Tagged Obama Administration

Congress Gets Tough on Palestinian Authority; Obama Administration Doesn’t

From Rubin Reports.Blogspot.Com

Congress Gets Tough on Palestinian Authority; Obama Administration Doesn’t

Posted: 18 Jul 2011 08:44 AM PDT

By Barry Rubin

The Associated Press reports:

“American aid to the Palestinians is in jeopardy over their ties to the terrorist group Hamas, unwillingness to restart negotiations with Israel and push for statehood at the United Nations over U.S. resistance, congressional Republicans and Democrats warned on Tuesday.”

But why is Congress taking the lead on this threat? Because the Obama Administration supports continued aid no matter what happens….

Read more

2 Articles; Obama Administration: When Peace Treaty Fails, Its Time to Sign Another One; * Clinton: The Situation is Unsustainable Because I Say So

From Rubin Reports.Blogspot.Com

Obama Administration: When Peace Treaty Fails, Its Time to Sign Another One

Posted: 14 Apr 2011 08:20 AM PDT

By Barry Rubin

It’s very difficult to overstate the illogical nature of Obama Administration Middle East policy. Here’s a small example.

Israel made a peace treaty with the government of Egypt. The government of Egypt has now been overthrown. All the political forces in the country now openly talk about unilaterally revising or throwing out that peace treaty. The “moderate” candidate for president said that if Israel attacked the Gaza Strip (after being attacked from the Gaza Strip of course) Egypt should go to war.

SO the Obama Administration concludes that Israel must rush to make a deal with another government (which doesn’t even control half the territory that it claims to represent) that might be overthrown and…

Well, you get the picture. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration doesn’t.

Add to this:

–Israel’s other peace treaty is with Jordan. And while that regime probably won’t fall (and its successor tears up the peace treaty) it is facing a bigger possibility of being overthrown than at any time in 40 years.

–Israel’s other main agreement was to end the war with Hizballah in 2006. At that time, the U.S. government guaranteed and the UN promised to have a force to keep Hizballah from returning to southern Lebanon. Now, Hizballah has more weapons than ever and a recently released Israeli map of Hizballah’s military positions in Lebanon shows dozens of them, more than in 2006.

So are these the people and this is the advice to be followed?

The funny thing is that I doubt you could see the chain of reasoning above even mentioned  anywhere in the Western mass media.

Clinton: The Situation is Unsustainable Because I Say So

Posted: 14 Apr 2011 08:08 AM PDT

This article is published on PajamasMedia. The full text is presented here for your convenience.

“Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

God hath numbered thy kingdom, and brought it to an end.
Thou art weighed in the balances, and are found wanting.
thy kingdom is given to the Persians.”

–The Book of Daniel, Chapter Five

By Barry Rubin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a U.S.-Islamic forum that the U.S. government would soon launch a new initiative to promote Israel-Palestinian peace.

Oh, goodie.

But what really shocked me is something she said, proving once again that this administration’s leaders have feet that spend more time in their mouths than on the ground:

“The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months.”

Think about that statement. The Tunisian and Egyptian regimes fell. Was that inevitable? Were they simply unsustainable? What if their armies wanted to keep them into power, or just threw out the dictators and kept the same regime?

But wait! Several political systems did NOT crumble in recent months. At least, not yet. So is Clinton saying that the crumbling of the political systems in Bahrain, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen is also inevitable? Or is the fact that they have not crumbled in recent months mean they are sustainable?

Also does the fact that the United States supports or opposes a political system have something to do with whether it is sustainable? You know, saying things like: Mubarak must go! Yesterday! Or sending military forces to Libya? Now what if the Saudis send military forces to Bahrain to shore up the regime, does that mean its fall is or is not inevitable?

Might Arab leaders listening to such statements ask themselves if the United States views them as being on their death bed? Do they need to dump the United States before the United States dumps them? Does anyone writing these speeches and reading them publicly have any notion about what this sounds like to foreign allies?

But this is all you need to see to know the quality of leadership we are dealing with. Senator John Kerry at the same conference:

“When I visited with president Assad, what I heard from him was a man who understood the challenge of his country, in terms of those young people. he said to me, I have 500 thousand people turning 18 every year and I don’t have the jobs to give them and I don’t have the way to educate them. He understood where this was going to go months ago. But unless he can create a different bilateral relationship with us and with the West. Unless we move on the peace process with Israel . Unless we get this radicalism off the table for all of us, we make it so much harder to strip away the unholy alliances with Wahhabism, or Muslim Brotherhood, or whatever it is, and really face this challenge of the economy.”

In other words, he starts out by saying that Assad (who has killed more people in the last two months than any dictator not fighting a full-scale civil war, that is Libya) is really a great guy. Then it sort of slides into resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict (which means to these people getting a Palestine state pronto) or the entire Middle East will fall apart. Of course this comes right after a. the Wikileaks showed us that this isn’t the real concern of Arab leaders (it’s Iran and revolutionary Islamism, stupid) and b. upheavals showed that people were more concerned about domestic issues rather than supporting their local dictator to fight Israel.

It’s the Palestinian question, stupid, he seems to be saying, and then the economy.

But wait! We have not yet plumbed the depths of sheer idiocy. Let me repeat the last part of what Kerry said:

“…we make it so much harder to strip away the unholy alliances with Wahhabism, or Muslim Brotherhood, or whatever it is….”

Wahhabism? Isn’t that Saudi Arabia, America’s most important remaining ally in the Arab world, you know that big supplier of the oil that this administration won’t drill on its own territory? Hey, dude, you just dissed the Saudis again!

Sure, Wahhabism has contributed to Islamist radicalism, but not so much in the Arab world itself, more in the West and places like Chechnya. Is he referring to America’s “unholy alliance” with Saudi Arabia?

And is Saudi Arabia aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood? In the past they’ve gotten along but the Saudis seem to want to stop a Brotherhood takeover of Egypt more than the Obama Administration does.

