USS Obama steams out of Middle East

Obama & Putin cartoonWho would have thought that the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, when America was attacked by the barbarians of the Middle East, would mark our full-scale retreat from that region?

We certainly haven’t done very well for ourselves or our friends there since then.

Thanks to a dysfunctional political system, we ended up with two of the worst presidents in American history, one incompetent and the other — how else can I put it? — anti-American.

It took us almost ten years to kill the seventh-century fanatic that murdered 3000 Americans. We engaged in an extended, expensive and mostly unnecessary conflict in Iraq, while Iran was allowed to develop nuclear weapons. We sent our troops to risk their lives for undefined objectives. We helped our enemies like ErdoÄŸan, the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO, and hurt our allies, like Israel. We totally misread the so-called “Arab Spring.”

We did not support the Iranian opposition when young people were shot down in the streets in 2009-10. We took the side of Turkey in the Mavi Marmara incident of 2010, forcing Israel to end its economic warfare against Hamas. We helped depose Mubarak and then supported the radical Muslim Brotherhood as his replacement. We have forced Israel into a destructive ‘peace process’ and encouraged the PLO’s unrealistic demands.

But for sheer bumbling, nothing matches our response to Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons. President Obama threatened to take action, explained in excruciating detail the “unbelievably small” attack that he planned, which would nevertheless not be a “pinprick,” delayed for several weeks while waiting for Congress to advise him (although as of yesterday he “hadn’t decided” if he would take its advice).  Finally, he handed off the initiative to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, probably guaranteeing that Assad will stay in power.

“Big deal,” you say. “Syria will continue to be a mess and we won’t get stuck in it.” Not exactly. Actions have consequences. Putin now understands that the US will not interfere with anything he wants to do in the Middle East, including build an alliance with our greatest enemies:

Russia will supply Iran with a modified version of the vaunted S-300 anti-aircraft system as well as build a new nuclear reactor for the Ayatollah’s regime, the Russian daily Kommersant business newspaper reported Wednesday.

The report comes hot on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international supervision and thus avoid a U.S. strike on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. Kommersant reported that the deal between Moscow and Tehran was formulated as part of Russia and Iran’s “commonality of views on the situation in Syria.”

The S-300 is considered a game-changer, which will make any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities much more difficult. Israel and the US had pressured Putin to hold off on delivering the system. Now he is sending Iran a system that will be “even better than the ones Iran originally bought.” The only bright side of this is that it may accelerate the timetable of an Israeli strike — we certainly can’t expect Obama to do it!

We can also assume that Obama’s weakness will encourage Iran. I have argued before that nothing less than a credible threat of force could induce Iran to abandon its nuclear program. But if Obama is not prepared to take a much less serious action against the far less dangerous Assad regime, what can we expect toward Iran?

Iran will not give up “one iota” of its nuclear rights, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said in a speech to clerics, the Iranian Mehr news agency reported on Tuesday.

Rouhani’s comments were made as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton prepared to meet in New York later this month to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program. …

While the West considers Rouhani to be moderate, his recent statements on Iran’s nuclear program have caused concern, as the rhetoric is similar to that of his predecessor in office, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The US is steaming full speed out of the Middle East. The Syria debacle will likely be noted by future historians as the point at which the US decided that it would no longer try to influence matters there, and when the Russians seized the opportunity to take the reins.

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3 Responses to “USS Obama steams out of Middle East”

  1. Robman says:

    The problem was that Obama’s main navigational “tool”, if you will, for determining what to do in any situation involving the Middle East, did not help him here.

    Obama was installed in office, to a great extent due to the behind the scenes influence of Gulf Arab interests. This was not the only factor, but absent the influence of such interests over U.S. media, universities, plus the ability to impact the U.S. economy directly and indirectly via oil prices, as well as corrupt elements of the U.S. establishment willing to sell out to them, he probably never would have made it.

    He was installed for a remarkably similar purpose to what the WW1 Germans had in mind, 94 years ago, when they sent Vladimir Lenin in a sealed train back to Russia, from exile in Switzerland. Their intention then was to foment revolution in Russia that would take her out of the war on terms favorable to the Germans, and thus free up resources to throw at Britain and France on the Western front. After several years of inconclusive fighting in which the German army, able to win individual battles with regularity against the Russians, were unable to defeat them decisively. Their gambit worked, though it did not ultimately win the war for them.

