Geopolitical Mediation & Peace Building

Contents:

  • The idea of Geopolitical Mediation.
  • Publications & Talks.
  • Blogs [Scroll down to find].

–    ‘How possibly could the conflict between Israel & Palestine be resolved by engaging the Third Side?

–   ‘Negotiation Skills & Strategies.’

–  ‘If an expert of the calibre and experience of Professor Postol at MIT – who is an insider, is saying this about Biden, Macron and Sunak, then the problem is not just strategic incompetence. It is geo-political ignorance.’

–   ‘UN rights body demands Israel be held accountable for possible war crimes (05.04.2024).’

–  ‘On what legal basis does the Government believe that Israel has been, and is complying with International Humanitarian Law?’

–  ‘Amongst members of the UN (with the exception of Israel) – deliberately attacking diplomatic and consular premises is absolutely Taboo!’

–  ‘By attacking the sovereign territory of Iran has Israel crossed a National Security red-line?’

–  ‘Gaza – Thinking beyond the Endgame.’

–  ‘The geopolitical price of US support for Zionism and complicity in Genocide in Gaza.’

‘Is Geo-Political Mediation by Turkey the gateway to an eventual Diplomatic Rapprochement by the West with Russia under a Trump administration?

‘Could the election of Donald Trump result in peace in both Ukraine and Gaza? – Some food for thought for realists.’

–  ‘Religion is not a sustainable basis for nationalism.’ 

‘Schism between IDF & Netanyahu’s Government – Which side will the Israel Lobby take?’

– ‘Cultural Heritage Diplomacy/Mediation as a geopolitical tool of environmental protection.’

– ‘Concerted diplomacy is necessary to bring peace to Sudan.’

– ‘If a proxy war requires a proxy solution, then a proxy solution may also avoid a proxy war.’

– ‘Is the potential for “convergence” in MENA a geopolitical “pivot” upon which war can be avoided in the South China seas?’

– ‘Structuring as a tool of mediating peace?’

The Idea of Geopolitical Mediation

My thesis is that ‘Geopolitical Mediation’ is a facilitated dialogue between ‘stakeholders’ [‘S‘] to:

(i)  discuss the existence of shared/common interests; and

(ii) negotiate the accommodation of competing interests, by jointly developing and implementing, a strategy of ‘convergence’, built upon the foundation of common ground.

In other words, GM is a process through which S can engineer a new ‘political order’ that is: (i) mutually beneficial; and (ii) more productive to each S, than the individual pursuit of their own competing interests. This is achieved by transforming geo-political ‘competitors’ into ‘partners’.

Geopolitical Mediation precedes and facilitates the Negotiation of Political Order, see the ‘Negotiation of Political Order’ page of this website.

Where an independent Mediator [‘M‘] is appointed by a non-state actor (‘NSA‘) e.g. UNESCO or a corporation/consortium of multinational companies, then facilitation of GM is a form of ‘Track 2 Diplomacy.’

The premise underlying the idea of ‘Geopolitical Mediation’ [‘GM‘] , is that where a geopolitical conflict is primarily the result of a ‘clash’ of divergent values, the solution, i.e. peace, hinges upon evolving/engineering a method of convergencebased upon shared/common interests.

For an example of potential convergence’, see the blog below, ‘Is the potential for “convergence” in MENA a geopolitical “pivot” upon which war can be avoided in the South China seas?’ On 16 May 2023 Carl Islam put this question to Professor Anoush Ehteshami (Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University), following a talk he gave to the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University about ‘The Geopolitics of China’s Belt & Road Initiative and Western Focus’.

To hear the full answer Professor Ehteshami gave, click on the link below and then fast forward to the Q&A at 58:02 to 1.11 using the progress bar underneath the video or on your smart TV search You Tube for ‘Anoush Ehteshami’ + ‘China’s Belt & Road’.

Where the potential exists for each S to maximize their individual strategic gains by working together instead of against each other, then foreign policy may conflict with domestic politics. Therefore, the leadership and political elite in each S must make a choice about which comes first, i.e. about their ‘priorities’.

See – Approaching the Endgame in Ukraine w/Col Douglas Macgregor – YouTube and fast forward to 25M. You will hear a prediction that before the end of July 2024, President Biden will resign, and that Vice-President Karmala Harris will replace him as the Democratic nominee for President. Colonel Macgregor also predicts that there will then be a ‘convergence’ between events in ‘Ukraine’ and ‘Gaza’. Could this open the door to a mediated settlement of both conflicts under new US leadership working in collaboration with other key stakeholders in both regions – including Russia in Ukraine and Iran in MENA – where Russia and China are also key stakeholders?

See also:

Articles & Talks

Please note that links to Foreign Affairs articles are only available to view on my PC and are not accessible to visitors to the webiste. They are assembled here for my future research and writing.

Destroying Peace Since 1949. NATO: Anatomy of a Bad Idea | A. Lieven, J. Matlock & J. Mearsheimer (youtube.com)

U.S. Strategic Malpractice & Incompetence: Our Greatest Security Risk (youtube.com)

Erdogan’s new diplomatic turn: A rapprochement with the West unfolds | eKathimerini.com

How to Pave the Way for Diplomacy to End the War in Ukraine | Foreign Affairs

Michael Young discusses his role as facilitator in anti-apartheid negotiations – Harvard Law School | Harvard Law School

Middle Eastern and Eurasian Research Strand | Centre for Geopolitics (cam.ac.uk)

Talking to the Enemy: Track Two Diplomacy in the Middle East and South Asia (rand.org)

Track One and Track Two Diplomacy (un.org)

Track II Diplomacy: How Can It Be More Effective? (mecouncil.org)

Track II diplomacy – Wikipedia

A Primer on Multi-track Diplomacy: How Does it Work? | United States Institute of Peace (usip.org)

track two diplomacy – Bing video

Blogs

‘How possibly could the conflict between Israel & Palestine be resolved by engaging the Third Side?’

See my blog about ‘Negotiation Skills’ below &  listen to: Alastair Crooke : Israel and Reality (youtube.com)

A recent poll shows that 74% of Israeli citizens are opposed to a ‘two-state solution.’

So, applying ‘realism’, that is not going to happen voluntarily, unless and until 74% drops below 50%.

As I wrote in my blog below – ‘Thinking beyond the Endgame’:

‘Even if a single state solution can be imposed by the UN & parking the “building block” issues which include restoration of land stolen by Zionist settlers to the Palestinians, Professor Noura Erakat identifies two residual obstacles to enduring peace:

(i)        Jewish children in Israel are more ‘conservative’ than their religiously zealous ‘Zionist’ parents. So, the ingrained cultural belief, that as ‘White Colonial Settlers’ they are superior to the Palestinians & neighbouring Arab peoples will still exist. [‘Zionism’].

