Τρίτη, 8 Ιουνίου 2010

Obama unveils his national security strategy

Posted on June 7, 2010
by The Global Realm
Obama unveils his national security strategy

The Voice of Russia
Jun 7, 2010

In the Voice of Russia World service we present a new program Red Line.

Strokan: Welcome to the Voice of Russia and its weekend program Red Line. Every weeken we, Sergei Strokan and Mira Salganik, discuss the most significant events of the week. We are joined in the discussion by Russian and foreign experts, political, academic or cultural figures sharing or opposing our views on the vast and increasingly interdependent world. We want the program to be personal, provocative and, above all, honest. Mira, it was by no means a quiet week, wasn’t it?

Salganik: Well, it was certainly not a quiet week at all. When we met here last weekend, I couldn’t imagine the coming week would be quite so turbulent and tragic also. I mean Gaza carnage and Andrei Voznesenski’s death is mourned far beyond Russia, I mean given his caliber and international popularity.

Strokan: So, here we go. Beyond the headlines – this is Red Line first heading to discuss the world mainstream event. After more than a year of deliberations, President Obama finally unveiled his much-awaited national security strategy. The document spells out ABC of American and global security as it is seen by the present US administration. This 52-page text book of Obama’s vision of the world sparked worldwide debate on what would be the impact of the new Obama’s policy on America’s standing in global developments. Let me briefly remind you the key Obama’s points. “As we fight the wars in front of us, we must see the horizon beyond them,” the document says “To get there, we must pursue a strategy of national renewal and global leadership — a strategy that rebuilds the foundation of American strength and influence.” The next observation sounds provocative and gives even more food for thought – military superiority must be maintained and the United States remains the only nation able to project and sustain large-scale military operations over extended distances, the document says. But when we overuse our military might, it says, our military is overstretched. Mira, do you believe that Obama’s national security strategy is a clear break with a notorious President Bush’s security doctrine of 2002.

Salganik: Well, I think there are few differences in substance and many in tone. But it would be wrong to say this is a break with the past. After all, U.S. interests and values are long-standing and the tools it possesses for pursuing them are stable too. For all the rhetoric or distancing, there is more continuity with Bush and other presidencies than most people perceive.

Strokan: Well, Mira you know I would prefer to make special emphasis on differences rather than continuity. At least, it gives the world another chance to look at America with different eyes.

Salganik: For some time now, it has been clear that the United States’ national security strategy needs rethinking. The September 11 attacks, the global economic crisis, cyber-terror threats and even the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico underscore that the challenges America faces in 2010 have changed even from just a decade ago.

Strokan: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton timely calls it “smart power”. She discussed the new strategy report in her speech at the Brooklyn institutions in Washington the other day. She said the United States is moving from the direct exercise of power to what she called “a more sophisticated and difficult mix of indirect power and influence.” But we have not yet touched upon the American and world reaction to the doctrine. We were really flooded with comments this week. What do you think of it, Mira?

Salganik: Well, actually it is the timing of the document’s release which plays crucial role in American reaction to it. And the reaction is predictably mixed. for instance, Richard Fontaine as senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, which is a nonpartisan national security think tank in Washington, writes in The Guardian: “Democrats and Republicans, particularly the neoconservative variety, have endorsed a hyperactive American foreign policy which sees every problem as an opportunity for America to exercise leadership (in other words, to call the shots). The majority of the Washington foreign policy establishment, no matter its partisan hue, tends to believe that American leadership abroad is necessary to be unlimited, no matter its financial cost or the level of domestic support.” On the other hand, the attitude of political elite seems to be at variants with what may be called the broader public opinion. Man in the street with Vietnam memory still lingering at the back of his mind, not at all happy with the too long drawn wars, terrorism, economic crisis, and now the Gulf of Mexico disaster too. That man should be supportive of President Obama’s concept of reconciling foreign policy objectives with its domestic priorities.

Strokan: To sum up the discussion, let’s ask our experts. Now we are joined by Alexander Goltz, Moscow-based military analyst and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of a weekly online journal. Alexander, you are one of those Russian analysts who are watching the evolution of American national security doctrines for nearly three decades. Do you think it would be appropriate to say that the new Obama doctrine is a radical departure from the vision of President Bush?

