Tag Archives: Gaza

Mrs. Clinton’s Mideast chicken salad


Secretary Hillary Clinton, after briefly nurturing husband Bill, is in the Mideast skirting [in pantsuits] two dangerous games of chicken.

Headlined, of course, is confrontation with Tehran’s mullahs over their nuke ambitions. She’s there to buck up Washington’s Persian Gulf minipetrostate allies. Touring Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier promised new weaponry for the shaky sheikhs who might be first casualties if hostilities explode. But despite Mrs. Clinton’s  “crippling” sanctions threat, Iran’s defiance – backed by Russian and Chinese obdurate opposition to ratcheting them up – trips the Geiger counters.

Mme. Secretary is skipping Israel. Just as well not to have eye-to-eye contact what with Israel’s implied threat to unilaterally attack to slow Mr. Ahmedenijad’s efforts. As the Obama Administration keeps redrawing the “red lines” closer and closer to accepting a nuclear-clad Iran – first enrichment, then weaponization, then delivery — aggravated by Tehran’s threats, the Israeli “never again” syndrome swells.

That’s why part and parcel of Washington’s Iran confrontation is a parallel nuanced tit-for-tat between Israelis and Washington. The President’s extensive pre-White House Palestinian, Pakistani and other Muslim acquaintanceship lurks quietly offstage. That seems the only justification for Washington’s renewed efforts to woo Syria, keystone in regional forces arrayed against Israel. For, defying Washington, Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad reasserts control in Lebanon, transfers Tehran’s weapons to Hizbullah, provides sanctuary for radical jihadists, allows terrorists infiltration into Iraq, all the while tightening Tehran ties.

On the Israeli-Palestinian front, Mr. Obama’s dramatic initiative to feature Israeli “settlements” in Occupied Territories taken after Jerusalem’s 1967 victory got his peacemaking efforts off to a bad start.  No American, Israeli – or even Palestinian – negotiator had ever made their disposition sine qua non for starting negotiations. That gambit, apparently, was dreamed up by the first ever retired uniformed National Security Adviser, Marine Gen. James Jones. Earlier he tried to draw up a minimal security agenda — for the Israelis, if you please. It didn’t. And he hasn’t been heard from recently on this subject, and not much on other issues.

In any event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu grabbed the ball and ran. Sentiment for expanding suburban Jerusalem for Israeli metrosexuals, military Jordan River strongpoints for Israel Defense Forces, and Judea and Samaria hilltops for the religious have coalesced behind him. Howsoever growing European criticism, Israel’s crushing Gaza campaign at least temporarily halted Hamas’ missiles. So “Bibi” has more support than “normal” for an Israeli PM facing the notoriously fractious Knesset and Washington’s incessant intrigue to wangle a more pliant replacement.

Mr. Netanyahu did throw a sop to U.S. negotiators with a temporary postponement of “settlements” construction. Mme. Hillary, stroking a sow’s ear into a silkpurse in Israel last fall, labeled it an “unprecedented” concession. It’s the only one she is likely to get, confronted with Israeli dominance of an Arab Palestine divided between dissolving West Bank Fatah and Tehran-backed jihadist Hamas in Gaza.

Furthermore, Mr. Netanyahu deals from a pretty tall deck. It was he, after all, as finance minister – with PM Ariel Sharon – who broke the back of the traditional Histadrut-socialist lock on the economy. Unleashed, finally, old fashioned Jewish entrepreneurship has blossomed – not least in digitals, pharmaceuticals and weaponry exports. Building an independent central bank with Stanley Fisher, Nairobi-born professor, quintessential New York Citibanker, and IMF veteran, Mr. Netanyahu has led Israel through the perils of the worldwide financial crunch better than most. The economy dipped only briefly into negative growth. There’s even been some unacknowledged spilloff for Palestinian West Bankers.

So when U.S. Special Emissary George Mitchell publicly threatened to scratch U.S. loan guarantees unless “settlements” were halted, the current shoot-from-the-hip Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz brazenly countered that Israel could do without them — and besides, he said, they had already been negotiated for the next round. Now Mitchell, whose stock and trade is his role in the Northern Ireland settlement [which keeps coming apart], leaves no footprints as he commutes around the region. In fact, just before getting off, Mrs. Clinton boosted former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair into the so-called “peace process” leadership. Blair is more acceptable to Jerusalem – even if he will likely arouse Israeli allergies when he taps Foreign Office Arabists for expertise.

Quietly, too, the U.S. is pressuring the Israelis through weapons transfers. Washington refuses [as it does Britain] special Israeli adaptations of F35 joint fighter radar. There has also been a hold on the latest helicopters. With American supply lines overstretched in two wars, Israel’s American partisans who argue there is no formal Obama Administration embargo are probably correct. And, at a time when Mr. Obama’s huge Congressional majority is fracturing with medical “reform”, blue dogs, abortion, and growing apprehension about the fall elections, Rahm Emanuel doesn’t need a showdown with Israel’s staunch, extensive [mostly Democratic] Congressional Jewish [and Christian Evangelical] lobby.

