Obama’s new world order and Israel

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As we go to the polls today, the world around us is quickly changing in new and distressing ways. The challenges the international system will present the government we elect will be harsher, more complicated and more dangerous than the ones its predecessors have faced.

Bluntly stated, the world that will challenge the next government will be one characterized by the end of US global predominance. In just a few short weeks, the new administration of President Barack Obama has managed to weaken the perception of American power and embolden US adversaries throughout the world.

In the late stages of the presidential race, now Vice President Joseph Biden warned us that this would happen. In a speech before supporters he said, "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama… [We're] gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy… They may emanate from the Middle East. They may emanate from the subcontinent. They may emanate from Russia's newly emboldened position."

As it happens, Biden's warning had two inaccuracies. Rather than six months, America's adversaries began testing Obama's mettle within weeks. And instead of one crisis from Russia, the Middle East or the Indian subcontinent, Obama has faced and failed to meet "generated crises" from all three.

TAKE RUSSIA for example. Since coming into office, Obama has repeatedly tried to build an alliance with the "newly emboldened" Russian bear. A week after entering office, he announced that he hoped to negotiate a nuclear disarmament agreement with Russia that would reduce the US's nuclear stockpiles by 80 percent. At a security conference in Munich last weekend, Biden stated that the administration wishes to push the "reset button" on its relationship with Russia and be friends.

Responding to these American signals, the Russians proceeded to humiliate Washington. Last week President Dmitry Medvedev hosted Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbak Bakiyev in Moscow. After their meeting the two announced that Russia will give the former Soviet republic $2 billion in loans and assistance and that Kyrgyzstan will close the US Air Force base at Manas which serves American forces in Afghanistan.

After cutting off one of the US's major supply routes for its forces in Afghanistan, Russia agreed to permit the US to resume its shipment of nonlethal military supplies for Afghanistan through Russian territory. Those shipments were suspended last summer by NATO in retaliation for Russia's invasion of Georgia. And now they are being resumed – on Moscow's terms. The US, for its part, couldn't be more grateful to Moscow for lending a helping hand.

THE US ITSELF WOULDN'T have found itself needing Russian supply lines had the situation in nuclear-armed Pakistan not deteriorated as it has in recent months. Much of the situation in Pakistan today is due to the Bush administration's incompetent bungling of US relations with the failed state. For years the US gave tens of billions of dollars to the military government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf in turn used the money to build up Pakistan's military presence along the border with India, while allowing al-Qaida and the Taliban to relocate their headquarters in Pakistan after being ousted from Afghanistan by US forces.

Vigilant in maintaining his power, for years Musharraf repressed all voices calling for democratic transformation. For their part democrats in places like Pakistan's Supreme Court were not friends of the West. They did not oppose the Taliban and al-Qaida. Rather their enemies were Musharraf and the US which kept him in power.

Responding to a sudden urge to encourage the forces of democracy in Pakistan, while advocating their abandonment throughout the Arab world, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice compelled Musharraf first to resign as head of the Pakistani military – thus ending his control over the country's jihadist ISI intelligence services and over the pro-jihadist military. Then she forced him to accept open elections, which unsurprisingly, he lost.

The democrats who replaced him had absolutely no influence over either the ISI or the military and realized that their power and their very lives were in the Taliban's hands. Consequently, since Pakistan's elections last year, the new government has surrendered larger and larger areas of the country to the Taliban. Indeed, today the Taliban either directly control or are fighting for control over the majority of Pakistani territory. Moreover, the Taliban and al-Qaida have intensified their war in Afghanistan and are making significant gains in that country as well.

This would have been a difficult situation for the US to contend with no matter who replaced George W. Bush in the Oval Office. Unfortunately, due to Obama's stridently anti-Pakistani rhetoric throughout the campaign – rhetoric untethered to any coherent strategy for dealing with Pakistan – the Pakistanis no doubt felt the need to test his mettle as quickly as possible.

