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Volume VIII, Issue 2

From the Editor



n South Asia, the U.S. has a history of leaving the job unfinished. In the 1980’s, we supported the Afghani Mujahedeen against Soviet invasion but didn’t support reconstruction or state-building, a misstep which laid the foundation for the Taliban and put 9/11 into motion. Two decades later, we overthrew the Taliban but failed to secure the peace, diverting troops to Iraq instead. This time, our mistake has potentially larger consequences—the Taliban have moved into Pakistan and are destabilizing that nuclear-armed state. Our cover story notes that we now have an opportunity for redemption. Afghanistan and Pakistan’s futures are tied: we cannot win the war in the former country nor stabilize the government of the latter without securing the Afghan-Pakistan border. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s first civilian leader in a decade, understands the importance of pacifying this region. He is currently waging a costly but effective all-out war on the Taliban in Pakistan’s northwest. Our cover story explains why this new strategy requires American financial assistance to remain a success. While financial assistance is essential to help the new President in the short-term, it is but one part of the puzzle. Stability in South Asia requires us to do more. First, in the long term, we must commit to rebuilding Pakistan’s institutions and civil society to prevent radicalism from spreading and to avoid yet another military coup. Pakistan does not have a rich democratic tradition, and it remains uncertain whether power lies with the government, the army, or the ISI. Helping Zardari secure his domestic flank will give Pakistan a chance to transition toward democracy, and helping Pakistan rebuild its civil institutions will cement those democratic gains. Additionally, the U.S. cannot take for granted the temporary peace between India and Pakistan. Lingering threat perceptions influence each nation’s policies. Unless Pakistan is assured that its larger neighbor does not harbor hostile intent, it will be difficult for it to divert resources from defense to anti-terrorism. While brokering a genuine resolution on Kashmir is still a pipe dream, the U.S. can act as a stabilizing force by participating more fully in the region. Indeed, if ever there were a time for the U.S. to increase its efforts in South Asia, that time is now. The War on Terror cannot be won through military operations alone; stability requires rebuilding civil societies and managing South Asia’s complex diplomacy. New President Zardari is a rare break from Pakistan’s generally hawkish military leadership. He is interested in cooperation with India and dedicated to combating domestic extremism. He is the window to a new South Asian policy. Despite our costly failures in the region, it seems for once our objectives in South Asia may actually be realizable—at least, as long as we don’t quit before the job is finished.


Rush Doshi ’11 Publisher Manav Lalwani ’09 Managing Editors Katherine Gaudyn ’11 Dan May ’11 Eric Stern ’11 Editors

Carlos Hanco ’09 Emily Norris ’09 Jessica Sheehan ’09 ’09 Zvi Smith ’10 Ahson Azmat ’10 Jon Bradshaw Heejin Cho ’10 Matthew Drecun ’10 ’10 Jon Extein Jonathan Giuffrida’10 Lucas Issacharoff ’10 Catalina Valencia ’10 Brendan Carroll ’11

Vishal Chanani Ellen Choi Jamie LaMontagne Addie Lerner Tara Lewis Elias Sánchez-Eppler Eric Stern Kit Thayer Oliver Bloom Yun Chung Benjamin Cogan Charlie Metzger Peter Wang


Jonathan Giuffrida ’10, Production Manager Kelly Lack ’10 Ellen Choi ’11 Emily Myerson ’12

Business Staff

Peter McCall ’10

Ellen Chen ’12

Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Zvi Smith ’09 Publisher Emeritus Joel Alicea ’10

Rush Doshi Editor-in-Chief

AFP Advisory Board

American Foreign Policy is a student-written, student-run publication based at Princeton University. It was founded in the wake of September 11th to provide Princeton students with a forum to discuss the difficult problems and choices facing the United States in the world. American Foreign Policy magazine is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. No part of this publication should be construed to promote any pending legislation or to support any candidate for office. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Woodrow Wilson School, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the James Madison Program, Princeton University, or American Foreign Policy. AFP gladly accepts letters to the editor, article proposals, and donations, which are fully tax-deductible. All correspondence may be directed to: American Foreign Policy, 5406 Frist Center, Princeton, NJ 08544


’11 ’11 ’11 ’11 ’11 ’11 ’11 ’11 ’12 ’12 ’12 ’12 ’12

Anne-Marie Slaughter: Dean, Woodrow Wilson School Nolan McCarty: Acting Dean, Woodrow Wilson School Katherine Newman: Director, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies Robert P. George: Director, James Madison Program G. John Ikenberry: Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs Bernard A. Haykel: Director, Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East

American Foreign Policy

American Foreign Policy November 2008 Volume VIII, Issue 2

CONTENTS Cover Story

An Uncertain Future


Jamie LaMontagne ’11 What the U.S. Needs to Do in Pakistan

U.S. Foreign Policy

Brian Lipshutz ’12 6

Back to the Beginning A Return to Pragmatism

AFP Quiz

Franco Lopez ’11


America’s Darkest Room Elias Sánchez-Eppler ’11 The Case Against Torture



Neither Enemy Nor Ally Emily Norris ’09 Understanding Putin’s Russia

Christmas in Pakistan

10 Arrrms

Global Update

Vishal Chanani ’11


Addie Lerner ’11


Amara Nwannunu ’11


Restlessness in Lebanon Sam Norton ’12 The Real Front Line in the War on Terror


In Context

Two Perspectives: Israel

A Beacon of Democracy Pretty Fly for a New Guy

A Loose Cannon

Middle East

Tara Lewis ’11


Japan’s Maverick Challenges for Taro Aso

“Alex Noriega” ’11


Mohit Agrawal ’11



By the Numbers No Bonuses at AFP! Photo Credits: Mohammad Sajjad, U.S. Navy, Koji Sasahara, Johnny Green/PA Wire / AP

November 2008

Cover Photo: Mohammad Sajjad / AP


Cover Story

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

An Uncertain Future What the U.S. Needs to Do in Pakistan


ince the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, U.S. policy towards Pakistan has been anything but successful. The swift toppling of the Taliban’s regime quickly developed into a protracted conflict along the AfghanPakistan border, and today the Islamists inhabiting Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are the strongest they have been since President Bush’s “War on Terror” commenced. The failure of Pakistan’s government to police its territory has polarized the conflict, prompting saber-


Jamie LaMontagne ’11 rattling on both sides, and leading many in Washington to advocate unilateral action, even at the risk of violating Pakistan’s sovereignty. The recent election of President Asif Ali Zardari—Pakistan’s first civilian head of state in almost a decade—has brought with it prospects for improvement, but U.S. policymakers have been hesitant to embrace the new leader, lest they find themselves duped by another Musharraf. With a U.S. presidential election impending, pressure to change policy towards Pakistan has reached a fever pitch, but new

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conditions in Pakistan offer fresh hope for the failed policies of the past. The best U.S. strategy is to continue publicly supporting the government of Pakistan, providing significant economic assistance, and emphasizing cooperation with neighbors Afghanistan and India. Although this is the same plan that enabled Musharraf to squander billions of dollars of economic aid and turned many Pakistanis against America, the election of President Zardari, the recently-appointed chiefs of Pakistan’s military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, as well as prospects for improved relations with Afghanistan and India, indicate that continued cooperation between the United States and Pakistan may finally make significant progress. The success of this strategy depends heavily on President Zardari, the husband of late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Though he has endured accusa-

