The first rule of strategy

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The first rule of strategy is to keep your opponent busy attending to your agenda so he has no time to advance his own. Unfortunately, Israel’s leaders seem unaware of this rule, while Iran’s rulers triumph in its application.


Over the past few weeks, Israel has devoted itself entirely to the consideration of questions that are, at best, secondary. Questions like how much additional assistance Israel should provide Hamas-controlled Gaza, and how best to fend off or surrender to the international diplomatic lynch mob have dominated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s and his senior ministers’ agendas. Our political leaders – as well as our military commanders and intelligence agencies – have been so busy thinking about these issues that they have effectively forgotten the one issue that they should have been considering.


Israel’s greatest strategic challenge – preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons – has fallen by the wayside.


In the shadow of our distraction, Iran and its allies operate undisturbed. Indeed, as our leaders have devoted themselves entirely to controlling the damage from the Iranian-supported, Turkish- Hamas flotilla, Iran and its allies have had a terrific past few weeks.


True, Wednesday the UN Security Council passed a new sanctions resolution against Iran for refusing to end its illicit uranium enrichment program. But that Security Council resolution itself is emblematic of Iran’s triumph.


It took a year for US President Barack Obama to decide that he should seek additional sanctions against Iran. It then took him another six months to convince Iran’s allies Russia and China to support the sanctions. In the event, the sanctions that Obama refers to as “the most comprehensive sanctions that the Iranian government has faced,” will have no impact whatsoever on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.


They will not empower the Iranian people to overthrow their regime. And they will not cause the Iranian regime to reconsider its nuclear weapons program. They won’t even prevent Russia from supplying Iran with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to protect its nuclear installations from air assault.


THOSE LONG-awaited and utterly worthless sanctions underline the fact that life is terrific these days for Iran’s leaders and their allies. A year ago, the Iranian regime was hanging by a thread. After stealing the presidential elections last June 12, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his boss Ali Khamenei required the assistance of all their regime goons to put down the popular revolt against them. Indeed, they needed to import Hizbullah goons from Lebanon to protect themselves and their regime from their own people. European leaders like French President Nicolas Sarkozy were openly supporting the Iranian people as they announced their intention to overthrow the regime.


But then Obama sided with the regime against its domestic, democratic opposition. Intent on giving his appeasement policy a whirl, Obama took several days to express even the mildest support for the Iranian people. In the meantime, his spokesman continued to refer to the regime as the “legitimate” government of Iran.


Obama’s support for Ahmadinejad forced European leaders like Sarkozy to temper their support for the anti-regime activists. Even worse, by keeping the democracy protesters at arm’s length, Obama effectively gave a green light to Ahmadinejad and Khamenei to resort to brute force against them. That is, by failing to back the democracy protesters, Obama convinced the regime it could get away with murdering scores of them, and torturing thousands more.


A year on, although the regime’s opponents seethe under the surface, with no leader and no help from the free world, it will take a miracle for them to mount major protests on the one-year anniversary of the stolen elections. It is unimaginable that they will be able to topple the regime before it gets its hands on nuclear weapons.


A year ago Ahmadinejad was afraid to show his face in public. But this week he received a hero’s welcome in Istanbul. He had a bilateral meeting there not only with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.


In the past year Iran has deepened its strategic ties with China and Russia. It has developed an open strategic alliance with Turkey. It has expanded its strategic web of alliances in Latin America. Now in addition to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia, Iran counts Brazil among its allies.


THEN THERE is Lebanon. Like the regime in Teheran, Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hizbullah lost the Lebanese elections last June. And like the regime in Teheran, Hizbullah was able to use force and the threat of force to not only strong-arm its way back into the Lebanese government, but to guarantee itself control over the Lebanese government.


Now in control, with Iranian and Syrian support, Hizbullah has an arsenal of 42,000 missiles with ranges that cover all of Israel.