Goltz: It’s no doubt that the existing military doctrine is a real departure from President Bush’s concept, and it is obvious. Truly speaking, the doctrine has the same goals as the previous one – the American leadership, but instruments to promote this leadership are totally different. In President Bush’s vision, America had role of a “lonely sheriff” in the world. Obama’s approach is totally different. He wants to reach American leadership on base of different coalitions and alliances. And what is very important for me, it is not only traditional alliances such as NATO, U.S.-Japan Alliance and so on. Obama’s vision is much wider. He is speaking about coalitions of those who are important, about special relationship and cooperation with China, India and Russia, with the South African republic and Brazil. Obama is fulfilling the approach of Russian diplomats in his doctrine, except the idea of a multi-polar world.

Strokan: Well, it sounds convincing enough, thank you, Alexander. And let’s hear what an American expert says. Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace and Liberty. Mr. Eland, as President Obama spelled out his basic ideas on how to enhance national and global security, there is ongoing debate about whether this President, who came to office on a promise of changing American foreign policy, has actually delivered a new vision of U.S. role in the world. Do you agree that the new doctrine reveals Obama’s radical departure from the vision of President Bush?

Eland: I think there are important changes in the doctrine – it deemphasizes nuclear weapons and “the war on terror”, focusing on the war with al-Qaeda, which is really what the U.S. need to do now. Al-Qaeda is still too wide, with many local affiliates worldwide, like those in Iraq or in the Arabian Peninsula and perhaps the U.S. should not make more enemies. Focusing on Al-Qaeda, it is narrowing the focus from worldwide war on terror. So I think these are the changes in the doctrine. But we still have two wars going – Obama is supposed to be pulling out of Iraq, but he is also escalating Afghanistan. So, there will be now more sanctions on Iran, and perhaps later on North Korea, but this hardship policy as well resembles Bush’s. But I think basically there is certainly a new tone and in US-Russian relations Obama has made a lot of progress.

Strokan: And let me ask you another question. The new doctrine calls for comprehensive engagement with new power-centers, like Russia, China, India or Brazil, and also principal engagement with adversaries. What should be really done to make comprehensive engagement really work?

Eland: I think, in particular the case of China and Russia, the US has to give up this idea that we need to contain them, because the Cold War is still sort of going on in Europe, as well as Asia, because US still has all these alliances, both NATO over in Europe that are encroaching on Russia’s borders and in Asia with Taiwan and South Korea. I think a US ally has to blockage the containment policy of China and Russia and also its alliances, and determine if it is relevant for this post-9/11 world where we are overextended economically and militarily, because of our economic difficulties and our big budget deficit.

Strokan: I think what Mr. Ivan Eland says sounds convincing enough. And let’s come to our second heading – Between the Lines to discuss the most significant publications of the past week. Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” strikes a bit unusual tone unlike other Jewish state media criticizing the military sea operation which, according to some sources, left nearly 20 people dead and evoked unprecedented global scandal (inaudible) and international pressure on Israel mounting with every passing day. Israel has forgotten the lessons of “the Exodus”, claims Yossi Melman in “Haaretz” paper. According to Yossi Melman, despite having its eyes wide open, Israel fell into a trap. Israel knew that the organizers of the flotilla wanted to present the Israel defense forces to the world as an army that doesn’t hesitate to revert to force. The flotilla organizers wanted deaths, casualties, blood and billow smoke. This is exactly what it gave them, says “Haaretz”. According to the paper, Israel’s decision makers should have revised memories if Israel’s own history. It shows just how short is historic memory the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Chief of Staff and Navy Commander all have. They don’t remember the story of the “Exodus” ship in 1947, says “Haaretz”. Mira, do you think this is an appropriate historic parallel at all?

Salganik: In a sense, it might be relevant to recall it. As far as I remember, 60 years ago the British mandate authorities imposed a blockade too on the shores of the land of Israel. And Jewish leaders believed it was their right. The Jewish immigrants on the ship called “Exodus” decided to forcibly oppose every attempt to stop them. Jewish leaders wanted to arouse the world consciousness and gain a victory in the battle for the international sympathy. I guess nowadays Hamas leaders attempt to employ similar tactics for similar ends. Without getting into the question of justice or logic or the blockage imposed on Gaza and its residents, it was clear that they saw it as their natural rights to oppose attempts to stop the ships.

