EU Splits from US on Syria: US Elections

The new European Parliament resolution recommending that the Council sign the Euro-Med Association Agreement with Syria is significant. (Copied below: thanks to Maureen Thompson for sending it)

If it is adopted, which is should be, it will mean that Europe has definitively broken with the US policy of isolating Syria.

There are many caveats in the recommendation concerning democracy, human rights and Lebanon. Nevertheless, the thrust of the proposal is that Europe signs the agreement with Syria as a trust-building measure to win Syrian advances on the policy shifts Europe wants.

This means reward Syria first to win Syrian concessions later. It is the opposite of the Bush doctrine: punish Syria first to win concessions down the road. It means a return to the carrot rather than the stick and an end to hopes for an official policy of regime-change.

Now that Rumsfeld is out and  the Baker plan (dialogue with Syria) seems to be in, there is no reason why this recommended resolution will not pass the EU Council.

Europe's break with Washington came during the Lebanon War, when France and Britain both found they could not sustain their alliance with Bush. France signed up with Washington to pursue a common Syria-Lebanon policy following the Lahoud presidential extension – a decision that was set in stone with the Hariri murder. France did this not only to avenge the murder of a close friend – Hariri, but also to establish common ground with the US, following the their nasty separation over the Iraq invasion, which

France stood against on the grounds that it was a illegal and a breach of multilateral politics and serious contravention of the spirit of UN resolutions and international will.By joining with Washington on Lebanon polity, France was determined to teach Bush and his team that multilateral politics works. That international law and working through the UN makes good foreign policy. Following international law is not only something the weak do, it is something the strong can benefit from. It is the foundation of all wise and sustainable foreign policy. This is what Chirac and French bureaucrats hoped to prove to Washington by leading them through UN resolution and by getting the EU to work with Washington.

The Lebanon War proved that France had failed. Washington had learned nothing. It was impatient. It reverted to type and decided to use military force to break through the Lebanese impasse over Hizbullah that was challenged US policies.

Tony Blair had to jettison the war effort because his party threatened full scale revolt during the war. He turned toward engagement with Syria and sent his adviser off to Damascus to meet Asad. Germany did the same. Seeing that none of its leading states had the stomach to continue following Washington, the EU is now recommending that it return to its pre-9-11 policy of accommodating Asad even though he is an authoritarian and does not rule according to law.

The Meaning of the Gates Appointment:

The appointment of Bob Gates as Secretary of Defence means that George Bush the father’s team is back in. They will have to fight hard to take over policy toward Iraq, but they have a foot in the door. It is a positive sign that the Baker agenda will move forward, even though there are no plans for engaging Syria at the time.

The National Security Council under Stephen J. Hadley, a longtime Cheney associate has its foot on Syria policy, which means it is really under Elliott Abrams, “a dyed-in-the-wool neoconservative with close ties to Feith and Perle, was appointed in December 2002 as the NSC's top Middle East aide.

According to Jim Lobe, when Elliott was hired, the neocons in the Cheney’s office and the Office of Special Plans “were whooping and hollering, 'We got him in, we got him in'." "They worked really hard for Abrams; he was a necessary link."

For Gates and Baker to make any headway, they will have to get rid of people like Elliott Abrams, who will be able to scuttle an opening to Syria.

Here is the EU Resolution 

European Parliament resolution containing the European Parliament's recommendation to the Council on the conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Syrian Arab Republic, of the other part (2006/2150(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council by Véronique De Keyser on behalf of the PSE Group on the negotiations with a view to the conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Syrian Arab Republic, of the other part (B6-0373/2006),

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Syrian Arab Republic, of the other part (COM (2004)0808),

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria, and particularly those of 8 September 2005 on the situation of political prisoners in Syria(1) and of 15 June 2006 on Syria(2) ,

–   having regard to the Seventh European Parliament–Syria Interparliamentary Meeting, held in Syria from 11 to 18 June 2005,–   having regard to the Barcelona Declaration of 28 November 1995 and Parliament's resolution of 27 October 2005 on the Barcelona Process revisited(3) ,

–   having regard to the UN resolutions on relations between Syria and Lebanon, particularly UN Security Council Resolutions 1559(2004) of 2 September 2004 and 1701(2006) of 11 August 2006, and the recent report of 25 September 2006 by Mr Serge Brammertz, Commissioner of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission, investigating, in accordance with the Security Council's resolutions, the fatal attack on the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri,