Cover Story tions of corruption and graft throughout his career, he is still a far cry from Pervez Musharraf. While Zardari admittedly lacks his predecessor’s natural alliance with Pakistan’s military, this separation will actually encourage more forceful action against Islamic militants. Zardari has outlined a plan to secure the military’s cooperation by allocating it a large portion of the national budget and reaffirming its importance in the Pakistani state. Zardari hopes to engender enough good will with these concessions to continue waging war on Islamic militancy. So far he is succeeding. The Pakistani military is currently engaging Islamist groups on three separate fronts, and observers claim that army efforts are the greatest they have been since the U.S.Pakistan alliance was forged in the wake of September 11th. Maintaining this renewed enthusiasm, however, will require equally significant commitments from Washington. President Zardari estimates his “grand strategy” will require $100 billion in international aid, but he has yet to find willing donors. Furthermore, Pakistan requires additional capital to shore up its crumbling economy and to prevent the possibility of defaulting on its current account payments. Western nations, including the United States, have been reluctant to step up in light of the global financial crisis. After Zardari’s efforts to secure Chinese assistance failed, top officials noted Pakistan may have no choice but to seek IMF assistance. Unfortunately, accepting IMF aid will require Pakistan’s government to significantly curtail government spending and increase taxes, worsening the economic downturn. A humiliating trip to the IMF combined with a further economic downturn at a time when quality of life has already fallen (due to increased food prices and electrical shortages) would likely fuel domestic radicalism. Funding shortages would also limit Zardari’s ability to fight radical Islamists; without sufficient funds, it is unlikely he would be able to secure the military’s cooperation. Despite the ensuring financial crisis, it is vital the U.S. step in immediately and provide Zardari with the assistance he needs. While assistance to Musharraf produced scant benefits, the prospect of an economi-

cally stable Pakistan led by Zardari is an opportunity the U.S. cannot afford to miss. Given appropriate funds, there is ample evidence that President Zardari is capable of defeating Pakistan’s Islamists. For one, Zardari’s public statements and his relationship with the electorate indicate that he will fight Islamists earnestly. Given his wife’s assassination at the hands of these terrorists and the recent migration of attacks from Pakistan’s border regions to its more metropolitan areas, it is reasonable to assume that Zardari has a personal interest in challeng-

officer who refused to support President Musharraf ’s bid to suspend Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, a domestic detractor of Musharraf ’s administration. These personnel changes in the ISI and military indicate that Pakistani leadership may finally have the requisite talent, experience, and directive to fight Islamic radicalism. Finally, Pakistan’s new administration appears far more open to international diplomatic efforts the United States has encouraged for years. Since his election, Zardari has traveled abroad in search of the support he lacks at home. Whereas Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Musharraf refused to coordinate against a common enemy, Karzai has embraced President Zardari fully and the two consider their interests “inseparable” in the fight against radical Islamism. Zardari even appears ready to join forces with India, saying that “India has never been a threat to Pakistan” and that “[we] must trade with our neighbors first” to ensure Pakistan’s economic survival. Zardari will need the support of these neighboring nations to stabilize the border regions of Pakistan, and his apparent recognition of this fact may be a sign that Pakistan’s role in the region is changing for the better. Although U.S. aid to Pakistan failed in the past, the arrival of new leadership creates an unprecedented opportunity. Zardari’s personal investment in fighting Islamist terrorists and his political incentives to do so have aligned U.S. and Pakistani interests as never before. These realities, coupled with the ascendancy of Pasha and Kayani, as well as Pakistan’s burgeoning alliances with Afghanistan and India, should encourage U.S. leaders to continue sending economic and military aid to Pakistan. Zardari, Pasha, and Kayani deserve a fair chance to fight these battles, and it is critical that the United States assist them in this effort. Afp

The best U.S. strategy is to continue publicly supporting the government of Pakistan, providing economic assistance, and emphasizing cooperation with neighbors Afghanistan and India. ing the Islamists. Indeed, his administration has publicly declared the battle against Islamist insurgency its first priority. Because Pakistan is so accustomed to military rule, Zardari must prove that a civilian leader is capable of maintaining stability and policing domestic disputes. If he fails to defeat radical Islamism, his political career will be over. In light of this, American aid now has unprecedented potential to produce desired results. Second, Zardari’s election comes alongside two other recent appointments that augur well for American interests. Lieutenant General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, the new head of Pakistan’s infamous ISI, has led a number of successful raids against Islamist groups in the past. His predecessor, Nadeem Taj, on the other hand was an ally of Musharraf and suspected of complicity in the July attack on India’s embassy in Islamabad. Even if Pasha’s only contribution were to refrain from such subversive activities, he would still represent marked improvement. Pasha will work with General Ashfaq Kayani, the Chief of Pakistan’s army since November 2007, and a man widely believed to possess a talent for producing results under the most adverse of circumstances. In January of 2002, for example, Kayani successfully mediated a heated standoff in Kashmir between Pakistan and India in large part due to his willingness to communicate with his Indian opponents. More importantly, in March of 2007, as then-chief of the ISI, General Kayani was the only Pakistani intelligence

November 2008

Jamie may be reached at


U.S. Foreign Policy

Back to the Beginning A Return to Pragmatism


Brian Lipshutz ’12

ashington watchers have been abuzz about the rise of the foreign policy pragmatists within the Bush administration. A more thorough analysis reveals that President George W. Bush has actually gone through three foreign policy phases. He started with a humble pragmatism, followed by an aggressive “us vs. them” attitude, and finally has returned to a more assertive pragmatism. It was during the second of these phases that democracy promotion became a priority, but that commitment continued into the most recent pragmatic phase. Bush’s foreign policy often seemed to be a tug-of-war between

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney on the one side, and the pragmatists, most notably National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on the other. The dispute concerned the advisability of pragmatic stances, and the development of the new attitude can be seen in the administration’s interactions with three nations: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. The original Bush foreign policy lasted one campaign and nine months. At the second debate with Democratic nominee Al Gore, candidate Bush rejected the Clinton-era forays into nation-building, emphasizing that the United States must be “a

humble nation, but strong.” September 11th, however, led the administration to completely reconfigure the foreign policy principles constructed during the campaign. A new Bush Doctrine of “with us or with the terrorists,” as the president put it in his address to Congress, was in; a humble, pragmatic foreign policy was out. During the middle stage of the Bush presidency, the “Rumsfeld Doctrine,” which advocated the use of small, nimble forces, eclipsed the more cautious “Powell Doctrine,” of limited aims warfare, which had Rice’s support. By the time of Bush’s second inaugural address, the “humble” United States of Bush’s first campaign was dead, and the Bush Doctrine had picked up a new definition. In his Washington Post column on Sept. 13, Charles Krauthammer, originator of the term “Bush Doctrine,” quoted that address as evidence for this new attitude: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” Democracy promotion became

Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP

Robert Gates speaks to Cheney and others after being sworn in as Secretary of Defense.


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U.S. Foreign Policy the chief goal of the administration’s foreign policy. Two years later, the most sweeping project of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy, the Iraq War, was at its nadir. The transparent failure of the “Rumsfeld Doctrine” among other elements of the Bush foreign policy prompted a pragmatist resurgence in the administration. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley completed a sweeping policy review,

Bush’s first term and those overtures were rejected, the Bush Administration missed an opportunity for engagement before the rise of radical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Currently, the possibility for meaningful dialogue seems unlikely: the carrot-stick approach of sanctions with dialogue is wise, but the foot-dragging by other Security Council veto powers hampers UN-based efforts. Ultimately, Bush’s lame-duck status has doomed any attempts

