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The Saudis are Trembling – Quietly

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

These days, the Arab media are full of reports about diplomatic activities regarding the Syrian issue, and commentators’ articles dealing with this matter fill whole pages in the newspapers of the Arab world. They all try to ascertain if there will be an American military action, what its scope will be, how powerful it will be, what its goals will be, how long it will last, and especially, what the consequences of the action will be. But there is one important voice which is almost not heard at all in this whole chorus of analysts – the Saudi voice – and it seems that someone there – the king? – may have imposed a gag order on the commentators.

To get a deeper understanding of the reason for this, I contacted a Saudi colleague, with whom I correspond occasionally. He is a member of the royal family, but is not in the inner circles of decision making. Nevertheless, he is well acquainted with the way the Saudi leaders think, he is aware of the considerations and feelings that drive it and has a deep understanding of what is said and what is not said there. At first he refused to speak, and only after a “preliminary conversation” did he consent. This is how it is in the Middle East: everything is based on personal relationships, and Arabic is the entry bridge into the emotions of the region’s people.

He preferred to speak about “The Gulf,” not Saudi Arabia, in order to present a united front regarding the events in Syria and its environs. This is not exactly correct, because the positions of Saudi Arabia (which is the main supplier and supporter of the Salafi fighters in Syria) and those of Qatar (which stand behind the Free Syrian Army), are not identical, and the United Arab Emirates is much more active than Oman. But despite the differences in approach among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, their basic attitudes are very similar.

My colleague hinted at an important aspect of Middle Eastern character, which is “murou’a” – “manliness.” A man will always be sure to act according to rules of manly conduct, and will make every effort to avoid feminine patterns of behavior. Emotionality and whining are considered feminine qualities that express weakness, while a male is expected to keep a cool head and emotional balance and remain calm and functional even in difficult and complex situations. It seems that the Saudi government’s silence during the last few days stems from this characteristic. One could say that the greater the internal emotional stress, the quieter and more relaxed the Arab man will try to appear. It relates to the obsession with honor, because if a man sounds like a woman he is considered contemptible.

The longer the conversation continued, the more open it became, and the more my colleague complained about the Western world in general and the United States in particular. “You (he included Israel in the Western world) speak all the time about human rights, so why are you quiet about what is happening in Syria? After chemical weapons have been used ten times, you still do not manage to find a reason to eliminate Asad? Are two hundred thousand fatalities not enough to bring you out of your complacency? Is issuing condemnations the only thing you can do? Making threats without carrying them out? You have all of the proof you need to do what you said you would do, so why are you not doing what you promised?” And then came the knockout question: “Is the Libyan’s blood redder than the Syrians’? Or maybe Libyan oil is blacker than Syrian oil?” These things were said somewhat scornfully, because the coalition of Europe and America attacked Qadhaffi for less terrible things than Asad is doing.

I asked him: “So how should the Arab world deal with a mass murderer?” He answered with a rhetorical question: “Don’t you know what Saudi Arabia has done and is still doing for the Syrian people?” He was referring to what Saudi Arabia usually does: it gives money, lots of money, for purposes that it believes in. Saudi Arabia – and all of the other Gulf countries – have poured many billions of dollars into the Syrian rebellion to pay the fighters, to buy weapons, ammunition, communication devices and civilian aid, and even to bring women to Syria in order to “serve” the fighters. Saudi Arabia funds training camps in other countries that train fighters to join the fight against Asad in Syria.

Turning Point: Obama and Israel, the Next Three Years

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reortps.

It is not every day that one can announce a shift in world history, but this day is today. And we are now in a new era in the Middle East and the world.  This is not a joke–definitely not a joke–and as you will see, it is not an exaggeration.

Let me explain. For the last seven weeks I have been in the United States, mostly in Washington D.C.  I have spoken and listened to many people. As a result, I am in a position to describe for you with a high degree of accuracy what the policy will be for the next 3.5 years, and perhaps for many more.

The administration has crossed a line to, in simple terms, backing the “‘bad guys.”

This is literally true in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian Authority, Bahrain (with its support for the opposition), Qatar, and Turkey.
And in some ways, as we will see, the war on terrorism has been turned into the war for terrorism.

