Mahmoud Sabit at PostGlobal

Mahmoud Sabit

Cairo, Egypt

Mahmoud Sabit is a historian and an authority on Egypt’s 19th century political reforms. Sabit also works as a writer and producer of historical documentaries. Close.

Mahmoud Sabit

Cairo, Egypt

Mahmoud Sabit is a historian and an authority on Egypt’s 19th century political reforms. more »

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Europe Fears The Unintended Consequences

For Europeans, war is usually defined as diplomacy by other means. The present U.S. administration has managed to re-define diplomacy as the inconvenient but necessary window-dressing to justify military action.

Europe has a long history in empire building, and is well aware of the shortcomings of policies that rely on dominance rather than balance. This imperial experience, which spanned a couple of centuries, has also enabled the Europeans to develop a better understanding of different cultures and different peoples.

The recent history of aggressive U.S. foreign policy which intimidates rather than persuades, which threatens rather than reaches compromise, which imposes a diktat rather than reaching a solution, has not been successful. These policies have caused fear and consternation amongst European publics and governments alike. They are perhaps more aware of how such policies may provoke the unintended consequences which Europeans have suffered from in the past. Whilst the European nations generally agree about the strategic necessity of controlling international events, they are in disagreement as to the tactical implementation that the U.S. has exercised in the pursuit of strategic goals.

More than anything, Europe fears a total failure of U.S. policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East peace process, and the containment of nuclear proliferation. They fear that ultimately the U.S. may withdraw its involvement from such global issues in a counter policy of semi-isolationism from foreign involvement. This would be to their detriment. Such a consequence would impose on Europe the onerous task of cleaning up America's mess, and rectifying the balance.

This is a task made more difficult by other forces seeking to fill the vacuum of influence that such a U.S. failure will open. Both Russia and China see an opportunity to fill that vacuum. The region of the Middle East, Iran and South-West Asia in general is for them an important area, geographically close and extremely valuable as a source of strategic energy resources. It is also in China and Russia's interest to maintain stability and curb the potential for extremism that would certainly affect their own nations.

As to Iran, Europe would obviously prefer a nuclear free Iran; they are aware of the potential for Iran to project their interests into the Middle East. They are also aware of the prospect for creative diplomacy in solving these problem, which would result in Iran not resorting to the development of nuclear weapons to rectify the prevailing strategic imbalance. At the same time, Europe, with its long experience in the region, is aware that the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a central cause of the increasing animosity and emerging extremism in the Arab and Muslim world.

Therefore the Europeans consider America's pursuance of aggressive policies in Iraq and Iran, rather than making serious attempt to address the more salient problems of the Middle East, as fundamentally flawed policy. Because of such attitudes and the higher potential for failure, Europe considers the U.S. more dangerous than Iran in the pursuit of its national interest.

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