Sunday, June 22, 2014

Destabilizing the Middle East

by Richard Baehr

New York Times reporter Jody Rudoren accuses Israel of destabilizing both Israeli-‎Palestinian relations and the new "unity government " of the Palestinians, and ‎sentencing the Palestinians to collective punishment as it seeks to find the three ‎boys kidnapped a week back, almost certainly by Hamas operatives. The three kidnap victims and their families are, ‎of course, only deserving of a modicum of international sympathy, since they supposedly ‎belong to "settler families" living on land "promised to," and rightfully belonging to ‎the Palestinians. (In fact, only one of the three families lives in a settlement.) In pretty much every story on the three boys in European papers ‎or The New York Times, it is obligatory to mention the settler aspect, since this ‎suggests the families to some extent had it coming to them for their participation in ‎a colonial enterprise. Perhaps the only thing that could have muddied the waters ‎further would be if the three boys had been wearing Washington Redskins tee ‎shirts at the time of the kidnapping, which ‎would have conclusively demonstrated their lack of concern for all those less ‎privileged and more deserving of the world's concern.‎
There are of course, plenty of destabilizing things going on in the Middle East, ‎though hitchhiking teenage boys, and the Israeli government's interest in finding ‎them while they are still alive, hardly fall in that category. The unity agreement ‎between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas was a particularly destabilizing ‎event. With no change in any of the expressed objectives of Hamas, the unity ‎agreement was essentially a formal marriage between the PA and a terrorist entity ‎committed to the murder of Jews in Israel and anywhere else they could find them. ‎That agreement was bound to destabilize Israeli-Palestinian relations, as was the ‎kidnapping of three teenage boys by the new partner in the PA government. ‎

The Israeli search for the kidnappers and their victims is what governments in ‎civilized countries do to protect their people. Kidnapping children is what terrorist ‎regimes do and is designed to destabilize. Hamas clearly sees a path to power in ‎the West Bank, much as it has achieved power in Gaza. Forcing the PA on the ‎defensive -- appearing to accede to Israeli demands to cooperate in the search for ‎the kidnappers, while Hamas remains resolute in supporting such attacks, is bound ‎to improve Hamas' standing versus the PA among a population that loves to glorify ‎terrorist killings and kidnappings and prefers them over deals with the "Zionist ‎entity."‎

The Hamas message of how Jews should be treated anywhere you can find them ‎seemed to have been well understood in Europe -- in Paris and Brussels and ‎Antwerp in recent days. In Antwerp, it ‎appeared to be Jewish 5-year-olds that proved so unsettling and destabilizing to ‎the Muslim attackers. ‎

It is of course no surprise that the attacks in Europe are occurring now with such ‎increased frequency. The European governments, as evidenced by the latest ‎craven capitulation by their diplomats to Arab and Muslim demands in the ‎‎"Declaration Adopted at the Third European Union-League of Arab States Foreign ‎Affairs Ministerial Meeting" in Athens last week have ‎effectively become mouthpieces for the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League. ‎Since the Palestinian Authority now also means Hamas, it is no surprise that ‎European nations have been speaking with forked tongues about the kidnapping ‎and its aftermath. One might say that the attacks on Jews in European cities have ‎been destabilizing to the normal life that has been promised to all the citizens of ‎the social welfare paradises that presumably exist on the continent. But fear not, ‎since most of the attacks are characterized by these governments as actions by ‎‎"lone wolves," and there can't be too many of those types around among Europe's ‎more than twenty million Muslims, a significant number of whom have clearly been ‎radicalized in recent decades. That very destabilizing radicalization process is one that the EU nations are afraid to confront due to their near total commitment to ‎the multicultural enterprise, despite its evident failure to produce any real ‎assimilation.‎

Outside of the Israeli-Palestinian arena, there have been plenty of destabilizing ‎events the past few years and days in the Middle East. Unfortunately for those who ‎claim that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so central to calming the ‎region, the instability in Egypt, Syria, Libya, and now Iraq appear to be completely ‎unrelated to the flow and the ups and downs of the so-called peace process. On the ‎other hand, the perception of a disappearance of American resolve in the region ‎has undoubtedly played a real destabilizing role. Would Sunni jihadists be in the ‎position they are now in Syria and Iraq had the Obama administration been ‎clearer on our goals and on whom we were supporting in the Syrian civil war, and ‎not wavered on enforcing our red lines? Had we left a small military force in Iraq ‎and applied more pressure on the Maliki government to be more inclusive, would ‎the country be in its current state of near collapse with the possibility of splitting ‎apart into religious/ethnic areas dominated by Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites? ‎

To hear what comes out of the State Department these days, or for that matter from NASA, or the Veterans Affairs Department, American domestic and foreign policy objectives seem to focus on just a ‎few areas -- climate change; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender initiatives, and a little further down the list, ‎celebrating Muslim achievements in space so as to lift their self-esteem. Of course, ‎also near the top of the agenda is insuring that the United States and other ‎countries have healthy school lunches.‎

The triviality of American foreign policy initiatives and the leadership vacuum we ‎have created abroad, which others are moving quickly to fill (in very destabilizing ‎fashion), appear to be deliberate -- an attempt to reduce our American footprint ‎and avoid even the threat of military engagement. ‎

The next shoe to drop will probably be with Iran and its nuclear program. What will be sold as a "victory" for the United States in the negotiations ‎will be a deal that culminates Obama's five-year courtship of the mullahs, and has ‎led to "their rejoining the community of nations" and presumably behaving more ‎responsibly (as in our subcontracting to them the military effort to derail the ‎assault by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as it approaches Baghdad). The nuclear deal if it is signed, will preserve ‎Iran's ability to enrich uranium, maintain existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, ‎enable only those inspections Iran is comfortable with, and significantly reduce ‎current sanctions directed against the regime -- a reward presumably for not ‎making a bomb this week, but only a bit later or whenever it chooses to. The fact ‎that American and European pressure on Iran will have been removed, will be ‎destabilizing. Iran will be freer to throw its weight around, with its economy on the ‎mend, and the "international community" moving on to worry about other things ‎than its nuclear program.‎

The killing of Osama bin Laden was supposed to be the capstone to the president's ‎foreign policy achievements -- ending the wars abroad, and wrapping up our ‎business with al-Qaida, producing a new stable world order, with a more ‎comfortable, reduced American role as one among many. It seems more likely ‎today that what the administration views as its achievements are seen abroad as ‎neglect and negligence. Unfortunately, neglect and negligence are destabilizing.‎

Richard Baehr


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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