffrances d’une population délaissée … tout marque l’urgence et l’opportunité de revenir au droit international qui seul peut fonder la paix et un ordre durable.
Monsieur le Président, vous qui avez une si haute idée de la mission de notre pays et de l’éthique qui l’inspire, ne tardez pas. Incitez la communauté internationale, responsable de nos destins communs, à trancher ce noeud gordien. Donnez enfin aux Israéliens et aux Palestiniens les conditions d’une vie pacifique à laquelle ils aspirent pour aujourd’hui et pour demain.
René Ala, Jacques Andréani, Pierre-Louis Blanc, Louis Dauge,Bertrand Dufourcq, Christian Graeff, Stéphane Hessel, Pierre Hunt, Pierre Lafrance, Gabriel Robin, Ambassadeurs de France.
Yves Aubin de la Messuzière, Denis Bauchard, Philippe Louet, Jean-Louis Lucet, Jacques Alain de Sédouy, Henri Servant, anciens ambassadeurs.