Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: Implement Sharia In Phases

From The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:

RECOMMENDED READING: “Article On Muslim Brotherhood Website: Implement Shari’a In Phases”

The website of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has posted an article in which one of its long time members argues that Sharia (Islamic Law) should be “achieved gradually.” According to a MEMRI translation:

In a June 11, 2011 article on the website of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, veteran movement member Sheikh Ahmad Gad argued that the implementation of shari’a in Egypt must be achieved gradually, by preparing the peoples’ hearts and minds for it and introducing it in stages. He proposed learning from the methods of the early Muslim Brotherhood, which worked in a step-by-step fashion, and called on Al-Azhar to focus on promoting the implementation of shari’a. The following are excerpts from the article:[1] “There Is No Hope for Reform Without a Return to Divine Rule:

” “Following the blessed popular revolution on January 25, 2011, there was a debate between the majority, which hopes and yearns for the implementation of Allah’s shari’a, and the minority, which uses Islam as a tool of intimidation and fears the Islamists and a return to the Middle Ages. “This minority, which denies the results of the referendum while calling for democracy,[2] is made up of those who oppose a religious state or a caliphate state, and advocate a return to the tyrannical secular regime that corrupted the land and the people – a minority [that receives] prominent media coverage… “Islamic shari’a ruled for centuries, but became distant and absent for centuries more. The various forms of imperialism were a burden on the [Muslim] nation in various ways, and caused people to change… In that dark period, the state alternately mimicked Eastern and Western regimes. Corruption developed, grew, and accumulated… [Nowadays], there is no hope for reform without a return to divine rule, which the Creator chose for man. This nation will have no chance of success, [except] by that which caused it to succeed in its beginning. “[However,] we must not impose Islamic shari’a, forcing the people to adopt something about which they are ignorant and with which they are unfamiliar… If we do this, [various] ploys will be used to circumvent it, and there will be hypocrisy. [People] will exhibit Islamic [behavior] only outwardly…”

Read the rest here.

Share and Enjoy:

Related posts:

a.Reuters Fails To Detect Muslim Brotherhood Deception In Article About Sharia Finance

b.RECOMMENDED READING: “Brotherhood Statements Foster Confusion”

c.Muslim Brotherhood Leader Says Sharia Law Is Coming If Brotherhood Takes Power

d.Article Posted On WAMY Website Blames Salman Rushdie Affair on “Zionist Alliance”


GlobalMB @ July 11, 2011

Qaradawi Backs Expelled Muslim Brotherhood Leader Over Former Colleague In Egyptian Presidential Race

from The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:

Qaradawi Backs Expelled Muslim Brotherhood Leader Over Former Colleage In Egyptian Presidential Race

OnIslam, the Islamic news portal associated with Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, has reported that Qaradawi has repeated his support for Egyptian Presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh. According to the report:

Prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has reiterated support for senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh’s bid to run for Egypt’s presidency. ”I will vote for Abul-Futuh,” Qaradawi, the president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), has told the Qatari newspaper Al-Arab. Dr. Abul-Futuh has unveiled a bid to run in Egypt’s presidential elections as an independent. Abul-Futuh has said that he had consulted Sheikh Qaradawi before his decision to run for presidency. A doctor by profession, Abul-Futuh, 60, is currently secretary-general of the Arab Doctors Union. He holds an MA in hospital management and an LLM from Cairo University’s Faculty of Law. Abul-Futuh is a member of the Brotherhood’s Shura Council, but not the 16-member governing body. Alongside Abul-Futuh, the list of presidential hopefuls includes former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, former leader of the UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei and prominent scholar Mohamed Salim Al-Awa. Abul-Futuh’s presidential bid has been opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has said that it will not field a candidate in the presidential elections. The Muslim Brotherhood has sacked Abul-Futuh over his decision to seek presidency. Qaradawi has described Muslim scholar Mohamed Salim Al-Awa’s bid to seek Egypt presidency as ‘difficult’. ”Awa’s position in the presidential elections is difficult,” Qaradawi said. ”Awa is accused of having relations with the Shiites, the Iranian government, Hizbullah and its leader Hasan Nasrallah, which weaken his position in the elections.” Awa, the former IUMS secretary-general, has unveiled bid to run in Egypt’s presidential elections. A graduate of the Faculty of Law, Alexandria University, Awa is one of Egypt’s most acknowledged lawyers with specialization in constitutional law.

Read the rest here.

Mohamed Selim al-Awa is actually a close associate of Youssef Qaradawi who is a director of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), launched on July 11, 2004 in conjunction with a visit by Qaradawi to London for a meeting of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. The IUMS board of directors is comprised of many leaders of the global Brotherhood and is headed by Qaradawi. Al-Awa served as IUMS Seretary-General from 2004-2010. A previous post discussed an interview with Al-Awa in which he accused Egyptian Coptic churches of storing weapons in their monasteries to be used against Muslims.

Qaradawi, a virulent anti-Semite is often referred to here as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide. Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. A recent post has discussed a video compilation of Qaradawi’s extremist statements.

Qaradawi’s support for Abul-Futuh over his colleague at the IUMS is unexplained but a previous post reported that according to local experts, Mohamed Selim al-Awa is actually the “undeclared nominee” of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for the presidency of the country.

Share and Enjoy:

Related posts:

a.Egyptian Experts Identify Qaradawi Associate As Stealth Nominee For Egyptian Presidency

b.BREAKING NEWS: Qaradawi Associate To Run For Egyptian President

c.Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Elects New Governing Body

d.MIDEAST CRISIS: Qaradawi Organization Wants New Regime With “Different Philosophy And Constitution”

e.Qaradawi Urges Egyptian Brotherhood To Boycott Elections

GlobalMB @ July 12, 2011

Malaysia's Deat Leader: Demonstrations "Not Part Of Our Culture"

From Jihad Watch:

Malaysia's Dear Leader: Demonstrations "not part of our culture"

From the Islam equals hypocrisy par excellence department:

Fallout and spin continues in the wake of the thousands who protested against the (Muslim) government in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday. From "Street demonstrations not part of Malaysian culture, says [Prime Minister]", by Mazwin Nik Anis and Rahimy Rahim for The Star, 11 July 2011:

KUALA LUMPUR: Street demonstrations must not be made a part of the Malaysian culture, the Prime Minister said.

The people should not have to live in chaos and uncertainty, [Malaysian Prime Minister Najib] said.

“We are peace-loving citizens and we want to live in a nation that has a bright future,” the Umno president added when addressing thousands of people comprising party grassroots leaders and representatives from Malay-based [Muslim-based] non-governmental organisations yesterday.

Street protests not part of the Malaysian culture, you say? Well then, what is part of Malay, I mean Malaysian culture, Dear Leader Najib? Threats of naked (Muslim) violence against any dissent? Islamic supremacism and intimidation of any and all kufr within Malaysia's borders?

And lest we think that street protests are not "part of Malaysian culture", let us not forget these instances. First, a street protest in 2008 in favor of the Sri Lankan terrorist group LTTE was staged in Kuala Lumpur by Najib's own party in front of the Sri Lankan embassy. Over one thousand attended the event, including women and children. Other protests have been staged by pro-Government groups over the years, including ones in favor of government laws like the Internal Security Act (ISA), and demonstrations by various Muslim supremacist groups against Israel, against cartoons, in favor of Hamas, et al. All were permitted by the police and/or endorsed by UMNO (i.e. the Government). I suppose having street marches that support 'laudible goals' like the Tamil Tigers, Islamic supremacism and the indefinite suspension of civil rights like ISA is less objectionable than the clean and fair elections that Bersih 2.0 had in mind.

So, are demonstrations really "not part of our culture"? It depends on who's doing the demonstrating and what their message is.

Posted by The Anti-Jihadist on July 11, 2011 6:39 AM

Afghani President's Controversial Half-Brother Assassinated By Own Bodyguard

From The Blaze:

Afghan President’s Controversial Half-Brother Assassinated by Own Bodyguard

Posted on July 12, 2011 at 7:27am by Billy Hallowell

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (The Blaze/AP) — President Hamid Karzai’s powerful half brother, a lightning rod for criticism of deep-rooted corruption within the Afghan government, was assassinated Tuesday by a bodyguard at his home in southern Afghanistan.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the head of the Kandahar provincial council, was shot twice – once in the head and once in the chest, according to hospital officials.

The motive of the killing has not been established, but his death served a new blow to U.S.-coalition efforts to curb violence and the government’s quest to gain control of this Taliban stronghold. CNN has more:

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination. A person who witnessed the killing said a member of Wali Karzai’s private security team killed him with an AK-47. The individual, who declined to be identified, said that other bodyguards quickly gunned down the assassin.

Wali Karzai, who was in his 50s, was seen by many as a political liability for the Karzai government after a series of allegations, including that he was on the CIA payroll and involved in drug trafficking. He denied the charges. The president repeatedly challenged his accusers to show him evidence of his sibling’s wrongdoing, but said nobody ever could.

Wali Karzai remained a key power broker in the south, helping shore up his family‘s interests in the Taliban’s southern heartland, which has been the site of numerous offensives by U.S., coalition and Afghan troops to root out insurgents. Militants have retaliated by intimidating and killing local government officials or others against the Taliban.

The United Nations said in a quarterly report issued June 23 that more than half of all assassinations across Afghanistan since March had been in Kandahar.

The killing came just hours before the president held a news conference with French President Nicolas Sarzoky.

“This morning my younger brother Ahmed Wali Karzai was murdered in his home,” the Afghan president said. “Such is the life of Afghanistan’s people. In the houses of the people of Afghanistan, each of us is suffering and our hope is that, God willing, to remove this suffering from the people of Afghanistan and implement peace and stability.” Last month, CBC interviewed Wali Karzai:

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the killing in a statement, calling it an “act of cowardice” and offering his condolences to the president. According to CNN, Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, did the same:

[Petraeus] offered his condolences to the Afghan president and said ISAF will help the Afghan government “bring justice” to those involved in the killing.

“President Karzai is working to create a stronger, more secure Afghanistan, and for such a tragic event to happen to someone within his own family is unfathomable,” Petraeus said.

Ahmed Wali Karzai maneuvered through a murky, dangerous world of intelligence, Afghan politics and tribal intrigue. Members of the international community had urged the president to remove his brother from his powerful provincial position, saying that it was essential if he was to prove to the Afghan people that he was committed to good governance.

Noorolhaq Olomi, a former parliament member from Kandahar, said Wali Karzai was the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan – “more of a governor than the governor” and “everybody’s leader in the south, not just Kandahar.”

“I cannot say whether this was political or personal or some other matter,” Olomi said. “But whoever did it, it shows the weakness of this government. The president needs to change things. He needs to change himself and build a government that is real. Right now, there is no government. It’s all a fraud.”

Afghan Interior Minister Bismullah Mohammadi called Wali Karzai “a loyal and faithful servant of the people of Afghanistan.”

“This is truly a sad day for all,” he said. “Mr. Karzai will be remembered and honored for his selfless dedication and commitment to peace and stability.”

The ministry said the killing was being investigated.

Mohammad Yusuf Pashtun, a senior adviser to the president for construction, water, energy and mines, said the death will have a big impact on security in southern Afghanistan.

