William Pfaff

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de diciembre de 2008. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

A fundamental theme of Israeli propaganda — and virtually its sole theme under the governments of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — has been that anti-Semitism is responsible for the growing criticism of or hostility toward Israel and its policies expressed in Europe and the United States (especially among college students and teachers, and liberal intellectuals generally).

Netanyahu has beaten this drum constantly in his campaign for his own and the Likud Party’s re-election in the parliamentary election that will take place in mid-March.

This is a fallacy. Much of what he calls anti-Semitism is simply justified outrage at Israel, and not only that of Muslims.…  Seguir leyendo »

The recent excitement in Paris produced an occasion of great surprise to an American observer, certainly to one who witnessed the transformation fear exacted from America’s governing elite by the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In France, the jihad killings last week produced a colossal reaction that was not one of fear at all.

The “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” of Americans’ past condescension, turned out by the hundreds of thousands Wednesday afternoon in Paris’ Place de la Republique and rendezvous points in dozens of cities and towns across the country to shout their defiance of jihadists, murderers and what should be done to the whole lot of them when caught, and applauding the thousands of policemen who suddenly appeared in the streets, barricading roads and exit/entries to Paris, and poking into the contents of cars, Metros, trains, concierge’s lodges, apartment lobbies, and the parcels, briefcases, and purses of anyone who looked funny.…  Seguir leyendo »

The bad habit with which the United States was left by victory in the Cold War was to believe that the war had been a-zero sum game, which is to say that whoever won, won. They were now and forever Number One, the leader in whatever international situation demanded solution.

Islamic State? Stand aside — the U.S. will send bombers and lead a coalition. Ebola? U.S. special forces and military hospitals are on the way!

These don’t in fact solve the problems, either the Islamic State or Ebola, or the rise in Taliban activity in Afghanistan or car-bombings in Baghdad, but all of this contributes to the American self-image as the “indispensible” nation — as U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The U.S. has done enough damage in the Middle East

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice was questioned on NBC television about the American administration’s war strategy concerning the Islamic State, the aggressive and messianic self-proclaimed New Islamic Caliphate. Does a strategy exist? she was initially asked, since there are, to put it mildly, doubters among the crowd.

She firmly replied that there is indeed a strategy, which was stated by the president, which is to deter and ultimately “destroy” the Islamic State.

However, to destroy the Islamic State is not a strategy; it is an objective. The strategy is what gets the new international coalition (a doubtful quantity thus far) formed by the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The war against Islamic State

The decision by U.S. President Barack Obama to wage air war against the Islamic State, while leading an as yet nebulous — militarily speaking — new coalition of Arab and other ground forces, against what claims to be the New Islamic Caliphate still is swimming in a sea of confusion and doubt.

What does he think will be accomplished? Who is going to fight this war (rather than just bomb it)? History says that an asymmetric war has never been won by air power alone.

Moreover, is anyone sure who the players really are? Turkey still is in an ambiguous position although defending its own crucial border, across which jihad volunteers and Islamic State supplies have passed.…  Seguir leyendo »

The refusal of Hamas in Gaza to accept the peace talks proposed Monday by the Egyptian government, briefly accepted by the Netanyahu government in Israel, is — in the minds of the Hamas leadership — a victory over their enemy.

The Israeli bombardment of the Palestinians has proven a policy failure, demonstrated by the Israeli government’s resumption of bombing. The Israelis tried to get an agreement, but failed.

Forty thousand Israeli military reservists had been alerted in recent days, meant as a threat of ground invasion of Gaza. Reports say the military command opposed new ground operations because of the damage suffered from guerrilla harassment in withdrawing from the Cast Lead operation in 2008-2009, as well as the casualties suffered in Lebanon during Israel’s 1982 invasion and long occupation of Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon, eventually causing Israeli popular opinion to demand withdrawal.…  Seguir leyendo »

The merciful death that has, at last, been administered to Secretary of State John Kerry’s foredoomed Israel-Palestinian settlement talks has been greeted by little beyond silence in the international community.

Anyone possessing a modicum of reason knew that the effort was a waste of time so long as Kerry was incapable of bringing to the talks a changed position on the part of the Obama administration. Without that, and so long as Benjamin Netanyahu remained prime minister of Israel, and the character of the Israeli government remained unchanged, the Jewish state remained, and will remain, locked into self-destruction.

The suicide will probably be lengthy and agonized, accompanied at some point in the future by return to armed struggle, as Zionist Israel again tries to destroy whatever entity or community that is the successor to the present Palestinian state, as presently recognized by the U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

The outcome of the recent European Parliament elections is described in press and political circles in Europe and North America as a shock or crisis, but the actual reaction is better named hysteria, as if “Europe” is all over, and the rise of the right in these elections resembles the rise of fascism in the 1930s — all of which is sheer nonsense.

