TFR 52 – Advancing Common Purposes in the Broad Middle East


The four brief essays in this set were prepared for the March 1998 annual meeting of the Trilateral Commission and refined for publication immediately thereafter.

“In this time of uncertainty and stress, when little seems to be working, it is understandable and perhaps even fashionable to emphasize the differences in approach between Europe and the United States,” Robert Pelletreau writes in the opening essay. “Our press is full of the themes of containment versus engagement, sanctions versus free trade, D’Amato versus Total, Washington’s monopolization of Arab-Israel peacemaking versus European co-direction.” Looking deeper, Amb. Pelletreau finds broadly parallel interests and lessened differences in the most recent period. “[A] joint approach to the challenges facing us in the Middle East is superficially attractive, simplistic and unrealistic. Let Japan, Europe and the United States benefit from their diversity, keeping it within the broader framework of their common interest, and discipline themselves to the desirability of greater consultation, complementarity and cooperation in their dealings with this vital region.”

Reinhard Schlagintweit writes about Iran and Iraq. In his view of Iran, a fundamentalist state tries to develop towards democracy, civil rights, and the separation of state and society without abandoning its religious character. A “positive Western policy towards Iran” would recognize these hopeful internal developments and “encourage Iran’s increasingly constructive regional role and its engagement in international organizations.” Iraq is fundamentally different, but Amb. Schlagintweit argues for a “graduated positive approach....There is no valuable remedy in sight but to continue containing and weakening Iraq’s aggressive apparatus. It should be carefully examined, however, if those measures could not be limited to the military field, and supplemented by a more forthcoming economic, cultural, and social policy.”

Yoshiji Nogami focuses on the current near collapse of the Oslo Accord, with “no endogenous momentum on either side for resuscitating the process. Thus, there is a pressing need for a push from outside....The lesson to be drawn from the experiences of the past two years is that we cannot yet leave the process of confidence-building to the two direct parties....The United States will take the leadership role in keeping the process from dying, but there is much that Japan and the European Union can do to strengthen the process of confidence-building. We have to have a series of layers of confidence-building measures surrounding the core political dialogue between the two direct parties.”

Dominique Moïsi argues for “a new combination of modesty and ambition” in Europe’s role in the peace process. The modesty is in “realizing that their policy can only be complementary to that of the United States” and in recognizing that, vis-à-vis Israel, “the emotional margin of maneuver of the Europeans is extremely limited.” The ambition grows out of the fact that the Europeans “are in the front terms of vulnerability” and are “responsible for the Middle East problems on two distinct counts: colonialism and anti-Semitism.”


Robert H. Pelletreau, Partner, Afridi & Angelli; former Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Reinhard Schlagintweit, Senior Fellow, Research Institute of the German Society for Foreign Affairs (DGAP), Berlin; former Director-General for Asia, Africa and Latin America, German Foreign Ministry
Yoshiji Nogami, Japanese Ambassador to the OECD; former Deputy-Director General for the Middle East, Japanese Foreign Ministry, Tokyo
Dominique Moïsi, Deputy Director, French Institute of International Relations, Paris

Table of Contents

European-American Cooperation in the Middle East
Robert H. Pelletreau
Positive Approaches to Iran and Iraq
Reinhard Schlagintweit
Keep the Peace Process from Dying
Yoshiji Nogami
Europe in the Middle East:  A New Combination of Modesty and Ambition
Dominique Moïsi

  • Topics: Trade, Security, Multilateral Cooperation
  • Region:  North America, Europe, Middle East
  • Publisher:  The Trilateral Commission
  • Publication Date:  © 1998
  • ISBN:  0-930503-77-5
  • Pages:  30
  • Complete Text: Click here to download