Also, what does that “whatever it is” at the end mean? That Kerry, a leading candidate to be next secretary of state has no idea of what the other side in the region consists of?

Back to Libya for a moment. Is the United States trying to overthrow Muammar Qaddhafi, because his regime will inevitably crumble? Apparently not. So is his regime sustainable but the U.S. and other military presences only want to make it crumble in the eastern part of the country?

Was the fall of the moderate Lebanese government and its replacement by a Hizballah-dominated regime he inevitable? Is the status quo in Iran more sustainable than the Israel-Palestinian situation?

Will Clinton make a speech saying that the uprising in Syria proved that the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship is unsustainable? No. Why? Because they fear it is sustainable and, as Senator John Kerry just reminded us again, he loves Bashar al-Assad and Clinton thinks he’s a reformer.

I don’t trust these people to decide what is and isn’t sustainable.

The Israel-Palestinian situation, for better or worse, is infinitely sustainable. Yes, I said it and I meant it. That’s not a preference or a value judgment but it is true. If the Palestinian Authority is not ready for compromise and real peace, the status quo is preferrable.

What Clinton is doing is a panicky demand for swift action no matter what it is, no matter where it leads. Is the creation of a Palestinian state unilaterally in the next few months without any deal with Israel going to make things better because otherwise the situation will inevitably “crumble?”

Or perhaps it is inevitable that the Palestinian Authority will crumble either before or after it gets a state? Can she prove on the basis of any evidence that the Israel-Palestinian situation is not sustainable? What’s going to happen to change it? The only factor that can do so is external forces like U.S. policy. What Clinton is expressing then is a self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps?

Perhaps most inevitably the U.S. position in the Middle East is unsustainable and will crumble?

That statement by Clinton shows a view of international affairs so passive and so primitive as to be shocking. Passive because she is essentially saying: the fact that these two regimes fell proves that they had to fall.

Even though she goes on to say that the United States must show “leadership” on the peace process, the philosophy displayed by this kind of formulation makes one wonder if this administration is capable of leading anywhere except…off a cliff.

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin? Did some moving finger write that on the Oval Office wall?

Here’s my interpretation:

Your rule has been judged unsustainable.
Your policy is going to crumble.
Its giving regional primacy to the Persians.

2 Articles; It’s Official: The Obama Administration Will Do Zero to Criticize or Undermine the Syrian Dictatorship; * Muslim Brotherhood Proves It Is Radical and Aggressive–According to its Own Test

From Rubin Reports.Blogspot.Com

It’s Official: The Obama Administration Will Do Zero to Criticize or Undermine the Syrian Dictatorship

Posted: 27 Mar 2011 07:37 PM PDT

By Barry Rubin

It’s official. The Obama Administration won’t do anything at all to help the Syrian people against the Bashar al-Asad dictatorship. Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi is a bad dictator, but Bashar al-Asad is a good dictator?

The great Martin Kramer puts it perfectly:

“Earlier I noted that the Arab League gave Asad a license to kill because Syria is “occupied.” Now Clinton and Kerry have given him one because he’s a “reformer.” Asad hasn’t carried out any reforms, still supports terror, has stockpiles of WMD, and even tried to build a secret nuke facility. But unlike Qaddafi, he cleans up nicely and his wife is chic. Asad gets a pass; Asads always do.”

Ask yourself these simple questions: Which regime is more dangerous to U.S. interests? Which regime is sponsoring more terrorism at present? Which regime is killing Americans in Iraq? Which regime is allied with Iran and actively trying to destroy U.S. interests in the Middle East? Who is the worse dictator–more repressive; incompetent; and bad for regional stability, the United States, and the West–Egypt’s Husni Mubarak or Syria’s Bashar al-Asad?

Nobody is asking the U.S. government to bomb Syria or to send troops. It’s just a matter of supporting those seeking democracy when it also serves U.S. interests. Even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates seems to feel this way.

I have no idea whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supports the White House’s pro-Syrian policy or not but her attempt to defend it is the most pitiful performance of her 26 months in the job. Was this because her heart isn’t in it or just that the contradictions are too obvious to paper over?

Does anyone still believe that the United States is going to woo Syria away from Iran, especially now that it’s handing one victory after another to Tehran? Does anyone still believe that Syria is going to make peace with Israel? I mean someone who is a rational being who has some comprehension of international affairs, in other words not Senator John Kerry.

Muslim Brotherhood Proves It Is Radical and Aggressive–According to its Own Test

Posted: 27 Mar 2011 07:03 PM PDT

Please be subscriber 21,787 (daily reader 38,787). Put email address in upper right-hand box: http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com

We need your contribution. Tax-deductible donation by PayPal or credit card: click Donate button: http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com. Checks: “American Friends of IDC.” “For GLORIA Center” on memo line. Mail: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th St., 11th Fl., NY, NY 10003.

By Barry Rubin

In his New York Times op-ed back in February, Muslim Brotherhood agent–disguised as sophisticated academic–Tariq Ramadan wrote:

“By deciding to line up behind Mohamed ElBaradei, who has emerged as the chief figure among the anti-Mubarak protesters, the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership has signaled that now is not the time to expose itself by making political demands that might frighten the West, not to mention the Egyptian people. Caution is the watchword. “

But wait! Now it is the month of March and the Brotherhood has broken with ElBaradei. In fact, Brotherhood supporters by the hundred threw stones at ElBaradei and prevented him from voting on the constitutional amendments during the recent referendum. So much for democracy.

So to take Ramadan at his word, now that the Brotherhood has turned against ElBaradei and physically attacked him, does that mean–to paraphrase Ramadan–that:

The Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership has signaled that now is the time to expose itself by making political demands that might frighten the West and the Egyptian people. Confidence and aggression is the watchword.

In other words, the Brotherhood can toss away one of the main “proofs” of its moderation and lack of aggressiveness and the Western elite–including those in whose newspaper these words appeared–don’t even notice!

