Israel

Is supporting Israel bad for America?

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I recently had a conversation with a friend about America’s support for Israel.  He believes, as do many others, that the relationship between Israel and America is bad for America, because America can be drawn into wars that are not in its self-interest.

While I do agree that it is bad policy to form alliances which require America to go to war should an ally go to war, we in fact, have many such alliances already, yet no one seems to have a problem with France being a member of NATO, which means that if France finds itself in a existential crisis, all nations in NATO must come to her aid.  So many of the arguments against support for Israel seem to be rooted in three factors: 1) Israel, unlike France, is almost always on the verge of war, thus the consequences of our alliance is more evident. 2) Many people hate Jews. 3) The Arabs have lost several wars with Israel and have devolved, while Israel has prospered against the odds. Thus some consider the Arabs to be an underdog, picked on my a more powerful nation.

Religious beliefs aside (being a Christian, I think it’s a bad bet to take up the opposite side of the people of God), why should we not support Israel? Yes, it is true that an alliance with Israel could drag us into a war in the Middle East, but that is not a necessary condition for the alliance. For instance, Israel went to war with Hezbollah in 2006 and America did not deploy troops there.  Israel is a model of success in the Middle East. It is the only true democracy by Western standards.  Liberals should admire Israel as much as they seem to adore the Palestinians; in Israel, it’s not illegal to be gay, Muslim, Christian or even an atheist. Women stand on equal ground with men, in Israel. Israel has produced more Nobel Prizes than all the Arab nations combined, several times over. Indeed, Israel seems to be a model that the whole world could learn from.

Some argue that militant Islamists hate America because of its alliance with Israel. But is this true? This may make good propaganda for suicide bombers, but upon closer inspection,  it doesn’t hold much water. After all, China, Russia, Germany, France and many more all have problems with Muslim terrorists.

And even if it is true, that terrorists are motivated to attack the US because of its support for Israel, so what? Is America, the most powerful military force in the world, the kind of nation that backs its friends only in the good times? Do we want to abandon the alliance because Israel has enemies? What kind of friend is that? Did we abandon England in WWII because it was fighting Germany? How would are allies now view the United States if we stopped support when war seemed imminent? A friend like that will soon find himself without any friends at all. It reminds me of Afghan villagers, forced to stop cooperating with American forces because the Taliban put a gun to their heads. Not much of an image for a superpower to present.

The type of moral equivocation needed to sympathize with the Arab nations compared to Israel borders on the insane. So intent are some to “see the other side’s point”, that they cannot any longer tell good from evil. They will rant about the destruction of democracy on America, yet support totalitarian regimes in countries that hate America and everything it stands for. In those countries, unlike in Israel, the people live rather miserable lives. And guess what? It’s not Israel’s fault.

Hezbollah sleeper cells and imminent war in the Middle East

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The Israeli Minister of Defense recently stated that Israel is prepared for 30 days of war with Iran. In fact, a shadow war, but a very real war never the less, has been ongoing between the two countries for months, with real people being killed by very real government-backed means.

Within the last year, at least 3 Iranian scientists who were working on Iran’s nuclear power program were assassinated.  Bombs exploded in their cars, killing them.  And there was the massively powerful cyberweapon, known as STUXNET, deployed against Iranian nuclear research facilities.  In what appears to be reprisals, terrorists targeted Israelis around the world in places like India, Georgia, and most recently in Bulgaria.  In this case, a suicide bomber walked onto a bus full of Israeli tourists and parked near an airport terminal , then detonated, killing 5 Israelis.  The bombing occurred in a popular Israeli vacation resort near the Black Sea.   Bulgarian domestic security released a video which shows the suspected suicide bomber walking inside the airport.  He is dressed in very casual western style clothing and has a light complexion.  I posted a video of the suspected bomber, below.

As a former law enforcement officer and current intelligence analyst I find the video and the overall bombing very disturbing for several reasons.  First, the bomber’s body language is staggeringly deceptive, offering no clues as to his true intent.  The man obviously received professional training, most probably from Iranian Quds Force and/or Hezbollah.  The man’s gait, posture and clothing are carefully crafted so as to defeat most attempts at profiling.  Secondly, the complexity of this operation was quite extensive.  The bomber had to penetrate an Eastern European country’s domestic security, most likely constructing the bomb there.  The bomber also looks very Western in complexion and mannerism.  Thirdly, a group of Israeli tourists had to be targeted and stalked.  This is different from an operation in which a high profile individual is targeted for assassination.  In that case it is quite simple to know where the high profile person will be, since he or she will be preceded by media reports, has a well known face, and may have an attached security detail.  This operation required extensive surveillance and testing of the existing security systems.  Also, the bomber possessed a fake Michigan driver’s license. 

