January 19, 2009
Israel Points the Way for Obama
The Israeli attack on Gaza is more than anything else an attempt to commit the Obama administration to a hard line policy on Iran.
Neither Obama nor Hilary Clinton has ever deviated from Bush’s core policy on Iran. Obama’s declared willingness to engage in some sort of dialogue with Iran is clearly positive. However, without readiness to try and work out sensible and genuine compromises on outstanding issues, tensions will not recede. The Israeli war on Gaza is a method to mobilize the sizable anti-Iranian block in US politics against any serious negotiation on substantive issues. The mobilized bi-partisan support for the AIPAC “Israel has the right to defend itself…” formula is designed to head off any semblance of even handedness and diplomatic flexibility in Washington.
Israel has more than a decent chance for success in this maneuver, not because it is so strong, but because the forces suggesting any basic change in the Bush era policies are so weak. Israel’s policy is clear and it was making every conceivable effort during 2008 to drag the US into a major confrontation. (See, David E. Sanger ,Bush Rebuffed Israeli Plans to Hit Iran Atomic Site, IHT, January 12,2009).
Absence of an Alternative Policy Conception
Neo-Conservatism still has important influence on US foreign policy because it is for the moment the only clear conceptual framework for relating to challenges to diminishing US hegemony. It takes time and a degree of political sophistication to work out a new overall analysis on major issues. It also happens to be one of those things that do not emerge
“from the center.”
It is of course a positive development that the US intends to engage Teheran in a dialogue. But the declared intention of denying Iran any and every form of access to nuclear capacity in exchange for a few carrots (some sort of version of a stimulus package for good behavior) is ill conceived. It is not only or mainly a question of Iranian prestige. Teheran has every reason to see itself threatened by Israel’s atomic arsenal.
This may be the last chance that US policy can conceivably do something against proliferation. Israel has defended its regional nuclear monopoly by declaring that it would not be the first to employ nuclear weapons in the region. However, many of the best strategic minds, including robust friends of Israel, have ever succeeded to conceptualize the non existent and inconceivable circumstances in which Israel might actually use the bomb.
The guardians of US interests might well have figured out by now that nuclear weapons in Pakistan and India are more of a deadly trap for that region than anything else. There is presently talk in the Middle East about nuclear proliferation at the mid-power level with Egypt and Saudi Arabia in line. Can anyone ignore these new dangers?
Now it may be a bit presumptuous for me to set myself up as an objective interpreter of US imperial interests, but it seems that Washington has an exceptional opportunity to make life a lot safer for all concerned. Is it so difficult for those who are going to call the shots in Washington to understand that the denuclearization of Israel is the best and least costly path to block Iranian nuclearization? This would clear the path to set up a atomic free zone in the Middle East for the benefit of all concerned. Of course, this happens to be in the interests of Israel, though it will take some convincing by way of iron clad guarantees, from the United States which are, for that matter already in effect.
What we have here is another example of Hamas’s deviousness: Their leaders had the temerity to hide from bombs during the Israeli attack and their barely armed soldiers showed abject cowardice by refusing to come out of their tunnels and burrows to confront the tanks and their air support.
Israel is lucky though. Hamas, as a ruling governing entity will have plenty to do rebuilding after the widespread destruction. If it were merely a guerilla type terrorist outfit, it wouldn’t be concerned about the rebuilding aspect. Hamas, according to Israeli IDF intelligence will have to be cautious because it is the government in Gaza. It was a tough call. Israel had to eliminate Hamas, but make certain that it survived as the effective government of Gaza.
The burgeoning demand to release Gilad Shalit exposed the soft underbelly of public opinion in the country. Leaving aside the almost impossible logistics of an operation to extricate Shalit alive, even in the event of a total Israeli victory, the demand and the expectations for the release of Shalit showed that most Israelis do not have the foggiest idea of the very limited and even questionable success of the operation.
In the absence of unconditional surrender by any of the sides, it’s a complex matter to measure the results of the war on Gaza. One thing is certain. Reactionary “logic” seethes in the street. The average Israeli is beginning to buy the argument that the army was brave and decisive, but we were sold down the river by the old politicians, and so we need new leaders who know how to keep on bombing. Obama, take care, Netanyahu and Lieberman are looking for you.
Monday, January 19, 2009
January 19, 2009