The push for a democratic end of history has been superseded by an active but pragmatist United States with a commitment to liberty. which attacked the Rumsfeld strategy in Iraq. The surge, General David Petraeus, and Rumsfeld’s resignation ensued. Critically, though, the administration never fully repudiated the doctrine of democracy promotion. The priority on democracy differentiates the old Bush pragmatism from the new Bush pragmatism and lends consistency to Bush’s foreign policy. Policy changes in Iraq typify this shift toward pragmatism. Secretary Rumsfeld was removed in favor of current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a former Scowcroft ally. Gen. Petraeus, the replacement commander in Iraq and current head of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), studiously avoided ideology and publicity in favor of reality-grounded work in Iraq. Nevertheless, in the most challenging months of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Bush did not reject the mission in favor of withdrawal. Rather, recognizing that defeat in Iraq would humiliate the United States and embolden both al-Qaeda and Iran, he redoubled his efforts to secure victory through stable democracy and through the efforts of pragmatist advisers. Though the Bush foreign policy moved to a new sort of pragmatism, the administration’s commitment to success in Iraq shows that the ideal of democracy did not recede along with the more assertive interventionist element of the Bush foreign policy. Although Iraq has been the centerpiece of Bush’s foreign policy, interactions with other nations also highlight the rise of the pragmatists. Iran has been perhaps the administration’s biggest foreign policy disappointment. If reports are correct that Iran sought diplomatic engagement during

at dialogue by the pragmatic newcomers. On balance, though, Rice and her disciples have opened levels of dialogue with Iran not seen since the hostage crisis of 197981. As pragmatists, they continue to project force to strengthen their negotiating positions, but they also hold fast to two Bush signature points on Iran: a nuclear Iran is not an option, and negotiations without cessation of enrichment are not possible. North Korea showcases the rise of the pragmatists even more than Iran does. In 2002, as North Korea’s rogue nuclear program continued, the Bush Administration halted dealings with the country by grouping Kim Jong-Il’s regime in the Axis of Evil. Talks restarted within a year, but the U.S. focus on Iraq and the marginalization of the pragmatists, mixed with the puzzling behavior of the Kim regime, meant that these talks accomplished nothing. Enter the resurgent pragmatists. Christopher Hill, former Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, managed to make great strides with North Korea. (The advisability of certain decisions might be debatable, but they are not the subject at hand). It’s not easy to negotiate with the world’s most isolated state, but the pragmatists have achieved marked progress towards managing North Korea’s renegade WMD efforts. Though a late push failed in Iran, positive developments have come of the six-party talks with North Korea: in exchange for allowing inspections, the U.S. recently removed North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The current strain of Bush’s, or perhaps Rice’s, pragmatism, differs from the original 2000-2001 variety. The new pragma-

November 2008

AFP Quiz

Multiple Choice Monthly Franco Lopez ’11 1. Which country was recently removed from the U.S. Department of State’s list of state sponsors of terrorism? a) Cuba b) Iran c) North Korea d) Holy See e) Sudan 2. Which of the following countries has not requested assistance from the IMF this year as a result of the global financial meltdown? a) Belarus b) Pakistan c) Hungary d) Ukraine e) Argentina 3. Which African leader announced his resignation after his party decided to withdraw its support for him in parliament? a) Menes Zenawi (Ethiopia) b) Mwai Kibaki (Kenya) c) Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) d) Muammar al-Gaddafi (Libya) e) Thabo Mbeki (South Africa) 4. Pirates recently hijacked an arms-laden Ukrainian freighter near the waters of which of the following countries: a) South Africa b) Sudan c) Spain d) Somalia e) Switzerland 5. Which country’s political leaders are in a protracted struggle over whether to call for early elections? a) Ukraine b) France c) Germany d) Estonia e) China Answers on page 20


U.S. Foreign Policy tists have not rejected the Bush Doctrine’s commitment to spreading democracy, nor have they advocated withdrawal from Iraq without victory; nevertheless, they have upset many neoconservatives by making efforts to negotiate with the remaining members of the Axis of Evil and retreating

from the heady days of making the world safe for democracy. The push for a democratic end of history has been superseded by an active but pragmatist United States with a commitment to liberty. And as the Bush Administration exits the stage, this combination of pragmatism and ideology,

America’s Darkest Room The Case Against Torture


Elias Sánchez-Eppler ’11

ast month, this magazine published an article titled “Defending Torture: A Philosophical Argument.” Its author, Ahson Azmat, explored the classic thought experiment on the morality of torture—the ticking time bomb scenario—and concluded that torture was sometimes morally defensible and should therefore be legalized for certain situations. Unfortunately, because of his focus on philosophical arguments, Azmat could not fully explore the practical ramifications of torture and its legalization. In this article, I hope to set the record straight: torture does not work and is a powerful weapon for those who depend on anti-Western sentiment to recruit followers and spread influence. Before presenting my critique, however, I will explain the rationale behind Azmat’s argument for legalizing torture. It begins with a philosophical argument that torture is not always wrong, because in cases when it works, it can save lives. The argument does not need to be strictly utilitarian, but requires the assumption that we can justify torture with the number of lives it saves. Azmat’s article offers an excellent defense of this philosophical position. There are interesting arguments for keeping torture illegal, even if we condone it sometimes. Illegality adds to the stigma of torture, increasing the moral burden on

policymakers and interrogators to avoid torture and maintaining societal condemnation of the practice. However, Alan Dershowitz, the most (in)famous proponent of legalizing the carefully regulated use of torture, offers a convincing critique of these arguments. First, it is deeply unfair to a nation’s servicemen and servicewomen. As the Economist printed in 2003, “By speaking anonymously about their interrogation methods, the officials seem to be asking for help: how far should they go in trying to elicit information to stave off another large-scale terrorist attack? They deserve an answer.” Instead of providing one, American citizens have only sent contra-

as well as the mistakes and successes of the administration in a new period of international challenges, should not be forgotten. Afp Brian may be reached at

they face very difficult moral and strategic questions, making their decisions easier. In other words, the legislative process would involve the nation in deciding what interrogation methods we can palate, and, inversely, how much risk of missing critical information we are willing to assume in order to live by our morals. Dershowitz’s second major point is that by trying to have it both ways—expecting intelligence to be extracted without taking responsibility for the torture used to extract it—an interrogator neither minimizes torture nor receives the best intelligence. Because it is currently unacknowledged and illegal, torture is poorly monitored and takes place underground facilities where there is little coordination and consultation. Dershowitz expects that legalization will reduce the occurrence of torture by clarifying when it is necessary, and increase the efficacy of interrogation methods by allowing federal agencies to cooperate and consult openly. The first problem with Dershowitz and Azmat’s arguments is that torture does not work. It does not save lives, and therefore cannot be justified by utilitarian ethics. This holds even for the ticking time bomb scenario. In this situation, a bomb is set to go off soon in a major city. A suspect has been apprehended and has admitted to knowing where the bomb is and how to disarm it, but he will not divulge this information to his interrogators. The question is: should the interrogators turn to torture? Now, some philosophers stipulate that torture will produce results in order to explore the moral dilemma of inflicting pain to save lives directly. However, there is no reason to assume this is the case. Torture ideally functions by incentivizing informing so heavily that detainees divulge information

The violations of human rights that a torturer commits are appropriately seen as marks of hypocrisy. Such hypocrisy only emboldens terrorists and helps their recruitment efforts.


dictory signals. On the one hand, demand for intelligence and security runs high in post-9/11 America. On the other hand, it is unclear whether this should come at the cost of fundamental human rights. This ambiguity pulls interrogators in two directions, undermining their ability to reconcile themselves to any decision. Moreover, without clear standards, soldiers and interrogators can be vilified for whatever decision they make. Dershowitz argues that legalization would set up guidelines to support servicemen and women as

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U.S. Foreign Policy

Ron Haviv/VII / AP

despite initial desires to not do so. In other words, threats of physical or psychological pain overcome terrorists’ resolve to ensure that an attack or campaign is successful. In reality, however, torture often fails to achieve the desired results. The first problem is that torture strengthens a detainee’s resolve not to divulge privileged information. Understanding this requires empathizing with terrorist detainees for a moment. Terrorists expect to be tortured if captured, and by living up to those expectations the United States only justifies the hate that drove them to terrorism in the first place. While credible threats of torture certainly encourage cooperation, the use of torture also confirms terrorists’ preconceived assumptions about the evils of the United States. The torture reinforces their resolve to overthrow this “Great Satan” rather than divulge information that might help its war effort. Thus, torture can be counterproductive because it increases incentives to withhold information as much as it encourages divulgence. Second, even if the prisoner does cave

to threats, his information is likely to be unreliable. Torture incentivizes saying what the captors think they want to hear, not actually helping. Indeed, false information may put even more people at risk. As Lieutenant General Harry Soyster—the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency—explains, “There are numerous examples of cases where relying on information obtained through torture has disastrous consequences. The reality is that use of torture produces inconsistent results that are an unreliable basis for action and policy. The overwhelming consensus of intelligence professionals is that torture produces unreliable information… Use of such primitive methods actually put[s] our own troops and our nation at risk.” In addition to being an unsound interrogative tactic, use of torture represents a grave strategic error in the current “War on Terror.” The violations of human rights that a torturer commits are appropriately seen as marks of hypocrisy. Such hypocrisy only emboldens terrorists and helps their recruitment efforts. For the U.S. and other democracies contemplating it, the use of

