Middle East Framework

Middle East Framework

Postby Rene Wadlow » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:42 am

Dear Colleague,



With the cease-fire in Lebanon, I believe that the time is ripe for a positive discussion, not on who "won" or who "lost" but on where do we go from here. Thus I am pleased to send you a short text "The Wider Circle" which could be a framework for discussion. It was written for www.peacejournalism.com which is open to exchanges.



There are, of course, other websites dealing with the Middle East, with conflict resolution, and security issues. I would be happy if you could share this framework with others so that there can be a broadly-based, future-oriented exchange of views. With best wishes in your efforts.

Rene Wadlow













The Wider Circle : Israel-Palestine, Lebanon



“He drew a circle that shut me out-

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win,

We drew a circle that took him in.”

Edwin Markham





With a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon and a mixed UN peacekeeping force and the regular Lebanese Army establishing a safe area along the Israel-Lebanon frontier, now is the time to look at the wider issues of the area. The safe strip on the Lebanese frontier should prevent short-range rockets as well as other forms of cross-border attacks into and from Israel, even if Hezbollah or the Israeli military were so tempted. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) which has been in place since 1978 will be strengthened so that it is able to play its original function of “restoring international peace and security.”



In order to look carefully at the policy options open to the countries of the Middle East as well as for UN analysis and action, it is useful to look at the area as three ever wider circles.



Here I will outline these three circles. The detailed issues will have to be analysed in follow-up articles.



1) The first circle contains Israel-Palestine which must be woven together in a web of positive interdependence making sustainable peace desirable to both.



2) The second circle contains those countries where frontiers need to be set, because frontiers still have meaning for some. As long as the frontiers are not fixed as with the Shabaa Farms between Syria and Lebanon or the Golan Heights, frontier disputes can escalate into war. The setting of universally-recognized frontiers is a necessary first step in a broader process of integration among Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.



Peace and security in a region which is integrating are grounded in mutual interests, shared values and a sense of community with acceptable levels of freedom, justice, and equity so that policies put in place are not abruptly changed. There is also a need to enhance the access of people to the resources they need: a right to land, to housing, to nutrition, to health, to education, and to ecologically-sound development.



3) The widest circle is that of a-to-be-created Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East that would also include Iran, Iraq, and Turkey as each has influence.



We are at a time when, after the futility of violence, there are real possibilities of putting into place new structures. We need through peacejournalism.com and in other forums where we are active to stress these possibilities and to set out ideas for the discussions which are starting.



Rene Wadlow is the editor of the online journal of world politics

www.transnational-perspectives.org – and the representative to the

United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens.
Rene Wadlow is the editor of www.transnational-perspectives.org and the representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of Association of World Citizens
Rene Wadlow
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:17 pm
Location: Fr 07140 Gravieres, France

Middle East Framework, a structure

Postby Rene Wadlow » Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:27 pm

Steps Toward an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East



Rene Wadlow*



Jean Monnet, one of the fathers of the European Union, had said “Men take great decisions only when crisis stares them in the face.” Crises have dragged on in the Middle East, in particular Iraq and Israel-Palestine without any great decisions being taken that could lead to peace. As the Ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva had said at an earlier Special Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights devoted to Israel-Palestine

(October 2000) “In the wake of recent tragic events, the mutual trust amongst the parties has been virtually destroyed. It is difficult to suggest the policy of forgive and forget in a situation when emotions are charged. Never-the-less, a path to peace cannot be paved with provocation, violence, hatred and armed actions…There is no other path to peace but mutual coexistence. We appreciate all those who have worked to curtail the events from developing into more menacing situations.”



The summer of 2006 has highlighted these crises: the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the five-week war in Lebanon, the ongoing violence in Iraq, the mounting tensions around the nuclear policies of Iran and the continuing conflict in Darfur, Sudan.



We need a global approach to the Middle East as the conflicts and tensions in each country have an influence on the neighbours. Currently there is no permanent regional body for discussion and action in the Middle East. There is the United Nations which, as a universal body does deal with the Middle East but not on a permanent basis – rather in fits and starts, often as a reaction to events. In the past, the United Nations was often sidelined by national initiatives, especially those of the United States. Now, no single state, especially not the USA, is a position to play a dominant role for mediation. There have also been ad hoc conferences, but these have no secretariat nor real follow up. It is important to have regional bodies with an independent secretariat which can facilitate different elements of the needed confidence-building and peace process. Conflicts and tensions exist at many levels: political, social, economic, ideological and strategic. These levels interact and reinforce each other. Therefore, they must be approached in a multi-level and interrelated way.



The prime example of a multi-purpose regional security organization is what is today the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The creation of such an organization arose from proposals and discussions in the late 1960s as an effort to find ways for structured discussions between NATO, Warsaw Pact, and neutral countries of Europe. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a small number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who were first calling for a pan-European agreement. Then governments began the negotiations which led to the creation of the OSCE in Helsinki in 1975. Likewise, it may be that there is such great suspicion of the motives of states in the Middle East, that NGOs must again take the lead. The aim of active public opinion organized through NGOs should be to accelerate this process. As the OSCE was a framework for cooperation among the enemies of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, as well as the neutral states of Europe, so an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (OSCME) must have both Israel as well as its Arab neighbours, and Iran and Turkey which are non-Arab states but have important interests in the area.