Too extreme? On the contrary, this is not a conservative or liberal analysis but merely a true one. Come along over the next few weeks, and let’s take a serious analysis 0f Obama’s Middle East policy in the second term, from 2013 to January 20, 2017.

The real diplomatic line is: Bad boy, Bibi (and Israel), why can he/they not be moderate and flexible (unlike releasing 100 terrorist murderers in exchange for nothing), like Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas (and the Palestinians, who [Abbas] in fact is inflexible, constantly; escalates demands; and rejects U.S. strategy on the peace process); or like Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan (throwing intellectuals and journalists in prison, betraying U.S. strategy 0n Iran, backing anti-American Islamists, and sending former army officers for long jail terms on phony charges)?

During the coming months, and even years, if they are given to me, I will pursue these themes. You may not believe what you read here today or tomorrow, but you will, oh you will see it.

But before we begin, let me repeat that this is going to happen. It will not change, and as shocking as it is, this is already happening. It is unavoidable, because with a president who will not learn, a bought-off elite, a sold-out second-term Congress, and a remarkably cowardly or partisan media, nothing will change. The situation will only get worse and more obvious.

In this series of articles, I will describe eight very likely things that will almost certainly happen during the rest of Obama’s term, extending far beyond Israel, and how to minimize the harm to the interests of the United States and of its would-be Middle Eastern allied people and governments.

Here are the inevitable themes, any one of which would be horrid enough.

ISRAEL CANNOT DEPEND ON THE UNITED STATES.

That doesn’t mean that Obama and others will not provide military aid or say nice words at every event. But there is no commitment that one can assume would be fulfilled nor any Israeli initiative that will really be implemented.

This is a complex issue, but here are some brief points:

The idea that Obama and his team are the greatest friend of Israel is a deadly insult, and I can prove it two minutes.

Minute one: The United States has undermined Israel on many issues. Do I have to provide a list?

Okay, here is a partial list: Egypt (support for a hostile Muslim Brotherhood government); Tunisia (ditto); Sinai  (enablement of insurgency); Hamas (the desire to keep the Brotherhood–an ally of Hamas–government in power in Cairo); Turkey (supporting the Islamist, anti-Israel government); Syria (support of radical Syrian Islamists); Europe (lack of support for Israeli position on peace process); America itself (encouragement of anti-Israel forces among Jewish community and in Obama constituency); Palestinians (lack of criticism or pressure on Palestinian Authority, PA).

I’ll save more for later, but I think this is an impressive list.

Minute two: But, there’s something more here. The most dangerous, insulting argument is this: Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly said–and this is the theme of the administration supporters, including Jewish supporters:

The greatest danger to Israel is if Israel does not get peace soon.

This is an absurd lie. The greatest danger to Israel would be for Israel to accept a dangerous and unworkable peace agreement that the other side would not implement.

In other words, the greatest danger for Israel would be to listen to the bad advice of Obama, Kerry, and their supporters.

Consider this; who should be more knowledgeable about their situation and more aware of their real interests, Israel or America? Do people think that Obama knows better than Israelis? Does he care more? That’s absurd and insulting.

Of course, people assume that states and political leaderships put their own interests first, whether or not they understand this. And that lays the basis for overruling Israel’s democracy.

For example, a survey by the very dovish Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) showed 65.6 percent of Israelis questioned did not expect to see a deal in talks between Israel and the Palestinians within a year. And if you take into the account the don’t-knows and no opinions, that increases the percentage.

Incidentally, spot the gimmick in Reuters’ story:

“The talks resumed last month after a three-year hiatus.” Actually, except for one week there have not been real talks for 13 years.

Second gimmick:

“But even if the Israeli government managed to defy skeptics and secure an accord, the poll…suggested it would struggle to sell it to its people.”

Wrong, the government and  the vast majority of the people agree with each other. But there is a revealing hint here. The U.S. government and its supporters believe that the Israeli government in partnership with Obama should betray the beliefs, aspirations, and security of the Israeli people. And we are not only talking about Jewish settlements, even for those willing to give every one up for real, lasting peace.

