Juifs utiles: Et si le prétendu peuple juif se dissolvait lui-même ? (Dissolve your own people: US Jewish philosopher comes up with the ultimate solution to all world problems)

L’antisémitisme religieux dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre parmi nous si vous restez juif. L’antisémitisme politique dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre parmi nous. L’antisémitisme racial dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre. Raul Hilberg
J’apprends que le gouvernement estime que le peuple a « trahi la confiance du régime » et « devra travailler dur pour regagner la confiance des autorités ». Dans ce cas, ne serait-il pas plus simple pour le gouvernement de dissoudre le peuple et d’en élire un autre ? Bertold Brecht
Que signifie le peuple juif ? Existe-t-il ? Peut-on parler du peuple juif comme on parle du peuple français ? Ou comme on parle du peuple basque ? La seule réponse valable me paraît celle-ci : si l’on parle du « peuple juif », on emploie la notion de peuple en un sens qui ne vaut que dans ce seul cas. Raymond Aron (cité par Shlomo Sand)
Si l’on a pu affirmer, un jour, que la patrie constitue l’ultime recours de l’impie, on pourrait, aujourd’hui, dire que la Shoah est devenue l’ultime recours des démagogues prosionistes! Shlomo Sand
La conclusion, proprement perverse, de son livre est d’attribuer au peuple palestinien ce qui a été dénié aux juifs, à savoir qu’ils sont – eux, les Palestiniens – les vrais descendants génétiques des Hébreux originaires ! Cet épilogue est le révélateur de la finalité du livre. On y trouve le principe mythologique de l’inversion dont le peuple juif est la victime coutumière : les juifs deviennent des non-juifs et les Palestiniens les juifs génétiques. On peut, dès lors, en déduire qui est l’occupant légitime du pays. En ne déconstruisant pas radicalement la notion d’héritage génétique, en en faisant, au contraire, bénéficier le peuple palestinien, Sand révèle tout l’impensé qui obscurément pourrit ce qu’il tient pour être une entreprise libératrice. Il montre que la méthode substitutive qu’il emploie est tout simplement mystificatrice, et ce d’autant plus qu’elle voudrait être au service de l’entente entre les ennemis. Eric Marty
On a parlé de multiples fois des habits neufs de l’antisémitisme: non seulement celui-ci s’est fait faire des habits neufs, mais il a toute une garde-robe, qui va du prêt-à-porter bas de gamme, au charme hypocrite et discret de la haute couture, qu’affectionnent les diplomates de haut vol. Guy Millière
Americans take for granted the world in which they grew up—a world in which, for better or worse, the U.S. was the ultimate security guarantor of scores of states, and in many ways the entire international system. Today we are informed by many politicians and commentators that we are weary of those burdens—though what we should be weary of, given that our children aren’t conscripted and our taxes aren’t being raised in order to pay for those wars, is unclear. The truth is that defense spending at the rate of 4% of gross domestic product (less than that sustained with ease by Singapore) is eminently affordable. The arguments against far-flung American strategic commitments take many forms. So-called foreign policy realists, particularly in the academic world, believe that the competing interests of states tend automatically toward balance and require no statesmanlike action by the U.S. To them, the old language of force in international politics has become as obsolete as that of the « code duello, » which regulated individual honor fights through the early 19th century. We hear that international institutions and agreements can replace national strength. It is also said—covertly but significantly—that the U.S. is too dumb and inept to play the role of security guarantor. Perhaps the clever political scientists, complacent humanists, Spenglerian declinists, right and left neo-isolationists, and simple doubters that the U.S. can do anything right are correct. Perhaps the president should concentrate on nation-building at home while pressing abroad only for climate- change agreements, nuclear disarmament and an unfettered right to pick off bad guys (including Americans) as he sees fit. But if history is any guide, foreign policy as a political-science field experiment or what-me- worryism will yield some ugly results. Syria is a harbinger of things to come. In that case, the dislocation, torture and death have first afflicted the locals. But it will not end there, as incidents on Syria’s borders and rumors of the movement of chemical weapons suggest. A world in which the U.S. abnegates its leadership will be a world of unrestricted self-help in which China sets the rules of politics and trade in Asia, mayhem and chaos is the order of the day in the Middle East, and timidity and appeasement paralyze the free European states. A world, in short, where the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must, and those with an option hurry up and get nuclear weapons. Eliot Cohen
President Bashar Assad’s jet fighters, tanks and artillery have been slaughtering Syrian people for two years. More than 70,000 have been killed. Yet the international community has shown neither unity of purpose nor the political will to act. Many in the world would do well to learn the lesson that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is not the oft-cited failure to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago, the Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt, Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war, and Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Ehud Barak
Réalisé sur un échantillon de 7.500 européens, la question était parmi une liste de 15 nations (dont les Etats-Unis, l’Irak, l’Iran, l’Afghanistan et la Corée du Nord) de « dire si le pays présente ou non une menace pour la paix dans le monde ». Quelque 59% des sondés ont désigné Israël. Selon El Pais, les Néerlandais, les Autrichiens et les Luxembourgeois sondés sont ceux qui ont le plus placé Israël en tête des menaces. Les Français ont au contraire été les moins enclins à désigner l’Etat hébreu. L’Irak (52%) n’arrive qu’en cinquième position dans cette enquête d’opinion. Derrière Israël (59%), trois pays occupent la deuxième place, à égalité (53%): il s’agit des Etats-Unis, de l’Iran et de la Corée du Nord. Viennent ensuite l’Afghanistan (50%), le Pakistan (48%), la Syrie (37%), la Libye et l’Arabie saoudite (toutes deux à 36%). Le Nouvel Observateur (2003)
L’idée même d’un Etat juif est non-démocratique. Joseph Levine