Fake Michigan driver’s license found at bomb scene
Sketch of suspected suicide bomber in Bulgaria

All of this raises the question as to what Hezbollah has in store for Israel and America should Israel preemptively strike.  Readers should have no doubt that Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran, has placed sleeper cells around the world that are ready to “wake up” should they be called to action.  Though some of them already struck in response to the deaths of Iranian scientists and the STUXNET cyberweapon, it is logical to assume that Iran is holding back a considerable number of suicide bombers and saboteurs so as to control the political aspects of a future war.  It is an established fact that Hezbollah operates an organised crime ring in America, with million of dollars having been funneled to groups in Lebanon.[1]  Iran is the world’s foremost practitioner of 4th Generation Warfare.  Anyone who believes that this type of warfare is ineffective should consider the fact that Iran remained the number one state supporter of terrorism for decades without, until recently, sanctions leveled against it.  Iran has continued on the path of nuclear weapons without a single shot fired against it by the United States.  Iran has held hostage British sailors while parading them on camera against international law.  The Iranian government plotted the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the US, without any repercussions, not even a strongly worded letter.  Iran provided fighters, bomb makers and Explosively Formed Projectiles  (EFPs) capable of slicing through the toughest of American armor, to insurgents in the Iraq war.  The American government willfully took no action against Iran despite knowing its government was killing American Soldiers. In some cases, American intelligence networks were told to avoid collecting information that proved Iranian complicity in American deaths.[2]  Iran also continues to sow chaos and discord in Iraq, forcing Iraqi prime minister Maliki to form an alliance with the Iranian regime.

There is simply no other way to interpret the lack of assertive action against Iran by the United States other than that the US government  is afraid of Iran.  The fact that the most powerful nation in history is scared of a country like Iran shows the effectiveness of 4G Warfare.  Iran knows it cannot win in a stand up fight against America.  It doesn’t need to, because the American government has little real idea of how to deal with 4th Generation fighters.  American politicians are far more concerned with polls and elections than the lives of American servicemen, otherwise the Iranians would have been taken care of years ago.  Terrorism targets public opinion and every terrorist loves a polling booth.  The proliferation of useful idiots who think that America can negotiate its way out of every bad situation has done nothing but empower Iran’s 4G warriors.

The Middle East is teetering on the edge of war.  The new Egyptian government openly states it is considering violating its peace treaty with Israel, Lebanon and Syria are in chaos, and Iran rushes toward obtaining the ultimate weapon while promising the destruction of Israel.  But perhaps most troubling is the lack of commitment from America as to which side it is on.  Our collapsing culture and post-modern morals  blind our government at a time when moral clarity is imperative

[1] Emerson, Steven, Jihad Incorporated”, pages 219-227, Prometheus Books, 2006

[2] O’hern, Steven, K. “The Intelligence Wars”, Chapter 4: Iran’s Shadow Falls Over Iraq, Prometheus Books, 2008

Thomas Friedman’s analysis of the new Egyptian president

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Global analyst Thomas Friedman recently wrote an opinion piece about Mohamed Morsi in the New York times.  

In the article, he’s critical of “conservative analysts” who say “I told you so” and compares Egypt’s move to democracy with the Jewish Exodus from Egypt.

His basic argument appears to be, “Give Peace a Chance”, but then he goes on to admit,

So Morsi is going to be under enormous pressure to follow the path of Turkey, not the Taliban. Will he? I have no idea.

And that is the whole point.  No one really knows.  Not knowing creates instability in everything from markets, to politics to war.  Systems can be built to handle the knowns, even very bad ones.  But in the case of an unknown, many times the only thing that can be done is to pick up your spear, grit your teeth, and wait for the other guy to make his move.  And even Friedman admits that he understands Israeli hesitance toward Egypt.  But he calls for a “real peace” between Egypt and Israel, stating that Israel’s former peace was only between Mubarak and the Israeli people, not between the Egyptian people and Israeli people.  Who’s Friedman kidding? Many in Egypt don’t want peace with Israel.  The classic response to dishonor in the Arab world in revenge.  And few things are more dishonorable than losing wars.  Does anyone, anyone, believe Morsi likes Jews?

