Leave it to two Israeli writers to make a point, which is mostly missed inside the United States, regarding the diplomatic adroitness and political savviness of the States of the Persian/Arabian Gulf. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the United States last March and tried to embellish the mutuality of interests between the Gulf States and Israel toward the then impending US-Iran nuclear deal, everyone thought that a political nexus between Israel and the Gulf States was in the process of sprouting. Continue reading “The Underpublicized Maneuvers of the GCC States”
A lot of ink is being spilled analyzing the pros and cons of the recently concluded US-Iran nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+ 1 countries (4 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), and there is ample show of emotions about this deal involving different actors. The Arab states are upset because they concluded that its successful implementation would lead to an era of US-Iran rapprochement in which Iran, more than the Arab states, would be the focus of America’s attention. The Israelis are mad because they see the emergence of a nuclear Iran in the distant future as a result of it. More to the point, Israel’s Prime Minister , Benyamin Netanyahu, envisions that deal as the first historical step toward bringing about an end to Israel’s own preeminence, related to its nuclear deterrence in the region. A study prepared for the RAND Corporation addresses precisely that point when it notes, “Nuclear weapons would probably reinforce Iran’s traditional national security objectives, including deterring a U.S. or Israeli military attack.” The American side—mainly the Obama officials and pro-nuclear-deal Democrats in the US Congress—is hoping that it has succeeded, at least in postponing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons aspirations into the distant future. The American neocons and the Republican legislators, on the contrary, think that Iran has fleeced the Obama administration into lifting the economic sanctions without giving up anything of substance. Continue reading “Burying the Hatchet is the Precondition for US-Iran Rapprochement”
The US-Iran nuclear deal of November 23, 2013, putting a temporary freeze on Iran’s nuclear program, is likely to turn out to be the beginning of an historic development. The most celebrated aspect of this agreement is that the top diplomats on both sides are now engaging in a highly intricate dialogue, instead talking at each other through the media. Continue reading “The US-Iran Interim Nuclear Agreement: Auspicious But Potentially Fragile”
In his second inaugural address in January 1997, President Bill Clinton stated, “America stands alone as the world’s indispensable nation.” Since then, that phrase has been used on a regular basis. America, as an indispensable nation, underscores its dominance in resolving conflicts of all portions since the end of World War II. It has been a major enabler of global economic stability and prosperity of Western Europe and Japan, and, most important of all, it contained the former Soviet Union–playing a crucial role in bringing about its eventual implosion. Continue reading “The Synonymity Between Dispensability and Decline”
The government of Bishara al-Assad, while predicted to have fallen many months ago, is hanging on, and is causing an agonizing dilemma on the part of the United States and Israel. Both of them want to see the end of Assad’s regime; however, neither of them wants to see Assad replaced by a nexus of Islamists and pro-AQ Jihadists in that country. The sustained hesitation of the United States regarding Syria made John Kampfner of the Guardian wonder whether this is the first conflict of “the post-superpower era.” My sense is that Kampfner is not far off the mark, especially since the PRC is reported to be demonstrating a heightened interest in playing some role in the PLO-Israeli conflict.
When it comes to nuclear deterrence, there is no difference between how it is perceived among the nuclear rabbis of Israel and the nuclear mullahs of Iran. The nuclear rabbis are the Likudniks and other right wing politicians of Israel’s official community who are committed to saving the Jewish state through the use of nuclear weapons. The nuclear mullahs are their Muslim counterparts of the Islamic republic who hold similar views about the use of nuclear weapons. The chief difference is that the perception of the nuclear rabbis is deemed sacred, valid, and legitimate in Washington and in other Western capitals, while that of the nuclear mullahs is regarded as phony. As such, the nuclear deterrence of the mullahs is not regarded as a serious rationale for the survival of the Iranian government. However, as a concept, nuclear deterrence is supposed to be valid, since it becomes the chief rationale forwarded by Israel and Iran to establish legitimacy of their respective nuclear weapons, while declaring that legitimacy as invalid for the other state. The ayatollahs are fully aware of that reality.
No matter who becomes the next president of the United States, the post-Arab Awakening Middle East is in the process of creating new rules affecting the lone superpower and other great powers. From the US perspective, the changing political order in Egypt has seriously eroded its power and influence in the region. The most important concern affecting Egypt–its continued commitment to the Camp David peace agreement–faces a questionable future. Tunisia–though it did not figure prominently in the past political maneuvers of the United States–has become an important place. Washington is very much hoping that Islamic moderation still prevails in that country. The post-Qaddafi Libya gave a lot of hope to the US policymakers as a country where they could reestablish America’s presence and influence. However, the murder of the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans, not only shocked the administration of Barack Obama, but also became a forceful point of contention between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Governor Mitt Romney, in the presidential debates. Indeed, the specifics of that tragedy promise to haunt the next administration long after the election is over.
The growing chatter about America’s impending desire to remain a world hegemon has its roots in the growing confusion inside the country about its foreign policy–more precisely, about its foreign policy toward the Arab world and, to a lesser extent, toward the world of Islam. Continue reading “The Unintended Deleterious Consequences of Populism”
Is the United States is in the process of becoming a banana republic? It is an absurd question, but that was how Binyamin Netanyahu was treating it last Sunday. During an interview on CNN, which clearly appeared as an attempt of the Israeli Prime Minister to interfere in the presidential election of the United States, he demanded that the Obama administration establish a clear “red line,” which Iran cannot cross with its nuclear program.
Before we allow a sense of despair to color our judgment about the future of the Arab Awakening, let me say that it is very much alive and kicking. In the past few days and weeks, it not only has been trying to kick out Bishara Assad, but it seems to be turning against the United States. One has to wonder whether the movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” which insults the Prophet of Islam could generate so much hatred toward the United States or whether there are other hidden agendas. I tend to be inclined to view both factors as resulting in the so-called Muslim “rage.”