In fact, 55.5 percent of the Israeli people–and 63 percent of Israeli Jews–said they were against Israel agreeing to return to the 1967 lines, even if there were land swaps which would enable some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to remain part of Israel.It is not the terms ostensibly offered, but the credibility of the United States and the Palestinians.

Mind you, the figure is higher, because most people feel that this simply won’t work in terms of providing more security and stability.

You cannot understand what has just happened without the analogy of the monster movie. Israel is not naïve, but it was walking down a dark alley and thought that kindly old Uncle Sam–perhaps a bit grumpier lately–had his back; then it peered over its shoulder and froze in horror at seeing a scary monster. Yet you will never ever hear an Israeli politician admit that.

Read Netanyahu’s unprecedented memo on the talks and the prisoner release. It reads as if he saw a ghost; he is trying to signal something very grim and serious, and there is no implication that he believes in any possibility of compensation for this concession.

Faced with a wasted effort of an extremely unilateral Palestinian prisoner release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government went along because they realized something in the middle: This was not a routine exercise. During the process, they realized that the indifference of the United States to Israel’s interests was extremely high; that Congress was hypnotized; that the Jewish community in its Obama worship was largely neutralized; and that rather than fighting European hostility, the White House was conducting it.

Looking over their shoulder in the misty night, they realized that a very large monster was following them. If you read Netanyahu’s unprecedented memo to the Israeli people as to why the terrorist prisoners were released, you get that clear signal. They realized that the Obama administration was extremely dangerous and that it was necessary to buy time.
Of course, the talks will not go anywhere, because the Palestinians know that they have a strong hand and they will overplay it. But the administration’s willingness to punish Israel to win public relations points and shore up the doomed U.S. alignment with Islamists has to be reckoned with.

What War with Syria?

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

There’s nothing more dangerous for world peace than a bunch of trigger happy, inexperienced Leftists.

United States President Barack Hussein Obama should never have been elected. It was the most racist elections in the history of the United States. If he had been 100% white, with his experience and qualifications, he never would have been elected. People voted for him because he’s colored. Now he may be causing a very dangerous war in the Middle East by totally overacting in how he wants to “punish” Syria for using chemical weapons.

Obama doesn’t even have the support of the American Military. Listen to this Fox report, which I can’t get the embedded link for. Anyone with a minimum of military/diplomatic experience will easily point out how senseless the threats are. And just like with Bush The First’s Iraq/Gulf War, it will just be an excuse for Israel to be attacked. The Syrians will take out their anger on us, not on the Americans which are spearheading the threats against them.

The internal (within a foreign country) use of chemical weapons is immoral by popular western standards, but it’s certainly no reason to plan on bombing the said/guilty country. How will that show, teach moral superiority?

It’s like beating up a kid because he hit another kid.

“Don’t you ever hit,” smack! “anyone ever” bang! “again!!”

First of all, there should be emergency United Nations Security Council meetings called to condemn Syria and institute a full range of sanctions, including closing all foreign embassies in Syria, sending their diplomats packing, etc. If the point is to punish the Syrian regime, then they are the ones to be punished, not the Syrian citizens. The fallout from an American-led attack would land on Israel, while Bashar al-Assad would be emboldened and strengthened for standing against America.

All foreign aid and NGO programs to Syria must cease. That’s how you use moral superiority against an enemy regime. You don’t use military weapons.

Thankfully, the more other foreign leaders think about the issue, the more sense they are making.

“To see a government in the 21st century gassing its own citizens is an abomination and the world has to move against that, Mulcair said. “That should be done through the institutions of international law, in particularly the United Nations.”

So, G-d willing, we won’t have to search through our attic for the old gas masks and then exchange them for new ones.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

America’s Impending Defeat in Syria

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

It’s really pretty simple. The American people understandably don’t want to go to war with Syria, not to mention Syria’s patron of Iran and especially not to put into power the Muslim Brotherhood and murderous Islamists. Going to war is a serious matter to say the least. There’s no assurance how long it will take, how many lives it will cost, and what turns it may take.

In fact the Middle East has just had several examples of these wars. Iraq and Afghanistan cost a lot of money and lives as they extended for a much longer time than had been expected. In addition they derailed the Bush Administration’s electoral fortunes and domestic programs. With the main emphasis of the Obama Administration being a fundamental transformation of America such distractions are not desired.