(ii)          Even if the US ceases to be Israel’s patron by ceasing to supply arms i.e. following a decision by the ICJ that Israel has committed Genocide, then another state may take their place. [‘Arms’].

See: https://lnkd.in/eHWDV58s & go to 36 M.’

So, how can this conflict be transformed into peace by engaging the ‘Third Side’, i.e. what ‘shared’ vision is needed, in order to to create & build a single state/2 states, in which the children of Palestine and Israel, can co-exist & live side by side, in safety & peace – as equals in the eyes of each other?

The following is intended to provide some food for thought and discussion:

1st – There must be a permanent ceasefire. Then talks i.e. negotiation about how to constructively resolve differences can begin.

2nd – There must be an urgent/immediate humanitarian intervention to save Palestinian lives & to prevent resumption of armed conflict.

3rd – Israel must agree to becoming a ‘normal‘ i.e. ‘secular’ state, and to being treated by UN member states as being a ‘normal’ state that is no different from any other.

4th – Both sides must be disarmed & become ‘neutral’, i.e. either as a single or  two ‘neutral’ states, with security guarantees being provided by a coalition of e.g.: China; Egypt; Gulf States; Iran; Jordan; Turkey; US & Russia.

[The thinking behind mutual disarmament, is that neither could become a future military threat to each other, or to any other state in the region. In other words, to survive and thrive, each would have to maintain good relations with all of their neighbours throughout the region. Instead of relying upon escalatory dominance, in order to survive, Israel would have to become an integral economic, social & diplomatic piece of the MENA jigsaw, of which it could one day become a leading member, through diplomacy and trade, instead of war. That may also prove to be in the best long term interests of the United States, which as a result of the conflict in Gaza, has become increasingly diplomatically isolated in MENA, as key states in the region, including Saudi Arabia, are either moving toward, or have applied to join BRICS].

5th – A bespoke constitutional framework for peaceful co-existence must be imagined, developed & agreed.

6th – So that land can somehow be re-distributed between Palestinians & Israelis, illegal Israeli settlors must be forcibly removed from designated Palestinian land.

7th – Then a healing process can begin , i.e. through a process of ‘truth & reconciliation’ (cf South Africa). In parallel, conditions can be created and guaranteed on the ground, so that the reconstruction of Gaza can begin, and investment can be attracted for development.

Obviously the issues of ‘transitional justice’ & ‘accountability’ – which I do not mention above, also need to be addressed.

‘Negotiation Skills & Strategies.’

Over June & July 2024, in my free time, I am researching & writing an article for publication in an academic journal about commercial negotiation skills & strategies. This exercise is a foundation & prelude for a 1 hour online talk I am presenting at 4pm GMT on Thursday 24 October 2024, to members of the SCMA worldwide (https://scmastandards.com/). The talk is about ‘Mediation Advocacy in Trust & Estate Disputes.’ This is also a rare opportunity to update my negotiation skill set by innovating new negotiation techniques for use in settling probate disputes. Today I am completing the reading of the latest book by William Ury – ‘Possible.’ One of the key negotiation concepts and techniques discussed in the book, is how to ‘Engage the Third side.’ The idea at the centre of this technique is to think ‘Win-Win-Win.’ As Professor Ury writes on p.216 of his book, ‘[We] need to take a big step beyond our previous thinking about “win-win”. From “win-win” we need to move to “win-win-win”. We need to think in terms of a third win – a win for a larger community, for the future, for our children. This third win catalyses and sustains the efforts of the third side over the long term.’ I agree. In a probate dispute a ‘win-win-win’ scenario is not only: (i) preservation and expansion of the capital value of the estate, through tax-efficient and retrospective post-death estate planning within the available time window; but also (ii) the survival and continuation of a family owned business. That requires the preservation of relationships, networks, and maintenance of liquidity, which in turn requires competent professional governance. William Ury has mediated every kind of dispute from probate/business succession disputes to ceasefires, and was the imaginative ‘brain’ behind the meeting which eventually took place between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, in Singapore, following which the risk of a nuclear conflict occurring between the US and North Korea dropped from 50% to less than 1% (see p.199 of the book). I have today also reposted two posts I wrote on Sunday about mediation advocacy i.e. negotiation. The negotiation techniques each post illustrates are explained in my comments below. I will expand upon these techniques in the article and talk.

‘If an expert of the calibre and experience of Professor Postol at MIT – who is an insider, is saying this about Biden, Macron and Sunak, then the problem is not just strategic incompetence. It is geo-political ignorance.’

‘The Russians are the only adults in the field right now. I would call the current leadership in the United States and Western Europe – strategic indolence. [Indolence means ‘Lazy’. It’s synonyms include: ‘lackadaisical’ i.e. lacking enthusiasm and thoroughness; ‘inert’, ‘negligent’ and ‘feckless’ – NB not my word choice but that of Professor Postol]. It is like they seem to be unable to understand what is happening in front of them. The latest NATO meeting was like a Monty Python skit. People coming up with ideas that show they don’t have the foggiest idea about what the actual situation is. … It tends to confirm and re-confirm that the political leadership in Europe is completely without the most basic understanding of what is going on.’
See: Putin & China Drop Bombshell on U.S. Military Strategy as Ukraine Collapsing | MIT Prof. Ted Postol (youtube.com)
(Theodore Postol is Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. He did his undergraduate work in physics and his graduate work in nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Postol joined the staff of Argonne National Laboratory, where he studied the microscopic dynamics and structure of liquids and disordered solids using neutron, x-ray and light scattering, along with computer molecular dynamics techniques. Subsequently he went to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment to study methods of basing the MX Missile, and later worked as a scientific adviser to the Chief of Naval Operations. After leaving the Pentagon, Dr. Postol helped to build a program at Stanford University to train mid-career scientists to study developments in weapons technology of relevance to defense and arms control policy. In 1990 Dr. Postol was awarded the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society. In 1995 he received the Hilliard Roderick Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and in 2001 he received the Norbert Wiener Award from Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility for uncovering numerous and important false claims about missile defenses).
So, if an expert of the calibre and experience of Professor Postol at MIT – an insider, is saying this about Biden, Macron & Sunak, then the problem is not just ‘strategic incompetence’. It is ‘geo-political ignorance’. I wonder if Starmer will be any different?

See also:

‘UN rights body demands Israel be held accountable for possible war crimes (05.04.2024).’

