Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Morphing Serpent Stew
In case you weren't looking, there is a new alliance forming in the Middle East. While Hillary was pushing the “red button” with the Russians and Obama was writing a $900 million check to Gaza, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq started rearranging the furniture in the Helen Keller School for Blind Foreign Policy. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1069327.html
This development should have the appropriate Washington agencies with their eyebrows raised. It should also be causing some serious heartburn in Israel. Now that it is “all but certain” that Israel will have to “go it alone” in the nuclear disarming of Ahmadinejad, it is time for those who care, to reflect on what the new terrain will look like the morning after Iran's nuclear capability is set back a few years. Ahmadinejad has promised to turn the Middle East into an inferno. That promise most likely includes the assets the US has deployed to the Persian Gulf, and more specifically the Straits of Hormuz. Since the word is out that Ahmadinejad's nuclear toys may be ready within a year, the clock is ticking down rapidly for Israeli action. Mr. Netanyahu and most sane casual observers understand the issue is one of survival for Israel. But what does this situation hold for the rest of the planet?
If you feel the United States economy is healthy and robust right now, you can skip the rest of this and go on to something more important. However, some financial analysts feel the US economy is currently struggling just a little bit, and will continue struggling until the middle of 2010. Well, Mr. Netanyahu can't wait until mid 2010 to take action. The bottom line in this situation involves the disruption of the flow of oil that would surely occur nearly instantaneously in the event of Israeli action against Iran. The immediate effect on the price of gas in the US and Europe could be a doubling in a week, and perhaps much higher in the following week or weeks. That would play havoc with the US economy, as would the response to such events on Wall Street. Depending on the nature of the Arab world's reaction to an Israeli attack on Iran , the price of gas might be the least of our worries.
If the Hezbollah and Syria, together with the remnants of Hamas were to strike out at Israel in a coordinated fashion, Israel would have their hands full on two fronts and possibly with some Air Forces from Iran. It does not take much imagination to envision a long line of martyrs signing up to wreak havoc against Israel. US and Israeli embassies would surely be targeted by radical Islamic terrorists where convenient. Now for the nightmare scenario. If it appears Israel is losing ground against those attackers, and the fight is a fight for survival, is it conceivable that Israel would resort to a practical demonstration of the fact that they have their own nuclear arsenal? At this point, the crystal ball becomes useless.
It should suffice to say, that it would behoove the President to immerse himself and his key advisers in the Department of Defense and the State Department in a dialogue concerning how the US will respond to any action initiated by Israel, and the subsequent response by Iran. Hopefully, that dialogue would include advising both China and Russia of the limits of US reaction. By the same token, both China and Russia should be involved in providing mutual assurance that the Middle East inferno will not be stoked until it consumes a much larger portion of the planet. The time for dialogue with Iran will end very soon. It is now time for cooperative dialogue, without arrogance, with all the major stakeholders. Anything less is unacceptable. One brief look at a map of the Middle East should cause some serious analysis of the nature of this new “alliance” forming among and between Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
This post was written by our new guest contributor, James Newman, Lt. Col, USAF (ret). Thank you Jim, for a wonderfully written and insightful look into the current issues facing this tumultuous region.