Em artigo publicado na revista Foreign Policy, Stephen M. Walt afirma que os Estados Unidos não possuem mais uma política para o Oriente Médio. Walt analisa como os princípios que regeram as relações dos EUA com a região durante a Guerra Fria não se aplicam mais, apesar do país muitas vezes insistir neles. O autor conclui que, na existência de um aliado regional com mérito e com o fracasso de todas tentativas para resolver conflitos, talvez seja melhor deixar os problemas serem resolvidos pela própria região.
Segundo o jornalista Seymour Hersh, o Pentágono (Departamento de Defesa dos EUA) não seguiu a política externa do governo para a Síria, provendo inteligência para o regime de Bashar al-Assad — com contrapartidas — e sabotando o auxílio aos opositores do regime. Apoio seria pela impossibilidade de achar “rebeldes moderados” e o apoio turco (com equipamento dos EUA) a grupos extremistas, como o “Estado Islâmico”.
Em entrevista ao jornal Clarín, o antigo ministro da Defesa e das Relações Exteriores do Brasil, Celso Amorim, comenta que a parceria estratégica de Brasil e Argentina é o principal fato da política externa brasileira possibilitou a criação do Mercosul e da UNASUL e que esta organização teria sido fundamental para a recente reaproximação entre Cuba e EUA. Amorim também fala da integração regional sul-americana e seus benefícios ao Brasil e ao continente, afirmando que objetivos de curto prazo devem ser deixados de lado em prol do longo prazo. Além disso, para ele a política externa dos Estados Unidos no segundo mandato de Barack Obama está cada vez mais se assemelhando à política externa brasileira ao priorizar engajamento e diálogo ao invés do confrontacionismo com Cuba e Irã, por exemplo.
A Câmara dos Representantes dos Estados Unidos aprovou um projeto de orçamento militar para 2016 com um aumento de US$ 20 bilhões para “fundos de guerra”. Ao todo, são previstos aproximadamente 600 bilhões de dólares para 2016 e 3,8 trilhões para os próximos anos. Aumento de gastos é visto como vitória para os deputados linha-dura militaristas e uma derrota para o governo Obama.
Barack Obama afirmou que manterá quase 10 mil tropas no Afeganistão em 2015 a pedido do presidente afegão, Ashraf Ghani. O cronograma da operação no país prevê a retirada completa de tropas em 2016. Segundo a Casa Branca, o detalhes das datas de retirada das tropas serão informados ainda neste ano. Analistas sublinham o fato de nenhum cronograma de retirada de tropas estadunidenses acaba se concretizando, levando a pensar que a presença no país possa estender-se ainda mais.
George Friedman, principal analista da empresa estadunidense de inteligência Stratfor, analiza a geopolítica dos discursos a partir da visita do primeiro ministro israelenese Benjamin Netanyahu ao Congresso dos Estados Unidos na terça-feira (03/03). A ida de Netanyahu a Washington causou grande polêmica por ter sido convidado pelo presidente da Câmara dos Representantes, John Boehner, sem o consentimento da Casa Branca. A administração de Barack Obama argumentou que, uma vez que as eleições gerais israleneses ocorrem em duas semanas, a visita de Netanyahu poderia prejudicar as relações entre EUA e Israel. Friedman possui outro ponto de vista: as relações entre os países já vêm passando por dificuldades, não seriam deterioradas pelo discurso do chefe de governo israelense.
O Ministro das Relações Exteriores iraniano, Mohammad Javad Zarif, criticou a postura ocidental nas negociações nucleares ao afirmar que a exigência de que seu país congele seu programa nuclear por dez anos é inaceitável. Obama afirmou que a aceitação dessa exigência é a única maneira das negociações avançarem a um acordo. Zarif e o Secretário de Estado dos EUA, John Kerry, estão negociando na Suíça sobre o programa nuclear iraniano.
Delegações dos Estados Unidos e do Irã se reuniram em Genebra na última sexta-feira (20/02) para iniciar nova rodada de negociações sobre o programa nuclear iraniano. Os ministros das relações exteriores dos dois países encontraram-se na Suíça no domingo (22/02). Tudo indica que os países estão próximos de um acordo histórico, que vai aliviar as sanções sobre o Irã e congelar suas atividades nucleares pelos próximos dez anos, podendo permitir após esse período um maior desenvolvimento de material nuclear. Qualquer acordo assinado gerará muita oposição nos dois países e trará consequências para as relações entre Estados Unidos e Israel.
Os Estados Unidos estariam planejando uma presença constante de navios de guerra em bases na Austrália, informou o The Wall Street Journal. Washington estaria avaliando uma expansão de sua presença na região e um aprofundamento da cooperação naval com a Austrália, o que pode incluir a alocação de navios no país. Segundo um alto oficial estadunidense em visita à Austrália, a Marinha dos EUA está organizando a formação de uma frota anfíbia de reação rápida que poderá ser alocada no país.
Benjamin Netanyahu pretende fazer um discurso no Congresso dos Estados Unidos duas semanas antes das eleições internas israelenses, o que gerou críticas de Barack Obama. Segundo este, o discurso de Netanyahu pode contaminar as relações entre os países com as disputas de política interna de Israel. Assim, Obama recusou encontar-se com Netanyahu quando este estará em território estadunidense,
A Casa Branca lançou um documento da estratégia de segurança nacional para 2015 em que pede paciência à opinião pública estadunidense sobre as ações na Síria e na Ucrânia. Barack Obama vem sofrendo pressões para agir de maneira mais incisiva nesses países, ao contrário da estratégia de sua administração de “lead from behind“. A “paciência estratégica” seria necessária para uma solução de controvérsias que permita um uso mínimo dos recursos do país e que não crie novas ameaças no futuro.
Estados Unidos e Coreia do Norte têm discutido secretamente retomar o diálogo sobre a desnuclearização da península coreana, o que daria início de uma nova rodada de diplomacia com o país. A demanda dos EUA é pela interrupção total das atividades nucleares no país. O país ocidental tem se tornado mais severo em relação à Coreia do Norte, principalmente o ataque cibernético à produtora estadunidense Sony Pictures. O governo atribui o ataque à Pyongyang, ainda que não haja evidências claras sobre sua autoria.
O orçamento de defesa dos Estados Unidos para 2016 deve ser maior que o planejado e prever a investimentos no desenvolvimento de caças de sexta geração. Setor de investigação do Pentágono, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), já faz pesquisas para o novo caça, que deve realizar primeiros voos na década de 2030.
Os Estados Unidos e o governo iraquiano estão planejando um ataque ao “Estado Islâmico” com vistas a recuperar a cidade de Mosul, no norte do país. A ofensiva para retomar a segudna maior cidade iraquiana deverá ocorrer durante o verão do hemisfério norte. Os bombardeios aéreos ocidentais já mataram mais de seis mil homens do “EI” e forças opostas ao grupo já recuperaram quase 800 quilômetros quadrados de território iraquiano.
