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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘global stability’

Explaining Obama’s Fixation with Israel

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Why does Barack Obama focus so much on Israel and its struggle with the Arabs?

It’s not just that he’s spending days in Israel this week, but his disproportionate four-year search to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. His first full day as president in 2009 saw him appointing George Mitchell as special envoy for the Middle East and also telephoning the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. The White House press secretary justified this surprising emphasis by saying that Obama used his first day in office “to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term.” A few days later, Obama granted his first formal interview as president to Al-Arabiya television channel.

Nor did he subsequently let up. In June 2009, Obama announced that “The moment is now for us to act” to ease tensions between Israel and its neighbors and declared “I want to have a sense of movement and progress. … I’m confident that if we stick with it, having started early, that we can make some serious progress this year.” In May 2011 he announced impatience with regard to Arab-Israeli diplomacy: “we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace.” The new secretary of state, John Kerry, repeated these sentiments in his Jan. 2013 confirmation hearing: “We need to try to find a way forward.”

Why this fixation on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which ranks only 49th in fatalities since World War II? Because of a strange belief on the Left, rarely stated overtly, that this issue is key not just to the Middle East but to world problems.

For an unusually frank statement of this viewpoint, note the spontaneous, awkward comments of James L. Jones, then Obama’s national security adviser, in Oct. 2009. Addressing J Street, he mentioned “pursuing peace between Israel and her neighbors” and continued:

Of all the problems the administration faces globally, that if there was one problem that I would recommend to the president that if he could do anything he wanted to solve one problem, this would be it. Finding a solution to this problem has ripples that echo, that would run globally and affect many other problems that we face elsewhere in the globe. The reverse is not true. This is the epicenter, and this is where we should focus our efforts. And I am delighted that this administration is doing so with such enthusiasm and commitment.

Although delivered a year before the Arab uprising, this statement is worth parsing because it provides an important insight into the White House worldview.

Solving the Arab-Israeli conflict would “affect many other problems that we face elsewhere in the globe.” Jones implies that the conflict’s continuation exacerbates those problems. In one sense, his point is trite: of course, ending any conflict improves the overall atmosphere. But it staggers the imagination to think that the White House awaits resolution on Jerusalem and Palestine refugees to handle Kurdish restlessness, Islamist assaults, Syrian civil insurrection, Iranian nuclear ambitions, Egyptian economic travails, and Yemeni anarchy.

The reverse is not true.” Why would solving other problems not ameliorate the Arab-Israeli conflict? No proof backs up this blithe, illogical drivel. Defeating Islamism, obviously, would indeed help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, as would deflecting the Iranian bomb.

This is the epicenter.” In 2009, the Islamist surge had already riven the Middle East into Iranian- and Saudi-led cold war blocs: Israel and the Palestinians were not then or now the regional center. Arguably, Iran, Turkey or Saudi Arabia is.

This is where we should focus our efforts.” Here we get to the nub: Jones wants a focus on housing in Jerusalem and electricity grids in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -ed.] rather than on stopping the Iranian nuclear program, assuring oil and gas supplies, dealing with the pattern of dictatorships vs. Islamist insurgencies, or dealing with the increasingly rogue government of Turkey.

At least Jones did not make the outlandish and borderline antisemitic claim that Israel is responsible for all problems in the Middle East; but his milder version of this canard is no less bone-headed. His analysis, sadly, neatly fits the anti-Zionist mentality that increasingly pervades the left wing of the Democratic party.

Reagan’s Missile Defense Vision Derailed

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

If you went strictly by the mainstream media reporting on the Defense Department’s recent announcement about missile defense, the thought in your head would be “we’re deploying more interceptor missiles because of North Korea.”

What’s probably not in your head is the auxiliary details.  DOD has requested that funding for the additional deployments begin in fiscal year 2014.  The actual deployments won’t start until after that.  Assuming DOD gets the funding, it will take until 2017 for the interceptors to be in place.  And the deployment, if it happens, will do no more than provide the ground-based interceptor baseline that was originally planned by the Bush II administration (44 interceptors), a baseline the Obama administration cut back to its current level (30 interceptors) in April 2009.

To put the last point another way: if the Obama DOD hadn’t cancelled the remaining ground-based interceptor (GBI) deployments in 2009, the 14 additional interceptors would already be deployed.

That said, the utility of deploying the additional GBIs – which would raise the deployed total from 30 to 44 – can justifiably be questioned, if former Secretary Bob Gates was right in 2009, when he said the 30 GBIs in Alaska and California were enough:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told senators that 30 ground-based interceptors “provide a strong defense” against “the level of [missile] capability that North Korea has now and is likely to have for some years to come.” The system is designed to defend the United States against intermediate- and long-range missiles in the middle range of flight.

The North Korean satellite launch in December 2012 didn’t change the profile of the North Korean threat; it merely validated the predicted type of threat against which the GBIs were originally deployed.  Frankly, the 30 GBIs we already have in their silos probably are enough.

They are if the threat we’re worried about is North Korea, at any rate.  What if it’s not?  Suppose the threat we’re really concerned about is China?  It’s an interesting point, given the lack of precision or clearly-stated strategic purpose behind, basically, any move the Obama administration makes on missile defense.

Cancelling the Atlantic-side Missile defense

Consider the decision announced by DOD at the same time as the GBI augmentation: that the U.S. will cancel the fourth and final phase of Obama’s missile defense plan for Europe.  The European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) is the new plan Obama ordered up in 2009 when he cancelled George W. Bush’s plan to deploy GBIs to Europe.

GBIs in Poland would have provided missile defense for North America as well as for Europe against threats coming westward from Asia.  In Bush’s original plan, the GBIs would have started going into Poland in 2013.  (The GBIs in Alaska and California defend North America against threats coming eastward from Asia, or – to some extent – against missiles from East Asia coming over the North Pole).

Obama’s replacement plan for the cancelled Bush deployments was to develop a new, ground-based mobile interceptor out of the Navy’s shorter-range SM-3 missile, and eventually to deploy a follow-on interceptor, called the SM-3 IIB, which would have “some capability” against ICBMs.  The projected time frame for this deployment was to be 2020-22, some 7-9 years after the GBI deployment in Poland was to have begun.

A key weakness of this approach, however, has been that, for the purposes of defending North America, the geometry isn’t workable for using a new-generation SM-3 interceptor in Europe against an intercontinental ballistic missile from South Asia or the Middle East.  In September 2012, the National Research Council published an assessment of the prospects for defending North America using the EPAA deployment concept, and concluded that the prospects aren’t good.  Obtaining the NRC report costs $62, but fortunately, Defense Industry Daily has summarized its findings as follows (scroll down at the link):

[The NRC assessment] states that EPAA Phase IV is not likely to be an effective way to defend the United States, and recommends that the USA make changes to its own GMD system and radar set. They’re not advocating the dismantling of EPAA, just saying that the USA should have a system in which EPAA is about Europe’s defense, and the USA has a system that doesn’t depend on it.

More on that in a moment.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/reagans-missile-defense-vision-derailed/2013/03/19/

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