February 27, 2010

America and Israel Sail into Icy Waters

It would be foolish conclude that America and Israel’s special relationship is charted for divorce. Any long-lasting marriage hits a few cold spells, and tough times often unite. But a storm has chilled the waters.

Now, will America and Israel hit an iceberg?

President Obama lost his battle with Prime Minister Netanyahu the moment it began. Not necessarily the ideological or pragmatic battle, for Obama’s principles, were they sincere and he stuck to them, stand a better chance of creating a Palestine than whatever Netanyahu has in mind. The political battle is over though.

Never a match for the veteran Netanyahu, US policy with Israel was burned by Obama's weakness - inexperience. The Gaza war struck a month after his election; Obama went silent (and would never say much about the war afterward). Another month later Netanyahu had returned to power, already smelling blood from Washington, and proceeded to bite Obama repeatedly in action, word, and tone.

Obama barely reacted to the peace process in general over 2009, Netanyahu even less. He also refused to place any blame on either himself or Netanyahu. Obama's approach must change if he expects any progress towards a sovereign Palestine and a secure Israel, or desires the potential healing benefits to the region. He must actively engage the process not just when negotiations begin but before, or run the risk of conflict between all parties involved.

US envoy George Mitchell can't move all the weight when
Netanyahu’s upper hand is manifesting itself everywhere.

Impatient with Obama's attempt to open a dialogue on Iran, Israel’s call for sanctions has escalated from “crippling” to “strangling” and finally unilaterally outside the UN. Recent denial of an attack after so many years of threats, coupled with its new drone fleet, further suggests preemptive activity. For now America is aware of the stupidity of a war against Iran and is restraining Israel in this aspect.

Yet for how long is anyone’s guess.

The bomb has a timer so it must go off sometime. One of two things should happen in the next two to five years, either Israel (and potential allies) strike Iran or it builds a nuclear weapons program. Both situations will add enormous stress to America and Israel’s relationship. So too will the refusal of Russia and China to crackdown on Iran, which appears likely.

But America is attempting to soften up Russia and assert itself over China at its own risk to other US interests.

Sensing the loss of momentum, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently proclaimed from Washington, "Iran is not just a challenge for Israel. I believe it is a challenge for the whole world. I can hardly think of a stable world order with a nuclear Iran.”

Unfortunately for him, America and Israel agree on that principle but not on the course of action. At least until the economy, health care, Iraq and Afghanistan show signs of improvement, and that could be slower than anticipated.

Standing next to Secretary Clinton, Barak added an unusual but sensible twist, “I don't think the Iranians, even if they got the bomb, are going to drop it in the neighborhood. They fully understand what might follow - they are radical but not total 'meshugah’ (Yiddish for crazy). They have a quite sophisticated decision-making process and they understand realities.”

One could think of many answers, and still it’s hard not to wonder why any action is necessary if Iran doesn’t intend to use its nuclear weapons. The common denominator: America and Israel, along with the world, stand as good a chance to conflict over Iran as with Iran.

Yet smaller icebergs cannot be ignored because of over-attention to larger threats, especially when they play a part in determining America and Israel’s course on Iran. The more America can accomplish in Palestine the less chance of conflict with Iran or Syria, and vice versa. Obama's problem though, and a root problem of the region, is that progress with the Palestinians
chips away at Israel’s special bond.

The other day a UN
motion to renew its pursuit of an investigation into the Goldstone report and the Gaza war passed 98-7, with the other members abstaining or refusing to vote. The seven that voted against the non-binding resolution were Israel, America, Canada, Nauru, Panama, Micronesia, and Macedonia.

Apparently Israel and America didn’t want to be the only ones voting against investigating Gaza. That would be too obvious.

There are plenty - too many - examples of Israel’s settlement activity despite a litany of US protests, insincere as they may be. Israel’s 10-month “moratorium” hasn’t put the stop on building in Jerusalem or laying claim to religious sites without warning. Clashes between settlers, Palestinians, and Israeli security forces are still a regular occurrence in the West Bank.