For his part, Obama gave them good reason to believe he could be intimidated. By letting it be known that he intended for his special envoy to the region Richard Holbrook's job to include responsibility for pressuring US ally India to reach a peace agreement with Pakistan over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir province in spite of clear proof that Pakistani intelligence was the mastermind of the December terror attacks in Mumbai, Obama showed that he was willing to defend Pakistan's "honor" and so accept its continued bad behavior.

LAST FRIDAY, the Pakistanis tested Obama. The Supreme Court freed Pakistan's Dr. Strangelove – A.Q. Khan – from the house arrest he had been under since his nuclear proliferation racket was exposed by the Libyans in 2004. Through his nuclear proliferation activities, Khan is not only the father of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal – but of North Korea's and Iran's as well.

Khan's release casts a dark shadow on Obama's plan to dismantle much of America's nuclear arsenal, because with him free, the prospect that Pakistan is back in the proliferation business becomes quite real. Already on Sunday Khan announced his plan to travel abroad immediately. For its part, the court in Islamabad specifically stated that Khan is free to resume his "scientific research."

Pakistan's open contempt for the US and its weakness in the face of the Taliban's takeover of the country has direct consequences for the US's mission in Afghanistan – and for its new dependence on Russia. This week the Taliban bombed a bridge on the Khyber Pass along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan that served as a supply line to US forces in Afghanistan. As US Brig.-Gen. James McConville stated in Kabul, the latest attack simply underlines how important it was for the US to resume its shipments through Russia.

MANY HAVE POINTED to Pakistan as an example of why Israel and the West have no reason to be concerned about Iran acquiring nuclear arms. To date, they claim, Pakistan has not used its nuclear arms, and indeed has been deterred by both India and the West from doing so.

While it is true that Pakistan has yet to use its nuclear arsenal, it is also true that since its initial nuclear test in 1998, Pakistan has twice brought the subcontinent to the brink of nuclear war. In both 1999 and 2002, Pakistan provoked India into a nuclear standoff.

Moreover, due to its nuclear arsenal, Pakistan successfully deterred the US from taking action against it after the September 11 attacks showed that al-Qaida and the Taliban owed their existence to Pakistan's ISI. Although Pakistan's government is not an Islamic revolutionary one like Iran's, the fact is that since it became a nuclear power, Pakistan has moved away from the West, not toward it. Indeed, its nuclear deterrent against India – and the West – has empowered and strength
ened the jihadists and brought them ever closer to taking over the regime in a seamless power grab.

Far from arguing against preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the Pakistani precedent argues for taking every possible action to prevent Iran from acquiring them. After all, unlike the situation in Pakistan, Iran's regime is already controlled by jihadist revolutionaries. And like their counterparts in Pakistan, these forces will be strengthened, not weakened in the event that Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

Indeed, since Obama came into office waving an enormous olive branch in Teheran's direction, the regime has become more outspoken in its hostility toward the US. It has humiliated Washington by refusing visas to America's women's badminton team to play their Iranian counterparts. It has announced it will only agree to direct talks with Washington if it pulls US forces out of the Middle East, abandons Israel and does nothing to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It has rudely blackballed US representatives who are Jewish, like House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman, at international conclaves. And it has announced that it will refuse to deal with Obama's suggested envoy to Iran, Dennis Ross, who is also a Jew. In all of its actions, Iran has gone out of its way to embarrass Obama and humiliate America. And Obama, for his part, has continued to embrace Teheran as his most sought-after negotiating partner.

MOVING AHEAD, the question of how our next government should handle America's apparent decision to turn its back on its traditional role as freedom's global defender becomes the most pressing concern. It is clear that we will need to embrace the burden of our own defense and stop expecting to receive much from our alliance with the US. But it is also clear that we will need a new strategy for dealing with the US itself.

In formulating that policy, the next government should draw lessons from fellow US-ally India. Once it became clear to the Indians that the Obama administration intended to treat them as the strategic and moral equivalent of Pakistan, they struck back hard. When the administration signaled that it would agree to Pakistan's assertion that its problems with the Taliban were linked to India's refusal to cede Jammu and Kashmir to Islamabad, New Delhi essentially told Washington to get lost.

