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New Dangers for Israel, the US - and the World

  

With the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003, for a short time at least the world seemed to be looking up, even for as beleaguered a nation as Israel. There followed the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon, elections in the Palestinian territories and even modest democratic reforms in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In Iraq and Afghanistan, constitutions were ratified and representative governments voted in. A democratic flowering seemed to be breaking out in the Middle East and with it new opportunities for better relations and even peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

But the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq, coupled with a weakening of American resolve and purpose has put all that on hold. This, combined with Israeli reverses last summer in its bungled campaign against Hezbollah, has jeopardized not enhanced Israel's position. The recently released recommendations from the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, in which Israel is served up as sacrificial lamb to placate Syria and buy the US a graceful retreat, all but seals the conventional wisdom that we cannot win in Iraq and Islamofascism is an inevitable force that we must learn to live with and appease.

If nothing else, it demonstrates the vital importance of achieving a decisive military victory in bringing about real (hopefully democratic) change. The US failure to commit adequate resources to Iraq, to establish ironclad security, and then root out all insurgent and sectarian elements has brought the pot to a boil. With Iraq in flames, popular support for the project has eroded thus hampering our ability to adjust and more forcefully engage the enemy.

The Baker report reflects the new appeasement tone: it advises us to negotiate with Syria and Iran and convince them to assist us in stabilizing Iraq (after which, we tiptoe out as quickly as possible). We are to go, in other words, as supplicants before our bitter foes, the two dominant terrorist sponsoring states in the world, and beg for help.

And what might we offer in exchange? For Syria, Lebanon will do - and the Golan Heights. For Iran, a promise not to overthrow the mullahs, membership in the nuclear club, and dominance in the Middle East for the next century.

How much better it would have been to have successfully occupied Iraq with the half million troops actually needed and then bargain with Syria and Iran from a position of strength. Now, it is our Islamist enemies who are triumphant, subverting our efforts in Iraq with impunity, ridiculing the Great Satan and posturing defiantly.

Iran brazenly taunts the US and international community as it marches unimpeded in its quest for nuclear weapons. Syria, along with Hezbollah and Hamas are similarly emboldened, as, by the way, is North Korea, which shares nuclear and ballistic technology with Iran. Russia and China both enjoy our discomfiture and continue to forge stronger alliances with Iran and North Korea respectively, in particular Russia, which supplies Iran with arms and nuclear technology. It serves their purposes neatly to see the US bogged down, vexed, and powerless to influence events.

Israel also did not help its cause by its feeble efforts in Lebanon last summer. Hezbollah emerged unbowed and now rearms itself through Syria before an indifferent UNIFIL and Lebanese Army. Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister of Israel, continues blathering about concessions to the Hamas-led Palestinians as they plot his country's destruction; he offers up the West Bank, seeks to uproot thousands of Jews, scale back anti terrorist operations, and free thousands of Palestinian terrorist prisoners, all while Hamas continues raining missiles into Israel proper from unoccupied Gaza. His indecision last summer has strengthened Israel's enemies, much as our flawed crusade in Iraq has bolstered ours.

In place of a new Middle East evolving towards democracy and peace, we have an emerging extremist Shiite crescent, stretching from Tehran to Damascus to Beirut. If Iraq slips into their radical fold, the rout will be complete. The so called moderate Sunni Arab states in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt may wonder if, with a weakened US unable to protect them, they should make peace with Iran, or, perhaps, seek their own nuclear weapons.

The rest of the world, too, may decide that it is better to appease Iran to assure their oil needs are met and to sabotage US hegemony in the area. China, Russia, and Europe are more or less on board for this already. The UK after Tony Blair will concur. Our own Baker-Hamilton report advises us to do the same. The UN, of course, will applaud. The Bush Doctrine has backfired because of its miserable execution with dire consequences for the US and Israel - and the world - unless pro democracy forces prevail.

 

 

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