The always interesting Walter Russell Mead writes about “A New Grand Strategy In the Middle East,” as reported by the New York Times:
The White House is crafting a new, more modest second term strategy for the Middle East. That’s according to a New York Times story, based on authorized leaks, which outlines a core strategy involving limited US engagement focused around three goals: reaching a nuclear deal with Iran, making peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and mitigating the conflict in Syria. The NYT reports:
Not only does the new approach have little in common with the ‘freedom agenda’ of George W. Bush, but it is also a scaling back of the more expansive American role that Mr. Obama himself articulated two years ago, before the Arab Spring mutated into sectarian violence, extremism and brutal repression.
The blueprint drawn up on those summer weekends at the White House is a model of pragmatism — eschewing the use of force, except to respond to acts of aggression against the United States or its allies, disruption of oil supplies, terrorist networks or weapons of mass destruction. Tellingly, it does not designate the spread of democracy as a core interest.
The New York Times is, as with virtually every crackpot, leading-from-behind, smart diplomacy scheme hatched by President Obama, impressed:
This is actually a strategy of breathtaking ambition. US administrations have tried for decades to reach an understanding with Iran, and from the time of the Balfour Declaration to the present day ending the Arab-Israeli conflict has been the impossible dream of diplomats all over the world. As for mitigating the horrors in Syria, the administration so far has had absolutely no success at that—and if anything the consequence of its peculiar mix of saber rattling rhetoric and practical passivity has been to make a bad situation significantly worse.
The new strategy abandons core goals of the first term—we aren’t doing much about democracy now and that whole idea of bridging the gap between the US and the Muslim world seems to have been left on the cutting room floor. At least the way the Times tells it, there is nothing here about a plan to deal with the terror threat. Will there be more drone strikes in Yemen or fewer? What will we do to mend fences with the Saudis?
And what’s a NYT story with a heaping helping of self-delusion?
There’s also a tension between the top two objectives. The tougher the US is on Iran, the more leverage it has pushing Israel toward concessions on the Palestinians. The more risks the administration takes and concessions it makes to get a deal with Iran, the tighter the Israelis are tempted to circle the wagons. Pursuing both objectives simultaneously risks a car crash, but then the Middle East is littered with wrecked cars from this and past administrations.
Let’s take the three goals individually, but as we do, keep in mind that in Barack Obama, America has a president of unprecedented narcissism, arrogance, and inability and unwillingness to recognize and acknowledge failure, and therefore a crippling inability to adapt to what manifestly does not work. Progressives in general cannot deal with the idea that any Progressive policy or program could possibly fail, but Mr. Obama has taken that particular mental deficiency/character fault to new lows. Combine this disability with a perverse tendency to harm American’s allies and national interests while aiding her enemies, it’s hardly a surprise everything Mr. Obama has done in the Middle East—and elsewhere in foreign relations—has been disastrous at best.
A nuclear deal with Iran: Every objective analysis, as well as the perspective provided by the fact that Iran declared war on the United States (and Israel) in 1979, and has waged that war on multiple levels since, reveals that Iran has every intention of obtaining nuclear weapons, and using them, first on Israel and then on America or American allies and interests.
Sanctions have been economically punishing, but have not deterred Iran in the least. Mr. Obama’s repeated drawing and redrawing of red lines has not exactly demonstrated the kind of strength admired by tribal societies or tyrannies. The very nature of the Iranian Regime—an Islamist theocracy—screams hostility to western civilization. Iran lies about its nuclear ambitions while simultaneously bragging about its progress in fulfilling them.
With the election of President Hassan Rouhani, the Obama Administration has, like others, embraced the idea that he is a moderate, despite the fact that he has no power to do anything the religious leaders of Iran do not authorize, despite the fact that Rouhani’s path to power demonstrates anything but moderation, and despite the fact that the Iranians torture, imprison and murder their own citizens every day. A moderate Islamist might be agreeable enough to cut off an infidel’s head with a sharp rather than a dull knife, but the substance of his actions and goals would remain the same.
It takes a special kind of ideology and delusion to listen to the Iranians, on a daily basis, swear to destroy Israel and America, while receiving daily reports of Iranian terrorism and support for terrorism around the globe to imagine that Iran would have the slightest interest in abandoning its efforts to obtain atomic weapons, efforts it believes to be mandated and favored by god, and by “god” the Iranians do not mean Barack Obama as much of the American media does.
Abandoning an Islamic bomb would be a complete repudiation of everything the Iranian regime believes and of their religious, tyrannical goals, yet Mr. Obama persists in the belief that he is so unique and possesses such a powerful personality that no one can resist his will. Iran can, while using his narcissism against America and the world.
