Western European News Digest
Indicate London Break from Bush-Cheney War Doctrine
Solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute now, based on UNSC Resolution 242, advised Sir Menzies Campbell, the Scottish leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, and member of the British Parliament, in a powerful piece in the Aug. 20 London Observer titled, "Our Foreign Policy Is Just Plain Wrong."
"If it redefines our relationship with the United States, so be it," he stated.
The "relationship between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair has done untold damage both at home and abroad." He skewers Blair for wasting so much time before he would demand a ceasefire in the Lebanese war. "A ceasefire was not just the right thing to doit was the only sensible thing to do." But Blair suffered from a "major misjudgment," like the Iraq war, and "It springs from the Prime Minister's evangelical view of foreign policy."
Bush and Blair "share the same view of the world," writes Campbell, and therefore the "rebalancing cannot happen until after Bush and Blair have gone." One cannot imagine that Blair, "a neo-con," will "recant," but since Bush is already in the "last quarter" of his term, members of all the British parties who reject the "good vs. evil" Bush-Blair view of politics, should join together to assert themselves now, on the root problem of the Middle Eastthe Israel-Palestine issue.
Campbell says that Resolution 242 "calling for Israel's withdrawal from territories it had occupied in 1967," has to be enforced as much as UNSC 1559 on Lebanon was. "Israel/Palestine should become not a cause [for Britain], but an obsession."
Former French Foreign Minister Denounces U.S. Mideast Policy
Le Figaro, a paper tied to the French neo-cons, ran an unusual interview Aug. 17, with the Socialist Hubert Vedrine, the former Foreign Minister under the Lionel Jospin government. The interview not only reflects strong institutional concerns with U.S. policy, but differences within the French establishment as well.
Vedrine declares that nobody won the Israel/Lebanon conflict, and that Israel is up against the fact that it can't solve the problem of terrorism militarily, or alone. The U.S. too, is in denial over the "Palestinian issue," that we must go back to diplomacy, and stop associating all Muslims with anti-West Islam. Vedrine was also critical of France's Middle East policy, in that Paris has allowed Europe to align itself with the U.S. and Israel on boycotting the Hamas government. He was emphatic that any durable peace in the region must include Syria, and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Finally, asked about his advice to resolve the crisis, Vedrine said that there was still a place for negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue "as long as we talk to them." On Lebanon, there is a need for a serious, credible, and safe application of UN Resolution 1701, "which is supposed to ease tension among the Lebanese people, and bring Hezbollah into the political arena." On Israel, we must again launch an evacuation of the Palestinian territories and the creation of a Palestinian state, accepted by the Israeli electorate: "There is no better contribution to the fight against terrorism.... We must reconsider the Hamas boycott, which silenced our democratic appeal, we must talk with the Hamas government, and reestablish international aid. This is the best 'coup' we could give to the Syrian and Iranian government, as well as to Islamists. The Bush Administration is doomed to fail in the Middle East and, by refusing to understand that, is exposing us," Vedrine stated.
Resolution To Oust Tony Blair Over Iraq Policy
The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy will introduce a resolution at Labour's annual conference in September calling for a party leadership election two months after the conference. The reason given is Blair's "disgraceful" policy in Iraq and support for George W. Bush. The call for a new leadership election is also intended to spur Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to "destroy" Blair.
Meanwhile, the Independent Aug. 19 had no difficulty finding Labour back-benchers who have endorsed Deputy Prime Minister Prescott's disavowed statement that Bush is "crap." Exemplary of the agreements are:
* Glenda Jackson, Hampstead and Highgate MP: "I entirely endorse his view. This is why Parliament should be recalled. The government is failing miserably as far as our approach towards the Middle East is concerned. We are ... simply bag carriers for Bush and all his policies have been a disaster."
*Jim Sheridan, Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP: "I think he [Prescott] is right. I don't think the Americans have given the [Middle East peace] road map the priority it deserves and until you solve the problem of Palestine, other problems are going to appear. Every time Palestine comes up the agenda it gets ... put on the back-burner."
Italians Approve UN Res. 1701, Deployment of Troops
The joint Defense and Foreign Policy Committee of the Italian Parliament approved on Aug. 18, with a bipartisan vote, the government decision to support the UN 1701 resolution and send a contingent of 3,000 troops to southern Lebanon. In commenting on the vote, Prime Minister Romano Prodi repeated that the aim of the mission is "not to disarm Hezbollah." After the vote, Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema called his French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy, and said afterwards: "I do not believe that France will step out of its commitment for the international mission." France is supposed to deploy at least as many troops as Italy and take the command of the mission.
In the meantime, military leaders continue warning about the necessity for clear rules of engagement and of the chain of command. Gen. Fabio Mini, former head of the KFOR mission in Kosovo, said in an interview that, "It should be the commanders on the ground to decide when to react." Interestingly, he pointed at the case in which violations of the agreements come from the Israelis: "The peace force should decide autonomously. It has the task of defending the Lebanese territory, it should be able to do it without further limitations, even in the caselet us sayif an Israeli patrol were to cross the border. It is not plausible to decide that orders should come from the Lebanese military. And if Israel launches a drone, what should be done?"
Robert Mundell Addresses Volatility of Global Markets
Robert Mundell, spiritual father of the euro, spoke at a conference of Nobel Prize winners, together with John Nash, Robert Engel, and others, who assembled in Lindau and at the University of St. Gallen. In both his speech and in an interview with Financial Times Deutschland Aug. 21, Mundell, on the one side, called for a world government, and on the other, called upon the European Central Bank to intervene, to counteract the pressure on the euro. He advised the ECB should either print euros or buy up dollars. He also said the dollar is overvalued, and that the U.S. economy is cooling down, which will have global effects. Mundell also advised China not to upvalue its currency.