Saturday, December 14, 2013

Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Neo-Mandate Solution

Barry Rubin

War without end. That is what the Obama Administration promises the U.S., Israel, and the Palestinians. If the current Obama-Kerry plan for an Israel-Palestinian deal is implemented, scores of Americans would likely die. This was revealed recently by Secretary of State John Kerry, particularly in a speech at the Saban Forum.

By the way, the Saban Forum Speech was made appropriately on December 7th, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The former head of the Saban Center has also been chosen as negotiator.

The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.

According to the plan, the United States would gradually create and maintain the agreement by policing an independent Palestinian state.  Israel would be protected by the U.S. forces, and Palestine would be protected from Israel by them. And that's part of the problem, because the Palestinians would stage a huge number of protests against and complaints regarding Israel's actions, likely demanding more concessions.

In addition, the Palestinians, particularly Hamas, would see the new Palestinian state as perpetually victimized. They would mobilize any Arab forces they could to back their complaints. It would be a nightmare. But what the wrong-headed people in the Obama Administration do not understand is that they would be under constant challenge. They do not understand that no matter what they say, Hamas, Fatah, Iran, Syria, al-Qa'ida, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafists –and most likely Saudi Arabia–will never accept an Israeli state.

In other words, if Americans are on the ground, they will be targeted. Now the question is what will they do? Will they "protect" Israel? And what is the definition of protecting Israel? If Palestinians ignore that they are attackers, then it is a controversy. Israel does not deserve "protection." And what about gaps in this protection or disagreement among the observers?

In his Saban speech, Kerry said, "…Our commitment to Israel's security spurred the U.S.-Israeli development of ballistic missile defense technologies to keep Israelis safe from rockets and missiles. Those systems and newer technologies continue to protect Israelis from the range of threats that they still face today."

What about a large stream of cross-border attacks? Will Americans attack Palestinians if they violate the agreement? May I point out that at various times Iraqi, Hamas, and Hizballah rockets have landed on Israel with no U.S. defensive action. Again, the most important point is not Iranian nuclear weapons but routine policing of a Palestinian state, not to mention Israel's Lebanon-Syria border.

Are we to believe that American helicopters, airplanes, and ground soldiers would attack when the whole effort of this exercise had been to avoid military commitments? How many years would this neo-mandate continue? Will the United States intimidate certain countries if necessary? Remember that the United States didn't even support the military government in Egypt. So will it defend Egypt in the Sinai, which is in cooperation with Israel?

The United States may suffer a great number of casualties over time. Note the 3,400 deaths of Western coalition soldiers in Afghanistan so far. Are Western forces willing to sacrifice more than 300 soldiers a year? In 2010, IED attacks in Afghanistan wounded 3,366 U.S. soldiers. And that was in just one year of the war.
And of course Americans are going to accidently kill Palestinians, both fighters and unarmed civilians. As of February 2013, between 17,000 and 19,000 civilians died in Afghanistan. This then would create a blood-feud. And by the way, many of these people will blame Israel.

Think along the lines of Afghanistan. The U.S. has informed President Karzai that it is withdrawing its forces. Karzai is not happy with that, and he wants to reject the deal. Again, can Israel rely on American defense even if it accepts it?

Recently, the United States has betrayed the following countries; Egypt (wanting to support a Muslim Brotherhood government); Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey (supporting their side in the Syrian civil war). And it has left a mess in Iraq. Do you think at this moment Israel is going to trust the United States at the peak of distrust in modern times? Consider this too, what will happen when the U.S. soldiers come back in body bags? How long will the U.S. commitment last before dumping an independent Palestinian State on Israel? How long will the American people accept photos of dead Palestinians, much less dead Israelis?

Remember clearly that there will be Turks, Iranians, Arabs, Islamists, and Palestinians who will not to accept the solution or who will continue fighting. And sooner or later, the United States would leave the new state and leave Israel with a mess.

Since this will cost a great number of American fatalities; money, conflicts of agreement, interpretation, and prestige in the Middle-East; and constant American interventions, such a solution will not work. I cannot conceive that people do not look forward in this way and rather seem to be guided by wishful thinking that the conflict will end suddenly.

