Getting eaten last

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.” -- Winston S. Churchill

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.” — Winston S. Churchill

From the NY Times:

…the bloodshed that has engulfed Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in the past two weeks exposes something new and destabilizing: the emergence of a post-American Middle East in which no broker has the power, or the will, to contain the region’s sectarian hatreds.

Amid this vacuum, fanatical Islamists have flourished in both Iraq and Syria under the banner of Al Qaeda, as the two countries’ conflicts amplify each other and foster ever-deeper radicalism. Behind much of it is the bitter rivalry of two great oil powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose rulers — claiming to represent Shiite and Sunni Islam, respectively — cynically deploy a sectarian agenda that makes almost any sort of accommodation a heresy. …

The Obama administration defends its record of engagement in the region, pointing to its efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis and the Palestinian dispute, but acknowledges that there are limits. “It’s not in America’s interests to have troops in the middle of every conflict in the Middle East, or to be permanently involved in open-ended wars in the Middle East,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, said in an email on Saturday.

The incompetent Obama Administration is incapable of stopping the deluge of blood that is inundating the Mideast, though great power polices over the years set the stage. Obama’s withdrawal of the US from the region has opened the floodgates, but the cynical trading of weapons and technology for oil, which has now placed the most fearsome weapons of all in the hands of seventh-century cultures with the moral intelligence of chimpanzees, has been going on for decades.

The US role in all of this has been various. We supported Saddam Hussein as a countervailing power against Iran, until he got too big for his britches and went after our pals in Saudi Arabia. Then, in effect, we switched sides, smashed the chains holding Iraq together, and left — at which point it became a battlefield for Iran and radical Sunnis like the ones that attacked us on 9/11. Together with the Europeans, we removed Gadhafi from power in Libya, leaving multiple radical groups contending for power and destabilizing weapons scattered throughout the region.

We encouraged a revolt in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak, then supported the radical, anti-Western, anti-Christian and Jew-hating Muslim Brotherhood (yes, we really did that!) and got egg on our face when it was overthrown by the army, which had originally put Mubarak in power. Now the Egyptian economy is in shreds, the army is fighting Salafist rebels and repressing the Brotherhood, and no side in Egypt trusts us.

In Syria, we initially pretended that the vicious Bashar al-Assad was a ‘reformer’ and tried to get Israel to surrender the Golan heights to him. Then we provided a small amount of help to some groups opposed to him, and — after it became impossible to ignore the killing of more than 1000 Syrians with poison gas — allowed the Russians to turn this crime into a reason to keep him in power. By now, between 100,000 and 200,000 have been killed, mostly civilians, in a proxy war which pits Saudi-supported Sunni Islamist militias against Assad’s forces, Hizballah, and even Iranian Quds Force troops.

Talking about Iran, we opened a diplomatic process that provided the regime with time to move closer to nuclear weapons capability, prevented Israel from carrying out a plan to attack its atomic facilities, and began to weaken economic sanctions. In other words, we facilitated the Iranian weapons program rather than stopping it. This infuriated the Saudis, who understand that the Iranian goal is to replace them as the dominant regional power; and made it clear to Israel that it could not depend on US promises to stop Iran.

During all of this, Israel has been warily looking east at Iran, north to Hizballah’s estimated 100,000 rockets aimed at its cities (many built into civilian Lebanese homes), and south to Hamas, which hasn’t stopped its preparations for war despite its changing fortunes (the Muslim Brotherhood was its most important patron). From time to time there are attempts to transfer game-changing weapons from Syria to Hizballah, which Israel does its best to interdict without provoking a wider conflict.

The mission of John Kerry seems to be to force Israel to make an agreement with the PLO that will result in its evacuation of most of Judea and Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem. Such a deal would enormously weaken Israel strategically. At the same time, it would have no positive results, because the PLO does not want and is not able to deliver (even if it wanted to) an end to the conflict. Keep in mind that the Palestinian Arabs share the tribal, racist and overall atavistic politics of the rest of the Arab Middle East.

Given that Israel has a powerful army, good intelligence capabilities and is a Western-style democracy with close ties to the US, one would think that the US would support Israel and work together with it to avoid spreading the conflagration to yet another theater. But instead, it is trying to weaken Israel at the moment of greatest danger, and therefore encourage Iran/Hizballah and Hamas to attack it. In other words, the US is acting to increase the danger of regional war, not decrease it.