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

Now We Know: How the Obama Administration is Going to Bring Disaster to the Middle East and U.S. Interests

From Rubin Reports.Blogspot.Com

Now We Know: How the Obama Administration is Going to Bring Disaster to the Middle East and U.S. Interests

Posted: 04 Mar 2011 03:16 PM PST

Please be subscriber 19,018 (daily reader 33,418). Put email address in upper right-hand box: http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com

We need your contribution. Tax-deductible donation by PayPal or credit card: click Donate button: http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com. Checks: “American Friends of IDC.” “For GLORIA Center” on memo line. Mail: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th St., 11th Fl., NY, NY 10003.

By Barry Rubin

In a moment, I’ll present you with what might be the most frightening paragraph in the modern history of U.S. Middle East policy. But first, here’s one that’s among the most deplorable. It’s from a Washington Post article:

“The Obama administration is preparing for the prospect that Islamist governments will take hold in North Africa and the Middle East, acknowledging that the popular revolutions there will bring a more religious cast to the region’s politics.”

What? While people like me have been warning about the emergence of Islamist regimes, in contrast the Obama administration, European governments, mass media, and most academics have repeatedly assured us there’s no such danger! Those people doing the warning have been almost totally shut out of the mass media.

But now is the Obama administration realizing that those changes they’ve been cheering and even promoting could end by producing Islamist regimes? Is that the kind of regime that’s anti-American, promotes terrorism, subverts neighbors, and wants to wipe Israel off the map?

Now we come to the paragraph I warned about, the explanation for how the administration may be about to plunge into the biggest disaster in U.S. foreign policy of…well, of a very long time.

Here it is:

“The administration is already taking steps to distinguish between various movements in the region that promote Islamic law in government. An internal assessment, ordered by the White House last month, identified large ideological differences between such movements as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al-Qaeda that will guide the U.S. approach to the region.”

Get it? Al-Qaeda is bad because it wants to attack U.S. embassies, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon.

BUT the Muslim Brotherhood is good! Because it merely wants to seize state power, transform Egypt into an Islamist state, rule almost 90 million people with an iron hand, back Hamas in trying to destroy Israel, overthrow the Palestinian Authority, help Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood overthrow the monarchy, and sponsor terrorism against Americans in the Middle East.

I’m sure you can see the difference. This is the nonsense that the administration has been working toward for two years. It is the doctrine pushed by the president’s advisor on terrorism, elements in the CIA, and White House ideologues. The State and Defense departments are probably horrified.

Here’s the next paragraph:

“`We shouldn’t be afraid of Islam in the politics of these countries,'” said a senior administration official….`It’s the behavior of political parties and governments that we will judge them on, not their relationship with Islam.'”

That first phrase is correct. We shouldn’t be afraid of Islam in the politics of these countries. Islam has always been present in Egypt and Jordan, Saudi Arabia or post-Saddam Iraq, and even Iran before its revolution and Afghanistan not under the Taliban. But we should be very afraid of Islamism in the politics of these countries.

And, yes, we should judge them on their relationship to Islam! Here’s how:

Are they merely pious Muslims who advocate conservative social policies and want to protect Islam’s institutional position in their countries?

Or are they revolutionary Islamists who want to fundamentally transform their societies and make Islam–in their strict, strident interpretation of it–dictator over every aspect of life?

In other words, are they the equivalent of Communists or Social Democrats, Fascists or right-wing nationalists. Both al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood are totalitarians in this sense.

Note, too, the dangerous idea of letting the genie out of the bottle to see if it devours us. We should already be able to tell right now this minute on the basis of the ideology, platform, and methods of these groups. Arguably, Western democracies didn’t do enough to keep Communists out of power in Russia in 1917 or the Nazis out of power in Germany in 1933.

But nobody accuses the Western democracies of helping them gain power on the false belief that this would be a good thing.

The problem here is not that the U.S. government is promoting democracy but that it isn’t simultaneously fighting against anti-democratic forces that want to take advantage of it to install even worse dictatorships profoundly dedicated to the destruction of all U.S. interests.

In short, the Obama Administration doesn’t care the least about keeping the Muslim Brotherhood out of the Egyptian government or Hizballah from running Lebanon’s government. Is it against the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power in Jordan or radical Islamists taking over Saudi Arabia or Morocco?

Why put the Islamists into power as an experiment? Then after a few wars, massive terrorism, bloody repression, and the destruction of the U.S. position in the Middle East, these great geniuses can say: Oops! Sorry for all you dead people but now we have a good basis for judging them: They really meant what they said! Who could have guessed?

If al-Qaida is the measure of all things, then everyone looks moderate in comparison. At least they aren’t attacking Manhattan! And this is why we’ve been subjected to the whitewashing of the Muslim Brotherhood, to make it acceptable to the American people and Congress. That’s why President Obama unilaterally welcomed the Brotherhood into Egypt’s government before anyone asked him to remark on that subject.

Then there’s Iran, which is not really viewed as too much of a threat. Just a little containment will make Tehran behave, right? And the bloody repressive regime in Syria is okay according to this worldview because it is against al-Qaida. The increasingly dictatorial regime in Turkey is positively wonderful to this viewpoint since its Islamist regime gives the appearance of being moderate. What a shining example!

Why object to Hizballah taking over Lebanon or the Muslim Brotherhood playing a major role in Egypt?  After all, this gives Islamists a chance to show they are moderate and to be moderated by a taste of power. The administration’s definition of moderate is someone who is willing to participate in elections. If they knew any history they’d be aware that both Communists and Nazis participated in elections.

Yet we see this theme everywhere in terms of Obama policy: the attempt in Afghanistan to win over the “moderate” Taliban elements; the effort to get Syria to abandon its alliance with Iran in order to be a friend of the United States; the building and restoration of mosques with U.S. taxpayer money; the wooing of the Muslim Brotherhood; and so on.

There is also the view of Turkey’s regime as benign because it offers a “moderate” model to the Islamists and thus cannot be criticized. The only reason that Hamas is not included in this process, presumably, is because that would set off pro-Israel forces.

When Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says the United States is competing with Iran does she mean for leadership in the region or for the hearts and souls of Islamists? When she praises al-Jazira is it because she believes the United States needs to do a better job of offering an alternative version of Islamism? Remember Obama’s Cairo speech was not “pro-Arab” but rather endorsed Islam as the primary identity in the region, with invited Brotherhood guests seated in the front row.

U.S. policy, then, is deliberately helping the Islamists in order to show them America is their friend, to separate “radicals” (al-Qaida) from “moderates” (Hizballah and the Muslim Brotherhood!), and to get them in a situation where they will be “moderated” by having to exercise of power (the same strategy that failed miserably with Yasir Arafat and the 1990s’ peace process, leaving several thousand people dead).

This policy approach is irresponsible to say the least. Strategy and tactics are means to a goal. If the goal of an Islamist group is to seize state power and transform one’s country into a totalitarian nightmare, violence and elections are equally good means if you think they are going to work.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi has said it all in his critique of Bin Ladin: Of course, Islamists should participate in elections, he explained, because they will win. And so if Qaradawi openly advocates genocide against the Jews, imposing totalitarian regimes, and chasing the West out of the region these facts are censored out by much of the Western media. After all, he favors elections and that’s all that counts.

It is bad enough for U.S. and European policies to do nothing in the face of the greatest challenge of our time, but to assist actively in the coming to power and flourishing of enemies is incredibly foolish. The bottom line is that this goes beyond appeasement. It is a strategy of actively helping the enemy grow stronger in the belief that this is a brilliant idea.

There is some precedent here. Some State Department experts thought Mao Zedong was a harmless “agrarian reformer.”  In 1952, U.S. policymakers thought military regimes in the Arab world would be legitimate, efficient, pro-American, and anti-Communist. Thus, they welcomed the Egyptian coup of that year (which produced the regime just overthrown recently). Within three years, however, they reversed course realizing that the Egyptian government was hostile and pro-Communist. Almost a decade later they figured that Fidel Castro was just an honest nationalist, not a Marxist-Leninist.

Another thing it makes me think of is British domestic policy on Islamism, in which radical groups are encouraged and even funded as long as they don’t advocate terrorist violence within the United Kingdom, i.e., they aren’t al-Qaida types. The Muslim Brotherhood was (and is) considered a very useful force for peace and moderation by British policymakers.

This is the tragic mistake being transferred onto the wider stage: turning the chicken coop over to the foxes just because they aren’t rabid foxes.

The article includes this claim:

“`If our policy can’t distinguish between al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, we won’t be able to adapt to this change,'” the senior administration official said. “`We’re also not going to allow ourselves to be driven by fear.”‘

I can distinguish between al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. They are very different but they are both very bad, too. The apparent alternative to being “driven by fear” is to be directed by ignorance and stupidity.

No doubt many who read this will think I’m being alarmist and presenting an exaggerated picture. I certainly hope so. But I don’t think so. My worry is that in a couple of years you won’t think so either.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include Islamic Fundamentalists in Egyptian Politics and The Muslim Brotherhood (Palgrave-Macmillan); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, a study of Arab reform movements (Wiley). GLORIA Center site: http://www.gloria-center.org His blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

2 Articles; *Canada Stands Up to Iran on Film Showing; * Why Obama Administration Peace Process Policy Will Be A Total Waste of Time in 2011

From Rubin Reports.Blogspot.Com

Friday, January 21, 2011

Canada Stands Up to Iran on Film Showing

By Barry Rubin

Well, that’s more like it! The Canadian government orders the showing of a film on Iran’s nuclear program previously cancelled due to threats.

See:
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/politics/Heritage+Minister+orders+Library+Archives+Canada+show+controversial+film/4132876/story.html

The Canadian government even sent a diplomatic note to Tehran saying that Canada is a free country and that freedom of expression is a core value that won’t be compromised. “People need to be kept safe, but we don’t back down to people who try to censor people by threats of violence.”

Wow, I mean this is great and heroic. But shouldn’t it be normal for European and the U.S. government also?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Obama Administration Peace Process Policy Will Be A Total Waste of Time in 2011

Please be subscriber 18,422 (and daily reader 20,422). Put your email address in the upper right-hand box of the page at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com

We rely on your contributions. Tax-deductible donation via PayPal or credit card: click Donate button, top right corner of this page: http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/. By check: “American Friends of IDC.” “For GLORIA Center” on memo line. Mail: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th St., 11th Floor, NY, NY 10003.

By Barry Rubin

Since predicting the future is hard, to say the least, it’s always interesting when one can clearly see a crisis looming months ahead of time. The usual pattern is for the impending problem to be ignored until the last minute, then it is suddenly discovered by journalists and policymakers with great astonishment.

Often, they then misdiagnose the causes of the problem precisely because they never understood why it happened in the first place.

In this case, the Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign minister–remember when the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement said that the PA wouldn’t conduct foreign policy? Ha-ha-ha–Riyad Malki says he will seek recognition of a Palestinian state in September at the UN. For many years, Malki ran the terrorist group, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) on the West Bank. But it’s ok! He quit.

So far, recognition has been obtained from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador, with Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, and Chile considered next. Of course, almost 100 countries recognized the Palestinian state a long time ago, often 20 years ago, and that didn’t change anything. Indeed, I was present when a unilateral declaration of independence was made near Algiers on November 15, 1988, by the Palestinian National Council, the PLO’s parliament.

Everything the PA has obtained in the last 17 years has been due not to those diplomatic recognitions but to the 1993 agreement with Israel. To walk away from that agreement and negotiations in general would be a serious matter of violating every commitment the PA has understaken. It tells something about the PA’s pattern of behavior and reliability in keeping agreements. But who cares, right?

More immediately, though, I have not seen a single article in any mass media outlet that makes these most simple and obvious points:

First, the PA has basically refused to negotiate with Israel for two full years, though one would scarcely know that from media coverage.