Once created, the OSCE took the lead in military confidence-building measures and arms control, economic cooperation, human rights, and cultural development. Today, the OSCE has a decentralized secretariat and a host of conflict-reduction missions as well as technical assistance programmes for strengthening civil society institutions and an independent press.



While the OSCE has not lived up fully to its security aims as the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, Chechenya, and Central Asia have shown, the over-all record is good. Important precedents have been taken, including the creation of a Parliamentary Assembly where elected members of national parliaments meet to discuss policy and cooperation.



The Middle East needs such a security and cooperation framework for action. Beyond the conflicts which make the headlines of the world’s press and which are fundamental crises of the world political-security system, there are other tensions in the Middle East, currently overshadowed, concerning water, minorities, natural resources, and relations with Afghanistan and states of Central Asia, which could grow if not discussed openly and creatively.



The wider Middle East has not only problems but also potentials. If a security framework can be established, the currently submerged talents will come to the surface, and the area will again play an important role not just with its natural resources but also with its human energies in the world community.



The times call for leadership and concerted action. Most historical progress is achieved by leaders who can discern the main currents of their time and give a new sense of direction and ascent to a community. Today, the crises and opportunities of the Middle East call for the creation of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East.





*Rene Wadlow is the editor of the online journal of world politics

www.transnational-perspectives.org – and the representative to the

United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens.
Rene Wadlow is the editor of www.transnational-perspectives.org and the representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of Association of World Citizens
Rene Wadlow
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:17 pm
Location: Fr 07140 Gravieres, France

Reconciliation

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Fri Mar 16, 2007 1:50 pm

International Quaker Working Party on Israel and Palestine
When the Rain Returns: Toward Justice and Reconciliation in Palestine and Israel
(Philadelphia, PA: American Friends Service Committee, 2004, 326pp.)

The 9 January 2005 elections among the Palestinians to select new leadership may be a turning point in Israeli-Palestinian relations. We must do all that we can to see that the changes are positive and help to heal the bitterness, anger, frustration and hatred which exists within Israeli-Palestinian society. The tensions in the Middle East have been so great and so long lasting as to discourage many people of goodwill. If people of power such as American Presidents, Secretaries of State or Secretary-Generals of the United Nations are not able to make much headway since 1947 when the "Middle East" came on the world agenda, what hope is there for efforts carried out by small non-governmental organizations even if they are led by the Spirit?

Can the Theosophical movement and, in particular, the Theosophical Order of Service play any role, especially in the Middle East where there are few members? What contacts do we now have with esoteric groups in the Middle East among the Sufis, the Druze, the Jewish practitioners of the Kabbalah, currents within Coptic Christianity and among Middle East Freemasons? K. Paul Johnson in his book The Masters Revealed
(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994, 288pp.) deals with people who were in contact with Madame Blavatsky and the early formation of the Theosophical movement, such key figures of Islamic reform as Jamal ad-Din Al-Afghani and his close co-workers James Sanua and Lydia Pashkov as well as the exiled Algerian resistance leader Abdel-Kader, close to Sir Richard Burton.

One way of evaluating our potential of peacemaking is to look at the efforts of a small Protestant movement - the Society of Friends, often called Quakers. The Quakers are among the smallest and least typical of the Protestant groups, but they have long played an active role in peacemaking efforts. Although there are at least some Quakers in a large number of countries, active international peace work has often rested with English and US members. The Quakers have long been interested in education, and in the early 1900s established schools in Ramallah, Palestine which trained both women and men who would later play a role in Palestinian affairs.

The American Friends Service Committee, a relief agent of the Quakers, had been active in the Middle East in the late 1940s with Arab refugees, while many Israeli Jews had known of Quaker relief efforts in Europe after both the First and Second World Wars. Thus, the Quakers had contacts in the Middle East. It is always useful to have such contacts so that the first question local people ask is not "What did you say the name of your organization is, and what does it do?"

There have been a number of Quaker efforts to discuss issues with people involved in the Middle East, most particularly Israelis and Palestinians. These discussions, reflections, and recommendations have led to a number of studies. Chief among these studies is a 1969 report Search for Peace in the Middle East. This working party was made up of nine people, of which three were women, led by Landrum Bolling, then president of the Quaker college in Indiana, Earlham, who is still concerned with the Middle East and was interviewed in Israel for the new study. One member of the 1969 group was Don Peretz, a specialist on the Palestine refugee issue. He is the author of a US Institute of Peace study Palestinians, Refugees and the Middle East Peace Process (1993). He is one of those who commented on the current report.

There is a second 1982 report A Compassionate Peace: A Future for the Middle East. This is the report of a five-person working group led by Everett Mendelsohn, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. This working group had two women. One of the members, Arthur Day, had been the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. This study drew on the reports of James Fine who was then working as the Quaker International Affairs Representative in the Middle East. Fine is the co-leader of the new working party. It is important to have continuity in the people involved as well as adding some "new faces."

These studies are not the official position of the Society of Friends or even of the American Friends Service Committee which published When the Rain Returns. Rather the reports are the result of the experience and reflections of the Working Party who write "In lifting up the voices of those Palestinians and Israelis who work against imposing odds for justice and reconciliation, we hope to help fashion a new discourse about peace in the Middle East: one that speaks of love not hate, of reconciliation not revenge, of hope not despair."