 Et si le prétendu peuple juif se dissolvait lui-même ?

A l’heure où l’évidence du problème juif comme source unique de tous les maux du monde s’impose peu à peu à l’ensemble de l’opinion éclairée mondiale …

Pendant que son principal porte-parole de la Maison Blanche s’est enfin décidé en ce moment même à en informer, entre deux visites touristiques, le dernier petit peuple de la planète à empêcher le monde de tourner …

Et que, sur nos télévisions, nos petites mains (noires elles aussi comme il se doit) nous font ânnoner notre leçon (co-lon, co-lo-nie, co-lo-ni-ser, co-lo-ni-sa-tion, o-ccu-pa-tion, o-ccu-pé, on répète après moi – pas moins de treize fois en, quoi, 2 minutes 30 !) sans lamais mentionner une seule fois en face le refus de négocier ou même de reconnaitre l’existence d’Israël …

Comment ne pas voir, proposée de surcroit par un philosophe juif de New York, la géniale simplicité de la solution ultime à la paix mondiale ?

Qui, surprise, redécouvre avec la caution morale supplémentaire du sommet de la réflexion philosophique et de la judéité proclamée de son auteur, la même mesure radicale que l’antisémitisme racial de grand-papa ….

A savoir la bonne vieille (dis)Solution finale !

On Questioning the Jewish State

Joseph Levine

The NYT

March 9, 2013

I was raised in a religious Jewish environment, and though we were not strongly Zionist, I always took it to be self-evident that “Israel has a right to exist.” Now anyone who has debated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have encountered this phrase often. Defenders of Israeli policies routinely accuse Israel’s critics of denying her right to exist, while the critics (outside of a small group on the left, where I now find myself) bend over backward to insist that, despite their criticisms, of course they affirm it. The general mainstream consensus seems to be that to deny Israel’s right to exist is a clear indication of anti-Semitism (a charge Jews like myself are not immune to), and therefore not an option for people of conscience.

Over the years I came to question this consensus and to see that the general fealty to it has seriously constrained open debate on the issue, one of vital importance not just to the people directly involved — Israelis and Palestinians — but to the conduct of our own foreign policy and, more important, to the safety of the world at large. My view is that one really ought to question Israel’s right to exist and that doing so does not manifest anti-Semitism. The first step in questioning the principle, however, is to figure out what it means.

One problem with talking about this question calmly and rationally is that the phrase “right to exist” sounds awfully close to “right to life,” so denying Israel its right to exist sounds awfully close to permitting the extermination of its people. In light of the history of Jewish persecution, and the fact that Israel was created immediately after and largely as a consequence of the Holocaust, it isn’t surprising that the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” should have this emotional impact. But as even those who insist on the principle will admit, they aren’t claiming merely the impermissibility of exterminating Israelis. So what is this “right” that many uphold as so basic that to question it reflects anti-Semitism and yet is one that I claim ought to be questioned?