Just days ago Israel green lit 600 new homes in a Jewish settlement in annexed East Jerusalem as protests and clashes entered day six in Hebron. Though Israeli officials say the plans were long in development, their approval shows no regard for the situation. One gets the strong feeling that Israel planned on stalling negotiations through other actions until its “moratorium” expires.

America has stood by helplessly and watched, exactly as Netanyahu expected and Palestinians feared.

A relatively similar scene is unfolding in the aftermath of Dubai. US officials have barely commented on the assassination of Hamas agent Mahmoud al-Mabhouh or Israel’s potential feuds with Britain, France, and Australia, but this time something might have to give. Dubai has sought the cooperation of America concerning credit card information from the assassination team, widely believed to be part of the Mossad's Kidon department.

Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim also told Al-Arabiya, "We have DNA evidence ... from the crime scene. The DNA of the criminals is there. We will work via European and Australian diplomatic channels - and perhaps American - to set up a working team formed from the Emirates police force and those of at least seven other states to track down the gang responsible for the assassination.”

Already in protection mode, “spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters he wasn't aware of a request for assistance from the U.A.E. in the probe. Spokesmen for the U.S. State Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation both declined to comment Friday.”

Israel's single-minded pursuit of self-interest has inadvertently pitted its Western backers against their Gulf allies.
America’s level of assistance to Dubai will surely influence its relationship with Israel and yet turning down the UAE, a dutiful partner in the post-9/11 world, comes with its own consequences.

Ironically the pro-Israeli Wall Street Journal points out, at the bottom of a report, “Mr. Mabhouh's killing has won praise inside Israel. Earlier this week, opposition leader Tzipi Livni called the assassination ‘good news.’ But Israel's international standing has suffered. As the uproar over fraudulent passports grows, some analysts are starting to question whether Israel, if it was involved, made a strategic blunder despite a tactical victory.”

That same echo can be heard from Israel’s settlement construction,
encroachment upon religious sites, bombing of Gaza, all the way to jeopardizing relations with America in the first place. Even the best of circumstances dampen in the brewing storm. The other day Clinton actually put in a word for Gazans and the blockade that smothers them.

"We discussed it at length and Sen. Mitchell and I made clear some of the concerns that we had and some of the ideas about what more could and should be done," she told reporters after she and U.S. special envoy George Mitchell met Barak. "We hope to see progress there."

Unfortunately, based on America’s accumulated and Israel's current actions, these words carry little weight.

Daniel Levy, an analyst with the New America Foundation think tank, noted that Clinton was pressed by senior Arab officials when she visited the Gulf last week: "The threat to the peace talks is renewed violence in Gaza... but equally problematic for the United States is what the secretary heard in Qatar and Saudi Arabia... 'what are you doing for Gaza?' It undermines the credibility of the United States."

Only when America needs something from the Arab states does it stand up for Gazans. Israel still won’t like the move though, real or fake. Barak immediately blamed Hamas, meaning the blockade isn't coming down any time soon.

Many people would lament - and presently fear - the day America and Israel’s special relationship came to an end. Many more would cheer, not out of negativity necessarily, but in the positive hope that balance may finally be restored to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and possibly the Middle East.
America and Israel's special relationship shows no real signs of breaking, and maybe the day will never come.

But it is floating, somewhere out in the distant darkness, awaiting fatal miscalculations.


  1. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/02/26/israeli-dm-no-need-to-coordinate-with-us-on-attacking-iran/

  2. Will BiBi ask for the green light when he comes a callin? Or will he go it on his own. I am starting to believe he JUST MIGHT do it.


  3. That would be suicidal, but to rely on rationality at this point in the game would be naive. He just might. And the question remains: what would America do? Such an event seems capable of breaking Israel's hold on the US public and could open the door for a change in US policy.

  4. It is sad to think that only through such drastic, insane, suicidal, moves can change come about. Yes, it would change the Western worlds perception about Israel. And yes, we will never be the same after it happens. The blow back could be -----well---depends on how far Iran wants to take it.

