__ When it comes to the Middle East, the US administration has been conducting policy based on erroneous assumptions. Proper conjectures are key to successful outcomes, yet frustration and missteps have been the factors topping the list of US foreign policy roster in the Middle East.
Below is a list of 6 key assumptions guiding US policies and the administration’s thought process. All of them are wrong and require an urgent reality check. So let’s get started.
Assumption: Economic sanctions will convince the Iranian government to end their quest for nuclear weapons.
Reality: The Iranian government believes that economic sanctions will hurt, but not as much as caving in to American demands. In a culture where false honor precedes anything that moves under the sun, where life without “honor” is far worse than death, where honor killing is a religious diktat, caving in to economic sanctions is equivalent to an unconditional surrender. And surrendering to the “Great Satan” merely because life is a little tough is inexcusable, dishonorable behavior; it is treason that merits the death sentence.
Assumption: If the only option left to stop Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is military action, the US will be forced to bomb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear project sites.
Reality: Restricting a military option to bombing the nuclear project sites will leave Iran free to retaliate and generate havoc in the world economy and to Iran’s neighbors, including Israel. The proper way of handling Iran’s nuclear aspirations is to go after their military, disable their navy, air force and rockets, and only then target the regime and try to facilitate an internal uprising by the Iranian people. The nuclear project can be taken care of once the other objectives have been accomplished.
Assumption: The Arab Spring promotes democracy.
Reality: Islam and democracy are like oil and water - they simply do not mix. Islamists elected to power through democratic means respect the rules of democracy - just until the moment they feel powerful enough to inject their religious rulings and Sharia law into the courts and into the daily life of their citizens. Militant Islam may be delayed a little bit longer, but never for the long-term. True democracy will continue to slowly be eroded until full-fledged, Iranian-style dictatorial autocracy replaces democracy throughout the region. Still, autocratic rulers will continue to refer to their respective regimes as democratic.
Assumption: The Iraqi war was not a total waste. Iraq is the first democracy in the Middle East. It serves as a model for the rest of the Arab countries. It may even have been the inspiration behind the Arab Spring.
Reality: Americans make the mistake of assuming that once a country conducts free elections it automatically becomes a democracy. This is an incredibly naïve attitude. Although free elections constitute one of the most rudimentary conditions for a democracy’s emergence, it is merely one prerequisite of many. True democracy requires a storehouse of democratic institutions: a civil legal system rather than a religious one, civil rights that include the rights of minorities, free press and the freedom of speech, separation of powers including a system of checks and balances that ensure that no single entity may assume absolute powers.
But most of all, true democracy requires a country’s citizens to accept, participate and cooperate in the system, so that new-found freedom does not evolve into anarchy.
The Iraqi democracy is far from functional. Apart from free elections, its democratic institutions are severely lacking; its legal system is faulty; there is no true separation of powers; a sizable portion of the Iraqi people does not accept the system and minority rights are questionable at best.
Assumption: Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians will bring about peace.
Reality: There are clear red lines that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will ever accept. Israel will never be able to accept a Palestinian right of return because it is aware that once Palestinians are given the freedom to flock to Israel in their millions, the demise of the Jewish State will not be far behind. And for their part, the Palestinians are unwilling to accept any deal that does not include their right of return.
Israel wants to live in peace within secure borders and under the assurance that the Palestinians will not transform the West Bank into a terror base once a peace deal has been signed between the two peoples. The Palestinians seek an independent state, including the resources to build a strong military with imported arms, sans Israeli supervision.
There is, of course, the small issue of trust: Israel does not trust the Palestinians since the Palestinians offer daily evidence of their true intentions: demonizing Israelis, defining the conflict as a religious war, educating their young to hate Jews and employing Nazi style anti-Semitism, glorifying terror and child-killer terrorists, refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, rewriting history and denying Jewish rights to their ancestral homeland, and keeping an ongoing claim to the territory known as Israel proper.
The Palestinians do not intend to give up any of their demands, attitudes and demeanors. The Palestinian public has been brainwashed with hate and demonization of Jews for too long. It is now impossible for Palestinian leaders to talk this Palestinian generation into embracing peace with “subhuman” Jews.
Assumption: The only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-state arrangement, with both peoples living peacefully side by side.
Reality: Whenever people talk about a two-state solution, they ignore the fact that the Palestinian territories are divided between a Hamas-controlled Gaza and a Fatah-controlled West Bank. If one counts Israel as one of the states in the solution (as is the protocol), then there is a minimum total of three states and not two. The third state, Hamas-controlled Gaza, has the in-built goal of destroying the Jewish State. It’s also the main rationale justifying Hamas’ existence. It cannot be removed from the charter unless Hamas itself is removed from the political scene. The Palestinian Authority considers Gaza an integral part of a Palestinian state. A two-state solution between Israel and the PA that excludes Gaza is not acceptable to Palestinians in the West Bank.
