by Caroline Glick • RealClearPolitics
The US has striven to achieve peaceable relations between the states of the Middle East for nearly 70 years. Yet today, US government is disparaging the burgeoning strategic ties between the Sunni Arab states and Israel.
In a briefing to a delegation of visiting Israeli diplomatic correspondents in Washington last week, a senior Obama administration official sneered that the only noticeable shift in Israel-Arab relations in recent years is that the current Egyptian government has been coordinating security issues “more closely” with Jerusalem than the previous one did.
“But we have yet to see that change materialize in the Gulf.”
If this is how the US views the state of Israel’s relations with the Arabs, then Israel should consider canceling its intelligence cooperation with the US. Because apparently, the Americans haven’t a clue what is happening in the Middle East.
First of all, to characterize the transformation of Israeli-Egyptian relations as a mere question of “more closely” coordinating on security issues is to vastly trivialize what has happened over the past two years. Continue reading
By Charles Krauthammer • The Washington Post
His secretary of defense says, “The world is exploding all over.” His attorney general says that the threat of terror “keeps me up at night.” The world bears them out. On Tuesday, American hostage Kayla Mueller is confirmed dead. On Wednesday, the U.S. evacuates its embassy in Yemen, a country cited by President Obama last September as an American success in fighting terrorism.
Yet Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming lassitude and passivity. Continue reading
Public support for the president’s foreign policy is waning—and he’s losing Democratic lawmakers
by William A. Galston • Wall Street Journal
In March my Brookings colleague Robert Kagan memorably observed that President Obama was giving the American people the foreign policy they wanted—and they didn’t much like it. Overseas events have only deepened public concern. A Pew Research Center survey released Aug. 28 found that only 35% of people approve of the president’s handling of the crises in Iraq and Ukraine. Only 15% think we play a more important and powerful role in the world than we did a decade ago, compared with 48% who think our role is less important. And 65% believe that we live in a world more dangerous than it was a few years ago.
The Pew study also finds compelling evidence that Americans are beginning to change their minds about what they want. The share of those who think the U.S. does too much in the world has fallen to only 39% today, from 51% in November, while the share who thinks it does too little has nearly doubled, to 31% from 17%. In the early months of the Obama presidency, only 38% thought the president was “not tough enough” on national security; today, 54% believe that—a figure that includes more than one third of all Democrats. Continue reading
by Rich Lowry • Politico Magazine
What this means, he hasn’t spelled out in great specificity. Presumably fewer beheadings. A slower pace of Western recruiting. Fewer genocidal threats against embattled minorities. A downgrading of the caliphate to a mini-state, or merely a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq.
The evil of ISIL has stirred nearly everyone around President Obama to ringing statements of resolve. Vice President Joe Biden says, “We will follow them to the gates of hell.” Secretary of State John Kerry tweets, “ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.” Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
The plight of Iraq is a true political disaster and a real human catastrophe. The fatal error of all parties involved in the the ongoing saga of Iraq since World War I had been twofold: lack of appreciation for the complex challenges rooted in the difficult conflicts and tensions among contradictory ideas, forces and situations, and ignorance for what is beyond the political, military, economic and moral powers of men and states. Moreover, no attention at all had been paid to the moral condition of the people, the political and religious leaders, and the dysfunctional nation. Finally, the existence of an almost total disconnect between the past and present, and the future of Iraq as a nation-state had resulted in a political vacuum that had enabled ruthless individuals and groups to violate repeatedly the relative stability of the status quo with impunity. Continue reading
A Saudi prince sent a harsh message to President Obama and his administration, saying White House waffling and indecision has compromised the ability of the United States to nail down a peace pact between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former intelligence head of Saudi Arabia, in The New York Times. “When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it. There is an issue of confidence.”
Specifically, the prince blasted Mr. Obama for reneging on promises — a habit that’s been shown by recent polls about Obamacare to plague the president with constituents in the United States, too. Continue reading
The breaking news that al Qaeda has captured Fallujah and Ramadi raises the question whether America’s sacrifices in Iraq were made in vain. It also highlights the utter inadequacy of President Obama’s Middle East policy, especially his disregard for critical regional threats.
Instead, Obama has focused on Israeli-Palestinian issues, essentially to no avail. Despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated visits, including one just ended, the “peace process” has seen no significant movement.
Proponents of “peace processing” ignore this reality, asserting that the process itself has an inherent value, and that real movement comes only when deadlines loom and decision-makers realize “it’s now or never” to “take risks for peace” and achieve “a peace for the brave.” And when all else fails, peace processers say, “What have we got to lose?” Continue reading
It wasn’t that long ago that Barack Obama took America to the brink of armed conflict in Syria over its use of chemical weapons against rebels trying to topple the Assad regime. The president went as far as asking Congress for a resolution authorizing the use of military force, kicking off a debate which nearly split the country.