There is one other important consideration. The Obama Administration does not accept the traditional diplomatic and great power strategies. It believes that it can reconcile with Islamist states; it does not comprehend deterrents; it does not keep faith with allies; and it does not believe in credibility, which is the belief that only power exerted can convince a foe of seriousness.

Of course, that wouldn’t rule out a one -time targeted attack but even if that were to be done is America going to fight a full-scale war on the ground with the American allies (including al-Qaeda) never satisfied and eager to stab them in the back?

The administration has trapped itself with two problems. One is that the rebels who are being supported in Syria are extreme radicals who may set off blood baths and regional instability if they win. The other is that a challenge has been given to very reckless forces: Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. When the United States threatens these three players the response is “make my day!”

So this is the situation. The United States is bluffing, it does not want to exert force and probably won’t. In other words, Iran and Syria would be quite willing to fight a war but the United States and its government doesn’t have the will to do so.

What is the optimum option for the Obama Administration ? To try to negotiate – as unlikely as it is – a deal in which some kind of interim or coalition arrangement would be arranged with Russia and Iran to make a transition from the current regime. And that mainly means stalling for time.

That could work, though, if the regime does not actually win in the war. Aid to rebels and some gimmicks, perhaps but no decisive action. Remember. though, that Iran cannot be said to have won as long as the civil war is continuing. The Administration can simply depend on denial, which should be sufficient for domestic purposes.

There is, however. a problem. The two sides Syrian sides want to wipe each other out. Why should the Russians and Iranians make a deal if they have a winning hand? No diplomatic arrangement is possible. In fact the diplomatic option is fictional or, to put it flatly, there is no alternative.

It is not inconceivable that the White House would consider easing sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program to have a chance on making a deal on Syria.

What is likely then is stalling, with the probability that the civil war will settle into stagnation for several years and thus a de facto partition of Syria. The United States simply can’t win given what it is willing to do. And in a great power standoff that’s a very dangerous situation.

Remember. though, that Iran cannot be said to have won as long as the civil war is continuing. The Administration can simply depend on denial, which should be sufficient for domestic purposes.

Finally, ask yourself one question: Will the United States under Obama dare a confrontation with Iran, Syria, and Russia to keep up American credibility, deterrence, and confidence of allies who it is already opposing on Egypt?

Of course not. This is already a president who could barely decide to kill Osama bin Laden.

American Culture: How to Reconcile the Brutal and the Effete?

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

I’m deeply confused about American culture. Let me cite two incidents as examples and then talk about some attitudes I hear about from my son’s reports on visits with friends. Perhaps readers can explain this contradiction between the effete and the brutal.

Arriving in the United States, I go to the nearby Trader Joe’s food store. It is of course very PC. At the checkout counter, the clerk asks, “Have you returned anything?” I did a double-take. Is this a bid for higher taxes? A taunt to the 1 percent who shop there?

No, he explains that they have some kind of program about bringing back bags. “The people in Bethesda,” he smugly asserts, “are the smartest!”

By coincidence, I had just heard some article saying that using returned bags is potentially dangerous since there can be some food remnants that rot and may breed bacteria. (I certainly don’t know what is true scientifically.) Unable to resist, and out of curiosity, I said, “Maybe they are not the smartest,” and explained my concern.

Instantly, he changed his attitude, snarled and said, “They’re the smartest!” No contradiction would be tolerated. Anyway, he started it. But given all the waste involved in a supermarket business–let’s start with the packaging–the small but highly right-thinking-people gesture of reused bags strikes me as a laughable symbol. Not to mention the fact that Trader Joe’s isn’t giving out food to the poor or opening stores to take big losses in what Michelle Obama calls, “food deserts.”

Is this salvation on the cheap, like those in wealthy California coastal cities that take away the farmers’ water to save some obscure fish and then congratulate themselves on their enlightenment?

About the same time, I sit in a sandwich place and a song comes on the radio. My jaw drops. A female singer repeats the lyric, “I said drive, bitch,” apparently it’s a car-jacking? She just keeps going over and over again in a very aggressive tone. At the end, the sound effect indicates that the female driver has been shot and fell down dead.

