Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Slouching Towards Tehran
Slouching Towards Tehran
By Caroline Glick
Two weeks ago, Iran scored a massive victory. Jordan, the West's most stable and loyal ally in the Arab world began slouching towards the Iranian Gomorrah.
On December 12, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei met with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman and extended a formal invitation from Ahmadinejad for him to pay a state visit to Iran. Abdullah accepted.
According to Iran's ISNA news agency, Mashei said that Abdullah's visit will begin a new page in bilateral relations and that, "the two countries hold massive potential to work together." Mashei added, "If Islamic states stand united, no country will be threatened."
For his part, Abdullah reportedly said that his country recognizes Iran's nuclear rights and supports its access to peaceful nuclear technology.
Abdullah was one of the first world leaders to sound the alarm on Iran. In 2004 Abdullah warned of a "Shiite crescent" extending from Iran to Iraq, through Syria to Lebanon. His words were well reported at the time. But his warning went unheeded.
In the intervening six years, reality has surpassed Abdullah's worst fears. Not only Lebanon and Syria have fallen under Iranian control. Iraq, Turkey, Qatar, Gaza and increasingly Oman, Yemen and Afghanistan are also either willing or unwilling members of the axis.
In the face of Iran's expanding web of influence and the mullahs' steady progress towards nuclear capability, Washington behaves as though there is no cause for concern. And the likes of Jordan are beside themselves.
In a WikiLeaks leaked cable from April 2009 written by US Ambassador to Jordan R. Stephen Beecroft, Jordan's frustration and concern over the Obama administration's incompetence in handling the Iranian threat was clear.
Beecroft wrote, "Jordan's leaders are careful not to be seen as dictating toward the US, but their comments betray a powerful undercurrent of doubt that the United States knows how to deal effectively with Iran."
On the one hand, Jordanian Senator Zaid Rifai beseeched US to bomb Iran's nuclear installations. Rifai said, "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."
But on the other hand, the Jordanians recognized that the Obama administration was committed to appeasing Iran and so tried to convince the Americans to ensure that their appeasement drive didn't come at the Arabs' expense.
Beecroft reported a clear warning from Abdullah. Abdullah cautioned that if the Arabs believe that the US was appeasing Iran at their expense, "that engagement will set off a stampede of Arab states looking to get ahead of the curve and reach their own separate peace with Teheran.
"King Abdullah counseled Special Envoy George Mitchell in February  that direct US engagement with Iran at this time would just deepen intra-Arab schisms and that more 'countries without a backbone' would defect to the Iranian camp."
THAT WAS then. And since then, the Obama administration did nothing after Ahmadinejad and his henchmen stole the presidential election. It did nothing as they repressed the tens of millions of Iranians who demonstrated against the election fraud. The Obama administration did nothing as Iran conducted repeated war games along the Straits of Hormuz, progressed in its nuclear program, deepened its military alliances with Turkey and Venezuela and escalated its proxy war against the US and its allies in Afghanistan.
The Americans said nothing as Iran prevented the pro-US faction that won the Iraqi election from forming a government. They did nothing as Iran forced the reinstallation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki despite his electoral defeat.
As Washington stood idly by in the face of Iran's aggression, Jordan and the other US-allied Arab states watched as Obama harassed Israel, announced his plan to withdraw all US forces from Iraq next year, appointed a new ambassador to Syria and approved more military aid to the Iranian-controlled Lebanese army. And Abdullah and the other Arabs watch now as the US is poised to begin yet a new round of appeasement talks with Iran next month.
Unlike the previous failed rounds of talks, the next failed round of talks will take place in Turkey. Iranian officials are already exulting that Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan will act as Iran's protector in those talks, and so officially end any semblance of Iranian diplomatic isolation on the nuclear issue.
And so, just as Abdullah warned would happen, today he is leading Jordan into the ranks of "countries without a backbone," and making a separate peace with Ahmadinejad.
Jordan is a weak country. Its minority Hashemite regime has failed to dominate its Palestinian majority. And since its inception by the British in 1946, Jordan has depended on Western powers and Israel for its survival.
In acting as he is, Abdullah is following in his father's footsteps. The late King Hussein survived by watching the prevailing winds closely and always siding with the side he believed was strongest at any given time.
When Hussein believed that the West and Israel were weakening, he went with their enemies. He only rejoined the Western alliance after it defeated its foes, and so convinced him that it was stronger. Notable examples of this are his 1967 alliance with Egypt and Syria against Israel and his decision in 1990 to stand with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of Saddam's conquest of Kuwait.