In an interview on Indian television last week, ahead of Holbrook's first visit to the area this week, India's National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said that Obama would be "barking up the wrong tree" if he were to subscribe to such views. He added that India would be unwilling to discuss the issue of Jammu and Kashmir with Holbrook and so compelled Obama to remove the issue from Holbrook's portfolio.

At the same time, the Indian government released a dossier substantiating its claim that the December attacks on Mumbai were planned in jihadist terror training camps in Pakistan and enjoyed the support of the ISI. Moreover, in response to Khan's release from house arrest on Friday, India called for the international community to list Pakistan as a terror state.

In acting as it has, India has made two things clear to the Obama administration. First, it will not allow Washington to appease Pakistan at its expense. Second, it will do whatever it believes is necessary to secure its own interests both diplomatically and militarily.

A sound example for the next government to follow.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

 

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9 Comments

  • Marc Handelsman, USA 02/10/2009 at 2:19

    America’s apparent decision to turn its back on being freedom’s global defender was made because of two reasons. First, the US has its first neo-liberal administration, and its foreign policy will be more European. Secondly, the US Treasury is headed towards bankruptcy due to years of deficit spending. When the US Congress works on its next budget, Israel and other countries may lose financial assistance. American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan will decrease as the financial woes increase. And Israel will need to modify its foreign policy with the US.

    Reply
  • Ron Grandinetti, USA 02/10/2009 at 4:45

    Caroline you are on target.
    I along with many of my friends don’t have much confidence in Pres. Obama. He is no doubt a gifted speech writer (without substance) lacks administrative skills and is relying on a bunch of Clinton rejects for advice. The bottom line, it sucks.
    A fool would only believe you could influence or convince the Iranian government to give up their nuclear quest.
    Holbrook and Mitchell could team up with Jimmy Carter and travel the ME with the Welcome Wagon. They could play one nighters in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Gaza. They would be a blast.
    We are certainly not doing well in Pakistan and India will shut the door on us if we are not careful.
    The Russians have spotted a weakness in the new administration so look out for rough waters ahead.
    We have gone from Freedom Fighters to Ghost Busters.
    Caroline, you certainly have enough influence in the Israel government. I trust with your assistance we can count on Israel for help in the future if needed.
    For those who may have missed my comment on the previous article:
    LISTEN UP PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.
    NOW IS THE TIME TO EXERCISE YOUR DUTY AND RIGHT TO VOTE.
    THIS ELECTION IS NOT ONLY IMPORTANT TO ISRAEL BUT, TO THE REST OF THE FREE WORLD.
    YOUR VOTE DOES AND WILL COUNT TRUST ME.
    ———————-
    A NUMBER OF YEARS BACK MY NEIGHBORS FATHER RAN FOR RE-ELECTION FOR MAYOR OF A SMALL COMMUNITY AND LOST H IS BID BY A HAND FULL OF VOTES. LATER HE DISCOVERED ABOUT 12 OF HIS FRIENDS DID NOT VOTE BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED HE COULD NOT LOOSE.
    ————————-
    FOR THOSE THAT DON’T VOTE AND COMPLAIN LATER, WELL YOUR OPTION NOT TO VOTE WAS THE CAUSE.
    IF YOU DON’T VOTE – NO CRY BABIES. SIMPLE AS THAT.

    Reply
  • Pops in Vienna 02/10/2009 at 7:39

    You’ve written another great article Caroline. I’ll share it with my friends.
    I used to wonder why the jews in the 1930’s complied with so many of the Nazi decrees and, like sheep, boarded trains which hauled them off to death camps. Now I understand.
    I read in the Jerusalem Post that 30% of the Israeli electorate is undecided. When you add that number to the percentage who will vote for Livni, you can’t help but conclude most Israelis are either stupid or retarded. Israel must be drinking the same Kool Aid the Americans are.
    If I lived in a country that was getting hit by rockets everyday and had a foe living next door who was pledged to wipe me off the face of the earth…I wouldn’t be undecided.
    Today your country will decided if Israel will continue to exist.
    I hope Bibi manages to win…and win big. Otherwise, I think you’ll be your country’s 21st century Jeremiah.