‘GENEVA, April 5 (Reuters) – The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday adopted a resolution calling for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, although Israel dismissed it as a “distorted text”. Twenty-eight countries voted in favour, 13 abstained and six opposed the resolution, including the United States and Germany. The adoption prompted several representatives to the Council to cheer and clap. The resolution stressed “the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity”. It also expressed “grave concern at reports of serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”. Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, accused the Council of having “long abandoned the Israeli people and long defended Hamas”. “According to the resolution before you today, Israel has no right to protect its people, while Hamas has every right to murder and torture innocent Israelis,” she said ahead of the vote. “A vote ‘Yes’ is a vote for Hamas.” The United States had pledged to vote against the resolution because it did not contain a specific condemnation of Hamas for the Oct. 7 attacks, nor “any reference to the terrorist nature of those actions”.
It did, however, said that its ally Israel had not done enough to mitigate harm to civilians. “The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to de-conflict military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties and to ensure humanitarian actors can carry out their essential mission in safety,” said Michèle Taylor, U.S. permanent representative to the Council. “That has not happened and, in just six months, more humanitarians have been killed in this conflict than in any war of the modern era.” The U.N. Human Rights Council, which meets several times a year, is the only intergovernmental body designed to protect human rights worldwide. It can increase scrutiny of countries’ human rights records and authorise investigations.’

See:

Is international pressure mounting for a War Crimes Tribunal to be set up to prosecute anybody who has been directly involved in, or complicit in any war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza and the West Bank?

See also my blogs on the ‘Understanding Conflict & Mediating Settlement’ page:
–        ‘Execution of unarmed civilians by the IDF.’
–        ‘Israeli troops massacre unarmed civilians collecting food in Gaza – 29.02.2024.’
–        ‘War Crime of execution – Rome Statute of the ICC.’
–        ‘Complicity In International Law.’
–        ‘South Africa’s case is legally watertight.’
–        ‘Following the ICJ ruling will Rishi Sunak confirm that future arms sales to Israel have been suspended?’
–       ‘International Humanitarian Law prohibits the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.’
–      – ‘Intentional destruction of cultural heritage is not only a war crime it is also prima facie evidence of genocide.’
–        ‘For a war crimes suspect nowhere is safe.’

‘Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Alicia Kearns said the government must suspend arms sales to Israel and claimed ministers were no longer saying that Israel was complying with international humanitarian law, merely that it had the capacity to do so.
“I believe we have no choice but to suspend arms sales and it is important that the public understands this is not a political decision as some people want to present it as,” she said.’ – Google – ‘Guardian + Middle East crisis live: UN rights body adopts resolution for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes in Gaza.’

Devastating it took aid worker deaths for Israel to change approach, says senior Tory | Foreign policy | The Guardian

‘The UN Human Rights Council on Friday demanded a halt in all arms sales to Israel, highlighting warnings of “genocide” in its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 33,000 people.’

Gaza: Human Rights Council resolution urges arms embargo on Israel | UN News

All war crimes are crimes for which there is universal jurisdiction. The most authoritative & convenient list of war crimes committed in international or internal armed conflicts is now to be found in the ICC statute. The defence that an accused was acting under the order of a superior is available only in very limited circumstances.’ Handbook of International Law, by Anthony Aust (formerly legal advisor to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office). For a war crimes suspect nowhere is safe, because all war crimes are crimes for which there is universal jurisdiction. Therefore, any State can prosecute them, i.e. they can be prosecuted anywhere and everywhere. Once the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against a person [‘P‘] suspected of war crimes, the rhetorical question that those who belong to the same political elite or who associate with P need to ask themselves is – ‘Will I be next?’ States retain the primary responsibility in the prosecution of international crimes. Under the Geneva Conventions & Additional Protocol I of 1977, States must prosecute people accused of war crimes before their own national courts or extradite them for trial elsewhere.

Has the UN human Rights Council set this process irreversibly in motion?

Although the ICC is the only permanent international tribunal set up to prosecute war crimes, other international courts including the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights can hear cases related to alleged violations.

Under U.S. law, I wonder if the families of American victims of Israel will bring claims for compensation against Israel in the U.S. courts?

See also my blog –  ‘A violation of International Humanitarian Law can give rise to a private law remedy actionable in the English Court’ on the ‘Understanding Conflict & Mediating Settlement’ page in which I wrote:

‘Law Debenture Trust Corp Plc v. Ukraine [2023]UKSC 11 – Can a threat by one foreign state [‘S.1’] to use physical violence against civilians of another foreign state [‘S.2’] and a threat to damage property in S.2 constitute duress under English Law?’

So, if: (i) Israel owed a ‘fiduciary’ duty’ to aid workers under IHL, (ii) the English court has jurisdiction; (iii) the existence of the ‘fiduciary’ duty is recognised by the court; and (iv) the court finds that Israel has breached that duty, then it appears to follow from what Professor Enonchong says in his book – ‘Duress, Undue Influence And Unconscionable Dealing’ at para 28-064, that a court of equity has the power to award ‘equitable compensation’ against Israel, because equitable compensation ‘is a remedy by which the court of equity award substantial compensation for loss which the complainant has suffered as a result of the defendant’s equitable wrong’ i.e. breach of ‘fiduciary duty.’

Israel says aid workers were ‘misidentified.’ I have just heard a reporter on Sky say – We must take the IDF at its word. Why? This does not make any sense.

‘The chief executive of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, told Guardian Australia it would be “extraordinary if the IDF” hadn’t known the “identities” of the workers “because they were there with the full awareness of the IDF”. Purcell said “intense coordination and negotiation” routinely occurred with the IDF about “the movement of aid and who would be travelling”.
The communications director for the United Nations aid agency Unrwa, Juliette Touma, also shed light on the “intense” coordination that routinely occurred with Israeli authorities prior to aid deliveries. The process is known as “deconfliction”.
“Only when they give us the approval do we move. … We include the names and nationalities of the team that is travelling on the convoy, the content of the convoy, the number of vehicles that we are sending on that convoy, the route of that convoy including GPS coordinates with the Israeli authorities.” …’

Israeli military likely knew identities of aid workers killed in charity convoy, humanitarian groups say | Israel-Gaza war | The Guardian

See also:

‘Israeli intelligence sources reveal … Israeli military officials permitted large numbers of Palestinian civilians to be killed. … Israel’s use of powerful AI systems in its war on Hamas has entered uncharted territory for advanced warfare, raising a host of legal and moral questions, and transforming the relationship between military personnel and machines.
“The machine did it coldly. And that made it easier.” …“I would invest 20 seconds for each target at this stage, and do dozens of them every day. I had zero added-value as a human, apart from being a stamp of approval. It saved a lot of time.” …
Lavender listed as many as 37,000 Palestinian men who had been linked by the AI system to Hamas or PIJ. …
Because of the system, the targets never end.”…
[If] Israel has been using dumb bombs to flatten the homes of thousands of Palestinians who were linked, with the assistance of AI, to militant groups in Gaza, that could help explain the shockingly high death toll in the war. …
UN data shows that in the first month of the war alone, 1,340 families suffered multiple losses, with 312 families losing more than 10 members.’

