« The Duran Podcast

Absence of US Strategy, Middle East & Ukraine - John Mearsheimer, Alexander Mercouris & Glenn Diesen

2024-02-03 | 🔗
Absence of US Strategy, Middle East & Ukraine - John Mearsheimer, Alexander Mercouris & Glenn Diesen
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to today's discussion. My name is Glenn Deisen and with me is Alexander Mercouris and Professor John Merseimer. Welcome to both of you. Glad to be here. So the main topic here which I want to discuss today is is-- That the US or West is losing its dominance and also control over these conflicts because... Well, thank you. I guess in Gaza it's quite obvious the conflict has spiraled out of control, as we have predicted. Spread to Yemen and Lebanon. We see U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq being under constant attack. The US now seems to contemplate attacking Iran, which would... Certainly spark a massive regional war that nobody wants yet, even though nobody wants it. Again, there seems to be a lack of control, as this is still the only--
Escalation is still the only option seemingly considered. And I think we're seeing the same in Ukraine. Failure and setback, NATO's response seems to be to escalate in terms of... Bridging new red lines. So, we see supplies of more powerful long-range weapons, attacks inside Russian territory. Interestingly... Biden says that supplying Ukraine with weapons does not make NATO responsible, but at the same time Biden also says that... Iran supplying its allies with weapons does make Iran responsible. So the rules of the game are somewhat obscure. Again, recently we see NATO weapons being used to shoot down a Russian transportation plane within Russia, carrying Ukrainian... POWs. And still, from Sweden to UK, we see governments are now asking their...
Population to prepare for war with Russia, even though this would likely end in a nuclear exchange. So we see yet again escalation being the only Option considered. So, as things are seemingly not going according to plan and our wars are spiraling out of control, I thought we can maybe... Start with the Middle East as Professor Mershammer has been writing some... Articles on this topic and because it seems now that after the The ruling by the International Court of Justice that is plausible evidence for that Israel has committed genocide, which would mean the West might be... Complicit to some extent. I just wanted to put it to you. What you… Of this ruling and how do you see it influencing decision makers in Israel as well as the West? Well, I think if you look at the...
The Western media and how they played the ICJ decision that was recently handed down. The Western media went to great lengths to make it look like it was. There's a minor slap on the wrist for Israel, and it just didn't matter very much. That's true at all. I believe that it was a disastrous disaster. Decision for Israel. Case of the court deciding once and for all whether they judged that Israel had committed Genocide, right, that will come in the subsequent court case. What this case was all about was trying to determine
Whether there was, and you use these words, Glenn, plausible evidence that the The Israelis had, number one, the intention to commit genocide, and number two, there was plausible evidence... That their actions look like genocide, and what the court ruled is that there is plausible Of intent and behavior that qualifies as genocide. And if you look at the votes There were six separate votes because they had to decide on Particular measures that would be imposed on Israel? Six measures, six votes. The votes were like 30. To one, two of them were 13 to one, and the other four were 12 to two.
Case is the Israeli representative on the court voted in front of the court. In favor of the measures. The American representative to my utter-- Astonishment voted for every one of the measures. >> The statement that the United States would put pressure on the American judge to vote Position did not pan out at all. The only judge who voted... Consistently for Israel was from Uganda, which is quite remarkable. Hard to understand. But anyway, this is a stunning defeat for Israel. Here it is, in effect, being... Judged on whether or not there's enough evidence out there to think that it's committing genocide. And the answer that the court reaches is yes. So I think...
I think this is a stunning ruling. Now let me make one more point. Of people in the West emphasized the fact that the court did not tell. The israelis to cease and desist from military operations in gaza and in fact with the court said was that they had to stop. Or killing civilians and concentrate their military campaign against Hamas. Now a lot of people thought or wanted the court To say cease and desist from all military operations. The reason the court just couldn't do that is because the court couldn't tell Hamas to cease. And desist from military operations. And whatever you think of what the Israelis are doing in Gaza, it would have been unfair to tell the Israelis they can't fight against Hamas when Hamas can fight against them.
Court was in effect saying is you can continue the fight, but this has to be a lot like the Brain fight where there is hardly any direct attacks on civilians. For sure, more the Ukrainians than the Russians, in my opinion, but be that as it may, this A war where the two sides are punishing the civilian populations. But in Gaza, the Israelis are fighting against Hamas, yes, but they're also punishing the civilians in ways that the court has ruled looks like or has. All the signs of evidence, all the signs of a genocide. So you don't want to put too much stock in the fact that The court didn't say cease and desist from all military operations. So my basic argument is this is.
This is a real moral stain on Israel's reputation that's not going to go away. Thank you. I completely agree. I completely agree with every point made there. I think that if you read the opinion... But the decision, carefully, it is quite clear that this is a decision. This is a very strong decision indeed. And the point that you've been making, which you've just been making, which is that there's both intent and action is… Is a critically important one. If you know anything at all about criminal law, always Most crimes, not all crimes, but in most crimes the courts look for both intention and action. Use the Latin words mens rea, actus reus. What the court said is, we have both. We have both here. There is strong evidence that--
Both exist, and the German judge said, I've looked at the intention, and it is so clearly set out in statements that Israeli officials have been making that this is what has driven To make the decision which I did. So it could not be stronger. And again, I, you know, find it astonishing and we'll probably come to this, that Israeli officials, Israeli ministers didn't understand that all of these statements that they have been making since they started this operation and before and even before.
Even as this hearing was underway, cumulatively showed an intention which would have legal bearing and might affect the outcome of this case. This is a very strong judgement. It basically says that based on the evidence... That these judges have heard. They think that there is, I would say, more than a plausible case that genocide is being committed. And that's heavily based on these statements that these Israeli officials have made. A stain on Israel's reputation and, of course, a massive problem. For Israel, given that we are going to be involved in a long, litty game of war. A new video.
Every sign at the moment that it is going to defy this order of the court. Now, on the second point about the ceasefire issue, I should say, John, that I have been fortunate to have been on a program with Francis Boyle, who is a lawyer who has argued cases National Court of Justice, specifically on the issue of genocide. In fact, he's obtained orders, genocide orders, against various parties in the Yugoslav Wars, against the Serbs, on behalf of his clients, the Bosnians. He is an authoritative expert on this very question. And he has said exactly what you said. He has said that the court could not have ordered...
Ordered a ceasefire because Hamas is not a party to the proceedings. So there was no option, there was no mechanism whereby the court could have ordered a ceasefire. They have done is given the strongest and clearest order that they could do in the circumstances, and one which, because it throws the ball back at Israel and asks Israel to come back Report and explain what it is doing in litigation terms puts the onus on Israel even more. So this is in some respects an even worse outcome for Israel than if the court had just ordered a cease-fire. Yeah, very interesting. I just...
- I'll make two very quick points. One is there was an article in Haaretz that relates to your comments about all of the... Statements that Israeli leaders made that were really quite remarkable in their intent to sort of do terrible things to the Palestinians. But the headline in the article went something like this, The road to The Hague is paved Statements by Israeli leaders, which supports what you were saying. But the second point I want to make is it's important for us to emphasize that this was Not a kangaroo court. This was an extremely impressive set of events. ...the Israeli presentations and then the final court decision...