    Reply
  • Bill K. 02/10/2009 at 8:58

    You wrote:
    “When the administration signaled that it would agree to Pakistan’s assertion that its problems with the Taliban were linked to India’s refusal to cede Jammu and Kashmir to Islamabad, New Delhi essentially told Washington to get lost.”
    This gave me a good laugh. More of our allies should be telling Washington to “get lost” especially when we seem to be betraying them right and left. To sell out India because it was attacked by jihadists trained in Pakistan is treachery. India should have recalled its ambassador to the United States in protest.
    If the United States was properly looking after its interests it would not be pandering to totalitarian states like Russia, Iran and Pakistan and betraying its natural allies like Israel and India. This kind of insanity is a symptom of the decline of the United States. If four years of precipitous economic and military decline under Obama does not engender a philosophical revolution in the nature of governance in the United States, this country is lost.
    You got it right when you said Israel should follow India’s lead. Israel and India are on the front lines of war against Islamic totalitarianism. Obama’s Washington barely recognizes such a conflict even exists. If the U.S. demands that Israel sacrifice its safety one iota so the Obama administration can arrange a mindless rapprochement with Iran the only proper reply would be “Get Lost!”. This sort of assertiveness would do Israel and the United States a world of good.

    Reply
  • Sidney Kulick 02/10/2009 at 11:20

    Good morning Caroline,
    I have not read your blog for today yet but something crossed my mind which I must get off my chest. I remember that when Clinton was president he sent his chief political advisor James Carvel to Israel to help Ehud Barak in his compaign against BiBi. Has David Azelrod maded an appearance in Israel to do the same for Livni?
    CBG – No, he hasn’t.