Os Estados Unidos levarão soldados para a Ucrânia para treinarem quatro companhias das Guarda Nacional Ucraniana. O pedido partiu do governo do país, que deseja capacitar suas tropas para “fazer a defesa interna e garantir a obediência da lei” em seu território, segundo porta-voz do Pentágono. Além disso, os EUA começaram na segunda-feira a entregar uma série de blindados “Kozak” para a proteção da fronteira do país.
Rosa Brooks pensa que a política externa da gestão Obama é confusa e necessita uma reavaliação. Ela então desenha um esboço do que seria uma estratégia de sucesso, que aceita tanto as instabilidades da ordem global quanto o declínio dos Estados Unidos.
Akhilesh Pillalamarri analisa os motivos pelos quais os Estados Unidos gastaram mais dinheiro no Afeganistão desde 2001 do que no Plano Marshall, que serviu para a reconstrução da Europa ocidental no pós-Segunda Guerra Mundial. Em 13 anos, Washington injetou cerca de 109 bilhões de dólares no Afeganistão, enquanto que entre 1948 e 1952 cerca de 103 bi foram investidos na Europa.
Em visita a Seul, presidente estadunidense, Barack Obama, afirmou que esforço para aproximação do moderado Fatah com o radical Hamas não colabora para uma solução da crise e defende pausa nas negociações com Israel.
Immanuel Wallerstein argumenta que os estrategistas dos Estados Unidos estão tentando evitar uma possível aliança russo-franco-alemã e por isso incitam os incidentes na Ucrânia.
Presidente dos EUA, Barack Obama, usou seu quinto pronunciamento sobre o Estado da Nação para tentar se aproximar do eleitorado ao dar destaque à desigualdade social. Disse também que legislaria sem o apoio do Congresso, se necessário. Entre as principais promessas, está o aumento do salário mínimo para trabalhadores de firmas contratadas pelo Estado.
Presidente afegão Hamid Karzai se manteve firme na decisão de adiar a assinatura do pacto que permitiria a permanência de tropas estadunidenses no país após 2014. Agora, funcionários do governo dos Estados Unidos já estão aliviando o prazo para o fechamento do acordo – unilateralmente declarado para o dia 31 de dezembro.
Experts disseram na última quarta-feira (11/12) que os Estados Unidos não possui uma estratégia real para lidar com a China, mas sim uma colagem implícita de abordagens.
No Clear Strategy On China, Experts Say
Defense News – 11/12/2013 – por Christopher P. Cavas
No real US strategy exists right now for dealing with China, even as the country challenges the territorial status quo of nearby Asian waters, several experts said Wednesday.
“You have the option of examining the classified war plans and decide if they reflect a strategy for conducting an upper-level war,” naval analyst Ronald O’Rourke of the Congressional Research Service told Congress. “But for situations short of war, it is not clear to me we have a strategy for that.”
Such a strategy, he said “needs to involve our allies — it’s not something we can do ourselves.”
China expert Andrew Ericson of the Naval War College noted “the US has an implicit collection of approaches that together constitute a strategy. … But they would be more effective if they were brought together.”
Two other experts were more direct.
“We don’t have that strategy today,” declared Jim Thomas of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“No such strategy exists,” said Seth Cropsey, a Navy official during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. “And forming one is difficult.”
The observations came at a hearing late Wednesday called by Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the House Seapower subcommittee, to discuss China’s growing naval power. Ongoing efforts by China to assert territorial claims on a number of islands and near-island chains and the recent declaration of a new maritime air defense identification zone were cited as indications of the country’s increased confidence backed by the expanding naval capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
“While naval modernization is a natural development for any sea-faring nation such as China, it is clear the modernization is emboldening the Chinese government to exert their interests by bullying their neighbors and pushing back the United States in the Asia-Pacific region,” Forbes said.
“We also must understand how to engage with the PLA Navy in a manner that is constructive for all parties involved and demonstrates respect and adherence to established international norms of maritime conduct,” he said.
All four witnesses at the hearing noted the difficulty — and the need — for developing a coherent approach to China’s naval prowess.
“Fundamental issues hang in the balance,” Erickson said. “If not addressed properly, China’s rise as a major regional maritime power could begin an era in which the US military lost unfettered access to a key region.”
“It’s clear that Chinese leaders are ambitious,” noted Cropsey, “and that their diplomatic policy and their military armament are moving them toward great power status, or at least regional hegemony, in a series of small steps designed to achieve those ends with minimal resistance from their Pacific competitors, America’s allies. And the US is not taking this possibility as seriously as it should.”
No “single silver bullet” approach will address the issue, Thomas said. “Instead, the United States and its allies will likely have to undertake a combination of efforts to demonstrate their defensive strength in the face of China’s challenge.”
O’Rourke ticked off a list of elements to consider.
“Top-level US strategic considerations related to China’s naval modernization effort include, among other things, the following:
■ preventing the emergence of a regional hegemon in one part of Eurasia or another;
■ preserving the US-led international order that has operated since World War II;
■ fulfilling US treaty obligations;
■ shaping the Asia-Pacific region; and
■ having a military strategy for China.”
The US budget situation should not prevent addressing the issue, the witnesses said.
“Some might argue that in light of our fiscal situation this is the wrong time to introduce what amounts to a major overhaul of our power projection forces,” Thomas said. “I would argue the opposite — that a clear vision of America’s future force design should inform the near-term choices the administration and Congress will have to make about which forces and capabilities to preserve or expand as well as lower priority areas where we will have to divest and accept greater risk.
“Changes that begin today will take years, if not decades, to fully play themselves out.”
All agreed that while China’s rate of growth will decline, the risk from a Chinese military buildup will not fade.
“If their growth line bends downward, they may see the next few years as their period of maximum opportunity for pursuing their goals in the near-seas areas,” O’Rourke said. “They may see it as something where time is not on their side.”
Thomas echoed that statement.
“We share an interest with China in that we want a China that is secure and prosperous,” he said “But we don’t know what their future is in terms of defense programs.
“And China’s increasing reliance on nationalism — almost a replacement for communist ideology — is cause for concern.”
A Casa Branca pretende lançar novo documento de estratégia de segurança nacional em 2014. Marcado pela retirada de tropas do Iraque e do Afeganistão, bem como pela morte de Bin Laden, ele deve ser essencial para entender os pensamentos de política externa e de segurança dos Estados Unidos.
Next US Strategy Carries Heavy Expectations
Defense News – 11/12/2013 – por Paul McLeary e John T. Bennett
The new national security strategy document that the White House plans to release in 2014 is shaping up to be key to laying out the administration’s thinking on everything from diplomatic engagement to counterterrorism to training and advising allies, a host of national security experts say.
But how it should do that is a matter of debate.
The broad outline of what the document will contain has been expressed in speeches by President Barack Obama and administration officials over the past several years: a push for nuclear disarmament, a rebalance of diplomatic and military attention to the Asia-Pacific region, helping build economic stability in emerging regions, and a continuing focus on the global counterterrorism mission.
The administration’s first national security strategy was released in 2010, a little more than a year after Obama entered the White House and as the US was still engaged in Iraq, preparing to surge more troops into Afghanistan, and still firmly in the grips of a crippling global economic crisis.
Four years on, with the economy stronger, Osama bin Laden dead, as much as $1 trillion in government spending to be slashed over the next decade, and American troops out of Iraq and heading for the exits in Afghanistan, the landscape has changed.