Friedman seems to believe democracy is a magic pill.  He seems to believe that freedom is mystical.  But even in America, we don’t allow freedom for everyone.  16 year olds are truly free. Neither are felons.  We forget that America was formed, not by illiterate peasants, but by some of the most educated and enlightened people on the planet.  Even its first settlers, The Pilgrims, often thought of as bumkins, were actually highly educated an literate.  In fact, literacy in New England around the time of the American Revolution is believed by some to be around 90%.  Just as importantly, the Founding Fathers were willing to share power, even when they didn’t have to.  They drew up a constitution that limited themselves.  This not only took courage, but a confidence in the type of people making up America at the time.

Friedman’s hope  and the hope that is apparently rife within the current US government, since the US wanted to get rid of Mubarak, is that the Muslim Brotherhood is the docile, liberal and peaceful organization it tries so hard to appear to be.  Anyone who believes this is intentionally blinding himself , another foray into “Hope and Change”.  The Brotherhood does exactly what the Soviets did that worked so masterfully: It identifies what the target country’s elite want to hear, and tailors its message to fit that narrative.  But a chameleon is still just a lizard that changes color to avoid detection.

Need evidence?   Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing.  Don’t believe it?

Here’s Hamas’ charter:

Article Two: The Link between Hamas and the Association of Muslim Brothers. The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.

Article Seven: The Universality of Hamas:….  Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter. But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree.

Article Eight: The Slogan of the Hamas: Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.

What is the Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan?

“Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu-akbar!”

Let’s not forget that it is Hamas that has done everything it can to stop a two-state solution in Palestine. They don’t want two states, they want one without Jews.  The PLO actually attempted to broker a two-state solution, but Hamas resisted this.

From its beginnings, the Brotherhood has embodied political Islam.  It was led by educated Muslims.  The had PHDs and Master’s degrees, just as does Morsi.  They understood political processes, and that there was as much to be gained from “stealth jihad” as self immolation.  Much more actually.  Stealth jihadism is Sun Tzu writ large: Do not attack your enemy’s strength, attack his weakness.  Military strength is the West’s strength.  Our weaknesses are our credulousness and belief that democracy always results in good.

Friedman is correct when he says that Morsi must walk a fine line.  Egypt has in recent years under Mubarak received billions of dollars in aid from the US, a fact conveniently ignored by the media because it doesn’t fit the liberal narrative that the US only helps Arab nations with oil.  Losing that money would be devastating to Egypt.

Perhaps the biggest question in Egypt is what the relationship between Morsi and the military will be.  The military is made up mostly of old Mubarak loyalists.  It is important to remember that it is the military that maintained some order when Mubarak fell and actually saw the whole political process through when someone in the military could have easily created a junta and grabbed the power.  It’s not difficult to imagine Egypt becoming very much like Pakistan, a country in which the military is the most competent entity and that runs the show behind the scenes.  Meanwhile the country hosts a number of terrorist groups.  The terrorists will be easier to control than in Pakistan, because they have an immediate target on which to unleash their jihadic rage: Israel.

Is it possible that things will go well in Egypt? Yes of course.  But I’m struggling to find the clues that would point me in that direction.  Israel now has Hamas on two borders, Syria and Lebanon to its north.  Saudi Arabia has long been a significant supporter of Hamas, an organization sworn to destroy Israel, through Islamic charities. We should expect money to pour into Egypt from Saudi.

And let’s not forget about Egypt’s neighbor, Libya.  Libya has an upcoming election.  Take a look at some of the groups running for seats in libya[1]:

“Justice and Construction Party: The political branch of
the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, modelled on its Egyptian
counterpart. Mohammed Sawan, a former political prisoner under
Gaddafi heads the group.”

“Al-Watan or Homeland: An Islamist group led by former
rebel militia leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj. A leader of the
now-defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which waged an
insurgency against Gaddafi in the 1990s, Belhadj fought with the
Taliban in Afghanistan, where he associated with senior al Qaeda
members. He has since distanced himself from the militant group.”

“National Front: Affiliated with the National Front for the
Salvation of Libya, this is an offshoot of the Muslim
Brotherhood led by intellectual dissident Mohammed al-Magriaf.”

“Al-Asala: A Salafi Islamist group led by Sheikh Abdul
Bassit Ghweila. It has put forward some female candidates who
appear in full face covering on posters. The group believes
political parties are un-Islamic and prefers to refer to itself
as a “gathering.”

Perhaps a caliphate is not out of the question after all.