Done in a highly professional way. The South African document, which was 84 pages, laying out the charges, is really very well done. The final order that the court issued, which is the final order that the court issued, which is the final order that the court issued, I've looked at and some of the opinions all very impressive you can agree or disagree with say but this was done in a very professional way and that. That makes it all the harder for Israel and its defenders to dismiss what the court is doing. Did. You know, the Israelis took this seriously. They sent their A-team to the Hague. I mean, of course, the South Africans... It as well. You had really high-powered lawyers and experts on both sides. Again, you could Disagree with what these folks said, but these were impressive individuals who each on each side made the best case for, you know, the South African people.
African position or the Israeli position. So this is a real problem for the Israelis. Again, I completely agree, and as I said, we will see what Israel does, and we will see what the United States and the other Western powers who have been supporting Israel also Because this is massively embarrassing for them, or at least so I would have thought. Now again, Francis Boyle explained what the potential follow-up to this can be. Now this is…we're now… Leaving to some extent the domain of law and entering the domain of politics and what happens, but the International Court of Justice is part of the United Nations system. The decision is automatically referred to the Security Council. Where Algeria, at the moment apparently, is now going to start holding the presidency.
Algeria wants to call a meeting of the Security Council. Security Council, upon which of course the United States is a permanent member, and Britain, has the enforcement function in terms of these decisions. But if the Security Council fails to act, the matter can be taken up. By the General Assembly. It is able to do things. And the General Assembly, it turns out, can do quite a lot. And Francis Boyle, again, I should say, by the way, in parenthesis, this was all explained in public by Francis Boyle in the programme on Consortium News, which you can find. Francis Boyle was talking about various things that the General Assembly could do.
Exercise the functions of the Uniting for Peace procedure that hasn't happened for a very long time. Last time I think that was used was in 1979 over in connection with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in that year but it is still there and it can exercise that, it can impose penalties under chapter 7 of the... Ben Charter. It can also set up an international tribunal if it wants to, or it can refer cases to the International Criminal Court based on the actions that have been identified as plausibly genocidal and which case we could see in dialogue.
And lastly, and this I think is a real possibility now, it could take steps to recognize Palestine as a full member state of the United Nations, exercising all the rights of any other member state with voting rights in the General Assembly. So, bear in mind that we've had two votes in the General Assembly over the course of this crisis, both calling for a ceasefire, one supported by 120 people. One member states, the second one by more than 150 member states. There's now this decision from the court. It's easy to see how the two could come together. And if the United States exercises powers of veto in the Security Council, it stands to lose or at least be embarrassed.
When the murder moves to the General Assembly. John mentioned that the media in the West has spun the story as a slap on the wrist. But I'm curious why the implications will be from this because it's not just a. Court case. Obviously, I heard the BBC, in the opening of the trial, they didn't... Broadcast anything except the defense of Israel, and I think was the same in other countries as well, such as Australia. Spinning the story, of course, it goes wider than this, the whole conflict. I think it's been almost presented as being exclusively about Hamas and not the wider issue. you know where... The Palestinians should go. It also reminds me a bit of the media coverage of the Ukraine as well, obviously, where nothing was provided.
Hope that West didn't have a role in sabotaging peace and the Ukrainians are winning and winning. But with same with what's happening in the Middle East and with Ukraine, it's at some You know, reality will catch up with us. And if we create this parallel... In the universe, obviously the rest of the world is not. They're getting different media, where they're actually reporting on what's happening in this trial. To this outcome actually means. And not a good idea. But just quickly on what Alexander said, which I wanted to ask, is the idea that this will be... Into a Palestinian state. This is what I was asking. The consequence of this will be because will there be pressure on Israel to scale back or will we see that the growing... International support for establishing a Palestinian state will instead intensify.
Israel's perceived need to carry out a genocide to prevent that. Such states from coming together. So can this court... Create an all-or-nothing situation where we escalate instead of de-escalate. I haven't really made up my mind on this so it's not a return. Purple question. Let me just say a word about the Western media and then I'll deal directly with the issue that you put on the table, Glenn. You do want to remember that there's this alternative media out there, which we are All part of that matters more and more every day because more and more people People have lost faith in the mainstream media. And just as piece of evidence, 50% of the people who voted for Biden in 2020.
Believe that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. Just think about that. 50% of the people who voted for Biden think that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. It's really quite remarkable. In this day and age, it's almost impossible to hide what's going on, especially when For anyone who is a concerned citizen and wants to try to figure out for him or herself what's happened. Happening in the world and those people tune in to your show, to Alexander's show and so forth and so on. And this is the massive problem that Israel faces. In the old days when you just had the mainstream media, they were very effective at controlling Or heavily influencing the discourse, however you want to put it. At this point in time, it's...
Almost impossible to influence the discourse in meaningful ways because there's this alternative media. That's one point. But you wanted to talk about. Where this is all heading with regard to a Palestinian state. I think there's no question that almost. All of the actors in the system outside of Israel, and this includes even the United States, would like to... State solution. As I've emphasized ad nauseam over the years, every president since Jimmy Carter has wanted a two-state solution because we understood that if we didn't get a two-state solution, something like October 7th would happen, and it happened. So there is huge interest in a two-state solution.
Problem is the political center of gravity in Israel is so far to the right now and so deeply opposed to a two-state solution that they, the Israeli, are not going to be able Are going to resist it mightily. The $64,000 question then becomes what does the United States do? The United States almost always sides with Israel. And I think that the reason that you're not going to get a two-state solution, and let me just say I hope I'm wrong here, I really do. The reason you won't get a two-state solution is that the United States will block it because the States because of the power of the Israel lobby in this country always sides almost always sides with Israel It will put the United States it risks putting the United
States in an even bigger position of isolation. Even Britain, which had... Has gone far out on a limb in terms of European countries. It's been very supportive of the United States in this particular conflict. And it's to mirror US voting in the Security Council. The Prime Minister, the British government has been very supportive of Israel. The British opposition has been very... the Labour opposition... Has up till very recently been equally supportive of Israel. They're now wobbling and the Labour opposition now calls for a humanitarian ceasefire. And we've had reports today in the media here in Israel, Britain that the British government is now gradually coming round to the idea that recognising a Palestinian state...
This is not the two-state solution because a two-state solution has to be negotiated and, you know, there are enormous problems but giving... The Palestinian Authority voting rights in the General Assembly. Treating it as if it represents a Palestinian state, treating the territories that are what are considered the occupied territories, the West Bank, Gaza, as territories of a state. All of that in the General Assembly, even Britain, voting for that, is going to leave the United States out on a limb. If it opposes it. Israel will be completely opposed to this. Prime Minister Netanyahu has made that absolutely clear. He's made statements to this effect. I think that the United States is going to find itself in a position where it might vote against,
Against something which the General Assembly might still nonetheless vote to do with its allies. Peeling away and voting against the United States as well. And on the other hand, supporting some... Like this and enraging the Israeli government and bringing upon itself criticism from Prime Minister And other Israeli officials. I'm not sure what the US does, but we go back to this issue. I mean, they've lost control. Of this to the extent that they've ever had any. - Yeah, the question I would ask you guys is, where do you think, Uh, thank you. Are going in the Middle East. When I look at the Israel-Palestinian conflict in Gaza... Right. I do not see any meaningful resolution to that crisis.