‘In 2021, a book titled “The Human-Machine Team: How to Create Synergy Between Human and Artificial Intelligence That Will Revolutionize Our World” … the author … makes the case for designing a special machine that could rapidly process massive amounts of data to generate thousands of potential “targets” for military strikes in the heat of a war. [To] resolve … a “human bottleneck for both locating the new targets and decision-making to approve the targets.” Such a machine, it turns out, actually exists. A new investigation by +972 Magazine and Local Call reveals that the Israeli army has developed an AI-based program known as “Lavender,” unveiled here for the first time. According to six Israeli intelligence officers … [the IDF] essentially treated the outputs of the AI machine “as if it were a human decision.” …’

The selection of targets by Lavender entirely lays to waste any morality underlying the so-called ‘human shield’ argument used to justify mass murder of civilians in Gaza.

‘[S]ources told +972 & Local Call that, during the first weeks of the war, the army almost completely relied on Lavender, which clocked as many as 37,000 Palestinians as suspected militants — and their homes — for possible air strikes.’

Let’s assume each target was living with 3 other family members. Then, 37K becomes 37K x 4 = 148K. These targets are being killed as I write. ‘Selection’ of targets is unlimited. So, if using Lavender Israel kills 148K civilians/16 months, the AI machine will select more targets. At that rate, excluding those who die of starvation, disease & from lack of any medical care, it is statistically possible that Israel will have murdered the entire civilian population of Gaza within 8.1 months of that milestone, i.e. before or shortly after 1 January 2026. This is organised mass murder carried out by a modern army against unarmed civilians who have no food, shelter, water and electricity – and no means of escape.

‘On what legal basis does the Government believe that Israel has been, and is complying with International Humanitarian Law?’

See  – Israel Assault On Rafah Means “Annihilation”: w/. Unicef’s James Elder, Live From Gaza – YouTube

My question for any MP to ask the Prime Minister when the House returns from a two week holiday on April 15th is – ‘Based upon the eye-witness testimony of James Elder of UNICEF reported in the Guardian (Israel Assault On Rafah Means “Annihilation”: w/. Unicef’s James Elder, Live From Gaza – YouTube‘) and on YouTube (see above) – On what legal basis does the Government believe that Israel has been, and is complying with International Humanitarian Law?’

See also:

‘Amongst members of the UN (with the exception of Israel) – deliberately attacking diplomatic and consular premises is absolutely Taboo!’

As far as I am aware, such an attack is unprecedented in the history of the UN.

See my article the ‘Inviolability of Diplomatic and Consular Premises’ cited in Wikipedia (Footnote 6): Diplomatic law – Wikipedia and ‘https://lnkd.in/exxhdDSA‘ which states – ‘Back in 1988, Carl Islam explained, with some rigour, the basis of immunity afforded to diplomatic and consular premises. … Islam begins with the principle of inviolability. “Inviolability guarantees the sanctity of diplomatic and consular premises.” …’ (There is a link to the text of my article on the Home page at www.diplomaticlawguide.com).

I wrote the article shortly after leaving University while training to be a solicitor with an international law firm in London.

See also:

(2 April 2024) which records:

‘Iran transmitted a letter to the Secretary-General and the Security Council stating that Israel has attacked its diplomatic premises in Damascus by missile strikes, killing at least five Iranian personnel, including senior military advisors and injuring others.  According to media reports, the death toll has risen to 13 — seven Iranian personnel and six Syrian citizens.  Reiterating the Secretary-General’s condemnation of the attack, he declared that the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel must be respected in all cases and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States must be respected under international law.

“The rules-based international order is essential for international peace and security, which this Council is mandated to maintain,” he said, noting that  Geir O. Pedersen, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, has kept the Council apprised of the unrelenting violence on the ground, where six foreign armies are operating on its territory, impacting the lives of civilians and moving a peaceful resolution of the conflict farther out of reach.  Lethal attacks on Iran-linked targets in Syria have been increasingly attributed to Israel, especially since the current conflict with Hamas in Gaza began on 7 October.  While Israel has rarely claimed responsibility for any of these incidents, its officials have repeatedly acknowledged its military operations in Syria and have suggested that more such operations will occur in the future. 

He then appealed to the Council to continue to actively engage all concerned parties to prevent further escalation, reiterating the Secretary-General’s calls on all concerned parties to exercise utmost restraint and avoid further escalation.  “Any miscalculation could lead to broader conflict in an already volatile region, with devastating consequences for civilians who are already seeing unprecedented suffering in Syria, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the broader Middle East,” he warned.’

So, this is not just an attack on Iran. It is also an attack against the integrity of the international rules-based order. In that context, it is arguably an attack against the entire UN System, its institutions, and its members – who all strive to uphold the international rules-based order. A state which does such an act, is therefore a ‘Rogue State’. That raises the question – ‘Is such a state fit to belong as a full member of the United Nations?’ By choosing to become a Rogue State, Israel has become an outcast in the eyes of the international community. So, political leaders and states who associate themselves with Israel, need to take care, that they will not be judged by history as being tarnished by the same brush. In this sense, what Israel has done is to weaken not only itself, but also its key allies in the Global North. In other words, Israel has now become an intolerable strategic burden to the US, UK, Germany and France.

‘By attacking the sovereign territory of Iran has Israel crossed a National Security red-line?’

See:

Interestingly – ‘[Israel is also] liable to pay reparations [to Iran] … Following the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the NATO campaign in 1999 against Serbia for the liberation of Kosovo, the United States paid the Chinese government US $28 million for the damage to its premises as well as US $4.5 million in compensation for those killed or injured in the attack.’ (Diplomatic Law – Commentary on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Fourth edition, by Eileen Denza, p137).

So, Iran if it chooses to do so, can instead of military retaliation, issue proceedings in the ICJ v. Israel for the payment of reparations. Extrapolating from that principle, then logically, if a reprisal attack by a terrorist organisation is made against the mission of any other state anywhere in the world [‘OS’], e.g. against a mission of the US/UK/Germany/France, and their diplomatic agents, then OS can also bring proceedings in the ICJ against Israel for the payment of reparations. That is because Israel has endangered the security of OS by attacking the sovereign territory of Iran.

This begs as bigger question – ‘Is Zionism a National Security Threat to the US, UK, Germany & France?’ – who all currently supply arms to Israel, some of which, may possibly have been used in the attack by Israel v. Iran without the prior knowledge and approval of the US, UK, Germany & France.

In other words, by attacking Iran, has Israel become a strategic liability of the US, UK, Germany & France?

‘Gaza – Thinking beyond the Endgame’

Even if a single state solution can be imposed by the UN & parking the ‘building block’ issues which include restoration of land stolen by Zionist settlers to the Palestinians, Professor Noura Erakat identifies two residual obstacles to enduring peace:

(i)        Jewish children in Israel are more ‘conservative’ than their religiously zealous ‘Zionist’ parents. So, the ingrained cultural belief, that as ‘White Colonial Settlers’ they are superior to the Palestinians & neighbouring Arab peoples will still exist. [‘Zionism’].