“My first impression is that in spite of all the negative propaganda against him he managed to be a source of stability in that area,” he said. “When it comes to bringing people together in the south, this creates a vacuum. I don’t know what will happen now, but something must be done by the local leadership.”

Rangina Hamidi, a resident of Kandahar and daughter of the city’s mayor, said Wali Karzai is survived by five children – two sons and three daughters. She says his youngest son was born about a month ago.

“It is his 1-month-old child who is never going to see his father that I cry about,” she said sobbing on the phone. “How many orphans and widows are we creating in this country?”

Wali Karzai has been the reported target of multiple assassination attempts.

In May 2009, his motorcade was ambushed by insurgents firing rockets and machine guns in eastern Nangarhar province. One of Wali Karzai’s bodyguards was killed, but he was not harmed.

That attack came less than two months after four Taliban suicide bombers stormed Kandahar’s provincial council office, killing 13 people in an assault that Wali Karzai said was aimed at him. A Taliban spokesman said the attack targeted the general compound. The president’s brother had left the building a few minutes before that attack.

Wali Karzai also survived a November 2008 attack on the provincial council offices while the group was inside hearing constituent complaints. A suicide bomber drove an oil tanker up to the council’s offices and blew up the vehicle, killing six people and wounding more than 40. Two members of the provincial council were wounded but Wali Karzai was unharmed.


Russia's Anxieties About The Arab Revolutions

From FPRI:

Foreign Policy Research Institute

Over 50 Years of Ideas in Service to Our Nation


You can now follow FPRI on Facebook and FPRINews on Twitter


Distributed Exclusively via Email


by Stephen Blank

July 11, 2011

Stephen Blank is a Professor at the Strategic Studies

Institute, US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. The

views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of

the US Army, Defense Department, or the U.S. Government.

Available on the web and in pdf format at:



by Stephen Blank

By June 2011, the Arab revolutions had evolved into a series

of disconnected but increasingly violent civil

wars-particularly in Libya and Syria. The international

community has certainly not been spared the effects of these

wars. As a long-time patron-if not an ally-of these states,

Russia views these trends with mounting anxiety. These

revolutions and civil wars pose three serious challenges or

even threats to Russia.


Domestically, the revolutions could inspire citizens to take

autonomous political action against the regime.

Alternatively, they could further inflame the insurgency in

the North Caucasus among a largely Muslim population to

which Russia is already dedicating approximately 250,000

regular army and Ministry of Interior forces. Meanwhile,

Moscow clearly has no effective strategy for quelling this

violence or for resolving this insurgency by political


Russian domestic and external braggadocio is intended in

part to hide the regime's fears of domestic unrest. Russian

officials believe and publicly profess that since 2003 the

United States has been trying to foment democracy campaigns

in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

to undermine existing regimes there. Accordingly, they

continue to promote the image of Russia as a besieged

fortress surrounded by linked enemies, foreign governments

and democratic reformers. Thus, President Dmitry Medvedev

said, in March 2011:

Look at the current situation in the Middle East and the

Arab world. It is extremely difficult and great problems

still lie ahead. In some cases it may even come to the

disintegration of large, heavily populated states, their

break-up into smaller fragments. The character of these

states is far from straightforward. It may come to very

complex events, including the arrival of fanatics into

power. This will mean decades of fires and further

spread of extremism. We must face the truth. In the past

such a scenario was harbored for us, and now attempts to

implement it are even more likely. In any case, this

plot will not work. But everything that happens there

will have a direct impact on our domestic situation in

the long term, as long as decades.

While Moscow does not attribute the Arab revolutions to

outside forces, it believes that those forces could exploit

their example to incite an increasingly dissatisfied

populace. In response to the color revolutions of 2003-2005,

Moscow has terminated elections of governors, passed

increasingly draconian laws suppressing freedom of the

press, assembly, speech, and the dissemination of

information, and has created thousands of Paramilitary units

whose primary mission is to suppress any manifestation of

public unrest and autonomous political action. Dissidents

and journalists have been jailed, beaten, and sometimes

killed. Vladimir Putin has even revived Leonid Brezhnev's

notorious practice of putting dissidents into psychiatric

institutions. According to journalist Andrei Soldatov,

Russia is also working to prevent a "Facebook Revolution" by

proposing that the owners of online social media be

responsible for all content posted on their websites.

Despite the regime's habitual public swagger, these policies

betray a government deeply afraid of its own people. An

April 2009 report outlined the threat perceived by the

authorities quite clearly. Specifically it stated:

The Russian intelligence community is seriously worried

about latent social processes capable of leading to the

beginning of civil wars and conflicts on RF [Russian

Federation] territory that can end up in a disruption of

territorial integrity and the appearance of a large

number of new sovereign powers. Data of an information

"leak," the statistics and massive number of

antigovernment actions, and official statements and

appeals of the opposition attest to this.

This report proceeded to say that these agencies expected

massive protests in the Moscow area, industrial areas of the

South Urals and Western Siberia and in the Far East, while

ethnic tension among the Muslims of the North Caucasus and

Volga-Ural areas was also not excluded. The proliferation of

the Arab "virus" would be the Kremlin's worst nightmare.


Russia's second source of anxiety lies in the possibility

that Arab revolutions might spread to Central Asia. Russian

elites regard this area as particularly vulnerable to

upheaval from both within and without, especially if the

Taliban were to prevail in Afghanistan. On June 14,

President Medvedev, speaking in Tashkent, made clear that

these revolutions concern Russia and its Central Asian

partners. Indeed, by April it was clear to Moscow that

dangerous pressure was building up in these states. When

the Duma held public hearings about the possibility of these

revolutions spreading to Central Asia, Deputy Foreign

Minister Grigory Karasin, on April 13, publicly urged these

states to make timely reforms lest they be swept away like

Tunisia and Egypt. Russia is seeking stability because it

will prevent these other states from drawing closer. To

achieve this, Karasin has recommended the formation of a

civil society with the intention of establishing

international and inter-religious peace, leaders' heightened

responsibility for raising the population's standard of

living, and the development of education and work with

youth. However, this limited program cannot overcome the

results of profound misrule, corruption, and stunted

economic development. Additionally, there has been no

mention of economic development, freedom, or genuine

political reform. Clearly, Russia is only willing to

tolerate cosmetic reforms, and it is doubtful that Central

Asian leaders will even reach those limits.

Indeed, these leaders are quite unwilling to countenance

genuine reforms and their responses to the Arab revolutions

have been dismissive. Kazakhstan's President, Nursultan

Nazarbayev, initiated an instant election rather than a

palpably stage-managed referendum to give him life tenure

because the latter would have been too egregious in today's

climate. Meanwhile in Uzbekistan, already a draconian state

in many ways, we see a further crackdown on mobile Internet

media. News blackouts are becoming frequent occurrences in

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; all across Central Asia,

government agencies continue to deny the possibility of

revolution. Subsequently, Uzbek President Islam Karimov

stated that these revolutions were externally instigated by

states who covet Central Asian resources, though he would

not specifically identify them. Tajikistan's President,

Emomali Rahmon, told his Parliament on April 20, 2011:

Much has been said and written about the possibility of

the repetition of such events in Central Asia, [---] "I

want to reiterate that the wise people of Tajikistan,

who were once the victims of such events, know the

meaning of peace and stability. They are aware of the

importance of peace and stability. [---] They have gone

through civil wars; therefore, they reject military

solutions to any problem.

Similarly, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov

recently said that the abundance of goods at domestic

markets, especially food, and cheap prices are key

indicators of progress and stability. While governments in

the region are doing their best to leave nothing to chance,

they are not reforming themselves. These regimes are

whistling in the wind and have good reason for anxiety.

Large demonstrations are now occurring in Azerbaijan, where

unrest in response to the regime's crackdown on dissent and

Islamic agitation has been growing since late 2010.


Russia's third source of anxiety pertains to NATO's

operation to support Libya's insurgents and to the

possibility of deepening involvement there-and even more so

in Syria. NATO's actions and the ongoing civil strife place

several Russian interests in these countries at risk. Russia

already stands to lose, by its own account, $4.5 billion in

arms deals with Libya and that figure excludes Syria. Those

arms sales not only benefit defense industry, but also

Russian leaders who habitually pocket the proceeds from arms

sales for their private "slush funds." Beyond that, Libya

has also reportedly offered Russia a naval base in Benghazi

while Syria has offered Moscow a naval base at Tartus. These

events suggest that in return for arms sales host states are

being pressured to give Moscow access to foreign bases. We

have also seen this in Latin America. Moreover, Russia might

still be supplying weapons covertly to Libya through

Belarus, a habitual conduit of weapons to places where

Russia wishes to retain deniability, since Libya has

recently asked Belarus for more weapons. Syria's importance

as a buyer of Russian arms, often paid for by Saudi or

Iranian subsidies to Syria, is of a comparable economic and

strategic magnitude.

Second, Libya is important to Russia's energy strategy. Just

before the Libyan revolution, Russia signed an asset-

swapping deal with ENI, Italy's state energy company, to

obtain half of ENI's stake of 66 percent of Libya's Elephant

oilfield with 700 million recoverable barrels of oil. In

exchange, ENI will be allowed to take part in projects to

develop northwest Siberian assets owned by the Arctic Gas

company. Specifically ENI and Gazprom agreed to finalize a

contract for the sale of gas from these fields in Siberia

that will be produced by a joint Russo-Italian company

called SeverEnergia (Northern Energy). This deal comports

with Russia's twin objectives of: 1) ensconcing itself in

North African gas supply networks to surround and put more

pressure on Europe to deal with Russian gas suppliers and 2)

obtaining foreign equity ownership investment without overly

intrusive conditions like majority equity ownership in

Russia's Siberian and Far Eastern energy projects.

Presumably, in this case, there is a trade so if the Libyan

project were to fall through due to the success of the

revolutionaries, ENI might have to pull out of the Siberian


Therefore, the implications of maintaining a Russian gas

stake in Libya and the broader North African scene possess

considerable economic and geopolitical importance. In sum,

Russia clearly cannot gain decisive leverage upon European

gas supplies unless it gains major equity in North African,

i.e. Libyan and Algerian fields. Lukoil already holds stakes

in Egypt, Tatneft is in Libya, and Gazprom is in Algeria

while Gazprom, as shown below, is primed to move as well

into Libya. Moscow also clearly wants BP's assets in Algeria

and in the Caspian Basin. TNK-BP announced in October 2010

its interests in BP's Algerian holdings worth $3 billion.

President Medvedev also proposed buying these holdings

during his 2010 state visit to Algeria. TNK-BP even offered

assets to Sonatrach, Algeria's national gas company, in

exchange for these BP assets. BP may also have asked

Algeria and Sonatrach to cooperate with Russia. Beyond

those BP assets in Algeria, Gazprom plans to participate in

new tenders to develop gas fields there. Despite an initial

interest in cooperating with Russian firms, Algeria and

Sonatrach reversed course and decided to resist Russia.