No one knows how Congress would have voted because before it could act, Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to one side to broker his own deal bringing the chemical weapons under international control and keeping American war planes on the ground. Continue reading
It’s hard to pinpoint just when, exactly, Barack Obama’s Syria policy fell apart. Was it in December, when Islamists humiliated U.S.-backed rebels by seizing what limited supplies America had given them? Was it back in September, when Obama telegraphed his reluctance to enforce his own “red line” after the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on its own people? Was it in the months beforehand, when the administration quietly and mysteriously failed to make good on its pledge to directly arm the rebels? Or did it collapse in August 2011, when Obama called on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to go, only to do almost nothing to make it happen?
But collapse it has, and more than 130,000 deaths later, the White House is now pinning its hopes on a peace conference in Switzerland later this month that is being billed as the last, best hope for a negotiated solution to a conflict that has displaced a staggering 40 percent of Syria’s total population, some 23 million people, in what the United Nations says is fast becoming the worst and most expensive humanitarian catastrophe in modern history. Continue reading
The search, now 30 years old, for Iranian “moderates” goes on. Amid the enthusiasm of the latest sighting, it’s worth remembering that the highlight of the Iran-contra arms-for-hostages debacle was the secret trip to Tehran taken by Robert McFarlane, President Reagan’s former national security adviser. He brought a key-shaped cake symbolizing the new relations he was opening with the “moderates.”
We know how that ended.
Three decades later, the mirage reappears in the form of Hassan Rouhani. Strange résumé for a moderate: 35 years of unswervingly loyal service to the Islamic Republic as a close aide to Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei. Moreover, Rouhani was one of only six presidential candidates, another 678 having been disqualified by the regime as ideologically unsound. That puts him in the 99th centile for fealty.
Rouhani is Khamenei’s agent but, with a smile and style, he’s now hailed as the face of Iranian moderation. Continue reading
With a single notable exception after World War I, it had always been the unique characteristic of various Turkish states that in times of great crises they lacked leaders capable of rising above the sentimental currents of public hysteria. Thus, when the currently ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, came to power in 2002, most Western politicians and political pundits claimed that its moderate Islamic political philosophy was more in tune with the majority’s desire than the ossified secularism of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Moreover, these experts also stated that the AKP demonstrated the viability of a democratic model for societies with overwhelming Muslim population. However, the protests that shook Turkey since May 31st gave the lie to the myth of moderate Islam’s noble, tolerant and peaceful opposition to modern secularism. Continue reading
In the beginning, the Hebrew Bible tells us, the universe was all “tohu wabohu,” chaos and tumult. This month the Middle East seems to be reverting to that primeval state: Iraq continues to unravel, the Syrian War grinds on with violence spreading to Lebanon and allegations of chemical attacks this week, and Egypt stands on the brink of civil war with the generals crushing the Muslim Brotherhood and street mobs torching churches. Turkey’s prime minister, once widely hailed as President Obama’s best friend in the region, blames Egypt’s violence on the Jews; pretty much everyone else blames it on the U.S.
The Obama administration had a grand strategy in the Middle East. It was well intentioned, carefully crafted and consistently pursued.
Unfortunately, it failed. Continue reading
Egypt today is a zero-sum game. We’d have preferred there be a democratic alternative. Unfortunately, there is none. The choice is binary: the country will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood or by the military.
Perhaps it didn’t have to be this way. Perhaps the military should have waited three years for the intensely unpopular Mohamed Morsi to be voted out of office. But Gen.Abdel Fatah al-Sissi seems to have calculated that he didn’t have three years, that by then there would be no elections — as in Gaza, where the Palestinian wing of the Brotherhood, Hamas, elected in 2006, established a one-man-one-vote-one-time dictatorship.
What’s the United States to do? Any response demands two considerations: (a) moral, i.e., which outcome offers the better future for Egypt, and (b) strategic, i.e., which outcome offers the better future for U.S. interests and those of the free world. Continue reading
In Egypt, nobody wanted military intervention, yet nobody believed in a smooth transition to democracy. For this reason, Egyptians viewed the military as the guarantor of order and stability, albeit they hoped to avoid another military coup. When it actually came on July 5, 2013, it reinforced the incontrovertible fact of many prior great transitions: a nation’s historical sins, embodied in the acts of its previous despots, tyrants and dictators, always come back to haunt their successors. Continue reading
History, in her disposition toward intellectually gifted peoples and nations, appears as fickle as the gods of ancient times were wont to be of their most devout revelers; the more those peoples and nations excelled the less they were shielded from endless tribulations, great catastrophes, and devastating tragedies. Like most of the nation-states of Europe and Asia, present-day Iran had a glorious history, yet unlike them, it has been torn since 1979 between revolutionary adventurism and reactionary self-preservation.
The fatal contradiction in Ayatollah Khomeini’s doctrine of the “guardianship of the jurist” (velayat-e faqih) is that, by definition, it contains the political seeds of its own destruction. Continue reading