My emphasis for this review is not upon the recommendations of the Working Party which are set out clearly in the concluding section "Toward a Just Resolution" and presented in "Epistle to Friends" but upon the methodology of the study, thinking of what we can learn for similar studies for the Middle East or for other parts of the world.

The Make up of the Working Party

This Working Party had 14 members, six women, nine were from the USA, two from Canada, one a South African (Black) and one a Palestinian, head of the Ramallah Friends and active in the work of the World Council of Churches. Eight were university professors, usually in political or social science, one a world affairs columnist for the Christian Science Monitor. Others were or had been involved in Middle East peace efforts. Only one person, a poet from Wales, active in interfaith activities could be considered representing "everyman". Thus most were used to working with ideas and expressing them clearly and were probably used to working in a committee style.

Before the report was finalized, it was read and commented upon by at least 18 people who are thanked by name, most of whom are active on Middle East issues. Some 20 months were spent in writing and discussing the report. So that although the interviews were carried out in June 2002, the report is only issued near the end of 2004. As is noted in the Preface, "In the months after we returned to our homes around the world, we continued to labor together over how best to describe the situation we had experienced so that we might help build a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. That process of post-trip deliberation delayed the production of this report, but we feel that it enriched (or to use a Quaker term, 'seasoned') its content considerably."

Interviews

Probably the prime virtue of such a working party member is the ability to listen, to ask key questions, and to hear "between the lines" - both what is said and what is not said. The Working Party spent basically three weeks in the Middle East -12 June to 2 July 2002, one week divided into smaller groups going to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan and then as a full group for two weeks in Israel/Palestine. Interviews had been set up in advance by Quakers and Mennonites already working in the area. 95 people were interviewed. They are listed in an appendix. Given the travel restrictions within Israel/Palestine some places were not able to be visited and so some balance was lost.

An effort was made to draw upon a cross section of officials, academics, religious leaders, and activists. The "man in the street", taxi driver, chance contact with a shop keeper is not listed. There are no cultural workers (artists, writers, film makers etc) listed. No one is listed as belonging to the military or the security services (Israeli or Palestinian) and none to the armed movements. Although some hard views are presented in quotes from those interviewed, can one get a sense of how willing are people to use violence if one does not talk to the violent?

There is a good bibliography of books in English as well as a list of organizations, usually with websites, working for Israeli/Palestinian reconciliation. No obvious "hardline" groups are listed.

While there are some recommendations put forward, the study ends with questions which can be addressed to all of us: Will the new political movement in Israel/Palestine "be in the direction we would like to see, of justice, peace and reconciliation? Partly, that is up to those of us who live outside the area of the conflict: What can we do to support the work of the peace activists in Israel and Palestine? What can we do to organize in support of a just peace in our meetings, our congregations, our communities? What can we do to build relationships with other like-minded people, or to steer our national governments into wiser and more peace-oriented paths?"

René Wadlow
Rene_Wadlow
 

TrackII in Middle East

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Fri Mar 16, 2007 1:55 pm

Hussein Agha, Shai Feldman, Ahmad Khalidi, Zeev Schiff.
Track II Diplomacy : Lessons from the Middle East
(Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003, 225 pp.)

Agha, Feldman, Khalidi, and Schiff have written a valuable book on non-official meetings between Israelis and Palestinians. The authors, three academics of strategic studies and a senior journalist of military affairs have participated in some of these discussions and have interviewed others, as well as government policy makers. Two authors, Agha and Khalidi are Palestinians, both at St. Antony's College at Oxford; two authors, Feldman and Schiff are Israeli. This book is an important contribution to the study of Track II efforts and will be of help in planning such efforts outside the Middle East as well.

The authors define the scope of their study: "Track II talks are discussions held by non-officials of conflicting parties in an attempt to clarify outstanding disputes and to explore the options for resolving them in setting or circumstances that are less sensitive than those associated with official negotiations. The non-officials involved usually include scholars, senior journalists, former government officials, and former military officers. Government and other officials, acting in an informal capacity, sometimes also participate in such talks alongside the non-officials involved…

"A number of Track II venues have been hosted by third-party governments. Most Track II talks, however, have been hosted by non-official institutions such as universities, research institutions, and dedicated non-governmental organizations (NGOs)…

" Track II talks can also be defined by what they are not: neither academic conferences nor secret diplomacy conducted by government representatives…Track II talks are convened specifically to foster informal interaction among participants regarding the political issues dividing their nations and to find ways of reducing the conflict between them…

" The purposes of Track II talks vary, but they are all related to reducing tensions or facilitating the resolution of a conflict. At a minimum, Track II talks are aimed at an exchange of views, perceptions, and information between the parties to improve each side's understanding of the other's positions and policies. Such talks may also help participants familiarize themselves with one another, increasing their understanding of the human dimensions of the struggle in which they are engaged. By informing their respective publics, elites, and governments of the perceptions and insights they have gained, participants may indirectly contribute to the formation of new national political priorities and policies."

The authors divide Track II talks into two - 'soft' and 'hard'. Soft talks are awareness building. They often begin by personalizing the experiences of conflict - an effort to explore personal concepts and impressions - to see the face of the enemy. In 'hard' Track II talks "use is made of the informal standing of Track II participants to initiate talks on sensitive issues that cannot be dealt with in formal settings or between parties that have not yet recognized each other and hence cannot engage one another in official negotiations. The objective in these cases is to reach a political agreement or understanding that will be acceptable to the conflicting parties."