IT IS often erroneously claimed that siding with the metaphorical stronger horse is primarily an Arab practice. In truth, everyone does it.
Take France for instance.
In another diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks, the US embassy in Paris reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy thinks that the Palestinians are stronger than Israel. The report claimed that in Sarkozy's June 2009 meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he told the Israeli leader that he must surrender to all the Palestinian demands because in his view the Palestinians are stronger than Israel is.
Before Sarkozy took office, he was considered a great supporter of Israel and a personal friend of Netanyahu's. But since taking office, he has sided with the Palestinians against Israel. He has been friendly to Syria. Most recently, he agreed to sell one hundred advanced anti-tank missiles to the Hizbullah-controlled Lebanese military.
In light of his comment to Netanyahu it is clear that what motivates Sarkozy to act as he does is his analysis of the power balance between Israel and its enemies. Happily for Israel, Sarkozy is wrong. Israel is stronger than the Palestinians and has the capacity to defend itself effectively against its enemies.
Unhappily for Israel, Sarkozy's analysis is probably based in large part on arguments he has heard from the Israeli Left under Kadima. Over the past several years, Kadima leaders have managed to convince the country's best friends that Israel has no option other than surrender.
This is due to Kadima's obsession with demography and its demented plan for extricating Israel from what it considers predetermined demographic doom.
According to the likes of Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, the fact that there are 6 million Jews and 4 million Arabs west of the Jordan River means that Israel has no option other than surrendering Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians. As far as Livni and her leftist comrades are concerned, it makes no difference that such a move will not decrease the number of Arabs west of the Jordan.
It makes no difference to the Israeli Left that the Palestinian state they hope to build will - with their consent -- bring in millions more Arabs as immigrants into the landmass west of the Jordan River and so quickly render Jews a minority, making war a foregone conclusion.
In short, through their asinine demographic argument - with which they surrender all Israeli claims to the capital city, and to strategically vital land that Israel has valid legal and historical claims to -- Livni and her colleagues tell the likes of Sarkozy that not only is Israel weaker than the Palestinians. They tell these erstwhile friends that Israel is doomed to destruction and there is no reason for them to support it.
Based on these claims, Sarkozy's decision to make a separate peace with Iran through its Palestinian, Syrian and Hizbullah proxies makes sense.
It is important to bear this in mind when one considers the reason that the campaign to delegitimize Israel is gaining momentum. Given the Israeli-fuelled sense among key governments that Israel is a lost cause, as they see it, they have no reason to defend Israel from its detractors. From their perspective, their interests are better served by either standing on the sidelines or turning on Israel the weak horse.
ALL THIS is not to say that the Left is purposely sinking the ship of state. It is simply a victim of its own success. The Left has convinced Europe and the Arabs that it is dedicated to appeasement.
The Left believed that by convincing the Arabs and the Europeans that Israel is serious about appeasing its enemies that they would make an alliance with the Jewish state. And since Europe is stronger than Israel, and the Arabs are a threat to Israel, by winning their favor, the Left believed it would strengthen Israel.
What the Left failed to recognize is that Europe and the Arabs would rather cut a deal with Iran than defend themselves against it. A surrendering Israel is of no use to them. They only like Israel when it wins.
And now that weakness has pushed Jordan over the edge.
The lesson of all of this for Israel is clear. For the past 17 years, in the throes of the Left's strategic blindness, Israel has spent its time emphasizing its weaknesses and its enemies' strengths. This practice must be reversed. Israel must now concentrate on its strengths and its enemies' weaknesses.
For instance, Israel has a stronger claim to the disputed territories that the Palestinians. And Israel is stronger than the Palestinians by every possible measuring rod.
On their side, not only are the Palestinians militarily weak, they have nothing to offer anyone. Because the Palestinian national cause has far more to do with destroying Israel than building a Palestinian state, the Palestinian track record is one of destruction not creation. And this destructive tendency expresses itself on every front.
Iran too is far less powerful than it looks. From the Stuxnet worm, to a faltering economy, from increased domestic sabotage to the continuing opposition bid to overthrow the regime, Iran's soft underbelly is exposed. And it is getting softer all the time.
In contrast, Israel has a stable government. And its economic, technological and military power is constantly growing. Israel is a force to be reckoned with.
Jordan's move into the Iranian camp is not inexorable. Nor is Lebanon's or even Syria's. True, much to the Left's dismay, Israel lacks the option of joining the "countries without a backbone."
But we have a better option. We are strong and we can get stronger. And our enemies have weaknesses and we can weaken them still further.
To read another article by Caroline Glick, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:18 PM