What this vote has done is contribute 150 anti-”Europe” members to a parliamentary body numbering 751 seats in total, which has very little power over the functions of the European Union executive — the appointed Commission and the Council (the governing body, composed of ministers from member-governments, under a rotating presidency).…  Seguir leyendo »

The narrow majority vote in Switzerland against the “massive immigration” foreseen as a consequence of accepting the European Union’s commitment to free passage within the borders of “Schengen Europe” has left the Brussels authorities in “stupor,” according to the European press.

Switzerland was expected to accept this agreement as part of an altered treaty relationship with the EU.

Now many leaders of the EU nations fear that the European Parliament elections, scheduled in three months, may produce new outcomes hostile to immigration. They probably are right.

Results like that in Switzerland are conventionally interpreted as caused by rightist sentiments and the populist political parties that have been on the rise in recent years.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Ukraine crisis and the German-American dispute over American intelligence and National Security Agency practices are without much doubt the beginning of the end of the American-dominated Europe we have known since the collapse of communism. The breakup may be dramatic, or polite and prolonged, but it certainly will come.

I would argue that the European Union is chiefly responsible for what now is happening in Ukraine. The passion for expansion that has overtaken the EU Commission since the 1990s was founded in a reasonable and admirable concern for the political and economic rehabilitation and the future of the former Warsaw Pact states.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s not only most Israelis, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the policy-community hawks in Washington and acolytes of AIPAC in the Congress who hate the interim nuclear agreement signed by Iran in November with the United Nations Security Council “P5-plus-one.”

So do the leaders of the paramilitary Basij force in Iran and other Iranians who support a hard and hostile line toward the Great Satan and the U.N. diplomats who collaborated in setting up what many in the West, and no doubt in Iran, hope will prove a first step in reconciliation between the Iranians and the Western community.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia’s relations with the Western countries are troubled and dangerous in the Ukraine dispute, and an important opportunity may be lost. Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently made a spectacular return to great power politics in the Middle East, at considerable expense to the United States, and now he has humiliated the European Union. The meeting a week ago Friday between Ukraine and the EU may be critical.

It follows Ukraine’s unexpected rejection, under Russian duress, of a long-negotiated pre-membership agreement with the European Union.

Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, unexpectedly rejected the European proposals, as did his supporters in parliament, who voted against resolutions demanded by the EU, including one that would have allowed former President Yulia Tymoshenko to leave prison and go to Germany, officially for medical treatment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week the notorious “troika” representing the three major lenders to severely indebted European Union nations — officials from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — once again descended upon Athens to consider new Greek proposals for dealing with its debt. (The IMF has recently expressed some doubts, but Greece is still in the game.)

The three were asked to approve a new Greek government plan to complete its 2014 budget in a way that would justify the next scheduled payment of troika loans needed for Greece’s national “bailout.”

In return for a new troika loan payment, the Greeks undoubtedly will be expected to offer still more austerity measures.…  Seguir leyendo »

March 1, 1988: Gorbachev and an Unthinkable Candor.

Perhaps the most significant of the changes that have taken place in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since 1985 is that people now speak openly and honestly about their situations and about the East’s relationship to the West.

This writer has in the past year, in public or in private circumstances, spoken with or listened to Soviet and East European political and academic figures including a member of the Supreme Soviet, an economic advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev, editors of party newspapers in Eastern Europe and officials of the international relations or economic research institutions of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland.…  Seguir leyendo »

War is war and murder is murder. The law draws the distinction. The American armed drone is a weapons system of war, not of policemen. And even if it were a police weapon (as it may, one fears, become in the future), the United States Department of Defense and the CIA are not police forces, nor has the U.S. a commission to police the world of its radicals, jihadists and religious fanatics, although for too many years it has acted as if it did.

Nor is the U.S. constitutionally at war. President George W. Bush declared war on “terror” after the 9/11 attacks, which is legally meaningless, and the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Military interventions by powerful nations into lesser ones, such as now continues in Mali (and Afghanistan), and is being urged by many into the Syrian civil war, are inherently reckless since even the most powerful states can have the whole project blow up on them.

The intended outcome is rarely achieved. We won’t talk about Iraq, saved from Saddam Hussein (at the price of hundreds of thousands of casualties) and abandoned to Iran’s influence. The first American intervention in Afghanistan, in 1978-79, when the Carter administration used the CIA to provoke a Russian invasion (intended by Washington to give Russia “its own Vietnam”), ended in Taliban rule, al-Qaida’s installation in Afghanistan and an American invasion following 9/11, which is scheduled finally to end next year (in U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

George Kennan, the diplomat credited as the author of the Cold War “containment” policy, wrote in 1993 that real self-government was possible only when a nation’s people “understand what this means, want it, and [are] willing to sacrifice for it.”

If they lack these qualities and become unstable states or trouble-making nations, the Western democratic countries are not, he wrote, “their keepers,” but have a right to ask of such countries — “governed or misgoverned as habit or tradition will dictate” — that “their governing cliques observe, in their bilateral relations with the United States, and with the remainder of the world community, the minimum standards of civilized diplomatic intercourse.” This is what Muammar al-Qaddafi has always rejected.…  Seguir leyendo »