Second, this intransigence is now being parlayed into a unilateral action. The PA won’t negotiate with Israel at all. Thus, it will not have to make any commitments, compromises, or concessions. It will simply get a state on a silver platter on all of the territory it claims.

That, at least is the strategy: If the world gives me everything I want who needs you?

I have also not seen a single mass media outlet even mention that the problem here is that the Palestinians would be offered a state without having to declare that this is their final demand. In other words, as the Palestinians have always wanted, the door would be open for a second round of conflict to wipe Israel off the map.

Who will be the big loser if this happens? In theory, you would think it would be Israel. But in fact even the PA realizes that this is going to have limited effect on the ground. The PA does need Israel for many things, including, for example, helping keep it from being overthrown by Hamas and passing through needed goods.

Even PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has admitted, in the words of an AP dispatch, “that the recognition drive at the UN will not necessarily bring realization of a state. But it helps the Palestinians enshrine their demand that the 1967 borders serve as the basis for drawing their nation’s shape.”

Or in Malki’s words: “Such recognition would create political and legal pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land of another state that is recognized within the 1967 borders by the international organization.”

But it won’t affect Israel very much at all. Nothing really will change.

By the way, let’s remember that contrary to international practice, the PA cannot claim to be a state in those borders because it doesn’t control that territory. And I’m referring here to the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem, and much of the West Bank. Moreover, it is asking for recognition in contradiction to its existing treaty commitments. But again, who cares?

The UN General Assembly will no doubt accept Palestinian statehood by a resounding majority without that country making any commitments to peace, security guarantees, an end of the conflict, or anything else. Then the issue will go to the UN Security Council where the United States will veto it. Yes, President Barack Obama will do that. And so there will be no real change in the situation.

And that brings me back to my point. The big loser here is the United States. After all, why should the PA make any attempt whatsoever to negotiate seriously if at the end of nine months it can get everything it wants for free? How can the U.S. government ignore this reality?

In other words, the next nine months of U.S. policy on the peace process will be a complete and total waste of time. And  nothing Israel does, for good or bad, will affect that reality.

There is, of course, something the U.S. government can do: maximum pressure on other states not to recognize; maximum pressure on the PA to drop the idea. Of course, this is not going to happen.

So, surer than the Titanic was going to hit that iceberg if it didn’t change course, the Obama Administration is headed for getting a big hole in its side and taking on considerable water. Remember, you heard it here first. And you probably won’t hear it anywhere else until about August.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

Obama Administration Gives Up On Pointless “Freeze” Diplomacy

From Rubin Reports.Blogspot.Com

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Obama Administration Gives Up On Pointless “Freeze” Diplomacy

Please be subscriber 18,011 (and daily reader 20,011.). Put your email address in the upper right-hand box of the page at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com [Note: For those following this closely we have raised our daily reader figure due to a consistent readership rise on the GLORIA site.]

We rely on your contributions. Tax-deductible donation via PayPal or credit card: click Donate button, top right corner of this page: http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/. By check: “American Friends of IDC.” “For GLORIA Center” on memo line. Mail: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th St., 11th Floor, NY, NY 10003.

By Barry Rubin

As I predicted here ten days ago, the Obama Administration has now given up attempts to get Israel to agree to a three-month freeze of construction on existing settlements.

Here is the most fascinating sentence in the New York Times’ coverage:

“Officials said the administration decided to pull the plug because it concluded that even if Mr. Netanyahu persuaded his cabinet to accept an extension — which he had not yet been able to do — the 90-day negotiating period would not have produced the progress on core issues that the administration originally had hoped for.”

Translation: They decided that a three-month freeze wouldn’t do any good. In other words, as I’ve been saying since October, the administration put forward a policy that made no sense, offering big concessions in exchange for getting something worthless.

It is good that the U.S. government has recognized the silliness of what it has been doing the last six months.

Of course, the Times tried to blame Israel exclusively: “Mr. Netanyahu could face renewed pressure from the United States and the Palestinians as the hurdle to resumed talks.” As happens so often, the newspaper’s writers don’t seem to be reading their own words.

After all, the reporter had just pointed out that Netanyahu tried but could not get the plan through his cabinet.  Moreover, the administration messed up its diplomacy to the point that nobody in Israel could tell what it was offering.

And, of course, the Palestinian Authority has been refusing to negotiate with Israel seriously for two solid years. Yet the Times wants to blame Israel for the lack of talks.

At some point early next year the Obama Administration will have to decide whether to put this issue on the back burner or keep knocking its head against a stone wall. And that stone wall isn’t Israel, it’s the Palestinian Authority which, now that it has recognition from Brazil and potentially from other countries, will be more intransigent than ever.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

Obama Administration Tells Israel: Make Us Look Good For Election and We Will Reward You (A Little Bit)

From Rubin Reports.Blogspot.Com

Obama Administration Tells Israel: Make Us Look Good For Election and We Will Reward You (A Little Bit)

Posted: 01 Oct 2010 12:12 PM PDT

Please be subscriber 17,509. Put your email address in the upper right-hand box of the page at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/

We rely on your contributions. Tax-deductible donation via PayPal or credit card: click Donate button, top right corner of this page: http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/. By check: “American Friends of IDC.” “For GLORIA Center” on memo line. Mail: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th St., 11th Floor, NY, NY 10003.

By Barry Rubin

Contents of a White House letter have been published saying what the Obama Administration will offer Israel if it extends the moratorium on building inside West Bank settlements for two months. The specific proposals reveal again how the White House doesn’t seem to understand the situation, or perhaps is thinking of something other than the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu couldn’t continue the freeze because there isn’t enough support in his coalition for doing so. Thus, minor U.S. offers don’t change that fact in any way. Moreover, the main underlying problem is lack of confidence that the Palestinian Authority (PA) wants peace with Israel, is willing to compromise, or will implement commitments in future. As you read this, keep in mind all of the problems I’ve written about which Israel must keep in mind in making any peace agreement.