Thus, as the authors point out "While Track II talks need not necessarily be linked to concurrent Track I negotiations, participants in the former must have some relations with officials in their countries' decision-making circles for such talks to be effective. The exercise would be pointless if leaders and officials who can affect the course of national policy were not made aware of the information and impressions gained in these talks."

Thus, the authors are concerned with the 'feedback' from Track II talks. In their analysis they look at three key agents; 'sponsors', 'mentors', and national 'leaders'. The sponsors are the outside academic institutions, government or NGO which organizes the meetings. There can be a combination of the three - an NGO is the official sponsor but there may be government funds to cover some of the expenses or to provide security. Academic institutions can provide research and expertise. As the authors write "Parties in conflict who have been divided by a long history of violence are generally incapable of managing Track II meetings on their own. Third-party sponsorship is usually required to initiate and sustain such talks. In the political environment of the early 1990s, it was highly unlikely that Israelis and Palestinians could have engaged in sustained talks without the umbrella of a third-party sponsor. It was even less likely that Israelis and Syrians could hold such meetings outside a framework created by a 'neutral' sponsor."

Mentors are political leaders of the parties in conflict but not at the highest level who facilitate the talks but who do not necessarily participate in them. As the authors note "The Middle East experience suggests that effective mentors may need to meet three requirements beyond access to the top leaders: a belief that Track II talks may be a useful tool for conflict resolution; sufficient time and energy to initiate, navigate, and orchestrate such talks, or at least to monitor these talks on a regular basis; and a readiness to 'enlarge the envelope' by encouraging Track II talks without necessarily obtaining their leaders' prior approval for the talks - or at least not initially, when the results of the talks are far from certain."

The major part of the book are six case studies of Middle East Track II talks held in the 1990s: "the Israeli-Palestinian talks held in 1992-1993 in Norway, leading to the Oslo accords; Palestinian-Israeli talks held in the early 1990s under the auspices of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences (AAAS); the Stockholm talks - Palestinian-Israeli discussions convened in 1994-1995 by the government of Sweden in an attempt to bridge the gap between the parties' positions with respect to the main 'final status' issues; the talks held in 1995-1996 between Israeli settlers in the West Bank and representatives of the Palestinian Authority; meetings held in 1992-1994 between Israelis and Syrians, under the auspices of Search for Common Ground; and arms control and regional security-related talks - Arab-Israeli discussions that were convened throughout the 1990s by numerous research centers and other non-governmental organizations in an attempt to explore the issues related to arms control and regional security in the Middle East."

As the authors conclude "The Middle East experience between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s suggests that Track II talks can offer considerable scope for citizen or private diplomacy. In most of the examples reviewed, Track II venues were set up at the initiative of private individuals acting outside -if not without- their government's consent. Track II talks thus appear to arise and be effective when determined participants see a real need. Much depends on the calibre and dedication of these initiators and on their relationships with their leaderships. Citizen diplomacy cannot flourish without a special relationship built on mutual trust between participants, mentors, and leaders…

"Israelis and Palestinians are unlikely to exit the cycle of violence without considerable further Track II efforts. For if negotiations are to be renewed, a new understanding must be created about the purpose of such talks and their ultimate outcome, and it is difficult to imagine how such an understanding can be rebuilt except through Track II channels given the prevailing circumstances. Finally, it appears that major new Track II efforts may be needed to diminish the likelihood and impact of any future miscommunication and misunderstanding between the two sides. For while Track II talks may not guarantee perfect understanding, the absence of such talks is almost sure to pave the way to further crises and breakdowns."
René Wadlow
Rene_Wadlow
 

Understanding others

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Fri Mar 16, 2007 1:59 pm

Arthur Neslen
Occupied Minds : A Journey through the Israeli Psyche
(London: Pluto Press, 2006, 291pp.)
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”. W.B. Yeats’ oft-quoted “The Second Coming” seems to be the current theme song in the Israel-Palestine drama. After the elections in the Palestinian Authority which brought a Hamas-led government to power, followed shortly by elections in Israel which reflected the wide divergence of attitudes, all sides fear that there is no “valid partner” with which to negotiate, and it is not clear what it is that is negotiable.

If these were the elections that are to take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the attitude of many would be “Wake me up when it is all over.” However, the Israel-Palestine area for a host of reasons – ranging from the Crusades to the idea of the return of Jesus – has always been an area of concern to ‘outsiders’. Those of us who have worked for a negotiated settlement and for reasonable relations (if not reconciliation) have our work cut out for us. There seems to be little willingness for direct negotiations among government officials. This may open a door for Track Two, non-governmental efforts. More than ever, we will have to see what those guided by the spiritual dimention are able to do to build bridges.

One necessary step is to try to understand what Israelis and Palestinians are talking about and on which issues there is real passion. When one is not directly involved in an issue, there is much that falls outside our ability to ‘feel’ the issue. If we are not waiting for the Messiah, or the return of Jesus, or the Madhi, it is difficult to understand why Jerusalem can not be divided followed by cooperation between the administrations of the two (or three, if the Christian holy places are given a special administrative status) sections of the city.

One good place to start in understanding is to read Arthur Neslen’s interviews. The author (or the publisher) chose ‘occupied’ minds as a reference to the occupied territories of the West Bank. A more accurate title would have been ‘preoccupied minds’ – what issues keep coming back over and over in the minds of the Jewish Israelis.