Then, too, Hizbullah’s diplomatic situation has never been better. This week former US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker called for the US to initiate a policy of diplomatic outreach to the Iranian-controlled illegal terrorist group. Ryan is the second prominent US official, after Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, to call for the US to accept Hizbullah as a legitimate actor in the region.


As for Syria, it too has only benefited from its alliance with Iran. The Obama administration has waived several trade sanctions against Damascus.


As it battles the Senate to confirm its choice for US ambassador to Syria, the administration has become the regime’s champion.


Assuming the Senate drops its opposition, Syria will receive the first US ambassador to Damascus in five years as it defies the International Atomic Energy Agency and openly proliferates nuclear technology. Today Syria is both rebuilding its illicit nuclear reactor at Dar Alzour that Israel reportedly destroyed on Sept. 6, 2007 and building additional nuclear installations.


Luckily for Bashar Assad, the IAEA is too busy trying to coerce Israel into agreeing to international inspections of its legal nuclear installations to pay any attention. Since June 2008, the IAEA has carried out no inspections in Syria.


AND THAT’S the heart of the matter. The main reason that the past year has been such a good one for Iran and its allies is because they have managed to keep Israel so busy fending off attacks that Jerusalem has had no time to weaken them in any way.


It is true that much of the fault here belongs to the US. Since entering office, Obama has demonstrated daily that his first priority in the Middle East is to force Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. As for Iran, Obama’s moves to date make clear that his goal is not to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Rather, it is to avoid being blamed for Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Moreover, Obama has used Iran’s nuclear weapons program – and vague promises to do something about it – as a means of coercing Israel into making unreciprocated concessions to the Palestinians.


The problem is that despite overwhelming evidence that Obama is fundamentally not serious about preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel’s leaders have played along with him. And in so doing they have lost control over their time and their ag


When Obama first came into office, he was committed to three things: appeasing Iran, attacking Israel for constructing homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria, and condemning Israel for refusing to support the establishment of a Palestinian state.


Obama was only partially dissuaded from appeasing Iran when Ahmadinejad rejected his offer to enrich uranium for the mullahs last December. As for his other goals, he coerced Netanyahu into agreeing to support Palestinian statehood last June and coerced him into ending Jewish home building in Judea and Samaria last September.


Ahmadinejad’s rejection of Obama’s outstretched hand forced Obama to launch his halfhearted drive for worthless UN sanctions. But he used this bid to coerce Israel into making still more unreciprocated concessions. After pocketing the prohibition on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, Obama moved on to Jerusalem.


From there he moved to forcing Israel to accept indirect negotiations with the Palestinians through his hostile envoy George Mitchell. And once he had pocketed that concession, he began pressuring Israel to surrender its purported nuclear arsenal.


Following that, he has moved on to his current position of pressuring Israel to accept a hostile international investigation of the navy’s enforcement of Israel’s lawful blockade of the Gaza coast. He also seeks to weaken Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza and force Israel to accept a massive infusion of US assistance to Hamas-controlled Gaza.


This last Obama action plan was made explicit on Wednesday when the US president announced that his administration would give $400 million in assistance to Gaza, despite the fact that doing so involves providing material aid to an illegal terrorist organization controlled by Iran.


OBAMA’S ACTIONS are clearly disturbing, but as disturbing as they are, they are not Israel’s main problem. Iran’s nuclear program is Israel’s main problem. And Netanyahu, his senior cabinet ministers and the IDF high command should not be devoting their precious time to dealing with Obama and his ever-escalating demands.


To free himself and Israel’s other key decisionmakers to contend with Iran, Netanyahu must outsource the handling of the Palestinian issue, the Obama administration and all the issues arising from both. He must select someone outside active politics to serve as his special envoy for this purpose.


Netanyahu’s envoy’s position should be the mirror image of Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell’s role. He should be given a suite of fancy offices, several deputies and aides and spokesmen, and a free hand in talking with the Palestinians and the Obama administration until the cows come home.