November 2008

This dark room in Abu Ghraib holds a cheap plastic chair—for interrogation.

torture may alienate allies and make democracy seem less attractive to citizens of less-than-democratic nations. Some analysts have argued that grassroots opposition to torture, especially in Europe, may make America’s traditionally allied governments less likely to share intelligence, extradite suspected terrorists, or even allow American planes that may be carrying detainees to CIA “black sites” from using their airspace. While we cannot underestimate grassroots movements’ ability to change governments and policies in allied democracies, the level of European governments’ collusion in past U.S. torture makes it unlikely that current governments will break with the U.S. over torture alone. Instead, the real threat to American interests lies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries where movements towards West-friendly democracy are struggling. In these cases, ceding the moral high ground underlines flaws in existing democratic systems, and undermines support of their spread. Re-


Europe turning to the ticking time bomb scenario, even if torture would provide reliable information, using torture might impede long-term democratization and stability. Again, the utilitarian ethic may rule against torture. Dershowitz is not altogether wrong; the status quo in the U.S. is untenable. First, the U.S. uses torture without first confirming that the detainee is withholding meaningful information. Second, the

U.S. cannot expect service members to protect citizens without taking responsibility their actions and providing them with firm guidelines for conducting their interrogations. Dershowitz is wrong, however, when he suggests that these guidelines should permit the practice of torture. Instead, the United States should reaffirm existing prohibitions against torture and commit to not use the tactic in the future. Torture does not produce reliable results, and may undermine major American

Neither Enemy Nor Ally Understanding Putin’s Russia


hile this summer’s RussiaGeorgia crisis did not restart the Cold War as some analysts predicted, America would be extremely shortsighted to miss Russia’s signal. Putin’s new Russia is not the USSR of the Cold War but is nevertheless a Russia with significant aims to re-exert itself as a world power. Such aims make U.S. and Russian cooperation difficult. In addition to its invasion of Georgia, Russia has sent warships to Venezuela for joint exercises, used gas supplies as a blunt political instrument against former Soviet-bloc countries, stepped up its military presence in the Arctic, and grown increasingly obstructive on international efforts to curtail Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology. These actions necessitate a new approach to U.S.-Russian relations. Without one, the U.S. may very soon lose this opportunity to alter the dynamic of its relationship with Russia. Any new approach to U.S.-Russian relations must be grounded in an understanding of Russian motives. While America sees Russia’s actions as needless provocations, Russia views its owns actions as necessary responses to U.S. encroachment on its sphere of influence. Provocations by the U.S. and other European nations may perhaps explain the intensity with which Russia took the opportunity to invade Georgia when President Saakashvili broke the ceasefire with South Ossetia. Chief among Rus-


Emily Norris ’09 sia’s grievances was the U.S.’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Furthermore, U.S. recognition of Kosovo’s independence was perceived by Russia as a direct affront to its wishes and a violation of its traditional sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. This may explain why Russia has equated its invasion of Georgia and recognition of South Ossetia with the NATO intervention in the Balkans and recognition of what Russia perceives as Kosovo’s illegitimate independence. Another perceived affront was the missile defense deal with Poland, which Russia perceived as not only another affront to Russia’s traditional sphere of influence, but also as a direct threat to its ability to act militarily in the region. This is despite U.S. promises that the defense deal was to defend against missiles coming from the Middle East and not from Russia. In response to such perceived affronts to its national pride and enabled by its sudden oil-driven economic boom, Russia has exhibited strikingly belligerent and defiant behavior. When coupled with Putin’s intent to restore much or Russia’s lost glory, Russia’s recent policy actions often seem as though they are straight out of the Cold War. Aside from recently resuming strategic bomber patrols for the first time since the Cold War, Russia has also reached out for cooperation to countries like Iran, Venezuela, and Syria. Additionally, many believe that Russia may

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foreign policy goals. By ending its use of torture, the government can promote domestic peace without tarnishing America’s image and weakening its credibility as a defender of human rights. Afp

Elías may be reached at

bear the blame for the London assassination of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, which caused a diplomatic crisis between the UK and Russia. Furthermore, Russia has strategically used its oil supply lines to Europe to intimidate its neighbors (e.g. recently turning off Ukraine’s gas supplies in the middle of winter). Some even predict the return of the strategic UN veto under a more belligerent Russia that could hamper efforts to place sanctions on countries like Zimbabwe. Given the humiliation and impotence of Russia in the 1990s, many Russians today are rightly proud of this new resurgence. Many are even willing to overlook the hypocrisy of the situations in South Ossetia compared with their own dealings in Chechnya. This pride plays a large part in calculations of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s foreign policies, which have garnered favor among Russians by promising to restore Russia’s former “glory.” In the face of this resurgent Russia, what is America’s appropriate response? Firstly, we must realize that we are dealing with a different Russia than the one Bush thought he saw in Putin’s eyes nearly eight years ago. Russia is neither an enemy, nor an ally that we can necessarily rely on. This means we need to be tougher. We must do more than just cancel military exercises and chastise Russian leaders and diplomats. Unfortunately, though, Russia’s timing could not be more perfect to impede U.S. policy shifts from the status quo. With the Bush Administration coming to an end, and with troops tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is overstretched, and thus not so inclined to send troops to defend the Georgians with whom our sympathies lay. Given the American public’s unwillingness to send more troops abroad, all the U.S. could muster were comforting words and

Europe aid supplies. With its military resources overstretched, the U.S. needs to look towards new methods of countering Russia through strategic communication and solidarity with NATO, increased coordination with the international community. The U.S. must act quickly before we lose the opportunity to be part of the strategic game. This was exemplified by the lack of direct U.S. involvement in the Russian-Georgian peace settlement. Although the U.S. supported the plan, it was France’s President Sarkozy who stepped in to fill the void left by a slow American reaction on negotiating peace between Russia and Georgia. To remain a strategic influence in Eastern Europe, the U.S. must continue to be proactive in the region. The U.S. should continue to pressure Russia to uphold peace in Georgia, but also push to bring in UN peacekeepers to replace the Russian ones. It should counter Russia’s reassertion in the Caucuses and influence in Latin America by cultivating closer ties with other former soviet republics and accelerating the ascension of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. NATO in fact, may present the best vehicle to counter Russia’s ambitions,

as it was created to do. This crisis should serve as a catalyst to bring NATO, under U.S. leadership, into this new era through strengthening its regional military and diplomatic integration. NATO leaders can then speak directly with the Russians on a high level to attempt to alleviate their concerns. While Russia is not a direct threat to American security and we are not in the midst of a new Cold War, the political game

is to formulate policies that take into consideration its regional aspirations so as to avoid aggravating them as America did in Kosovo and Poland. At the same time, we must also ensure that Russia is aware of U.S. concerns and displeasure of recent actions through multilateral institutions like NATO or the IOC (International Olympic Council). There needs to be a way for Russia to save face by giving it an opportunity to step back with pride while also making American concerns known to Russia. The U.S. needs to be ready to use all means available to counter Russia’s new position. These incidents with Russia should not be seen as a threat but rather as an opportunity to proactively exert U.S. presence in diplomatic circles and show the international community our ability to be a team player that is able to take on challenges in this multipolar world without resorting to military means. Afp

Russia is neither an enemy, nor an ally that we can necessarily rely on. This means we need to be tougher. has changed when it comes to Eurasian security and our diplomatic clout abroad. Despite recent events, Russia’s military cannot compare to that of the U.S., given current entanglements. The U.S. cannot afford, however, to think in military terms alone. Instead, there must be a realization that countries like Russia have a historical pride that must be respected and used to our advantage through issues like the Olympics and the effects on Russia’s international image. The best way to counter the new Russia

Emily may be reached at

Sergey Ponomarev / AP A bombed-out Georgian home. The Russian bear is not this soft and cuddly.