(ii)          Even if the US ceases to be Israel’s patron by ceasing to supply arms i.e. following a decision by the ICJ that Israel has committed Genocide, then another state will take their place e.g. China. [‘Arms’].

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgQDChu-jXo & go to 36 M.

The following thoughts occur to me, which I note here for my planned book ‘Understanding Conflict & Mediating Settlement’:

1st – ‘Zionism’:

·        Could Zionist prejudices against Palestinians & Arabs be transformed through a mediated process of ‘truth & reconciliation’ whereby ‘secularism’ eventually displaces ‘zealotry’?

2nd- ‘Arms’:

·       If ‘Zionism’ as ‘White Settler Colonialism & Supremacy’ is the root cause of conflict between Jews & Palestinians in Israel, then in designing a single state in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace with equal rights, the resurgence of Zionism as a military force for imposing political will, must be prevented.
·       A strategy for prevention might include:
(i)         Demilitarising that single state, whatever it is called [‘S’].
(ii)        A total UN prohibition on the supply of arms to S.
(iii)       Geopolitical Mediation between key regional stakeholders [‘KS’] including: Iran, China, Russia, the US – and their proxies, whereby in exchange for each KS acting as a security guarantor of peace in S, Iran agrees to open its doors to the other KS’s for business. See my blog below – ‘Could the election of Donald Trump result in peace in both Ukraine and Gaza? – Some food for thought for realists’.

‘The geopolitical price of US support for Zionism and complicity in Genocide in Gaza.’

See:

‘Is Geo-Political Mediation by Turkey the gateway to a Diplomatic Rapprochement by the West with Russia under a Trump Administration?’

See:

‘Could the election of Donald Trump result in peace in both Ukraine and Gaza? – Some food for thought for realists?’

Watching – John Mearsheimer – U.S. Blind Support of Ukraine / The West: Collective Suicide (youtube.com) (Scroll forward to 40m), the following counter-intuitive scenario occurred to me when I woke up this morning:

Assume the following:

  • The West has no further arms to supply to Ukraine, i.e. the shelf is nearly empty.
  • Money which will be approved by the US Congress for the supply of more arms to Ukraine will mostly fund US arms manufacturers, i.e. the US Industrial-Military Complex, and cannot result in the supply of arms to Ukraine which do not exist as they have not yet been manufactured, and that it will take around two years to fulfil orders.
  • Ukraine continues to suffer heavy losses on the battlefield.
  • Members of the Ukraine officer corps conclude that they are fighting a proxy war to further US interests, i.e. that their men are dying for America and not for Ukraine, see: Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland: The Two-Year Anniversary of Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine (csis.org)‘By every measure Ukraine’s bravery and strength, its resilience, has made the United States safer, too.’
  • There are deepening schisms within the government of Ukraine.
  • That disaffected members of Ukraine’s army attribute responsibility for the death of a substantial number of their fallen comrades to former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whom they consider to have blood on his hands, because they believe he applied pressure on President Zelensksy to refuse a deal with Russia early on in the conflict, i.e. that these men and women have died needlessly in a lost cause that could have been avoided – see: Official: Johnson Forced Kyiv To Refuse Russian Peace Deal ━ The European Conservative
  • Russia is poised to take more land.
  • Donald Trump is elected as President of the United States in November.
  • Between the date of his election and inauguration, the Ukrainian army disintegrates, because heavy, relentless and ongoing losses on the battlefield have reached a ‘tipping-point’, beyond which carrying on the fight is suicidal, as  logistically, Ukraine has lost the war of attrition, and no longer has the manpower and arms to continue the fight. In other words, it is a death sentence.
  • There is a coup d’état by the Ukrainian military led by disaffected officers who were recently removed by President Zelensksy.
  • Heavy casualties have been inflicted on both the IDF and Israeli civilians by Hezbollah following an invasion by Israel of Lebanon.
  • Palestinian factions have coalesced around a unified leadership structure.
  • The Global South led by Russia is seeking to engineer a peace process and settlement of the conflict in Gaza.
  • By January 2025, almost 1/3 of the population of Gaza have been killed by the IDF, and Israeli settlers have started to build illegal settlements in the north of Gaza. A US boycott in the UN Security Council to protect Israel, would at that point cause an irreversible fissure between the Global South and the Global North, placing American hegemony in MENA in jeopardy, which would be a foreign policy distaster for the US and its allies in the Gulf States. The US will not only look weak, i.e. like a ‘patsy’, it would have failed to seize the moment to salvage whatever US moral authority remains following Biden’s unqualified support for Israel’s war crimes, and the complicity of his administration in those crimes. From the start of his administration, it will also constrain Trump’s diplomatic influence and leverage with Russia and China, because in the eyes of the Global South, the US is tarnished by the same brush as Israel – Genocide, which is the subject of ongoing proceedings in the ICJ, along with the illegality under International Law of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.
  • That while Donald Trump’s foreign policy team will be influenced by the Israel lobby led by Evangelical Christian Zionists in the US, Trump himself has no personal loyalty to Netanyahu, and in fact has some animosity. In other words, Trump will not be sorry to see the back of Netanyahu, and does not want to be seen by Russia and China as being Netanyahu’s poodle.
  • That Donald Trump’s foreign policy priority is containment of China.

Then, could Donald Trump liberate US military resources to focus on the Pacific by killing two birds with one stone as follows:

  • By directing NATO to agree to a diplomatic settlement of the war in Ukraine under the terms of which:

(i)  Ukraine becomes a neutral country.

(ii)  Russia agrees not to take more land.

(iii) Both sides agree to the cessation of all military operations.

(iv) Russia agrees to free elections in the surviving rump state of Ukraine.

(v) The US, UK and France et al, are allowed to remove any forces who are operating covertly in Ukraine – by which time, some of whom, may be inside prison if captured; and agree to the permanent dismantlement of any secret bases in Ukraine.

  • By blaming the expanding war in MENA on Netanyahu and his Neocon supporters in Washington under his predecessor Joe Biden, thereby breaking the pipeline between:

(i) Evangelical Christian Zionists (i.e. a key constituency of US voters) – whose vote Donald Trump will no longer need in order to be elected, as he will already have been elected.

(ii) The Israel lobby (i.e. key financial donors).

(iii) Neocon hawks in the US foreign policy establishment (i.e. foreign policy decision-makers).

  • By then, working together with a caucus of the Global South lead by e.g. Russia:

(i) To ensure through a ‘convergence’ of interests, that the US remains the Hegemon in the region – see ‘The Idea of Geopolitical Mediation’ on the ‘Geopolitical Mediation and Peace Building’ page at diplomaticlawguide,com.