Russia's interest in acquiring Algerian energy assets is

quite straightforward. Whatever leverage it gains in

Algerian oil and gas can be used to encircle Europe since

Moscow expects Western demand for gas will return to 2007-8


But Moscow also needs foreign assets like these fields in

North Africa for critical domestic economic purposes to

shore up Gazprom's bottom line. Moscow must now reckon with

stagnant, if not declining, demand in Western Europe and the

arrival of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and shale gas where

it cannot compete. These challenges cause Moscow to doggedly

pursue its earlier strategy. Furthermore, the prospect of

higher domestic energy taxes also drives Gazprom to seek

more foreign assets rather than reform its domestic

operations. On the other hand, the unrest in Libya has had

a major silver lining for Moscow. The general sense of

turbulence throughout the Persian Gulf has caused oil prices

to spike to over $100 per barrel unit (bbl).

This windfall simultaneously plays a key role in Russian

domestic politics. As Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has

stated, Russia's budget is in deficit if oil prices fall

below $120/bbl. Consequently this windfall relieves pressure

on the budget. But more importantly, for all those who,

like Putin, cling to the idea of an energy powerhouse, but

an essentially unreformed economy (and political system),

this windfall obviates any demand to undertake the reforms

needed to modernize the political and economic system.

Medvedev has talked but failed to deliver here. Since it

provides an illusion of prosperity and stability, popular

and elite pressures for reform are tranquilized as long as

panic and speculation dominate global energy markets.

Third, in foreign policy, instability in the Gulf and North

Africa seemingly allows Russian leaders like Prime Minister

Putin, to tell Europe that it should make deals with Russia

because Russia supposedly is a stable predictable supplier

without whom Europe cannot manage. Needless to say, this is

ultimately a geopolitical argument, although it includes

economics, for strengthening Russia's clout over Europe.

Thus, Russia's energy strategy aims not only to reduce

pressure for domestic reform, it also is the critical

instrument by which Russia seeks to dominate the CIS and

gain enduring leverage in Europe. Failures in either

foreign policy theater immediately reverberate in Russian

domestic politics and economics.

Another reason for Russian opposition to intervention lies

in the fact that Russia has consistently tried to restrict

the U.S. use of force so that Washington must get approval

from the UN Security Council where Russia has a veto.

Invoking the UN as the supreme and exclusive arbiter of the

use of force for the United States has been a systematic

plank in Russian foreign policy for over a decade. If the

United States and Europe showed that they did not need a UN

approval (which, in any case, Moscow and Beijing would

veto), this would demonstrate Washington's effective -and

even successful- disregard for Russia to the world, with a

corresponding blow to Russian status, prestige, and real

influence in the Middle East and beyond. Therefore,

continuation or worse, extension and prolongation, of this

operation would only confirm Russian fears that Washington

and NATO are unpredictable actors who are not bound by

consideration of Russian interests, international law, or

anything other than their own sense of their values. These

values, which remain quite inexplicable to Russian leaders,

are often indistinguishable and unnecessarily complex in the

conduct of relations with the West. Moreover, Western

leaders could one day claim the lack of democracy in Russia

or the CIS as a pretext for intervention. Russia, like

China, wants to conduct a "values-free" foreign policy with

the United States and Europe in the manner of eighteenth or

nineteenth century cabinet diplomacy where states could do

as they please domestically. Thus, for example, Russia

simultaneously published atrocity stories about NATO's

conduct while seeking to persuade NATO and Muammar Qaddafi

that it can be a reliable mediator in this operation. Such

maneuvers represent the acme of tactical flexibility that

Moscow prides itself on possessing.

Finally, NATO's Libyan operation presents Russia with

multiple geopolitical risks. Once again Moscow believes that

NATO, backed by Washington, has usurped the clear meaning of

a UN resolution to intervene unilaterally in a civil war on

behalf of forces opposing Russia's client or partner and to

impose democracy by force. Russia also worries that this

could lead (as may well happen) to a prolonged stalemate

that could further inflame its and its neighbors' restive

Muslim populations and the entire Middle East. Second, the

potential victory of these revolutionary forces and NATO

could lead them to ratchet up similar pressure on Syria and

use Libya as a precedent for intervening there. Third, if

the Libyan and Syrian revolutionaries were to win, such a

victory could lead them to look to NATO, not Moscow, in the

future. This would result in strengthening the Western

presence in the Middle East and allowing NATO to consolidate

the area unilaterally. That would constitute a clear defeat

of Moscow's long-standing geopolitical objective of not

letting the United States and/or NATO unilaterally organize

the Middle East. Then Moscow would face regional

marginalization, as well as another successful NATO

unilateral precedent in coercive diplomacy.

All these considerations came together when Foreign Minister

Sergei Lavrov met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in

Moscow on May 6, 2011. They announced their grave concern

over Middle Eastern events. Furthermore, they would now

coordinate actions to bring about a "speedy stabilization"

of the situation and prevent negative unpredictable

consequences. Specifically, they adhere to the principle

that peoples should be free to arrange their affairs as they

see fit without outside interference. They both see the UN

Contact Group as having grossly overstepped its authority

and as now being in favor of a NATO ground operation, thus

usurping the Security Council's formal role. They called for

a peaceful settlement and no foreign intervention, which

means Qaddafi stays in power. This coordination will

undoubtedly spread to questions concerning reform in Central

Asia even though Moscow, as noted earlier, would like to see

cautious reforms.

Yet within weeks, Moscow offered to mediate between Qaddafi

and the rebels. It did so because much as it fears prolonged

strife in Libya, it fears marginalization and NATO's victory

even more. Therefore, despite the agreement with China, it

quickly reversed course lest it be isolated vis-…-vis NATO

and regionally. Moscow's maneuvers betray weakness despite

its public posturing. Its advice to Libya, Yemen, Syria,

and Central Asia to institute moderate reforms was utterly

disregarded yet it upholds these regimes even though they

depend, as Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, said, on

Russia. Their propensity to murder their citizens has

apparently not suggested to Moscow that it has again backed

the wrong horses. Meanwhile, Russia's domestic policies of

repression and anticipation of what amounts to counter-

revolution also betray fear, weakness, and an inability to

transcend the status quo notwithstanding Medvedev's call for

modernization. Should Russia or its neighbors experience

their own version of the Arab spring, this elite

determination to retain power and befriend tyrants as allies

might lead Moscow to its own violent emulation of what is

now a truly revolutionary and violent process in the Middle



Copyright Foreign Policy Research Institute


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Palestinians Cannot Accept Less Than 100%

From Middle East and Terrorism Blog:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Palestinians Cannot Accept Less than 100%

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinians are divided today into two camps – one that is radical and another that is less radical -- or "moderate" in the words of the West.

The radical camp is headed by Hamas and other extremist groups such as the Islamic Jihad organization.

This camp's message is: We want 100% of everything and we will not make any concessions to Israel. We want all the land, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. We want to replace Israel with an Islamic state where Jews who wish to could live as a minority.

There is no point in talking about the possibility of negotiating with this radical camp about peace, especially as its declared goal is to eliminate Israel -- not make peace with it.

The only thing Israel could talk to the radicals about is how and when to dismantle the Jewish state and send Israelis to Europe, Russia, the US and their Arab countries of origin.

The less radical camp, headed by the PLO and a minority of secular Palestinians, is also saying that it wants 100%, but only of the pre-1967 lines -– meaning the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Like the radicals, the "moderate" camp is also saying that it will not and cannot make any concessions to Israel on its territorial demands.

With such positions, it is hard to see how the peace process could lead to anything positive. The radicals do not want to negotiate with Israel because they do not recognize its right to exist and believe it should be wiped off the face of the earth. The so-called moderates say they are ready to return to the negotiating table, but only if Israel agrees in advance to give them 100% of their demands.

Yet the central problem is that even if Israel does accept all their demands, neither camp is willing to commit to ending the conflict. This is basically why the 2000 Camp David summit failed – because Yasser Arafat was not prepared to sign any document that called for end of conflict even after a peace deal were reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

Further, no "moderate" Palestinian leader would dare to sign such a document out of fear of being denounced by his people -- and the rest of the Arab and Islamic countries -- for having "sold out" to Israel by giving up the claim to all of the land.

Because the less-radical camp knows that Israel will not and cannot accept all their demands, they have decided to stay away from the peace talks. They have instead chosen to negotiate with the international community about the establishment of a Palestinian state. That is why they prefer to negotiate with France, Germany, Britain and South American countries about the two-state solution.

The Palestinian Authority, which today represents the less-radical camp, is hoping that the international community will give the Palestinians what Israel is not giving it at the negotiating table. The goal of the Palestinian Authority leadership is to internationalize the conflict with the hope of imposing a solution on Israel. This is the main reason why it has decided to go to the UN in September with a request to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.

The UN may approve the Palestinian Authority's request. But the Palestinians will only get a state on paper – in the form of another meaningless UN resolution. The only way to achieve a state is through negotiations with Israel, whether the Palestinians like Israel or not.

And the Palestinians have good reason to be optimistic about negotiations with Israel. A majority of Jews, according to several public opinion polls, believe in the two-state solution. The only debate inside Israel today is not whether there should be a Palestinian state, but how much land the Palestinians will get.

Hence it would be wise if Mahmoud Abbas refrained from pushing Israel to the corner through his statehood bid, and agreed to return immediately to the negotiating table.

Moreover, Abbas needs to be warned that his September initiative could be counterproductive for the Palestinians and damaging for the two-state solution. Such an initiative would not only damage the Palestinians' relations with the US and most EU countries, who are all opposed to the statehood plan; these parties have also hinted that financial aid to the Palestinians would be affected if Abbas insisted on proceeding with his plan. The Palestinians would then be held responsible for sabotaging the peace process by embarking on a unilateral step in violation of the Oslo Accords.

That's what the Palestinian Authority would say. The Americans and Europeans disagree and that's why they are urging the Palestinians to return to the negotiations. Add to this the fact that Israel has repeatedly expressed its desire to resume the peace talks.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Source: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2265/palestinians-cannot-accept-less

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Posted by sally at 4:06 PM

Syrian Regime Mob Attacks U.S. Embassy

From Middle East and Terrorism Blog:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Syrian Regime Mob Attacks U.S. Embassy

by Barry Rubin

In Damascus, a mob organized by the Asad regime attacked the U.S. and French embassies. The French guards fired into the air, wounding two, and the demonstrators stopped. Three French embassy workers were injured. At the U.S. embassy while Syrian guards fired teargas, the U.S. Marines didn’t fire and the mob surged into the embassy breaking windows and wrecking at least part of the building for two and a half hours as Syrian security forces stood by.

Those are the basic facts. The question is: what does this mean and what will the Obama Administration do about it.

What this tells us about Syria’s government

Syria, unlike Mubarak’s Egypt, is a real totalitarian regime. The rulers believe, and experience has taught them, that violence and intimidation always wins. It is the kind of government that President Barack Obama and the well-meaning peace processers and those holding university degrees in conflict resolution can’t understand. It is Saddam Hussein’s Iraq without any more-human face.

This is a regime that sponsors terrorism to kill Americans in Iraq. It has sponsored terrorism against Israel for 50 years and continues to do so. It has assassinated political leaders, journalists, and judges in Lebanon. A few blocks away from where visiting U.S. officials a few months ago were tweeting about the wonderful coffee in cafes, dissidents were being tortured.

