May 27, 2009

English summary

The May issue of Diplomaatia pays a visit to countries to the east of Estonia: Israel & Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Thailand and, in the book review section, Russia.

The May issue of Diplomaatia pays a visit to countries to the east of Estonia: Israel & Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Thailand and, in the book review section, Russia.

English summary

The May issue of Diplomaatia pays a visit to countries to the east of Estonia: Israel & Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Thailand and, in the book review section, Russia.
Kaarel Kaas, a researcher with the International Centre for Defence Studies describes the causes and results of Operation Cast Lead – the Gaza war that lasted from December 27 to January 18. Kaas alleges that Israel’s first aim was to stop the attacks on the Southern Israel cities originating from Gaza. But according to him, Tel Aviv’s other goals were to restore the credibility of Israel’s deterrence capability, damaged in the 2006 war with Lebanon; and to avoid a situation in which in the case of a standoff with Iran, Israel would find itself between two fires – Hezbollah’s from the North and Hamas’s from the South. At the same time, the bombs and missiles that landed on Gaza during the 22 days of war seriously damaged the prospects for a lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians.
Hostein Bastani, an Iranian journalist residing in Paris, analyses Iran’s uncompromising stand in the dispute over its nuclear capacities. “It appears that the Iranian neo-cons’ uncompromising attitude in the nuclear crises is linked to their understanding of the concept of ‘deterrence’,” writes Bastani. “The hardline strategists explain that the various pressures that the US and its allies apply on Iran over the nuclear issue, coupled with their ban on the export of advanced technology to Iran, and the efforts to limit Iranian armed allies in the region, are all for the purpose of preventing Iran from acquiring an effective deterrent capability to thwart off a partial or full-scale military attack against it. These strategists constantly talk of the lessons of the “Iraqi experience”. By that they mean the decades-old US policy of arms control over Iraq led to a situation that deprived that country from any effective capability to withstand a US attack. And finally when the Bush administration was convinced that Iraq had nothing to defend itself with, the US attacked Iraq and rooted out its already-contained military.”
Atis Lejins, who is currently running for the European Parliament in Latvia recalls the years he spent as a journalist in Afghanistan, accompanying the anti-Soviet resistance fighters.
Karin Dean, a scholar with the Tallinn University, explains the root causes of recent riots in Thailand. According to her, the three pillars of the Thai state – monarchy, Buddhism and the ideology of the nation state – were most seriously challenged by the millionaire, and later Prime Minister Thanksin Shinwatra, who started his political ascent in 1997 with the clear goal of acquiring power in the country. Now, the country is divided into two camps – the urban elites who back the King, and the followers of Thaksin who tend to come from the poor countryside. According to Dean, the end of this polarising split is not yet on the horizon.
In the book review section, Edward Lucas, the East Europe correspondent of the Economist analyses the book by Michael Stuermer, Putin and the Rise of Russia. Lucas credits Stuermer as one of the most prominent foreign policy thinkers in Germany, but, according to him, the book leaves much to be desired: “Most of it is deeply flawed reportage, by a writer who speaks practically no Russian and hardly knows the country. By far the most interesting part is at the end, where Stuermer tries to outline how the West should deal with Russia. The attempt by the author to establish his credibility as an authority on Russia in the preceding 200 pages is a failure.”
According to Lucas, Stuermer’s conclusions are equally inadequate: “Despite having outlined the criminality and chauvinism of the ex-KGB regime in the Kremlin, and conceded that we are, if not back in a new Cold War, at least in a “new Great Game”, Stuermer backs away from drawing the obvious conclusion – that we are involved in a contest with dangerous people who want to harm us. (—) The tone is one of ineffable complacency.”

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