Olivier Roy at PostGlobal

Olivier Roy

Paris, France

Olivier Roy is a senior researcher at the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research). He currently lectures at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (IEP) in Paris and has acted as consultant to the French Foreign Ministry (Center for Analysis and Forecast) since 1984. Olivier Roy was also a consultant with UNOCA on Afghanistan in 1988, special OSCE representative to Tajikistan (August 1993 to February 1994) and headed the OSCE Mission for Tajikistan from February to October 1994. He is also the author of Globalized Islam, published by Columbia University Press. Close.

Olivier Roy

Paris, France

Olivier Roy is a senior researcher at the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research). more »

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Shortsighted Strategies

Paris, France -- The problem is that none of the present actors in the Middle East have a coherent, long-term and positive strategy for achieving peace. Determination to use or resist violence is a motto, not a political program....

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This is not original but worth emphasis. Iran is not just putting on a demonstration. Iran is engaged in a process which must be bringing quiet desperation to the Sunni nations of the middle east. An AP headline was "Hezbollah (Iran's client) Takes Control of Lebanon". Hamas is Iran financed. Many Shiite militias in Iraq are supported by Iran. Iran is in a position to exploit Shiite minorities in countries like Saudi Arabia. Iran is working on a nuclear weapon.


Post reader:

What are the chances that Lebanon's government and/or its other parties will be able to convince Hizbullah to pull back from the border (Israel's stated reason for continuing its operations)? Michael Young of Beirut's Daily Star wrote (see PostGlobal main page) that the government and non-Shi'i organizations lack the muscle - he explicitly referred to weapons - to do so. Will Syria feel pressure to rein in Hizbullah?

It seems as though Israel won't stop its retaliation until it gets its desired outcome. It also seems as though Hamas and Hizbullah both would prefer for Israel's the fighting to continue, in order to keep the publicity and the world's sympathy going. Israelis feel pressured by unprecedented attacks across its border with a sovereign nation, which hit cities never before reached by Hizbullah rockets. The retaliatory operations, though, produce dramatic images of civilian death and of damaged infrastructure.

Syria and Egypt are sometimes pressured by Europe and the rest of the Quartet to rein in and/or intercede with Hizbullah and Hamas, respectively. Will the media reports influence global public opinion enough that the governments feel safe in staying inactive?

O. Twersky:

The U.S. doesn't just face a crisis in the Middle East. The U.S. faces a foreign policy dilemma. We no longer have friends and enemies. We only have "trading partners." And whether those "trading partners" are responsible stake-holders in the world no longer seems to enter into our political calculations.

The situation in the Middle East persists because the leaders of other nations such as Russia and China have no financial or political interest in truly resolving the situation. And the U.S. treats these "other stake holders" as if they are making responsible policy decisions.

But the leadership in China and Russia clearly has no interest in either empowering their people or acting in the world's best interest. And in truth, they are just providing countries such as Iran, Syria and North Korea with a political umbrella because these nations also give them political coverage while acting as their proxies.

As a result, the U.S. will never make headway towards resolving the Middle East crisis or any other world crisis because the U.S. is approaching these negotiations as if these other "stake holders" are its allies.

In fact, the U.S. has not entered into any nuclear disarmament talks with either China or Russia in over a decade--although China continuously increases its arsenal and Russia has actively sold the technology to places such as Iran.

In the meantime, we effectively have also legitimize despotic governments and religious fanatics who rule through fear and hate.

We now need a foreign policy that recognizes these realities. We need to approach these negotiations from the perspective that these nations are not responsible stake-holders and therefore, they have made the U.N. an ineffective body.

An international coalition might be able to reach a short-term accord, but the price will be further political legitimacy for these rogue nations, which are manipulating and distorting the entire world's economic and political landscape.

In fact, the U.N. is home to many of these nations.

The obvious long-term solution is to educate and empower the citizens in all of these nations so that they can choose responsible leaders. However, we cannot educate their citizens while recognizing their current leaders' "right to rule." They first need to learn that their government is not acting in their best economic or spiritual interest.

Given the stakes, the U.S. will still have to make significant political concessions to resolve the current situations in North Korea and the Middle East. But the U.S. will not be able to negotiate a successful resolution unless it recognizes that these other nations, who are our supposed allies, do not share our desire for world stability. And as parties in these negotiations, they actually belong on the other side of the table.

But while we have sacrificed our ideals for cheap products from political despots and oil from religious fanatics, there is still time for salvation. The key is for our political leaders to stop confusing the situation by giving our citizens the impression that these nations are our allies or that the U.N. can bring about a peaceful resolution.

The U.S. desires world stability because the nation was built on the notion that government is "by the people" and "for the people." These nations are not "of people" and "for the people." These nations are led by self-serving political and religious machines, some of which also aspire to world domination and are guided by false sense of destiny.

The time for political correctness is over. We once thought that freedom and peace were worth fighting and dying for... not because they guaranteed economic success... but because they ensured a standard of living that made life worthwhile.

Do we no longer have the stomach to defend these ideals? If so, we indeed will leave our children a sad legacy and an even bleaker future.


Palestinian leaders are not interested in a "poitical program". This has been offered too many times already, most recently with the Oslo attempt and the Israeli unilateral attempts to offer the Palestinains a border in Gaza and eventually a state. What is needed is not a political program, but emotional training, with jail time for Palestinian boys who fail to learn. The bad boys need to learn to count to ten before killing Jews, to learn to break bread and play football and music with the enemy. Western efforts to help should be exclusively in the realm of education for peace. Help can only come from the bottom up, since the leaders are so hopeless. The only hope is to educate the populace to the extent that they throw these jokers out on their corrupt, useless rear ends.


your comment that iran wants to keep things tense in the mideast to show america what an oil crisis would feel like, is a bit misspoken.
the united states has been involved in an oil crisis for the past three decades. it began when elitist groups like DOW...DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE...THE SIERRA CLUB...and other groups that call themselves environmentalists stopped independent oil wildcatters from looking for oil. america has great oil reserves offshore near santa barbara, calif. and in alaska, but because of the power of special interest groups with powerful political bases, companies cannot drill for oil. we keep buying it from our 'friends' in the Mideast...AND THOSE FRIENDS ARE GROWING FEWER EVERY DAY. give the american free enterprise system a chance to go back to work and watch the smoke fly. at the same time, please, fellow citizens, let us find a true leader who is worthy of our support. he would be a man of the people, a man or woman dedicated to serving and leading, rather than ruling. we are in a critical situation that is as serious as the civil war that nearly destroyed our country, the cuban missile crisis and the events leading up to the start of world war ii. isn't it time the citizens got serious about saving what is left of america's prestige and honor, not to mention our fabled nation?


not a terrorist:

You might be the first French academic i have seen that doesn't take a hardline pro-terrorist view.

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