And so let’s reconsider the following exchange:

Question: “Aren’t you concerned that your outstretched hand has been interpreted by extremists, especially [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, [Hizballah leader] Nasrallah, [Hamas leader] Meshal, as weakness?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it’s not clear to me why my outstretched hand would be interpreted as weakness.

And yet this is precisely what’s happened. The previous Bush Administration took a hard line on Syria with sanctions and other pressures. That didn’t work, said the Obama team, so we’re going to try a little tenderness. For 2.5 years it let Syria get away with murder. Senator John Kerry and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attested to the reformist and moderate nature of this murderous regime. The White House did everything possible to reduce sanctions against Syria.

But that didn’t work. The two sides were playing entirely different games. The idea that the United States had the slightest chance of splitting Syria from its Iranian patron was always absurd but the media and academia largely censored out the multiple, persuasive arguments on that point.

Only a few days ago, the Syrian ambassador was called into the State Department and told that the United States knew Syrian agents were filming demonstrations in America held by anti-Asad Syrian students and Syrian-Americans. Can anyone doubt that the next step was to intimidate through punishing their relatives back home?

Soon reporters will be writing that there must be a split in the regime: after all, why do some officials talk of democracy and compromise while others order shooting and torture? That’s no contradiction; that’s how this regime works. It believes that force, threats, and intimidation will always work. Other methods are useful to stall for time or fool the credulous and get concessions from them.

What Will the Obama Administration Do?

It should immediately drop the policy it has been following, lose its illusions, and return to a tough stance. A tough stance will not change the Syrian regime’s mind but it might help change the Syrian regime. Moreover, the soft policy makes things even worse.

The attack on the embassy was a response to very mild U.S. criticisms and the visit of the U.S. ambassador to Hama. A Western-style regime, even a dictatorship, would say: Great! The Americans are leaving us alone except for a few gestures and meaningless statements. Let’s play along with them.

But this is the Middle East and the Syrian regime demands of the United States and France what it also demands from its own people: total support or they get bludgeoned into submission.

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is likely to do nothing and learn nothing. There will be harsh words and much stamping on the floor. But recognize that the Syrian regime is an enemy and act accordingly (and I am NOT repeat NOT talking about military responses)? Not going to happen.

Future of Syria

The starting point is that we should admit that nobody knows what will happen. The revolution isn’t going away easily. Watch this video to understand that point.

But neither is the regime. The evidence shows that the government, and the Alawite elite behind it, believes that they must win or die.

I would predict:

Chance of the regime making reforms (what the Obama Administration has predicted until now): 0 percent.

Chance of the regime splitting near the top: 10 percent.

Chance of non-Alawite, non-elite units of the army defecting and beginning a civil war: 25 percent.

Chance of a lot of people being killed: 100 percent.

Would a revolution bring to power an Islamist regime? We cannot know for sure. I would emphasize that the chances are lower than in Egypt. Other organized political forces exist. Forty percent of the country is not Sunni Arab Muslim and would oppose an Islamist regime. The figure in Egypt is 10 percent, and they are all Christians who have absolutely no political influence.

I would also add that this is only the beginning. Whether U.S. policy opposes or supports existing regimes there is going to be an upsurge of anti-Americanism, a point that those who say the only problem is bad U.S. policies in the past cannot explain. In Egypt, where the Obama Administration enthusiastically backed a revolution, it is already building.

But let’s conclude for the moment with a comparison between the Middle East according to Barack Obama and that according to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad:

Obama: “Well, it’s not clear to me why my outstretched hand would be interpreted as weakness.”

Asad: “It’s better to be feared than to be liked.”

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia.

Source: http://www.gloria-center.org/news-flash-syrian-regime-mob-attacks-u-s-embassy/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Posted by sally at 10:08 AM

Friday, July 1, 2011

Un-Masking The International Community

From The Jerusalem Post:

Unmasking the ‘international community’


07/01/2011 16:46

While emptily mouthing slogans of tolerance, adherents to the rule of the “international community” embrace the agenda of the most violent, intolerant, totalitarian forces in the world.

Talkbacks (30)

For many years, the Left in Israel and throughout the world has upheld the so-called “international community” as the arbiter of all things. From Israel’s right to exist to climate change, from American world leadership to genetically modified crops, the Left has maintained that the “international community” is the only body qualified to judge the truth, lawfulness, goodness and justice of all things.

Most of those who uphold this view see the United Nations as the embodiment of the “international community.”

US President Barack Obama has repeatedly made clear that his chief litmus test for the viability or desirability of a foreign policy is the support it garners in UN institutions.

Obama is so averse to acting against the will of the UN that he is trying to strong-arm Israel into making suicidal concessions to the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority. Obama claims that if Israel agrees to accept indefensible borders, then he will be able to convince the Palestinians not to ask the UN to endorse Palestinian sovereignty in September. Since the success of the Palestinian initiative is entirely dependent on the US Security Council veto, by acting as he is, Obama is showing that he prefers sacrificing Israel’s future viability as a nation-state to standing up to the “will of the international community” as embodied by the UN.

Furthermore, in a bid to maintain faith with the UN Security Council resolution permitting the use of force in Libya to protect civilians, Obama has refused to articulate a clear goal for the US military involvement in Libya. The fact that the Security Council resolution essentially dooms NATO’s military intervention to strategic incoherence stalemate that can lead to the break-up of Libya is unimportant to the US president.

The only thing that is important is that the US abides by the limitations dictated by the UN Security Council resolution.

As to Libya, Obama’s decision to send US forces to Libya without congressional permission makes clear that from his perspective, the UN Security Council, rather than the US Congress, is the source of authority for US military action. To the extent that Congress calls for the president to act in a manner that is contrary to the UN Security Council, as far as Obama is concerned, it is the duty of the president to disregard Congress and obey the Security Council.

GIVEN THE totemic stature of the UN in the minds of the American president and the international Left, it is worth considering its nature.

A glance at UN affairs in recent days is revealing.

Last week UN members elected Qatar President of the General Assembly and Iran one of the body’s vice presidents. Both countries’ representatives will use their platform to advance their regimes’ anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Western agendas.

As Prof. Anne Bayefsky noted in The Weekly Standard last week, their first order of business will be leading the Durban III conference that will take place in New York on the sidelines of September’s General Assembly meeting. The first Durban conference was of course the infamously racist and anti-Jewish UN conference in Durban, South Africa, in September 2001. At Durban, Israel was singled out as the only racist, xenophobic country in the world and Jewish people were denied their right to national rights and self-determination. The conference ended three days before the jihadist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001.

In addition to their anti-Jewish conference, the Qatari and Iranian leaders of the General Assembly will reliably advance a General Assembly resolution embracing Palestinian statehood and condemning Jewish statehood.

Perhaps anticipating its new leadership role in the “international community,” last weekend Iran hosted its first “World Without Terrorism Conference.” Speaking at the conference, Iran’s supreme dictator Ali Khamenei called Israel and the US the greatest terrorists in the world. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the US was behind the September 11 attacks and the Holocaust and has used both to force the Palestinians to submit to invading Jews.

Aside from the fact that the leaders from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – who owe their power and freedom to the sacrifices of the US military – participated in the conference, the most notable aspect of the event is that it took place under the UN flag. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent greetings to the conferees through his special envoy. According to Iran’s Fars news agency, “In a written message... read by UN Envoy to Teheran Mohammad Rafi Al-Din Shah, [Ban] Kimoon [commended] the Islamic Republic of Iran for holding this very important conference.”

According to Fars, Ban added that the UN had “approved a large number of resolutions against terrorism in recent years, and holding conferences like the Teheran conference can be considerably helpful in implementing these resolutions.”

When journalists inquired about the veracity of the Iranian news report, the UN Secretary-General’s Office defended its position. Ban’s spokesman Farhan Haq sniffed, “If we’re reaching out and trying to make sure that people fight terrorism, we need to go as far as possible to make sure that everyone does it.”

So as far as the UN’s highest official is concerned, when it comes to terrorism there is no qualitative difference between Iran on the one hand and the US and Israel on the other. Here it is worth noting that among the other invitees, Iran’s “counterterror” conference prominently featured Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges for the genocide he has perpetrated in Darfur.

The new General Assembly vice president is not merely the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. It is also a nuclear proliferator. This no doubt is why Iran’s UN representative expressed glee when earlier this month his nation’s fellow nuclear proliferator North Korea was appointed the head of the UN’s Conference on Disarmament.

This would be the same North Korea that has conducted two illicit nuclear tests; constructed an illicit nuclear reactor in Syria; openly cooperated with Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program; attacked and sank a South Korean naval ship last year, and threatened nuclear war any time anyone criticizes its aggressive behavior.

What these representative examples of what passes for business as usual at the UN show is that the international institution considered the repository of the will of the “international community” is wholly and completely corrupt. It is morally bankrupt. It is controlled by the most repressive regimes in the world and it uses its US- and Western-funded institutions to attack Israel, the US, the West and forces of liberty and liberalism throughout the world.

GIVEN THE utter depravity of the UN and the international system it oversees, what can explain the international Left’s kneejerk obeisance to it? From San Francisco to Chicago to Boston; from Stockholm to Paris to London, members of the international Left claim they support the victims of tyranny. They claim they stand for liberal values of freedom and tolerance and human rights. But like the UN, the truth about the international Left shows that its members are the opposite of what they claim to be.

Here, too, a few examples from the past week suffice to tell the tale of liberal intolerance and violence. On Sunday, US Congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann appeared on ABC News’ This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Towards the end of her interview, Stephanopoulos informed Bachmann that she can expect the media to begin attacking her family, and specifically the 23 foster children that she and her husband cared for.

As he put it, “I know you want to shield them [the foster children] but are they prepared and are you prepared for the loss of privacy that comes with the president [sic] campaign? And is that something you are concerned about for them?” Stephanopoulos’s menacing warning was notable for what it says about the nature of the leftist-dominated media. In a recent interview, first lady Michelle Obama thanked the media for protecting her family from scrutiny. Yet Stephanopoulos had no compunction about threatening Bachmann’s family with a journalistic lynch mob.

And this makes sense. As fellow leftists, the Obamas get a free ride. But as a conservative Republican, and as a non-leftist woman, Bachmann – like the Sarah Palin – has no right to expect tolerance for her family’s privacy from the enlightened, feminist, liberal media.

Then there was the mob assault on Israeli historian Benny Morris outside the London School of Economics two weeks ago. As Morris described it at The National Interest, on his way to give a lecture at the university, “a small mob...

of some dozen Muslims, Arabs and their supporters, both men and women, surrounded me and, walking alongside me for several hundred yards as I advanced towards the building where the lecture was to take place, raucously harangued and bated me with cries of “fascist,” “racist,” “England should never have allowed you in,” “you shouldn't be allowed to speak.”

He added, “To me, it felt like Brownshirts in a street scene in 1920s Berlin.”

No less appalling than the behavior of the mob was the behavior of the professor at LSE who hosted Morris’s lecture. As Morris described it, in his “brief introductory remarks,” the professor “failed completely to note the harassment and intimidation (of which he had been made fully aware)..., or to criticize [Morris’s attackers] in any way.”

In New York last weekend, when conservative television and radio host Glenn Beck went to New York’s Bryant Park to watch a movie with his family, they were accosted by the people around them who professed hatred for “Republicans.”

