Four Middle Eastern Truths
Like them or not, there are four truths that govern Middle Eastern outcomes from Pakistan to Morocco. Forget the power of tweets and the Arab Spring. This is the big picture.
1. We are Israel’s guarantor. With the strength of the Jewish lobby there is no alternative. And with Barack Hussein Obama being the darling of Academia where the Palestinians are seen as the subjugated victims there is no chance that he can improve upon the comprehensive proposition which nearly was accepted in 1993 under the Clinton administration. Obama’s “lets start with pre-1967 borders” is an effort to get things going, but it is a non-starter and uber-envoy George Mitchell’s resignation reflects that Obama is not the arbiter.
2. Iran will have the bomb; the question is how the neighbors will react. Since China developed theirs, the bipartisan American commitment to defend Japan (and Taiwan and eventually Korea) prevented an East Asian arms race. When India developed theirs the Pakistanis felt that they needed their own. For Iran’s neighbors (Saudi Arabia; Egypt; maybe Turkey) to rely on the United States instead of starting an arms race would require a belief in an unshakable bipartisan American commitment to their defense. Sorry President Mubarek. Sorry President Karzai. Sorry President Zardari. Sorry President Saleh. We need to find leaders who better represent our ideals; but, trust us, we really will have the Sunni Arab backs when Iran comes calling. Good luck with that. (The key in a list of bad situations – support Zardari in Pakistan, the Saudis, and the Egyptian generals.)
3. Oil matters – and Saudi Arabia controls oil. UN Ambassador / CIA Director / President George H W Bush got it. Texas oilman George W Bush got it. The relationship with the Saudi royal family was genuine and personal. Not so Barack Obama of the wind farms, solar panels, and subsidized electric cars. At least we are staying out of the way as the Saudis clean up their neighborhood in Bahrain and Yemen and we are not calling for “power to the people” of the Arabian Peninsula.
4. Terrorism is transnational and permanent. Congratulations to President Obama for finishing the job that President Bush began with bin Laden. We can push these guys from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Somalia to Yemen and kill each generation of new leaders, but human history is filled with more Pol Pots and bin Laden’s than Mother Theresa’s and Ghandi’s. The question is not how to raise the global standard of living to the point where Nirvana will break out (our apparent Afghan policy); it is how to contain the risk in an age of physical, communication, and financial globalization. Better governance throughout the Middle East would help, but not as much as Seal Team 6.
My apologies to those who are looking for more optimistic answers. We need Kissinger more than Carter. Maybe he could explain why the President is defying the War Powers Act to prosecute a war in Libya that has no apparent connection to American interests.
This week’s video is President Obama’s self-congratulatory auto industry speech which The Washington Post calls “one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech. Virtually every claim by the president regarding the auto industry needs an asterisk, just like the fine print in that too-good-to-be-true car loan.” That is the Washington Post.