If I may engage in speculation about the motives of this policy, I will say two things: 1) it does not represent a consistent strategy, but is a series of ad hoc responses to perceived crises. And 2), it is based on fear.

Today the policy has become almost entirely pro-Iranian (in the past, it was mostly pro-Saudi). This is because the Obama Administration is presently held hostage by Iran. Despite the US’s ability to deploy massive amounts of force, the administration feels constrained by political and economic considerations against using it. It is also deterred by the ability of Iran, a superpower in the field of terrorism, to both strike directly at the US homeland (Hizballah has many resources in South America, and our southern border is porous) and at the world economy, which is still dependent on Middle East oil.

The Obama Administration seems to think that if it feeds the Iranian crocodile, it will be eaten last.

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One Response to “Getting eaten last”

  1. Robman says:

    I disagree that this policy is inconsistent or ad hoc.

    It is highly consistent and has a clear goal.

    Obama never could have made it into the presidency without the behind-the-scenes backing of the Gulf oil sheikdoms, particularly – but not exclusively – Saudi Arabia.

    Their influence over American – and Western generally – media and academic institutions guaranteed that despite the fact of his being manifestly and dangerously unqualified for the job, he would get sympathetic treatment from those segments of society most responsible for shaping public opinion. It has also been strongly rumored that the Gulf Arabs were responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of laundered campaign funds. Finally, when it appeared that by September of ’08, in spite of all this, McCain was on track to win anyway, they engineered the timing of the crash – prepared by an artificial spike in oil prices since the spring of that year – in order to scare the American people into voting for Obama.

    What was in it for them? He was going to be the first American president who would back the Palestinian program against Israel no matter what. He would go farther than any previous U.S. president in pressuring Israel to capitulate to what would amount to slow assisted suicide via a bogus Saudi-style “peace” plan (he publicly endorsed the Saudi plan on numerous occasions). If Israel proved uncooperative, he would preside over the dismantlement of the U.S.-Israeli alliance as punishment for Israel’s “intrasigence”. This event appears to be on the horizon; Obama will probably abandon Israel in the UN during his second term and back the Palestinian application for statehood that has been sitting there in limbo since September of ’11….for a reason.

    Some of his most important influences on this issue were, in effect, Saudi proxies, as they probably would never have gotten where they did without Saudi support, direct or indirect. Here I would include Edward Said (a favorite professor of Obama’s at Columbia), Rashid Khalidi – who raised $70,000 for Obama’s first senate campaign (which I don’t think he did because he wanted socialized medicine in the U.S.), and Khalid Al Mansour, who had been an advisor to the Saudi throne, and who is believed to have gotten Obama into Harvard, and/or arranged funding for the same.

    I’m not saying there weren’t other influences acting on or supporting Obama. There were, and none of these were exactly Israel-friendly, either, but the far left Bill Ayers types that represent the “red” side of Obama’s “red/green” political complexion a) have been around for a long time, and b) have tended to be unable to raise the capital to garner much political power in their own right.

    Obama was put in the White House on a “screw Israel” scholarship, so to speak. That was the main purpose of his being there, per the most influential parties behind his rise to power. The rest is mere detail.

    Therefore, everything in his foreign policy revolved around that goal. If something relieved pressure on Israel, he was against it. If something increased pressure on Israel, he was for it. Go down the list of just about everthing listed above – from installing Morsi in Egypt, to failing to support genuine democratic revolt in Iran, to enabling Iran’s quest for nuclear arms, to keeping Assad in power (and thus maintaining Iranian proxy power on Israel’s frontier with Syria, and Lebanoan via Hezbollah), to toppling Qaddafi in order to install MB-affiliated Islamists – it goes on and on…and is REMARKABLY consistent in terms of increasing pressure on Israel.

    This has had effects that his original “sponsors” had not intended nor envisioned, such as Obama placing such a high priority on maintaining coercive pressure on Israel that he’d even allow Iran to pursue nuclear arms to this end, but hey, the Gulf Arab leaders are human and they make mistakes, too. This is just yet another example, among so many in history, where Jew hatred gets in the way of rational thought, and a rational perception of one’s interests.

    Mark my words: Within five years – perhaps much less than that – it will become commonly observed, at least among Obama’s opponents, even in mainstream venues, that his entire presidency was mostly about screwing Israel. Nothing else, really.

    Stay strong over there. I never voted for him. And don’t let that snotty punk and his collection of moronic cretins beat you. You’re better than that!!