(ii) In their joint interests, to initiate a mediated dialogue between all key stakeholders in the region, whereby conditions for investment and reconstruction can be established through a peace process and agreement between: (a) the parties in conflict; (b) the US and its allies in the Global North; (c) Russia, China and Iran, and all of their respective proxies.

(iii) To facilitate an acknowledgment and agreement between all key stakeholders, that a sustainable peace in MENA, can only be achieved if Israel is transformed from being a Zionist state into a normal secular state, i.e. a single-state solution.

(iv) To facilitate normalisation of diplomatic relations between key stakeholders and Israel, after Netanyahu and his right wing government have been replaced by a moderate political leadership who are not ideological Zionists, i.e. following elections in Israel see my blog below, the ‘Schism between IDF & Netanyahu’s Government – Which side will the Israel Lobby take?’

(v) To then open the door to trade with Iran – which was described by Professor Ehteshami in his talk above ‘The Geopolitics of China’s Belt & Road Initiative and Western Focus’, as being the last ‘El Dorado.’

To his credit, Donald Trump is not a warmonger, and he is not tainted by the man-made distasters in Ukraine and Gaza, both of which occurred under the watch of his predecessor, Joe Biden – who is also responsible for America’s humiliating flight from Afghanistan and the resulting mess left behind. Nor does he appear to be  interested in geo-politics and strategy. However, thinking as a business tycoon, if his geo-economic instincts and beliefs can prevail over opposition from hawks within his own foreign policy team, and this outcome is achieved, then:

  • he will not only be free to focus on China;
  • he will also be praised as being the primary architect of peace in both Ukraine and Gaza,

while remaining blameless in the eyes of right-wing Evangeligal Christian Zionists in the US, because his fingerprints will not be on the removal of both Zelensksy and Netanyahu – as they wil have been removed from power by their own people.

Since it is highly unlikely that Donald Trump and any of his advisers will ever read this blog,  what occurred to me this morning will remain in the realm of speculation. However, I hope that it does provide some food for thought for realists, as bringing about peace in both Ukraine and Gaza will not only save hundreds of thousands of lives, it may also prevent further outbreaks of conflict, by creating a geo-political energy, i.e. a form of centifugal economic and political stability which can permeate and spread outwards from the central axis of conflict in MENA – i.e. the conflict in Palestine, to reach neighbouring states in the region, and to resonate far beyond in a wave effect, into Africa in the West, and into Central Asia in the East. That wave effect is the opposite of a regional war which then becomes a global conflict between hegemons and their proxies. Political leaders who can achieve that, will be lauded by future generations, as having saved the world from existential catastrophe at a time of great peril. That is the zenith of statesmanship and world leadership. If Trump can achieve that, he will have truly made America great again.

See also:

My blog on the ‘Negotating Political Order’ page – ‘Understanding Conflict & Mediation.’

My blog on the ‘Negotating Political Order’ page – ’14th Principle of Negotiating Political Order – Balancing realism with morality in the design of a political structure.’

Victoria Nuland RESIGNS, Glenn Greenwald EVISCERATES Leading Neocon: Interview (youtube.com)

Biden’s Weakness in the Middle East Putting U.S. Security at RISK (youtube.com)

Israel May Lose this War w/fmr US Ambassador Chas Freeman (youtube.com)

The most important video on Ukraine | Prof. John Mearsheimer (youtube.com)

Morality in International Relations | Professor Michael Brenner (youtube.com)

Unraveling the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Idea of Israel – Michael Brenner (youtube.com)

Neocons Have Lost Ukraine And They Will Continue Anyhow | Dr. Michael Brenner (youtube.com)

Ukraine Doomed by their own and US Leaders Living out ‘Unicorns & Rainbows’ Fantasies (youtube.com)

The Underlying Causes of Stability and Instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region (csis.org)

Jewish Historian Explodes Israel’s Myths – w/. Zach Foster (youtube.com)

Why Israel Can’t Win: War Expert Prof. Paul Roger’s Devastating Interview (youtube.com)

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: US Misunderstands Russia (youtube.com)

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: US Thinks Russia is Still USSR (youtube.com)

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Does The CIA Destabilize the World? (youtube.com)

Judging Freedom — Interviews & Media — Jeffrey D. Sachs (jeffsachs.org)

Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call – BBC News [2014]

How peace in Ukraine might be negotiated | Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank

‘Religion is not a sustainable basis for nationalism.’ 

The following visit was announced today, see:

The visitor is Benny Gantz.

In my blog below – ‘Schism between IDF & Netanyahu’s Government – Which side will the Israel Lobby take?’, I mentioned that in a recent article published in Foreign Affairs, Ehud Barak (Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Israel from 1999 to 2001 and 2007 to 2013), wrote:

‘Netanyahu has already lost the trust of most voters. … Around three out of four want him to resign. … The time has come for the people of Israel to stand up and bring about a change of course. Eisenkot, Gantz, and Lapid should lead this effort and demand general elections so that the Israeli people can decide where we are heading and who will lead us there. This is a crucial moment. It calls for leadership and action, before it is too late.’

The United States is Israel’s Patron Hegemon, so what is going on?

Another schism is that between:

(i) Secular Jews; and
(ii) Zionists,

because Judaism is not Zionism.

I recommend that you read Pappe, Ilan (2017) Ten Myths About Israel, Verso, and watch:

Ilan Pape, who is a Jewish historian, advocates the replacement of the Zionist state by a single secular state for both Jews and Palestinians. As a distinguished History Professor he points out that there is not a single religious state in history which has survived, i.e. that ‘religion’ is not a sustainable basis for ‘nationalism’.

Understanding that is key to the design of a new political model for Israel. In his view, until that has been done there can never be peace.

The question is who will the Israel Lobby back – Gantz (who was a Holocaust survivor, is a former alternate prime minister, and served as the 20th Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces from 2011 to 2015), or Netanyahu?

If they back Gantz et al – can that lead to a ceasefire, dialogue, and eventually to the transformation of Israel from being a Zionist state into a normal secular state in which Jews and Palestinians have equal rights, a vote, and can eventually both live side by side in peace?

‘Schism between IDF & Netanyahu’s Government – Which side will the Israel Lobby take?’

If you are interested in how regime change can be, and has in the past, been engineered, I recommend that you read – ‘Coup D’Etat: A Practical Handbook’ by Edward Luttwak. When I was a Political Science undergraduate, I argued that in order to engineer a coup d’etat you had first to build support amongst key elites, and above all the armed forces. So if a respected military figure, or better still a former political and military leader is the figurehead of the plot, then the process of bringing about a coup d’etat will have credibility and gradually gather momentum. When it reaches it’s crescendo, the irresistible massive rolling ball will then topple the target regime [‘TR’] – well that was my simplistic adolescent theory! I further postulated that when a plot is launched, there is a dynamic parallel effect as the TR will turn in on itself, because the leader of TR will not know whom to trust (the ‘Paranoia Effect’).