Or war in the foreseeable future. I mean, let's assume that the shooting stops. Let's assume they have a ceasefire and the ceasefire continues for months on end. You're still going to have a festering problem there. It's going to be huge trouble. Israelis are treating the Palestinians badly, which they are. That's going to lead to all sorts of problems with the hula. With these continuing, all sorts of problems with Hezbollah continuing. There is the sea. To be. Increasingly isolated, number one, and two, increasing numbers of people in the United States will start saying, What can we do to put an end to this? This is really crazy. I mean, you're beginning to see Biden hesitate about hitting Iran because.
I think Biden is coming to recognize that if we attack Iran, that's just going to make a... Really bad situation even worse, right? So what is your sense as to what this looks like moving forward and what's going on? What that means for, you know, the Palestinians, a Palestinian state, a two-state solution. I'm just curious how you think about it. First, every single person from the region I've... or who knows the region I have spoken to is convinced that we are heading for a massive conflict. They don't believe that any kind of diplomacy... Is going to control the situation there. We've had a guest who knows this region well, who was Alistair Crook, former British diplomat, he's been involved in all kinds of negotiations in the region.
He said exactly the same and everybody I know who has had information about this region says exactly the same thing. So it's exactly what you're saying, that the situation is going to escalate. Because negotiations by this point have become impossible. And the... The general view is we will have this enormous escalation, this tremendous battle. And then when that has run its course and things settle down and, you know, we are left to pick up the pieces after that, then... Not before we might finally move towards some kind of resolution. Now I have to say, I find that...
Very disturbing at multiple levels. I think anybody who looks at the situation and thinks about what that means would find it so. But that's what everybody is telling me, that there is no diplomatic solution to this conflict. And the possibilities to find a solution to the problems in Gaza specifically have been Lost and were never really attempted. As the fighting stops, there's no return to status quo, the old status quo that is because again. The Palestinians weren't treated great before October 7th either, otherwise obviously wouldn't And so, but after all of these massacres, the idea that they can go back to Ruling Gaza the way they did. I just don't see it being possible.
I also think that the region itself will probably begin to change, obviously. It creates also a huge problem for the United States because as well as now open season on all these American bases across Syria and Iraq, you know, the... The United States has a problem. It has to show, restore the trust in deterrence, if you will. But again, it still doesn't. Have the capacity to, or willingness at least, to go into such a huge war. And I think the same... Applies for Israel. They kind of relied for so many years on this, you know, everyone fearing this Look at it. Much damage that they will have all this hatred against them. And I think Iran is really the big
Because whenever there's conflicts or problems in Syria, Iran or with Hezbollah in Lebanon or even the Houthis in Yemen, Iran is always picked out and And blamed by Washington. I personally think it's exaggerated that, yes, they supply weapons. To their allies which are seen as being a part of a resistance. But again, this idea that Tehran is pulling all the strings and organizing everything, leaving no agencies to its partners. I don't think this is an accurate portrayal. But either way, if... I think this is the dilemma now because if the United States should remain the... Dominant in the region. They have to restore the turns. But again, I read some reports in the media which are so far unconfirmed, but that the United States...
Reached out to Iran through third parties and then asking, you know, can we strike somewhere in Iran? And then, you know, you don't retaliate. To save face and Iran of course will not have none of it because they also have to deter if they allow Another country to bomb them and not respond. This is a huge problem. I'm looking for a confirmation on that report, but it shows some of the problems that the United States is in. So I don't see how the region can stay the same and nobody wants to make any significant compromise. I also fear that this will definitely spiral out of control. So I think we're heading towards a regional... Or as there's no solutions being put on the table at the moment. But again, maybe I'm just being too pessimistic. Hopefully you're wrong. I would not bet much money on that. But just Glenn, on the whole question.
Of Iran's responsibility for, let's call it the general crisis in the Middle East. The Israeli/American position is that Iran is the taproot of all the trouble. And if we could deal with Iran, we can really whack Iran, that will go a long way towards solving the problem. This is not an accurate representation of what's going on. The taproot of the problem here. Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what happened on October 7th. You remember Jake Sullivan said before October 7th that the Middle East... Was a remarkably stable environment. There was no trouble then, right? Or little trouble then. After October 7th. All hell broke loose and here are the three of us talking about the hell getting even worse right it's. Not because of anything Iran did, it's because of what happened on October 7th.
Israelis responded. Take the Houthis, for example. In the Western press, you hardly see any discussion of the fact that the Houthis are at Attacking shipping, in particular, ships in the Red Sea because of what's happening. In Gaza. It's not like they all of a sudden decided the Houthis that is that they're going to declare Against the United States and the British Navy, right? But in the West, we sort of avoid talking about the real facts. This then leads to the question, what is going to happen? In Gaza over time, right? How are we going to fix this problem? And some of the solutions that people come up with are kind of amazing. There's all this talk about putting the PA in control, the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Does anybody seriously think that Hamas, which is going to survive this war, is going to be a threat?
Going to allow the PA to come in and take over and then Hamas is just going to wither away? I don't think that's going to happen. I think... Hamas is going to win this war. Hamas is going to remain in control. And the Israelis are going to continue to try to attack. Hamas and hurt them whenever they can and if that's the case, this is just going to go on and on and Oh, you see all sorts of evidence that there's a growing movement in Israel to resettle in Gaza, right? There's all sorts of talk about... Turning Gaza City into this Jewish, I mean no Palestinians, Israeli Jewish city. This is going to lead to no end of trouble. So we have no, we meaning the United--
States and the Israelis who are the two key players here. We have no solution to the Gaza conflict. No solution to the Gaza conflict and you believe the Gaza conflict is the taproot of all this trouble, oh my goodness, you know, we are really in deep trouble. That was my point with the... But by the way, I just wanted to add the European Union, they... They seem to have also these very strange views about Hamas. They said they would condition... Port a ceasefire but it would be conditioned on first Hamas dismantling itself. So yes, if they... Capitulate, disarm and dismantle, then will support a ceasefire. But this again, this becomes tantamount to then Supporting genocide because this is never gonna happen. This is also why I think we're gonna... Ahead towards a major war in the region because the only responses always escalate because the core of the problem is obviously a Palestinian state.
If this could come into place, all the other issues could resolve themselves in some way. But instead of talking about Palestinian states... We're now talking about annexing Gaza, which will be the exact opposite. And of course, then we see an escalation, be it towards Lebanon or escalation with. With Yemen, but again, the actions taken doesn't lead anywhere. So, I think Biden even answered if he was asked. Bombing the Houthis in Yemen, what are we achieving? Well, you know, nothing. They still have this Access to weapons they can still shoot them, you know, and anything's a victory there. Their little drones are much cheaper than American Interceptive missiles and you know, either way they can still increase the insurance cost or redirect traffic So they don't even have to think of that many ships in order to have an impact or any ships. Can't defeat the Houthis, so what to do? Escalate. Who's funding the Houthis? Who's getting weapons? Go after Iran. I think people...