Strokan: Mira, in 1988 when the Palestinians organized the ship named “The Return” to be sent to Israel with Palestinian refugees, Israel chose a different method to stop it. It sent Massad agents and naval commandos to Cyprus to sabotage the ship before the passengers had embarked. The ship was damaged, but no one was hurt. Israel should have considered a similar approach, but apparently, the days in which Israeli agents could operate freely in friendly countries are gone. And now we are joined by Alexander Rytov, Associate Professor with Moscow-based Institute of International Relations. Alexander, international humanitarian mission in Gaza unexpectedly turned into a bloody carnage these days. As Israel and the world community have different points of view, whose message sounds more convincing to you?

Rytov: The situation with the flotilla is really very strange and complicated, because of course there is a new factor which is involved in the story. This new factor, and very important one and very significant one is Turkey, because as far as all of us know Turkey and Israel are considered allies and friends, the friendly relations between them have very long historical roots. That is why this new engagement of Ankara into the Middle East story sounds like an absolutely new accent in the developments in the Middle East. To my mind, the flotilla formed and supported by Turkey and inspected by the Israeli commandos, is a beginning of new contradictions in the district. To my mind, it is an attempt of Turkey to show the European community that the delay in confirmation for the future association and inclusion of Turkey to the European Union and the rejection of Turkey as a possible member of the EU, can turn to the drifting of this country to the other world – to closer relations with the Arab world, to the involvement into the middle East conflict and of course ignoring the interests of its allies, which represent Europe in the Middle East. And this country is Israel. And Israel, understanding that, of course is very tough, it doesn’t want to be the Turkish argument in this dispute with the EU. It shows from the very beginning that it will never ally any country to support trends and movements and political organizations, which can represent any harm, any new problem for Israel. That’s why the sharpness and the decisiveness of the Israeli commandos was aimed, to my mind, to show Ankara that Israel should be excluded from the Turkish game, and the attempt to show the EU that Turkey can be more distant from the European values and should be associated with the Middle East conflict.

Strokan: Alexander, what role can world media play in defusing tensions?

Rytov: Of course, the media are interested in some hot news. The hot news is that it is the first maybe for many years direct clash, not only political, but also military between Israel and people presenting the project which was initiated by Ankara. This is the first serious contradiction between two countries. Of course, there were some other small diplomatic protocol incidents, some things which were not very serious. This one, with a lot of victims and with the attempt to send a second flotilla, can bring about real cooling in relations between Israel and Turkey. Of course, it will not last long, but it is one of the attempts of Turkey to show that the situation is deteriorating. And of course the mass media are discussing this story, not only as a new incident, as a new splash of the Gaza problem, but first of all, as absolutely unexpected and unique for the political developments of nowadays clash between Israel and Turkey, which is most interesting for them.

Strokan: And now let’s hear what heavyweight of Russian expert community, vice-president of Russian Jewish council and president of the Moscow-based Institute of Middle East Studies Yevgeny Satanovsky will say. The international humanitarian mission in Gaza unexpectedly turned into a bloody carnage. Mr. Satanovsky, do you think this is an attempt to compromise Israel?

Satanovsky: The problem of conflict around the so-called “Caravan of Peace” and the Israeli Army is a problem of geopolitical strategy of the Turkish Empire, new Ottoman Empire, which will be built by the Turkish government, by Prime Minister Erdogan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Davutoğlu and President Gul. It is not the question of conflict between the Palestine and Israel. So-called world community, if we name the groups of Islamists, antiglobalists, ultra-left parties form the team of the “Caravan of Peace” and the Israeli Army, is the question that in the new strategy of Ankara to be partner with Israel and be partner with Syria, Libya, Iran, the whole Islamic world and the historical territory of the Turkish Empire, is impossible (makes no sense-misture of two different sentences). In this balance of interests, Israeli-Turkish cooperation must be destroyed.

Not the last one will see much more serious conflict. The Israeli version of course is truth, but nobody is interested that this is truth, because this is the same situation which was in the Second World War with Czechoslovakia in Europe. Israel must pay its price for everything on the Middle East, from the view of Ankara, Tehran and the Muslims. All other aspects of conflict are not more than the side dish, with the main course of this military cooking is the Ankara strategy.

Salganik: Thank you, Dr. Satanovsky, it was certainly most interesting.

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