Thankless Tasks Dept.: Stating the Obvious in the Middle East

President Obama, amplifying remarks of former Secretaty of State Condolezza Rice during the Bush administration and more recently by Vice President Biden and CENTCOM's General David Petreaus, said something out loud that appears radical but is actually rather obvious: "resolving the long-running Middle East dispute was a 'vital national security interest of the United States.'"

Blunt talk on the moribund Israel-Palestinian peace process and its deleterious affect on U.S. strategic interests in the region is not unheard of but infrequent enough to draw loud condemnation from reflexively pro-Israel members of Congress and, natch, within the U.S. Israel lobby community. But Obama went further, urging Israel, whose possession of nuclear weapons is perhaps the world's worst-kept (intentionally so) secret, and a secret which requires Congress to violate U.S. law with each renewal of Israeli aid packages, to come clean on its nukes and sign onto the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. This was too much for Republican Congress member Eric Cantor, who last sparred with Obama over health care. He accused the administration of manufacturing conflict with the Netanyahu government. If so, Obama has cause to seek out a showdown with the Israeli Prime Minister, who has apparently busied himself collaborating on an open letter to the president, co-authored with World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, that publicly questioned Obama's commitment to Israel's security. It's possible, however, that such familiar PR strong-arming of a newbie U.S. president could backfire this time. The recent contretemps over the Vice President's Jerusalem snub, endured just as Biden had embarked on precisely the kind of public display of strategic affection now demanded by Cantor and Lauder, and the clear lack of interest of the current Israeli government in real progress on peace has left the Obama administration ready for a tougher line with Israel. The Prime Minister, particularly because of his obvious hand in the Lauder letter and apparent eagerness to meddle in U.S. politics via same, may have badly miscalculated.


Meanwhile the "secret" prosecution of whistleblowers like Anat Kamm and newly revealed plans for mass expulsion from the West Bank of improperly registered Arabs, meddling American do-gooders or anyone deemed undesirable under a revised definition of "infiltrator" raise new questions about the seriousness of Israel's commitment to due process and democracy—unless of course the IDF intends to enforce its more aggressive understanding of infiltration to include illegal settlers on the Palestinian West Bank.

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Tom Maher
8 years 9 months ago
Iran programs for developing nuclear weapons and advanced missle weapons systems is by far the greatest danger in the Middle East and the world. Iran's officials have threatened to use nuclear weapons against Israel. From an Isreali prospective Isreal will soon, if it is not already, be in a "first strike" nuclear confrontation with Iran. Isreal will be threatened by Iran's nuclear weapons and accordingly Iran will be threatened by Isreal's nuclear weapons. Please note this is nuclear confrontation not a conventional confrontation as in the past.

In 1981, Isreal attacked and destroyed Iraq's muclear reactor being built to prevent Iraq from developing a nuclear weapon. In 2008, Israel attacked and distroyed a nuclear and missle development facilities in Syria which recently the CIA reported had been under development with the help of North Koreans for 10 years. What is the likelihood of Isreal not attacking Iran?

Given that the United States does not even have formal diplomatic realtions with Iran and its informal realtions have been poor for the last 30 years, the Obama one-sided proposal to constrain Israel is recklessly destablizing, saying in effect do not count on the United States, Isreal is on its own. And what will Isreal do on its own? Isreal will be sure it survives by any means at its disposal.

Anti-Israel policy is not in the U.S. interest. Isreal can not be blamed for wanting to survive in a very hostile region. The Obama administration needs to stop the nonesense and be fully allied with Isreal. Iran must be made aware of the acute pearl of devloping nuclear weapons will have on Iran if continued. U.S. policies need to be more clearly and forcefully directed at stopping Iran's nuclear programs and other weapons programs way before time runs out and Iran has a nuclear weapons.
James Lindsay
8 years 9 months ago
Iran would never attack Israel with nuclear weapons. Iran is downwind of Israel and Israel and the West Bank are quickly becoming an Arab state. There is no way to use a nuclear weapon there without killing as many or more Arabs and Palestinians. Please tell me, Mr. Maher, exactly where an Iranian nuclear device could land that would not blow back onto Arab populations?