Most notably, there has been a shift from the Defense Department to the State Department taking the lead as the face of American foreign policy, with the jet set diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry dominating the headlines as he brokers deals with Syria, Iran and Libya, while preparing to set his sights on the Israel-Palestine peace process.
As for specific recommendations for how the administration can use the document to help shape the way it uses both diplomatic and military power until the end of Obama’s presidency in 2016, Rachel Kleinfeld, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Truman Foundation, said the strategy must address the Arab Spring and subsequent political changes in the Middle East and North Africa.
“The Arab revolutions show an urgent need to weigh more heavily in our security calculus the risk factors that could create a sudden state collapse in allies and strategic states,” Kleinfeld said. “That means greater weight to acute corruption and population unrest in our security strategy — and developing the tools to help allies alter gradually rather than fail catastrophically.”
What’s more, with the Afghanistan war winding down and al-Qaida more globally dispersed than when the wars began, the US needs “a new strategy to fight terrorism,” Kleinfeld said.
The issue here is the contentious debate over the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which many on Capitol Hill want rewritten to clip some of the broad powers that it has granted the White House to use the military.
“This document will have to catch up to the shift from stability operations to a more limited train, advise and assist mission, and hopefully fill in the blanks on what the civilian agencies provide in that realm,” said Kathleen Hicks, who served as principal deputy defense undersecretary for policy from 2012 to 2013, and is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
When it comes to the global counterterrorism mission, “I don’t think we really have a strategy right now for that,” Hicks added. “At the tactical and operational levels, there’s a lot of good work going on, but I don’t think we’ve articulated the problem at a strategic level. This is an opportunity for that.”
One former government official said the AUMF will have to be addressed in the document, predicting that “I would expect to see a legal framework that’s very much tied to al-Qaida and what this means in terms of how the US conducts itself going forward.”
Related to the AUMF issue are the lingering questions over the targeted killing program the Obama administration has employed, largely by using armed drones.
Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official now with the Center for American Progress, expects the strategy will include “something about the use of drones and covert action.” Korb also said he thinks the strategy will stress that “diplomatic solutions should always be our first option.”
Diplomacy also plays a major role in writing such a sweeping, high-profile document. Aides and senior officials spend months changing words and entire sections, worried a friend or potential foe will react poorly.
“The strategy can’t send a signal to the Middle East that we don’t care anymore, or make China think we’re going to go to war with them,” Korb said.
Speaking to the Asia Society in March, Obama’s then-National Security Adviser Tom Donilon outlined a vision for the administration’s regional policy that will likely be reflected in the upcoming strategy document.
The United States is focused on “strengthening alliances; deepening partnerships with emerging powers; building a stable, productive and constructive relationship with China; empowering regional institutions; and helping to build a regional economic architecture that can sustain shared prosperity.”
Some Obama critics have low expectations, however.
“This president’s strategy has been retreat. Iraq: Retreat. Afghanistan: Retreat. Total disengagement from the world,” said Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute. “Some signal of a more robust American profile on the global stage would be a good thing.
“There is not one part of this administration’s foreign policy that I want to see this strategy codify,” Pletka said. “Whether it’s remote-control assassinations or cozying up to terrorists.”
Asked which terrorists she thinks Obama has embraced, Pletka pointed to Iran, saying the recent deal it struck with the UN Security Council should have included text that dubbed Tehran “a state sponsor of terrorism.”
Kleinfeld hit a similar — but less extreme — tone saying the strategy needs to reassure frustrated allies and make the case for and against isolationism to a war-weary American populace.
While the document will likely spend less time on economic issues than its 2010 predecessor did, the $500 billion in total sequestration cuts looming will have to play a role.
The United States will have to adjust its military ambitions to reflect the cuts the Pentagon will have to make, said Frank Hoffman, a former Pentagon official and now senior research fellow at the National Defense University.
“It’s going to be very hard for the administration — in a public document — to calibrate our interests and our appetites in such a way that’s its clear to everybody what we believe our most core and vital interests are,” he said.
There is little doubt that the American military will remain the most powerful military force in the world, he said. “You’re coming from a position of very dominant overmatch. Now it’s retaining overmatch and focusing on the things that are really important to you, and that’s what the [Asia-Pacific] rebalance is all about, maintaining overmatch.
EUA comunicou nesta segunda-feira (09/12) que o Secretário de Estado John Kerry realizará visita às Filipinas e ao Vietnã. Escolha de países tem potencial para desagradar a China dadas as rivalidades regionais.
John Kerry to Visit Vietnam and the Philippines This Week
The Diplomat – 10/12/2013 – por Zachary Keck
According to a statement released on Monday, Kerry will be traveling abroad from Tuesday through the middle of next week. After a stop in the Middle East to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Kerry will travel to Southeast Asia to visit Vietnam and the Philippines.
“Within the Asia-Pacific rebalance, Southeast Asia holds special importance, and the Secretary’s travel to Vietnam and the Philippines demonstrates the enduring U.S. commitment and his personal connections to the region,” the statement said.
While in Vietnam, Kerry will visit Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta region, and Hanoi. Kerry will focus on a different issue during each stop in Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh City, for example, Kerry will focus on expanding bilateral trade and cooperation in education.
In the Mekong Delta, Kerry will emphasize the potential for U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation in areas like climate change and renewable energy. Under Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. started the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), a multilateral project that aims to foster cooperation and greater integration among Vietnam and its neighbors in areas like education, health, environment and connectivity. Besides Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma and Laos are also participating in the LMI.
While in Hanoi, Kerry will meet with Vietnamese leaders to discuss how to best advance the comprehensive strategic partnership the U.S. and Vietnam signed during Vietnamese President Trương Tấn Sang’s trip to Washington, D.C. back in July. During that visit, Kerry hosted the Vietnamese leader for a working lunch.
Taken together, the U.S. State Department said that Kerry’s trip to Vietnam “will highlight the dramatic transformation in the bilateral relationship over the years and our growing partnership in many areas.”
Following his Vietnam visit, Kerry will next travel to the Philippines, the last stop on his trip. Kerry’s time in the Philippines will make up for a visit in October that he had to cancel at the last moment over concerns about the weather. At the time that he announced he was canceling that visit, Kerry had pledged to reschedule the trip in a “month or so.”
The statement released on Monday indicated that the bulk of Kerry’s time in the country will be spent in Manila discussing “economic, security, and people-to-people relations” with Philippine officials. The statement also said that Kerry plans to visit the city of Tacloban, which was one of the areas that was most badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan last month.
This trip will be the fourth time Kerry visited the Asia-Pacific since becoming secretary of state earlier this year. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is using senior level trips to counter the perception that Washington is not fully committed to the rebalance to Asia amid growing problems at home and in the Middle East.
Since Kerry’s last visit to Asia in October, both Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Vice President Joseph Biden have traveled to different parts of the region. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is currently in South Asia, is also expected to make a trip to East Asia before the end of the year. President Barack Obama will also be traveling to the region in April of next year to make up for having had to cancel his October trip to Southeast Asia because of the U.S. government shutdown.
