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  • Zones of Conflict: US Foreign Policy in the Balkans and the Greater Middle East
  • Constantine P. Danopoulos (bio)
Vassilis K. Fouskas: Zones of Conflict: US Foreign Policy in the Balkans and the Greater Middle East. London: Pluto, 2003. 177 pages. ISBN 0-7453-2030-9. $24.95.

The Bush administration's decision to resort to force in order to bring about regime change in Iraq met with skepticism, if not outright opposition, from some of America's traditional European allies, straining US-European relations. At the same time, it caused a fissure within the European Union, setting back efforts toward common EU foreign and security policies. Supported by some fellow EU members, France and Germany opposed the immediate use of force, while Britain, Spain, Italy, and several Eastern European countries sided with Washington. An overwhelming number of Americans and numerous analysts and elected officials viewed the French and German behavior as unacceptable—a stab in America's back.

On the surface, these differences can be explained by a more assertive posture on the part of Europe following the eclipse of the Soviet threat. But a close look reveals that the EU-US differences stem from America's grand strategy to maintain primacy in world politics, predicated on control of energy sources in the Middle East and Central Asia. Essential to this design is a friendly, politically weak, and agreeable Eurasia. While some of these observations have been expressed in the past, there has been no systematic and in-depth analysis of the causes and effects of this thinking and the potential impact on world politics. Vassilis K. Fouskas' book fills an important gap in the literature. He has written a first-rate, thought-provoking, even path-breaking little book analyzing and assessing the sources, nature, and vicissitudes of America's drive toward globalization and world dominance and the friction it generates with former Cold War partners in Europe and in the rest of the world.

Fouskas bases his analysis on two central assertions. The first is that US foreign [End Page 149] policy is anchored in principles of political realism whose primary objective is "national interests, geopolitics, and power politics." In the realist formulation, which is the dominant view in Washington, national interest is the guiding principle; ethics, human rights, and other similar humanitarian values are peripheral. The second important ingredient is the historical and continuing importance of Eurasia evidenced by Zbigniew Brzezin-ski's argument that America's "primacy will whither away" unless Washington possesses "the power strategy to streamline the development of key Eurasian actors according to her [America's] national interests." The key component in the strategy of world domination is access to secure sources of energy in the form of oil and natural gas. To ensure this, asserts Fouskas, "the US has tried to control the production and transportation of oil and gas from Central Asia to the Balkans, and from there, to Western markets." This strategy not only ensures command of energy-rich Central Asia but enhances Washington's ability to control the world's other major oil supplier: the conflict-ridden Middle East.

Extrapolating from the strategic designs of Brzezinski and other like-minded realists, Fouskas argues that it is in the American strategic interests in world domination and globalization to see a friendly, economically healthy, but security-dependent EU and not a united Europe able "to produce a coherent federal polity" and "an independent actor in world politics." The logical extension of realist thinking is the advocacy of the EU eastward expansion, encompassing the former eastern bloc. At the same time, America opposed Brussels' design to grant membership to the ethnically divided island of Cyprus. In the realist thinking, the accession of Cyprus would enable the EU to "consolidate its interests in the neuralgic zone of the eastern Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Near East Theatre." As such, "Cyprus constitutes a major testing ground for the emancipation of the EU's foreign and security policy from the grip of the US." The accession of Cyprus could help deepen the prospect of political integration in the EU—a development that "might challenge America's supremacy, particularly in the Middle East." Fouskas...


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pp. 149-151
Launched on MUSE
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Archived 2019
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