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Sunday, December 04, 2011

'Leon Panetta is a clown'

Barry Rubin rips US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta some new body parts.
Panetta has now bashed Israel based on a premise. Here it is:

“I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace, and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view.” Nevertheless, Israel needs to take risks and particularly, “The problem right now is we can’t get them to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences.”

First, there is a peculiar phrase that I have not seen used even once to describe the Middle East events of 2011. How did that phrase get into Panetta’s vocabulary? Obviously, from a briefing and I don’t believe it came from anyone at the Defense Department. That phrase is “Arab awakening” instead of “Arab Spring.”

Every Middle East historian—well, every Middle East historian who knows something about the Middle East—knows that The Arab Awakening was the famous book written by George Antonius (subsidized by a U.S foundation to do so, by the way) advocating Arab nationalism and opposition to Zionism in 1938. I can’t prove it but it gives me an idea of the views of whoever wrote those talking points.

This phrase also gives Panetta’s statement a strangely contradictory tone. If The Arab Awakening began a half-century pan-Arab struggle against Israel’s creation or existence might this not give us a hint of what the new “Arab Awakening” is going to do? Oh, and 1938 marks the year when Great Britain desperately tried to sell out the Jews in order to gain Arab support (for the coming war with Germany and Italy). Within two years of Antonius’s book the form the Arab Awakening took was an alliance with Nazi Germany. One of the main allies of Berlin was the Muslim Brotherhood, now coming into power in Tunisia and Egypt.

Interesting parallels.

But there are three other major questions raised in Panetta’s silly statement.

First, does the current “Arab Awakening” imperil Israel? Yes, of course it does.


Second, and more interestingly, why is the above true?

The answer is as follows:

–Democracy in theory is admirable but when you have masses imbued with very radical views, strong Islamist movements, and weak moderate ones, the election winners will be extremely radical Islamists. By winning massive victories, facing a weak (even sympathetic) United States, and seeing even mor extreme forces becoming so popular (the Salafists in Egypt) the Islamists are emboldened to be even more radical in their behavior. Who’s going to stop them?

–We are thus not facing a springtime of democracy but a springtime of extremism.

–Not only is the United States not opposing this development it is supporting it. In other words, U.S. policy is intensifying the threat to Israel, not helping Israel.

Third, why are there no negotiations? As the history of the issue since January 2009 shows, it is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with Israel. If Panetta and the Obama Administration were either wise or honest they would acknowledge this fact. Instead, they blame Israel. Once again, U.S. policy is intensifying the threat to Israel, not helping Israel.

Consequently, Panetta’s statement that Israel has a responsibility to build regional support for Israeli and United States’ security objectives is nonsense.
Read it all.

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