When we consider the specifics, then, the U.S. offer isn ‘t relevant. But there are more problems:

First, the administration offers not to seek an extension of a two-month freeze. Why two months, why not three or four? Why not two weeks?

Hmm, readers, what is happening within two months? The U.S. election! The implication is that the Obama Administration is offering Israel the following basic deal: Make us look good until the vote and we will give you a pay-off.


That’s it. Because the only alternative view is that the United States believes that the once-every-two-week talks will make such dramatic progress in two months that both Israel and the Palestinians will be on the verge of peace or an end to the freeze won’t matter.


Is that credible? No.  And so when press reports say that the White House is angry that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the offer we can well understand why this is so. It certainly isn’t going to pressure the PA to give in, which is the other alternative. The collapse of the peace talks on the verge of the November elections don’t make it look good while the PA walking out in December won’t matter in terms of American politics.

The Obama Administration cannot bash Israel between now and the elections but it might seek to get revenge in 2011.

Back to the U.S. offer. Second, the United States offers to support measures to prevent the smuggling of weapons and terrorists into Israel after a Palestinian state is established. This is interpreted as allowing for Israeli forces to stay in the Jordan valley and guard the border with Jordan for several years.

This is nice but Israel knows that the PA would never agree to this idea and that the U.S. government isn’t going to do a lot of arm twisting to get it to change its position. Moreover, while Israeli leaders in the past have spoken about maintaining a security zone with Jordan, that was always linked with holding on to the Jordan Valley’s territory. The U.S. proposed temproary idea would set up a situation in which an isolated Israeli force would be subject to attack by terrorists on a regular basis, with international condemnation when it had to intercept or kill terrorists.

While not exactly the same thing, the United States and the “international community” promised to stop cross-border weapons’ smuggling into Lebanon in 2006 and four years later not a single weapon has been intercepted. True, in this case Israeli troops would be doing the work but the skepticism of their getting international support remains.

Third, the letter promises the U.S. government would veto any UN Security Council resolution against Israel for the next year. This is insulting. Historically, the United States has watered-down, blocked, or vetoed such resolutions. So this “concession” in fact takes back a previous policy. It signals to Israeli leaders that the current administration isn’t exactly reliable. And, of course, it suggests that after the year is over Washington will not veto such resolutions, a big step backward.

Fourth, the administration pledges to talk with Israel and Arab states about a, “regional security architecture.” Wow, that can be expected to yield precisely…zero.

And finally, the United States will sell more weapons to Israel after there is a peace agreement and the creation of a Palestinian state. Well, that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Again, suggesting that this would happen if Israel freezes construction for two months also simultaneously suggests that it won’t happen otherwise. Like the veto point, it actually withdraws something Israel was previously expecting.

According to media reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu politely pointed out that when the United States originally demanded the freeze it promised that it would secure concessions from Arab states. This didn’t happen. It also promised that the Palestinians would be responsive and fulfill their commitments. That didn’t happen either. Indeed, I should point out, they refused to negotiate until the last minute and then did so mainly to get the freeze extended still further without any concession or advancing the negotiations on their part.

Netanyahu’s right. But it isn’t his job to point out what I’m telling you couldn’t be more obvious: this is a deal motivated by domestic political benefit for the administration, not the strategic interests of the United States or the cause of peace.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

Obama pushing to restore Lebanon aid despite Congress fears of threat to Israel

From Haaretz.Com

The Obama administration wants lawmakers to restore millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Lebanon’s army that they suspended over concerns it could be used to target Israel.

Senior administration and congressional officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that a review of the assistance has concluded its resumption was in the interest of America’s national security and Middle East stability. Lawmakers had asked for the review after placing holds on $100 million in aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces last month.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the administration has not yet completed classified briefings to the members of Congress who held up the money.

The findings are not surprising as the administration has long argued that assistance to Lebanon’s army balances the influence of Syria, Iran and their proxies in the country.

Several lawmakers placed holds on the money over concerns it could affect Israel’s security due to fears the militant Hezbollah movement has influence in Lebanon’s army.

Among those raising concerns were Rep. Howard Berman, a Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican of that committee, and Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat who chairs the subcommittee that oversees U.S. foreign assistance.

A spokesman for Lowey, Matt Dennis, said Lowey had been briefed on the administration’s position on Wednesday but that she had not made a decision on lifting her hold.

“She appreciates the administration’s efforts to keep apprised of findings, and the conversations will continue about the path forward,” he said, adding, however that: “No resolution on this matter was reached. Her hold remains in place.”

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed that the review had been finished but would not comment on its classified findings, particularly about
Hezbollah’s alleged influence in the Lebanese army.

At the same time, he noted that U.S. aid to Lebanon is specifically intended to build strong national institutions in Lebanon which act as a counterweight to Hezbollah.

Fears of Hezbollah influence in the army came to a head in early August when
Lebanese soldiers near the Israeli border opened fire on Israeli troops, sparking a clash that killed two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and a senior Israeli officer.

Ros-Lehtinen, whose office said she had not yet been briefed on the review, said in a statement that she remained “deeply concerned that U.S. assistance to the [Lebanese army] may be finding its way into the hands of violent militants, including Hezbollah, which murder innocent Israelis.”

“The U.S. must not continue to send security assistance to Lebanon when we cannot be sure that it is not benefiting these dangerous extremists and their state sponsors,” she said.

– Prophecy News Watch

Barack Hearts Bibi

From Rubin Reports.Com

Barack Hearts Bibi

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 11:26 AM PDT

Please be subscriber 17,322. Put your email address in the upper right-hand box of the page at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/

We depend on your contributions. Tax-deductible donation through PayPal or credit card: click Donate button, upper-right hand corner of this page: http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/. By check: “American Friends of IDC.” “For GLORIA Center” on memo line. Mail: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th St., 11th Floor, NY, NY 10003.

By Barry Rubin

We have entered into a new period of U.S. policy toward Israel for the Obama Administration. Basically, President Barack Obama needs Israel, requires its cooperation, and is eager to get along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How long this will last is unclear but it should characterize, barring unforeseen events, at least for the next year.