People neglect how powerful Iran actually is. We've been fighting this, you know, very weak states for the past 30 years. Iran, I think, is something very, very different. This is what. Yeah, terrible. And what this would lead to, I think, is beyond what we can control. Just one other very quick point. Don't forget that Iran. Is very close to having nuclear weapons and if we were to attack iran that would give them powerful To cross the line and become a nuclear weapons state. Which begs the question, what would be the objective? Because the go-to answer is always bomb, but why bomb? And usually you would get the answer, well, we can degrade their military, we can weaken them. But... Would you really want to weaken or seriously degrade a country like Iran because you know, they have a lot of
Regional adversaries and if their conventional weaponry weakens, well as they say, the ultimate equalizer is nuclear weapon and Iran now would consider it now to be if data threshold state nuclear close to In terms of being able to develop nuclear weapons rather fast if they would set that objective. Active. Thank you. 30 years so it's yeah it's I wish I wish there was other alternatives than escalation. I'm not sure, Alexander, if you say any possible...
Diplomatic solutions besides escalating? ...coming up with solutions. I mean, you have US officials traveling... The Middle East saying, you know, we don't want escalation. We have comments from the administration saying they don't want escalation. They contact the Iranians, say they don't want escalation. Every step they make is inevitably going to lead to escalation. And it's always that we can't ultimately do the one thing that we can't ultimately do. The world.
Calm things down for a little while and perhaps give us an opportunity to Think and decide what to do the one thing they could do is Is to get a ceasefire in Gaza. Telephone Netanyahu. Say to him, Look, we have to have a ceasefire in Gaza. The situation is dangerous. It's getting almost out of control. You must stop the fighting in Gaza. Then we'll speak to Iran, we'll say look we've got the ceasefire in Gaza, speak to the Houthis, speak to Hezbollah, let's calm down. The next. Netanyahu and on the Israeli government that might result in that kind of decision being Made and that kind of outcome being made. So they say they don't want escalation, but they're giving no reason to anybody to think that...
Escalation won't happen. I mean to say we will get to the Iranians, look we're going to attack you, but please don't respond because we're in Going to attack you a little and we don't want to attack you more and you know if you don't attack us Other, you know, we weren't... that is, I mean, that makes no sense in the context of the kind of conflict. We are in at the moment. I mean, it's… So I don't really see an outcome to this in those terms. John, can I come back to the point that you were making before? Because it's the one thing that I really do wonder whether we might eventually come to. We're saying that there is this change of feeling, change of opinion in the United States. People half of Biden's voting group think...
This you know what the Israelis are doing is genocidal and you were saying that if there's a major major crisis a huge conflict in the Middle East many people in the United States will might come round and say I hope I'm getting That they might say We don't want to be involved in any of this. What might that amount to? Up to, is it possible that the United States might say, well, this is so far out of control. So far beyond our control that the only thing we can really do is pull out.
If they do that, that will change the situation in the Middle East. It might actually open up possibilities. But are we anywhere close to that point? And is that something that anybody in Washington is prepared to consider? Any conceivable political figure or party or group in Washington might be prepared to consider? I ask this question because, you know, again… A few days ago, talk about pulling US troops out of Syria and Iraq and immediately a reaction saying, No, we've got to keep them down. Well, the taproot of the problem here is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what the United States has to do more than anything else. It's not so much pull out of the region. The United States has to basically treat Israel...
As a normal country and it has to tell the Israelis in no uncertain terms that Israeli-Palestinian conflict has got to be shut down and we don't have to do it today or tomorrow, but over the long term there has to be a two-state solution and we're going to move to that. To use our tremendous coercive leverage over you Israel to achieve that goal. And by the way... We think it's not only good for the United States and the rest of the region, we think it's good for you too, even though you don't. And that is... If there's any way of getting out of this mess that's it because again the tap root of the problem here is the israeli palestinian conflict. The problem that we face here in the United States, and you see it in Europe, in Britain, for example, Is that there is a powerful Israel lobby. It is an incredibly powerful lobby.
That makes it almost impossible for any president to put significant Pressure on Israel to do anything in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that the Israeli Don't want to do. People like Netanyahu think that they basically own the United States, that the United States cannot. Push them around because of the power of the lobby and they have been correct up to now. And the question is, Is that relationship where we give Israel a— Unconditional support. Unconditional support is that viable moving forward. Happening here, and you were of course expressing this, is that if you look at Biden's base and you Look at young people in the United States in general. There is a significant erosion in support for this.
Special relationship, this unconditional support, right? And the question is when will that manifest itself at the higher levels, right? That's one dimension and the... The other dimension, which you were just mentioning, is that this is getting to the point where it is very damaging to the American national. Interest. Right? The costs here are great. And if we're correct, the costs are great. And if we're correct, the cost of... Going to get greater over time, it may be regardless of the pressure from below, the people up top just conclude that we have to do something to change this. Situation and the lobby, the Israel lobby be damned. Do I think that's likely to happen? No, I'm not the best judge. Of that because I've written this article and book on the lobby with Steve Wolf and
Our views on that whole subject are probably somewhat skewed by the fact that we have spent so much time thinking about the issue. But I-- For what it's worth, don't see any significant change. And that's why I think we're in really deep trouble. United States and of course the West more generally moving forward. Well I also seen the video of Netanyahu actually Saying the same as you know that they shouldn't worry too much about America's opposition because they have all this is a bit older video, but you know, the lobby is strong so they're not gonna go against us and I also seen this video of an interview with Pelosi she says something The likes if the entire Congress will be burned to the ground, nothing was left. The only thing that would remain was this.
Fast support for Israel. So not that in national ideals or national interests, but Israel. So I don't doubt that it's strong, but I'm just wondering at some point reality will catch you. Up, it can be the election base, like SRI electoral base, for example, as you mentioned, I think 50% of Biden's voters considers this to be a genocide, but I think 70% wants an immediate ceasefire, a ceasefire at least. So how long can you ignore the voters? And also the changing distribution of power on the ground. I mean, the 90s are over, this idea that the whole region will just... By and not take any action. I think that's been proven now to be wrong just by the event. Over the past few months now. So I'm just wondering if it is sustainable and...
