What will a retreating America mean for our security?
Several major changes can be expected. One clue: Obama is pushing CENTCOM's superstar commander, the legendary Marine Gen. James Mattis, into retirement several months before his tenure was to end. Put simply, Mattis is known to offer honest contrary advice to superiors, without fear or favor. This is not what this president wants to hear. This comes from, as the linked article shows, a reportorial source friendly to the president, who sees a White House interested in hearing only from "yes men" (and, presumably, "yes women" as well).
MIDEAST. Arab Spring reverberations further inflame the entire region, generating & exacerbating myriad major policy challenges. Barry Rubin notes that "useful idiots" among the Western Left have joined with the Arab Left to back Islamists in the struggles for power.
Iraq. Start with a riveting video from Iraq (5:28), showing the kind of vital intermediary services the American military provided to stabilize Iraq by reconciling factions. This mission is effectively ended by President Obama's abrupt troop departure from Iraq.
Iran. Iran has developed a strong cyberwar capability, in response to the successful Stuxnet cyber-attack that set Iran's nuclear program back an estimated one year. At Davos, departing Isreali defense minister Ehud Barak said that the US has "sophisticated" plans for a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, impliedly obviating the need to early Israeli unilateral action. Specifically, Barak said that per White House directive, “the Pentagon prepared quite sophisticated, fine, extremely fine, scalpels” for such action.
Also at Davos, Henry Kissinger sees a severe crisis approaching re Iran's nuclear program:
Unilateral intervention by Israel would be a desperate last resort, but the Iranians have to understand that if they keep using the negotiations to gain time to complete a nuclear programme then the situation will become extremely dangerous....
The danger is that we could be reaching a point where nuclear weapons would become almost conventional, and there will be the possibility of a nuclear conflict at some point... that would be a turning point in human history.
If Iran acts as a nation and not as a revolutionary cause, there is no reason for America or other permanent members of the UNSC to be in conflict with it, nor any countries in the region. On that basis I would hope that a negotiated solution would be found in a measurable time.
Israel. Palestinian democracy has been an abject failure, with predominant Palestinian attitudes continuing to reject existence of any Jewish state:
Palestinian democracy has been a bit of a disappointment: each of the peace-partner presidents were offered a state on virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in Jerusalem, and each of them walked away. Each time, the Palestinian public not only did not protest their president’s rejection of “the long overdue Palestinian state”; they did not even demand another presidential election when the presidential terms expired. Like his predecessor, Abbas will end up serving as president longer after his term expired than when he was legally in office.
Since another Palestinian election is not likely any time soon, we must rely on the latest poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research for a picture of Palestinian public opinion. The poll indicates Abbas would be defeated by the Hamas candidate if a new presidential election were held, and that 56 percent of Palestinians would oppose a final-status agreement involving: (1) Israeli withdrawal from more than 97 percent of the West Bank and a land swap for the rest; (2) a Palestinian state with a “strong security force” (but no army) and a multinational force; (3) sovereignty over land, water, and airspace, but an Israeli right to use airspace for training and maintain two West Bank early-warning stations for 15 years; (4) a capital in East Jerusalem, including all Arab neighborhoods and most of the Old City; and (5) a “right of return” for refugees to the new state and compensation for “refugeehood.”
The Arab war against Israel has cost thousands of Jewish lives, but its damage to Palestinians is arguably greater, destroying the moral fabric of a society that was once relatively prosperous and culturally advanced. Anti-Jewish politics works by misdirection, drawing attention away from real concerns toward the alleged Jewish violator. Thus, Arab leaders who tried to deny Jews their country accused Jews of denying Arabs their country. To make the charge stick, the leaders have kept Palestinian Arabs in perpetual refugee status while millions of other refugees around the world—including 800,000 Jews from Arab lands—were resettled and started their lives anew.
Many societies have identified Jews as the threatening alien, but Palestinian Arabs are the first people ever to shape their national identity exclusively around opposition to the Jews. The special ingredient that sets Palestinian nationalism apart from that of surrounding Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan—and reputedly makes it the strongest form of Arab nationalism—is the usurpation of Jewish symbols and history. The most important date in the Palestinian calendar is not any Arab or Muslim holiday or event, but the day of Israel's founding, commemorated as Nakba, the catastrophe that ostensibly spurred the creation of Arab Palestine. Commemorated as "Palestine's endless Holocaust," Nakba simultaneously libels the Jewish homeland and demeans the Shoah by appropriating the Nazi genocide of Europe's Jews.
Meanwhile, Hamas gains support among West Bank Palestinians, partly due to its convincing the "street" that Israel lost the latest Gaza round. Mideast maven Douglas Feith writes that Israeli voters have reached a broad consensus (2/3) that the Mideast "peace process is dead" for want of a Palestinian partner willing to make peace. The Israeli election results establish this, as pro-peace process candidates got 14 of 120 Knesset seats; but the voters' turn inward was pragmatic, not isolationist, focusing on what changes voters think Israel can actually effect. Daniel Pipes notes that Obama already has gone from chill to cold as to Israel. Dutch refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali notes that Islamic populations harbor near-universal contempt for Jews, thus making true peace impossible.
Egypt. Upon the second anniversary of Egypt's Tahrir Square revolution, Egyptian youth are vigorously protesting the hijacking of the Egyptian revolution by Islamists. One protester held up a sign that read: "Obama, you jerk, Muslim Brotherhoods are killing the Egyptians, so how come they can guarantee you the security of Israel?" In response, Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi declared a state of emergency + a curfew, and also has invoked speech laws to stifle dissent more in less than seven months than prior Egyptian rules over the past 115 years. Mohammed Morsi's nakedly vicious remarks that Jews are descendants of apes & pigs has forced Team Obama to recalibrate its public assessment of the Islamist ruler. But despite this, and despite anti-Semitic statements Morsi made last week to a senatorial delegation, Team Obama still sent more F-16s to Egypt; by year-end Egypt will be 16 F-16s & 200 M1A1 Abrams tanks richer.
Turmoil in the Islamic world sustained by petrodollars argues, writes Roger Simon at PJ Media, for weaning the US off Mideast oil via the domestic oil/gas fracking revolution. Historian Arthur Herman sees potential for Israeli fracking to recast the Mideast geopolitical map.
Syria. The White House refused to rule out that Syrian tyrant Bashir Assad had used chemical weapons against the rebels. Has the WH conceded such use, it would represent an announced Obama red line for broader US intervention. For its part, Israeli officials warned of a possible Israeli pre-emptive strike against Syria's WMD facilities. Israel is preparing its defenses for a possible attack arising out of Syria's collapse; included are an Iron Dome missile defense battery deployed in the north, plus commencing construction of a northern security fence. Also, the Syrian conflict features cyberwar by both sides.
Gulf States. A major emerging player at a new high level in Mideast diplomacy is Qatar, whose petrodollars are buying great influence in Arab chanceries. Qatar, nominally a US ally, is backing Islamist forces in several Mideast theaters, and underwriting Palestinian rejectionism versus Israel.Bottom Line. As Bret Stephens wrote in the WSJ, America is "coming Home" & leaving its allies & nations of the world to fend for themselves. And as Barry Rubin writes, America is stiffing allies while placating adversaries, the wrong policy combination. Put simply, in large measure, Team Obama is a bemused spectator as tectonic geopolitical events unfold across the region.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, National Security, Foreign Policy, Homeland Security, WMD, Nuclear Proliferation, Terrorism, Conservative Politics