The book is a set of 50 interviews, well carried out by a UK journalist of Jewish background. He lets each person speak with a minimum of direct questions. There are useful footnotes which explain references made by the speaker to history, Israeli society or Jewish theology. Although some 20-25 percent of Israelis are Arabs, nearly all of whom are Muslims or Christians, the interviews are only with Jewish Israelis. Thus the recurrent reflections on what it means to be a Jew and especially what it means to be a Jew and not believe in the Divine, often referred to here as G-d, the non-vowel of the Hebrew carried over into English.

There must be Israelis who are concerned about the weather or what they will eat at the next meal, but they are not found in this book. As Neslen writes “The project was conceived as a platform for an unrepresentative but enlightening cross-section of voices to tell their own stories in their own way…The opinions expressed in this book are those of the interviewees, and not necessarily those of the author or publisher.”

Thus there are more interviews with Rabbis who are able to articulate the changing relations between the religion and the state of Israel than with farmers, more with intellectuals and with former government – especially military – officials who have to transform the ideology into practice. As Neslen writes “Individuals in societies that see themselves as permanently at war often view each other through military field glasses, as combatants, infiltrators, morale boosters and traitors. Zionism, the belief in an ethnically centered Jewish state, still commands overwhelming support among world Jewry. Israel is revered as a safe haven in extremis.” A good number of interviews are with people who left difficult situations – Iraq, Russia, Ethiopia – or less difficult situations but with complex motivation, people from France, Iran, and the USA.

Nearly all the interviews have a good photo of the person speaking so one has the feeling of participating in a real conversation. This is a book to read in segments, not continuously. I had the feeling of being in a greenhouse like those for vegetables and in need of ‘coming up for air’. This is a useful book especially for those who wish to be directly involved in facilitating cross-cultural dialogue. In the same way, it may be useful to read the earlier interviews of Palestinians: Wendy Pearlman Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (New York: Nation Books, 2003). It is from these preoccupations and experiences that the curtain may ring up on a new drama. As Yeats wrote in Wheels and Butterflies “Yet we must hold to what we have that the next civilisation may be born, not from a virgin’s womb, nor a tomb without a body, not from a void, but of our own rich experience.”

René Wadlow
Rene_Wadlow
 

Need for communication

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:11 pm

Communication: The Energy of Peace



One of the first signs of tension and antagonism is the break in meaningful communications. Negotiations are stopped; ambassadors are recalled; journalists are expelled or not given visas; acquaintances no longer talk. The less communication, the more tensions grow.

We see this cycle within the lives of couples, of organizations, within national life, and in world politics. The answer to this negative cycle is easy in principle but difficult in practice: there is a need to create a strong positive cycle of communication. We all know the principle of harmony and balance as expressed by the Chinese Taoist symbol of Yin and Yang. When one element is too strong, imbalance follows. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the other element for the conscious restoration of harmony. The law of harmony is that of equilibrium.

The quality and consistency of the energy needed to restore the equilibrium is of particular importance. When tensions and antagonisms are great, often rooted in a long history, when tensions take the form of open violence, we must make the real effort of creating an equally powerful flow of positive energies.

The Summer of 2006 manifested in a way evident to all the tensions and antagonisms of the wider Middle East: the month-long violence between Israel and Lebanon, the continuing violence between Israel and Palestine, the violence in Iraq, the continuing destruction in Darfur, Sudan and the growing tensions concerning the policies of Iran.

What we did not see as obviously was the outpouring of compassion and bridgebuilding that is necessary to create balance. A UN-sponsored cease-fire took time to be put in place followed by an increase of UN troops on the frontier of Lebanon. This material aspect is necessary and useful, but there is also a need for intense spiritual energies. UN troops on the frontier represent separation ― necessary for the ceasefire ― but inadequate for reconciliation.

We must find ways of bridgebuilding, even if we live at a distance from the wider Middle East. We need to work for reconciliation in different ways and at different levels. We need to send a steady stream of Light to be directed through creative visualization, meditation, and prayer toward Iraq. The same Light needs to be shared with the whole Middle East. Just as the waves of tension flow outward toward neighboring countries, so the energies of reconciliation and harmony must flow outward.

Some persons may wish to focus their meditation and energy upon Israel-Palestine, often called the Holy Land, and which could be a symbol of self-sacrifice and peace. Again the energy and the Light must flow outward to englobe the whole area.

Working with the power of visualization is a powerful tool but must be followed up with activities of a more material nature for those who also work at physical levels. Art is an important vehicle of communication and bridegebuilding. Art raises the mind and the emotions above the momentary toward the longer-lasting. Art is creative and so breaks the pattern of constant repetition which is often a pattern of negative emotions.

We need to develop many forms of communication, first for ourselves through correspondence, visits, talks with people from the Middle East working or in education in our countries. Then we need to facilitate communication among the peoples of the Middle East themselves.

It is likely that we, using this website, do not have the same impact as those who own television networks or media empires. But our lack can also be our strength. We need to be as creative as possible, to use to the fullest the tools and the contacts that we have.

We see in the press and on television the ongoing tensions. We should not react with fear but with courage. We need to be channels for the energies of peace. Rene Wadlow
Rene_Wadlow
 

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:35 am

Middle East Nuclear-weapon Free Zone: A Serious Start?