And again, it has some... I keep seeing this parallels to Ukraine because... Sometimes offering all the support in the world, it leads to their uncompromising position. And as you pointed out, I don't think what Israel is doing now is in their interest. So I think that should be the message. This is going against your interest. But again, see the same with Ukraine. They, you know, on the first day when Russia invaded, they said very clearly, the first day they reached that Zelensky, we're ready to talk, but we want neutrality. This is what we'll discuss. The Ukrainians or Zelensky responded again on the first days of invasion. We're willing to discuss... Neutrality, no preconditions, and then the Americans come in and say, Listen, there has to be... The next. Need to make a deal with the Russians. And this kind of leads to making poor decisions. So I think--
If something happens in the United States, it has to pull back a bit. Difficult choices will have to be made both in Tel Aviv and in Kiev. Again, I don't see that decision being taken voluntarily. I think it will be under pressure. Well, just you bring up you. Ukraine, if you marry the situation in Ukraine, which is not that similar from the situation in the Middle East, where the West is in deep trouble in Ukraine and it's in deep trouble in the Middle East, you would think that we would Step back and say, we have to reevaluate our theory of international politics that guides our policy. Something's not working here. You know, we have two disasters on our hands and if anything
And from the Western point of view, the American point of view in particular, the situation gets worse in both cases. Obviously we're doing something that is really wrong. You think we ought to reevaluate? This is the way I would approach it, and I'm sure you guys would too. Doesn't seem to be the way the United States thinks. We double down at every turn. And we've been doing this for years, and we've not fixed either one of these problems. As you said before, Alexander is-- We keep saying we don't want to escalate, we don't want war, but we do want to bomb you. This was the message in Yemen. This appears to be the message.
The US. Conflict. So sorry for interrupting it twice, Alexander. No, all I wanted to say was that the United States, which has been a great power now for a fair amount of time, Time. I mean 80 years it's been the most powerful country. It always seems to me it has real difficulties sometimes. Understanding where its actual interests lie. It gets itself into these fights, which it seems to have tremendous difficulty extricating
Self from. And what it tends to do – and you see this in Israel to an extreme degree, and you see this also in Ukraine – is that in its sort of allies, or client state if you want to call them that, it tends to back those who take the most extreme positions, undercutting Those within those states who might have taken more moderate and realistic ones in it Talking about Ukraine. I mean, I've been following Ukraine very closely for years now. Every time there's been... Argument within Ukraine between the extreme heartliners and those who say well, let's try and find some kind of solution the people who are the extreme
Liners are able to say, Why should we seek a solution, a moderate solution? Why should we make concessions when we can get our maximalist objectives? And the result is it leads the United States into the kind of problems that we now have. The Ukraine could have been a country very... Closely aligned to the United States. It could have been a country probably eventually joining the European Union. And all of that could have been achieved if certain concessions, internal concessions, and concessions to the Russians He made, which, you know, not bringing Ukraine into NATO, not arranging for, you know, American bases to be established.
Giving some rights to Russians, allowing people in, you know, Russians to speak their own language, that kind of thing, which would not have affected the US position at all. The US seemed unable to see this and of course with Israel it's been much much worse. To be a peace movement in Israel. I remember it. But again, why argue for peace? If you are an Israeli, when nett... you know, the hardliners can always say, well, we don't need to give anything because we got the... Backing of the Americans so we can have it all.
I think that when the Cold War ended and the United States emerged, certainly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, it's by far the most powerful country on We concluded that we were morally and politically virtuous, but furthermore... That we had this big stick, this military, that we could do all sorts of wondrous things with. It was really, it was magical in what it... Could do. And you remember the first Gulf War in 1991, which was a stunning victory for the West and the United States in particular. It looked like that was true that the... United States could run around the world and do pretty much what it wanted. You know that very famous statement by Ward Acton that power corrupts and absolute power
Absolutely. You do have a sense that that applies in the American case, that their thinking was corrupted. You said, Alex, that the United States was not very good at figuring out what its interests are. I think that's absolutely true. But it was also not very good at figuring out how to achieve those interests, you know, or support those interests once it identified what they were. So we were bad on both counts and we've gotten ourselves into so many wars or so many there's so Cases where we've used military force where it has turned out disastrously. You say to yourself, there's just something wrong here. If you think about Afghanistan, you think about Iraq, 2003. You think about Libya, you think about Syria, you think about what's going on with regard to Yemen now.
Is very long and you know if they attack Iran as we were talking about a few minutes ago this is not Going to have a happy ending. And what I really believe is that Americans... In particular, more so than Europeans, but the West in general, but especially the Americans, I have this unrealistic view of what you can do with military force. I'm a realist. I believe that the... Balance of power matters. I believe power is an important ingredient of success. A successful foreign policy, but it's just very important to understand. That there are real limits to what you can do with military force. And that's what I'm saying. That's what we're seeing both in the Ukraine war and in the Middle East. I just wanted to say, John, that in our very first program we were talking about Ukraine. I seem to remember that we were talking about the fact that there seemed to be some people in the United States, or at least I thought there were, who were...
Reaching out to the Russians, talking about settlement freezes and things of that kind. I seem to remember that you were completely skeptical about the fact that that was going to get anywhere. I think we can now see definitely that that has got exactly nowhere. Doesn't seem to be any real interest when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine in finding any diplomatic solution at all that I can say. And I think this is exactly right. It was, I remember you saying this isn't going to happen. And well, it hasn't happened. You cannot underestimate how hawkish, how wild and crazy the foreign policy establishment is in the United States, how little interest they have in restraint. It's really quite remarkable.
I think if you're a foreign leader, and you're in an adversarial relationship with the United States, you're going to think worst case. And Putin, this was his big mistake. Putin actually... Actually trusted the United States. That was a fatal mistake. And he now admits that that was a mistake. As you've pointed out on a number of occasions on your show, Alexander, and the end result. All he got himself into a lot of trouble. To continue on Ukraine, given what we're saying here, this does not portend good things for the future in Europe in general, but especially with regard to... Ukraine. I believe the Russians will win an ugly victory and you'll get a frozen conflict at some point. But...
The Americans will not roll over and play dead. The Americans will go to great lengths over time to do everything. Think they can to undermine Russia, to undermine Russian control. Those areas of Ukraine that they have annexed, and the potential for escalation. In places like the Arctic, the Black Sea, Moldova, and so forth and so on will be very great. There's going to be no end of trouble in Ukraine moving forward. Forward or in Europe, Eastern Europe moving forward, just as good as that's going to be the case in the greater Middle East. I see this development as well. This is why I feel since the coup in 2014 in Kiev it kind of Follow the same model as the conflict in Gaza. There's only this escalation. That was all those.
Opportunities to find a settlement, the mean score in early 2022. But instead, we have this escalation, I think even after the Ukraine war is over. Even if there is a settlement, you will have new conflicts. Obviously, I think for countries like that, we will have to be more careful. Like Russia, it's traditional, throughout its history since the collapse of Kievan Rus, its main weakness has always been the lack of access to reliable maritime corridors. So on the west, of course, it's got these three seas. It's got up in the north, it's got... The Baltic Sea, it's got the Black Sea, and you have to remember that this has always been... What Americans thought when they want to contain the Russians and the British before them, even the Swedes. Was it back in 1617 or 18 when they had the Treaty of Stolba, when they cut off the Russians' access to the Baltic Sea? These three C's have always been where you want to cut off the Russians, be it the Crimean War of the 1853.