Kerry’s choice of countries to visit during the upcoming Southeast Asia trip is likely to irk policymakers in Beijing. Vietnam and the Philippines are the countries that have the most acrimonious disputes with China over the South China Sea. These disputes have created an opportunity for the U.S. to forge deeper relations with both countries despite continued wariness about the U.S. among some circles in Hanoi and Manila.
Em visita, há tempos programada, ao Leste Asiático, Joe Biden, vice-presidente dos Estados Unidos, instou Japão e China a encontrarem maneiras de diminuírem as tensões na região após a criação chinesa de uma área de defesa aérea que inclui zonas em disputa.
UPDATE 3-Biden urges Japan, China to lower tensions over air defence zone
Reuters – 03/12/2013 – por Stanley White e Elaine Lies
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called on Japan and China to find ways to reduce tensions that spiked after Beijing proclaimed an air defence zone over disputed isles in the East China Sea, while repeating Washington was “deeply concerned” by the move.
The United States has made clear it will stand by treaty obligations that require it to defend the Japanese-controlled islands, but it is also reluctant to get dragged into any military clash between the Asian rivals.
“This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation,” Biden told a news conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“This underscores the need for crisis management mechanisms and effective channels of communication between China and Japan to reduce the risk of escalation.”
He said he would raise U.S. concerns directly when he met Chinese leaders.
Biden was on the first leg of an Asian trip that takes him to Beijing on Wednesday and then to Seoul.
Biden also called for better ties between Washington’s Asian allies Tokyo and Seoul, chilled in recent months due in part to bitter South Korean memories of the 1910-1945 Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula.
Japan reiterated on Tuesday that Tokyo and Washington had both rejected Beijing’s establishment of the zone – despite the fact that three U.S. airlines, acting on government advice, are notifying China of plans to transit the area.
“We reaffirmed that policies and measures of both our countries, including the operations of the (Japanese) Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces, will not change and we will closely cooperate,” Abe told the news conference.
“We agreed that we will will not condone any actions that threaten the safety of civilian aircraft.”
Washington said over the weekend that the advice to U.S. airlines did not mean U.S. acceptance of the zone, and last week it sent two B-52 bombers into the area without informing China.
U.S. COMMITTED TO “REBALANCING” TO ASIA
Washington is also asking China not to set up an air defence zone in the South China Sea, where Beijing is locked in territorial rows with Southeast Asian nations, without first consulting countries concerned, a senior official travelling with Biden told reporters, according to Kyodo news agency.
The Japanese and South Korean governments have advised their airlines not to submit flight plans in advance as demanded from all aircraft since it announced the creation of the zone on Nov. 23.
Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings, however, are uneasy about flying through the zone without notifying China’s civil aviation authorities, two sources familiar with the Japanese carriers’ thinking told Reuters.
U.S., Japanese and South Korean military aircraft all breached the zone last week without informing Beijing and China later scrambled fighters into the area.
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said China’s request for flight plans was good for aviation safety.
“A small number of countries’ resolute refusal to report is not beneficial, and is an irresponsible display,” Geng said in a statement on the ministry’s website. “The East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone is a safe, not risky zone, a zone of cooperation not confrontation.”
In an English-language commentary, China’s offcial Xinhua news agency said Washington’s desire to “shore up its little brother” (Japan) was somewhat understandable.
But it added: “Yet when Tokyo keeps pissing off almost everybody in the region by its attitude toward its wartime history, it would ultimately cost the United States more than it would gain from backing a country that still honours those whose hands were red with American blood.”
Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. However, it recognises Tokyo’s administrative control and says the U.S.-Japan security pact applies to them.
Biden also said Washington was “fully committed” to its strategy of “rebalancing” to Asia, dismissing doubts in Japan and elsewhere in the region over whether the United States has the resources to carry out that strategy given its fiscal woes, its attention on the Middle East, and partisan battles at home.
Com as recentes vitórias do governo colombiano contra as FARC, Estados Unidos passou a considerar terminar a sua missão militar na região de combate ao tráfico de drogas.
U.S. Commandos About to Kick Their Drug War Mission in Colombia
Foreign Policy – 02/12/2013 – por Dan Lamothe
The $8 billion U.S war on drugs and instability in Colombia has pressed U.S. special operators, air crews and other personnel into a decade-plus operation to solidify security in the South American country. But the controversial mission will likely wind down soon: Colombian officials say they are winning the fight, and the two countries want to move to a new relationship based more closely on shared economic interests, said a senior U.S. administration official.
The comments came a day before Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is expected to meet with President Obama in Washington on an official visit. The U.S.’s security assistance package for Colombia “was always designed to be phased out” as conditions on the ground improved, and “in fact it has been improving” the U.S. administration official said. Ending or revising the mission would mark a significant shift in the sometimes controversial relationship between the two countries, which has centered heavily since 1999 on curbing Colombia’s cocaine production and the violent drug lords and insurgent groups funded by them.
Colombia defense minister Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno compared his country’s battle to attain peace to an American football game on Monday, saying Colombia is in the “red zone,” close to scoring a metaphorical touchdown against the violence that has plagued Colombia since the 1960s. But he warned the fight isn’t over yet.
“We’re in the red zone already, but we’re not [past] the goal line yet. So, we’ve got to make it there,” he said during an appearance at the Brookings Institution, an independent think tank in Washington. “We don’t want to spike the ball on the 10-yard line. That would be a terrible mistake. We really need to keep doing what we’re doing.”
If that sounds like a contradiction with the White House’s point of view, it likely all comes down to timing. U.S. Army Special Forces and other special operators are expected to continue training the Colombian security forces for the foreseeable future as part of Plan Colombia, the broad-based plan first agreed to by former President Clinton. Since 2000, the U.S. has spent about $8 billion on it, according to a November 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service. That money paid for airplanes, helicopters and development programs overseen by the Statement Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development as the Colombians rooted out notorious organizations like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
The defense minister cited a variety of statistics Monday while underscoring the progress in Colombia. There were about 30,000 homicides and 3,000 kidnappings there in 2000, he said, but those numbers have dropped to about 15,000 and 300 annually. At the same time, Colombia fell behind neighboring Peru as the number-one producer of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine. The defense minister said Monday he realizes the war on drugs has its critics, but said fighting it led to a reduction in funding for violent organizations, which in turn led to a reduction in violence.
U.S. special operators played no small role in that. A report released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in May said elite forces from all four branches of the U.S. military have deployed to Colombia since 2000, working closely with Colombian commandos.
“Aided by their U.S. counterparts, Colombian [special operations forces] have led operations that have decimated the FARC, demobilized paramilitary groups and re-established a government presence in every Colombian municipality for the first time in decades,” the report said. “… Colombia today is safer and more stable than it has been in generations.”
As of 2008, the U.S. had provided the Colombian military 72 helicopters with support services done by the U.S. Army. Conventional U.S. Navy and Marine Corps units also have participated in an interdiction program in which drugs are seized on Colombia’s coastal waters and rivers.