Written by Rene Wadlow

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Mohamed ElBaradei, Director of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Iran and Israel to enter into serious negotiations to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East — a zone in which both Israel and Iran would be members. He was speaking on April 15, 2007 following talks in Jordan with King Abdullah II. Jordan, caught between Iraq and growing tensions between Israel and Palestine, has been trying to play a more active role of regional peacemaker.

ElBaradei said "This is the last chance to build security in the Middle East based on trust and cooperation and not the possession of nuclear weapons." He stressed that a peace agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors "must be reached in parallel with a security agreement in the region based on ridding the area of all weapons of mass destruction."

It is hard to know if there is a concerted purpose behind an increasing number of news reports and analysis of a potential US or Israeli strike against the nuclear installations of Iran. It is very likely that both US and Israeli strategic planners have envisaged the possibility of such strikes. This is, after all, the job of strategic planners. To what extent such a dangerous and basically unrealistic strategy is taken as an option "on the table" is impossible to know. What is sure is that the degree of tension in the Middle East over Iran, Iraq and Israel-Palestine has been growing. Thus, responsible leaders are trying to reduce tensions with proposals for new negotiations — regional talks on the Israel-Palestine conflict, regional talks on the future of Iraq, negotiations on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East or a broader Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East.

The hazards of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East has existed since Israel developed its "bomb in the basement" and was widely discussed in the early 1980s after Israeli forces destroyed the French-built nuclear reactor near Baghdad in June 1981. (1) Among the community of international relations scholars and strategic theorists, nuclear proliferation has always had its ardent supporters who believe that security is increased by enlarging the number of states with credible deterrence. This view of nuclear proliferation is often referred to as the "porcupine theory" because it suggests that a nuclear weapon state can walk like a porcupine through the forests of international affairs: no threat to its neighbors, too prickly for predators to swallow.

It was the French Air Force General Pierre Gallois who was the most eloquent champion of the porcupine approach writing "If every nuclear power held weapons truly invulnerable to the blows of the other, the resort to force by one to the detriment of the other would be impossible." However, the Middle East is filled not with porcupines but with men who may not be immune to irrationality. Irrationality at national leadership levels are known in world politics, and risk-taking even by rational leaders can get out of control. Thus, with the current impossibility of having a nuclear-weapon-free world, the concept of regional nuclear-weapon-free zones has spread.

The concept of nuclear-weapon-free zones has been an important concept in disarmament and regional conflict reduction efforts. A nuclear-weapon-free zone was first suggested by the Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki at the United Nations General Assembly in October 1957 — just a year after the crushing of the uprising in Hungary. The crushing of the Hungarian revolt by Soviet troops and the unrest among Polish workers at the same time showed that the East-West equilibrium in Central Europe was unstable with both the Soviet Union and the USA in possession of nuclear weapons, and perhaps a willingness to use them if the political situation became radically unstable. The Rapacki Plan, as it became known, called for the denuclearization of East and West Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland.

The Plan went through several variants which included its extension to cover the reduction of armed forces and armaments, and as a preliminary step, a freeze on nuclear weapons in the area. The Rapacki Plan was opposed by the NATO powers, in part because it recognized the legitimacy of the East German state. It was not until 1970 and the start of what became the 1975 Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe that serious negotiations on troop levels and weapons in Europe began. While the Rapacki Plan never led to negotiations on nuclear-weapon policies in Europe, it had the merit of re-starting East-West discussions which were then at a dead point.

The first nuclear-weapon-free zone to be negotiated — the Treaty of Tlatelolco — was a direct aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. It is hard to know how close to a nuclear exchange between the USA and the USSR was the Cuban missile crisis. It was close enough so that Latin American leaders were moved to action. While Latin America was not an area in which military confrontation was as stark as in Europe, the Cuban missile crisis was a warning that you did not need to have standing armies facing each other for there to be danger.

Mexico under the leadership of Ambassador Alfonso Garcia-Robles at the UN began immediately to call for a denuclearization of Latin America. There were a series of conferences, and in February 1967 the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America was signed at Tlatelolco, Mexico. For a major arms control treaty, the Tlateloco was negotiated in a short time, due partly to the fear inspired by the Cuban missile crisis but especially to the energy and persistence of Garcia-Robles and the expert advice of William Epstein, then the U.N.’s Director of Disarmament Affairs. The Treaty established a permanent and effective system of control which contains a number of novel and pioneering elements as well as a body to supervise the Treaty.

On 8 September 2006, the five states of Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan signed the treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The treaty aims at reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation and nuclear-armed terrorism. The treaty bans the production, acquisition, deployment of nuclear weapons and their components as well as nuclear explosives. Importantly, the treaty bans the hosting or transport of nuclear weapons as both Russia and the USA have established military airbases in Central Asia where nuclear weapons could have been placed in times of crisis in Asia.

The treaty was signed at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan which was the main testing site for Soviet nuclear tests. Between 1949 and 1989, some 500 nuclear tests took place at Semipalatinsk leaving a heritage of radioactivity and health problems. A non-governmental organization "Nevada-Semipalatinsk" was formed in the 1980s of persons in the USA and the USSR who had lived in the nuclear-weapon test areas. Its aim was to work to abolish nuclear weapons and to push compensation for the persons suffering from the medical consequences of the tests. Thus, Rusten Tursunbaev, the vice President of "Nevada-Semipalatinsk" could say "The signing of the agreement on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia is a remarkable, unbelievable moment and event — not just for Central Asia, but for the whole world."