–   having regard to Rules 83

(5) and 45 of its Rules of Procedure,–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A6-0334/2006),

A.   whereas Syria is of geostrategic importance in this region of the Near and Middle East, mainly in view of its potential role as a link between the parties in the peace process and a facilitator of a resolution of the regional conflict; whereas this role could be enhanced by stepping up the dialogue with that country,

B.   whereas at present the elements necessary for the signing of an association agreement between the European Community and Syria are not yet fulfilled, but whereas Parliament is convinced that Syria has the potential to meet the necessary conditions,

C.   whereas the Iraq war, Syria's strategic relations with Iran and its involvement in the affairs of Lebanon have all impacted on Syria's relations with its neighbours and the wider international community,

D.   whereas the aim of the agreement between the European Community and Syria is to encourage and support the transition to a democratic political system respecting human rights and civil liberties and an open and market-based economy, while remaining within the framework of an effective dialogue and real partnership,

E.   whereas Syria has already adopted a number of economic measures advocated by the forthcoming association agreement,

F.   whereas the protection of fundamental freedoms is the foundation for any development towards a strong and independent civil society and whereas the government's position has in recent years been ambiguous but has nevertheless encouraged some hope for a greater opening-up of the Syrian political system,

G.   whereas in spite of its active and constructive participation in the Barcelona Process, Syria is the only country with which the European Community has not yet signed an association agreement, thus preventing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership from fully developing,

H.   whereas the decree of March 1963 on the state of emergency and all the legislative acts relating to it are still in force today, although the recommendations following the tenth regional congress of the Baath Party (held from 6 to 9 June 2005) provided for their review,

I.   whereas the conclusions of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission, mentioned above, are a fundamental element for the signing of a future association agreement,

J.   whereas the human rights situation in the country has worsened since Parliament's last resolution on Syria of 15 June 2006, mentioned above, and whereas the activists detained in May 2006 for signing a petition calling for improved Syrian-Lebanese relations have not all been released,

1.  Is convinced that the association agreement could give a decisive impetus to the political, economic and social reforms needed to improve the country's situation;

2.  Reiterates, however, that respect for democratic values, human rights and civil liberties are prerequisites, and that, to this end, an effective control mechanism should be included in the agreement's human rights clause; calls, in particular, for greater respect for ethnic minorities and reiterates the need to maintain freedom of religion;

3.  Believes that anchoring Syria firmly within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership will reinforce Syria's relations with the Member States of the European Union and its partners in the Southern Mediterranean, and facilitate the Middle East peace process;4.  Questions the Council and Commission on the next steps towards signing the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, initialled as long ago as 19 October 2004;5.  Asks the Council to strengthen its initiatives with a view to deepening the cooperation between the EU and Syria and ultimately signing that agreement, while taking account of the following recommendations:

• encourage and support actions by the Syrian Government towards the establishment of a democratic system;


• call on Syria to respect Lebanon's sovereignty and abstain from interfering in its internal affairs, in particular by stopping arms supplies and preventing Hezbollah militias from rearming in full cooperation with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and make renewed efforts to restart a credible peace process in the region leading to a comprehensive settlement and the restitution to Damascus of the Golan Heights;


• take account of the political signals emanating from the tenth regional congress of the Baath Party, of which the most conspicuous is the change in the leadership team to include younger figures close to President Al-Assad, as is shown by the appointment of Abdullah Dardari as deputy prime minister;


• give particular attention to the application of the clauses in the association agreement seeking to make public contracts more transparent; call on the Commission to ensure that other bilateral or multilateral agreements follow that approach;


• call on the Syrian Government to adopt measures in the fields of democracy and human rights so as to comply with international human rights law as regards respect for freedom of expression, the protection of human rights defenders, the prevention of and the fight against torture and the abolition of the death penalty; in particular, draw attention to the necessary reform of the Syrian associations law so as to end all major restrictions as regards the activities of human rights organisations;


• nevertheless, put to the Syrian Government its serious concerns about the absence of progress in such areas as opening up to multi-party politics and respect for human rights and civil liberties; point out that respect for human rights constitutes a vital component of the association agreement and call on Syria to respect its commitments within the framework of the Barcelona Process and along the lines of the European Neighbourhood Policy; to that end and in that context, call on Syria to do what is needed to immediately lift the state of emergency;