The key to the interpretation is found in the crucial four words that are often tacked on to the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” — namely, “… as a Jewish state.” As I understand it, the principle that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state has three parts: first, that Jews, as a collective, constitute a people in the sense that they possess a right to self-determination; second, that a people’s right to self-determination entails the right to erect a state of their own, a state that is their particular people’s state; and finally, that for the Jewish people the geographical area of the former Mandatory Palestine, their ancestral homeland, is the proper place for them to exercise this right to self-determination.

The claim then is that anyone who denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is guilty of anti-Semitism because they are refusing to grant Jews the same rights as other peoples possess. If indeed this were true, if Jews were being singled out in the way many allege, I would agree that it manifests anti-Jewish bias. But the charge that denying Jews a right to a Jewish state amounts to treating the Jewish people differently from other peoples cannot be sustained.

To begin, since the principle has three parts, it follows that it can be challenged in (at least) three different ways: either deny that Jews constitute “a people” in the relevant sense, deny that the right to self-determination really involves what advocates of the principle claim it does, or deny that Jews have the requisite claim on the geographical area in question.

In fact, I think there is a basis to challenge all three, but for present purposes I will focus on the question of whether a people’s right to self-determination entails their right to a state of their own, and set aside whether Jews count as a people and whether Jews have a claim on that particular land. I do so partly for reasons of space, but mainly because these questions have largely (though not completely) lost their importance.

The fact is that today millions of Jews live in Israel and, ancestral homeland or not, this is their home now. As for whether Jews constitute a people, this is a vexed question given the lack of consensus in general about what it takes for any particular group of people to count as “a people.” The notion of “a people” can be interpreted in different ways, with different consequences for the rights that they possess. My point is that even if we grant Jews their peoplehood and their right to live in that land, there is still no consequent right to a Jewish state.

However, I do think that it’s worth noting the historical irony in insisting that it is anti-Semitic to deny that Jews constitute a people. The 18th and 19th centuries were the period of Jewish “emancipation” in Western Europe, when the ghetto walls were torn down and Jews were granted the full rights of citizenship in the states within which they resided. The anti-Semitic forces in those days, those opposing emancipation, were associated not with denying Jewish peoplehood but with emphatically insisting on it! The idea was that since Jews constituted a nation of their own, they could not be loyal citizens of any European state. The liberals who strongly opposed anti-Semitism insisted that Jews could both practice their religion and uphold their cultural traditions while maintaining full citizenship in the various nation-states in which they resided.

But, as I said, let’s grant that Jews are a people. Well, if they are, and if with the status of a people comes the right to self-determination, why wouldn’t they have a right to live under a Jewish state in their homeland? The simple answer is because many non-Jews (rightfully) live there too. But this needs unpacking.

First, it’s important to note, as mentioned above, that the term “a people” can be used in different ways, and sometimes they get confused. In particular, there is a distinction to be made between a people in the ethnic sense and a people in the civic sense. Though there is no general consensus on this, a group counts as a people in the ethnic sense by virtue of common language, common culture, common history and attachment to a common territory. One can easily see why Jews, scattered across the globe, speaking many different languages and defined largely by religion, present a difficult case. But, as I said above, for my purposes it doesn’t really matter, and I will just assume the Jewish people qualify.

The other sense is the civic one, which applies to a people by virtue of their common citizenship in a nation-state or, alternatively, by virtue of their common residence within relatively defined geographic borders. So whereas there is both an ethnic and a civic sense to be made of the term “French people,” the term “Jewish people” has only an ethnic sense. This can easily be seen by noting that the Jewish people is not the same group as the Israeli people. About 20 percent of Israeli citizens are non-Jewish Palestinians, while the vast majority of the Jewish people are not citizens of Israel and do not live within any particular geographic area. “Israeli people,” on the other hand, has only a civic sense. (Of course often the term “Israelis” is used as if it applies only to Jewish Israelis, but this is part of the problem. More on this below.)

So, when we consider whether or not a people has a right to a state of their own, are we speaking of a people in the ethnic sense or the civic one? I contend that insofar as the principle that all peoples have the right to self-determination entails the right to a state of their own, it can apply to peoples only in the civic sense.

