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Sunday, March 1, 2015

ISRAEL, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND OBAMA AND IRAN

                 In Israel's hour of need by Caroline Glick

                                    Click Here for Source

                                                         

Ron, thank you for the Glick article. 

My Reaction?

To tell the truth, I don't know what to say with much insight about the article.  It clearly has some strong points --- though, on this score,   it could have stressed some  references to Obama's feckless dead-end "red lines" for the Syrian and Iranian governments, one for chemical weapons and the other for nuclear bomb-developments. These on-and-off threats do little except alienate certain allies in the Middle East and harm American efforts to counter and contain potential enemies.  This doesn't mean diplomacy isn't useful, even with potential adversaries; but not when it includes tongue-loose lines-in-the-sand that turn out to be vacuous rhetoric, nothing more. 

One of the better points in Glick's article is her references to Netanyahu's compromise-offers regarding an independent state in the West Bank and prisoner-exchanges (and a handful of other moderate positions).  Another good point is her criticism of Obama's excessive and semi-delusive faith in the Arab spring, even though she focused mainly on Egypt.  That said, she could have strengthened her argument by underscoring how Obama's policy twist-and-turns have impacted the member-states in the sotto-voce alliance between Israel and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the small Gulf States.  Briefly put, those sleigh-of-hand changes in policy have turned the leaders of all these countries into skepticism about US reliability toward them and their worries about Iran.

All That Said, What Follows?

Follows? Well .. .  we have to await a few developments to see what's really going to happen soon.  No soothsayers should be trusted until then.  Those developments?

 

  • There's Netanyahu's speech and how the Senate reacts.

 

  • There're Obama's negotiations with Iran and what they might amount to. Right now, despite some leaks to the press recently, nobody knows for sure. To put too much trust in anything Muslim dictators say, whether foes or allies, would be naive, but that doesn't mean negotiations couldn't be useful to a certain degree in our relations with Iran . . . especially if they allowed full freedom for UN inspectors to visit their sites as quickly and often they demand. (Whether the Iranians could still hide weapons developments in large underground facilities beneath, say, Tehran buildings, is always a possibility that the inspectors might never even chance upon.)

 There are good reasons, all in all, to be skeptical about any treaty that permits Iran to maintain certain high-potent centrifuges, but not all of them.  In this respect, some say that for 10 years or so the Iranians could promise in a treaty not to move directly to a breakout-development of  few nuclear warheads on ever longer-distance missiles.  That seems naive.  At a minimum, in the most explosive area of the world, what would keep the Saudis, say --- loaded with oil money --- to not move to nuclear weapons too.

Click to Continue:

  What then?

 In the cold war, the standoff of Soviet and American nuclear weapons depended on the dispersal of delivery systems and protection of them, so that any first strike would automatically entail a large retaliatory strike.  That amounted to reciprocal containment.  Effective and reliable command and control systems over nucler weapons are also important, as are efficient satellite and other means of detecting nuclear-armed missiles launched toward a country from the air or seas.  Additionally, starting in the 1960s, the US and Soviet government set up a hot line so the leaders could talk to one another if a nuclear war might soon occur or has been detected as already started by first-launch warheads. 

Such stability in nuclear arms among adversaries is not at all automatic, just the opposite.   All the more unstable, moreover, because you can never be sure who will be in charge in nuclear armed countries without transparency and accountability to an effective legislature chosen in fair elections and monitored by a free press.  To put all this more bluntly, who would be in charge of command and control systems, and what if they came under the influence of radical Islamists willing to kill millions of people if nuclear attacks forwarded their ultra-extremist religious ideologies?  And what kind of detection satellites and other tracking means would countries in the most volatile area of the world --- say, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel --- have in order not to launch on detection.  We're talking about a three or four minutes before actual missiles hit one of these countries.  Only Israel would have fully reliable and cutting-edge detection means.

  • Next to be considered are the domestic developments both in the USA among the public and Democratic Party on one side and how the elections will go in Israel on the other.

