Friday, April 11, 2008

Middle East: the skinny

David Seaton's News Links
Charles Krauthammer column in the Washington Post is what you might call a "neocon watershed". Here is what Krauthammer wants:
During the Cold War, we were successful in preventing an attack not only on the United States but also on America's allies. We did it by extending the American nuclear umbrella -- i.e., declaring that any attack on our allies would be considered an attack on the United States.

(...)We should do the same to keep nuclear peace in the Middle East. It would be infinitely less dangerous (and therefore more credible) than the Cold War deterrence because there will be no threat from Iran of the annihilation of the United States. Iran, unlike the Soviet Union, would have a relatively tiny arsenal incapable of reaching the United States.

How to create deterrence? The way John Kennedy did during the Cuban missile crisis. President Bush's greatest contribution to nuclear peace would be to issue the following declaration, adopting Kennedy's language while changing the names of the miscreants:

"It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear attack upon Israel by Iran, or originating in Iran, as an attack by Iran on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon Iran."

This should be followed with a simple explanation: "As a beacon of tolerance and as leader of the free world, the United States will not permit a second Holocaust to be perpetrated upon the Jewish people."

This policy -- the Holocaust Declaration -- would not be tested during the current administration, because Iran is not going to go nuclear before January 2009. But it would establish a firm benchmark that would outlive this administration. Every future president -- and every serious presidential candidate -- would have to publicly state whether or not the Holocaust Declaration remains the policy of the United States. (underlining mine)
This proposal is what the neocons think they can salvage from the Iraq debacle. In a sense it is a white flag.

Israel has literally bet the farm on American hegemony and if that is fading, Israel finds itself painted into a corner. As I wrote in a previous post, "For the lack of CHIPAC",
The invasion and occupation of Iraq was supposed to set in motion a domino effect which would lead to new democratic regimes in Iran and the Arab world that would recognize the state of Israel. Instead it has only hastened the decline of American influence there and around the world.(...) Probably a lot of Israel's present behavior is explained by the hysteria-producing feeling that this is the "last dance": the "last days" of the White Man's Burden.(...) In a few years the Israelis simply won't have the same levers of power in their hands they do today and they will be forced to make what Ariel Sharon called "painful concessions", only a bit more painful than Sharon ever dreamed (dreams?). This is not a plot or a conspiracy, it is simply that the world is no longer a white soliloquy.
The bottom line is that all of Israel's eggs are in America's basket and if the United States ground forces ever manage to extricate themselves from Iraq, committing them again to fight in the Middle East would be next to impossible.

Perhaps the only thing that could ever bring back the American boots on the ground in the Middle East would be to avoid having to execute some of the clauses in Krauthammer's contract.

I am very sure that Charles Krauthammer doesn't just wake up in the morning and think it would be nice if the United States committed itself to vaporizing 70,049,262 people. This is a very serious proposal that has been discussed at length and that Krauthammer has been chosen to float. This is an opening move in a new game.

It will be interesting to see if any of the presidential candidates sign on this proposal in the coming months. DS

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