Tony tries to square the circle in Iraq

In what is billed as "major foreign policy speech," Tony Blair suggests an overall Middle East settlement that would bring in either Syria or Iran, or both, on the assumption that they will adopt a peace policy.

...a major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole of the region where the same forces are at work, where the roots of this global terrorism are to be found, where the extremism flourishes, with a propaganda that may be, indeed is, totally false; but is, nonetheless, attractive to much of the Arab street.

"That is what I call a 'whole Middle East' strategy."

Well, what outside problems are more solvable than Iraq itself? Mr. Blair suggests Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, and the Iranian hard line on nukes and supporting Hamas—Hezbollah.

"... we should start with Israel/Palestine. That is the core.

"We should then make progress on Lebanon. We should unite all moderate Arab and Muslim voices behind a push for peace in those countries but also in Iraq.

"We should be standing up for, empowering, respecting those with a moderate and modern view of the faith of Islam everywhere."

My prediction, unfortunately, is that nothing like this will happen until the Middle East goes nuclear. At that point rational fear might override irrational hatred.

However, the US and UK can try to anticipate that event by offering NATO membership (including the nuclear umbrella) to Israel and other countries willing to commit to peace —— perhaps Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Something like this is already happening de facto by large US and European fleet concentrations in and near the Gulf and in the Eastern Med. An Iranian air—space attack on other countries —— Israel or Saudi —— would have to cross the defensive shield of Aegis—equipped ships, Israel's Arrow anti—missile missiles, and the new generation of Patriot defensive missiles. The tradeoff, of course, is that Israel is also blocked by the same defensive shield from taking preemptive action by air. And Iran can still attack using its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah.

The NATO strategy is nevertheless the most plausible way to offer a treaty—based protective umbrella to Middle Eastern countries that are willing to commit to nonproliferation. Israel may be persuaded to keep its nuclear deterrent passive but not active; but that is not much different from Japan, which is also said to have a capacity to go nuclear in a matter of months.

With Arab countries now explicitly seeking nuclear technology, denial is less and less of an option.

A Democrat Congress makes things more difficult, but President Bush has plenty of executive power. Much can be done to keep the country and the world as safe as possible even today.

James Lewis   11 13 06

In what is billed as "major foreign policy speech," Tony Blair suggests an overall Middle East settlement that would bring in either Syria or Iran, or both, on the assumption that they will adopt a peace policy.

...a major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole of the region where the same forces are at work, where the roots of this global terrorism are to be found, where the extremism flourishes, with a propaganda that may be, indeed is, totally false; but is, nonetheless, attractive to much of the Arab street.

"That is what I call a 'whole Middle East' strategy."

Well, what outside problems are more solvable than Iraq itself? Mr. Blair suggests Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, and the Iranian hard line on nukes and supporting Hamas—Hezbollah.

"... we should start with Israel/Palestine. That is the core.

"We should then make progress on Lebanon. We should unite all moderate Arab and Muslim voices behind a push for peace in those countries but also in Iraq.

"We should be standing up for, empowering, respecting those with a moderate and modern view of the faith of Islam everywhere."

My prediction, unfortunately, is that nothing like this will happen until the Middle East goes nuclear. At that point rational fear might override irrational hatred.

However, the US and UK can try to anticipate that event by offering NATO membership (including the nuclear umbrella) to Israel and other countries willing to commit to peace —— perhaps Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Something like this is already happening de facto by large US and European fleet concentrations in and near the Gulf and in the Eastern Med. An Iranian air—space attack on other countries —— Israel or Saudi —— would have to cross the defensive shield of Aegis—equipped ships, Israel's Arrow anti—missile missiles, and the new generation of Patriot defensive missiles. The tradeoff, of course, is that Israel is also blocked by the same defensive shield from taking preemptive action by air. And Iran can still attack using its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah.

The NATO strategy is nevertheless the most plausible way to offer a treaty—based protective umbrella to Middle Eastern countries that are willing to commit to nonproliferation. Israel may be persuaded to keep its nuclear deterrent passive but not active; but that is not much different from Japan, which is also said to have a capacity to go nuclear in a matter of months.

With Arab countries now explicitly seeking nuclear technology, denial is less and less of an option.

A Democrat Congress makes things more difficult, but President Bush has plenty of executive power. Much can be done to keep the country and the world as safe as possible even today.

James Lewis   11 13 06