Friday, October 1, 2010

The Embarrassment that US Middle East Policy has become

Stephen Walt weighs in on the "new low" that US Middle East policy has reached if (as David Makovsky reported yesterday) Obama is offering some new lollipops to Netanyahu if he'll pretty-please extend the settlement freeze by a whopping two months (as if that's going to be enough time to get a real deal done).  I have to agree with Walt: This is embarrassing.  And I have to blame Obama for launching this whole "peace process" without making sure he had the leverage to follow through.

On the other hand, with Congress snugly in Netanyahu's (or any other Israeli prime minister's) back pocket at this point (and for the foreseeable future), there's no way to get that leverage.

What will it take?  It requires a major re-orientation of American legislators and the American public to the strategic value of the US's alliance with a state that with its unilateral military actions, repression of Palestinian Arabs, and repeated violation of international law, has succeeded in making itself one of the foremost rogue pariah states on the planet.  And the new issue of Commentary features a cover article, by Daniel Gordis, that asserts that Iran has become an existential threat to the Jewish people, worldwide, and that military action by Israel has therefore become necessary.  Gordis seems to admit that this will indeed make Israel even more a pariah - but also seems to imply that, well, that's OK, because it's necessary if the Jewish people are to continue to exist (which, many would argue, it most assuredly is not) - and anyway, the world will get over it, and even thank Israel later.

Many experts have weighed in on the catastrophic consequences likely to attend a military strike on Iran.  Among the less dire are the impact Iranian retaliation would likely have on US forces in Iraq and the Gulf region, as well as in Afghanistan.  Basic equation here: IDF strike on Iran = more Americans being flown into Dover AFB in body bags.  That is the kind of math that just might get Americans both inside and outside the Beltway to reconsider the strategic relationship with Israel.

But by then, Pandora's Box will have been emptied already.

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