Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Middle East Chess

Leslie J. Sacks
Los Angeles, CA

Israel resides amongst 22 (generally hostile) Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, with 2% of the population on 0.15% of the land. Israel's army is fighting Islamist radicals on multiple fronts and sharing its expertise in counter-insurgency, robotic warfare, and military intelligence (among other fields) with their American counterparts. Nevertheless, according to reported comments by Vice-President Joe Biden, the White House believes Israel is "endangering the US lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan." Wow! What an accolade for Israel's reach and unrivaled global power, not to mention it's ability - by simultaneously protecting and "endangering" US troops - to play for opposing sides all at once. The Jews - responsible for both communism and capitalism, ostentation as well as excessive thrift - have always excelled at that. Biden's alleged riposte was delivered because Israel announced plans to build 1600 apartments in a Jewish neighborhood in municipal North-East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War and specifically excluded from the Netanyahu government's 10-month settlement freeze, which the Obama administration itself advertized with appreciation (Hillary Clinton herself called the move "unprecedented").

The announcement's timing was clearly awful, whether it was a bureaucratic gaffe or some over-zealous intra-government politicking. But does anything really run smoothly in the Middle East, apart from the invention and dissemination of Israel-hatred?

The Palestinian Authority just dedicated a square in Ramallah in honor of the terrorist Dalal Moghrabi, canonized for burning alive 35 men, women and children. Hamas just fired yet another barrage of rockets into Israel from Gaza. The PLO charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Not a single Arab country or organization of note has accepted Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The Palestinians have never accepted any Israeli offer of permanent peace. Apparently, these tiny details do not embarrass America nor hinder peace negotiations. In the last 12 months, the US has not publically reprimanded the Palestinian Authority1 for any of their intransigencies. Instead, it is Israel's building on empty conquered land that is the only noticeable problem.

Why is this the case?

Perhaps the White House wants to very publically distance itself from past American policies - and thus between Israel and the White House - so that the Arab world's tarnished self-image can be polished, so that confidence and respect can be proffered to the Arabs as gifts by President Obama. Perhaps Obama is seizing this opportunity to push his charisma-fueled effort to remake the world in his image, to forever heal the rift between east and west, between Islam and Christianity.

Israel is too small and too thorny to warrant all the trouble that so inconveniently surrounds it. It brazenly insists on survival in its ancient homeland. To resolve all the nasty conflict therein - too complicated, too risky for this administration - perhaps Israel need only be knocked down a peg or two. It's what friends are for, no?

ImageObama the messiah rides into Jerusalem on a white donkey to save the recalcitrant Palestinians from themselves - what could be better? To get there, the Uber-Negotiator is ingratiating himself with the Arab world and proving America is just like everyone else. The understanding and empathy ladled out to the many intransigent groups proliferating around the Middle East will accordingly absolve them, evolve them, and bring them into the fold. The poacher can indeed become the game-keeper!

Obama's Israel strategy also appears related to his continuing attempts to appease Iran, as though if Israel would just return to the 1949 armistice line (8 miles wide at its center), then the centrifuges in Iran would surely stop spinning (who knows: perhaps Obama can tend two Islamist birds with one nest, and suicide bombers in Kabul will rather open teahouses). Presumably Obama's pressure is designed to ensure veto power over any Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear installations. An independent Israel going rogue on Obama's chess game is a primary fear of the White House and if the pressure brings down the right-of-center Netanyahu government in the process, so much the better.

That explains America. But what of Russia - why do they insist on supporting Iran and their pending Bushehr nuclear power plant? Is that not counter-productive, especially considering that Muslim Chechnya and Daghestan are the most violent and restive of Russia's holdings. Certainly Jihadist groups there enjoy consistent Iranian support and inspiration and would love to add dirty nuclear bombs and more to their arsenal.

Seems Russia is too clever by half. They clearly see the danger and they believe, correctly, that the West is weak and their sanctions inevitably ineffectual. By allowing Iran to up the ante and push the envelope towards nuclearization, they calculate, devilishly, that this will irrevocably move Israel to action, to striking Iran's nuclear facilities, thus doing Russia's dirty work for them. They know Israel has no option - they cannot live with the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. And Israel will accrue all the blame, all the missiles; America, some of the fallout and embarrassment. But Russia will have this problem solved and garner huge new weapons sales, oil supplies, and alliances from the Middle East. What's more, a few Jew's will assuredly die in the process.

It's a very creative game of post-KGB Middle-Eastern chess, by the masters of the game. Obama is out of his league; Ahmadinejad will rally his Revolutionary Guard, incarcerate a few more thousand dissidents and with unrestricted Chinese imports live to fight another day.

Israel's always been the scapegoat (as were the Jews for 2000 years) - why change the perfect ploy? - it works every time. A few Jerusalem apartments are all it takes.


1Note: The Palestinian Authority are the peace partners the White House are lauding whilst castigating Israel. Here follows instructive quotes by Ahmad Bahar, the Parliament speaker of the Palestinian Authority:

"Make us victorious over the infidel people Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies, Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don't leave even one."

"Our enmity with the Jews is a matter of faith, more than an enmity owing to occupation and the land."

"Soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, like Constantinople was conquered, according to the prophecy of our prophet Muhammad. Their capital will be the first post of the Islamic conquests that will spread all over Europe then it will turn to the two Americas and even to Eastern Europe."

The head of Hezbollah in Lebanon has stated with transparent honesty: "If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."

Iran's rulers have also openly and publicly proclaimed: "Israel is a one bomb country."

For further reading, please visit this link.

Captions: (top) Jerusalem, by Edward Lear (1812-1888); (bottom) US Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at Tel Aviv University

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