This is also a key objective. If you look at the language of NATO now, this is... I think where you will have most likely an escalation. We're talking about obviously getting Ukraine and Crimea was going to make... It will be. NATO lake. You know, the leaders in Poland and the Baltic states are saying, Oh, with the Swedes and the Finns, it will be a Baltic lake, even though Kaliningen... Is right there and Russia will not capitulate. I see the same in this country. I remember writing an article in the paper here about four years ago when the Norwegians were discussing opening military bases for the Americans up in the North. They said, Oh, we're allies.
Don't want anyone that our interest might not overlap completely. And again, now it becomes very evident that this is going to be an effort to... To challenge and balance, if not contain the Russians up in the Arctic as well. So we're going to... After all the main maritime corridors. And the idea that the Russians are just going to capitulate and say sorry, it seems very strange to me. And that's just the... Maritime corridors. You also have territories. Moldova is obviously a... Ready to blow up at any time if if anyone would go after Transnistria, you know, we have problems Possible conflicts over Georgia. It's just with the Western Balkans. Kosovo is not stable, Bosnia is not stable. There are so many avenues for further conflicts.
Want to continue this after Ukraine. So I just, I am not sure if it's Possible to put Humpty back together, if you will. Don't forget a color revolution in Belarus. That's another potential disaster, right? Because Lukashenko's not forever, and we will surely, the United States, try to To foster some sort of color revolution there. And Belarus is a piece of real estate that is of tremendous strategic importance. Hard to believe. By the way, we've not even talked about East Asia, where there's the possibility of the States and the Chinese getting into a war over the South China Sea, the East China Sea, or Taiwan. It's really quite remarkable sort of where we are today.
And by the way, just talking about the Arctic, the Russians were long interested in keeping the Chinese out of the Arctic as much as possible. But they now know that given they're outnumbered up there, they want to bring the Chinese up there with them. So it might not-- Just the Russians, but it might be the Chinese as well that we're dealing with in the Arctic. What has also been created is a bloc. It's an anti-American bloc, which there needn't be. I mean, again, I can remember, you know, at one time in the early 2000s, Russian officials saying, you know, our ideal optimal position is one of equidistance. We want to be good friends with the Chinese, but we want to also maintain our very good and profitable relationship. With the Europeans because we've been so close to the Europeans for so long and it's where we make most of
Money and where we like to go shopping. Well, I mean, I don't want to make it too cynical, but... A lot of that going on, and we've gone there from equidistance. To one where now they see things, the Russians see things very much as being We have to be friends with China and we have to work with the Chinese. We're conducting naval exercises Exercises along the Chinese were sharing military technologies with the Chinese. And it didn't have to be this way. Yeah. John mentioned, oh sorry. Just very quickly Ben, just... Piggyback on what Alexander said in going to the nuclear issue in Iran. We've always had help from
The Soviet Union/Russia in keeping Iran non-nuclear because the Russians wanted a non-nuclear Iran. What you said about us pushing the Iranians and the Russians together. If the Iranians... And it's decided to go down the nuclear road. I don't think we can count on the Russians, given what you just said, Alexander, to put much pressure. On the Iranians not to go nuclear. And this is not good news for us. And for the Israelis, this is a disaster, right? This is just more evidence, in my opinion, of the Israelis pushing forward policies. That are not in their interest. Picking a fight with Iran and getting the United States to whack Iran is going to lead to a To a nuclear-armed Iran in all likelihood, and that is definitely not in Israel's interest. And again, I think the Russians will not be a real blocking mechanism.
In that case because of what you Alexander were saying. I think it's quite mistaken, well come the mistake. Taken the assumption that if we make a grand deal for the Russians that they would perhaps sell out the Iranians or even the Chinese. I think we often believe... Because that was true in the past. Because in the past, the key objective for Russia, the overwhelming strategic objective was to integrate… Into Europe, create this greater Europe, if you will. At least that was before 2014. That end, you know, their partnership with China or Iran could be used as a currency almost, you know, make themselves more attractive to the West. So that's something they can bargain with. But now that they made this decisive commitment to research. Structure or reorient their economy to the east. These are now their strategic partners. They're not going to do in the past.
Put sanctions on the Iranians, they're not going to turn on them anymore. They're not going to turn on the Chinese either. And just... Quickly on the comment on the Arctic, I think this is also... You know, one assumes in the realist policies that, you know, the goal of states shouldn't be to maximize power, should be to maximize security, which means you maximize power. Power until you get the pushback and then, yeah, if we find agreements with others. I think definitely less is more because now that with Finland and Sweden joining NATO, Look in the Arctic. All the other Arctic states now are NATO countries. The Arctic Council, which was supposed to be divorced from geopolitics, suspended. It's a dialogue and the meetings with the Russians. So it's not even operating as it should. Now you see, well, what is Russia going to do? It's going to allow itself to be isolated in the Arctic where it effectively is half the Arctic.
You see what they've done. They've gone to the Chinese, asked them to help develop Darkdig with them. I'm going to India, the Arab states, Southeast Asia and all these countries it was previously concerned about letting into the Arctic is... Are being welcomed with open arms. So they're trying to some extent, in my opinion, to create now Eurasian Artics, where they're not dependent on cooperating with Western states. So it's a... It's just this assumption that the harder we push, the greater our interest. Time and time again we keep undermining our own interests because we're not the only game in town anymore. You can diversify away from us. This is why I'm very critical of this direction we're taking. No disagreement from me.
I just wanted to add to this that if we're talking about Russian relations with Iran, it should not have been difficult if you wanted to keep these two countries. You know, not, I say, you know, in conflict with each other but, you know, at a distance from each other. Shouldn't it be difficult to do it? Russian-Iranian relations have gone back very far. They've mostly been rather difficult. I mean, there have been many Russian-Iranian wars that people are not aware of, much as the Eastern Caucasus used to be Iranian. There was a time in 1907 when Russia, the Russian Empire and the British Empire, they Decided to divide Iran into spheres of influence, there was a very difficult period just after
World War, when the Soviet Union looked like it was interested in annexing... Iranian Azerbaijan. And of course during the Second World War, the Soviet Union and Britain fought... The war against Iran and the Soviets actually occupied Tehran. This history, which, by the way, in Iran is well known. Should not have been difficult if you i'm not saying make them enemies of each other but you could have positioned Yourself in a way where you made each of them more your friend than they might have been with each other. If you wanted to pursue that kind of foreign policy, which perhaps as a great power you would want to do.
But now, of course, what we have is that Iran is supplying weapons to Russia, drones, which Russia is using in the war in Ukraine. And coming back to the points that you were making, John, I can remember a couple of years ago, a Russian defence minister, a dead Russian. The Israeli Supplied long-range aircraft fighter jets to Iran. And now, of course, they've agreed to do precisely that. Gone from a situation of, you know, prickly relationship to one where these two countries are now cooperating with each other in the military field. And they're both potentially important powers. Russia, a great power, not as powerful as the US.