November 2008


global Elections begin in LITHUANIA with approximately 21 parties on the ballot. Recent polls suggest that no party will garner a majority, although the party with the greatest current support appears to be the conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrat Party. Global markets continue to spiral downward, reflecting trillions of dollars in losses. Much of this is driven by the financial sector of the UNITED STATES, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost close to 40% of its value since peaking last October.

In UKRAINE, President Viktor Yushchenko dissolves the Verkhovna Rada, or Parliament, and decrees new elections will be held in December. Yushchenko also dissolved this body during a similar power struggle last April. In ISRAEL, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert steps down, citing, among other reasons, corruption charges. His fellow Kadima Party member and Foreign Minister, Tzipora Livni, is responsible for forming a government to succeed him.

In the UNITED STATES, the House and the Senate pass legislation lifting a ban, in place since 1974, on trading nuclear fuel with INDIA. This fuel will be exclusively for civilian purposes. India has agreed to allow international inspectors at selected nuclear facilities. In PERU, President Alan Garcia’s cabinet resigns amid a scandal involving oil profits. President Garcia names Yehude Simon, currently a governor with suspected former links to Tupac Amaru guerillas, the new Prime Minister.


American Foreign Policy

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta declares an oil war in NIGERIA, which is quickly followed by the destruction of pipelines and attacks on other facilities. Daily production of oil drops over 250,000 barrels per day.

update Collected by Vishal Chanani ’11 In compliance with the cease-fire, peacekeepers from RUSSIA, in the presence of European Union observers, begin withdrawing from contested regions of GEORGIA, including certain portions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Gen. Raymond Odierno takes command of the Multinational Force in IRAQ from Gen. David Petraeus. Petraeus will act in a new assignment as head of Central Command for the U.S. Army.

In JAPAN, the Diet elects Taro Aso, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, to succeed Yasuo Fukuda as Prime Minister.

In MYANMAR, 9,002 prisoners are scheduled for release, enabling them to participate in the coming 2010 elections. Despite this, many political prisoners of the junta remain imprisoned or under house arrest, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

The government of IRAQ passes legislation that calls for provincial elections to be held nationally in early 2009, slightly later than the originally scheduled date of October this year.

Astronaut Zhai Zhigang of CHINA performs a spacewalk during the Shenzhou 7 mission, making his nation the third to engage in such extravehicular activity in space, after Russia and the United States.

Thabo Mbeki, President of SOUTH AFRICA since 1999, steps down. Kgalema Motlanthe succeeds him, becoming the third post-Apartheid South African President. Jacob Zuma, African National Congress President and former Deputy Prime Minister, is expected to replace Motlanthe shortly.

November 2008


Two Perspectives: Israel

A Beacon of Democracy Mutual Benefits of the U.S.-Israel Partnership


Addie Lerner ’11

he sixty-year alliance between the U.S. and Israel has been beneficial to both nations and to much of the world. The U.S. and Israel have collaborated to promote liberal values and to collect and develop counter-terrorism intelligence and technology. In recent decades, their economic and security relationship has flourished. With two-thirds of Americans supporting this partnership, it is clear the support for Israel is a bipartisan value. Although critics may argue the relationship is against our interests, the U.S.-Israel relationship is necessary and favorable because it keeps the U.S., Israel, and the world safe, fosters democratic rights, produces tangible economic and technological benefits, and ensures that the Arab-Israeli Peace Process continues. Israel is an unwavering defensive ally of the United States. The nations both face acts and threats of terrorism and cooperate extensively on counterterror technologies. Both nations benefit from this symbiotic defense relationship. In 1986, Israel agreed to co-fund the AAROW missile defense system, which was designed and built in Israel, regularly tested in joint exercises, and is used by both nations today. The U.S. gives an average of $3 billion of military aid annually to Israel, 75% of which Israel reinvests in U.S. defense companies, stimulating the American defense industry. The remaining 25 percent is spent on the development of new defense innovations, which Israel immediately shares with the United States. This defense partnership helps ensure that the American military remains the most technologically advanced in the world.

Israel also provides the U.S. with a strategic location for defense in the Middle East. Israel’s proximity to Arab nations and Iran allows it to gather intelligence on these nations more easily than the United States. More importantly, Israeli intelligence is commonly viewed to be among the world’s most reliable and professional—perhaps even superior to the American CIA. The constant exchange of intelligence information between Israel and the United States is vital to American security. Additionally, in the event the United States becomes embroiled in another war in the Middle East, Israel provides a potential military base. America’s alliance with such a strategically located nation greatly benefits U.S. defense and security. On a symbolic level, the U.S.-Israel relationship is a beacon of liberalism and democracy because the two nations share democratic and liberal values and institu-

taneously. Israel also protects gay rights and the political, social, and economic rights of the Arab citizens who make up 20% of Israel’s population. Finally, Israel has a vibrant freedom of the press, which enables the Israeli people to criticize its government; such open reporting is essential to an accountable, transparent, and successful democracy. Because of its strong democratic values, Israel is a necessary ally for the United States. There is good strategic and moral reason to support those who share our values; indeed, by virtue of this alliance, the U.S. promotes democracy and liberal values without imposing them on another nation. This goes a long way towards developing human and civil rights worldwide, which makes the United States and the world community safer. Israel is also an important economic and technological partner for the United States. The economies of the U.S. and Israel are linked: Israel has the second-largest number of foreign companies on U.S. stock exchanges (behind Canada), the U.S. is Israel’s largest trading partner, and Israel is our 19th-largest export market. High U.S. demand for Israeli defense, pharmaceutical, medical, and technological goods has led to a trade deficit with Israel ($7.1 billion in 2005), which underscores the U.S.’s economic reliance on Israel. Additionally, the large percentage of its military aid that Israel invests in U.S. defense companies spurs development and economic growth. This economic interconnectedness makes it strategically valuable for the U.S. to maintain a strong partnership with Israel. Because of their vibrant alliance, Israel and the U.S. are able to share in cuttingedge technological developments. Instant messaging, cell phone technology, and the computer chip were all developed in Israel. And while U.S. consumers greatly rely on these technologies and use them daily, U.S. companies such as Intel have succeeded in part thanks to these Israeli innovations. Israel has also made huge pharmaceutical and medical advances, and it is now venturing into the world of alternative energy innovations. Working with Project Better

In addition to providing economic benefits, the American-Israeli partnership is also essential to balancing and advancing the Middle East peace process.


tions. Not only is Israel a parliamentary democracy and arguably the only democracy in Middle East proper, but Israel also fiercely protects civil, human, political and economic rights within its borders. Israel is the pinnacle of women’s rights and equality in the Middle East. There is complete legal and social equality for women in Israel; in fact, the speaker of the Knesset, the President of the Supreme Court, and the next likely Prime Minister are all women. Not even the United States has had women occupy similarly influential positions simul-