Peace between Israelis and Palestinians: Israel has, on multiple occasions, offered to give the Palestinians virtually everything they have ever asked for, and on every occasion, the Palestinians have rejected those concessions and/or responded to essentially unconditional grants of land for peace with terror and murder. Now that the Palestinians are divided into two separate entities willing to murder each other, any peace deal must of necessity involve three sides. Two of those sides not only refuse to negotiate, they teach their children to murder Jews and gladly affirm their desire to destroy Israel and commit genocide.
Israel remains committed to peace. Both Palestinian factions—and their patrons—remain committed, in thought, word and dead to the destruction of Israel and the murder of every Jew. Israel is no threat to any state that does not wish to harm Israel. The Palestinians, as terrorists and committed islamists, are a threat to western civilization and to even other Muslim states, as the Arab states well understand.
If the Palestinians disarmed tomorrow, there would be peace. If the Israelis disarmed: genocide. Mr. Obama’s blatant disdain for Israel, and Secretary of State Kerry’s inept blunderings have also worsened the already non-existent chance for peace—an amazing accomplishment.
Yet Mr. Obama persists in the belief that his brilliance and rhetoric can make peace where all before him have failed. Unfortunately, such “peace” would inevitably require the suicide of Israel, a matter of some small concern to Jews even as it does not bother Mr. Obama in the least.
Mitigating the conflict in Syria: I’m almost embarrassed to write about this. A writer of fiction imagining the kind of incompetence, cowardice, and utter cluelessness displayed by Mr. Obama in his dealings with Syria and Russia would be accused of hyperbole. Suffice it to say that Mr. Obama has surrendered all of America’s options to the Russians and to Syrian President Assad. Mr. Obama has no credibility in the Middle East, nor do any of America’s enemies and rivals fear him. America cannot afford to be ignored or discounted anywhere in the world. Mr. Obama can. Unfortunately for America and the World, he is President of the United States.
What, pray tell, would Mr. Obama change? Say “Ooops! I didn’t mean to wimp out. America will attack Syria to attain some goal or other. Really. I mean it this time. It will be slightly more serious than unbelievably small, maybe even slightly believably small. Really. No kidding. Don’t make me draw a red line…”
It would be ironically funny if it weren’t so potentially deadly. Even the Saudis have announced—not through secret diplomatic channels—publically, that they no longer trust America. This kind of open disdain and distrust took five years to provoke and will not be dispelled in the three additional years of Mr. Obama’s second term.
Consider too the NYT’s assertion:
“There’s also a tension between the top two objectives. The tougher the US is on Iran, the more leverage it has pushing Israel toward concessions on the Palestinians. The more risks the administration takes and concessions it makes to get a deal with Iran, the tighter the Israelis are tempted to circle the wagons.”
The only way Mr. Obama could possibly get tougher on Iran is to destroy its nuclear and military installations. Mr. Obama is far too hip and advanced for that. After all, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for being Barack Obama. On the contrary, everything Mr. Obama has said and done has convinced the Iranians—and the Israelis—that he is more than ready to accept and “deal” with a nuclear Iran.
Pushing Israel “toward concessions on the Palestinians” indicates only a complete and willful ignorance of the fundamental nature of Israel and the Palestinians. Concessions over decades have gained Israel nothing but dead and wounded while making the Palestinians ever more intransigent. What kind of “risks” might Mr. Obama possibly take? What sort of concessions can the Israelis possibly make with people whose fondest hope is to murder every Israeli man, women and child? Is it any wonder that Israel is seeing Iranian, Palestinian and American beliefs and actions with the kind of clarity impossible for Mr. Obama and the New York Times?
Certainly, Mr. Obama sees himself as a historic figure, more than mere man, capable, through his rhetoric and unparalleled intelligence and charisma, to accomplish what no one before him—indeed, what no mere man—possibly could. Unfortunately, the Iranians, Palestinians, Syrians and Russians have his number, and see him for the detached, inexperienced, incompetent blowhard he is. They neither fear nor respect him. Tragically for America, their calculation is accurate. They are right.
With three more years of “Smart Diplomacy,” we’ll be fortunate to escape World War III.
UPDATE: 11-01-13, 2215 CST: Take a moment, gentle readers, to visit Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. He reports on the successful recent Israeli Air Force raid on dangerous weapons being transferred from Syria to Hezbollah. And he also reports that the White House leaked that Israel was behind it, not only endangering intelligence sources and methods, but heightening tension between Israel and her very dangerous, very bloodthirsty neighbors.
The Times Of Israel provides the perspective of people who understand what it is to be surrounded by foreign enemies that make idiotic concepts like–well–pretty much anything Mr. Obama thinks and does—obviously and immediately stupid and suicidal.
Smart Diplomacy and hope and change in action in the real world.