• call on the Syrian Government to reconsider the cases of political prisoners and release all prisoners of conscience and peace activists, and to allow the existence of groups such as the signatories of the Damascus Declaration, signed on 16 October 2005 by five proscribed parties and by independent personalities, and the signatories of the Beirut-Damascus/Damascus-Beirut Declaration of 12 May 2006; call on Syria to ensure that detained or imprisoned persons are well treated, not subjected to torture and given prompt, regular and unrestricted access to their lawyers, doctors and families; encourage the Syrian Government to cooperate fully with the Lebanese Government, in accordance with the agreement of 5 May 2005 between the Prime Ministers of Syria and Lebanon, to obtain concrete results in the cases of disappearances of Syrian and Lebanese nationals, within the purview of the joint investigative commission created to that end;


• denounce before the Syrian Government – as the European Parliament has done in its above-mentioned resolution of 15 June 2006 – the wave of arrests in response to the Beirut-Damascus/Damascus-Beirut Declaration, that declaration being the first joint initiative by Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals and human rights defenders, and call for their immediate release;


• address the concerns of the European Union with regard to respecting the rights of religious and other minorities, and of the Kurds in particular; call on the Syrian Government to report on the state of progress with these issues;


• re-open a genuine dialogue with Syria with a view to involving it in peace efforts towards an overall settlement of the Middle East conflict;


• urge Syria to play a constructive role in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559(2004) and 1701(2006), and call on it specifically to step up controls on its side of the Syria-Lebanon border so as to prevent the supply of arms to non-state entities;


• point out that cooperation by the Syrian authorities with the UN International Independent Investigation Commission has improved, but insist that it be further stepped up and that practical action be taken to follow up the investigation and comply with its findings;


• insist that Syria comply fully with UN Security Council Resolutions 1559(2004), 1562(2004), 1680(2006) and 1701(2006) and with the European Council's declaration on Lebanon adopted at its meeting of 16 and 17 June 2006, which call on Syria and Lebanon to delineate their common frontier so as to reinforce regional stability; call on Syria to make a positive contribution to the clarification of the final status of the Shebaa Farms area in accordance with the UN Secretary-General's recommendations of 12 September 2006 and in compliance with international law;


• note positively in this connection the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanese territory, yet call firmly on the Syrian Government to establish formal diplomatic relations with Lebanon, which has so far been refused, and to stop supporting Hezbollah;


• call on the Syrian Government to give an account of its practical actions to combat the proliferation of weapons, terrorism and al-Qa'ida and on the control of its frontiers with a view to prohibiting the smuggling of weapons and the crossing of terrorists into neighbouring countries;


• deplore in this connection the signing of a military agreement concluded with Iran on 15 June 2006 on strengthening mutual cooperation in the face of American and Israeli "threats";


• draw the attention of Syria to the importance of its potential role in the Near and Middle East for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the region; address the concerns over provision by Syria of support to Damascus-based Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad at the expense of moderate Palestinian forces seeking coexistence and peace with Israel;


• call on the Syrian Government to improve the living and environmental conditions of Palestinian refugee camps in Syria in accordance with international human rights standards;


• call on the Syrian Government to release Yacoub Hanna Shamoun, an Assyrian Christian who has been incarcerated for over twenty years without due process or a release date in the near future;


• exercise caution in the repatriation to Syria of immigrants and refugees belonging to religious minorities as long as repression continues; and, in any event, improve coordination of the different Member States" national approaches to this issue;


• call for support for a dialogue between Syria and the European Parliament on these various points, so as to go forward with the cooperation between the EU and Syria with the expectation of signing the association agreement;

 6.  Requests the Council to consider additional incentives and benefits for Syria, going beyond those granted through the association agreement, in order to encourage Syria to review its current foreign policy and regional alignment in ways that will help promote regional peace, stability and prosperity and, in particular, recognition of the State of Israel's right to exist and support by Syria for progress in the Middle East peace process;7.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution containing the European Parliament's recommendation to the Council, the Commission and the Government and Majlis al-Sha'ab of the Syrian Arab Republic.


Comments (12)

Alex said:

hmm .. for now it looks like there will be a higher chance of a standoff or a stalemate. Not only between the Republican president and the democrats in the house and the senate, but also within the administration itself … between the reasonable new members, and the irrational older ones… the president will have to make up his mind very quickly if he wants to continue to lead.