Consequently, present conditions being what they are, a two-state solution—like the rest of the assumptions on this list—is simply infeasible.
As forces loyal to Libya’s ruler, Moammar Qadhafi, continued their drive eastward toward the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, The Arab League has called for an urgent “humanitarian based” no-fly zone over Libya to be imposed by the US and its European allies.
Sunday talk shows on the major TV networks across the U.S. paraded Arab and Middle East expert-guests who argued that foreign (i.e., Euro-American) intervention in the Libyan civil war should be limited to an imposition of a no-fly zone. The experts explained that any introduction of Euro-American troops or even military advisors on the ground in Libya may backfire in view of the fact that the rest of the Arab world may interpret that move as a western imperialistic attempt to influence and control events, tilt the situation toward western interests.
Aside from this senseless paranoia, typical of Arabs’ stance toward NATO in general and the U.S. in particular, an imposition of a no-fly zone is not a trivial, riskless matter. It requires a phased approach, where its first chapter involves the destruction of the entire Libyan air defense systems including military airports, military aircraft, ground-to-air missile batteries, radar systems, command and control systems, and more. In short, phase one is a “shock-and-awe” stage resembling the first days of the Iraq war.
In other words, imposition of a no-fly zone is a full-scale assault. It’s a war. People will be killed, some of whom will be innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. And even if mistakes never come about, Libyan President Moammar Qadhafi will make certain that pictures and movies of staged massacres become major hits on Youtube, al Jazeera, and the rest of the international media. He will play to turn public opinion against the U.S. and Europe. After all, movie production of seeming massacres presented as authentic news is an Arab specialty.
The Arab League wants the U.S. and NATO to launch a war on Qadhafi, to help the Libyan rebels defeat the dictator, while, all the while, making it look as if the Libyan people, on their own, were able to overthrow their ruthless tyrant.
Although most people find the above plan reasonable, in spite of the risk involved, I tend to see it as a shortsighted, unfortunate design.
My first problem has to do with the question of responsibility.
Why should the Euro-American forces lead the way? Where is the formidable Egyptian military? Where is the best American-trained, American-equipped Middle Eastern war machine? If the Egyptians can’t handle such a “simple humanitarian act,” what was the purpose of building their military up to that sky-scraping level? Why do the Arabs always look to the West to take care of their own dirty laundry? And why is the West willing to go ahead and comply? Are they our naughty children? Are we their Jewish mama?
The Arab League wants the U.S. and NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The Saudis want the U.S. to bomb Iran for their own sake. The Palestinian Arabs want the U.S. to force Israel to hand them out an independent state, cleansed of Jews, without consenting to non-violence, without ceasing their anti-Semitic incitement, or the need to abide by any former agreement with the Jewish state, without ending the conflict by recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
When will these Arabs grow up, take matters into their own hands, for their own good, help each other while utilizing their huge wealth, and behave more like the responsible western-minded caring people?
The U.S. and Europe should stay out of Libya. If the Arab League wants a no-fly zone over Qadhafi’s head, let them have our permission; let them go ahead and move on it — not the other way around. In its aftermath, no Arab propaganda will be able to blame the West for its imperialistic, satanic tendencies. An imposition of a no-fly zone by a neighboring Arab country like Egypt will be a welcome shift of a long-lasting paradigm. Can you imagine an Arab country going to war for the sake of protecting human rights? What a fabulous dream.
Except, there is a greater issue.
We all want Qadhafi to go. (Some wish that he moves to Venezuela, others want him to go to hell.).
At the same time, the no-fly zone, even if imposed by the U.S. and its European allies, does not guarantee the realization of that objective. Qadhafi may still win. He may still massacre the defeated rebels, their families, their relatives, their friends, and all those suspected of colluding against him. His winning odds are north of 50 percent even in the absence of air power.
If we go to war (and as I argued earlier, an imposition of a no-fly zone is war), then let’s win; let’s go directly after the tyrant; let’s bomb his tent, kill his sheep; let’s demand his surrender lest he prefers his 72 Virgins. Let’s go after the real target; let’s pull off our true objective. It’s easier, it’s simpler, it’s less risky.
Forget the no-fly zone. Let’s just win!
Dr. Avi Perry, a talk show host at Paltalk News Network (PNN), is the author of "Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering in Wireless Networks," and more recently, "72 Virgins," a thriller about the covert war on Islamic terror. He was a VP at NMS Communications, a Bell Laboratories - distinguished staff member and manager, as well as a delegate of the US and Lucent Technologies to the ITU—the UN International Standards body in Geneva, a professor at Northwestern University, as well as an Intelligence officer at the IDF and the Israeli Government. He may be reached through his web site www.aviperry.org
A Palestinian Dictionary of Double-Speak