A coup cannot be done without the support and blessing of clandestine services both inside the TR and of the TR’s patron hegemon [‘PH’] – think of PH as being Machiavelli’s Prince.

Now, a coup can take place in many ways, and if the architect is really clever, without the public even noticing until regime change has occurred. A real artist will make it look like the will of the people.

Writing in Foreign Affairs on 1 March, in an article – ‘Israel Must Decide Where It’s Going—and Who Should Lead It There The Case for Early Elections’, Ehud Barak (Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Israel from 1999 to 2001 and 2007 to 2013), wrote:

‘Netanyahu has already lost the trust of most voters. … Around three out of four want him to resign. … The time has come for the people of Israel to stand up and bring about a change of course. Eisenkot, Gantz, and Lapid should lead this effort and demand general elections so that the Israeli people can decide where we are heading and who will lead us there. This is a crucial moment. It calls for leadership and action, before it is too late.’

So, there appears to be a public schism between the IDF and the Netanyahu government.

If there is a plot and the ‘Paranoia Effect’ is happening, then logically Netanyahu’s government is an existential threat to Israel.

While members of the Israel Lobby do not all speak with the same voice, they share a single raison d’etre.

So, which side will they take?

If I had become a diplomat, then as a realist, I might have pointed out to my government that if the leadership of a TR has a vested interest in continuing and expanding a war that harms British interests in the region, and into which British forces could get drawn, it makes strategic sense to back a political leader who can rescue the situation.

Furthermore, if a war has no moral justification, then there is a tipping point at which TR is no longer an asset because it has become a strategic liability.

‘It is expected that the end of the war will see Netanyahu’s long political career end – giving him a potential personal interest in prolonging the war, something that newcomers to the coalition shouldn’t support. Israel’s judges and the pro-democracy protestors have defended its democracy. But if a Unity Party-led government is the most likely outcome of a new election, Israel’s political system is unlikely to develop new approaches to meet the urgent, severe threats to security that the Hamas attacks exposed. Israel needs to explore new political realignments, incorporating fresh talent from different walks of life that could take it back on a more democratic path at home, and towards a pragmatic policy on its future relationship with Palestinians and the region.
But for that to happen the country needs to do some profound soul-searching, and to question how it has arrived at this low point in its history.’ https://www.chathamhouse.org/2024/01/when-netanyahu-falls-israels-democracy-will-need-new-political-realignments

Another schism is that between:

(i) ‘Secular’ Jews; and

(ii) ‘Zionists’.

See:

‘Cultural Heritage Diplomacy/Mediation as a geopolitical tool of environmental protection’

There is a relationship between the human environment, development and culture. The commentary to the preamble to the Draft International Covenant on Environment  and Development (5th edition, IUCN Switzerland 2015) states:

‘All civilisations spring from and are shaped by the quality of their surrounding natural elements [and that] the histories of different peoples are inseparable from the natural conditions in which they have lived for millennia. … Art, literature and science cannot be understood, or even imagined, without acknowledging the influence of nature and its components. Thus, cultural diversity, like biological diversity, emerges from the various ecosystems.’ Since the Declaration of the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, June 1972  (the ‘1972 Stockholm Declaration’) stated that ‘Man has a special responsibility to safeguard and wisely manage the heritage of wildlife and its habitat which are now gravely imperilled …’, and this ‘special responsibility’ includes a duty to restore and maintain the integrity of the environment, the existence of fiduciary duties in relation to cultural heritage is linked to wider: environmental; strategic; security; legal; and policy issues, i.e. international law applying to activities on the high seas and on the continental shelf. In my essay ‘Transforming Conflict Through Humanitarian Mediation & Cultural Heritage Diplomacy’ on the Geopolitical Challenges page of this website I argue that ‘Universally recognised fiduciary principles for the protection and preservation of Cultural Heritage [including the environment] exist under International Humanitarian Law [‘IHL’] … [and] that these fiduciary principles can cohere as an ethical foundation for … the development of an integrated strategic framework for the protection of Cultural Heritage [including the environment].’

I conclude that ‘universal ethical values’  which are the foundation of IHL can be applied through Mediation to reduce divergence by demonstrating compatibility. With some creative thinking, IHL can therefore be used to create a road-map for the negotiation of peace in order to protect and preserve the environment. In other words, Cultural Heritage Diplomacy/Mediation is a universal geopolitical tool of environmental protection.

Why is encouraging ‘convergence’ through ‘Cultural Heritage Diplomacy’ not a pillar of British Foreign Policy under the Conservative Government, or as a future foreign policy initiative, an election manifesto pledge of the Labour Party?

Concerted diplomacy is necessary to bring peace to Sudan

It appears that another opportunity for ‘convergence’ is the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Today in their article published in Foreign Affairs – ‘Sudan and the New Age of Conflict How Regional Power Politics are Fuelling Deadly Wars’, the authors, Comfort Ero and Richard Attwod argue: ‘There is, perhaps, a sliver of hope in the geopolitics of Sudan’s crisis. The mood in Arab capitals is more measured than it was a few years ago. Riyadh, in particular, has recalibrated, turning the page on its 2017 spat with Qatar and even seeking to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran, including through a deal brokered by China in March. Moreover, the regional powers most involved in Sudan—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt—belong to what has traditionally been the same bloc. The Saudis, whose development plans hinge on stability around the Red Sea, have especially strong motives to halt the fighting. Riyadh’s influence with both Burhan and Hemedti and its close ties to the UAE and Egypt probably give it the best shot of reining in the warring parties, particularly with U.S. support. … The array of actors with influence and competing interests makes coordination among Arab, African, and Western actors crucial. Critically, as efforts to stop the fighting continue, more concerted diplomacy, including from the United States, is necessary to avert a proxy free-for-all among outside powers that would stifle all hope of a settlement anytime soon. No one should underestimate how disastrous a slide toward a protracted, all-out conflict in Sudan would be—primarily for the Sudanese but also more broadly. At a time when other crises are stretching the world’s humanitarian system to the breaking point and many capitals are consumed by the conflict in Ukraine or its knock-on effects, the world can ill afford another catastrophic war.’
See also: https://lnkd.in/enUueT7f‘Despite the above reservations, China retains clear strategic advantages and wherewithal in Sudan. It possesses strong political capital to work cohesively with the African Union, which has been fundamentally more responsive to Beijing than Washington over the past decade. When fully employed, Beijing’s long-term engagement, and active on-the-ground presence in Sudan can make a significant difference to the country’s desperate search for stability and transitional justice. The ball is now in China’s court to deliver upon its oft-touted vision of peace-making diplomacy.’
‘Is the potential for “convergence” in MENA a geopolitical “pivot” upon which war can be avoided in the South China seas?