What is the basis of this new era? When it came to office, the Obama Administration was in radical mode, determined to distance itself from Israel as a key to winning over Arabs and Muslims, assuming that peace could be achieved with sufficient pressure on Israel as the only requirement, and hostile to Israel’s current government.

A measure of reality eventually set in, involving a large number of factors ranging from the lack of Arab cooperation, to Iran’s intransigence, the lack of progress in engaging Syria, and the tasks of dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan. The administration’s head-on charge over demanding a freeze of construction on settlements only produced a one-year-plus delay on Israel-Palestinian negotiations. The Palestinian Authority (PA) was uncooperative. American public opinion was unhappy with the policy toward Israel.

This is not to say that the situation is simple but by September 2010 things are very different. The Obama Administration is desperate for diplomatic successes, or at least the appearance of having them. What’s happening regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons’ drive cannot be concealed or ignored.

The U.S. government is also is aware of falling public support–including a sharp decline in Jewish backing though pro-Israel forces extend far more widely throughout American society—on the eve of American elections. In addition, it’s clear that Netanyahu’s government isn’t going away and there is no “dovish” alternative that will give Obama everything he wants for little or nothing in exchange.

So now Obama needs Netanyahu. He needs to keep the new peace talks going and looking good. The president also requires that Netanyahu keep things quiet on the Israel-Palestinian front so as—so he thinks—to make it easier to get Arab and Muslim support or other U.S. policies. And since Obama’s orientation is mainly domestic and his world view is horrified by power politics, he wants to avoid international crises generally. Anti-Israel officials in the administration are being ignored.

The truth is—and this is analysis, not a political statement—Netanyahu and his government, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, have performed brilliantly to facing this challenge. It has met U.S. requests without sacrificing Israeli interests, if nothing else secure in the knowledge that the PA isn’t going to make a deal any way and wanting to focus American attention on the Iranian threat. Whatever the U.S. government says in public it has to realize that the PA, not Israel, is the roadblock to peace.

This kind of charm diplomacy may be what Netanyahu is best at doing. His speech in Washington was a masterpiece, praising Obama and making clear that his goal is a true and stable peace, not merely:

“A brief interlude between two wars…a temporary respite between outbursts of terror. We seek a peace that will end the conflict between us once and for all. We seek a peace that will last for generations.” He called Abbas, “my partner in peace….We recognize that another people share this land with us. And I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity.”

Netanyahu concluded: “I did not come here to win an argument. I came here to forge a peace. I did not come here to play a blame game where even the winners lose. I came here to achieve a peace that will bring benefits to all. I did not come here to find excuses. I came here to find solutions.”

He made this approach without illusions: “We left Lebanon, we got terror. We left Gaza, we got terror. We want to ensure that territory we concede will not be turned into a third Iranian sponsored terror enclave aimed at the heart of Israel. That is why a defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that are sure to confront us.”

Is the PA going to meet even a single one of Israel’s requirements? End of conflict; real security guarantees, demilitarization of a Palestinian state, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, resettlement of all Palestinian refugees in the state of Palestine? Of course not. Possibly there might be agreement on some minor border changes but even that is unlikely, much less giving even the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem to Israel or some other parts of eastern or northern Jerusalem areas.

What Israel has to do, though, is to continue to put forward reasonable demands, show itself cooperative and flexible, while letting the months of futile talks roll ever onward. He isn’t threatened by right-wing walk-outs from the coalition, which at any rate will be discouraged by the fact that he isn’t actually giving anything away. At any rate, he controls the Likud; the Labor Party has no alternative; the opposition Kadima has no leadership or program. At some point next year, Netanyahu will call elections and win a resounding mandate.

Abbas will go along with the charades up to a point but increasingly, as he gives nothing himself, will blame Israel for the lack of progress. Even Marwan Barghouti, the jailed in Israel leader of Fatah’s West Bank grassroots’ organization, opposes talks publicly and much of the Fatah establishment opposes them privately. Abbas will be itching to walk out and insist that only a unilateral declaration of independence can “solve” the issue. But during this period, at least, that’s the very last thing the Obama Administration wants: a huge crisis, a difficult decision, potential mass violence stirring up the region, a likely diplomatic catastrophe.

All of this doesn’t mean the administration gets it over the extent to which Iran’s nuclear weapons pose a big and negative strategic shift in the area, the extent of the threat from revolutionary Islamists, how Iraq is at the brink of political anarchy, the futility of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, the at least temporary loss of Turkey, the capture of Lebanon by the Iran-Syria bloc, and all the other ills of the Middle East.

But the current U.S. government understands enough about what’s going on to comprehend that it doesn’t want a crisis with Israel as well and that it isn’t going to achieve some dramatic breakthrough to Arab-Israeli peace. As for Obama, no politician desires anything more passionately—other than election—than having someone else making him look good, perhaps especially when he doesn’t deserve it. Consequently, now is the time for a somewhat belated Obama-Netanyahu honeymoon.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

Cuba 1962 and Iran 2010: Will There Be a Mideast Nuclear Castro?

From Spectator.Org

In the euphoria the Obama administration feels upon attaining final agreement with Russia on the New START Treaty, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of how American and Russian strategic arms reductions have set an example for others to follow. Yet shortly after that announcement, Iran aired one of its own: The regime plans to build additional nuclear plants. Our latest national intelligence adjustment anticipates that with “sufficient foreign assistance” Iran could field an ICBM by 2015. Iran’s rocketry program is quite sophisticated, and the regime may not even need assistance. Finally, a UN report concludes that Iran already has enough enriched uranium to make two atomic bombs. Iran it seems, is responding to the example we have set by running all nuclear engines full speed ahead.