[1] Chicago Tribune, Factbox, “Who is Running in Libya’s Election? “; http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-libya-electioncandidates-factboxl6e8hsjid-20120705,0,1422261.story?page=1

The Shaming of American Defense Intelligence

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Some in the  American Defense Intelligence community and Apparatchiks at the State Department have reduced themselves and their trade to a criminal activity.  Not by upholding their oaths and performing the expected duties of true US Intelligence Professionals, but by ignoring the oaths they swore, the creeds they were forced to memorize, with little to fear from the system that granted them the right to see secrets that protect people’s lives.

The Military Intelligence Corp’s Creed states, in portion, the following:

To find, know, and never lose the enemy.
With a sense of urgency and of tenacity, professional and physical fitness,
and above all, INTEGRITY, for in truth lies victory.

The last few years have seen a deluge of intelligence leaks, many from senior sources.  The Bradley Mannings of the world sit in solitary confinement for breaching America’s trust and breaking the law.  And so it should be.  But as the saying goes, Privates get into more trouble for losing their rifles than Generals do for losing wars.  A series of leaks from the Pentagon and State Department regarding the possibility of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities likely has purely political motivations: The current administration does not want to be drawn into another war before the next US election.

Whatever the motivation for the leaks, Americans should be concerned.  Not about black helicopters, CIA assassins, and 9-11 conspiracies, but because many in the intelligence community don’t care about their oaths or the lives of Americans or their allies.  For votes and political sway, secrets are sold–and no one goes to jail but the Army Private with a lot of personal and psychological problems.  I want to see the GS-15 analyst from the Pentagon, or Colonel, hauled off in chains for giving away secrets.  I’m not even sure there’s an investigation to try to weed out these creeps.  But if they were E3s who inserted a thumb drive into a government computer–to the gallows!

If these people will give secrets to the media, either just to get a thrill of seeing their deeds in the news or to ensure the success of their man in the upcoming elections, imagine what they’d do for a large chunk of change offered by a foreign spy.

The West is fooling itself when it comes to Islam in the Middle East

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All of us here today understand this: We do not fight Islam, we fight against evil.” ~George W. Bush

We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam,” ~Barack Obama

Surely we are not at war with Islam.  If we were, we’d kill everyone who professed the Muslim faith.  The problem with Obama’s and Bush’s statements is that they lead many to underestimate the level to which Muslims in the Middle East and Asia support the jihadists. Throwing out statistics that show only a small percentage of Muslims are responsible for the destruction wrought is a bit like saying that because less than 1% of Americans serve in the US Army, only 1% of Americans support the US military.   People fail to realize the power of both the “our team” mentality and religion, especially in parts of the world where the people have little hope in this world and nation states have been shamed in war by America and Israel.

Many people throughout the Muslim world gain satisfaction when the US suffers a setback at the hands of extreme Islam. Otherwise, the extremists could not exist to the extant that they do. Polls throughout the Muslim world show that Muslims in the Middle East support the actions of the jihadists.  Most Muslims, even those living is Western countries, support Sharia Law, which is fundamentally at odds with Western values.  In a poll of 9 countries, Turkey was the only nation in which a majority of the people said that Sharia should not comprise the law in entirety, or be a “source of legislation.”   Pakistanis, despite the billions of military and domestic aid poured into their country by the US, continue to despise Americans.  Most Pakistanis also wish that bin Laden was not dead.  

People shocked at the recent Egyptian election results should study some history.  I’ve long said that Egypt was the spiritual center of jihadism, not Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia made good fodder for the Left because of oil.  Egypt, in the poll cited above, had the highest percentage of people that believed Sharia should be the sole root of law.

The Muslim countries that have in recent years received the most American aid are Pakistan and Egypt.  Approximately 25% of the money used to fund the Pakistani army comes from American aid.  The top recipients of US foreign aid in 2011 are  Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Egypt in that order.  Egypt has routinely ranked among the top nations in the world in the number of dollars given to it by the American government.

There appears to be an inverse correlation between the positive views in a country when measured against the amount of US aid provided to it.  The argument of course is that America is trying to show these countries that the US is not the enemy.  This method of appeasement is failing.  In a poll published by the Washington Post shortly after Mubarak stepped down, 79 percent of Egyptians viewed the US negatively, with 20% saying they have a positive view of the US.  This is a sharp decline from the Bush years when 30 percent of Egyptians viewed the US positively.

