The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Levers and Hammers

In my recent posts on the situation in Gaza, I have referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an intractable problem and (like thousands of other writers) discussed the absurd double standard in the MSM, the EU, the UN, and the political Left that vilifies Israel for defending its citizens again attack by Hamas. But I’m now coming to recognize that the real conflict is far broader that Israel and Hamas. Walid Phares explains:
The big picture is obvious. The current conflict is not really about the classic Arab-Israeli process, which can resume between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League anytime it is not obstructed. The Gaza fight is about Iran’s confrontation with Israel, and perhaps with the U.S. globally. A global strategic reading leads us to conclude that — just as we saw in Lebanon in 2006 -Tehran is pulling the strings and very smartly. Timing the Hamas end to the cease fire between two American presidencies in Washington and just before the Israeli and Palestinian elections, the Mullahs thought they would drag Israel into the Gaza battle on an Iranian timetable, triggering a “street” show of anger, boosted by the jihadi propaganda machine in the region with all the usual ramifications in the West. The astute Iranian move is to drag Israel enough into Gaza’s mud to indict it internationally so that any future Israeli strikes at Iran’s nuclear program will be seen as catastrophic. Tehran is calculating the minutia hoping Hamas will win at the end of the day, and that the Obama administration will begin its “talks” with Iran from an inferior position (since Israel will be blamed for the violence not the jihadists in Gaza). But the game has lots of risks, including the possibility that Hamas may lose its ability to be a military event maker after this campaign is over.

My opinion remains that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is intractable, at least with Iran sabotaging any legitimate peace efforts through their puppets Hezballah and Hamas, the broad array of Arab countries using the Palestinians as a lever to rid the Moslem crescent of the “Zionist entity,” and Saudi Arabia funding Jihadist ideology around the world.

There are, however, some interesting possibilities that could lead to progress. Any road to peace leads through Tehran, but be warned: There is no possibility that talking nice to Mahmoud Amadinejad and the Mullahs will lead to anything useful – none! However, the two of the culprits that pull the strings in this sad drama are also arch enemies. There is no love lost between Tehran and Riyadh.

In his brilliant book on the historical use of power, Robert Green notes “Your enemies are an untapped gold mine that you must learn to exploit.” In this case our enemies Saudi Arabia (make no mistake, the Saudis are not our friends) and Iran hate one another, opening many useful opportunities for a savvy diplomatic operator. Enter Hillary Clinton and a state department hierarchy that she will rapidly shape. There may be ways for a Hillary Clinton to lead the State Department to actually do some good. But to accomplish this, Hillary must jettison 60 years of ineffective State Department blather on the Middle East, go behind the scenes, and become far more Machiavellian.

To make progress on the intractable problem that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran leadership and theocracy must be weakened or destroyed. Open warfare is not a viable option at this time, but internecine warfare is not only appropriate, it is essential if the Mullahs are to fall. Hillary and State might be able to find a way to use Iran and Saudi hatred (of each other, of Israel, or us) as a tool—a lever first and then a hammer. The how’s are difficult, but they’ve got to be there. Just ask Robert Green.

And for those who are troubled by my invocation of Niccolo Machiavelli, a man who was distrustful, cynical, and ruthless, I have only this to say – Grow. Up.