I hope he made the right conclusion that when it comes to dealing with Syria, it was his father (president Bush Sr.) who got it right, not president Reagan. The way President Reagan defeated the USSR evil empire by waiting until it collapsed was until recently the model that president Bush Jr. wanted to follow in his Syria policy.

November 9th, 2006, 7:39 pm


Atassi said:

I hope the whole world start chatting with Syria, but, Let’s hope that this opportunity will not be used as a tool to empower the regime in away it will be difficult to make real changes in the Syrian internal affairs. The regime must admit to the fact “Changes is a historical fact and right and the peoples of Syria deserve it”.
Let’s laso not foget this FACT “Political leaders are similar to diapers, they need to be changed on a regular bases, otherwise !! They will be full of it”

November 9th, 2006, 8:58 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

It is a mistake to have dialogue with the syrian regime before the Hariri investigation is finished, when Bramertz accuses Syrian regime of the crime then the dialogue should not take place ,if Bashar is innocent then dialogue should start.
I do not believe the american people adopted the democratic party ideas, they just said it loud and clear they are against the war in Iraq,against the lies that they were told,and they want to end this war,and bring the troops back.

November 9th, 2006, 9:50 pm


Atassi said:

Guardian International Pages
White House: Vice-president faces isolation over Iran and Syria after key ally leaves Pentagon
Julian Borger
770 words
10 November 2006
The Guardian
© Copyright 2006. The Guardian. All rights reserved.

Donald Rumsfeld’s replacement by Robert Gates at the Pentagon could mark the most significant shift in the balance of power inside the Bush administration since it took office nearly six years ago, with consequences for both Iraq and Iran.

Political observers in Washington predicted that the appointment could pave the way for talks with Iran and Syria in a bid to contain the violence in Iraq, and could also put off a military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Donald Rumsfeld’s departure and the Democratic takeover of Congress leaves Dick Cheney isolated in Washington, and almost alone in his backing for a military solution to the Iranian challenge. The Cheney-Rumsfeld axis acted as a stone wall around the White House, keeping out criticisms and doubts. Now, those doubts are beginning to seep in, opening the way for a fundamental rethink of policy.

However, that does not mean that Mr Cheney’s influence is at an end. He has a formidable staff within the White House and remains an important influence on the president. “He’s isolated but you know when you corner a dangerous animal, it doesn’t make him any less dangerous,” said a senior Democratic foreign policy official. “He’s going to continue to push for what he believes in. It doesn’t mean he’s going to put his toys away and go home.”

Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official who worked under Mr Gates, expressed doubts that Mr Gates has the strength of conviction to stand up to Mr Cheney. “He never has, so it would be the first time,” said Mr Goodman, now a senior fellow at the Centre for International Policy.

Nevertheless, the choice of Mr Gates strengthens the hand of Condoleezza Rice, who has clashed repeatedly with the Pentagon. The two know each other from their days as Soviet experts in the first Bush White House. Both feel more at home with the foreign policy pragmatists around the elder George Bush than among the neo-conservatives who rallied to the current president.

In terms of the family conflict that has provided a Shakespearean backdrop to the administration, it represents near total victory for the father over the son. The elder Bush distrusted Mr Rumsfeld and warned against his appointment. Mr Gates, by contrast, is very much his man.

When Mr Gates, as deputy-director of the CIA, was tainted by the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan era, Mr Bush stood by him and gave him the top job in the agency in 1991. Mr Gates demonstrated his loyalty by becoming the curator of the Bush presidential library in Texas.

As the Iraq war grinds on, and the broader neoconservative project in the Middle East is sliding towards disaster, former aides to the elder Bush – once spurned by his son – are reappearing one by one at the policy-making helm.

“In the past, when Bush got enmeshed in a big mistake . . . daddy came to the rescue – that’s what’s happening here,” said Vincent Cannistraro, a former counter-terrorist chief of operations at the CIA. “Daddy was insistent on getting Gates in.”

James Baker, the secretary of state in the first Bush administration, has already saved the younger Bush from disaster, taking charge of the legal effort in Florida that clinched victory in the 2000 election. He now plays a pivotal role as the co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group.