8 years 9 months ago
Why should the Iranians be disallowed the potential for nuclear deterrent while the nukes of Israel are leveled upon them?  This is truly terrorism.  I remember the feeling during the Cold War when our only comfort was knowing that we too had weapons and could possibly thereby stave off the attack.  Iran has never been charged by the UN with war crimes or crimes against humanity as Israel has.  I dread the drumbeat toward attacking Iran they are provoking  on the guise of nuclear arms.  May we not be drawn into it by our consent or silence.  It't the holocaust in another form to my mind.
Michael Appleton
8 years 9 months ago
Mr. Cantor, as usual, is offbase in his criticism. The conflict has been manufactured by Mr. Netanyahu, who has been quite busy testing the degree to which he can push Mr. Obama. The policies of Mr. Netanyahu's government are virtually guaranteed to prevent any resolution of the Palestinian issue and are intended to draw us into a war with Iran. It is time that someone told Mr. Netanyahu and his supporters the facts of life. 
8 years 9 months ago
The obvious is that this story about expulsions is bogus and maybe Mr. Clarke might want to issue a retraction.  The so called instructions for the IDF have been around since 1969 and nothing new has happened.  This is a smear to make Israel look bad.  It is a new form of warfare and a lot of simple minded people have fallen for it.
Also the story about new housing in Jerusalem is bogus.  Jerusalem is not the West Bank and the housing in queston has been underway for several years and is just normal expansion in any area of population that is growing.  What was announced was just a new stage in the planning and building process.  Obama, Biden and Clinton knew this but chose to make a major deal out of this to embarrass Israel.  Not very wise to our only real ally in that part of the world.  This is the new approach to the situation, make phony claims to incite the Arabs so that Israel will capitulate.
So is Obama playing to the puppet masters in Iran hoping for something from them.  They control Hamas, Hezbollah and other factions in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria and Iran fights their war through these proxies.  This will all end in naught as they do not really care about Israel that much.  It is one way to keep the West in a quandary as they prepare for much worse.  They hate the West and all it represents and that is not going away even if somehow Israel disappears. They have much longer term goals and the US seems to be helping them achieve them.
This site seems more interested in anti Semitic, pro terrorist sympathies than in advancing basic Catholic values. Israel has been a good ally of the US and has protected Christians in that area of the world better than anyone.  Just ask how Christians are doing in Arab controlled areas and you will find your answer.  The current administration is playing with fire and to what ends.  None that are good that I can see and the mindless responses on this site are not indicative of anything good either.  It is either shallow thinking or worse, identifying with the traditional enemies of the US and Catholics.
Tom Maher
8 years 9 months ago
The essential problem the world faces is not wheather or when Iran will use nuclear weapons once developed. The problem is that one way or another Iran is not going to get nuclear weapons to deploy. This can happen relitively easily by imposing stong sactions (Iran has strongly resisted negotiations) or stopping Iran can happen very violently and very disruptively to the whole world.

Nobody wants to find out what the Iran theocracy will do once it has nuclear weapons. Given that several top Iranian leaders have threatened to destroy Isreal specifically with nuclear weapons and Iran actively sponsored several very violent proxy groups throught the Middle East for decades, nobody assume Iran will not make good on it often repeated threat to destroy Isreal if allowed to. Isreal, the stated taget of Iran's destructive designs, can not ignore Iran's threat to destroy Isreal.

Isreal has twice before pre-emptively attacked and destroyed nuclear facilities in Iraq (1981)and more recently Syria (2008). The problem is that if sanctions fail to stop Iran's development of nuclear weapons, Isreal in the near future, before an Iran nuclear deployment, will likely pre-emptively attack Iran to destroy Iran's nuclear weapons facility for the sake of Isreal's survival as a nation. An Isreali attack would have long-term, world-wide impact but definetly coudld happen.

Strong international sanctions, must urgently be impossed on Iran to stop Iran's nuclear weapons development program.


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