Plan Colombia has had its critics, however. In 2008, the GAO noted that U.S.-funded counternarcotics efforts focused primarily on the aerial spraying of crops did not reduce the production of cocaine as much as hoped, in part because farmers responded by implementing effective countermeasures that protected their plants. Human Rights organizations, including Amnesty International, also have called for the U.S. to end military aid, citing allegations of torture, abuse and killing civilians.
Colombia’s defense minister, did not bring any of that up on Monday. He did say, however, that his country is open to exploring new relationships in which Colombia’s military train forces from other countries in Central America and the Caribbean. Any effort to do so, he said, would be “funded by your funds, but done by our experts, both on police activities and military activities.”
Apesar da declaração de John Kerry de que a Era da Doutrina Monroe acabou, é melhor não acreditar nele, pois os EUA ainda possui forte influência continental.
The US Renounces the Monroe Doctrine?
The Diplomat – 21/11/2013 – por Zachary Keck
In a move that has oddly flown under the radar thus far, earlier this week the Obama administration renounced the Monroe Doctrine.
The announcement came in a speech Secretary of State John Kerry made to the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Kerry began the speech by noting that since President James Monroe’s famous State of the Union Address, the U.S. has “asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.”
He continued: “Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over…. The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering… to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share.”
If Kerry is to be believed, this represents a dramatic break in American foreign policy. Indeed, the Monroe Doctrine has formed the backbone of U.S. foreign policy both in the Western Hemisphere and abroad since it was delivered in December 1823.
In the relevant part of the speech, Monroe noted the threat posed by European powers, and stated:
“We should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it… we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”
The speech was delivered in the context of the formation of the Holy Alliance and the breakdown of Spanish colonial rule throughout much of Latin America. The fear was that the Holy Alliance powers would seek to restore European monarchy rule in Spain’s former colonies. The general ideas espoused by Monroe were actually first proposed to the U.S. by British Foreign Minister George Canning, who suggested the U.S. and U.K. make a joint declaration. With an eye toward the future, however, Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams rejected Canning’s overture and instead issued the doctrine unilaterally, knowing full well that British naval power would still enforce it.
As I’ve noted before, the Monroe Doctrine was one part of America’s two-pronged strategy for establishing regional hegemony over the Western Hemisphere. It was also at the heart of foreign policy debates within the United States during the 19th century, although—as recent scholarship has shown—this was just as often for domestic political reasons as for foreign policy ones.
In a broader sense, the Monroe Doctrine has underpinned much of what the U.S. has done abroad to date. Its participation in WWI, WWII and the Cold War, for example, was aimed at preventing a regional hegemon from emerging in Europe and Asia. The rationale behind this objective was/is that if another regional hegemon emerges in a crucial region, it will have the power and the interest to challenge U.S. hegemony over the Western Hemisphere. So long as states are busy vying for power regionally, they will not have the motivation to mount a serious challenge to the U.S. in its own neighborhood. Thus, the U.S. has expended enormous blood and treasure in Europe and Asia in what amounts to a preventive defense of the Monroe Doctrine. It appears ready to do so again in Asia in the decades ahead.
So then why is the Obama administration calling for an end to the Monroe Doctrine even as it continues to call for a pivot to Asia?
The truth of the matter is that the Obama administration is almost certainly not disavowing the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine. If a country like Russia or especially China were to try and station large numbers of troops in Central America, it’d likely have to go through the U.S. military first, as Moscow learned during the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, the Obama administration rightly calculates that such a possibility remains remote and, in any case, America’s true feelings on the matter can be communicated to leaders in Moscow or Beijing privately should the need arise.
More importantly, the Obama administration understands the central role soft power plays in sustaining regional hegemony. Although America’s superior military power is what ultimately ensures its regional hegemonic status, this is an instrument that should only be used overtly as a last resort.
The better, more efficient way to sustain regional hegemony is for the hegemonic power to legitimize its status through non-coercive means. The U.S. has usually done a decent job of this historically. However, it has seen a number of setbacks in recent months, which likely prompted Kerry’s speech.
First, it leaned heavily on Latin American countries like Ecuador to persuade them not to offer Edward Snowden asylum, with Congress threatening (i.e. coercing) the Ecuadoran government with the removal of favorable trading terms. Then, the extent of U.S. surveillance operations in Latin American countries was made public by Snowden, which sparked a strong backlash in places like Brazil. All of this comes at a time when there is growing anger in the region over America’s war on drugs.
Kerry’s speech was an effort to begin repairing the damage. The unilateralism and parentalism of the Monroe Doctrine has long been a source of resentment in Latin America. Renouncing it was a symbolic gesture that was likely appreciated by many in Latin America (even if they felt it was long overdue). Moreover, after denouncing the Monroe Doctrine to much applause at the OAS meeting on Monday, Kerry proceeded to outline a vision for the region’s future in which equal states cooperate based on mutual respect in pursuit of common ends like peace, prosperity, and freedom. He even sounded a somewhat optimistic note in talking about Cuba.
This is the type of benevolent leadership that makes the job of a regional hegemon relatively easy. China would do well to take notes.
Semana passada, Secretário de Estado dos EUA John Kerry declarou que a Era da Doutrina Monroe acabara. Apesar do que possam dizer muitos, os EUA não se “retiraram” da América Latina. Sua presença é relevante em questões econômicas, políticas, assistenciais e militares. E os países da zona não devem se enganar.
“Bye bye, Monroe; hello, Troilo”
El País Brasil – 29/11/2013 – por Juan Gabriel Tokatlian
Recentemente, o secretário de Estado dos EUA, John Kerry, proclamou aquilo que os fatos já haviam tornado evidente em meados da década passada: o ocaso da Doutrina Monroe. Um conjunto de fatores estruturais de diversas índoles, de tendências globais e regionais e de transformações de envergadura em muitos países do continente – incluindo, é claro, os EUA – foi confirmando os limites e os custos da diplomacia coercitiva e da capacidade de Washington para intervir unilateralmente nos assuntos internos da América Latina e para conseguir, sem consultar ninguém, a satisfação de seus principais objetivos na área.
Talvez de modo um tanto ingênuo, alguns observadores da região detectaram nas palavras de Kerry uma nova vocação de isolamento dos EUA com relação à América Latina. Com escassa base empírica, houve outros que perceberam que o gesto de Kerry era a constatação de que os EUA tinham “ido embora” da América Latina. A consequência natural dessas duas leituras foi imediatamente uma só: bye bye, Monroe, adeus, Estados Unidos.
Provavelmente seria mais exato reconhecer que o fim da doutrina Monroe não implica a “retirada” ou o “esquecimento” da América Latina por parte dos EUA. É possível que seja útil começar a falar da doutrina Troilo como uma espécie de substituto simbólico para se referir às relações interamericanas. Aníbal Troilo não foi um político latino-americano, mas sim um dos maiores bandoneonistas argentinos. Nocturno a Mi Barrio foi uma composição sua especial: não só a escreveu em 1968, mas também foi a única que ele interpretou em 1972. Sua letra vem ao caso. Naquele soberbo tango, Troilo dizia: “Alguém disse uma vez que eu fui embora do meu bairro. Quando? Mas quando? Se eu sempre estou chegando”. A letra tangueira pode ser usada para discernir como, apesar das aparências e de alguns diagnósticos altissonantes que foram surgindo na própria América Latina, os dados concretos mais recentes mostram que os EUA nunca “foram embora” da região: hello, Troilo.