Mr Gates is a member of the commission and his appointment guarantees that its recommendations will be given a favourable hearing. “At least he’ll read the thing,” Mr Goodman said. “Rumsfeld would have thrown it out of the window.”

Both Mr Baker and Mr Gates have advocated the multilateralism that was typical of Bush senior but not Bush junior. In particular they believe the US should talk to Iraq’s neighbours, Iran and Syria.

Mr Gates co-authored a study on Iran policy two years ago which concluded that Washington should hold comprehensive talks with Tehran before it achieved nuclear capability. His fellow author was President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who yesterday declared Mr Gates’s selection as “the best appointment President Bush has made in the course of his six years in office.”

However, resistance to opening a dialogue with Iran will be fierce, particularly from Mr Cheney, and Mr Baker has made clear his commission will have no easy solutions to the mess in Iraq.

Dick Cheney: running out of friends

November 9th, 2006, 10:38 pm


Masla7ji said:

The resolution is quite a mized bag. I find all the references to religious minorities and religious freedoms quite puzzling. I think it’s generally accepted that religious freedoms are the only sort of freedoms which are respected without any real problems in Syria. Is this something to do with Assyrian nationalist activists? Have they nobbled some MEP? It’s intriguing.

In fact the resolution as a whole is an intriguing mixture of unfounded optimism and unreasonable criticism as well as reasonable criticism.

The reference to a human rights clause with an effective control mechanism makes me wonder. Perhaps the Parliament has learnt from the meaninglessness of the human rights clause in the Association Agreement with Israel? If so that would be welcome I suppose.

November 10th, 2006, 1:04 am


Philip I said:

The EU’s dangling of the carrot to Assad & Co. is a wise and interesting move and the timing is good. It puts the regime on the spot. I am not convinced though that such an incentive package will be enough to empower the more reform-minded elements. The corrupt and more powerful elements in the regime do not need such a poisoned challice. They probably think they can survive indefinitely without it, or that they can have it strictly on their own terms.

It will be equally interesting to see if the regime will continue to plead for peace talks with Israel, now that the neocons threat from Washington seems to be abating. They know that Israel cannot deliver (because they would have to include the Palestinians in any deal – see my new post) but continuing to go down this blind alley helps them to argue that democratic reforms should be postponed until after a peace deal has been struck!

November 10th, 2006, 1:20 am


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

As I myself said early this morning, and, as Fred Kaplan says on Slate, the key to the events of Wednesday is the displacement of Rumsfeld, by Gates. Gates is in essence a Bush the Elder man, like Baker of course. And, as Kaplan points out correctly, both, dispise Rumsfeld. Which it would appear was one of the reasons why Cheney engineered, Rumsfeld’s appointment in the first place…Now that the Bush the Elder and the Baker-Gates team, are, if not necessarily back in charge at least, possess the possibility of changing the course of American Near Eastern policy, one can, at the very least, hope for some improvements in a rather abysmal situation overall. But, as Joshua Landis correctly points out, as a necessary first step, Elliott Abrams has to go. Or else, I am afraid that nothing will change for the better. Just a policy stalemate between the realpolitik and the neo-conservative factions.

As per the European Parliament’s resolution: inasmuch as it is only a ‘resolution’ and, does not have the force of law (under the EU, only the
Council of Ministers of all 27 states have such), I would not necessarily conclude the the EU is really ready to brake ranks with Washington. Especially since Brussels, et. al., might be hoping that Gates appointment, might be a sign of some sanity coming the American policy vis`a-vis the region as a whole, and, not just Syria. If on the other hand, there is no concrete change in American policy, in six to nine months time, regardless of Gates, then perhaps the EU, might reconsider their current policy towards Syria.

November 10th, 2006, 2:02 am


Fayez said:


As usual, you are the best source anywhere regarding news about Syria.
So Kudos to you.

I have to disagree with your analysis though.
My take is that a green light came from Amrica, for Europe to do what it did.
My suspicion is that the US has decided to change course, and follow through with the recommendations from James Baker.
Keep in mind that the new Secretary of Defense is someone who worked with Baker on the Iraq commission, and is another pragmatist.
Sometimes in the last 2 to 3 weeks, the change of direction was decided.
That is why discussions started with Bob Gates last week, and Baker was allowed to go on a number of Sunday talk show and talk about his upcoming report.
However, getting rid of Rumsfeld would have signaled weakness, something this president is very conscious of.
The Democrats win sealed everything.
There is talk now that Bolton is on the way out, and that Cheney may be taking less of a role in decision making.
The European agreement would be a first step towards the pragmatist policy that Baker is calling for.
I would not be surprised if Baker suggested that move to the Europeans.