American Foreign Policy

Two Perspectives: Israel

Eitan Hess-Ashkenazi / AP

Place, Israel will be the first country to have an electric recharge grid and completely electric cars. As a close ally of Israel, the United States is privy to these groundbreaking technologies and will be able to acquire and even improve upon them. In addition to providing economic benefits, the American-Israeli partnership is also essential to balancing and advancing the Middle East peace process and is vital to ensuring that a peace process continues to exist. The United States, which has a veste interest in securing peace in the Middle East and for its ally Israel, is often the party to spur progress in the peace process. In the past year, the U.S. organized the Annapolis Conference and various bilateral and trilateral meetings among American, Israeli, and Palestinian officials. Although not much success has come from these meetings, at least the sides are talking. If talks, even unfruitful ones, cease to exist, then the prospect of a future Middle East peace is all but terminated, which would likely result in escalating violence. The U.S. also urges Arab nations to help support peace efforts by recognizing Israel, fulfilling their promises of econom-

ic aid to the Palestinians, rejecting terror, and supporting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The U.S., unlike Israel, has economic and political relations with many Arab nations and thus has the legitimacy to send a message to Arab nations. If the U.S. did not have such an interest in creating peace for Israel, it would likely be much less involved in the Peace Process, leading to a collapse of the peace process and continued violence. Right now the U.S. stands a good chance of helping to create a lasting peace. While mutual support and cooperation between the U.S. and Israel benefits both nations, this support is not unconditional. The United States and Israel have had policy disagreements in the past. For example, the U.S. is opposed to continued Israeli construction of settlements in the West Bank; yet, Israel continues to build them. When a UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel halt building settlements in the West Bank came up this past June, Israel wanted the U.S. to say it would veto such a resolution, but the U.S. refused to commit. Additionally, Israel makes unilateral military decisions, some

November 2008

U.S.-Israeli defense cooperation produced the Arrow anti-missile launcher shown above, which helped discourage Saddam Hussein from attacking Israel with SCUDs.

of which the United States disagrees with, such as during the 2006 Lebanon War. And the United States has held various diplomatic meetings in spite of Israeli protest that they should not occur. Such disagreement is good; both the U.S. and Israel are sovereign nations that ultimately act in their own best interests. Various breaks in policy are important to highlight because they dispel the misconception that the U.S. and Israel have inseparable policies. Afp

Addie may be reached at


Two Perspectives: Israel

A Loose Cannon Reconsidering America’s Blind Love for Israel


Amara Nwannunu ’11

he tone during the most recent vice-presidential debate was hardly conciliatory. There was, however, one topic Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joseph Biden could agree upon: their unwavering support for a strong AmericanIsraeli partnership. For his part, Senator Biden boldly asserted that “no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden.” Governor Palin was no less direct in her response, declaring, “Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust. ...We will support Israel.” Later, in a rare moment of deference, the governor stated, “I’m so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Senator Biden. I respect your position on that.” This exchange between Governor Palin and Senator Biden is symbolic of Washington’s overall attitude towards Israel. Indeed, America’s “love” for “our strongest and best ally” is an unquestioned notion. For decades, the United States has supported Israel with unconditional political support and approximately $3 billion in military aid annually. Furthermore, as the above example illustrates, America’s romance with Israel is not a partisan affair. Republicans as well as Democrats are increasingly willing to sacrifice the nation’s interests in order to fulfill Israeli needs. Though many laud U.S. relations with Israel as strategically advantageous, the current relationship is detrimental to U.S. long-term policy goals and weakens America’s standing as an impartial advocate for democracy. For decades, U.S. presidents have worked tirelessly to mediate negotiations

between Israel and Palestine in an attempt to provide the framework for a lasting compromise. Israel, however, seems determined to thwart meaningful progress on the issue. Most recently, George W. Bush’s Road Map for Peace has called for

the most compelling indication that giving Israel billions of dollars in military aid every year is not in America’s best interest. As China emerges as an economic power, it shows ambitions to occupy a more influential role on the international stage. Indeed, an increasingly powerful China is among the biggest threats to American hegemony. Furthermore, China continues to threaten the independence of Taiwan, a key American ally in Southeast Asia. Despite precarious U.S.-China relations, Israel continues to compromise U.S. interests by using American aid to provide China with arms and other technological exports. Among these technologies are Harpy Killer unmanned attack drones, which the Arms Control Association believes would “help China target U.S. and Taiwanese command-andcontrol facilities and forces.” Israel has also sought to supply China with other radar equipment, which could have disastrous consequences for potential American military operations in China. And although President Bush has successfully blocked some of these sales, Israel still retains the rights to withhold information on future weapons trade with China. Ignoring American requests not to proceed without certain concessions, Israel opened the door to renewed peace talks with Syria earlier this year. This decision overlooked American concerns that such negotiations would legitimize Syria’s support of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that is bankrolled by Iran. The most important lesson to be learned from Israel’s dealings with Syria is that the United States still has very little leverage with Israel. Ultimately, billions of dollars in U.S. aid have yielded few strategic benefits. Washington justifies its unconditional support of Israel by insisting that this alliance counters rogue Arab nations in the Middle East. As the example of Syria illustrates, however, Israel is often reluctant to incorporate the interests of the United States into its agenda. America’s blind devotion to Israel also makes little ideological sense and compromises U.S. efforts to appear as an agent of democracy. The Israeli government, now steeped in the corruption of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s administration, con-

The current relationship is detrimental to U.S. long-term policy goals and weakens America’s standing as an impartial advocate for democracy.


Israel to suspend the expansion of settlements into the West Bank. But over the past year, Israel has constructed thousands of buildings and homes in this territory. This violates not only President Bush’s plan but also Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip and ultimately withdraw from the West Bank. Though UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon condemned this activity as illegal and in violation of the stipulations of the road map, the Bush Administration failed to react until months after it had learned that the Israeli government had approved a budget for this expansion. When it came, the administration’s response was noncommittal. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made only the mild admonition that Israel’s behavior in the West Bank “ought to be avoided.” Although Israel continues to renege on its commitment to the peace process, the United States fails to hold it accountable. On the contrary, the U.S. government gives Israel free rein to arbitrarily decide when to adhere to agreements and when such obligations are dispensable. Consequently, Israel’s noncompliance has stymied the U.S. goal of normalizing relations between Israel and Palestine. Israel’s longstanding policy of selling military technology to China is perhaps

American Foreign Policy

Two Perspectives: Israel

Sebastian Scheiner / AP

tinues to cling to undemocratic practices, such as the policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders without any pretenses of a trial. By remaining indifferent to such behavior, the United States shows that it is selective in its condemnation of terroristic activities, reinforcing the idea of American hypocrisy. And as a leader in the War on Terror, the United States cannot afford to ignore such challenges to its credibility.

quash debate about Israel is unhealthy for democracy. Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycotts—or by suggesting that critics are anti-Semites—violates the principle of open debate on which democracy depends.” While the Israeli state and the pro-Israel lobbying sector are not the same entity, there is a direct correlation between the influence of these lobbyists and America’s continued involvement

America’s blind devotion to Israel also makes little ideological sense and compromises U.S. efforts to appear as an agent of democracy. With each dollar of aid that it sends to Israel, the United States also strengthens overreaching pro-Israel lobbyists, who are now a permanent fixture in Washington. Political theorists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt similarly condemn the corrosive influence of this particular lobbying bloc, stating that “the Lobby’s campaign to

in Israel. Because these pro-Israel forces frame the American debate on this issue, it is taboo to even suggest that U.S. policies toward Israel are less than ideal. This mindset must change. Under certain circumstances, Israel has the potential to be a very useful ally in the Middle East; indeed,

November 2008

Our unconditional support for Israel closes doors in the Middle East.

it is strategically positioned to function as a deterrent for nations in the region who seek to acquire or use nuclear weapons. As it exists now, however, our partnership with Israel is too costly to justify. The United States has diverted significant amounts of money from its already failing economy to support a state that blatantly disregards U.S. interests. Americans should be deeply concerned about the negative ramifications of this one-sided relationship, which adds nothing to the bargaining power of the United States in the Middle East, but instead actively threatens U.S. national interests. Afp

Amara may be reached at


Middle East

Hussein Malla / AP

Restlessness in Lebanon The Real Front Line in the War on Terror


Sam Norton ’12

t is regrettable that Americans have paid so little attention to events in Lebanon over the last few years. With war in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. policy makers often overlook this tiny, fragile country at the heart of the Middle East. This is unfortunate however, not just because the nation stands at the center of many of the conflicts currently tearing apart the region— East versus West, Sunni versus Shiite, secular versus fundamentalist, extremist versus moderate—but also because neglecting the situation only compounds the problems of insurgency and

state failure now plaguing Lebanon. As a staunch supporter of both Israel and the pro-Western government of Lebanon, the United States has been dealt a severe blow by the course of events that has seen Hez-

U.S. must pay more attention to the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon before the country falls under Islamic extremism.