Still, games of chicken have a way of getting out of hand – especially in the world’s most volatile poultryroost fitted out with escalating weapons buildups.

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The West: mugged by reality


Encounters between the so-called Peace Flotilla and Israeli Defense Forces have far reaching implications beyond the conflict between the Jewish state and the Palestinians and their supporters.

Those concerns eventually will dictate the course of the U.S. fight against terrorism. Basic trends are now obscured by Washington’s desperate attempt to minimize friction with the umma, the whole of the 1.3 billion Muslim world.

But the clash has dramatized an ugly reality: a world torn apart by Islamic fanaticism verging on nihilism is increasingly abetted by old European and American leftism. That is further compounded by an attenuated economic recovery in the West. And that, in turn, threatens what has been until now rapidly growing export-led Eastern economies.

This economic and political devil’s brew includes:

  • Turkish government knowledge/participation in the Flotilla operation, is a touchstone which casts doubt not only on Ankara’s role but questions hoped for rapid modernization of other Muslim societies
  • NATO’s eastern flank crumbles as member Turkey courts Iran, Russia and Syria and other pariahs, in an effort to establish regional hegemony.
  • Israel poses a moral, political and military dilemma for the West as multidirectional hostile forces threaten Jerusalem’s existence, forfeiting any possibility of major compromises from the Jewish state — including land for peace.
  • Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s outreach to the Islamic world has failed — all signs pointing to growing radicalization and no evidence of emerging strong reformist leadership.

All these issues are complex, of course, and there will continue to be conflicting evidence. VIP voices will deny these interpretations because geopolitical reality is always difficult to acknowledge. But just as the collapse of European welfare statism has proved those critics clairvoyant who argued against creating socially dependent societies, so inevitably will the true nature of the present conflict become self-evident.

As anti-Nazi German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoeller acknowledged so long ago, the Jews – this time in their own country — are the canary in the mineshaft.

That Jerusalem underestimated the capacity for violence is intriguing. The Turkish activists’ affiliation to known Istanbul terrorists was well-known. Counter-intuitively, caution led the Israelis to incur casualties, grist for propaganda of the new alliance of red and green, the traditional Western radical left and Islamicist sympathizers. Their attempt to portray their provocative voyage as a mercy rescue ignored Gaza’s large food and vitals stocks provided through additional European and American aid millions., actually flowing through Israel and Egypt.

The Israelis now facing rapidly arming terrorist neighbors – Hamas in the south, Hezbollah in the north, and an increasingly unstable Jordan to their east – can take no new gambles on their security in any “peace process”. Israel’s Gaza withdrawal has proved a strategic catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the Tehran mullahs who arm these groups are moving relentlessly toward nuclear weapons at some indeterminate date. However credible Tehran’s threat to wipe Israel off the map, a nuclear Iran would dominate world oil and gas, a constant threat to regional stability and the world.

Turkey’s new role as an apologist for Tehran means turning its back on its half-century alliance with the U.S. It returns to an equivocal position, much like that during World War II when former German Chancellor Franz von Papen made Istanbul the Nazis’ overseas intelligence center.

As with more than one contemporary administration around the world [perhaps including the U.S.], it is hard to judge how much Turkish Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan’s policies are Michaevelleian and how much amateur hour. But clearly a half century of top-down Kemalist secularism is fading rapidly under attack from a new Anatolian, conservative Muslim middle class — ironically in no small part created by huge post-World War II American aid. As an anti-Soviet ally, Washington pumped more than $12.5 billion in economic and $14 billion in military aid [in unadjusted dollars] into Turkey. This does not include vast sums spent on and from U.S. bases and training programs. In riposte, Turkey, of course, blocked US/NATO base transit during the Iraq invasion.

Although Ankara now runs a bilateral trade deficit because of energy dependence on Moscow, Turkish companies are investing heavily in Russia. In return Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant — ominous given Moscow’s collaboration in helping to lay the groundwork for Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Unlike the Korean War, and even Vietnam, where Turkey played a role, its 1800 troops in Afghanistan are smaller than Holland’s contribution and restricted to training. So much for calculations that its high birthrate and military tradition would make Turkey the principal NATO European fighter pool.

It was in Turkey, of course, where Pres. Obama launched his celebrated foreign policy initiative, an attempt to dialogue with a hoped for strengthening moderate Islam. Pres. Obama’s reiteration of American support for Turkish entry into the European Union rings hollow today with membership out of the question. To the contrary, how to deal with radicalization of Europe’s growing emigrant Muslims – including Turks — has become a chief West European headache. And nowhere has new, effective reformist Muslim leadership arisen.

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