Por exemplo, é verdade que a Área de Livre Comércio das Américas (Alca) se desvaneceu em 2005, na Cúpula das Américas de Mar del Plata. Mas os EUA já subscreveram e ratificaram o Tratado do Livre Comércio da América do Norte (Nafta), com o México e o Canadá, e o Tratado de Livre Comércio com a América Central e República Dominicana, além de tratados de comércio bilaterais com Chile, Colômbia, Peru e Panamá. Enquanto o Mercosul não definiu um olhar nem medianamente consistente em direção ao Atlântico, nem tem uma perspectiva de consenso com relação ao outro oceano que banha as costas da América Latina, a Aliança do Pacífico (Chile, Colômbia, Peru e México), acompanhada por aliados regionais, se soma por interesse próprio à denominada pivot strategy – mediante a qual os EUA buscam afirmar a projeção de seu poder na Ásia – e cercar Pequim para limitar a influência chinesa na orla do Pacífico. Paralelamente, os EUA continuam sendo, apesar do avanço da China na América Latina, o principal investidor no México e no Caribe, segundo o último relatório da Comissão Econômica para América Latina e o Caribe (Cepal) sobre a matéria. Além disso, de acordo com a mesma fonte, e apesar da persistente crise econômica interna, “em 2012 as empresas transnacionais dos EUA foram responsáveis por 24%” do investimento estrangeiro direto na América Latina; “um percentual maior que o dos cinco anos anteriores”.
Quanto a políticas contra o narcotráfico, e à margem de que se questione na região a chamada “guerra às drogas”, Washington levou a cabo o Plano Colômbia, a Iniciativa Andina, o Plano Mérida, a Iniciativa de Segurança da Bacia do Caribe e a Iniciativa de Segurança Regional para a América Central. A criação, em 2009, do Conselho Sul-Americano de Defesa foi transcendental, mas só ocorreu depois que os EUA restabeleceram, em 2008, a Quarta Frota, que havia sido dissolvida em 1950 e que agora tem como missão principal combater o crime organizado transnacional. É verdade que em dezembro de 2000 foi fechada a funesta Escola das Américas, onde foram treinados tantos ditadores da região, mas o total de latino-americanos treinados nos EUA entre 1999 e 2011 foi, segundo o site Just the Facts (www.justf.org), de 195.807 – superior a algumas das décadas de maior contato entre Forças Armadas no continente. A isso é preciso somar a consolidação de bases na América Central e no Caribe e a ampliação de instalações militares, como a implantação de radares e o aumento de operações contra as drogas nessa zona próxima, que Washington considera sua “terceira fronteira”.
Por mais diversificação de assistência que os latino-americanos tenham buscado, a ajuda total dos EUA à região continua se destacando sobre a dos demais países: 17,3 bilhões de dólares para o período 2009-2014. A assistência militar e policial dos EUA à América Latina, 6,8 bilhões de dólares entre 2009-2014, supera a quantidade aportada por qualquer outra nação de fora da região. Embora o subcontinente comece a ter fontes diferentes para o fornecimento de armas, o total de vendas de armas dos EUA para a América Latina foi de 11,2 bilhões de dólares entre 2006 e 2011. Embora os EUA tenham se retirado do Equador ao finalizar seu prazo para o uso da base de Manta e não tenham conseguido que fosse considerado constitucional o acordo com a Colômbia para o uso de sete bases militares nesse país, Washington conseguiu assinar dois compromisso s com Brasília, o acordo de cooperação para defesa, em abril de 2010, e o acordo de segurança em informação militar, de novembro desse mesmo ano, além de iniciar a readequação de um acordo de 1952 com o Peru para a cooperação em questões de defesa. Cabe esclarecer ainda que, segundo o Instituto Internacional de Estocolmo para a Pesquisa da Paz, os EUA são o segundo maior fornecedor de armas para o Brasil, depois da França e antes da Alemanha e da Suécia.
Em boa parte da opinião pública e política persiste a ideia de que a questão dos drones (veículos aéreos não tripulados) e das forças de operações especiais se manifesta fora da região; em especial, na Ásia Central, Oriente Médio e norte da África. Entretanto, os drones operam na fronteira entre os EUA e o México, e já há testes com esses veículos para interceptar carregamentos de drogas no Caribe, ao mesmo tempo em que, segundo uma notícia do The Washington Post de julho deste ano, os militares norte-americanos empregaram drones – os chamados ScanEagles – na Colômbia. O Comando Sul de Operações Especiais, como parte do Comando Sul, com sede em Miami, vem desenvolvendo exercícios com várias Forças Armadas da região, e o Comando de Operações Especiais da Força Aérea está ativo na América Central desde 2009. Cabe destacar que no último ano surgiu um interesse dos fabricantes de drones dos EUA em substituir Israel como principal fornecedor dos mesmos, enquanto que o almirante William McRaven, à frente do Comando de Operações Especiais, indicou em 2012 a vontade do Pentágono de expandir o papel das forças de operações especiais na América Latina, apesar de não ser essa uma área que ponha em xeque a segurança nacional dos EUA. As afirmações de McRaven coincidem com o que foi expresso no começo deste ano pelo general Sean Mulholland do Comando Especial Sul. É preciso acrescentar que, segundo notícia publicada do início de 2013 pela Associated Press, em qualquer momento do ano até 4.000 militares dos EUA permanecem instalados em toda a América Latina.
Em resumo, os EUA não têm sido passivos nem irrelevantes em termos de relações interamericanas, seja no aspecto econômico, político, assistencial ou militar. Nunca “foram embora” a região: estão ali. A Doutrina Monroe perdeu vigência, mas isso não significa que os EUA tenham se retirado da América Latina. Na verdade, Washington sempre está “chegando” à região: Bye bye, Monroe; hello, Troilo.
O grande desafio para a região é saber como lidar com essas relações e como avançar na autonomia internacional da América Latina, salvaguardando os interesses nacionais de cada país. A região se equivocará se confundir o reconhecimento, por parte dos EUA, de novas realidades mundiais e continentais com inatividade por parte de Washington com relação à região. O erro poderá ser maiúsculo caso não se entenda que é imperativo para a América Latina desagregar temas e discernir conjunturas nas suas relações com os EUA: no final das contas, esse país é, simultaneamente, provedor de ordem e de desordem no continente.
Após acordo com Irã, é possível que EUA retire o país da lista de Estados párias. Medida erodiria a justificativa para a construção de um escudo antimísseis na Europa. Rússia já reconheceu o fato e pressiona para o cancelamento dos planos que vê como intromissão em sua esfera de influência.
Russia’s View of the Iran Deal and U.S. Plans for Central Europe
Stratfor – 26/11/2013
The landmark agreement the P-5+1 and Tehran reached over the weekend regarding the Iranian nuclear program is having effects beyond the immediate region. Speaking at a media forum in Rome on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the deal obviates the need for NATO’s ballistic missile defense plans in Central Europe, given that the system — championed by the United States — was designed to counter potential missile threats from Iran. Lavrov noted that if the deal is implemented as planned, then “the stated reason for the construction of the defense shield will no longer apply.”