In the meantime, Netanyahu and his senior cabinet ministers and advisers must devote themselves to battling Iran. They must not merely prepare to attack Iran’s nuclear installations.


They must prepare the country to weather the Iranian counter-attack that will surely follow.


Those preparations involve not only fortifying Israel’s home front. Netanyahu and his people must prepare a diplomatic and legal offensive against Iran and its allies in the lead-up, and aftermath, of an Israeli strike against Iran.


The most obviously qualified person to fill this vital role is former defense minister Moshe Arens.


Aren has the experience, wisdom and gravitas to handle the job. Bereft of all political ambitions, Arens would in no way pose a threat to Netanyahu’s leadership.


Whoever Netanyahu chooses, he must choose quickly. His failure to bear in mind the first law of strategy places Israel in greater and greater peril with each passing day.


Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
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  • Marc Handelsman, USA 06/11/2010 at 12:04

    Because of the seriousness of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel should replace US Ambassador Michael Oren with former defense minister Moshe Arens. The Israeli Ambassador’s primary mandate should be to effectively communicate Israel’s position about Iran to the Obama Administration. Since Israel is a tertiary US strategic interest, appointing an Israeli special envoy like George Mitchell would likely be ineffective. Undoubtedly, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government is probably preparing contingency plans to deal with Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program. When the time comes, Israel will attack Iran’s nuke sites on its schedule.

  • Marcel 06/11/2010 at 12:48

    The greatest problem Israel faces are weak leaders who don’t know what to do.
    The red light,green light puppets only wait for permission from foreign meddlers whose agenda threatens Israel’s existence.
    The last group of sane Jews have coined an interesting phrase ;’Price Tag’for their governments suicidal policies.
    Israel is now paying the ultimate price (tag) for their religious obedience to every request and demand of the chief peace hustler.
    The rewards come fast and furious from across the globe. Appease,retreat,surrender,more and more goodwill gestures that embolden the enemy and weaken Israel ,removal of security road blocks that kill Jews for the peace,release of killer Islamic terrorists ,restraint from defeating Hamas and Hezbollah and feeding and supplying Hamas whose charter is Israel’s destruction.All this for a 100% counterfeit peace that everyone with a minimal of common sense can see.
    And yet Israel keeps going in the same direction towards self destruction.
    I’ve always warned (Israel) from day one that the US led ‘Road Map to Peace’ led to hell but you were entranced by superpower gravitas and it’s mythical and fanciful ability to ‘get things done’ for a subservient ,obedient and prostrate Israel .
    Caroline,I salute you in your attempt to awaken Israel’s weak leaders from their deep peace trance to their false god of no peace but there is going to be hell to pay for Israel’s stupidity and disobedience. Ex 23:32-33
    ‘The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD’..
    Proverbs 16:4
    The wicked march in Tel Aviv today proudly exhalting their perversity… but not for long !

  • Amy 06/11/2010 at 15:07

    IF ISRAELIS WANT SOMETHING DONE ABOUT IRAN, first they must reclaim their independence and refuse to be a vassal state of the USA.
    As Israelis worry about Iran, their own government is under direct White House control and not much is being said about it.
    From the White House and the US consulate in Jerusalem the Obama administration oversees every step the Israeli government takes, be it in defense matters, internal security, construction, and much more. There are no limits. It even interferes with the enforcement of the law against illegal Arab construction.
    While the Israeli government is deliberately kept off-balance by one accusation or agression after another, important swaths of Jewish land are being grabbed away from Israeli control, eventually to be gifted to your enemies. And the US keeps arming and training a PA army that may very soon turn against the Jews.
    Now it has been revealed that US officials gave specific orders on how Israeli forces were to react to the invading Turkish flotilla.
    And there has even been open talk about how the US would favor regime change in Israel.
    The fact that Israel has surrendered its sovereignty to an unfriendly superpower is extremely unsettling and dangerous.
    US Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana criticized White House policies towards Israel recently, and asked pointedly: “Mr President, on whose side are you on?”