It is an unfortunate aspect of world politics that constructive, institution-building action is usually undertaken only because of a crisis. The growing pressure building in the Middle East could lead to concerted leadership for a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone. The IAEA has the technical knowledge for putting such a zone in place. (2). Now there needs to be leadership from within the Middle East states as well as broader international encouragement. ElBaradei’s appeal may be the sign of a serious start.

Notes:
(1) See Shai Feldman.Israeli Nuclear Deterrence: A Strategy for the 1980s (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982)
Louis Rene Beres(ed.). Security or Armageddon (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1985)
Roger Pajak. Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East (Washington, DC: The National Defense University, 1982)
(2) See Michael Hamel-Green.Regional Initiatives on Nuclear-and WMD-Free Zones (Geneva: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, 2005)

Rene Wadlow is the editor of www.transnational-perspectives.org and an NGO representative to the United Nations, Geneva.
Rene_Wadlow
 

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Tue May 29, 2007 3:59 am

Mediterranean-Black Sea Union: Stormy Sailing Ahead?

Rene Wadlow

Nicolas Sarkozy in his election night speech repeated his opposition to the entry of Turkey into the European Union. He was expressing openly what a good number of persons in the EU say more quietly. The idea of Turkey joining the European Union creates fears among some European political leaders as well as in the broader population. Turkey is a country whose political, economic, and social characteristics place it, as does its geographic position, astride Europe and the conflict-prone Middle East. Turkey is large, populated, relatively poor, rural, with a majority of Muslims. Each characteristic is considered a handicap by some.

However, rather than just opposing Turkey’s entry into the EU — a position he had presented a number of times during the campaign — Sarkozy presented an alternative: that Turkey play a key role in creating a Mediterranean Union. Sarkozy went further and suggested that France would play a role in the creation of such a Mediterranean Union. Thus the idea merits looking at in greater depth.

Once the European community was solidly established, it turned to its Mediterranean neighbours. First there was the Global Mediterranean Policy (1972-1991) which included Association Agreements — Turkey (1964), Malta (1971), Cyprus (1972) and Cooperation Agreements with Israel (1975), Morocco (1976), Tunisia (1976), Algeria (1976), Jordan (1977), Syria (1977), Lebanon (1977), and Egypt (1977). In 1995, the EU with these states to which was added Palestine, began the Barcelona process with the intention of developing a stable partnership to consolidate peace and stability in the Mediterranean, based on economic progress, dialogue, mutual comprehension and respect.

The aims of the Barcelona process are close to those of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: mutual dialogue, peace, stability, economic cooperation, human contacts. In fact, the aims are largely structured for possible action along the lines of the OSCE’s three baskets — security, economy, and cultural contacts. The governments at Barcelona stated that they were “convinced that the general objective of turning the Mediterranean basin into an area of dialogue, exchange and cooperation guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity requires a strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights, sustainable and balanced economic and social development, measures to combat poverty and promotion of greater understanding between cultures, which are all essential aspects of partnership.” It is true that at the level of government, progress on this partnership has been slow and uneven. Common problems of poverty, social tensions, and environmental degradation call for common strategies.

Moreover, the Mediterranean is not a closed sea but is united to the Black Sea by Turkey. Thus Turkey already in 1992, with a desire not to be pushed to the periphery of world politics, had worked for the creation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Project with Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine. Thus Turkey is a key player in what is likely to become, though not without difficulties, a Mediterranean-Black Sea Union.

Such a Mediterranean-Black Sea Union is characterized by diversity and asymmetry in culture, religion, political, economic, social systems and size — Malta at one end and the Russian Federation at the other. A Mediterranean-Black Sea Union would solve the issue of two states whose entry into the European Union pose difficulties — Turkey and Ukraine, as well as creating a structure for the Russian Federation whose size makes entry into the European Union difficult but whose economic and energy interests are closely tied to the EU. Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece, as members of the EU, can be bridge states — Greece playing a role in both Mediterranean and Black Sea issues.

Enlightened leadership and an understanding of these common interests of all the peoples of the Mediterranean and Black Sea area is required. Work on common tasks will deepen the cultural foundations upon which Mediterranean and Black Sea integration will be built. The tasks cannot be left to governments alone but needs to call up the energies and visions of peoples and non- governmental organizations.

The proposals of Nicolas Sarkozy are far reaching, perhaps more than he knew when looking for an alternative to Turkey joining the EU. However, he said that he would carry out what he promised. We will have to see what leadership France can provide for a Mediterranean-Black Sea Union.
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Postby Rene_Wadlow » Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:05 pm

Israel-Palestine: Necessary NGO Efforts Prior to a US-sponsored Conference in November

Rene Wadlow

US President George W. Bush has proposed holding a conference on the Israel-Palestine conflict in November 2007. In addition to the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority, there would be representative of the “International Quartet”: the USA, Russia, the European Union (usually represented by foreign policy specialists of the European Commission) and the United Nations (which in practice is represented by members of the UN secretariat). It is also hoped that some or all the members of what is increasingly called the “Arab Quartet” would attend: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Arab Emirates. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is now a representative of the International Quartet, would probably be present.

The Israeli-Palestine conference would be held against the backdrop of other interlocking Middle East issues: the Iraq conflict, the resurgence of Iran, Lebanon-Syria politics. However, although all these governments play a role in the Israel-Palestine conflict, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran probably will not be invited.