NATO’s ballistic missile defense plans in Central Europe have long been one of the most contentious issues between Moscow and Washington. These plans, known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach, involve placing interceptor bases in Romania and Poland that are capable of shooting down various-ranged ballistic missiles. These are set to become operational in 2015 and 2018, respectively. The groundbreaking ceremony at the site in Romania took place last month.
While the European Phased Adaptive Approach is technically and officially designed to counter missile attacks specifically from Iran, the plans have drawn substantial concern from Russia. Moscow considers any NATO-related military buildup in Europe a potential threat, and Russia fears that the technology used in the development of the ballistic missile defense system could one day challenge Russia’s intercontinental missile arsenal, which it relies on as its primary strategic deterrent. As the European Phased Adaptive Approach becomes more robust — currently it is not much of a direct threat to Moscow, based on capabilities and placement — it could seriously threaten Russia’s ballistic missile capabilities in the long term. For years, Russia has demanded legal guarantees from NATO and the United States that the system would not target its strategic nuclear deterrent. This issue has been a constant sticking point in talks between Moscow and the West over ballistic missile defense.
But there is a broader issue regarding ballistic missile defense that goes beyond the specifics of a system and legal guarantees: the battle between the United States and Russia for influence in Central Europe. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has been worried by what it sees as the West’s never-ending encroachment in its near abroad. The wave of NATO and EU expansion during the late 1990s and early 2000s occurred at a time when Russia was weak and came at great geopolitical cost to Moscow. Now Russia is stronger, but it still views any U.S.- or NATO-led military moves in Central and Eastern Europe through the same prism of interference, especially in what Russia deems as its sphere of influence. Russia thus views the ballistic missile defense system as an excuse for the United States to deploy military personnel in some of the most strategic borderland states of Europe.
For Russia to raise the ballistic missile defense issue again immediately after the Iranian nuclear deal reveals two things. The first is Russia’s more recent role in facilitating U.S. policy in the Middle East. This began with Russia developing a diplomatic resolution to the chemical weapons crisis in Syria and saving the United States from engaging in another unpopular military intervention in the region. The Syria resolution then opened the door for Iran and the United States to negotiate. Despite its reservations over a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, Russia knew it could do little to derail the process and calculated instead that its cooperation in the deal — as opposed to its obstruction — would give Russia substantial leverage in other more pressing issues with the United States. It is likely that NATO’s ballistic missile defense plans for Central Europe would be on the top of Moscow’s list of such issues.
The second revelation is the far-reaching consequences of the Iranian nuclear settlement. Not only does a potential U.S.-Iranian understanding lead to a realignment of the balance of power in the Middle East, but it also carries the potential for changes in a host of other regions, from Afghanistan to the Caucasus to Central Asia. The same could be said for Central Europe, considering how it intersects with U.S.-Russian negotiations that run parallel to U.S.-Iranian talks.
How the Iranian nuclear agreement will actually affect the European Phased Adaptive Approach remains to be seen. The agreement is still in its initial phase and is subject to numerous obstacles and complications over the coming months. There is a big difference between the United States’ conditional easing of certain sanctions on Iran and the official recognition that Iran no longer poses a military threat to the United States or its European allies. Moreover, Washington has been careful to reassure the Central European states that they are not being abandoned as a result of the Iran talks and accompanying negotiations with Russia. Earlier this month on a visit to Poland, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the deployment of the European Phased Adaptive Approach would not be contingent on the Iran issue. So far, the United States has chosen to say little about ballistic missile defense, with mid-tier U.S. officials reiterating that the U.S. administration is willing to engage in dialogue with the Kremlin over the issue though not yet showing signs of backing away from the European Phased Adaptive Approach as part of a bargain with Moscow.
Russia can be expected to continue pushing the issue, however, making clear to the United States that the price for its continued cooperation in the Middle East is Washington’s tempering of its military aid for Central European countries. Russia will try to push the United States into a corner by exposing the eroding foundation of U.S. ballistic missile defense plans now that Iran is on the path to losing its pariah status. On the one hand, the weakening Iran pretext is making it difficult for the United States to justify the development of its ballistic missile defense strategy; on the other hand, the United States is not yet in a position to meaningfully challenge Russia in its near abroad through more direct forms of military assistance, especially while trying to tie up a number of loose ends in the Middle East. This state of limbo is exactly where Moscow wants Washington — with Poland, Romania, Ukraine and others watching and wondering whether they can still count on the United States for support when they need it most.
Acordo com Irã desagrada Israel e Arábia Saudita, que veem sua influência em Washington diminuir. Entretanto, aos olhos dos Estados Unidos, suas relações com ambos os países não foi desfeita, apenas modificada em prol de maior estabilidade no Oriente Médio.
Israelis, Saudis and the Iranian Agreement
Stratfor – 26/11/2013 – por George Friedman
A deal between Iran and the P-5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) was reached Saturday night. The Iranians agreed to certain limitations on their nuclear program while the P-5+1 agreed to remove certain economic sanctions. The next negotiation, scheduled for six months from now depending on both sides’ adherence to the current agreement, will seek a more permanent resolution. The key players in this were the United States and Iran. The mere fact that the U.S. secretary of state would meet openly with the Iranian foreign minister would have been difficult to imagine a few months ago, and unthinkable at the beginning of the Islamic republic.
The U.S. goal is to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons before they are built, without the United States having to take military action to eliminate them. While it is commonly assumed that the United States could eliminate the Iranian nuclear program at will with airstrikes, as with most military actions, doing so would be more difficult and riskier than it might appear at first glance. The United States in effect has now traded a risky and unpredictable air campaign for some controls over the Iranian nuclear program.
The Iranians’ primary goal is regime preservation. While Tehran managed the Green Revolution in 2009 because the protesters lacked broad public support, Western sanctions have dramatically increased the economic pressure on Iran and have affected a wide swath of the Iranian public. It isn’t clear that public unhappiness has reached a breaking point, but were the public to be facing years of economic dysfunction, the future would be unpredictable. The election of President Hassan Rouhani to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the latter’s two terms was a sign of unhappiness. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei clearly noted this, displaying a willingness to trade a nuclear program that had not yet produced a weapon for the elimination of some sanctions.
The logic here suggests a process leading to the elimination of all sanctions in exchange for the supervision of Iran’s nuclear activities to prevent it from developing a weapon. Unless this is an Iranian trick to somehow buy time to complete a weapon and test it, I would think that the deal could be done in six months. An Iranian ploy to create cover for building a weapon would also demand a reliable missile and a launch pad invisible to surveillance satellites and the CIA, National Security Agency, Mossad, MI6 and other intelligence agencies. The Iranians would likely fail at this, triggering airstrikes however risky they might be and putting Iran back where it started economically. While this is a possibility, the scenario is not likely when analyzed closely.
While the unfolding deal involves the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, two countries intensely oppose it: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Though not powers on the order of the P-5+1, they are still significant. There is a bit of irony in Israel and Saudi Arabia being allied on this issue, but only on the surface. Both have been intense enemies of Iran, and close allies of the United States; each sees this act as a betrayal of its relationship with Washington.