United States or China, but nonetheless, a great power. Middle Eastern terms, certainly a great power. And Iran, and you could substitute the word China for Iran. And talk about china and russia until almost exactly the same story with a few details changed Video by Joe Biden from 1997. He's speaking, I think it was, at the Atlantic Council. You know, he's saying how we're gonna expand NATO and you know, the Russians of course, they don't like it They feel betrayed and isolated but you know I told them what are they going to do? Where else are they going to go? Are they going to go, have they have to adjust? What else can they do? Are they going to go... To China and he mocks the whole proposition that that's even an option.
And then, you know, making another joke, you suggest, well, if China doesn't work, why don't you go to Iran? You know, maybe that would work. And the whole crowd kind of laughs at how ridiculous this is, because there is no alternative. It's the West or nothing. So the worst deal we give the Russians will be the only deal. This is kind of the NATO pitch which didn't refute the idea that Russia would fiercely oppose it but instead say, who cares what they say. I'd like to say I kind of very much agree with what Alexandra said as well because the path for Iran And Russia has been, it was unlikely to a large extent because of this historical conflicts, also early 1800s, by the way, in the 1820s, all these conflicts they had, but keeping In
Ability of building on this limited area of cooperation to building a larger partnership. We have similar sanctions on both countries after 2014 where they see... More and more interest in outlining and cooperating. And then of course, the war now in Ukraine. And I think it's-- To look at the difference between Israel and Iran because the Russians have always been careful not to alienate the Israelis, but in Ukraine. The Iranians are sending drones and weapons to support. Meanwhile, the Israelis sent trainers to Ukraine to help fight Russia. To kill Russians. Partnership is also cemented with an economic component because now they're developing this international north-south transportation corridor in which... Or linking Russia with Iran and China and sorry, and India, this will
Put Iran in the center. So this whole idea of linking the region together through the... Through the Caspian and make it less China centric. All of this is putting Iran... At the center. So Iran is very quickly becoming a very, very strategic. Partner of Russia. preventa... It or at least made it less intense. But this is almost impressive how... How we have undermined our own interest in making enemies out of all of these countries and pushing them together. It's very unnecessary as well. No question. So, as... Before we start rounding off, any final thoughts, Alexander or John?
Well, I have to say, I'm becoming actually, over the last few weeks, more pessimistic. Following the situation in the Middle East with growing dread and I find the same Ukraine by the way. Had some hopes, as I said, in the altar that we were going to try and move towards at least some... Some kind of, you know, understanding with the Russians. It seems to me that whatever effort was made then, it's come to absolutely nothing, exactly as John predicted. We have yours at Burrell now saying we must go on supporting the Ukraine, the literacy A victory which nobody believes he can any longer achieve and I think...
It's exactly going to end up in the way that John said, an ugly peace with the West, the United States doing everything they can to disrupt it, talking about supporting an insurgency against the Russians in Ukraine. Train, doing all kinds of things like this, which…and all the other things that people were saying, the Arctic, wherever. It looks to me as if we're going to be trapped now in a very, very long time period of confrontation. Adaptation probably even more difficult to manage than the original Cold War was. I mean, that's the way it's looking to me now. Of driving forces behind this situation is the fact that no Europeans, West Europeans or East Europeans or Americans die. Right? It just involves giving Ukraine money, right? And the United...
States in the West more generally, we're talking about incredibly rich countries that can afford to continue funding Ukraine forever. It's not that big a deal. But it's the Ukrainians who are doing all the fighting and dying. In a demographic death spiral to begin with, right? And this is just further worsening that problem, or worsening that problem. This is just horrendous what's happening. Into Ukraine. And we just continue to push the Ukrainians to keep fighting. On the assumption that they're bleeding the Russians white. First of all, why do we want to bleed the Russians white? But furthermore... It's not strategically necessary at all. And furthermore, it's disastrous for Ukraine.
So I think at some point the Ukrainians have to figure out that this is a losing strategy and that their best strategy is to cut a deal. With the Russians now and get the best deal they possibly can. Involves alienating the West, especially the United States, all for the better. They can become neutral and they can abandon all this crazy talk about joining NATO and they can probably Probably get a better deal from the Russians than they would get if they continue to talk Having a security relationship with the West. So I would just say at this point in time, when I look at the Ukraine war the West and especially the Americans they're hopeless right the only hope Of ever shutting this down rests with the Ukrainians, realizing what a terrible
Situation they're in and what is the only one viable way to get out, which is to... Negotiated deal with the Russians where yes, you're going to lose a lot of territory and You're going to lose your security connection with the West. But it is a lot better than continuing this war forever and ever. And ending up completely destroying your country. The lack of incentives to stop this fight. And I think that's a problem of a proxy war because as long as we're fighting the Russians with Ukrainians, what are the... The United States. The US, well mainly then the Republicans, to support more funding. You know.
His pitch was quite remarkable. It's very similar to what Lindsey Graham and the rest of them have been arguing, but he effectively sits... Interview and he's saying you know this is a bit this has been a very great deal is very for very cheap Or little money, the United States has been able to destroy and degrade the... The Russian military. And also at the same time, because we're spending most of the weapons buying American arms, it's Creating jobs here. So this is, well, first of all, it's not just very cynical that, you know, not even mentioning the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians dying and the Russians, of course, but it was completely. Completely devoid of any strategy. I mean, we're recognizing that the Ukrainians are losing, losing very badly, that the Russians And instead of having course correction, the idea is at least we're killing Russians and we're making some money. I mean, it's not a strategy. And given that it's...
Everything that's on the line is just, and they still claim the moral high ground, is Continues to shock me, to be honest. - Well, just very quickly. I think a lot of our strategy in the West is based on myths, just as our strategy in the Middle East is based on myths. Remember, we talked about... The fact that there's this myth out there that Iran is the taproot of all the problems It's not Israel and its relationship with the Palestinians. With regard to Ukraine, we have this myth. Deeply embedded in the Western psyche, which is that Russia is an imperialist power. It wants to conquer all of Ukraine. Conquer Eastern Europe, then it wants to conquer Western Europe. We have to get ready to fight World War III because the Russians are so aggressive. This story bears no resemblance to reality, but lots of people believe it.
If you believe that story, then bleeding the Russians white begins to make sense. Like we do, that the Russians are not interested in conquering all of Ukraine. They're interested in conquering other countries is ludicrous. If you believe that, then the idea of bleeding the Russians white makes them more dangerous. Absolutely no sense, and in fact it's counterproductive because it perpetuates this war. Are and it's in nobody's interest to perpetuate this war. It's certainly not in Ukraine's interest, but we haven't even talked about the Europeans. And bad news for Europe. Europeans should want to shut this one down. But no, they don't. Got to believe the Russians white. So the conventional wisdom goes. But anyway, the point that I'm making to you. Is we have these myths that are firmly embedded in the mainstream in the West that are really counterproductive.