I sat there speechless. I simply couldn’t believe what I was hearing. If there is a “war on women” isn’t it actually waged most vigorously in certain sectors of popular music? The same could be said of the music of the much honored Jay-Z or many others.

Now perhaps this is a silly taking of two extreme phenomena, and I’ll accept that verdict if that’s what you think. But it symbolizes perhaps a bigger thing. On one hand, American culture today (should I say popular culture?) is one of watch your language, goody-goody, we are just so virtuous. There is rap music and the message given to children in Politically Correct lessons.

On the other hand, though, on film, television, literature, music, and public discourse it is intolerant and at times proudly brutal. Is that a valid observation? And if so how is this tension reconciled?

During a visit to the United States, conversations among young teenage boys, who in school were subjected to intense indoctrination, run like this:

–They make fun of alleged gays among them, flinging the charge as insulting but then quickly adding, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

–They show very vile disrespect toward girls of their age. It doesn’t seem that there is any change over the decades, but there certainly isn’t a reduction of “sexist” attitudes. They discuss them far more openly. The concept of gentleman or even restrained behavior is gone, perhaps in conjunction with the musical examples. Attitudes that would once have been derided as “low-class” by the elite have now become common place. So how is there then an elite setting a good example?

–They use far more racial epithets and negative stereotypes of others than my generation, though it is covered by frequent accusations that this or that is racist. Dubbing of something as racism is used as a weapon, a description of something one doesn’t like.

–They see themselves as part of some downtrodden class even though they are financially well-off. For example, they talk about rich white people but when pointed out that they live in big houses, they say the houses are bigger in some other neighborhoods.

A Future of Only More Radicalization and Escalation – Get Used to It

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

The crisis in Egypt is deepening, and both sides of the conflict are becoming increasingly entrenched in their positions. The fatalities that have occurred among Mursi supporters as well as among the military people causes both sides to act on the basis of their hearts and emotions, and not from logic. Both sides think “We’ll show them” and “we will break them”, the Egyptian public scene is crashing, representatives of foreign companies are leaving in droves, and everyone blames everyone else for the miserable situation.

The vice president, Mohamed al-Baradei, resigned and fled the country, because he saw that Egypt is sliding into a swamp of blood, fire and tears, where dozens of people are killed in the streets every day, the economy is collapsing, and the solution to Egypt’s problems seems farther away than ever. Al-Baradei may be put on trial for treason because he fled from Egypt and evaded his responsibilities.

The army detained Mohammed Badie, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, for two weeks, suspected of inciting the masses to violence and bloodshed. If he actually is put on trial, the Brotherhood and their supporters will most likely not stand by passively and watch, but will envelop the country in another wave of violence.

Another very disturbing phenomenon has been happening recently – the destruction of museums and the theft of antiquities. Some thieves steal exhibits in order to sell them for a small fortune on the black market to collectors; mainly gold coins, statuary and sarcophagi, which were recovered from ancient tombs from the days of the pharaohs. But along with the theft is another phenomenon: the destruction of exhibits, vandalism for its own sake, stemming from the deep hatred that radical Muslims feel toward the cultures that preceded Islam, and especially the Pharaonic culture which Islam considers to be heretical. We saw something similar in March of 2001 in Afghanistan, when the Taliban destroyed the two enormous statues of Buddha in Bamiyan Valley.

The international sphere is also undergoing a major shake-up: the United States’ plan to put the Brotherhood in power has failed, but the White House and the State Department continue to issue pronouncements of support for the Muslim Brotherhood and objects to the army’s actions, including the arrest of Badie. It may be that Mubarak will be freed from the defendant’s box and the heads of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Mursi and Mohammed Badie, will take his place. It seems like Washington fell asleep on the 30th of June and still has not awakened to the new situation.

General al-Sisi and his comrades are not giving in to American pressure, and despite the good relations between the Egyptian military and the United States, al-Sisi refuses to accept Obama’s calls, and when the Americans issue declarations opposing the army’s acts, al-Sisi becomes angry. He places his definition of Egyptian interests over Obama’s definition of Egyptian interests. Al-Sisi sees the dismal failures of the United States Middle East policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Iran, and he understands that he should not allow the Americans to influence events in Egypt, otherwise it may become another link in the chain of failures.