After all, what is it for a people to have a state “of their own”? Here’s a rough characterization: the formal institutions and legal framework of the state serves to express, encourage and favor that people’s identity. The distinctive position of that people would be manifested in a number of ways, from the largely symbolic to the more substantive: for example, it would be reflected in the name of the state, the nature of its flag and other symbols, its national holidays, its education system, its immigration rules, the extent to which membership in the people in question is a factor in official planning, how resources are distributed, etc. If the people being favored in this way are just the state’s citizens, it is not a problem. (Of course those who are supercosmopolitan, denying any legitimacy to the borders of nation-states, will disagree. But they aren’t a party to this debate.)

But if the people who “own” the state in question are an ethnic sub-group of the citizenry, even if the vast majority, it constitutes a serious problem indeed, and this is precisely the situation of Israel as the Jewish state. Far from being a natural expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, it is in fact a violation of the right to self-determination of its non-Jewish (mainly Palestinian) citizens. It is a violation of a people’s right to self-determination to exclude them — whether by virtue of their ethnic membership, or for any other reason — from full political participation in the state under whose sovereignty they fall. Of course Jews have a right to self-determination in this sense as well — this is what emancipation was all about. But so do non-Jewish peoples living in the same state.

Any state that “belongs” to one ethnic group within it violates the core democratic principle of equality, and the self-determination rights of the non-members of that group.

If the institutions of a state favor one ethnic group among its citizenry in this way, then only the members of that group will feel themselves fully a part of the life of the state. True equality, therefore, is only realizable in a state that is based on civic peoplehood. As formulated by both Jewish- and Palestinian-Israeli activists on this issue, a truly democratic state that fully respects the self-determination rights of everyone under its sovereignty must be a “state of all its citizens.”

This fundamental point exposes the fallacy behind the common analogy, drawn by defenders of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, between Israel’s right to be Jewish and France’s right to be French. The appropriate analogy would instead be between France’s right to be French (in the civic sense) and Israel’s right to be Israeli.

I conclude, then, that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic, a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic. But the harm doesn’t stop with the inherently undemocratic character of the state. For if an ethnic national state is established in a territory that contains a significant number of non-members of that ethnic group, it will inevitably face resistance from the land’s other inhabitants. This will force the ethnic nation controlling the state to resort to further undemocratic means to maintain their hegemony. Three strategies to deal with resistance are common: expulsion, occupation and institutional marginalization. Interestingly, all three strategies have been employed by the Zionist movement: expulsion in 1948 (and, to a lesser extent, in 1967), occupation of the territories conquered in 1967 and institution of a complex web of laws that prevent Israel’s Palestinian citizens from mounting an internal challenge to the Jewish character of the state. (The recent outrage in Israel over a proposed exclusion of ultra-Orthodox parties from the governing coalition, for example, failed to note that no Arab political party has ever been invited to join the government.) In other words, the wrong of ethnic hegemony within the state leads to the further wrong of repression against the Other within its midst.

There is an unavoidable conflict between being a Jewish state and a democratic state. I want to emphasize that there’s nothing anti-Semitic in pointing this out, and it’s time the question was discussed openly on its merits, without the charge of anti-Semitism hovering in the background.

Joseph Levine is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he teaches and writes on philosophy of mind, metaphysics and political philosophy. He is the author of “Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness.”

Voir aussi:

Choose Your Side: The New York Times or Judaism

Edward Alexander

The NYT

March 18, 2013

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” – 1 Kings 18:21

American Jewry is often said to be divided between those who judge Judaism by the principles of the New York Times and those who judge the New York Times by the principles of Judaism. The former group was elated by Professor Joseph Levine’s recent clarion call “Questioning the Jewish State” (NY Times of March 9), which advocated the expulsion of Israel from the family of nations. The latter group was dismayed and nauseated, and confirmed in its view that expecting ordinary decency from “progressive” Jewish professors is like trying to warm yourself by the light of the moon. The former, composed in large part of what Gershom Scholem called “clever Jews” who fear nothing in this world (and maybe the next as well) so much as being called “reactionary,” agreed with Levine’s insistence that he not be labelled antisemitic just because he singled out Israel, among all the nations of the world, as deserving of dissolution; the latter thought the real question is whether Levine should be called a moral nonentity because he has made himself an accessory before the fact to the genocide dreamt of (and already inspiring murderous action) by Ahmadinejad, Hizbullah, Erdogan, Hamas, and numerous other “Islamist” eschatologists. (I’ve heard some ill-tempered members of this second group say that they looked forward to a Times discussion of whether Levine himself has an inalienable “right to exist.”)

