Gossips report when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gifted Vice President Joseph Biden a glass-framed photograph taken in Israel of his recently deceased Zionist-sympathetic mother, he accidentally crushed it. Apparently, in an apologetic malapropism, the usually suave Bibi blundered again. Psychobabblers would conjure up a subconscious working overtime.
It wasn’t meant to go that way. On the eve of Passover, the Jews’ ancient feast of liberation, Mr. Biden had been sent with words of support to salvage a deteriorating relationship. But the Vice President had nothing the Israelis wanted to hear. In essence, his message was that Mr. Obama’s efforts, first to appease the Tehran mullahs, patently had failed. And then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “crippling sanctions” came a cropper. Penciled in bottom line: the Israelis must not move unilaterally unleashing Armageddon, the world was going to have to live with an Iranian bomb.
For Mrs. Clinton’s efforts were stymied. Never mind the Chinese and Russian UN Security Council veto. Even Brazil’s Pres. Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva publicly lectured Mme. Secretary on how she should play nice with the mullahs. Lula, likeBrazil, is on a roll with enormous new deepwater oil discoveries. [BP is now desperately trying to buy in.]
Almost forgotten were Brazilian ethanol imports blocked to protect Midwest corn producers and all the other frictions nearing trade war proportions. The Brazilians could smirk at the Obama Administration’s “green energy” subsidies after decades of their dumping billions into developing sugar-based fuel. Now Brazil, soon to be a net oil exporter, wants to play with the big boys. That includes Iran with the world’s second largest fossil fuel reserves. Old roustabouts recall how way back under the Shah, Tehran was prime mover in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries calling for higher priced energy.
If Washington really believes it is going to cobble together sanctions against the bloody Revolutionary Guard – Mrs. Clinton publicly guessed they are now in the Tehran driver’s seat — the mist really has closed in on Foggy Bottom. Many of the U.S.’ two million Iranian exiles, traditional Persian-speaking merchants and hawala money launderers on the west bank of the Persian Gulf, are in bed with the Pasdaran.[IRG]. Even The New York Times found out that major U.S. corporations are violating American sanctions through dummy corporations cluttering every new skyscraper directory in bankrupt Dubai and its neighboring sugar-teat, Qatar.
Whether the Israelis gird their loins for a strike to slow Iranian bomb and missile development may be as disputed inside their government as it is among American TV talking heads. But it may be that Pres. Ahmadenijad’s threats to wipe Israel off the map are less important than just the very existence of a Mullah Bomb. It would reconfigure Mideast geopolitics. The Saudis, whose only foreign policy is to try to buy whomever, and the feckless oil-rich Emiratti, would likely knuckle under to Persian dominance if and when Tehran succeeds. Mercurial Syrian Dictator Basher al-Asaad already publicly threw personal insults at Mrs. Clinton during a kumbayah with Pres. Ahmadenijad only days after she refurbished diplomatic relations and dropped some sanctions. At the other end of the Mideast, Egypt totters on in a succession crisis having long since lost Sunni leadership.
Following in Bush Administration footsteps, Mr. Obama is behind the time curve by refusing to aid Iranian dissidents in Cold War fashion. Washington could well face a strengthening regime. The twentieth century taught us just how far terror would go in castrating much more sophisticated societies. Add nationalist fervor if and when Iran becomes the tenth world nuclear power, and you have a recipe for dramatic erosion of America’s influence in the region.
Tehran holding a bomb could wield enormous power on world energy markets. The Obama Administration’s “green energy”import independence is at best a distant mirage. New technologies to develop abundant domestic gas face the same old enviromentalistas’ fury. A parallel is bankrupt California tolerating pollution of its beeches from seepage in the Santa Barbara Channel rather than go for offshore drilling.
The matriarch Golda Meir’s lament that Israel was the only place in the Mideast without fossil fuels is no longer true. An American outfit has struck gas off the Mediterranean coast. It’s enough to limit Israel’s dependence on Egypt and end airy-fairy tales of underwater pipelines from Turkey carrying water and Central Asian crude.
But none of this solves the pressing problem of how to get U.S.-Israel relations back on track. One could hope Pres. Obama would turn away from his Palestinian-Syrian-Pakistani friends who thought blocking settlements would carry the day. It never had been an a priori consideration in the endless negotiations. Netanyahu, stronger in part because of his Washington nose-thumbing, can’t and won’t buy it. The self evident fruitless negotiations with divided, unrealistic Palestinian leadership – including Gaza’s jihadists — are striking. But when does realism set in at the State Department?