  • Kay Andre 06/11/2010 at 15:17

    It is all clear that Israel must prepare to fight this fight alone. I still dont understand that Obama thinks he can trust the leaders of these arabian countries? It should be well known by now that thet they can not be trusted. This Obama flirting gives them time to breath and get stronger and finish theire weapons that they are gonna launch at Israel. There is only one reason that Iran wants nuclear missiles and that is Israel. The question are: for how long are Israel going to wait before taking this threath out?
    By the way a little report from Norway. Norwegian and Swedish workers on the docks have started theire own blocade of Israel goods on the ships who comes. They will not unload these
    goods from Israel. It’s definently the unions that started this. Stupid. Stay strong all and remeber: You can trust noone but yourself

  • Arius 06/11/2010 at 15:28

    Is Israel prepared for the next war? Its enemies are carefully preparing and see their opening with the very weak Obama in the US. They know that after 2012 Obama may be out so in the next two years there is a very high probability that a regional war in the Middle East will start. I should say that it has already started. Turkey’s shift into the Syrian/Iranian axis will be seen by future history as its beginning.

  • Bill K. 06/11/2010 at 16:50

    Since “The problem is that despite overwhelming evidence that Obama is fundamentally not serious about preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons”, why have “Israel’s leaders… played along with him, [a]nd in so doing … lost control over their time and their agenda”?
    Caroline, you supported Netanyahu over others for the Prime Minister’s position. But some are saying, “Whenever Netanyahu must face up to the opinions of other national leaders, he crumbles.”
    Are Netanyahu’s detractors right? I hope not for Israel’s sake. Is there another explanation for his softness?

  • Steve 06/11/2010 at 17:54

    American undercutting democratic dissidents is nothing new. The U.S. undercut Kurdish and Marsh Arab movements agaist Sadaam Hussein who was freely able to employ all the armed force against them he wanted.
    It is hard to believe that even Bibi the Dhimmi does not know that one must keep one’s enemies off balance and confused as to where the next blow will fall on them unless one concludes that the enemy he has in mind is Israel.

  • naomir 06/11/2010 at 20:08

    Caroline, as usual you present the facts clearly, but perhaps I’m still missing something. Why are we still waiting for the US to offer us assistance. Isn’t it abundantly clear that under Obama and his henchmen it simply isn’t going to happen? History has shown us more than once that we are on our own with only G-d on our side. Absolutely some difficult decisions will have to be made and very soon. I shudder to to think of the consequences of our inaction, G-d forbid.

  • Terry, Eilat - Israel 06/12/2010 at 0:50

    I seem to recall Netanyahu saying (when he was a candidate) that his strategy would be to appoint a ”counter-Mitchell” who would do exactly what you recommend, thus insulating the PM & not wasting his time, leaving him to devote all his time & attention to the major security threats facing us. Well, like everything else Netanyahu said, this too was forgotten.
    I had my doubts about Netanyahu from the beginning, which is why I didn’t vote for him. Exactly what I thought, Netanyahu became an appeaser, he can’t stand up to pressure, the only thing in his head is how he fell from power the last time around.
    I hate to keep repeating the same thing in every comment – Netanyahu is not a leader, he’s just another of our crap politicians. So, there he is, sitting with that serial bungler, Ehud Barak, a total moron, a disaster, a man who can rightly be called a saboteur.
    Everything you say is right on, so what?

