U.S. Mideast Policy: Obama Knows Best?
Yes, U.S. policy in the Middle East is as bad as it seems. One of the WikiLeaked cables reveals that the U.S. State Department is engaging the Middle East from a naive, peace-at-all-costs point of view that ignores the region's realities. The cable shows that when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton protests the fact that the Syrian government lied to her about its missile supplies to Hezbollah, she instructed those meeting with the Syrians on their talking points.
It is amazing how the Obama administration let the Syrian regime walk all over them. Yet it also fits with their philosophy:
"While our commitment to principled engagement with Syria -- as demonstrated by Under Secretary Burns' recent visit -- remains strong, we must enlist additional French, British, Turkish, Saudi, Jordanian, and Qatari support to help dissuade Syria from expanding its ties to Hezbollah any further, especially via the transfer of additional sophisticated weaponry."
Get that? It's multilateralism in action. The United States cannot do anything on its own but has to enlist a half-dozen others. But, of course, the French government is soft on Syria, the Turks are now Syrian allies, Qatar wants to maintain good relationships with Iran and Syria, while Jordan is timid. As for the Saudis, they were struggling against Syria a year ago, but given the lack of U.S. support they gave up.
In other words, this threat is a joke and trying to implement it would certainly fail. Moreover, note how the U.S. position begins by reaffirming engagement when it should start by threatening to cut it off. Once the Syrians know they aren't going to lose anything, why should they give up anything?
But there's something else in another cable that is even better -- which means that it is far worse:
Iran and Hezbollah both have interests that are not in Syria's own strategic interest. I know you are a strategic thinker, which is why I want to underscore for you that, from our perspective, your operational support for Hezbollah is a strategic miscalculation that is damaging your long-term national interests.
Have you noticed that Obama administration officials keep telling people in the Middle East what they are supposed to want?
--The Syrians know that backing Iran and Hezbollah is in their strategic interest.
Of course, allying with Iran and Hezbollah isn't in their interest if they want to join the West, open their doors to foreign investments, put the emphasis on raising living standards, make peace with Israel, and then what? Give up their dictatorship and have a democracy?
But it is in their interest because they want to try to dominate the Arab world, wipe out Israel, control the Palestinian issue, and continue to be a dictatorship because that gives the elites all the power and money they want.
--The U.S. government, in fact President Barack Obama himself, told the Saudi king that what he is supposed to want most is an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement.
But the Saudis know it is in their interest to put the priority on stopping Iran.
--The U.S. government tells Israel that it is in its interest to give up a huge amount to get a Palestinian state.
But Israelis know it isn't in their interest to make countless concessions to create an entity that will probably be backing terrorist attacks against them within a month of achieving independence.
--The U.S. government tells the Palestinian Authority that its interest is to get an independent state as fast as possible by making peace with Israel.
But the Palestinian Authority defines its interest as proving its militant credentials by not making any compromise peace with Israel. Its short-term goal is to get an independent state while giving up nothing (unilateral independence); the long-term objective is to continue the struggle for decades in order to try to destroy Israel.
--The U.S. government tells Iran that it is in its interests not to get nuclear weapons.
The Iranian regime laughs. It doesn’t want to be America’s friend. Up until now, Iran has succeeded in its aggressions. While sanctions are a burden, the regime can put up with pressure when the prize is so great: a bid for hegemony in the Middle East and in the Muslim world.
If I might be so bold, let me suggest a conclusion. And yes the all capital format represents my yelling this as loud as possible:
WHEN IS THE U.S. GOVERNMENT AND ALL THOSE “EXPERTS” WHO CONTINUE TO SAY THIS KIND OF NONSENSE GOING TO WATCH WHAT MIDDLE EAST RULERS ARE DOING AND LISTEN TO WHAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY SAYING?