Team Obama has jettisoned sanctions against Iran that would prevent the regime, a crude oil producer with a shortage of refinery capacity, from importing refined oil, as part of American concessions to win passage of a fourth weak UN sanctions resolution. In testimony to Congress, Secretary of State Clinton likened the confrontation with Iran to diplomacy during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis:

We are engaged in very intensive diplomacy. My reading of what happened with President Kennedy is that it’s exactly what he did. It was high-stakes diplomacy. It was pushing hard to get the world community to understand, going to the UN, making a presentation, getting international opinion against the placement of Russian weapons in Cuba, making a deal eventually with the Russians that led to the removal of the weapons. That is the kind of high-stakes diplomacy that I’m engaged in, that other members of this administration are, because we take very seriously the potential threat from Iran.

As to high stakes, Secretary Clinton has a point indeed. But her analogy applies beyond diplomacy. Other factors played a huge role in 1962, and bid fair to play an even bigger role in possible future confrontations in a nuclear Mideast. Specifically, consider four: (1) vulnerability to nuclear first-strike; (2) short warning times; (3) lack of communication channels; (4) lack of leader impulse control.

Vulnerability to Nuclear First-Strike.

In the 1950s and early 1960s the two superpowers faced each other with strategic forces that were primarily above ground and small in number. As Peter Huessy, president of the defense consulting firm GeoStrategic Analysis notes, Iran’s nuclear forces may not be readily identifiable as such; conversely the Gulf States, lacking nuclear missile capability, must use readily identifiable aircraft as their delivery systems, making them vulnerable to a nuclear first-strike. Given far fewer military installations and few cities with populations above 100,000 in tiny countries of the Gulf (plus Israel), countries could face, if not national extinction, devastation beyond recovery if caught in a surprise salvo of Hiroshima-size bombs.

Short Warning Times.

A Russian ICBM launched from the Ural Mountains will travel the roughly 6,000 miles to America’s Atlantic coast in about thirty minutes. With flight distances between potential targets in the Mideast often less than 1,000 miles, a high-speed jet can cover the distance in little more time than an ICBM can traverse oceans. Factor in missiles that fly several times the speed of sound. While far slower than ICBMs hurtling through space at twenty times the speed of sound, they are fast enough over short ranges; in some cases times from launch to impact will be less than ten minutes. Also, Iran’s solid-fuel models can be rapidly launched.

Lack of Communication Channels.

Start with numbers. Between Washington and Moscow the only functioning channel was commercial telegraphy in 1962. Imagine a Mideast with a nuclear Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and Egypt and Israel. With six nations there are 64 possible two-way interactions, with all the attendant prospects for misunderstandings during a crisis. Israel has used hot-line telephonic communications with adversaries, including the Palestinians, with mixed results. If with a single channel results are mixed, how will the result be with many diplomatic channels, and hours — perhaps minutes — to Mideast Armageddon? Add in that these countries do not trust each other, making communication problematic at best. Assurance that a single unintended missile launch was in fact accidental may easily fail to convince a nervous target.

Leader Impulse Control.

Which brings us to perhaps the most important personality of the 1962 crisis, one whose impulse control was, to put it charitably, weak: Fidel Castro, flush with his improbable revolutionary triumph and seething with rage at the United States, partly borne of ideological Marxist fervor and partly due to the efforts of the Kennedy administration to get rid of him. Fidel wanted the Russians to incinerate the United States and was willing, even eager, to sacrifice his six million subjects in a nuclear holocaust.

It is today’s Islamic Castro who should worry us the most. Religious messianism and secular militarism can be as lethal as romantic revolutionary fervor. Compound this with several new Mideast nuclear powers and the recipe for accidental nuclear war is cooking in the regional pot. Fidel’s reckless abandon may well be the future augury of nuclear wars to come. It should be noted that although Israel has been a nuclear power (albeit undeclared) for over forty years, its status has not ignited a Mideast arms race. And when Israel took out Iran-backed Syria’s North Korea-supplied nuclear plant in September 2007, the silence in the Mideast was deafening.

A Mideast arms race can rapidly be ignited if Iran crosses the nuclear weapons threshold. The Gulf States will not start a 25-year development program. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar can simply call Pakistan and ask how many atomic bombs the Pakistanis will part with for how many petrodollars. With dozens of nuclear weapons plus in-place weapons production capability, cash-strapped Pakistan can easily afford to sell part of its arsenal or make A-bombs to order. The current Pakistani government might decline, but this could change should a militant Islamic government seize power.

The advanced jets that the Gulf States purchased from the United States can carry nuclear bombs. Then parties would be armed fully, without the extended learning curve that enabled America and the former Soviet Union to learn how to safeguard their weapons from accidental or unauthorized use, and to base forces securely protected from surprise attack. In the face of an apparent surprise attack indicator — which could be a flock of geese on a radar screen — countries with a “use or lose” launch alert posture (known in the strategic community as “launch on warning”) could feel compelled to launch. Even a small-scale attack can extinguish tiny states, unlike the United States and Russia, whose huge territories and vast, dispersed populations make only a large-area attack capable of ending national life.

Put simply, an arms race in the Mideast will be a collection of nuclear accidents waiting for places to happen. Just as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was then the lesser danger, so today Russia’s leaders, though dangerous adversaries, pose less of an immediate nuclear first-strike threat than do Iran’s leaders. The 21st century Castro most likely to unleash a nuclear war likely lives in the Mideast, not Moscow. Setting an example by reducing our nuclear arsenal further than the vast reductions we have already made will only embolden the world’s most dangerous leaders.

Mention should also be made of Iran’s other delivery mode: terror proxy Hezbollah. Hezbollah has implanted several dozen terror cells within the United States. The group was nicknamed by Colin Powell’s State Department deputy, Richard Armitage, “terrorism’s A-Team” — this coming after 9/11. If Iran gives Hezbollah nukes to set off in one or more American cities, tracing the devices definitively back to Iran could prove beyond the current state of nuclear forensics.

Nuclear crises arise suddenly, take novel forms and impose immense stress on leaders, with little margin for error. With survival at stake, the temptation to strike first could well prove irresistible. The result would be global catastrophe.

– From Prophecy News Watch