    Reply
  • Luigi Frascati, Canada 02/10/2009 at 11:38

    It is an axiom of politics that alliances are made for mutual advantages. In the absence of one of the parties, or both of them, drawing a benefit from a treaty, whether military or economic, or a meeting of the minds, or shared convictions and beliefs, then clearly the alliance becomes meaningless.
    I do not know whether US-Israeli relations have or will reach this breaking point, and if so whether it is entirely in Israel’s best interests to tell Washington “to get lost”, but this is certainly one of the option that the new government will have to ponder, one of the many.
    Glad to see you anticipate as a given that the new government in Jerusalem will be entirely different from the present one, even before the elections have taken place. Clearly, no such option will be on the table if the new government will be a remake of the old.
    But now, to Pakistan: what you have stated is correct, but also only half of the truth. The other half is Iran. Many land-owning Pakistani families are of Iranian descent. In fact Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, was a Shi’ite and half Iranian from her mother’s side. Iran considers northern and western Afghanistan as its sphere of influence since the population is Persian. Pakistan considers southern and western Afghanistan as its sphere of influence since the population is Pashto and Baloch. Because of this, relations between the two countries have become strained over the years and in the ongoing Afghan conflict. Not to mention the fact that Iran has continually accused the Sunni Pakistani of complicity with the US, even after the fall of Musharraf.
    While on its face value your assertion that jihadists in nuclear Pakistan would be strengthened by Iran acquiring nuclear capabilities certainly has its merits, this is not necessarily a must, given the mercurial relations between Sunnis and Shi’ites. For instance, when the Taliban captured the Afghan city of Maza-e-Sharif, they not only massacred thousand of Hazara Shi’ites, they also murdered scores of Iranian diplomats, straining Iran’s bilateral ties with Pakistan, which at the time backed the Taliban.
    By way of another example, taking note of the fact that you as an Israeli-American are concerned – and rightfully so – with the release of Abdul Qadeer Khan (Dr. Strangelove – I love it …) because he may very well share nuclear secrets with Iran (kind of like the remake of the movie “Dr. Strangelove: How I got Iran to stop worrying and love the Bomb”), likewise Iran is also concerned. Khan’s release has prompted serious speculations in Teheran that the Pakistani nuclear network headed by Khan might trade far more sensitive nuclear technology and know-how to the Saudis than to Iran. After all Khan in the past visited Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions, albeit for the benign purpose of attending conferences, and the Sunni connections between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia run pretty deep.
    Saudi officials in the past have denied rumors of an oil-for-nukes pact between Riyadh and Islamabad, but Iranian policymakers are put on guard by such rumors, deemed credible in light of Pakistan’s history, its close ties to Saudi Arabia, and its cash dependency on the oil-rich Saudis. Without doubt, a potential motivating factor, other than Israel, for a Saudi nuclear-weapons program is the alleged existence of such a program in Iran, which in turn may have been influenced by the threats of Saudi’s presumed nuclearization.
    Bottom line is that it is pretty difficult to try to predict what’s crossing the minds of Iranians or Pakistanis, possibly because they themselves cannot predict it. Certainly I’m with you on the fact that it is also pretty difficult to try to predict what’s going on through Obama’s mind, possibly because Obama himself also cannot predict it.
    And as to the Russians, they do not seem to have learned much from their misadventure in Afghanistan in the 80’s. They seem to be more intent at ensuring that the Americans and the Europeans fail, just like they did, so the Russians out of a wicked sense of false patriotism can somehow feel vindicated in the defeat of their own 40th Army at the hands of the Mujahideen.
    So, in conclusion, you are right in your preamble that the challenges facing the new government in Jerusalem and indeed all of us will be hasher, more complicated and more dangerous. Except that I also believe that – were they to read this article – a great many of our foes would concur and agree with you wholeheartedly just as well, but for opposite reasons.
    Ultimately we are the cause of our own weakness, not they.
    Dr. Strangelove … that was really funny.
    CBG responds: I did not argue that Pakistani jihadists would be empowered by an Iranian bomb. I argued that Iranian jihadists would be further empowered by an Iranian bomb.
    I agree that Khan will likely proliferate to Saudi Arabia. He is scheduled to travel there next week. SA financed Pakistan’s nuclear project — along with Libya. SA’s deal was reportedly that Pakistan would transfer bombs to SA as necessary. This was the deal Bhutto’s father negotiated with the Sauds in the early 1970s.

    Reply
  • Eric Dean Corson 02/11/2009 at 8:59

    Dear Dr. Carolyn Glick site,
    I heard you today on the Lars Larson show in Portland, Oregon. I am a big fan of your brilliant gifts of analysis and truth that is so obviously a gift from the God of Abraham. I follow you closely, have now saved your site to “my favorites” and am placing an order for your book. Your fan, and student, Eric Corson, Portland, Oregon USA

    Reply
  • Timothy Kriete For Israel FOREVER MORE GENESIS 12:1-3 AMEN 02/11/2009 at 23:16

    P.S. I TRULY Believe You Could Have Beat Every
    One Of Those CLOWNS Running For Office Yourself
    Sis……..Stay Strong For Zion’s Sake AMEN 🙂

    Reply
  • Tova - Canada 02/12/2009 at 21:25

    Obama will not be able to resolve any crisis outside the United States. Perhaps it is a good thing. The United States wil always support Israel regardless who is President. The support however is sometimes very vague or sometimes very strong depending who is President. The United Nations for many years now have been against Israel and against the United States and any nation that believes in Democracy. Prophesy will be fulfilled. Support for Israel will fade away as Israel will prepare for the final battle that no one knows when, but we all know it will happen sooner than later. Obama is for the American People so let’s not expect Obama to drop everything for Israel- it would be great but it will not happen. The world has lost respect for the United States and like Israel gave much to the world. Countries like India China Russia and other Asian, Islamic nations will not listen to Obama – unless they can get a free ride.

    Reply

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