However, even al-Sisi will not be able to forestall the waves of terror, which might bring Egypt to a state similar to that in Syria or Iraq. The neighboring countries – Libya and Sudan – as well as the Sinai Peninsula, are full of weapons of all sizes and types, and the border with these states is long and porous. Egypt could become a magnet for jihadists from the entire Muslim world, who will want to enforce Islam on the country exactly as they did in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria and in Libya. Egypt may also become a victim of “international terrorism”, with car bombs, suicide attacks, assassinations of senior figures, attacks on military bases, trains, bridges (and there are many in Egypt), electrical lines and dams. Egypt could become a hell for its residents, especially for the Christian Copts, who are already trying to figure out how they can continue living in a country where about sixty churches were burned down in the space of one week .

The world had better get used to the scenario of radicalization and escalation of the internal situation in Egypt, so that they will not be surprised when it happens, and I hope that I may be proven wrong.

Obama’s Foreign Fiasco

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

It’s a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country’s place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It’s unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.

Whether during the structured Cold War or the chaotic two decades that followed, America’s economic size, technological edge, military prowess, and basic decency meant that even in its inactivity, the U.S. government counted as much or more in world developments than any other state. Sniffles in Washington translated into influenza elsewhere.

Weak and largely indifferent presidents like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton mattered despite themselves, for example in the Iranian revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1990s. Strong and active presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had greater impact yet, speeding up the Soviet collapse or invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

But now, with Barack Obama, the United States has slid into shocking irrelevance in the Middle East, the world’s most turbulent region. Inconstancy, incompetence, and inaction have rendered the Obama administration impotent. In the foreign policy arena, Obama acts as though he would rather be the prime minister of Belgium, a small country that usually copies the decisions of its larger neighbors when casting votes at the United Nations or preening morally about distant troubles. Belgians naturally “lead from behind,” to use the famed phrase emanating from Obama’s White House.

Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Qatar (with a national population of 225,000) has an arguably greater impact on current events than the 1,400-times-larger United States (population: 314 million). Note how Obama these days takes a back seat to the emirs of Doha: They take the lead supplying arms to the Libyan rebels, he follows. They actively help the rebels in Syria, he dithers. They provide billions to the new leadership in Egypt, he stumbles over himself. They unreservedly back Hamas in Gaza, he pursues delusions of an Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Toward this end, the U.S. secretary of state made six trips in four months to Israel and the Palestinian territories in pursuit of a diplomatic initiative that almost no one believes will end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of defense called Egyptian leader Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi 17 times in conversations lasting 60-90 minutes, yet failed in his pleas that Sisi desist from using force against the Muslim Brotherhood. More striking yet, Sisi apparently refused to take a phone call from Obama. The $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt suddenly looks paltry in comparison to the $12 billion from three Persian Gulf countries, with promises to make up for any Western cuts in aid. Both sides in Egypt’s deep political divide accuse Obama of favoring the other and execrate his name. As dozens of Coptic churches burned, he played six rounds of golf. Ironically, Egypt is where, four long years ago, Obama delivered a major speech repudiating George W. Bush policies with seeming triumph.

Obama’s ambitions lie elsewhere – in augmenting the role of government within the United States, as epitomized by Obamacare. Accordingly, he treats foreign policy as an afterthought, an unwelcome burden, and something to dispatch before returning to juicier matters. He oversees withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan with little concern for what follows. His unique foreign policy accomplishment, trumpeted ad nauseam, was the execution of Osama bin Laden.

So far, the price to American interests for Obama’s ineptitude has not been high. But that could change quickly. Most worrisome, Iran could soon achieve nuclear breakout and start to throw its newfound weight around, if not to deploy its brand-new weapons. The new regime in Egypt could revert to its earlier anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism; already, important elements in Egypt are calling for rejection of U.S. aid and termination of the peace treaty with Israel.

As an American who sees his country as a force for good, these developments are painful and scary. The world needs an active, thoughtful, and assertive United States. The historian Walter A. McDougall rightly states that “The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years” and its civilization “perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.” Well not so much perturbation these days; may the dismal present be brief in duration.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/obamas-foreign-fiasco/2013/08/21/

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