It’s fun to speculate on what drives our administration’s varied responses to unrest in the Middle East.
For Iran, whose regime is trying to develop nukes, take control of the region, push out US influence and eliminate Israel (supposedly a US ally); where political rallies often include chants of “death to America”: a stolen election and murderous violence against honestly pro-democracy protesters was met with mild verbal rebukes. After attempts to apply effective sanctions failed, the administration seems to have forgotten about the Iranian nuclear program.
For Syria, whose dictator helps insurgents kill our soldiers in Iraq, murders politicians in Lebanon, supplies Hizballah and Hamas, stockpiles chemical weapons and tries to develop nuclear ones, and orders security forces to shoot demonstrators: our government renews relations and tries to help it get possession of the strategic Golan Heights from Israel.
For Egypt, in which a mildly brutal dictator (in comparison to Syria’s Assad, for example) mostly supported American interests and opposed Iran: the US encouraged the dictator’s removal, despite clear warnings (that are beginning to come true) that the alternative was not democracy, but Islamism.
In Libya, we jumped head-first into a civil war and only afterward decided to figure out on whose behalf we are intervening. The first week or so has already cost us $600 million, and our guys (whoever they may be) seem to be losing.
For Israel, a truly democratic and friendly country which could be hugely helpful to the US in keeping a foothold in a region whose resources are essential to its economy, a country which has been under attack for years by forces that want to kill its people and take its land: the US applies pressure to give in to terrorist blackmail, cede territory and weaken security measures.
What’s happening in the Mideast is that authoritarian regimes are mostly weaker than they look. Their opponents — Islamists, ethnic groups other than the presently dominant one, opportunists and democrats — are trying to replace them. Whichever one can get the support of the most powerful armed groups or is the most ruthless will win. This will very rarely be the democrats! In Israel it’s a bit different since the government is democratic. But the groups that want to overthrow it — a segment of the ‘Israeli Arabs’ and the Palestinian Arab factions — are also made up of of Islamists and Arab nationalists.
The important question for US policy is “which of these groups is most likely to support US interests and oppose Iran?” But it doesn’t look like they are asking this question in Washington.
If I had just stepped out of an alien spaceship, I could be excused for thinking that the US is following the lead of countries like Turkey, and joining the Iranian bloc.
The stuff about trying to protect civilians looks good on TV, but doesn’t explain why we did nothing in the case of Iran and intend to do nothing about Syria. There has also been deadly violence in Yemen and Bahrain, but we’ve not intervened there (and a good thing, too). Of course there’s a lot of oil in Libya, but there is in Iran as well.
In the case of Israel, the establishment of a Hamas-Fatah terror state in Judea and Samaria will produce more terrorism and even war, just as the withdrawal from Gaza did. The best way to protect civilians there would be to prevent this from happening, not encourage it.