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Friday, August 31, 2012

Obama's Iran and Syria policies: Don't let anything happen before the elections

It would be fair to say that President Obama's policies with respect to both Iran and Syria could be summed up in one sentence: Don't let anything happen before the elections. The main problem is that all the dithering is eroding what little American credibility remains in this region. This is from Dov Zakheim, who was an adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush:
Washington's passivity has only aggravated both situations. The Syrian civil war calls for more drastic American action. After all, when rioters initially threw stones at Assad's men, his forces responded by using light weapons against the demonstrators. When the rebels obtained light weapons, Assad's military resorted to heavy weapons. As the rebels began to use mortars, the Syrian Army attacked with tanks. And so it has gone until now, when Assad has called in his air forces to bomb the opposition into oblivion. While there is no immediate need for American military intervention, the United States could certainly do more to strengthen the hand of the rebels. Washington could ship more, and more sophisticated, arms to the rebels via their allies, who certainly can afford to pay for American equipment. And the United States could also provide more intelligence support, if not directly to the rebels, then indirectly through Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. By failing to step up its support of the rebels, the Administration undermines its credibility, both with the rebels whom it professes to support, and with Assad, whose departure it so vocally seeks.

As for the impasse with Iran, here too, the key to achieving American objectives is the credibility of American pronouncements. There is more than Washington can do as it attempts win the trust of Israel's key decision makers on any Israeli attack-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Supplying missile defense systems is simply not enough for a nation that cannot tolerate even the most minimal probability that a nuclear weapon could penetrate those defenses.

To begin with, the Administration should not backslide on the question of Iran's ability to enrich uranium. The original US position was that enrichment should terminate; any indication of a more pliable position simply reinforces the view in both Tehran and Jerusalem that Washington is not serious about stopping the Iranian program. In addition, the Obama Administration should close the massive loopholes that it has created in the sanctions program: there is no reason why exceptions should be made for China or any of the other seventeen countries that continue to buy Iranian oil without penalty. Washington's willingness to look the other way further intensifies Israeli fears that, at the end of the day, Iran will develop a nuclear capability while America and the West wring their hands.

An Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is likely to prove counterproductive. Even an American attack may not shut down the Iranian program. As with Syria, so with Iran and Israel: the only way to achieve American objectives is to restore American credibility in the region. It does not help at all that the Administration not only continues to talk of a "pivot" to Asia, but is prepared to tolerate a massive reduction in American defense capability, which will surely signal an abrupt end to American presence in the region. Unless and until the Administration recognizes that it is futile, and dangerous, both to tread water until November, and treat the U.S. defense program as a hostage to tax increases, the situation in the Middle East will continue to deteriorate, to the point where, possibly as soon as October, it may well spin out of anyone's control.
This article by Marc Thiessen lists the top 10 Obama foreign policy failures. Four of them are in this region (as is one of his additional two). Foreign policy isn't likely to drive the current US campaign, but it's an area in which Obama's failures are glaring, and likely to have serious consequences after the elections, if not sooner.

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At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are a misguided, fool. You only see what you want to see and not what is there.

Romney laid out his foreign policy, regarding the Middle East. It is NO different to Obama's.

It seems you are so desperate that a false sence of security appeals to you more than the hard facts.

Obama's vision is not sugar coated, you have a chance to mend your ways. Romney's will be a shock, you will get the Fatal Attraction Syndrome if he becomes President, which he won't.


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