For moving forward in a smart way either in the Middle East or in Ukraine. I completely agree again. And the Russian myth, the Russians, either they're very weak and they're dangerous or... Or they're out to conquer us because they're so strong. We never seem to have, we never seem to find a balance between the two. And it's been a problem in European politics. It's a myth that has distorted European politics. Ever since the early 19th century. You can see it, you go, you read British newspapers of the 1820s and 1830s and you go all the way up to the crime in-wall, you will find exactly the same language. About Russia there, as you do now. It's most strange, actually, how it's the one thing that--
Never seems to change this abiding conviction. That the Russians are somehow apt to subjugate the whole of Europe if they give them the chance to. You want to remember, just as my final point, that before February 22nd, 2014, when the Ukraine crisis broke out. We thought, and Glenn was making this point before, that we could shove NATO expansion down the Russian's throne as we could. Had done in 1999 and 2004. Why? Because the Russians were so weak. We just shove it right down their throat. Then when the crisis breaks out in February 2014. A day later we're making the argument that they're the second coming of the Wehrmacht and Putin is Adolf Hitler and we have to do everything we can to deter this growth
Going juggernaut. What happened is we just flipped, you know, In ways that are consistent with your point about weak Russia versus powerful Russia overnight. We did it for political reasons, of course, not because it had anything to do with it. Bearing on reality. This is common in the discourse at least from the early 19th century this hopelessly weak Versus overwhelming. So on one hand, they're stealing our toilets and on the other hand, they might conquer us all tomorrow. There's no sanity. In terms of a middle ground. I just want to have a last, maybe it's a bit too big questions, but it's about my last question. Deterrence because I think that what seems to be a common theme in all of the current conflict.
Like this. And it seemed to me that every country is sufficiently deterred. I mean, no country in their right mind wants a country... On the war with the United States. This would be quite suicidal. But often it seems that we're conflating this term of deterrence with... Capitulation or at least accepting immunity for the hegemon because in Palestine I guess it seems that deterrence means Palestinians should not fight back under apartheid or ethnic cleansing. And with Iraq... They should be deterred from supporting countries and groups which are their allies, while which the West is trying to weaken. And... Um. And in terms of deterring Russia, of course, again, it's ridiculous to suggest, as John said, that Russia wants to invade NATO. So I think they are the turn, but when talking about the turns, you know, is this...
That we should be able to attack Russian territory and Russia should be deterred from retaliating. such as what's-- Happening now, we're attacking inside Russia, but they have to be deterred not to respond. Because this was also the problem. When Russia invaded the Ukraine. I mean, you can't really deter Russia from invading Ukraine when the Is NATO's incursion into Ukraine, which is seen as an existential threat. And I guess you can extend this logic to China to some extent, because we want to... Terror China from invading Taiwan, but again, China would likely only invade Taiwan if its attempts to secede, and the militarization of Taiwan is what would embolden them. Taiwan with US support to move towards the session. So, it's a positive. To deter China from reacting to taking away its territory. Taiwan that is. I mean, I guess my...
Point is, have you two thought about how we might think about deterrence in a more, maybe an honest way? Like what can we deter in? Possible to deter when there's not an acceptable status quo on the table? Sorry, I came a bit too late. I think that the secret of deterrence goes back to the point that John was making about the balance of power. Deterrence is a vital element to maintaining a balance of power. But of course it's not... A situation... they're not talking about deterrence anymore. When they use deterrence in the way that you are saying, it's not about deterring your adversary, it's about dominating your adversary, which is not what deterrence...
Classically, you know, as I always understood it to be during the Cold War. That's not what deterrence is. Deterrence at that time was, you had, you know, various great powers – the Soviet Union, the United States – that each had their tremendous military power, and that meant that each side knew that there was something that they couldn't do with respect to the other, but that didn't prevent them understanding and working with each other and other things. And that was balance of power politics. And that's…that is, in my opinion, proper, real, realistic…
Big deterrence. What we are talking about isn't ultimately deterrence at all. Coming from a slightly different angle, not to disagree, but a slightly different angle. Sometimes you build up military forces for deterrence purposes. During the Cold War, NATO built up all these military forces to deter deterrence. Per the Soviet Union, right? And I'm sure the Soviets built up the Warsaw Pact to deter NATO. We never had a war, thank goodness, and deterrence worked. There's another kind of deterrence. Involves using military force against an adversary. Deter that adversary from taking further steps. This is Iran today. About whacking Iran to deter it and it's
Malicious from attacking American troops in Syria or Iraq anymore, right? About the Israelis and how they have dealt with Gaza over time. Once in a while, they do what they call mowing the lawn. They go in and they launch a massive air campaign that lasts a Days or weeks against the Palestinians. It's designed to deter the Palestinians. Palestinians from doing what they did on October 7th. You talk about using military force to foster deterrence. Is the assumption is that when you whack the other side, the other side will throw up its hands and say, Deterred or I quit. But what happens in almost all these cases is the Israelis found out on a Cobra 7.
We found out what the movies and we will find out where the random we were in is that. Cases, the other side doesn't roll over and play dead. It retaliates and you get no deterrence. In fact, you get escalation, which is Which is what you're trying to avoid, right? So, ham! In this day and age, I'm very wary anytime somebody talks about using military force to deter the other side Because it tends to have the opposite effect. But if you're talking about just building Enough formidable military forces to prevent the other side from attacking. That works much of the time and is a much wiser policy.
No, you're probably right on this, but this would also be very unique to a hegemonic system because you can't have mutual deterrence with the Soviets and Americans deterring from attacking each other is one thing, but it If there's a hegemonic system, the hegemon will by definition often not accept to be deterred. But, no, I... I couldn't agree more. I think I just think these concepts are thrown around very loosely. The again when we talk about the terrain countries like Russia or Iran. It just seems to me they already are deterred, but of course they also have their job to deter their adversary. There is so. No, just very quickly, the Iranians, I believe, are deterred. The Iranians have made it clear they do not want to pick a fight with the United States.
And they've also made it clear that they don't control these militias to anywhere near the extent that the Americans think. I think the Iranians are by and large deterred, especially when it comes to picking a fight with the United States. But if the United States whacks them because it wants to deter Iran from having any connection to those militias. That's not going to work and deterrence is going to fail and you're going to have retaliation. You'll get an escalatory spiral, and God knows where that'll end. So we keep ending on very pessimistic notes, but maybe you have missed the comment, Alexander, before we... No, I mean, I think this is absolutely... if we talk about the Middle East, Iran indeed absolutely is deterred by Israel as well, by the way.
They have no, I mean I don't believe that they have any plan to attack Israel because they know that it will be suicidal. For them. So this has never, in my opinion, been their objective. They have many other objectives in the Middle East, some of them perhaps not objectives that the United States or the Western powers would want to see them achieve. But certainly they are restrained, the Iranians are restrained in what they do by the realities of America. Can indeed be Israeli power. But we don't seem to be restrained in the same way, and that's the problem. - I agree, and I would just say it was... Very enlightening talking to you two gentlemen. And the only upside of the gloomy picture ahead is That we will have many more opportunities to talk about these issues. Yeah. Thank you, Tom.
And I hope to see you and Stephen Walt do something together on this whenever you two match up the academic. World shakes, you know, so it's sort of following. Anyways, thanks to both of you. And yeah, thanks for anyone listening.
Transcript generated on 2024-02-08.