While personally, I believe, that the USA has “burned all its bridges” in the Middle East and can not play a useful role in the Israel-Palestine issue, there are still some people who believe that the USA can play a leading role as the international facilitator. What is true, I believe, is that there is no other State which can be the substitute leader in the short run. Therefore, we, as world citizens, have two months, September and October 2007, to try to influence US policy on the Middle East and to use what contacts we have to reach foreign policy specialists in Russia, the Arab Quartet, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Since the Israel-Palestine conflict has been with us for just 60 years, since the UN proposals for a two-State partition were being drawn up, there are many for whom “my eyes glaze over” when the topic of Israel-Palestine is brought up. Nevertheless, the geo-strategic aspects of the conflict remain important, and the suffering of people in the area is real.

I believe that there are three points which we should stress in our efforts. These three points will probably not be on the agenda if people outside the governments do not first raise them:

1) Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip needs to be invited and should be a full participant. The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli Government, the US Government, and to a lesser extent the European Union, would like to see life conditions in Gaza get worse so that the Hamas administration will fail. Even if disintegration does not happen in the next two months, the idea is to leave Hamas “out in the cold” and have only Mahmoud Abbas negotiate for all the Palestinians. Such a policy is short-sighted and will lead to failure.

2) The second point is to stress the need for a wider economic zone so that prosperity will help integrate the Palestinians into a wider context. Such a wider economic zone would include Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The return from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan of the Palestinian refugees to Israel is impossible for political reasons. The return of the bulk of the refugees to the West Bank and Gaza is impossible for economic and ecological reasons. Palestinians have been prevented from playing an active and positive political and economic role in Lebanon. This Lebanese policy should be modified if relative peace is established in the area. Only economic prosperity will build the foundation for greater cooperation.

3) The Israel-Palestine conflict needs to be placed in the wider Middle East context which currently lacks a security organization in which all States are members. There is a need to establish an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East on the lines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europewhich played an important role in ending the Cold War.

Rene Wadlow is the Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens and the editor of www.transnational-perspectives.org.
Rene_Wadlow
 

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:22 pm

Israeli-Hamas Truce: A New Deal
Rene Wadlow


The truce between the Israeli government and the Hamas-led authorities of the Gaza strip began on Thursday morning 19 June 2008. The truce was mediated by Egypt and holds the possibility for new relationships if strong follow-up measures are taken quickly. There are many in Israel, in Gaza, and in the Fatah-led West Bank who believe that the truce will be short lived and will not change the deep divisions among Palestinians and between Palestinians and Israelis.

Nevertheless, after a year-long economic embargo, frequent Israeli air strikes and incursions, and a steady rain from Gaza of rocket fire on near-by Israeli cities, the truce opens some doors for creative action.

Measures to re-establish and develop the economy of Gaza are important as the embargo has crippled and in some cases destroyed manufacturing and agriculture, much of which was destined for the Israeli market. The Gaza Strip is 25 miles long and 6 miles wide with some one and a half million people who depend on imports for most basic goods and on export for livelihood. The Israeli blockade has led to a very difficult economic and social situation in Gaza with high unemployment, poor health facilities, a lack of food and other basic supplies.

There is also a need to break the psychological barriers which can be overcome by cooperative economic measures. A possibility for socio-economic recovery of Gaza would be a trans-national economic effort that would being together energy, knowledge and money from Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Egypt .

A possible model is the trans-state efforts of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of the US New Deal. The TVA was a path-making measure to overcome the deep economic depression of the 1930s in the USA. In May 1933, the Roosevelt administration and the Congress created the TVA. In his message to Congress, Roosevelt suggested that the Authority should be a “corporation clothed with the power of Government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise. It should be charged with the broadest duty of planning for the proper use, conservation and development of the natural resources of the Tennessee River drainage basin and its adjoining territory for the general social and economic welfare of the Nation…This in a true sense is a return to the spirit and vision of the pioneer. If we are successful here, we can march on, step by step, in the development of other great natural territorial units.”

The central idea back of the TVA was that it should do many things, all connected with each other by the concrete realities of a damaged river full of damaged people. To do all these well, it had to be a public corporation: public, because it served the public interest and a corporation rather than a government department, so that it could initiate the flexible responsible management of a well-run private corporation. As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World “The great triumph of the TVA was not the building of the great dams. Great dams had been built before. Its greatest triumph was that it not only taught the Valley people but insisted on learning from them too. It placed its vast technical knowledge in the pot with the human wisdom, the local experience, the courage, and the hopes of the Valley people, and sought solutions which neither the Valley folk nor the TVA technicians could ever have found alone. It respected persons.”

The Gaza strip is not one of the great natural territorial units of the world, and respect for persons has been in short supply. However, only a New Deal is likely to break the cycle of violence and counter-violence. A Gaza Development Authority, an independent socio-economic corporation devoted to multi-sector and trans-national planning and administration would be an important start in a new deal of the cards. Such a Gaza Development Authority would obviously have Hamas members but also persons chosen for their expertise as well as persons from community organizations.

The Israeli-Hamas truce must be accompanied by strong socio-economic structures which can hold during periods of inevitable future tensions. A Gaza Development Authority can be a framework for these strong follow up measures to the truce.

Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens and editor of the on-line journal of world politics and culture,
www.transnational-perspectives.org
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