The Middle East Nightmare Intensifies
In a recent article in Commentary, Jonathan Tobin states, “As the Times notes, even though both Iran and Hezbollah agree that there will be no coordination with the United States – a position that the administration is adamant about – the reality on the ground may be different.”
Mr. Tobin says there “may be” coordination. Let us instead state unequivocally that there is and will be definite and explicit coordination among Hezb'allah, Iran, and the U.S. We are already in (structured but bogus) negotiations with Iran about its nuclear weapons systems. These negotiations will now, in private as well as public, include discussions about dealing with ISIS and our presence as a military force in Syria, which Iran is claiming to protect.
Have you read one word of protest or outrage by Syria or Iran about our bombings in Syria? Does not that itself show that we have made a deal to get their permission to do this bombing?
In short, by fighting ISIS in Syria and joining hands with Iran in order to do so, the U.S. is giving its seal of approval to its hardened enemies. This is not merely a “possibility,” as Mr. Tobin implies, but a fact. The enemies of our enemies have become our friends. But they are not really our friends, because Iran hates the U.S. more than it can ever hate ISIS.
At the same time, we have been told that the U.S. has engaged a coalition of Arab states including Saudi Arabia and Qatar in its fight with ISIS, but these “allies” still are not completely on board, and it is unclear what their role will be. These “allies” are also our enemies. We remember that 16 of the 19 terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center were Saudis, and Saudi Arabia has been the leading exporter of the most virulent doctrine of sharia rule by Islamists, called Wahhabism. The potentates of Saudi Arabia are funding this doctrine in Muslim and non-Muslim states through schools and mosques throughout the world. Similarly, Qatar has been supplying weapons to militant Islamists throughout the Middle East, including Yemen, Libya, and especially the Taliban in Afghanistan (recall that the recent prisoner swap of Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders was negotiated and channeled through Qatar).
My mind keeps going back to the Book of Jeremiah, where Jeremiah brings a prophecy from Almighty God to the leaders of Judah that their attempts to negotiate deals with Egypt in order to save themselves from the Babylonians not only were futile, but would lead to even greater destruction than if they just accepted the inevitable. You cannot enter into negotiations with your enemies and expect to be “saved” from your other enemies by those alliances.
The U.S. non-policy in Iraq and the Middle East masquerading as policy is verging on madness. It is a non-policy of diddling, manipulating public opinion, indecisiveness, and confusion as to the goals of the U.S. Although condemning and threatening Assad for using chemical WMD on civilians, and Israel for the deaths of Gazan women and children, the United States is now using missiles and/or bombs in civilian-populated areas. Our moral position is hypocritical at best. Further, U.S. strategy is more than questionable. “Strategy” not built on a sound and constructive set of policies is inherently flawed. Our bombing of ISIS and negotiations with our enemies is a delaying tactic, hoping that the beheadings and bad press about President Obama’s “lack of strategy” will blow over.
How can U.S. national defense possibly be enhanced by drawing closer to Iran? The U.S. military is being downsized. The threat of Islamic militancy is being downplayed or marginalized in the U.S., and our use of drones over sovereign state airspace is only of limited usefulness. Further, the U.S. military’s rules of engagement for U.S. troops in foreign lands have been diluted. A recent directive to our troops noted that if they are fired upon, they can return fire. Imagine: a military force needs to be “allowed” to fire on the enemy.
Why is the U.S. leadership not more firm or even hostile towards the bad actors in the Middle East? To U.S. leadership – a leadership deeply steeped in leftist ideology – Hezb'allah, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and even al-Qaeda are acting out and crying out because of long held "legitimate grievances" that need to be addressed. Even in his speech about “degrading” and “destroying” ISIS, Pres. Obama referred vaguely to longstanding “grievances” of various parties in the Middle East.
What are some of their longstanding grievances that are so intractable? For one thing, the Arab "on the street" is still infuriated that crusaders attacked in 1095 and three other times in the 12th century. Should the leaders of Europe and the West go on a tour of the Muslim world, apologizing for this great misdeed to their ancestors? Perhaps there should be reparations paid to all the descendants of the “victims” of the Crusades. What about the grievances of the Shiites and the Sunnis toward each other? They have been killing each other for 1,400 years over the true line of succession from Muhammad. We may all recall that the Roman Catholics had a longstanding dispute about whether the true pope should be located at Avignon or in Rome. And there was a dispute between Constantinople and Rome that morphed into a disagreement between Rome and the various Eastern Orthodox churches that has lasted until this day. But the two sides made their peace with it, agreeing to disagree rather than killing each other.
Does the U.S. have a right to bomb Syria? What will a victory over ISIS look like? In fact, the key word is “victory.” Without a defined policy with a highly rationalized definition of what the policy’s success will be, one is doomed not to a stalemate, but to a loss. Would not these questions be asked if Pres. Obama were to go to Congress, as required by the U.S. Constitution, to get permission for said bombing? Should Congress give that permission? The murky waters of U.S. shifting alliances in the Middle East have been made even murkier by the absence not only of strategy, but of a policy toward Iraq guiding that strategy.