Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Thanksgiving to Remember?

I have had many debates with friends over the years about President Obama’s foreign policy, which I thought was very likely to lead to dangerous situations in several parts of the world, particularly here in the Middle East. President Obama had a strategic vision of the U.S. withdrawing from its traditional “policeman of the world” role in several of the world’s regions and of regional players developing balancing acts of their own in each region.

Many predicted that this policy would lead to disaster in the Middle East, and it may just be coming to fruition. It resulted in Iran and Russia moving in at an extraordinary scale and pace to fill the void. One can argue that it is, at least in part, responsible for the deaths of a half million Syrians, the displacement of millions more of them, and basically the disintegration of Syria as a unified nation. Not to mention the slaughter in Yemen.

One can argue whether the nuclear deal is a plus or a minus in terms of perhaps delaying Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for 10 or 15 years before becoming an internationally legitimatized nuclear power, but one cannot argue with the fact that it did nothing to make Iran a more responsible member of the “family of nations” as Obama predicted it would. Iran has become more aggressive, more destabilizing, and more set on hegemony in the area.

The Obama Administration's policy was naïve and misguided, and its policies have led to a very dangerous situation.

I don’t credit President Trump with any deeply held strategic vision. He is just a narcissistic, unread, impulsive, insecure bully, although he may have a few people around him who have some background, reasoning ability, and strategic vision. Despite all of his tough talk, he basically has allowed the results of the Obama vision to occur, and may have actually accelerated them.

President Trump agreed to allow Iran/Russia to be right on the Golan Heights, within kilometers of Israel. Iran and Hezbollah are in control of Lebanon. Lebanon’s Sunni Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, quit, laying the blame on both Iran and Hezbollah and thereby precipitating a crisis in Lebanon and the region. Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf States, has urged its citizens to leave Lebanon.

We have a powder keg on our Northern border. Hezbollah/Syria/Iran may very well start a war with Israel to try to divert attention away from its aggressiveness in Lebanon and to try to unite the Arab/Muslim world against us rather than have much of it aligned against them. Or, Sunni forces, led or encouraged by Saudi Arabia, may start a war against Hezbollah, drawing in Syria and Iran and, ultimately, Israel.

Israeli generals have said that Israel will have to quickly pound Southern Lebanon with massive bombing to prevent it from doing severe damage to Israel with the approximately 120,000 missiles that Hezbollah, with Syrian and Iranian as supporters and suppliers, has buried within towns and villages in Southern Lebanon in flagrant violation of UN Resolution 1701.

Resolution 1701 was passed at the end of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. It required the following: 1) Disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon (implying Hezbollah); 2) No armed forces other than UNIFIL and Lebanese (implying Hezbollah and Israeli forces) south of the Litani River;3) No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government.

Israel complied. Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran have not.

The UN has effectively done nothing to enforce the resolution. Now, to protect its citizens, Israel will have to do massive destruction, resulting in the death and injury of thousands of Lebanese citizens. The world will inevitably condemn Israel. Moreover, now that the Russians have re-entered the Middle East after many years of trying but being thwarted by the U.S., the IDF will have the added complication of ensuring it does not inadvertently kill or wound Soviet “advisors” in the area, thereby precipitating unimaginable consequences.

In Wednesday’s NY Daily News, Dennis Ross, while, discussing the consequences of the U.S. failure to stand by the Kurds, also addresses the larger dangers of U.S. Middle East policies under both the Trump and Obama administrations.

Khaled Abu Toameh discusses the widening reach of Iran and Hezbollah, their efforts to move into the Gaza Strip, and the resulting adverse impacts on the chances for peace.

I am pretty certain this is not the first thing on most of the minds of those  Americans who supported and still support President Obama’s foreign policy, and I doubt it is the first thing on the minds of most of the  Americans who support President Trump's foreign policy.  But both sides should know that America’s foreign policy, both in the recent past and currently, is at least partially responsible for terrible death and destruction in the Middle East and is very likely to lead to an awful conflagration very soon.

While Americans prepare to count their many blessings on Thanksgiving, they may want to take a moment to question whether America’s Middle East policy has potentially led to a very deadly season here in this part of the world.

(Originally published in The Times of Israel)


  1. Wow! Thanks for the education

  2. Great article! I share your thought of concern for America re decline in standards of conduct, human welfare and ethics. Thank you very much Alan for your insights on Israel and Middle East!

  3. Better be careful, Alan. You’re getting awfully close to complimenting Trump’s leadership, despite his personal shortcomings. Ha!

    While talk is cheap, have you been following what his Administration is saying (and voting for) in the UN in defense of Israel and calling out an emboldened Iran? It stands in such sharp contrast to the prior Administration that it must be causing whiplash among the world’s elites who gather in that hell-hole of an institution. Clearly there’s a new sheriff in town, and the thugs of the UN aren’t happy.

    At the very least, the USA’s veto will once again be consistently thrown down on the perennial anti-Israel resolutions, as promised in a fiery speech by Amb Haley a couple of weeks back (worth the watch if you haven’t already).

    Trump is everything you describe, personally, but his instincts tend to point true more often than not and he has appointed adults/realists into positions of power, not blind ideologues. There’s hope for this Administration, notwithstanding the constant ridicule raining down upon it by a united Western press, who can’t stand the very sight of the orange-complected Oval Office occupant.

  4. Currently we're focused on who groped who and when the next announcement will be made. I don't suspect Obama will be implicated in something so important like this. I will say, even though you seem to " have the goods" on what he "caused " to occur in the Middle East/ Israel, the collateral damage of every single fucking day that Trump opens his mouth seems to me as a more plentiful resource for criticism on every global issue we all face.

  5. Thanks so much for clarifying all of this. What scary thoughts and a crazy time in the world.

    Keep up the articles - it's a major way for me to feel connected to Israel

  6. Obama was a narcissistic, unread, impulsive, insecure bully who insulted our PM, our country and the Jewish people.
    He forced Bibi Netaniyau to go through the service door but gave the red carpet treatment to the terrorists.

    His folly policies have put Israel in an existential reality where Iran will be able to threaten Israel with atom bombs.

    Trump has proven himself a first class diplomat, capable of creating warm working relations with many of the world leaders.

    Your article is part of the liberal drible, full of political correctness, but pushing the world to disaster.

    Please stop sending it to me

  7. Agree re Obama. Jury is still out re Trump.

  8. The hyperbole about the President takes away from your good points. He is doing a heck of a lot better for Israel. At least that's the view from here, and on the ground from many of the folks we know too,