Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Present Need For European Leadership In Brokering Peace In The Middle East And Furthering The Birth Of The State Of Palestine

"Over the past month, the Bush administration gambled on Israel and lost. At the United Nations last week, America's growing weakness was effectively exposed by the French who forced through significant concessions on the wording of a ceasefire resolution. The growing US predicament in the Middle East poses a new challenge for Europe – a challenge that it has so far signally failed to meet. Throughout the crisis, the European Union as a whole has been left on the sidelines. Moreover, as Dora Bakoyannis, Greece's foreign minister, reminded the Security Council last Friday, while the world has focused on Lebanon, it is the Palestinian issue that remains at the heart of the conflict in the Middle East. Here Europe has traditionally focused on "soft" humanitarian aid while letting America set the rhythm on the political front. But what was warranted with previous US administrations, which worked hard to broker peace, does not hold true with this one. On the contrary, with America worse placed than it has ever been to lead as mediator between Israel and the Arabs, Europe needs to raise its game considerably.

Europe, after all, is at least as closely engaged with the Middle East as is the US. It bears the greater share of historical responsibility for the current impasse, for the region's map is largely of its creation while Zionism itself emerged as a belated form of European nationalism in direct response to the Continent's anti-semitism. EU states are hosting refugees from Lebanon and may soon feel the environmental consequences of the war as well. As for the beefed up UN force destined for southern Lebanon, this will probably be under European leadership. There are concerns that Turkey's entry to the EU – if and when it happens – would eventually pull Europe into the problems of the Middle East; but the EU is there already." ...

Mark Mazower "Europe should use its leverage to lean on Israel" Financial Times August 15, 2006

Professor Mazower is the program director of the Center for International History at Columbia University. The Center's continuing central theme for 2006-2007, as it was for 2004-06, is Occupation.



The current theme of Occupation will be analysed from a variety of methodological and disciplinary perspectives. We will explore policies of occupation in their political, military, legal, economic and cultural dimensions, the behaviour of armies towards civilians and the relationship between military guidelines and actual practice. We will also look at occupation: as a social experience with a profound impact on public and private institutions, family life, values and political formations; in terms of its economic implications and policies - from scorched earth policies and looting at one extreme, to investment at the other; through the persistence of prevailing codes of law and belief under new rulers; as one form of establishing political control through conquest along a continuum of constitutional possibilities which raise the very question of sovereignty and its definition. The program of workshops and seminars aims at a multi-disciplinary and global approach, ranging from forms of colonial governance in Africa, the Middle East and India to contemporary events in Iraq and East Asia. Workshops meet on Fridays, 10am-12noon, in 513 Fayerweather Hall. All are welcome to attend.

Empires, occupied lands, regional geo-politics, and "real people":

Lebanese citizens walk on the Israeli-American-British bombed Beirut-Damascus highway near Sofar, Lebanon, 27 kilometers from Beirut, Lebanon. [Click on image to enlarge.]

Sofar is known for its many beautiful old houses and its "corniche" overlooking the Metn River valley and mount Kneiseh. When the railroad linking Beirut with Damascus was built in 1892-95, Sofar took on a new life. The train (no longer operating) made it easy for residents of Beirut to summer here.

Photo credit: (c) Agence France Presse. With thanks.


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