THE EXTRAORDINARY intolerance of the Left for Israel is on full display among the participants in the so-called “flotilla.” The purpose of the flotilla is to break international law by providing aid and comfort to Hamas-controlled Gaza and to weaken with the intention of ending Israel’s lawful maritime blockade of Gaza’s Hamas-controlled coastline.

As Ehud Rosen exposed Thursday in a report for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, this year’s flotilla is organized by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood with the active participation of leftist anti-Israel groups.

In their public statements, participants in the Hamas flotilla profess bottomless tolerance for Hamas and its genocidal agenda. And they profess no tolerance whatsoever for Israel or its right to exist.

In their behavior, participants in the flotilla from the Obama-aligned Code Pink group and sister organizations ape the behavior of UN Secretary- General Ban in celebrating Iran’s provocative conference on terrorism, and overseeing North Korea’s ascension to the head of the UN’s Conference on Disarmament’ and Qatar’s and Iran’s leadership of the General Assembly.

While emptily mouthing slogans of tolerance, all these adherents to the rule of the “international community” embrace the agenda of the most violent, intolerant, totalitarian forces in the world. Not only do they embrace them, they serve them.

It doesn’t take much to tear off their flimsy mask of sweetness and light. Pity so few can be bothered to do it.


Lebanese Tensions

From Homeland Security NewsWire:

The brief // by Ben Frankel

Published 1 July 2011

In a press conference in Beirut earlier today, Druze leader Walid Junabalt joined Hezbollah in calling on the government not to accept the conclusions of the international commission which investigated the assassination of Lebanon's prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005; the commission is set to indict four top Hezbollah leaders and a Syrian intelligence operative; Junabalt knows who the killers are -- but in his press conference said that if the government accepted the commission's conclusions, Lebanon would be plunged, again, into a civil war; Junabalt said stability is more important than justice -- and his actions, not only his words, show the calculations of a realist: he used to be a supporter of the Sunnis, but has now shifted his allegiance to the rising Shi'a organization Hezbollah; here at home, Texas law makers passed a bill criminalizing inappropriate touching of passengers by TSA security personnel; we believe that there are other professions which offer ample opportunity for inappropriate touching -- and that if the Texas law makers were truly concerned with privacy and dignity, they should have included these professions in the bill ahead of airport security checkers

1. On stability and justice

The international commission investigating the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, the Sunni prime minister of Lebanon, has handed in its indictment earlier this week. The indictments were sealed, so, officially, we do not k now who was indicted. Unofficially, we do know: four leaders of the Lebanese Shi’ia organization Hezbollah and a Syrian intelligence operative will have arrest warrants issued for them.

Hezbollah, anticipating that its top members will be indicted, announced several months ago that it would not accept the conclusions of the commission. This is why the organization toppled the government of Hariri’s son, Saed al-Hariri, a few months ago: the government refused to announce that it too, would not accept the commission’s conclusions.

Now, Hezbollah has received support for its position from an unexpected source; Walid Junbalat, the leader of the Lebanese Druze, said that if Lebanon accepted the conclusions of the commission — note that, officially, we still don not know what these conclusions are — then the country would be plunged into another violent civil war.

Junabalt is not a fool, He knows exactly who killed Hariri. Earlier today, though, in words that remind us of what Henry Kissinger used to say during the cold war, Junabalt said in a Beirut press conference that stability is more important than justice.

Leaving aside the question about whether stability is more important than justice, we should note this about Junbalat’s statement: The Druze used to be among the most important supporters of the Sunni-Christian division of power that had characterized Lebanese politics for decades — until the rise of Hezbollah. During the past five years, the Druze, an ever vigilant minority, began to shift its allegiance to Hezbollah and to those elements within the Christian community which call for closer relationship with Syria.

Junabalt’s words today thus serve as an illustration of the realist approach to political affairs: stability is more important than justice, and one should always side with the rising power.

2. The cheapening of language

Texas lawmakers earlier this week passed a TSA “anti-groping” bill which would criminalize intentional, inappropriate touching by TSA security personnel at airports during pat downs. The bill that was passed was a milder version of a much tougher bill which stalled in the chamber after House Speaker Joe Strauss, a Republican, called it a “publicity stunt” motivated by a desire to engage in symbolic attacks on the federal government (his words).

A group of protesters, who supported the original, tougher version of the bill, gathered outside the Texas house and shouted “traitor” and “treason” and law makers going in for the vote. Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler), said both versions of the bill shows that Texas leaders have taken a stand on behalf of state sovereignty and the Tenth Amendment, which defines federalism.

We agree with Speaker Strauss that the original bill was nothing but a publicity stunt, motivated less by concerns about privacy and more by hostility toward the government. We think that the milder version of the bill, while more reasonable (you know a bill is more reasonable when those who oppose it describe those who voted for it as treasonous “traitors”) is also not much more than a publicity stunt.

If people are truly concerned about privacy, the bill should have listed a few other professions ahead — way, way ahead — of airport checkers as professions in which there is ample opportunity for inappropriate groping, and where such groping should be criminalized. Let us see: doctors, gymnastics instructors, swim teachers, personal trainers, tailors, boy scout leaders, priests — we can mention a few more.

Inappropriate touching is inappropriate touching — there is no way around it. It is a violation of one’s privacy and dignity. The exploitation of a position of authority to gain access to someone else’s private parts is just that — an exploitation of an authority position and a betrayal of the trust the public places in holders of that position.

To single out TSA security personnel in a specifically tailored bill, however, is not about privacy at all — it is about trying to say that the government is doing bad things. Everyone has a right to criticize the government, and many of the actions the government takes deserve to be criticized, but important concepts such as privacy and dignity should not be cheapened and misused the way Texas lawmakers have just done.

Ben Frankel is editor of the Homeland Security newsWire

Reset Regret: Moral Leadership Needed To Fix U.S.-Russian Relations

From The Heritage Foundation:

Reset Regret: Moral Leadership Needed to Fix U.S.–Russian Relations

Published on June 30, 2011 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. and Donald Jensen, Ph.D.WebMemo #3306

The discussion about democracy, human rights, and the rule of law has careened through at least three phases in U.S. relations with Russia, each one resulting in sometimes jarring shifts in Washington’s approach to Moscow.

In order to reaffirm America’s interests, when dealing with Russia, the U.S. should concentrate on the values of freedom and justice. The Administration needs to stop its policy of “pleasing Moscow” and instead add pressure on Russia to start a “reset” of its own policies that currently disregard human rights, democracy, and good governance. The U.S. should deny visas to corrupt Russian businessmen, examine their banking practices and acquisitions, and target Russian police and prosecutors who fabricate evidence, and judges who rubber stamp convictions, which is what the bipartisan S. 1039 “Justice for Sergey Magnitsky” bill aims to do.

Three Phases of U.S.–Russian Relations

When the Soviet Union fell in December 1991, Washington rushed to Boris Yeltsin’s assistance. The world expected that Russia would eventually grow to be more like the United States or Western Europe. By the late 1990s, however, Russia was rapidly regressing from Western political models. Beginning around 2000, the two sides returned to a relationship based on strategic security concerns resembling the old Cold War paradigm.

Moscow and Washington quickly exhausted this security agenda for U.S.–Russian rapprochement, however, and the pendulum swung back. During the rest of the decade, while Russia rejected American efforts to promote democracy in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, Washington grew alarmed at the increasing authoritarianism of Vladimir Putin. George W. Bush’s proclamation of America’s duty to press for democratic values around the globe further alienated the Kremlin.

Obama’s “Reset”

The “reset policy” toward Russia, announced by the Obama Administration in February 2009, saw yet another shift. This rebalancing was part of the White House’s broader “new realism” in U.S. foreign policy, a bizarre hybrid that combined a reluctance to defend human rights in Russia, China, and Iran with apologies for alleged “crimes” caused by American exceptionalism. This pseudo-realism has adulterated fundamental American interests and abhors the use of force to protect them.

One could argue that that brand of “realism” had already shown its shortcomings in the 1980s, when it ignored the moral revolutions that ended the Cold War. The Obama Administration failed to realize that there is no escape from moral reasoning in politics, even in world politics. The Cold War proved that the prudent use of the entire toolbox of American power was not only necessary but also vital, since it aimed at securing the morally worthy goal of peace through strength.

Underlying the Obama Administration’s “reset” of relations with Russia was its promotion of democracy and human rights even as it sought engagement on the two countries’ common interests. The state of democracy inside Russia is, in fact, being addressed by Washington and Moscow: Michael McFaul, the President’s Senior Director for Russia on the National Security Council, is the U.S. leader of a bilateral working group on civil society in partnership with Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s political architect.

The High Costs of the “Reset.” While the gains from the “reset” relationship have been exaggerated, the cost in terms of the U.S. moral authority has been high. The Obama Administration has explicitly disavowed linkages within its Russia policy components, such as punishing Russian misbehavior in one area by withholding concessions in another.

There is good reason to believe, moreover, that Russian leaders do not take White House efforts at promoting human rights seriously. They know that the U.S. Administration is chained to the “reset” and will do little more than verbally object to the Kremlin’s abuses of human rights and the rule of law. The talk of democracy is “for domestic [U.S.] consumption,” said one official Russian visitor to Washington last fall. Such American softness is one reason why Medvedev told the Financial Times on June 18, “Let me tell you that no one wishes the re-election of Barack Obama as U.S. president as I do.”

Free from concern about a serious U.S. response, corruption and abuse of power in Russia continue to rise.

■In June, the Russian Justice Ministry denied registration to the Party of People’s Freedom, a new party created by prominent opposition leaders, an early indication that December’s parliamentary elections will be neither free nor fair.

■In May, prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into anti-corruption whistleblower Aleksey Navalny for what he said was revenge for exposing alleged fraud at Russian state companies.

■In December 2010, former oligarchs Mikhail Khodorkhovsky and Platon Lebedev were sentenced, in their second trial, to additional lengthy terms in Siberian prisons on charges of embezzlement and money laundering. On May 31, the European Court of Justice ruled that officials had seriously violated Khodorkovsky’s rights during his arrest and trial detention.

A Moral Black Hole. The roots of the Russian elite’s discontent lie in imperial nostalgia, phantom pains of autocracy, and questionable morality. The end of communism resulted in a moral black hole—a deep spiritual and identity crisis among the elites. Corruption, alcoholism, and blurred lines between organized crime and authority reflect general alienation, recklessness, and fatalism.

Nations fail, St. Augustine argued, because peoples fail. A healthy society can correct a deficient state, but even the best-designed states will founder if they are based upon a deficient civil society.

This degradation bears directly on Russia’s conduct of its foreign policy. Those who keep calling for an engagement that will eventually transform Russia cannot see that it is the West, not Russia, that is being transformed by this contact.

What Is to Be Done?

It is, thus, in the American national interest to attend to broader international concerns such as freedom and justice when dealing with Russia. The current regime stands squarely against these objectives and, therefore, against U.S. interests.