 

  • Then, too, we have to consider the outcomes among the Germans, French, Italians, and British --- probably Dutch too --- in case the Senate rejects the treaty (it would have the power to pass a law and override an Obama veto if just a few Democratic Senators join the Republicans. For that matter, the Senate has a Constitutional right to ratify or reject a Treaty that a President has negotiated.  It takes a two-thirds vote to reject a treaty.  Otherwise, the President can assume the Treaty has been accepted.  If, though, the Senate refuses to consent to the Treaty, what could follow would be both Houses of Congress passing into law more sanctions against Iran. 

 

 Would the European countries that matter follow suit with harder sanctions against the Iranians?  That seems unlikely.  Their leaders seem to be desperate to find ways to escape their faltering economies, and their fairyland hopes for huge trade with Iran will make it hard for them to follow the American lead here, just the opposite.  Many of them will  likely reduce the existing sanctions, not bump them up, each country in a hurly-burly commotion to be the first in-line to get the best bargain for their firms. 

Back to Glick. 

An American by birth, at least she lives and writes in Israel, knows Hebrew, is no dummy (she has a graduate degree from Harvard), and probably has good contacts with certain members of the military and the secret service as well as with some politicians on both sides.  That's not the case with Western journalists, even the best. 

The worse journalists among them are by far Europeans.  They seem to specialize in catering to the soaring growth of anti-Israeli sentiments at home, and perhaps unwittingly to fan the fast increasing anti-Semitism in most of the EU. (When a recent survey shows that most Europeans regard Israel as a greater threat to world peace than any other country, you know that something foul is operating in their minds about Jews and Israel.)

Does buggy exaggerate here? He doesn't think so. 

For a start, life for the 1/7th of 1.0% of  the 750 million Europeans --- meaning, specifically, the 1.1 million Jews ---will likely be ever more dangerous.  There will probably be more terrorist attacks and not just on Jewish sites, followed by more counter-attacks by vigilante right-wingers; more anti-Semitism among both Muslims and left-wing and right-wing indigenous Europeans; and more and more futile efforts to deal with the growing Muslim populations all over Europe.  As Professor Hammond noted in his very interesting analysis of how mounting Muslim demands in non-Muslim run countries proliferate as their numbers grow, those in Europe will likely demand more and more independence in running their communities and other special arrangements that will be conceded by alarmed politicians.  And opposed ever more by non-Muslim factions across the political divisions, some of them violent in their counter-moves. 

The likely outcome?  In another decade or two, right-wing political parties of anti-Muslim outlooks will probably gain more and more electoral support.  This will alienate more and more Muslims, even moderate ones, with terrorism on the rise.  No one can say for sure that civil wars will be waged, but violent conflicts will almost certainly follow that can't be easily compromised.

Europe's Future?

Meanwhile, over 7 years have passed in Europe since the last recession, with more and more stagnant GDP growth and ever higher unemployment the result so far  . . . especially among the young and very old (those who are in the workforce still).  As a result, political and economic conflicts galore will be ever harder to settle peacefully --- both within EU countries and across borders between member-states. 

The windfall for the US is that more and more talented European youths are opting out of their stagnant countries and moving to the New World (including Canada and Australia).  Hopefully, while the Republicans and Democrats futz around over an immigration law, they and the White House could or should find a way to let those talented young men and women get green cards as essential to American economic and technological advances.

One French economist, educated in US universities, estimated in 2008 or 2009 that there was already about 40% of the most talented young Europeans (under 35 or so) who have moved to the USA for one reason or another.  Either to study and stay here or to take positions in universities, labs, business firms, and so on.  And some, of course, are entrepreneurs who have started small businesses here and hire American labor. 

In this connection, note that in a recent survey of how the USA is regarded in nine European countries, 7 of them regard our country in a favorable light.  Italians (78%), French (75%), and Poles (73%), with only Germany (51%) has moved downward 13 points since 2009.    Source:

....

Granted: we're a long way from Glick's analysis, these last few paragraphs.  All the same, I trust, not totally irrelevant.