    Similarly, the Gulf Arabs had been frustrated in their attempts to remove the hated “Zionist entity” from their midst. By 1982, with the first Lebanon war, it became clear that conventional military means would not work. They also tried regional political and economic isolation; this did not work either, as Israel was able to thrive off of trade with markets outside of the region. So, what was left was demonization/delegitimization aimed at branding Israel a pariah state in the same manner as Apartheid S. Afirca had been, and Rhodesia before that. But what stood in the way of this was the backing Israel had from the U.S.; no matter what, it seemed, when push came to shove, the U.S. would back Israel in the end, in crucial venues like the UN, which made this strategy problematic.

    So, the central need of the Gulf Arabs, as leaders of the Moslem world generally, was to disrupt the U.S.-Israeli alliance, and thus leave Israel completely isolated. They needed a U.S. president who would go where no other president dared go before in terms of being willing to put draconian pressure on Israel. They needed someone who did not hold with traditional Judeo-Christian or Western values, in the way that predecessors had, which tended to get in the way of past presidents’ willingness to turn the screws on Israel past a certain point. And, beyond the matter of Israel, they wanted someone who would be willing to largely withdraw the U.S. from the Middle East, or at least abandon the idea that Western values of secular libralism, democracy, etc., should be promoted in the region. These values were anathema to the ruling elites of the region, and they wanted no part of this.

    For this project, Barack Obama seemed ideal.

    So, if one looks at the history of his policies, one can see that the central focus was to increase pressure on Israel in particular, and to appease Islamist sensibilities in general in order to “buy” Islamist restraint in fomenting terror against the U.S., and allow the U.S. to withdraw from the “War on Terror” at minimal cost, and at the expense of Israel.

    We saw this even before Obama was elected, when he publicly endorsed the Saudi “peace” plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, during the summer of ’08, and even after he was elected, when staffers told the British media that this would be the basis for Obama’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    We saw this in Obama’s Cairo speech of ’09.

    We saw this in Obama’s bow to the Saudi king that same year, when the Saudi king admonished Obama to “impose a solution” to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

    We saw this in Obama’s refusal to support anti-regime elements in the Iranian uprising of ’09; if we had overthrown the Iranian mullahs with more modern, democratic secular elements, this would have greatly reduced pressure on Israel.

    We saw this in Libya, when Obama helped overthrow a relatively reformed, Western-aligned Qaddafi, in order to install a radical MB-affiliated regime there, and free up weapons to send to similar elements in Syria.

    We saw this in Egypt, where a staunch U.S. ally, and gaurantor of the Camp David Accords, Mubarak, was overthrown with U.S. support so as to pave the way for radical, rabidly anti-Israel, MB rule.

    We saw this in the early stages of the Syrian civil war, when Western-oriented democratic secular opposition groups were ignored, and MB-affiliated opposition groups were the only ones that the Obama administration would meet with and actively support.

    We saw this in Obama’s staunch support of the Islamist, rabidly anti-Israel regime of Erdogan in Turkey.

    The intention all along has been to surround Israel with rabidly hostile neighbors, who would, at least to some extent, “owe” something to Obama, and could thus be held on a leash by him so as to blackmail Israel to respond to his pressure.

    We saw this dynamic on display about a year ago, when Egyptian terrorists, aided by Egyptian border police, carried out an attack on Eilat, and were shot by Israeli security forces. In response, a mob put the Israeli embassy in Cairo under siege. When Israel asked the U.S. to intervene, Obama refused to do so until the Israelis apologized for shooting the terrorist scum Egyptian border police. Israel complied, and the siege was lifted. This, in microcosm, was the dynamic Obama was busy forging, that was the centerpiece of his entire foreign policy.

    But the situation that evolved in Syria complicated matters.

    On the one hand, it seemed that Obama wanted to indulge his knee-jerk instincts and install another MB regime on Israel’s frontier. By now, the Western-oriented, democratic secular elements of the opposition had been successfully sidelined. So, if the rebels won, Obama gets another MB mad dog to threaten Israel with, over which he has some nominal influence that in turn affords him coercive leverage over Israel. This was given added urgency by the recent loss of Obama’s MB pals in Egypt this past July.

    But threatening Assad could mean a major Syrian attack on Israel. This would increase public sympathy for Israel, virtually force Obama to treat Israel as an ally, and distract greatly from the b.s. peace talks Obama had strong-armed Israel into participating in. Thus, Obama’s usual foreign policy “compass” no longer worked. He was now truly ‘out in space’.