In order for the U.S. to be in a stronger position than it is today, the White House needs to shift from seeking to “please the Russians” to a more vigorous promotion of its values that pressures Moscow to “reset” its policies concerning human rights, democratization, and good governance and to distance itself from rogue states. Key levers in this effort include denying visas to corrupt Russian businessmen and examining their banking practices and acquisitions. The U.S. should also target police and prosecutors who fabricate evidence and judges who rubber stamp convictions. This is what the bipartisan S. 1039 “Justice for Sergey Magnitsky” bill, co-sponsored by Senators John McCain (R–AZ), Mark Kirk (R–IL), Joseph Lieberman (I–CT), and Ben Cardin (D–MD), aims to achieve.

Initially, Russian reaction to such a shift in U.S. policy would cause heartburn. Nevertheless, America already has many allies within the country. As the Institute of Contemporary Development, a prominent Russian think tank chaired by Medvedev, stated earlier this year, “The challenge of our times is an overhaul of the system of values, the forging of new consciousness… The best investment [the state can make in man] is Liberty and the Rule of Law, and respect for man’s dignity.”

If Washington persists and stays strong, the Kremlin is likely to relent and eventually acquiesce. Russia’s current rulers recognize and respect power and policies based on strength, not weakness.

Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Donald N. Jensen, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations in the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Consequential China [Peoples' Republic of China]: U.S.-China Relations In A Time Of Transition

From The Heritage Foundation:

Consequential China: U.S.–China Relations in a Time of Transition

Published on June 28, 2011 by Franklin LavinLecture #1188

Abstract: On April 20, 2011, long-time “China hand” Frank Lavin addressed an audience at The Heritage Foundation on the future of U.S.–China relations. How will the U.S. economic turmoil affect the Chinese economy? What is the impact of the “Jasmine spring”? Which effects will China’s leadership transition have on relations between the two countries? What is the future of economic nationalism in China? Ambassador Lavin lays out a measured—and optimistic—view.

Glad to spend some time today to talk about China. I have had the privilege of devoting most of my professional life to China, whether in academia, business or the public sector, and it is a double pleasure to have this discussion at The Heritage Foundation where we have a terrific combination of very serious policy experts and a lot of younger people who are starting to think seriously about policy. As we know, the magic that takes place at Heritage is not just the pure policy analysis, but also its application. I have had a chance to tell Heritage’s president, Ed Feulner, and other people in Heritage leadership, that it is the extraordinary timeliness and succinctness of Heritage papers that have such an impact on people in government. Heritage papers were always an important reference point for me when I served in government—to be able to put your hands on something very timely and concise, and to go through it and have that as a foundation as you come to policy tradeoffs yourself. So it is a pleasure for me to pay respect to Heritage, to a group that has been a good partner in the policy business all these many years.

I mentioned that I have had the privilege of spending much of my professional life dealing with China and China-related matters, and maybe that is what makes me, in a broad sense, an optimist about China and U.S.–China relations. I think the more one watches China and works on U.S.–China relations, the more reason for optimism one sees, because China is going through quite significant changes, and I think they are overwhelmingly positive changes—not just for the people of China but also for U.S.–Chinese relations. But the size of China, as well as the size and complexity of the United States, means that this relationship might become the most complicated diplomatic relationship in the world.

There are any number of differences, challenges, and even friction points in the bilateral relations, but I want to underscore my optimism because the policy emphasis is such that it requires that most of our time be spent discussing the problems or challenges. However, before I get to that, I want to talk a bit about what is working. For example, it is interesting to me that both China and the U.S. have a national-interest-focused foreign policy. Neither country, I think, subscribes to a philosophy that threatens the other. Neither country, as they say in China, tries to put sand in the other’s rice bowl. So I think there is a reasonably positive functional relationship between the two countries.

From a U.S. point of view, if we look over the modern era, since the Nixon-to-China moment, we have about four decades of relations, across eight presidents, both political parties, a range of philosophies, different challenges, and different times. But, there is a high degree of continuity in that relationship and I think there are two pillars that allow for that continuity. One is the pillar of engagement that, regardless of the issue or the challenge, we were not going to break off or try to diminish relations but always try to find a way to improve them. The second pillar is respect for China’s one-China policy, that we would not seek to undermine that, although we certainly have interests vis à vis Taiwan. But we never tried to directly do something to diminish the one-China policy.

With that background in mind, let me turn to the U.S.–China relationship and some of the tests this relationship might encounter. That takes us really to the topic under discussion today and to my mind, “Consequential China” is a good way of framing the challenge. It is a challenge for both China and the U.S., and what I mean by this is simply that China is now, by virtue of economic success and other elements of state policy, more consequential that it has ever been. This new role, in which China is a leading economic and political power, does present a challenge to both China and the U.S. in terms of foreign policy management.

I would also say that I do not believe that either country has an extensive geo-political tradition. The United States was generally an isolationist power until the Cold War, when it was forced to assume a global leadership position. I would say that holds true for much of China’s history as well—that as a massive continental power, it focused on a range of domestic problems. When we look throughout China’s history, much of Chinese foreign policy really comes down to simply dealing with border state issues. The Chinese wanted stability on their borders and did not necessarily have broad foreign policy issues beyond that. In recent times, China went through a century of decline and turmoil, which further limited its ability to look at foreign policy.

But now we have a new China. Over the last few decades, China has climbed out of the misery of the past century and is in the process of forging a modern nation—the fastest-growing economy in the world, a burgeoning middle class, more university graduates than ever, growing international political reach, more Internet users than any nation in the world, and the most powerful military China has ever seen. So there is a China that has extraordinary capabilities and a much greater sense of self-confidence.

And remember, all of this takes place against the backdrop of the financial turmoil the West has faced over the past two years. It is, then, not simply that China has been outperforming global economic norms; for the last two years the U.S. and other Western countries have been underperforming. To my mind, the set of developments in China is probably the most significant development in international relations since the end of the Cold War and the impact of that is something with which we are still grappling.

I would like to divide up the issues that come with that into two sets of issues, systemic and particular. Systemic issues are those that come about with the rise of a major power, and we could go through international relations history and come to any number of moments where the emergence of a new power had consequences for that country and for other countries as well. What I would like to focus on are the particular issues—issues that are particular to China’s rise that might present a greater management challenge. I think these issues are all manageable, but that there are some challenges. Let me offer some illustrations.

The Primacy of Domestic Requirements

The core of foreign policy management for China is external equilibrium: How do you achieve your goals in a peaceful setting? But the policy decisions are driven by internal equilibrium, so we have an internal set of factors that limit, constrain and define policy options, but those policy options are projected externally. It is not necessarily a contradiction, but it is a constraint. In other words, China seeks to advance its foreign policy goals through a set of policies and tools, but a primary determinant of these foreign policy decisions are domestic political and bureaucratic requirements. China is not alone in this respect; this is a phenomenon in the United States as well, but sometimes the disconnect between internal requirements and external goals can be striking. To illustrate this point, let us look at some policy statements China made about South Korea late last year.

One of the key regional relationships for China is its relationship with South Korea, even though China has had a longer relationship with North Korea. In many respects, China has done a good job of cultivating South Korea, and there have been much closer economic and cultural ties with South Korea over the years than with North Korea. But late last year, a senior Chinese official gave a speech to a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) audience at a Korean War anniversary event, where he stated that the war was, “A great and just war for safeguarding peace and resisting aggression.” He went on to praise the People’s Republic of China’s and North Korean actions as “a great victory in the pursuit of world peace and human progress.” Well, let us just say that such remarks are unlikely to contribute to better relations with South Korea, and it raises the question of what would prompt these comments. Notably, the remarks did not contain even a courtesy reference to South Korea that we might expect, such as that even though this war was fought for the right reasons but it was over a long time ago and it does not define our relations today, or something of that nature, just some kind of gracious comment toward the other side. But those were not part of the remarks.

I think the answer is that, although these comments do not contribute to better relations with South Korea, they are a very powerful signal to the PLA, that the leadership understands and respects the PLA’s role. So the internal requirement prevailed over the external goals.

Let me touch on how domestic political and bureaucratic requirements serve as a constraint on China policy formulation. I want to touch on five examples: internal cohesion, personalities, silos, amplification, and the Internet.

Internal Cohesion

Another example of the primacy of bureaucratic politics in China is that the number one criterion in the Chinese government is internal cohesion. One could argue that there is essentially one question during a job interview with the Chinese government, and it is a very simple one: Are you one of us? A capable Chinese government official essentially spends his entire life demonstrating that the answer to this question is “yes.” Life is a job interview. Indeed, when you reflect on the raucous nature of the U.S. political process, it might strike the Chinese as very perplexing. Not only do U.S. political candidates avoid questions like, “Are you one of us,” in some respects they are trying assiduously to demonstrate that they are contrarian or anti-establishment or representing a change, and the thrust of the campaign can very much be at odds with the established order and policies. However, in China, you must be able to demonstrate that you will be a responsible member of the team. The first question is not how capable you are or how creative you are or what your ideas are. The first question is: Are you one of us? You can call that the dead hand of Leninism because it forces on the system a high degree of homogeneity. This does not always get you the best outcome, and it militates against people who want to try a slightly different direction or throw in a different idea. Thus, China does not have much in the way of bottom-up experimentation, and you really have changes from the top down. And people have a need to demonstrate to a broader audience that they are part of the team. In fact, to go back to the Korean example, we might even have a circumstance in which a government official enhances his internal stature by consciously provoking criticism from South Korea or the U.S.


A related phenomenon of which we should be aware is the end of the personality-led system and the emergence of a bureaucratic state in China. In some respects this could be reassuring because of the excesses of historic personality-led systems, but in some respects it can also augur a foreign policy drift, because it can require a strong personality at the top of the Chinese system to help shape outcomes that are in China’s best interest. Think for a second what classic international relations theory teaches about ascendant powers: that if you are a country on the rise, it is in your best interest to defer challenges and problems for as long as possible. There is no strong argument for prematurely forcing an issue if your capabilities are on the upswing. The longer you put off an issue, the better off you are. Indeed, to most observers, this approach was captured pretty effectively by Deng Xiaoping during his tenure in leadership, what was typically in the U.S. referred as the Charm Offensive, and what Deng himself called Tao Guan Yang Hui (韬光养晦)—to, basically, bide your time.

Yet when we look at the issues that have bubbled up over the last year or two, it looks as if there is almost a deliberate pattern of surfacing issues that did not need to be surfaced: harassment of U.S. ships in the South China Sea, the overly hostile reaction to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, some of the un-neighborly remarks by Chinese officials to foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ramming of a Japanese coast guard vessel by a Chinese fishing boat. Any one of these actions from the Chinese side could have been stopped by a dominant personality, but, unfortunately, I think, for China, what transpired over the past few years was a series of arguably minor steps that cumulatively created a perception of a country that was taking an aggressive posture in the region.

There are different theories as to why China abandoned this seemingly successful Charm Offensive, which, to my mind, helped them a great deal in Southeast Asia. I believe there has been a combination of factors, some of which I have just articulated, along with the role of silos and the amplification effect.


By silos, I am referring to the fact that the Chinese government is more compartmentalized than other large governments, with ministries responsible for relatively narrow areas and without many inter-agency mechanisms for coordination. It is not always easy in the Chinese system to think through and argue costs and benefits of various government initiatives. There is a particular challenge if there are short-term or nominal benefits for one ministry and perhaps long-term costs borne by another ministry. For example, if a PLA navy vessel harasses a foreign ship in the South China Sea, that might help the naval command demonstrate that it is committed, that it is part of the team. However, this action could work very much to the long-term detriment of China’s foreign policy. Still, the Foreign Ministry cannot countermand a PLA navy decision.