The problems in giving countries like Pakistan and Egypt lots of money are macrocosmic of what I saw happening in local projects in Afghanistan.  The money will always find its way into the hands of America’s enemies because they are the most ruthless, devious and aggressive portions of those societies.  They also in many cases have a monopoly on violence, something the state usually lays claim to–if it is not a failed state.  In Afghanistan the people were not “all in” for the Americans.  They really didn’t care that much, at least in areas far from Kabul, if the insurgents blew up a few American Imperialists.  They’d take five bucks to plants a bombs and be on their way.  In one fell swoop they’d made a month’s wage, killed some infidels, impressed the locals with their “bravery”, and maintained a semblance of national pride.

Egypt’s Mubarak held the forces of Islamic jihad at bay with the only weapon that works against it: Decisive brutality.  As with Saudi Arabia, Egypt was a police state, as much because of the extremists as Mubarak.  Only with extreme vigilance could the Egyptian government survive.  Frankly, Mubarak may have been the West’s only hope in Egypt, but starry-eyed Westerners with a Democracy fetish ran him off, unleashing a hoard of militants, radicals and young men electrified with a rage whose dynamo was built in 1967 and 1973 during the humiliating defeats of the Egyptian Army at the hands of the Israelis.  The effect of these defeats upon the Arab psyche cannot be overstated.

The Arab Spring has generated nothing resembling Western democracy and displays brilliantly the weakness of Democracy itself:  People can vote for any horrific idea they choose.  Hitler was democratically elected.  Muslims have voted and acted exactly how we should have expected them to.  In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists now hold power.  The Salafists in Egypt hold the same views as al-Qaeda and Hamas.  Christians are trying to leave the country, fearing for their safety.    

In Libya, fresh off a democratically generated war crime, insurgents fly al-Qaeda’s flag in Benghazi.  

The revolutions in Egypt and Libya were hardly induced by only few extremists.  In fact,it  seems the revolutions enjoyed the backing of millions upon millions of extremists.  It is the same sort of thing we saw in Nazi Germany.  Many Germans were not Nazis or did not take part in the actual fighting.  But most of them wanted to see the Nazis win.  And so it is with Muslims in Libya, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Gaza, the West Bank  and Lebanon.  The Muslims there overwhelmingly want to thrash Israel and the United States in any manner they can.  If the terror proxies can trounced by the hyperpower or the Jewish state, we can of course expect the “innocent” population of “moderate” muslims to melt back into the woodwork.

Islam unifies people against Israel and the West.  As Mark Steyn writes in his book, America Alone, the draw of Western “McWorld” to the average Arab male is vastly overstated.  Secularism is about as un-motivational as a Rosie O’donnell workout video.  It is meaninglessness and provides no promise of power or life after death, no cloak of righteousness; something that means far more to a poor 23 year old man in Cairo than does the promise of flipping burgers.

Now Israel has a monstrous number of problems on its hand, all coming to bear at once.  Iran wants the bomb and is not far off from getting it.  Egyptians are muttering that they want the Camp David Peace Accord “adjusted.”  20,000 surface-to-air missiles are missing from Qaddafi’s stockpiles.  The current American president’s negative comments about Netanyahu were caught on an open mic.  

The vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East are not jihadists or terrorists.  But most of them support the actions of extremist Islam when those actions are directed against Westerners or Israelis.  Our money and McDonald’s cannot possibly fill the same void that is filled by Islam.  And Democracy, as with any form of government, is only as good as the people that comprise it.

So what is the answer?  Does America have to kill every last Muslim? Not any more than it had to kill every last German or Japanese.  America has only to decisively defeat the front-line troops of Jihad.  But decisive victory may no longer be something the West is capable of, despite its overwhelming superiority in almost every facet of military and economic might.

The Arab Spring has not created Arab states that are more stable or less violent.  It has provided kindling for another 100 years of Jihadist immolation.  Our children’s children will see The Long War continue.

What if Israel attacks Iran?

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Rumors are flying that the recent Israeli swap of over a 1000 Palestinians in exchange for one Israeli soldier is a prelude to an Israeli attack on Iran.  The hypothesis states that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted to ensure the safety of the captive soldier before taking aggressive steps against Hamas’s sponsor, Iran.

What we can probably be certain of is that Israel wants to attack Iran’s growing nuclear facilities.  After all, Israel already destroyed a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007.    Interestingly, Syria didn’t protest the destruction, most probably because doing so would have been an acknowledgement of nuclear ambitions.  But there are a couple of key differences between the problem with Iran, and the growing Syrian problem in 2007.

