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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A scary look into the future

This article by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal looks into the near future. It is dated January 20, 2010, and starts with the premise that the United Nations Security Council has just voted 13-0 with two abstentions (US and France) to declare the Middle East a 'nuclear free zone' and to require Israel to submit to inspections under the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. While this scenario seems a little less likely in light of this past week's disclosure by Eli Lake that President Obama has reaffirmed the Meir - Nixon understanding of 1969, given that President Obama has already disavowed President Bush's letter on 'settlement blocs' because there was "nothing in writing," the scenario that Stephens describes is not far-fetched (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
But the factors that chiefly seemed to drive the administration's decision to abstain from this morning's vote were more strategic than personal. Western negotiators have been pressing Iran to make good on its previous agreement in principle to ship its nuclear fuel to third countries so it could be rendered usable in Iran's civilian nuclear facilities. The Iranians, in turn, have been adamant that they would not do so unless progress were made on international disarmament.

"The Iranians have a point," said one senior administration official. "The U.S. can't forever be the enforcer of a double standard where Israel gets a nuclear free ride but Iran has to abide by every letter in the NPT. President Obama has put the issue of nuclear disarmament at the center of his foreign policy agenda. His credibility is at stake and so is U.S. credibility in the Muslim world. How can we tell Tehran that they're better off without nukes if we won't make the same point to our Israeli friends?"

Also factoring into the administration's thinking are reports that the Israelis are in the final stages of planning an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who met with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak in Paris last week, has been outspoken in his opposition to such a strike. The Jerusalem Post has reported that Mr. Gates warned Mr. Barak that the U.S. would "actively stand in the way" of any Israeli strike.

"The Israelis need to look at this U.N. vote as a shot across their bow," said a senior Pentagon official. "If they want to start a shooting war with Iran, we won't have their backs on the Security Council."

An Israeli diplomat observed bitterly that Jan. 20 was the 68th anniversary of the Wannsee conference, which historians believe is where Nazi Germany planned the extermination of European Jewry. An administration spokesman said the timing of the vote was "purely coincidental."
Read the whole thing.

With the Obama administration in power, the scenario that Stephens describes is all too plausible. 78% of American Jewry voted for Obama, and yet he feels free to treat Israel as a punching bag. Only two conclusions can be drawn from that reality: Either most of the Jews don't care about Israel enough to place pressure on Obama and call in their chits (which is entirely possible), or Obama figures that no matter what he does, American Jewry will support him anyway (unfortunately also true).

What could go wrong?


At 10:12 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its quite realistic. The only way I can see Obama backing Israel is if Israel makes major concessions on the Palestinian issue up front.

I don't see it happening. And for US promises in writing, we all know exactly what they're really worth.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Bret said...

The scary article is less scary when placed in reality. First, no one ever follows UN Resolutions anyway. Why would Israel possibly let in inspectors? Israel would just ignore the UN.

You're constantly harping on Obama's support from Jews in America. First, Obama's opponent (McCain) was an extremely weak candidate so it's no surprise that Obama got a large percentage of the vote. Second, Jews in America do care about America more than Israel. That's why we're here and you're there. That doesn't mean there wouldn't be a huge amount of outrage from American Jew's and much of the rest of the country if Obama allowed such a thing to happen.

That being said, counting on another country to "cover your back" is a stupendous mistake and I sure hope Israel has a strategy if America temporarily or permanently abandons it.


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