There is also an amplification effect, by which I mean that people tend not just to echo established policy but to amplify it in order to signal their allegiance to that policy. Thus, bad policy gets amplified through the system, not toned down as one would hope. It was interesting to me to try to understand what transpired in China after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. From the Chinese point of view it was understandable that the award of the Nobel Prize was seen as a severe public insult, and their starting point was that they wanted to respond in kind, criticizing Liu Xiaobo and the Nobel Committee. But in what respects did that help them or hurt them? What other steps did they take and what were the eventual consequences of this for China’s foreign policy? Not only did they not have to respond to the public criticism, but this did play to a domestic constituency and did play to that cohesion point mentioned earlier. Then, after they went through the public criticism, they conjured up their own international prize, the Confucian Peace Prize, and awarded it to a Taiwanese dignitary who had not even been informed he had won. It was a somewhat embarrassing moment, I believe, for the people who orchestrated that event and even worse for Beijing—it just kept the issue alive. Instead of letting the issue fade, they responded because of the cohesion requirement, and matters were made worse because of the amplification effect. They ended up setting into play a set of activities which were not in their own self interest.

The Internet

Let me make a final point on a policy constraint—the emergence of the Internet in China. In general, it has been a positive force and it certainly provides more latitude for discussion than we’ve ever seen. I am sure there are many people here who click around on Chinese blogs and chat rooms, and it is very interesting to follow some of the discussions. But I think we should also note that in some respects it might also serve as a constraint on policy because Internet chatter in China tends to be a bit unbalanced. On some sets of issues, open criticism of government policy is prohibited, so the audience only receives one point of view.

Beyond that, the Internet itself tends to be a medium, which, for whatever set of reasons, promotes comments that tend to be a bit emotional and maybe even a bit nationalistic. So, instead of thoughtful examination of an issue or the pros and cons, you can get this cheerleading effect. It was interesting to me when I looked at some of the discussions in the chat rooms about the incident when the Chinese fishing boat hit the Japan Coast Guard—that virtually none of the discussion had to do with cost and benefit. Was the incident helpful? What was the ultimate accomplishment? What is our goal, and did this take us to our goal? None of this discussion had to do with what we would say was a normal analytical approach. Almost all the comments were just cheerleading.

Some of this emotional response is to be expected because it is the Internet, not a graduate school seminar. But I do think that, cumulatively, this kind of emotionalism does not help China move to more productive outcomes in foreign policy management.

Let me close by saying that I think the Chinese system has many strengths. I think it provides a lot of consistency in foreign policy management. I think the Chinese government typically demonstrates a pretty strong understanding of national self-interest. I do think this understanding provides some strength to China and other countries who are trying to develop good relations with China. You always know where China stands on a set of issues.

My conclusion is that China and the U.S. face twin challenges when it comes to foreign policy management. As China emerges into this new major power role, I think it is going to enhance its own prospects for a successful foreign policy, showing subtlety and restraint that all great powers have to show, and I think this is difficult to do given China’s domestic political environment. For its part, the United States needs to be able to display flexibility and goodwill in trying to work with China.

I think the biggest mistake China could make in foreign policy would be simply to assert its foreign policy goals without regard to other parties. An assertion of a point of view is not the same as the adoption of policies that would help you reach your objectives. Sometimes, I think those different concepts are blurred in China. We can understand that domestically they may be somewhat the same. You have a top-down system and if you assert a domestic policy goal, that is an important step on the way to achieving that policy goal. But, it does not work that way in foreign policy as there are other parties involved.

The United States has responsibilities as well. I think the biggest mistake the United States could make in dealing with China would be to view China through a deterministic lens, that China’s economic rise inevitably means hostility. Sino–American relations are a mosaic of a thousand policies, initiatives, gestures, and meetings across a range of government and private sector activities. Relations are not pre-determined by GDP growth rates. Given the size and complexities of the two countries and the many differences between the two governments, it is no surprise there are different points of view and even occasional points of friction, but I also see significant progress in the relationship. If there is as much positive movement over the next 40 years as in the past 40 years, the leaders in both countries should be congratulated for their statesmanship.

Thank you very much for letting me talk with you.

—Ambassador Franklin Lavin lives in Hong Kong, where he serves as chairman of public affairs for Edelman Asia Pacific. He previously served as Undersecretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he was lead negotiator for China. He has also served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore (2001–2005). In 2010, he chaired the Steering Committee for the USA Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.

Question & Answer

WALTER LOHMAN: For all of the cohesion-based explanations, there are alternative explanations for any of these actions, such as on the Korean peninsula. An interest-based explanation would say that the Chinese never want to see reunification of Korea, and so whatever serves to block reunification is good for them, and a close relationship with the North helps. I’m always surprised by the amount of heat that the South China Sea dispute generates in China. There you have the same sort of dynamic. They’re catering to a domestic constituency and so that has prevented them from clarifying exactly what their position is in the South China Sea, but the other answer could be, that they simply want the whole thing. So how do you address that?

FRANK LAVIN: To look at it from a Chinese perspective, from a realpolitik perspective, there is an argument to be made that it behooves a country to state a maximalist position. There is some value in that; the value being you never know what you might get if you adopt an aggressive negotiating posture. If you say it is all mine, it might all be yours. My point is that in the Chinese system you tend to see more of that, or maybe you tend to see that more exclusively because of that need for cohesion in this process and because of the amplification effect. So if someone from China says, I have interests in the South China Sea, no one else from China can come in and say: Actually, there are shared interests and other countries have concerns there as well. People in China have to say, you are right and I will raise you one. You have interests in the South China Sea and I will say that even louder and more fervently and we will keep echoing each others’ comments and keep ramping that up. It is very difficult for anyone to tone down and say, actually, historically this is an area of shared interests and it is not surprising that other countries seek a role as well.

KATY WANG: I’m Katy Wang with New Tang Dynasty Television. We have seen more and more riots or strikes in China, it keeps on increasing every year. Also, recently, China started to crack down on activists because of the Jasmine revolution. They are afraid that it will influence China. So I’m wondering how do you evaluate the inner stability of the Chinese Communist Party?

LAVIN: I might disappoint you with my answer, but I would say that China has a high degree of inner stability, even though we know there is a lot of workplace disruption, workplace turmoil, and also know that China has cracked down in the wake of this Jasmine spring in the Mid-East and has tightened up some human rights policies. I have spent a fair amount of time studying the workplace stability issue, and what’s important to note is that, essentially, none of this has a political dimension. It sometimes can be directed against local political corruption, but the point is it is not political in the sense of what we saw in the Middle East. It is not motivated by people’s views of Beijing; it’s typically very local workplace issues. People think they’ve been treated unfairly, maybe there is local corruption. There is instability in that jurisdiction because of those local issues.

But it is not a broad national political issue and one of the challenges in China is that what we could call the normal workplace elements that allow disputes to be resolved do not exist; normal negotiations on wage-related activity do not exist in the same way. You are just going to see more friction and more strikes and more direct worker reaction than you see in the United States. I would not draw any conclusions about national stability from those set of activities.

DANA MARSHALL: There’s been a lot in the press recently, in fact, I think there’s an article in today’s Post and, I think, this week’s Economist about this $1.3 trillion hoard that the Chinese have. A lot of questions about that, but I guess one question is: If you are sort of trying to follow the money and their foreign policy, what do you think we might expect will be the use of those enormous funds which effectively are unlimited as far as being able to do almost anything you want? Will they be tapping those to advance their own foreign policy interests? If so, in what directions might you see them? And would those be more likely to be consistent with U.S. interests or not?

LAVIN: Dana, I think we have to distinguish between the sovereign wealth funds themselves and government budget items, because what we’re seeing within the formal government budget is more of an effort, for example, to expand soft-power capabilities to take Chinese television global. There are government initiatives to give China a bigger voice on the world stage. But those are formal government initiatives, not the use of the sovereign wealth funds. I cannot think, offhand, of any initiative with the sovereign wealth fund that was essentially political in nature. I think there is a high degree of financial integrity behind those funds. Those funds are there to earn returns. What you might see are constraints in terms of not going into certain places or not doing certain things because there might be some potential business partners that are politically sensitive. So there might be sins of omission if you will, but I haven’t seen any sins of commission.

RALPH WINNEY: I’m with the Eurasia center. Two questions. (1) Do you have a perspective on the evolution of the rule of law in Chinese society and dealing with issues such as Liu Xiaobo and the Jasmine revolution? (2) And also, the issue with the Standard & Poor’s rating. Do you see the Chinese looking for ways to divest themselves away from the dollar and what kind of reaction do you see being generated in China regards to U.S. policy and dealing with human rights and business-related issues?

LAVIN: On the first set of issues, I think if you referring to commercial law or contract law, there has been a lot of development in this area. If you are buying or selling in China, if you are developing a shopping mall, if you are undertaking investment in China, I think you will find a reasonably secure commercial environment. I would still encourage companies to look at insurance policies, so to speak, but you will find a legal environment where you can operate and prosper. Indeed, there is an enormous amount of U.S. and international business that takes place in China. If you are asking to what extent can somebody in China use the legal mechanism to protect himself in protesting or politically challenging the government, I would not put much hope in that approach. I think it is just not going to be permitted. I think the government is committed to maintaining its power and it will not entertain a legal challenge. There have been some publicized incidents where attorneys have tried to use different legal approaches and there’s no patience or tolerance for that kind of approach, so I would not hold on to any hopes for that approach being successful.

WINNEY: A couple of days ago, Standard & Poor’s gave the U.S. a very negative rating in terms of dealing with the debt. How do you see China reacting to that?

LAVIN: The problem for China is there is no place else to go. The yen does not look that promising. The euro does not look that promising. Other countries just do not have the depth. They are not going to go into Australian dollars, pounds sterling, Swiss francs, so I think you are right. I think they would say we would not mind diversification or some kind of rebalance, and there has been some of that at the margin, but there are not more attractive alternatives. I do not think the U.S. dollar is in question, the Chinese are not in the U.S. dollar for sentimental reasons or political reasons; they are in the U.S. dollar because it is the best currency to be in. If that deteriorates, if that changes even at the margin, then it behooves Chinese leadership to adjust accordingly. So my advice to U.S. policymakers is: Run your economy so you are always the most attractive currency and you can command that kind of inward investment from around the world and people seek your currency as their currency of choice. But if you stray from that kind of performance you can only expect other countries to adjust.

KELLY CURRY: From the Project 2049 Institute. You laid out how the internal dynamics of the regime drive external policymaking in terms of foreign policy. But, in thinking about this further, doesn’t the fact that China is run by an authoritarian regime that has these characteristics that you described, doesn’t that place some structural limits on the relationship between the United States and China on some level?

LAVIN: Yes, I think it does. I think it is unfortunate. By the way, I think the relationship is growing nicely and there are a lot of positive elements to it, but it is probably doing the best in the areas outside of formal government purview. So, economic, finance, trade relationships are booming; educational and academic student exchanges and cultural activity is booming. But, government-to-government contacts are not growing as rapidly; they are still developing. There are still things going on, but Americans are just going to feel more comfortable collaborating with like-minded countries. So, things move more slowly.