November 10th, 2006, 6:19 am


Innocent_Criminal said:

Reports of Kanaan’s brother committing suicide. can anyone make sense of this?

November 10th, 2006, 10:50 am


Philip I said:


I left a comment about 24 hours ago but it has not yet appeared. Is it stuck in the system somewhere?

November 10th, 2006, 5:11 pm


ausamaa said:

I agree with earlier posts suggesting that the EU thing is done with a green light from the US. Coming to the rescue in other words of a failing US approach. I think that the EU position at this early stage is intended for Five major aims (of course it could represent a genuine act of goodwill has it not been for the fact that European Duplicity -especiallay if Britain is involved and if France is still “mightly” upset with Syria- is usually too transparent, check Turkey treatment for example):

1- Giving the disoriented US old/new administration a chance to catch its breath, test the waters and decide on a new Middle East approach which takes into considerations the strategic implications of the Hezbollah victory, the Iranian growing military build up with its expected translation “in the field”, the Korean Bomb, and the failures of the Moderate Arab regimes.Buying Bush time and allowing him to formulate an approach more realistic and acceptable (no more no less as the Congress and Senate election have no direct effect on executive policies in the middle term)

2- Try to test the possibility of de-coupling, or rather to softening, the Syria-Iran axis/bond in preparation to seek a possible Syrian acceptance of a limited US military presences on Iraqi soil in the post US withdrawal from Iraq era.

3- Soften Syria’s stand on the Palestinian Israeli issue which seems heading for a non-winnable confrontation for Israel.

4- Deflate the growing popular anti-western rhetoric and the “resistance mode” which seems to be gaining momentum in the Arab street in which Syria’s stands play a leading position.

5- Attempt to deflate/reduce the chances of a new Syrian – Israeli confrontation after Syria’s repeated announcements that it may resort to other means if all else fails (a position representing a departure from the long held Syrian position of having chosen Peace as a Strategic Course).

6- An opportunistic attempt to appear to Arabs, Moderates or Otherwise, of being able to play a semi-independent role.

Sure, it has all the signs of an American Green Light, a French stomachache, an Israeli sight of relief, and a Junmblat/Harriri/Half-men nightmare. The interesting thing is how Syria and Iran will respond. AND, where the new testing ground will be? Iraq, Palestine or Lebanon?

So here and apart from the EU bazare, is it not time for Saad Harriri and Jojo to do both Lebanon and Syria a favor; start over again and let bygones be bygones before Lebanon pays again the cost for Western/Moderate Arab/Jaja type hesitations and unrealizable hopes… ?? I really hope you guys do.

November 10th, 2006, 6:10 pm


Joshua said:

EU strategy green light from the US?

At this point, I do not think there is an organized US foreign policy. Rather there are probably a number of centers of foreign policy making, which are in competition with each other.

My suspicion, and it is only that, is that European countries have decided on their own to change strategies from isolation to engagement. Spain started the train out of the station and others jumped on until it became clear to all that enough had broken ranks that there was no point in maintaining the fiction of ostracism.

The US tried to keep Spain and others from leaving the station, but failed.

Once the Lebanon war fiasco took its toll on US-European relations, the US had to recognize that its policy was in a shambles and was unsustainable even as Bush and team refused to acknowledge this in straight up because of the need to maintain the party line for the sake of elections. All attempts to define a new strategy were put off until after the elections clarified the situation.

Europe waved good bye to the US well before the elections and Washington had no choice but to be polite about the European departure, even though I suspect many hawks were upset by it.

I know that many in State and the intelligence were delighted to see Europe set off on its own course, but they do no represent the real decision making center.

My suspicion is that Washington’s foreign policy making establishment is in real chaos right now. It will take some time for it to digest the real meaning of the elections, the untenable situation in Iraq and weakness of Lebanon.

The power struggles that will ensue from shifting from Rumsfeld to Gates will take a long time to play out. Right now there is more dust than clarity.

This is the time for Europe to be exploring new options. It the Europeans can find some promising options right now, they will be able to influence the way things play out in Washington.

November 10th, 2006, 9:28 pm


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