Those Jews who judge the New York Times by the standards of Judaism believe that the creation of the state of Israel was one of the few redeeming events in a century of blood and shame, one of the greatest affirmations of the will to live ever made by a martyred people, and the most hopeful sign for humanity since the dove returned with the olive branch to Noah. They tend also to cling to Orwell’s view that some ideas–like the virtue of Jewish powerlessness–are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.

Those who judge Judaism by the standards of the New York Times boast of not having “danced in the streets when Ben-Gurion declared that the Jews, like other peoples, had a state of their own.” They believe (as does a majority of today’s Germans too) that Israel is the chief obstacle to world peace, a diversion from such compelling goals as gay marriage and unlimited access to abortion, and indeed the principal cause of most of the world’s evils with the (possible) exception of global warming.

Professor Levine’s polemic draws on sources both ancient and modern. It harkens back–albeit in the clumsy and verbose manner of somebody who “unpacks” rather than articulates ideas–to the earliest known ancient, non-Jewish document that mentions Israel by name. It is found on a monument from 1215 BCE (possessed by the British Museum) in which King Merneptah, the Egyptian forerunner of Chmielnicki, Hitler, Nasser, and Ahmadinejad, declares that “Israel is extinguished, its seed is no more.”

Levine, to be sure, is a philosopher, and not–on the surface, at least–a political agitator and propagandist, although he identifies himself (who could have guessed?) as a man of the left. Up to a point, Levine has some respectable predecessors among fellow-philosophers. In 1932, for example, Julien Benda, French philosopher (and novelist) addressed the “European nation” as follows: “Intellectuals of all countries, you must be the ones to tell your nations that they are always in the wrong by the single fact that they are nations…Plotinus blushed at having a body. You should blush at having a nation.” But whereas Benda called for philosophers of ALL nations to blush, Levine believes in blushing only by Jews for the Jewish nation. Although the imperfections he imputes to Israel because it calls itself “Jewish” manifest themselves–a hundred fold–in scores of members of the United Nations, he demands the dissolution only of the Jewish nation–not the 22 Arab nations or the numerous Christian ones or the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Like all Israel dissolutionists–one-state solution advocates, no-state solution advocates, and (this from the tone-deaf George Steiner) “final solution” advocates–he insists that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic. Perhaps the Times will soon invite him to cast his philosophic eye over a country called the United Kingdom, widely reputed to be democratic, and yet possessed of an official Protestant church, a Protestant monarch, a Protestant educational system (and all this in a once-Catholic country).

Levine has also attached himself, not unwittingly, to what Raul Hilberg called the last version of that ever-shortening sentence which expressed Europe’s anti-Jewish policies over the centuries. “The missionaries of Christianity,” wrote Hilberg, “had said in effect: You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: You have no right to live among us. The German Nazis at last decreed: you have no right to live.” Levine admits to a slight uneasiness about the resemblance between his challenging Israel’s “right to exist” and the Nazis’ disputing the Jews’ “right to live.” But confidence in his own infallibility carries him quickly over this abyss, as if it were just an unfortunate coincidence of diction and phrasing. In fact, of course, it makes him complicit in what Hannah Arendt famously defined as the crime against humanity, “an attack upon human diversity as such, that is, upon a characteristic of the ‘human status’ without which the very words ‘mankind’ or ‘humanity’ would be devoid of meaning.”

Hannah Arendt’s colleague (and critic) Saul Bellow put the matter more tersely in “To Jerusalem and Back” (1976): “The subject of all this talk is, ultimately, survival–the survival of the decent society, created in Israel within a few decades….The Jews, because they are Jews, have never been able to take the right to live as a natural right.”

Edward Alexander’s most recent book is THE STATE OF THE JEWS: A Critical Appraisal (Transaction Publishers).

Voir également:

With Obama’s Israel Visit, an Opportunity

Forming a ‘strategic triangle’ to ensure Middle East security.

Ehud Barak

The WSJ

March 19, 2013

President Obama’s visit to Israel comes at a decisive juncture for the Middle East and offers the opportunity for new strategic thinking. Over the past two years, a geopolitical earthquake has shattered a generations-old regional order. What is replacing that order are unstable, transformational regimes or, even worse, failed states.