LOHMAN: Let me ask you a question if I could, because you talked about how the system works in China. How does good advice make its way up through the chain in China, and I ask because we have think tanks that come here all the time and a lot of bright people in think tanks, a whole array of them. But I wonder, who is the guy that walks into the State Council and says: Guys, you’re doing this wrong. Does that happen? And it has real consequences, most recently, I think, with the calculation the leadership made on the prospects of President Obama one day selling arms to Taiwan. Chinese leadership clearly thought that wasn’t going to happen. And now I see the same things happening on the prospects of a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) victory in Taiwan. It’s actually a real prospect, but most of the Chinese you talk to dismiss it. Who’s the guy that walks in and says: Hey guys, this might happen, you should get ready for it?

LAVIN: I think you might have put your finger on one of the challenges. I agree with you; there are a lot of challenges in information flow in China. There are a lot of people you can have very thoughtful discussions with. And it is encouraging that the kind of discussion we’re having in this room, that you can do trade-offs. What are your interests where are you trying to go? How might those impinge on my interests? In what ways can we collaborate? That’s normal give and take of foreign policy, but it’s easier to have that on a track two channel than a track one. A track one tends to be a bit more formal maybe a bit more dogmatic a bit more maximalist and so forth, so it is a bit harder to have useful discussions.

But I spent a long time in formal negotiating rounds with China. One of our rules of thumb was that at least the first round of trade negotiations was done for domestic consumption. That participants had to go into this room and say that here is what I do not like about you and here is what I need and here is why I will not go along with you, and they had to be all out there on the table in order for them to then be able to say, What can we work on and what do we have to do? So information does not flow as readily as it could in that system. And there is a problem, I think, with hierarchy and there is a problem with filtering mechanisms.

I would say the senior people in U.S. government, whatever their faults and defects might be, they are at least aware of the core argumentation of the alternative point of view. In the course of the discussion someone will articulate a contrary position: Here is why what you are doing is wrong. I do not mean a screaming match, I mean somebody actually saying: Here is an alternative approach. Let me say something in defense of China: My sense is that when you are away from the most sensitive international issues, such as when you are talking about municipal planning, or to what extent we should subsidize development of rural areas, you will have a much more open debate about this and that is not as sensitive politically.

QUESTION: I’m from the Middle East Media Research Institute. How do you see China’s rise affecting U.S. policy in South Asia, especially in view of China’s military presence in Pakistan, of China’s aggressive policy in Kashmir, and against India on other issues?

LAVIN: I think we can make a general point here. I have talked about systemic points. I think whenever a new power emerges, neighbors are generally not going to look upon that with favor. It does not mean they are hostile or negative, but it does not mean they welcome it either. So, I think there is a burden on the rising power to make an extra effort to communicate. I do not mean just communicate in terms of messages; I mean their military doctrine and their military budget and confidence-building measures that would reassure neighbors that the increased military capacity does not indicate any kind of hostile intention. My advice to my friends in Beijing, then, would be to put an extra effort in that kind of military diplomacy, because people are more inclined to draw negative inferences from the rise of another country than positive.

BEN YU: With the Duo Wei Times. I hope to continue with your discussion of your comment on there being no alternative to the U.S. dollar. Lately in the Boao Forum in Hainan, the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, China] countries have released a joint leader release on the desire to see an alternative framework for international reserves, for emphasis on the possibility of special drawing rights serving as an international currency.

LAVIN: Does that not mean that they basically agree with me, that there is no alternative? Their statement was they wish there were an alternative, if there was an alternative we would use it.

YU: My question is, do you see this raising any eyebrows in Washington? This is my first question, my second question is on the particular issues you mentioned with regard to U.S.–Sino relations: You didn’t seem to mention much about Taiwan, which has lately been off the radar, but to those concerned, such as the U.S.–Taiwan Business Council, which has been pushing for military sales of the F-16 C/D and A/B upgrades, I was wondering if you could comment on this and the progress.

LAVIN: I took this BRIC statement as a somewhat symbolic statement of what you say if you’re trapped. If your policy constraints are limited, you pass a resolution saying we wish we had alternatives. It didn’t seem to be an alternative to what I said; it seemed to validate what I said. The U.S. dollar is still the best currency to use even if the Chinese are less enamored now than they might have been five years ago. But there is no alternative, so they get together and pass resolutions saying we ought to have an alternative. You would not have passed that resolution if you actually had an alternative.

So I think they are just agreeing with me. But, they are doing it from a political posture. South Africa, for instance, wishes it could diversify and not have its reserves disproportionately in U.S. dollars. But there was not even a map or a program or a timetable or steps to take.

Here is my view of Taiwan. This is a very sensitive area and I sometimes have disagreements with friends in Beijing on this point, but we have seen two parallel trends in this issue over recent years. One is a very welcome improvement in cross-straits ties. As you suggest, it is not necessarily government-to-government, but it is in commercial and human contact and social exchanges and so forth and that is helpful on several levels. But we have also seen a strong role in Taipei–Washington ties. So my message to friends in Beijing is: Do not view a moment when Taiwan takes a step toward Washington as taking a step away from Beijing—because, in fact, it is the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and the U.S. relationship with Taiwan that gives Taiwan the self-confidence to engage more closely with China. Having the U.S. in the picture is helpful to Beijing from my point of view. If you imagine for a second a hypothetical, if the United States was out of the picture and ended all its relationship with Taiwan, would that induce Taiwan to move closer to Beijing or not? To my mind, it would be very harmful to Beijing because that would freeze Taiwan.

Taiwan itself also has domestic political constraints. The Taiwanese have to act out of a sense of self-confidence as well and that relationship with the U.S. helps give them that self-confidence. I would say, then, do not view these as trade-offs or an inimical policy approach, because having the U.S. in the picture has been helpful to Beijing.

TERRY CAMPO: I’m a private attorney. I’m wondering, do you find in your dealings a significant difference in doing business between the state-owned companies and other PLA-owned enterprises?

LAVIN: I do not know. I do not do any business with PLA enterprises. There might be a passing shareholder in a shopping mall or something, but I have never knowingly done business with any PLA enterprises. I have got to tell you, day-to-day business in China is highly regularized and there is a strong commercial logic that flows through transactions. If you are new to the market, you need to be thoughtful and it is easy for transactions to go wrong, but it is a good place to do business, I am very bullish on China as a business operating environment.

Let me give you one set of statistics. Last year, France was the U.S.’s 11th-largest export market, with something like $28 billion in exports, not a surprising number because France has a huge modern economy. I thought that was an interesting number for the purpose of this discussion because the growth in U.S. exports to China, last year, was also $28 billion. We grew in one year by an entire France. I was talking yesterday to a person from a multinational corporation and he was talking about their French trade strategy. I said I am all for it; you need a French trade strategy. China, in terms of U.S. exports, is creating a France every single year. Develop a French strategy, of course, but you better have a China strategy because every 12 months you have a new France in trade terms. It is just as important, then, that U.S. companies develop a China strategy and get serious about the China market and devote their resources and efforts to finding success there—and, boy, U.S. companies do it every day.

Dean Cheng: I’m with The Heritage Foundation. Welcome back. The Chinese themselves have described last year as annus horribilis in their foreign policy, and apparently there was a foreign ministry conference led by Hu Jintao that basically said we need to reassess how we do things. From where you are out there, what have you seen with regards to Chinese reset, have you seen, substantively speaking, a remodulation, a reorientation? If not, given how deeply into the hole they’ve managed to dig themselves, how much do you think they can do in this situation?

LAVIN: By the way, Dean, I think you are right: The Chinese ended up overshooting on a number of these issues; they ended up creating a fair amount of ill will that, as the other question from South Asia suggested, if you do this in that context of growing military capability, you are setting yourself up for a negative reaction. And I do not think they have fully appreciated that it is a different world than even 10 years ago. I tell my friends in Beijing that over the next few years, China will receive more praise and more compliments than it ever received in history, but it will also receive more criticism than it ever received in history, and this is because it is a consequential nation. What China says and does ripples through the region and the world, and people respond to it, and I think that is a growing moment for foreign policy. It is a little bit like the BRIC special drawing rights question. Foreign policy is no longer a symbolic series of statements.

I mentioned in my remarks that you cannot simply assert policy and hope to find success, but you have got to come up with the steps that will take you there. By the way, those steps probably involve some trade-offs, some flexibility. You have to decide what is really important if you say: Here is where we are trying to go. But if you have 95 percent of that would that be okay, and if you have to give up something, this is what all other foreign ministries in the world do. But it is hard in the Chinese system to show that kind of subtlety. That is why the thrust of my remarks is that, unfortunately, this system has a lot of rigidity in it. That gives it some strengths, too, but I think it also constrains policy choices.

What I have seen since their reset is simply a more subdued approach to foreign policy. I would not quite say we are back to Tao Guan Yang Hui, but there is no desire to force these issues in the near term, and I think China has gotten better at some of the bread and butter diplomacy, whether it is taking Chinese television global, whether it is the reaction to Fukushima, and putting aid into Japan. These are just building blocks, but China is more adept than that. I remember that after the Indonesian tsunami, China sent a medical team down; good for them that they did that, but interestingly, nobody in the medical team—I met them—nobody on the medical team spoke English, or spoke Bahasa. So, it was the right gesture, but it was not a useful gesture. But in Fukushima, I think they are much more adept at helping out. I do not think there is been any real policy turns, but I think what we have seen is a more subdued look at policy and more of a focus on soft power.
LOHMAN: Just as follow up to that, what do you do with the statements that are already out there? Say, for instance, the South China Sea pronouncement, what do you do with it?

LAVIN: You are right, and I have talked to friends in China about that. By the way, that was not a formal government policy, but it was a statement by a government official. So you will hear that kind of statement, which I think is about as close as you will get in the Chinese system to saying: You know, we might have gotten that wrong. But, this is probably what Dean is suggesting, that we are all, in life, in foreign policy, in business, we are defined by our worst moment. If you act civilly to everyone in your office every day of the year but one day of the year you start swearing and cussing, nobody will say that 99 percent of the time Walter is a good guy; they will say this guy is a screaming lunatic, right? In business, it is the same thing; if you treat someone honestly 99 percent but dishonestly 1 percent, they will say you are a dishonest businessman.

The point is that foreign policy is the same too, so this is the very unfortunate incident at the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting where a very senior Chinese official, in the course of a debate, said, We are big and you are small. Which is, I think from an ASEAN point of view, very difficult to accept, because what that really means is that right and wrong do not matter, the legality of this position does not matter, the morality of it does not matter, what matters is that I can do it. And you cannot stop me.

It is not what you want to hear a neighbor say, and you can just imagine if a U.S. cabinet member went to the Caribbean in the course of a disagreement, a different point of view, and made a similar point. The U.S. tells its diplomats that a diplomat should be diplomatic. You have to listen to the other countries and, yes, they will have their point of view and you will have yours, and we do not have to dominate and prevail at every point. Let us decide what is important and get out there in a collegial sense. It would be a very different instruction to U.S. diplomats.