  5. I wonder not how far Iran wants to go so much as how far it could. Any missile, including nuclear warheads could be shot down and the same for aircraft. It will never get its navy, submarines includes, off Israel's coast either. Iran likely stands its best chance on ground, taking advantage of its numerical strength. So would it use Syria as a launch pad for ground troops or task cells in Hezbollah and Hamas to initiate urban warfare in Israel? Iran and Israel could also enter a game of high-level assassination. It's all bad for the world because the world usually chooses sides.

  6. Just hit the title of the thread, it will take you to the source.

    I have thought this over many times.
    Not being from the region, Not being Muslim, and only having a high school education perhaps I look at it from a different perspective.
    I think a lot would have to do with how Israel attacks Iran. If they fly over Iraq [most likely] then U.S. will be more to blame. Either way the perception will be that the U.S gave the green light.
    Iran will close the straits of Hormuz immediately. Basra and the surrounding areas will be hit hard. Maliki and Al-Sadr will then have to make a crucial decision.
    Syria is now being courted by the U.S WHY? In case of an attack they do not want Syria involved. The Russians are back heavily in Syria. Syria will have to decide. Will Nasrallah go on his own, or wait until Lebannon is attacked? Then go full force with the back up of Lebannon. Hamas is very likely to go immediately. Turkey will not stay on the side lines this time. One way or another they will get into it, if only to clear up the Kurd situation in Turkey.
    This then leaves the rest of the Islamic region. Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states. Here is where I think it becomes more complex.
    If the Arab world were Muslim, and only Muslim it would be easy. BUT, we have a Sunni/Shia divide.
    I believe that Israel would attack Iran for the sole purpose of starting a religious all out civil war. This would also please the U.S. [DIVIDE AND CONQUER].
    Most of Saudi Arabia where the oil fields are have been inhabited by imported Shia. So, the Saudi oil fields are a major target. This would become the largest proxy war ever. Afghanistan, and Pakistan would explode.
    The one thing that the West is afraid of, is that there will not be a Sunni/Shia divide.
    Control through chaos is the agenda of the West.

  7. You’ve posed a serious chain of events and so I’ve prepared a respective response.

    The situation you and that probing analysis from Global Research are describing is certainly the ideal situation in Washington, London, and wherever else TPTB are lurking. I just don’t see how they can manifest it in reality. This “arc of crisis” has been going on for 40 years, and besides a permanent military presence in the region I doubt its controllers are satisfied with their progress. China has been able to tap into Middle Eastern oil and Iran is steamrolling towards nuclear weapons. There is also a strong possibility that US military spending has contributed to the economic crisis by increasing America’s mammoth debt.

    The strategy of ethnically splitting countries and regions, divide and conquer in theory, holds plenty of weight, but America hasn’t really conquered anything since a permanent military presence isn’t the same as conquering. The region remains skewed between US and anti-US forces, irrespective of their ethnicity. An effective divide appears to be Iran and Pakistan, theoretical regional allies in keeping out US influence, who are distracted by their own interests in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I don’t believe Israel would attack Iran purely to touch off a religious war across the region, mainly because this war could come right back to Israel’s doorstep. Israel isn’t the ideal divider because it is as close to a uniter as there exists in the Middle East. The West shields itself behind the Sunni/Shia divide, but an Israeli attack on Iran could serve to stitch it up the seams instead of rip them open. Of course a regional war is still possible, perhaps probable, but I don’t think certain.

    Two things from the Global Research article. I find the comparison between the Balkins and Pakistan/Afghanistan is flawed because the Balkins lack the geopolitical relevance that Pakistan possesses. If this is the West’s strategy they have a far larger mountain to climb. Also, destabilization in Pakistan and Afghanistan via war with India does not weaken China but makes it stronger. China can handle the security concerns and refugee crisis, while increasing its arm into Afghanistan and its lead over India. Regional war might strength America’s position, but it will do the same for China.

    Controlled chaos doesn’t seem the answer if America’s ultimate goal in the Middle East and Central Asia is to contain China. I’m not arguing with your theory since I share it. What I’m skeptical of is the West’s ability to pull off this ideal, almost delusional plot.