States. In light of this challenge, the U.S. must reassure its allies in the region with new shows of trust and solidarity. Without taking concrete action, America risks loosing Lebanon to Hezbollah. It is clear the U.S. has a vested interest in halting the advance of Hezbollah, but how is such a goal to be achieved? American armed forces are currently stretched far too thin by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to commit to a significant deployment in Lebanon, and the public would hardly have the stomach for such an operation. Ideally, the onus should fall on the larger international community, but the United Nations has thus far failed to make any progress in its efforts to disarm Hezbollah. Considering that international support for the conflict in Afghanistan is already beginning to wane, the U.S. must accept that military operations against Hezbollah

Like the Palestinian group Hamas, Hezbollah is simultaneously a terrorist organization and a political party that provides social services to its popular base.


bollah’s rise to prominence. Their leader, Hassan Nasrallah, considers the group’s operations a proxy war against the United

American Foreign Policy

Middle East are currently infeasible. In light of this, a strategy granting Lebanon’s pro-Western government economic and political aid is the best way for the U.S. to undermine the domestic support of Hezbollah. To adequately do this, however, we must analyze the recent history that has led us to this conundrum. In 2005, following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a nationalist movement dubbed the Cedar Revolution succeeded in driving out the

occupying Syrian army. Many hoped a stable, functioning democracy would emerge in the conflict’s aftermath, but free elections have worked to advance the spread of radical Islam. The big winners from upheaval in Lebanon were not the pro-Western moderates America had hoped for, but instead the extremist party/organization known as Hezbollah. Like the Palestinian group Hamas, Hezbollah is simultaneously a terrorist organization and a political party that provides social services to its

popular base. Funded largely by Iran and Syria, it is embraced by Lebanon’s large Shiite population, which has often been neglected by the country’s wealthier and more powerful Sunni and Maronite Christian factions. While not in control of the government, their factions’ political position allows them to impede the agenda of the March 14 Cedar Revolution coalition. Recent military developments have further solidified Hezbollah’s position. When Israel invaded southern Lebanon

In Context

Compiled by Tara Lewis ’11 “This is the most secret and opaque regime in the world.” State Department negotiator Patricia A. McNerney, commenting on North Korea’s removal from the “Axis of Evil” “It doesn’t matter if you’re a rich country or a poor country, a developed country or a developing country—we’re all in this together.” President George W. Bush on world leaders’ pledge to unfreeze financial systems “School is probably the most important institution that needs to be re-established for the return to normalcy.” American engineering officer Major Tom Nelson, on the start of schools this October in Baghdad “Well, they have to try to convince people with pancakes because they don’t have any money left.” European diplomat in the UN on Iceland’s attempt to use national delicacies to help entice UN member states to vote for them as future members of the UN Security Council “The financial crisis is nothing compared with the environmental crisis.” Jean-Christophe Vie of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, referring to a recent report that ¼ of the world’s mammals now face extinction “By the way, those who falsely accuse us of these violations are themselves international perpetrators of genocide, acts of aggression, and mass destruction.” Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addressing the UN, accusing the U.S. and Britain of genocide in the Iraq War “Pakistan and Afghanistan are like twins conjoined.” Afghani President Hamid Karzai at the inauguration of Pakistan’s new President, Asif Ali Zardari “Given the regime’s decision to restart its plutonium reactor at Yongbyon and actions barring access to the site by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is clear that North Korea has no intention of meeting its commitment to end its nuclear program.” Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, responding with disappointment to President Bush’s decision to remove North Korea from the terrorism list

November 2008

Seth Wenig / AP


A sia in the summer of 2006 with the intent of halting Hezbollah’s attacks on its territory, the Islamists ragtag band of guerrilla fighters managed to hold back one of the world’s most sophisticated military forces. So complete was their success that in May 2008, after a new round of fighting, Beirut was forced to acknowledge the de facto autonomy of Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon. With little fanfare, Lebanon has ceased to exist as a centralized nationstate. The rise of Hezbollah represents a perversion of the traditional Lebanese political structure of confessionalism. The system, originally adopted following national independence in 1943, was conceived to prevent sectarian conflict from tearing apart the fledgling state. Since none of the three major religious groups command a majority of the population, they divide government posts amongst themselves. According to this agreement, the President must be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni, and the Parliament Speaker a Shiite. Hezbollah’s growing influence reveals a breakdown in the confessionalist system, damaging prospects for lasting stability in other countries where national unity remains elusive. To help support pro-Western Arab governments, the U.S. needs to adopt a stronger program of benefits for its friends abroad, offering economic and military incentives to cultivate and maintain international support. Financial assistance could prove particularly effective in winning the hearts and minds of the Lebanese people, considering the economic turmoil they have endured as a result of decades of political upheaval. With a public debt valued at 190% of the GDP and a growth rate of -2.8%, the country is in desperate need of an infusion of capital. Unfortunately for Lebanon, the instability wrought by Hezbollah has made international lenders wary of significant investment. The U.S. is certainly capable of filling this economic void, but Islamist efforts have made partnership with America an unattractive option for many Middle Eastern leaders. Hezbollah’s drive to undermine Lebanon’s central government has resulted in the assassination of several pro-Western Lebanese leaders. Consequently, these allied governments need American support more now than ever before. U.S. policy must keep pace


with its escalating enemies. The task of rallying attention to Lebanon remains difficult, as the threat of Hezbollah still pales in the shadows of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Without popular public support, the battle against Hezbollah seems destined for a long delay, but policymakers in Washington would be wrong to completely ignore the crises of Lebanon. The nation’s experiences with democracy, the unraveling of its central government, and its continued struggle with Hezbollah, all bear valuable lessons concerning the problems faced in many Middle Eastern nations today. Unless the

United States more actively supports our pro-Western allies in Lebanon, we may see Lebanon slip further into Islamic extremism. Afp Sam may be reached at

Answers to quiz on p. 7:

1) C 2) E 3) E

4) D 5) A

Japan’s Maverick Challenges for Taro Aso


n September 24th, the National Diet, Japan’s legislative body, elected Taro Aso of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as its third prime minister in three years. Aso garnered 70.5% of the votes in the LDP-dominated House of Representatives, winning the election despite the House of Councilors’ nomination of Mr. Ichiro Ozawa, the Democratic Party of Japan’s (DPJ) party leader. The Constitution of Japan stipulates that in the event of a standoff, the decision of the lower house will become the decision

“Alex Noriega” ’11 Foreign Affairs, has embodied John McCain’s Straight-Talk slogan throughout his political career. He will likely infuse Japan’s policies with his staunchly conservative ideals and intense nationalism. Aso’s hard-line politics, the very reason behind his failure to win the LDP’s nomination in 2006 and 2007, will provoke tremendous opposition and create a formidable obstacle that even his popular Koizumi-esque persona might not be able to overcome. The success of Aso’s tenure will depend on how well he balances conservatism with pragmatism.

