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Polish-American Relations Regarding Iraq, Iran, Russia and NATO

At my day job at Atlantic Community, we have published quite a few interesting articles on US-Polish issues. Polish perspectives are under-reported in the German and American mass media, but they are important because Poland is one of Europe's bigger countries, is considered very Pro-American and was seen as the primary "New Europe" country, a term that is less frequently used these days, but is still controversial.

Marek Swierczynski, a journalist at the Polish TV channel TVP, reflects on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war:

Poland's decision to join the "coalition of the willing" has left the military stretched beyond capacity, the society in serious mistrust of their leaders and perception of a joint effort for a good cause seriously damaged. It took 25 lives 5 years and 3 governments to rethink and withdraw.

Ryan R. Miller of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington, DC. writes about Poland's Iran Option:

Possible Polish-Iranian energy cooperation puts U.S. policy makers between a rock and a hard place, as America finds itself committed both to isolating the Islamic Republic and supporting Polish efforts to outflank Russia's Gazprom.

Wess Mitchell, who is the Director of Research at CEPA, outlines recent developments between the United States and Poland regarding the US missile defense program. He concludes that relations between Poland and Russia are likely to deteriorate and Tusk may have compromised himself by acting so decisively this early in his term: Missile Defense: Poland Has Less Room to Maneuver.

Anna Nadgrodkiewicz sums up contentious issues in Polish-American relations: Polish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the necessity of easing visa requirements, and the proposed missile defense shield. See her article Managing Image and Expectations.

Marek Swierczynski  sees NATO at a Crossroad in a second article:

Just before the NATO summit in Bucharest, the differences on what and how the Alliance should do in the future seem all but rising on both sides of the Atlantic. The Warsaw conference on NATO's Transformation made fundamental divides clearly visible. (...) The new NATO members seem to live in a Neverland. Professor Kuzniar assessed that the Alliance is the only force of global reach and capabilities. Wrong. There is no such thing as NATO global capability. There is the US global capability and to be more precise it is one of the US Navy.

Germany Seeks Multilateralization of Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The Federal Foreign Office announced today:

Germany is stepping up its efforts to establish an international uranium-enrichment plant under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Today, at IAEA's headquarters in Vienna, Federal Government representatives informed interested States about the details of the German proposals to multilateralize the nuclear fuel cycle, receiving a highly positive response. This concept is based on an initiative by Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier. More and more countries are thinking of starting their own enrichment activities. Any joint solution must therefore take the desire for the peaceful use of nuclear energy into account, while at the same time making sure no fuel is misused to build nuclear weapons.

Could this be a workable compromise for the conflict over Iran's nuclear program?

A Different Kind of Quagmire: Iran

Tired of the same old boring quagmire?  Looking for a new kind of quagmire to talk about with your friends?  Good news if you are, because Iraq is not the only quagmire around.  No need to look far—keep it in the “axis of evil.”  Iraq’s neighbor, Iran is also a quagmire of a sorts… a diplomatic quagmire for the transatlantic allies. 

I’ll corroborate: the United States and Europe have been trying to anneal sanctions against Iran through the United Nations Security Council for years, only to have their proposals consistently rebuffed and watered down by China and Russia.  The latest US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” (PDF version), is unlikely to make the pursuit of sanctions any easier:
We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.
Good news, right?  Only kinda, according to Ralf Fuecks who points out at Atlantic Community that Iran remains a threat, regardless of the NIE:
Continue reading "A Different Kind of Quagmire: Iran"

Lifting Sanctions Against Syria?

"With American goods already flooding Damascus, analysts say lifting restrictions will help counter Iran's influence," writes the Christian Science Monitor:

Provided that goods are not manufactured in the US or produced with more than 10 percent of American content, both increasingly the case with the globalization of production, American companies are not restricted from selling goods in Syria although the goods are not then classified as American. "Typically you have Ford cars inside the market. When they opened the showroom you had people from the US embassy attending. Ford cars are manufactured in Germany, not the US, so they are not banned from being exported here," says Syrian economist Jihad Yazigi.

Iran: Merkel, Sarkozy and "The Desperate Man"

Last week Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy had a photoshoot with "the desperate man", and I don't mean President Bush, but a painting by French artist Gustave Courbet. The NY Times used the photo as an illustration of its article "Despite Report, France and Germany Keep Pressure on Iran."

Apparently the German and French leaders said they had not changed their minds despite the findings of the American intelligence estimate released Monday, which some believed would have eroded support for tougher new sanctions.

BAGnewsNotes writes about the NY Times article and republishes the photo and asks an interesting question: "How does the painting -- a self-portrait by French artist Gustave Courbet titled 'Desperate Man' -- map to the story, as well as mix with the interplay between the heads of state?"

No Additional Sanctions for Iran for now?

New York Times:

The Bush administrations new intelligence assessment that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 is likely to complicate efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran at the United Nations Security Council, European officials said Monday. (...)
"Officially, we will study the document carefully; unofficially, our efforts to build up momentum for another resolution are gone," said one European official involved in the diplomacy.

"Germany's Iran Lobby"

Benjamin Weinthal writes about the German reception of the book "The Israel Lobby" by professors Walt and Mearsheimer. He compares the big interest in the power of the Israel lobby in the US with the lack of interest in the power of the Iran lobby in Germany.

Writing in the Jewish Press (via Achse des Guten) he asks a good question, but I disagree with his answer. Weinthal praises a journalist famous for his polemicism, who accuses his fellow Germans of wanting Israel to "disappear" so that they (we) are not reminded of Auschwitz anymore:

How does one explain this disconnect between the pathological obsession with dead Jews and the painful indifference toward the survivors of the Holocaust, their children and grandchildren, and Israel as an oasis of security for Jews? The German Jewish Journalist Henryk M. Broder remarked recently, during a panel discussion in the Jewish Community Center in Berlin, that the inaction of a large segment of German society is due to covert admiration for Iran, a kind of Schadenfreude (malicious joy). For the Iranians vow to carry out the Nazi plan of extermination. and Israel, as the permanent reminder of Auschwitz, with the concomitant emotions of guilt and shame for Germans, will disappear. A better social-psychological explanation has yet to surface to explain German indifference to the Iran Lobby.

US Policy on Iran: Deterrence versus Pre-Emption

Fareed Zakaria and Norman Podhoretz debate on PBS whether Iran would be a rational nuclear power and what US policy should be: Deterrence or pre-emption? Zakaria is concerned about yet another US invasion of Muslim country, and made this interesting quote on deterrence:

It used to be that one had to explain deterrence to the Left; it has now become something the Right does not understand.

The transcript is available at The Australian and a video is posted below and available at Youtube. HT: Jeb Koogler, who also writes in Foreign Policy Watch that deterrence is not enough.