    So, Obama, having set his “red lines”, had to come up with a “middle way”; a “limited strike” that would “not threaten Assad’s rule”. This made no sense to anyone, not even to Obama. He needed a way out. Russia provided it. He happily took it.

    This is what happens, when instead of pursuing American interests in a coherent and consistent manner, we have a president whose entire foreign policy is warped out of shape by an objective that has nothing to do with American interests, and everything to do with foreign interests that are not aligned with America’s.

    The Gulf Arab sponsors of Obama got what they paid for. There is no question but that today, Israelis have less reason to count on America for anything than at any time in the last 46 years, and perhaps ever. And, as Vic points out in his title, the “USS Obama steams out of the Middle East”. U.S. influence in the Middle East, under Obama, is now at an historic low.

    Israel may yet confound Obama and his foreign sponsors. His foreign sponsors may yet confound themselves, with their own internecine fighting and squabbling, and their own inconsistencies (e.g., what to do about Iran, particularly if Israel is prevented by Obama from doing anything substantial to stop Iran from getting nukes).

    This is what happens when Americans forget what America is supposed to stand for, and her corrupt elites thus feel free to sell out to the highest bidder, and sell down the river anyone who becomes inconvenient to their own immediate pursuit of power and self-aggrandizement.

    We are paying the price for this today, and we will be paying much more down the road. Unless he is impeached – and while I don’t rule this out, I am hardly counting on it – we are stuck with Obama for three and a half more years. Looking at how much damage he has already done in not even a year since his re-election, I shudder to think at how much more he can do.

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    The catalogue of folly and error outlined in this article is truly troubling. What is alarming is the sense that the United States truly does not know what is doing.
    Everything suggests that your main contention is right, and that the U.S. is in total retreat in the Middle East.
    The strong feeling is that not only is Israel being left alone with all these surrounding would- be – destroyers, but that the U.S. will not be of real help to it in a crisis. It may in fact as it seems to be doing now with the negotiations with the mendacious and intransigent Palestinians only make it worse for us.
    Obama’s wiggles and wobbles may lead to a phony deal with the Russians which enables him to back down from action against Syria, continue the American retreat.
    It too seems more likely now that he will buy some Iranian fake- deal to enable him not to take action against them.
    All this makes any possible Israeli strike against Iran not only more difficult but more likely to bring us to global isolation, with the U.S. not really supporting us.
    I do not envy Prime Minister Netanyahu and the kinds of decisions he will have to take in the weeks and months ahead.

  3. Robman says:


    Don’t despair. There is a silver lining in this cloud. A couple of them…sort of.

    First, the only reason Obama really wanted to go to war in Syria was to support the establishment of yet another MB regime, as I describe in my post above. So, it is probably for the best that Obama did not go to war in Syria. Believe me, in anything he does, Israel’s welfare is is very last consideration. Or, it is his FIRST consideration…in a negative sense.

    Second, this makes matters crystal clear for Netanyahu regarding Iran. Up to now, perhaps he hoped against hope that Obama’s assurances on not allowing Iran to go nuclear held at least a kernel of truth, that if he could somehow convince Obama of the objective necessity of action, then Obama would support a strike on Iran at the 11th hour, at least, when there could be no denying the urgency.

    But as things stand, Netanyahu has to know that coniserations involving possible U.S. support under Obama are moot. It is up to Israel or it doesn’t happen. That at least clarifies his planning and his options.

    I would expect – though of course, no one can be sure – that if it comes down to it, Netanyahu will do what needs to be done. Yes, there will be some very negative reaction in the world community, but this will be dampened by the obvious fact of Obama’s poor leadership and his shoddy treatment of Israel. It will be relatively easy for supporters of Israel to make the case that Obama left Israel with no choice, and however bad it may turn out in terms of collateral damage, etc., Obama will be seen as largely to blame among many, many people.

    Another silver lining: Without the “carrot” held out in front of Israel of possible support in a strike on Iran – this is obviously meaningless now – Israel owes the U.S. nothing on the Palestinian issue. NOTHING. I hope that the Israeli PM will end this stupid charade, and certainly not release any more murderers.

    The only other threat Obama can make is this “isolation campaign on steroids”…but even this is, in many ways, an empty threat. China, India, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, Australia, and perhaps even Russia, will trade with Israel, even if some of them pay lip service to sanctioning Israel. They benefit too much from trade with Israel to stop over what they all must know is this b.s. Palestinian issue. Obama may find himself surprisingly isolated in this himself…him, along with the Eurabians. It may not really be so bad as all that.

    Hang in there.

    And have an easy fast, Shalom.