These dramatic changes offer some important lessons. For instance: Be modest when it comes to predictions. Who predicted the revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere? Who could have predicted them?

Another lesson: It is unwise to rely on « the world » to act when a man-made disaster is unfolding. Consider Syria. President Bashar Assad’s jet fighters, tanks and artillery have been slaughtering Syrian people for two years. More than 70,000 have been killed. Yet the international community has shown neither unity of purpose nor the political will to act.

Many in the world would do well to learn the lesson that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is not the oft-cited failure to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago, the Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt, Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war, and Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and hegemony in the Persian Gulf.

The major challenges in the Middle East today are failed or failing states armed with thousands of rockets and missiles, the presence of global terror groups such as al Qaeda, and, of course, Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

In the face of these serious challenges, I see an opportunity for the United States, moderate Arab regimes and Israel to tackle these challenges together.

First, these countries should build a Regional Security Framework that will focus on fighting terror, protecting border security and maintaining a missile defense.

Second, Israel, backed by the U.S. and moderate Arab regimes, should launch a daring peace initiative vis-à-vis the Palestinians. A two-state arrangement is the only viable solution. While its absence is not the fountainhead of all regional troubles, its achievement would help secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. The status quo offers only a slippery slope toward a binational state that would endanger Israel’s future.

If a final-status agreement for a two-state solution is not feasible at this time—and I suspect it is not—Israel and the Palestinians should try to reach interim agreements. Start with security and borders, for example. But if interim agreements also prove impossible to achieve, unilateral steps that move both Israelis and Palestinians closer to their legitimate goals in a final peace agreement should be taken. Such steps might include an Israeli decision to build solely within the widely accepted settlement blocks, or programs that would reduce Palestinian dependence on the Israeli economy.

Third, Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, which is the paramount challenge facing Israel, the region and the world today, must be eliminated. An Iranian regime with hegemonic ambitions and armed with nuclear weapons would spell the end of any conceivable nonproliferation regime.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and later Egypt would soon follow suit. The danger of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terror groups would increase exponentially. Iran’s Gulf neighbors would be intimidated and Iran’s terror proxies would be emboldened—operating under the umbrella of a nuclear Iran—to spread death and destruction throughout the world.

Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons now is no simple task, and it is not without significant risks. But dealing with a nuclear Iran a few years down the road will be far more complicated, much more costly, and it could produce horrific consequences.

Diplomats are still working to find a solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. Tough sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy. As a long-time observer of Iranian machinations, though, I do not believe that diplomacy and sanctions alone will lead to a moment of truth when the ayatollahs will decide to give up their nuclear program. Thus all options, including the military one, must remain squarely on the table. And when we say that all options are on the table, we must truly be prepared to use them.

The strategic triangle of a Regional Security Framework, a reinvigorated peace process with the Palestinians, and an effective halt of the Iranian nuclear program is the most effective approach to deal with the dynamic challenges on our horizon.

But this strategic triangle will not emerge on its own. It demands U.S. leadership, and it demands an even stronger U.S.-Israel alliance. President Obama’s visit to Israel could not be more timely because it offers an opportunity to kick-start an effort to accomplish just that.

Mr. Barak was Israel’s minister of defense from 2007 until this week.

Voir enfin:

American Withdrawal and Global Disorder

As Obama ends U.S. security guarantees, nuclear weapons and violence will spread.

Eliot Cohen

The WSJ

March 19, 2013

Since the days of the Monroe Doctrine, American foreign policy has rested on a global system of explicit or implicit commitments to use military power to guarantee the interests of the U.S. and its allies. The current administration has chosen to reduce, limit or underfund those commitments, and the results—which we may begin to see before President Obama’s term ends—will be dangerous.

Some of America’s commitments are enshrined in treaties, such as Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, which says of NATO’s 28 member countries that « an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. » Other commitments are less formal. The U.S. has no defense treaty with Israel, but repeated presidential declarations, including those Mr. Obama will make during his trip this week, amount to nearly the same thing.

Some commitments are moral and humanitarian, such as the « responsibility to protect » that led American decision makers racked with guilt over the Rwanda massacres of 1994 to intervene in the Yugoslav civil war in 1998. All amount to a web of obligations that have been central to the American role in the world since World War II.