It is no accident that Israel has never been willing to trust its security to a third party. This is a roadmap for increased conflict.

For example, is the U.S. air force going to bomb a building in Gaza that is an open headquarter for Gaza rocket and terrorist attacks? Will it aggressively go after foreign fighters, even if those foreign fighters have attacked Americans? Will it send them to Guantanamo Bay? Will it respond to criticism in the UN? May I point out that U.S. counterterrorism policy has not been very aggressive of late.

Think about Benghazi.

The United States will then have two choices:
  1. The U.S. helps Israel, albeit with constant opposition, and alienates the Arab and Iranian and Turkish world.
  2. The United States will gradually get tired of the burden and walk away from it.
In other words, Israel would not benefit from what can only be called "ObamaStrategicCare."
If you like it, no matter what you've heard, you can keep your strategic patron or plan, you can keep your ally (Obama), and you'll save money. No one will be able to take that away from you.

Why Modern Society Is No Longer Better than Traditional Society
Posted: 12 Dec 2013 10:02 AM PST
Times have changed,
And we’ve often rewound the clock,
Since the Puritans got a shock,
When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
If today,
Any shock they should try to stem,
‘Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would land on them.
In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.
–Cole Porter

The first thing is that everything in the Middle East has changed. And so has the U.S. relationship with it.
Why does the Obama administration treat the Middle East in the way that it does? Simple, it's their culture. Think about it, previous White Houses view the foreign policy of the United States as being set by U.S. interests. They focus on monetization, and they think that the rest of the world should catch up to Western life.

But for the Obama administration, the preference of social monetization and Western life is an arrogant construct. After all, who says that Western society is better than any other?

Think about this, in the 1850s in India, a Hindu priest complained to General Charles Napier about the outlawing of suttee. He said, "We have a custom of burning our widows," to which Napier replied:

"This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs."

In contemporary context–now that Islam and not British colonial doctrine is supposed to rule–countries will burn windows again. However, since death is usually but not always the "reward" of an erring daughter or wife, this would not be publishable by law. And of course, the Koranic law, or a milder version of it, should be reinforced–in other words, the situation is like this: Colonialism has been repealed and opposing Western customs–if only modern–are racist.

In other words, the goal is not modernization or Westernization, but not imposing colonial Western "modern" laws on people–and look at politics. The right of "terrorism" is really a rational response to say the existence of Israel. Or even the existence of a non-Shari'a Afghanistan. The Muslim Brotherhood, or Islamism, is a pro-traditional custom response, not a reactionary response.

Again, Western society, culture, and civilization should not be opposed. What does this mean? It means that Islamic traditional customs should be in response. It is Western imposition of customs that is reactionary. It seems that this key concept is not understood. Of course, this is what is taught in the media, in newspapers. By the way, this is true of European society too. If you oppose a law in Europe that makes Islamic garb illegal, that is a racist reactionary response, according to the new view. If you impose a law mandating that covering a woman's face is illegal, that is a racist reactionary response. This means that countries lose control of their own internal laws, and no nation can exist if it doesn't do that.

If you don't understand this–that Shari'a schools within a country can oppose any family law that they want–you are wrong. That is the real issue here. Once you accept that Islamist religious law should triumph, even if the country itself is forcibly secular, you have given way. A country that imposes public secularism–the refusal of any public religious observance–but embraces Islamic religiosity is doomed.

And that is what the Obama administration and many European governments have done. For example, why is it that Islamic Iran can be a good government when run by Islamic law?
It is not acceptable that certain behavior which would be considered in other places should be met with death or imprisonment. No longer do Western states desire to transform India into a modern country, but say to transform Turkey, Syria, or Iran, whose legitimate customs are governed by Shari'a. In other words, the Obama administration has a new doctrine. If Obama were General Napier, you want to keep your widow's pyre? You can keep it.

The modern society is "victimizer," and the widow maker becomes victim because of the political cultures.

No comments: