Seinfeld's Advice for Obama Administration Policy: Do the Opposite
Jerry: Well here's your chance to try the opposite. Instead of tuna salad and being intimidated by women, chicken salad and going right up to them.
George : Yeah, I should do the opposite, I should.
Jerry : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.
By Barry Rubin
Just your normal Middle East policy day in which every instinct the Obama administration has is wrong. Allied forces in Libya accidentally drop bombs on civilians. I thought the NATO forces were in Libya to protect civilians. Libya didn’t attack the United States. When Israel is attacked, responds directly, and accidentally kills civilians it is called a “war crime”; when the United States and its allies do it thousands of miles away in an unnecessary and ill-defined mission that’s an excusable accident. What are Western forces doing in Libya? And if they are really there to overthrow dictator Muammar Qadhafi why is he still in power?
But someone did attack America: al-Qaida with the help of the Taliban. Now it’s revealed that the United States is holding secret negotiations with the Taliban, the very same Taliban that participated in the September 11 attacks. Supposedly this is the moderate wing. What does that mean, they favored attacking only one of the World Trade Center towers? Naturally, the Afghan government’s leaders aren’t happy that the United States is negotiating with its enemy that would gladly cut off their heads.
Incidentally, how about stretching the U.S. military among three wars and then appointing an anti-military secretary of defense?
Meanwhile, Steven Simon is the new Middle East director at the National Security Council. He advocates negotiations with Hizballah. And what should the U.S. policy be toward Hizballah according to him? Why, to ask it to demilitarize voluntarily!
The common theme here is that U.S. policy simply doesn’t take radicalism seriously. Perhaps it thinks the only dangerous revolutionary organization around today is the Tea Party. When someone says that they want an Islamist revolution, murder opponents, commit terrorism, daily broadcast their profound hatred for America, attack neighbors, and so on, the Obama Administration appears to believe the answer is to ask them to stop. And if that doesn't work, to give them gifts in exchange for stopping.
Actually, in Libya and Yemen at least, U.S. policy is now on the same side as al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. In Egypt, it seems to be on the same side asthe Muslim Brotherhood. In Syria, so far, it has been close to Iran's policy. It also bashes Israel; tolerates a Fatah-Hamas merger (the point isn’t that they are bickering but that they are trying to work together); accepts a Hizballah-dominated government in Lebanon, alienates Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states; dumps a U.S. ally in Egypt virtually overnight; ignores growing repression and Islamism in Turkey; and won’t get tough on a Syrian regime that sends terrorists to kill Americans in Iraq.
Let’s make it simple: Revolutionary Islamist movements and governments are bad for Western interests and the local people. The United States should be allied with Morocco, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and the opposition movements in Iran, Turkey, and Lebanon.
It should be working against Iran, Syria, Hamas (which now governs the Gaza Strip), Hizballah and the other Iran-Syria clients that now run Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood(s), and the Taliban. It should be very critical of the government in Turkey.
I’ve certainly had criticisms of U.S. and other governments’ Middle East policies over the years. But I’ve never seen anything close to a policy that is oriented precisely in the opposite direction from what it should be.