Aso is better equipped to serve as prime minister than were his predecessors, for he is ready to face the current problems head-on, rather than aiming hopelessly for a perfect vision of pre-war Japan. of the Diet as a whole. The LDP hopes that Aso will be able to halt a streak of disappointing performances by its last two Prime Ministers, Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda, both of whom resigned after each serving only one year in office. Aso, who served previously as Minister of

American Foreign Policy

Aso’s lineage can be traced all the way back to Toshimicho Okubo, one of the Three Nobles who masterminded the Meiji Restoration, and to Shigeru Yoshida, the first Prime Minister of post-World War II Japan. Given his illustrious political heritage, it comes as no surprise that Aso’s vision of


Frank Franklin II / AP

Japanese nationalism is different from that of his predecessors. Mr. Abe wanted to revise the pacifist nature of the constitution en route to reasserting Japan’s global leadership and reinstituting traditional virtues, which had faded over the previous decades of peace and prosperity. Aso, on the other hand, holds absolute pride in Japan’s postwar system; in Japan as it is, not as it once was. He is not nearly as interested in revising history and fighting to reclaim lost virtues as he is in accepting Japan’s past and moving on. In this sense, Aso is better equipped to serve as prime minister than were his predecessors, for he is ready to face the current problems head-on, rather than aiming hopelessly for a perfect vision of pre-war Japan. His unique nationalist and conservative stance will have a crucial impact on how he handles a country plagued with problems on all fronts of domestic and foreign policy. Aso’s first challenge lies in Japan’s worsening relations with its neighbors. As foreign minister, he made several controversial remarks regarding Japan’s neighbors. In 2005, he referred to China as a “considerable threat” that is “equipped with nuclear bombs” and has “expanded its military outlays by double digits for 17 years in a row.” He has also publicly suggested that, despite protests from China and others, Emperor Akihito should visit the infamous Yasukuni

Shrine, where the remains of Japanese soldiers, including 14 Class-A war criminals, are interned. In 2006, Aso made an even bolder statement by insinuating that Japanese colonization of Taiwan was beneficial for the latter because Japan instituted mandatory education that eventually culminated in the high quality of Taiwan’s modern education system. Not surprisingly, these statements only damaged already chilly relations with China. Rather than fanning the flames of Japanese nationalism, Aso needs to work pragmatically to improve Japan’s diplomatic relations with important regional powers like China and South Korea. This will serve a number of purposes. First, it will strengthen Japanese-American relations by creating a more stable environment in which the U.S. can implement its policies toward North Korea and China. The U.S. needs Japan to be a reliable strategic counterpart in the Far East. As it stands today, Japan often stymies U.S. policies in the region by antagonizing other regional powers over historical issues like the Yasakuni Shrine or revisionist accounts of World War II in its official textbooks. Second, it would create a more viable trading environment, allowing for more vibrant economic activities with some of its largest trading partners like China and South Korea. Third, it would ensure Japan’s relevance in East Asian poli-

November 2008

Taro Aso addressing the 63rd UN General Assembly. Aso highlighted Japan’s role in promoting peace and reconciliation around the world. That sort of reconciliation, however, is also needed for its relations with China and South Korea.

tics. If Aso insists upon a hard-line, nationalist policy toward his neighbors, he will eventually isolate Japan from the rest of the region, further worsening its financial crisis and undermining its ability to affect policy in the region. Maintaining regional stability will benefit Japan even if Japan decides to move away from its pro-American foreign policy. Of course, such a possibility seems unlikely in the short term. Aso recently announced in his acceptance speech that his number one priority in foreign policy will be to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance and that he would continue to support American military efforts in Afghanistan by maintaining Japan’s naval refueling mission in the Indian Ocean. Still, rifts between the U.S. and Japanese stance on North Korea are emerging. The U.S. removed North Korea from its list of terrorist threats without consulting Japan or addressing the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean forces. Japanese critics have claimed to have lost faith in American diplomats’ regard for Japanese interest; some have even gone so


Asia far as to claim a permanent deterioration of the Japan-U.S. alliance is occurring. Although Japan will likely remain on positive terms with the U.S., Aso needs to maximize Japan’s foreign policy flexibility by making sure that Japan is on good terms with its neighbors. Aso’s second challenge is dealing with the hostile environment in the National Diet. The DPJ, having won control of the upper house in 2007, has maintained steady legislative obstruction to the LDP, leading to terrible gridlock and inefficiency. The ideal scenario for Aso would be a dissolution of the Diet well before the scheduled September 2009 date, a snap re-election, and hope that the momentum of his victory will help regain control of the upper house. The LDP was riding high on this possibility in late September when Aso enjoyed significant popularity and a high approval rating. These prospects, however, have subsequently diminished. Aso’s new cabinet has not given him the bump in poll ratings he had expected; in fact, Aso’s approval rating fell below 50% while his disapproval rate shot up to 38.6% the day after inauguration. By picking loyal, well-connected, yet politically inexperienced party members, Aso has alienated citizens who feel his choices

are a transparent display of cronyism. Even worse for Aso, the DPJ seems to be playing its cards right. It is portraying itself as a real opposition party rather than an unreasonable obstructionist. The LDP has been unable to galvanize public opinion against the DPJ. And with the DPJ overtly and publicly consenting to legislation like the economic stimulus package simply to prevent the LDP

help until the LDP regains enough popularity to call a general re-election. While this will require Aso to abandon his hard-line conservatism and be open to cooperation, the long-term lectoral payoff could be worth the sacrifice. For the sake of the Japanese people, Aso must run the risk of pursuing bipartisanship. Only by reaching across the aisle can he avoid the power struggle that would paralyze Japanese politics for years to come. After two failed premierships, the nomination of the popular maverick Taro Aso is widely acknowledged as the LDP’s last and best hope. Aso has the popular appeal Japan has yearned for since Koizumi; however, his term will end like those of his predecessors if he does not learn to prioritize success over ideology. Afp

Only by reaching across the aisle can Aso avoid the power struggle that would paralyze Japanese politics for years to come. from taking credit, LDP leaders fear that the DPJ will only grow stronger. DPJ leaders can feel the balance finally shifting in their favor and will not stop pushing for electoral majority, even if the infighting produces bad foreign and economic policy. If Aso continues to uphold the maverick image, he will lose. Quietly allowing the DPJ to put its mark on Japanese revival is a no-win situation as well. The next few months will test Aso’s managerial competence. He must masterfully enlist the DPJ’s

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American Foreign Policy

By the Numbers

A World of Debt


World Markets Choke on Consumer Debt


Mohit Agrawal ’11

he subprime mortgage bubble began to burst in the United States more than a year ago. Today, the contagion has spread--financial markets are choking worldwide, and governments and central banks have been forced to announce hasty and unprecedented market interventions. Like the financial markets, stock markets worldwide have deadpanned: the Dow Jones and the FTSE 100 are 40% off their 2007 highs, and

the BSE Sensex in India has dropped 50%. The financial crisis started largely because of fears about overly indebted and overly leveraged consumers. Consumer debt load varies worldwide, and those countries with relatively low debt ratios may avoid direct economic damage, though perhaps not the global economic slowdown.

Russia’s oil-dominated economy has built a reserve of almost $600 billion over the last decade. Russia has tapped billions from that cushion to stabilize the ruble and buy up distressed housing units.


Over the past 4 years, Russia has notched a 100% growth in consumer debt year-over-year. Consumer debtto-GDP ratio is still less than 15%, and recent measures should curb debt growth.

CHINA $518 BILLION The Chinese government holds over $518 billion worth of U.S. government bonds, behind only Japan. China’s reserves are fed by its 55% savings rate; the savings rate in the U.S. is 0%.

$400 BILLION The Chinese mortgage market has grown to nearly $400 billion today. 69% of mortgages go to those in the top quintile income bracket, and the mortgages have fed the country’s luxury housing boom.



The $10.5 trillion U.S. mortgage market is supported by only 5.5% of equity, meaning that each house has been leveraged 18 times on average. All mortgage losses are then magnified 18 times.

Outstanding mortgage loans in the Netherlands amount to 100% of its annual GDP. The mortgageto-GDP ratio is 76% for the U.S. and less than 15% in Italy. Dutch banks are heavily exposed to mortgages.


-10% EQUITY The percentage of home equity in the U.S. is 45% today, down from 55% in 2000. Consumers increased spending over the last decade by tapping into their homes’ perceived values.

The size of average mortgage loans in the Netherlands is nearly 4x yearly income. The ratio is less than 1 in Belgium, Italy, and Austria. The Dutch mortgage market is driven by favorable tax policies.

November 2008


Trouble at Work ?

Uriel Sinai/AP

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November 2008  
November 2008  

AFP's November 2008 print edition.