In my draft essay –  ‘Transforming Conflict Through Humanitarian Mediation & Cultural Heritage Diplomacy’ (see ‘Humanitarian Mediation’ page of this website) I wrote, ‘Where a conflict is primarily the result of a “clash” of divergent values, the solution, i.e. peace, hinges upon evolving a method of convergence.’ On Tuesday, Professor Jonathan Fulton, gave a talk to the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University about the ‘Geopolitical Challenges of China’s Growing Influence in the Gulf.’ During the talk, I wondered whether an opportunity exists for ‘convergence’ between US and Chinese interests in MENA, as a diplomatic tool (along with the participation of regional partners), for engineering stability and peace in the region? In his article, ‘China is trying to create a wedge between the US and Gulf allies. Washington should take note.’ (See the link above), Professor Fulton observes that ‘recent events indicate that leaders in Beijing are no longer satisfied with the logic of strategic hedging and are pursuing a more muscular approach to the Gulf’. On 9 May, Tong Zhao wrote an article in ‘Foreign Affairs’ – ‘How China’s Echo Chamber Threatens Taiwan,’ warning that, ‘the main factor that will determine whether Washington and Beijing come to blows over Taiwan is not necessarily Xi’s strategy for unification but the idiosyncrasies of China’s political system. The dynamics among China’s political leadership, its policy elite, and the broader public have generated an internal feedback loop that is not entirely within Xi’s comprehension or control. This could result in China’s being fully mobilized for war even without Xi deciding to attack Taiwan.’ (See link above). For ‘homoeostasis’ to re-assert itself and supplant the internal ‘feedback loop’ about Taiwan in ‘domestic’ and international policy making, is it possible to diplomatically engineer ‘convergence’ in MENA to: (i) bring about a re-orientation of China’s strategy in the region (i.e. so that US preponderance in MENA is not threatened); and (ii) generate economic and cultural benefits for China (i.e. through increased trade and cultural exchange with Europe and MENA) that will outweigh/’trump’ domestic political imperatives about reunification with Taiwan in the psychology of China’s political elite, i.e. because China can either prosper through Belt & Road or risk war? That is a question I will put at the forthcoming talk about ‘The Geopolitics of China’s Belt & Road Initiative and Western Focus’ on 16 May by Anoush Ehteshami (Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University): https://lnkd.in/e4bTe_Vz

The question I put at the talk was – ‘Is the potential for a strategic “convergence” of US and China’s competing interests in MENA – linked to Belt & Road, a geopolitical “pivot” upon which war can be avoided in the South China seas, i.e. because China can either prosper through Belt & Road or risk war in the South China Seas?’ For the answer listen to the answer to the second question in the Q&Q session in the recording – which I will post here when I receive it. In short, the US and China do have common strategic interests in MENA, which could be explored in a constructive dialogue e.g. about how to resurrect the JPOA and open the door to infrastructure investment in Iran, which is sitting on approximately 29.6 trillion cubic meters of proven gas reserves which accounts for 16% of the world’s total reserves. This places Iran behind Russia with the second largest gas reserves worldwide. Iran also has more mineral deposits than Russia, which could be mined and exported. Iran is also uniquely situated at the confluence of Europe, MENA, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Therefore, if my Theory about ‘Convergence’ is intellectually robust, a ‘convergence’ of US and Chineese interests in MENA could:

  • avoid war in the South China Seas/Taiwan, by enabling China’s economic expansion through BRI in MENA, i.e. if economic expansion can thereby overtake China’s domestic politics of reunification in the psychology of China’s leadership and political elite – as it did under Deng (which is why the West did not fear China’s rise);
  • restore US-Iran relations, by opening the door to business through e.g. US/European/Chineese/Iranian commercial joint-venture infrastructure projects;
  • bring peace, affluence, and stability througout the MENA region (and eventually throughout the continent of Africa?); and
  • thereby curb migration i.e. if economic migrants from MENA/Africa, seek jobs where the money is in MENA, instead of migrating to Europe.

Note added 31.05.2023:

To hear the full answer given by Anoush Ehteshami (Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University) to my question – ‘Is the potential for a strategic “convergence” of US and China’s competing interests in MENA – linked to Belt & Road, a geopolitical “pivot” upon which war can be avoided in the South China seas, i.e. because China can either prosper through Belt & Road or risk war in the South China Seas?’ , click on the link to his talk on the ‘Geopolitical Challenges’ page under ‘Articles & Talks’ at the top. Then fast forward to the Q&A at 57:56 using the bar underneath the video.

See also:

The BRI and Its Rivals: The Building and Rebuilding of Eurasia in the 21st Century > National Defense University Press > News Article View (ndu.edu)

Middle East/North Africa (MENA) | United States Trade Representative (ustr.gov)

‘Structuring as a tool of mediating peace?’

‘A common thread links many of our contemporary anxieties about the future, from authoritarian backsliding in Russia to corruption in India, to failed states in the developing world, to entrenched interest groups in contemporary American politics. It concerns the difficulties of creating and maintaining effective political institutions, governments that are simultaneously, powerful, rule-bound, and accountable. This might seem like an obvious point that any fourth grader would acknowledge, and yet on further reflection it is a truth that many intelligent people fail to understand . … There is in fact a curious blindness to the importance of political institutions that has affected many people over the years, people who dream about a world in which we will somehow transcend politics.’ (‘The Origins Of Political Order’, by Francis Fukuyama volume 1 (2011), pages 10 and 11. If this analysis is correct, then it follows that an instrument/tool for creating political order out of anarchy is institution building. ‘Liberal democracy is more than majority voting in elections: it is a complex set of institutions that restrain and regularise the exercise of power through law and a system of checks and balances. In many countries, official acceptance of democratic legitimacy was accompanied by the systematic removal of checks on executive power and the erosion of the rule of law. … There had been a broad assumption in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that virtually all countries were transitioning to democracy and that failures of democratic practice will be overcome with the simple passage of time. Carothers pointed out that this “transition paradigm” was an unwarranted assumption and that many authoritarian elites had no interest in implementing democratic institutions that would dilute their power.’ (Fukuyama, page 4). If a proxy war requires a proxy solution, then a challenge for mediators in a contemporary ‘Westphalian’ process, is to facilitate the design/structuring/engineering of a new ‘political order’, that results in a sustainable peace, which is secured/guaranteed by the ‘key stakeholders’ with the participation and consent of their ‘proxies’. In other words, in their ‘toolkit’ mediators need the ability to facilitate ‘structural’ thinking about institution building – which like any form of structuring, requires ‘imagination’. Democratic institutions cannot be parachuted onto a tribal society. While countries are not trapped by their pasts, in many cases things happened hundreds or even thousands of years ago which continue to exert a major influence on the nature of local politics. Therefore, in seeking to understand the functioning of contemporary institutions, a mediator needs to look at their origins and to understand the often accidental/contingent forces that brought them into being. See also – https://digitalcommons.lasalle.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1146&context=the_histories