First, America has a different president in the White House who has made it clear that he does not want Israel to preemptively strike Iran without an international mandate.  The relationship between Obama and Netanyahu is reportedly frosty.  What would Obama do should Israel strike Iran?  Suppose America actually withdrew its diplomats in protest, or significantly reduced aid.  This could encourage Israel’s enemies to attack, sensing a weakening relationship between Israel and her American protectorate.  Egypt presents a worrisome problem.  Things are getting so bad there that some Egyptians are demanding the military hand over power to civilian leadership.  The Egyptian military may feel that war with Israel would serve as a distraction from growing internal unrest.  The Egyptian government could use an attack on Iran as an excuse for Egyptian aggression.  This is a truly frightening thought as the future of much of the Arab world remains liquid after the Arab spring, and war against Israel could serve to unify a fractured Arabia.

Secondly, Iran, obviously, is not Syria.  Iran’s tendrils run distant and deep through the Middle East and Central Asia.  Iran has meddled in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Bahrain, among other places.  They have promoted terrorism throughout the world, and even planned the assassination of the Saudi diplomat to the US, most likely in response to the Saudi’s helping crush unrest in Bahrain.  Iran has oil and lots of it.  They have the ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, at least temporarily, which would skyrocket oil prices all over the world.  The announcement that America will withdraw all of its troops from  Shia dominated Iraq will give Iran even more leverage in that country; US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta even warned Iran against meddling in Iraq, though his warning seemed to carry the assumption that America would have a long-term presence in the country.  This turned out not to be true.

In other words, Iran has real power and Syria does not and did not in 2007.

Israel finds itself in a very difficult position.  No one really knows the American position on Iran’s nuclear research. Would President Obama really endorse a cooperative military strike on Iran should Iran reach the zero-hour of nuclear weapons’ development?  Or is he merely using populist rhetoric in demanding Israel wait for a coalition of the willing?  Since Israel cannot know Obama’s true intentions, it has no way of forming a deterministic model.  Perhaps Netanyahu wants to wait until the results of the 2012 American presidential elections are in, hoping that a president more sympathetic to Israeli interests sits in the White House.  An attack on Iran would be a huge gamble, but so would allowing Iran to possess nuclear weapons.

The Arab Spring and global insurgency

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Recently, Israeli Major-General Eyal Eisenberg predicted an “Arab Winter” in which the revolutions taking place around the Arab world culminate in a multi-front general war against Israel.  While it remains to be seen if that’s the case, I take a very dim view of what’s happening in places like Egypt and Libya.  Not surprisingly, many on the Left are overjoyed at the Arab Spring.  To them, it’s about Muslim hippies fighting The Man.  At an intellectual level, they may sense the guile and will of Jihadist Islam, but they willfully ignore this in favor of Coke and a Smile in Muslim lands.

The Arab Spring fits quite nicely into the Global Insurgency theory of modern terrorism.  This theory posits that Islamic Salafists (those holding to rigid, medieval views of Islam and life in general), are not only working in local insurgencies, but hope that various uprisings around the world will eventually coalesce into a greater Islamic state.  It is similar in ways to Mao’s and Lenin’s doctrines.  The local fighters of course do not think at this level, worrying only about their immediate needs.  But people at the top of al-Qaeda and similar terrorist organizations do think about the big picture.

We must also consider how clever al-Qaeda’s masterminds are.  Jihadists, for instance, have actually studied the homosexual movement in America in order to find out how such a small group can cause so much change on its behalf.  I believe that many in the jihadist movement came to recognize the Western mind’s affinity for a popular uprising.  In stead of a “top down” jihad, with men like bin Laden and Abu Zarqawi getting lots of media attention, the jihadist movement is now trying to put a grassroots face on its global insurgency.  And it’s worked brilliantly.  There’s very little to indicate that those who’ve seized power in Egypt and Libya know very much about running a country, but al-Qaeda got what it wanted: the removal of secular Arab leadership from the Sinai Peninsula with all the trappings of state power left intact and with no Western troops on the ground to make sure things turn out the way the West would prefer.

The Palestinian cause represents the great Red Herring for al-Qaeda.  Arab despots and terrorist groups need the Palestinians because it keeps the worlds eyes off what those Arab leaders are really doing.  No mater what happens, they can keep pointing to Israeli “oppression”, which is why Palestinians never really want to come to the discussion table and cut a real deal; they’re being manipulated and funded by terrorists in order to maintain pressure on Israel.  The Palestinians are being used as a classic, global insurgency agitation tool.  The Palestinians will continue to sucker-punch Israel.  Al-Qaeda et al hopes that Israel will respond in a way which negatively changes world opinion against the Jewish state, thus opening Israel to attack by Arab states without Western intervention.