Over the past four years, the U.S. has scaled down its presence, ambitions and promises overseas. Mr. Obama has announced the end of the early-21st-century wars, though in truth the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are merely shifting to new, not necessarily less-vicious phases. He has refrained from issuing unambiguous threats to hostile states, such as Iran, that engage in bellicose behavior toward the U.S., and he has let his staff speak of « leading from behind » as a desirable approach to foreign policy.

He has reduced the U.S. military budget and is willing to cut more. His preferred use of force when dealing with terrorism is a protracted campaign of assassination by drone strike—which he says has succeeded fabulously, yet which curiously requires indefinite expansion.

In Mr. Obama’s second term the limits of such withdrawal from conventional military commitments abroad will be tested. In East Asia, an assertive China has bullied the Philippines (with which the U.S. has a 61-year-old defense pact) over the Spratly islands, and China has pressed its claims on Japan (a 53-year-old defense pact) over the Senkaku Islands.

At stake are territorial waters and mineral resources—symbols of China’s drive for hegemony and an outburst of national egotism. Yet when Shinzo Abe, the new prime minister of an understandably anxious Japan, traveled to Washington in February, he didn’t get the unambiguous White House backing of Japan’s sovereignty that an ally of long standing deserves and needs.

In Europe, an oil-rich Russia is rebuilding its conventional arsenal while modernizing (as have China and Pakistan) its nuclear arsenal. Russia has been menacing its East European neighbors, including those, like Poland, that have offered to host elements of a NATO missile-defense system to protect Europe.

In 2012, Russia’s then-chief of general staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, declared: « A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens. » This would be the same Russia that has attempted to dismember its neighbor Georgia and now has a docile Russophile billionaire, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, to supplant the balky, independence-minded government loyal to President Mikhail Saakashvili.

In the Persian Gulf, American policy was laid down by Jimmy Carter in his 1980 State of the Union address with what became the Carter Doctrine: « An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force. » America’s Gulf allies may not have treaties to rely upon—but they do have decades of promises and the evidence of two wars that the U.S. would stand by them.

Today they wait for the long-promised (by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush) nuclear disarmament of a revolutionary Iranian government that has been relentless in its efforts to intimidate and subvert Iran’s neighbors. They may wait in vain.

Americans take for granted the world in which they grew up—a world in which, for better or worse, the U.S. was the ultimate security guarantor of scores of states, and in many ways the entire international system.

Today we are informed by many politicians and commentators that we are weary of those burdens—though what we should be weary of, given that our children aren’t conscripted and our taxes aren’t being raised in order to pay for those wars, is unclear. The truth is that defense spending at the rate of 4% of gross domestic product (less than that sustained with ease by Singapore) is eminently affordable.

The arguments against far-flung American strategic commitments take many forms. So-called foreign policy realists, particularly in the academic world, believe that the competing interests of states tend automatically toward balance and require no statesmanlike action by the U.S. To them, the old language of force in international politics has become as obsolete as that of the « code duello, » which regulated individual honor fights through the early 19th century. We hear that international institutions and agreements can replace national strength. It is also said—covertly but significantly—that the U.S. is too dumb and inept to play the role of security guarantor.

Perhaps the clever political scientists, complacent humanists, Spenglerian declinists, right and left neo-isolationists, and simple doubters that the U.S. can do anything right are correct. Perhaps the president should concentrate on nation-building at home while pressing abroad only for climate- change agreements, nuclear disarmament and an unfettered right to pick off bad guys (including Americans) as he sees fit.

But if history is any guide, foreign policy as a political-science field experiment or what-me- worryism will yield some ugly results. Syria is a harbinger of things to come. In that case, the dislocation, torture and death have first afflicted the locals. But it will not end there, as incidents on Syria’s borders and rumors of the movement of chemical weapons suggest.

A world in which the U.S. abnegates its leadership will be a world of unrestricted self-help in which China sets the rules of politics and trade in Asia, mayhem and chaos is the order of the day in the Middle East, and timidity and appeasement paralyze the free European states. A world, in short, where the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must, and those with an option hurry up and get nuclear weapons.

Not a pleasant thought.

Mr. Cohen directs the Strategic Studies program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

4 Responses to Juifs utiles: Et si le prétendu peuple juif se dissolvait lui-même ? (Dissolve your own people: US Jewish philosopher comes up with the ultimate solution to all world problems)

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