The View from Saudi Arabia
In a way, this marks a deeper shift in relations with Saudi Arabia than with Israel. Saudi Arabia has been under British and later American protection since its creation after World War I. Under the leadership of the Sauds, it became a critical player in the global system for a single reason: It was a massive producer of oil. It was also the protector of Mecca and Medina, two Muslim holy cities, giving the Saudis an added influence in the Islamic world on top of their extraordinary wealth.
It was in British and American interests to protect Saudi Arabia from its enemies, most of which were part of the Muslim world. The United States protected the Saudis from radical Arab socialists who threatened to overthrow the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula. It later protected Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait. But it also protected Saudi Arabia from Iran.
Absent the United States in the Persian Gulf, Iran would have been the most powerful regional military power. In addition, the Saudis have a substantial Shiite minority concentrated in the country’s oil-rich east. The Iranians, also Shia, had a potential affinity with them, and thereby the power to cause unrest in Saudi Arabia.
Until this agreement with Iran, the United States had an unhedged commitment to protect Saudi Arabia from the Iranians. Given the recent deal, and potential follow-on deals, this commitment becomes increasingly hedged. The problem from the Saudi point of view is that while there was a wide ideological gulf between the United States and Iran, there was little in the way of substantial issues separating Washington from Tehran. The United States did not want Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians didn’t want the United States hindering Iran’s economic development. The fact was that getting a nuclear weapon was not a fundamental Iranian interest, and crippling Iran’s economy was not a fundamental interest to the United States absent an Iranian nuclear program.
If the United States and Iran can agree on this quid pro quo, the basic issues are settled. And there is something drawing them together. The Iranians want investment in their oil sector and other parts of their economy. American oil companies would love to invest in Iran, as would other U.S. businesses. As the core issue separating the two countries dissolves, and economic relations open up — a step that almost by definition will form part of a final agreement — mutual interests will appear.
There are other significant political issues that can’t be publicly addressed. The United States wants Iran to temper its support for Hezbollah’s militancy, and guarantee it will not support terrorism. The Iranians want guarantees that Iraq will not develop an anti-Iranian government, and that the United States will work to prevent this. (Iran’s memories of its war with Iraq run deep.) The Iranians will also want American guarantees that Washington will not support anti-Iranian forces based in Iraq.
From the Saudi point of view, Iranian demands regarding Iraq will be of greatest concern. Agreements or not, it does not want a pro-Iranian Shiite state on its northern border. Riyadh has been funding Sunni fighters throughout the region against Shiite fighters in a proxy war with Iran. Any agreement by the Americans to respect Iranian interests in Iraq would represent a threat to Saudi Arabia.
The View from Israel
From the Israeli point of view, there are two threats from Iran. One is the nuclear program. The other is Iranian support not only for Hezbollah but also for Hamas and other groups in the region. Iran is far from Israel and poses no conventional military threat. The Israelis would be delighted if Iran gave up its nuclear program in some verifiable way, simply because they themselves have no reliable means to destroy that program militarily. What the Israelis don’t want to see is the United States and Iran making deals on their side issues, especially the political ones that really matter to Israel.
The Israelis have more room to maneuver than the Saudis do. Israel can live with a pro-Iranian Iraq. The Saudis can’t; from their point of view, it is only a matter of time before Iranian power starts to encroach on their sphere of influence. The Saudis can’t live with an Iranian-supported Hezbollah. The Israelis can and have, but don’t want to; the issue is less fundamental to the Israelis than Iraq is to the Saudis.
But in the end, this is not the problem that the Saudis and Israelis have. Their problem is that both depend on the United States for their national security. Neither country can permanently exist in a region filled with dangers without the United States as a guarantor. Israel needs access to American military equipment that it can’t build itself, like fighter aircraft. Saudi Arabia needs to have American troops available as the ultimate guarantor of their security, as they were in 1990. Israel and Saudi Arabia have been the two countries with the greatest influence in Washington. As this agreement shows, that is no longer the case. Both together weren’t strong enough to block this agreement. What frightens them the most about this agreement is that fact. If the foundation of their national security is the American commitment to them, then the inability to influence Washington is a threat to their national security.
There are no other guarantors available. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Moscow, clearly trying to get the Russians to block the agreement. He failed. But even if he had succeeded, he would have alienated the United States, and would have gotten instead a patron incapable of supplying the type of equipment Israel might need when Israel might need it. The fact is that neither the Saudis nor the Israelis have a potential patron other than the United States.
U.S. Regional Policy
The United States is not abandoning either Israel or Saudi Arabia. A regional policy based solely on the Iranians would be irrational. What the United States wants to do is retain its relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia, but on modified terms. The modification is that U.S. support will come in the context of a balance of power, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia. While the United States is prepared to support the Saudis in that context, it will not simply support them absolutely. The Saudis and Israelis will have to live with things that they have not had to live with before — namely, an American concern for a reasonably strong and stable Iran regardless of its ideology.
The American strategy is built on experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington has learned that it has interests in the region, but that the direct use of American force cannot achieve those goals, partly because imposing solutions takes more force than the United States has and partly because the more force it uses, the more resistance it generates. Therefore, the United States needs a means of minimizing its interests, and pursuing those it has without direct force.
With its interests being limited, the United States’ strategy is a balance of power. The most natural balance of power is Sunni versus Shia, the Arabs against the Iranians. The goal is not war, but sufficient force on each side to paralyze the other. In that sense, a stable Iran and a more self-reliant Saudi Arabia are needed. Saudi Arabia is not abandoned, but nor is it the sole interest of the United States.
In the same sense, the United States is committed to the survival of Israel. If Iranian nuclear weapons are prevented, the United States has fulfilled that commitment, since there are no current threats that could conceivably threaten Israeli survival. Israel’s other interests, such as building settlements in the West Bank, do not require American support. If the United States determines that they do not serve American interests (for example, because they radicalize the region and threaten the survival of Jordan), then the United States will force Israel to abandon the settlements by threatening to change its relationship with Israel. If the settlements do not threaten American interests, then they are Israel’s problem.
Israel has outgrown its dependence on the United States. It is not clear that Israel is comfortable with its own maturation, but the United States has entered a new period where what America wants is a mature Israel that can pursue its interests without recourse to the United States. And if Israel finds it cannot have what it wants without American support, Israel may not get that support, unless Israel’s survival is at stake.
In the same sense, the perpetual Saudi inability to create an armed force capable of effectively defending itself has led the United States to send troops on occasion — and contractors always — to deal with the problem. Under the new strategy, the expectation is that Saudi soldiers will fight Saudi Arabia’s wars — with American assistance as needed, but not as an alternative force.
With this opening to Iran, the United States will no longer be bound by its Israeli and Saudi relationships. They will not be abandoned, but the United States has broader interests than those relationships, and at the same time few interests that rise to the level of prompting it to directly involve U.S. troops. The Saudis will have to exert themselves to balance the Iranians, and Israel will have to wend its way in a world where it has no strategic threats, but only strategic problems, like everyone else has. It is not a world in which Israeli or Saudi rigidity can sustain itself.