The War in Ukraine Demonstrates the Necessity of American Power Rather Than the Potential for European Unity

Sept. 16 2022

During the past year, Jürgen Habermas—sometimes considered Germany’s leading political philosopher, and the only surviving member of the influential “Frankfurt school” of leftist thinkers—has come out as a vocal supporter of the Ukrainian cause. To Habermas, the war symbolizes a great moment for the European Union’s project. Nevertheless, writes Wayne Hsieh, the philosopher

defended German caution and suspicion of military power. In Habermas’s view, the crisis in Ukraine simply reinforced his belief that the EU needed its own independent militarily capabilities, separate and apart from the unreliable Americans. In a significant sign of Franco-German comity, the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy had also rhapsodically declared Volodymyr Zelensky “a new, young, and magnificent founding father” of a “Europe of principles” and that the “free world” itself was at stake in Ukraine.

In Hsieh’s view, the realities of the conflict don’t so much point toward an imagined European-led a future, but to the continuation of the American-led past:

Much to the chagrin of a figure like Habermas, if there is one obvious outcome of the current war in Ukraine, it is to impress upon the world the superiority of American conventional military power. When combined with the competence and fighting spirit of Ukrainian military forces, an influx of mostly American infantry-borne anti-tank weapons, tube artillery, and rocket systems has forced the “near-peer” Russian military into a grinding stalemate.

The military side of the American effort to aid Ukraine has proved to be fearsomely effective while barely breaking a sweat, even as the sanctions regime so laboriously built by the Biden administration’s careful diplomacy may end up backfiring if it triggers an economic crisis in NATO countries (including the United States itself). Indeed, American policymakers may soon regret their unwillingness to accelerate deliveries of heavy weapons earlier this spring. . . . [A] Kyiv-controlled Ukraine as a viable state will survive with or without a formal NATO security guarantee, just as the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Korea both prospered under an American-led security umbrella.

From Israel’s perspective, this may be good news. After all, the U.S. has long been its greatest friend and protector, and the European Union a source of incessant self-righteous criticism—and of funding and succor for Israel’s enemies.

Read more at Newlines

More about: Bernard-Henri Levy, European Union, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

Saudi Arabia Should Open Its Doors to Israeli—and Palestinian—Pilgrims

On the evening of June 26 the annual period of the Hajj begins, during which Muslims from all over the world visit Mecca and perform prescribed religious rituals. Because of the de-jure state of war between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state, Israeli Muslim pilgrims—who usually number about 6,000—must take a circuitous (and often costly) route via a third country. The same is true for Palestinians. Mark Dubowitz and Tzvi Kahn, writing in the Saudi paper Arab News, urge Riyadh to reconsider its policy:

[I]f the kingdom now withholds consent for direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia, it would be a setback for those normalization efforts, not merely a continuation of the status quo. It is hard to see what the Saudis would gain from that.

One way to support the arrangement would be to include Palestinians in the deal. Israel might also consider earmarking its southern Ramon Airport for the flights. After all, Ramon is significantly closer to the kingdom than Ben-Gurion Airport, making for cheaper routes. Its seclusion from Israeli population centers would also help Israeli efforts to monitor outgoing passengers and incoming flights for security purposes.

A pilot program that ran between August and October proved promising, with dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank traveling back and forth from Ramon to Cyprus and Turkey. This program proceeded over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, which fears being sidelined by such accommodations. Jordan, too, has reason to be concerned about the loss of Palestinian passenger dinars at Amman’s airports.

But Palestinians deserve easier travel. Since Israel is willing to be magnanimous in this regard, Saudi Arabia can certainly follow suit by allowing Ramon to be the springboard for direct Hajj flights for Palestinian and Israeli Muslims alike. And that would be a net positive for efforts to normalize ties between [Jerusalem] and Riyadh.

Read more at Arab News

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia