Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Middle East made simple(r)

David Seaton's News Links
When very complex situations become very simple is when they become most dangerous. The situation that America finds itself in today's Middle East is such a situation: simple and potentially deadly for American prestige and power, two things which feed off each other, and in passing feed the American people.

The endless Palestinian question is a bone in the throat of an Arab and Muslim world that sits astride some of the world's most essential commodities, notably oil. The United States is seen as the only country that could possibly have enough influence over Israel to solve it.

The perception the world has is that Israel has more influence over the USA than the USA has over Israel, this is very bad for America's worldwide reputation and influence. In a great extent the prosperity, the "way of life" of the American people depends on that power and influence.

Perhaps for the senators and congressmen in Washington, Israel is the measure of all things, but this is not true for the rest of the world, and every day there are relevant, new players to take into account. AIPAC works tirelessly to insure that Americans' notorious love of cheap gasoline doesn't trump their legendary love of Israel. Unfortunately for Israel there is no such thing as a CHIPAC (China Israel Public Affairs Committee) or much less a BRICIPAC or a even a European EUIPAC... so Obama is left holding the bag.

The "solving" of the Palestinian question is the Saudi Peace Initiative, which would fully integrate Israel into the Middle East, economically and diplomatically, in exchange for Israel returning to its 1967 frontiers. Israel wants no part of the Saudi plan. My private hypothesis is that they are merely playing for time, thinking that sooner or later a great war will break out involving the entire Middle East, and under the cover of that chaos, they will be able to ethnically cleanse the occupied (sorry, "disputed") territories.  With the entire region in ferment, the possibility of such a conflict and the opportunities it would present, multiply exponentially.

Truly the "Arab Spring" complicates the situation wonderfully. Let me quote president Obama on this one:
(...) a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.
The rest of oil-consuming world is also running out of patience: they are suffering from (to coin a phrase) "Israel fatigue". Again Obama:
And just as the context has changed in the Middle East, so too has it been changing in the international community over the last several years. There's a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab World -- in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe. And that impatience is growing, and it's already manifesting itself in capitals around the world.
America is trying to end two wars of its own and cut its gargantuan defense budget, this is urgent because the American debt is causing great concern everywhere, the dollar, the basis of international commodity trading, is no longer seen as a uniquely reliable store of value and the Middle East, where the oil on which the world runs is concentrated -- democratic and otherwise -- is growing more volatile with every passing day.

Ending the Palestinian problem is an essential component in pacifying the Middle East. If the USA is incapable of doing so the rest of the world is going to give it a try.  They  have no other choice. "Ein brera" as the Israelis say. DS

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