  • stephanie rouiller 06/12/2010 at 23:46

    Great job Caroline, the first question for you tube must be; the 1st amendmnt?
    best, Stephie

  • jewtudes 06/13/2010 at 1:01

    Obama’s giving Abbas 425 million dollars this week, with full understanding that Abbas is not a legitimate leader in the West Bank, and that Hamas will, in due time, take advantage of this reality and take over the W.Bank was deliberate. Obama desires to have the PA and the West Bank as a client state.
    Netanyahu has a “surrender” based foreign policy, giving in to Arab demands, concessions that do not promise that Israel will enjoy peace. I have never heard Bibi proclaim humanitarian right for Jews. What about Jewish rights to live on the West Bank. In 48 Jews lived in Judea and Samaria, and they were thrown off the land and turned into refugees. It is Jewish land, and it is our national rights as Jews to live on our ancestral land. This should be a demand shouted from the mountain tops.
    Why not declare Gaza an enemy state? then deal with them accordingly. For all intents and purposes they are a state, they have a flag, an army, a government and they control territory. They also have a military and diplomatic tie to Iran. Let the world see the Gazans from a different perspective. As a enemy state and a sponsored satellite of Iran.
    It is in Israel’s national interests to declare Gaza as a state. They get away with murder, all the while making the world responsible for humanitarian needs inside Gaza. Under Olso, Gaza and West Bank are a single territorial unit, therefore Gaza is “occupied” Palestine. This works to their advantage.
    If they are treated as a separate state then they can be held accountable for their actions. They are now an Iranian ally, and an ally of Syria.
    The foreign policy of Israel at the present time is dangerous for Jews inside Israel and around the world. It needs a whole new principle. Debby

  • mv92071 06/13/2010 at 1:38

    Your analysis is as trenchant and spot-on as ever. Israel is fortunate to have a defender such as you.
    I do believe that an individual can make a difference in the world, and that the pen is mightier than the sword. That is why I am confident that your work will make a difference in saving Israel.
    I will continue to share your articles with family, friends, and anyone else who cares.
    I am not a religious Jew, but I say to you with all my heart, God bless you.
    Mike V.
    San Diego, CA

  • Debbie Levine 06/13/2010 at 2:24

    Caroline, we love you, but your fatal error was backing Netanyahu in the last elections.
    Didn’t we all learn how spineless he is when he called Arafat his brother and shook his hand?
    If Netanyahu were really smart, he would just bide his time – Obama is on a serious decline in America – and he will be gone soon enough. He is probably THE worst U.S. President EVER. In the interim, Netanyahu is treating him like some King who will rule the world for a long time. Whatever happened to self-respect Bibi?? Your poor father must have 6 ulcers from you by now. He taught you well, but you are tossing his teachings into the toilet. Chaval.

  • US citizen 06/13/2010 at 10:24

    What has been being sown will be reaped. God’s patience has a limit and woe be it to all of us humans when He has had enough. He will let us humans get to the point where only He is able to pull us out of the fire but He will not act until all humans have no hope but for Him to pull us out and that is not a place where I want to be. It will be consoling that we are all in the same place but the place where we will converge is the depths of misery. The vast fortunate among us will be dead already when that day arrives but oh to be among that few, considering the number of humans who have ever lived, that are translated before Daniel’s seventieth week of years. Dismiss me if you will but I am not the one with which we all have to deal. We can deal now and live until we don’t or we can deal in desperation and hope we live. If any of us survive it will only be because of the one that created us not because any of us are worthy.

  • fxmeaney 06/13/2010 at 14:54

    Netanyahu must lead. What alternative was there or is there? Advising and pressuring Netanyahu, as Caroline is doing, is the only course open. Assume Obama is an enemy and act accordingly. The support of Congress and the American people for Israel must be energized and expanded. There should be no excuses for defending Israel and its peoples.

  • Reluctor Dominatus 06/13/2010 at 16:00

    I would posit that the second rule would be to know when to strike so as to change the field in your favor. That does not mean to say that whatever Israel should do next will be received favorably by the world…it won’t, no matter how justified. I would also suggest that if Israel hesitates it will allow the Obama administration more latitude in shaping a detrimental outcome for Israel. There is no clearer message than that which has been sent by the left/progressives/socialists/communists in the United States since this incident than their intention to change our country into a mirror image of the world as a whole. That would deny the unique character of both the United States and Israel. It would also expose Israel to possible destruction. I am hoping that Israel strikes Iran, and strikes hard. At this one moment in time Israel has the backing of close to 70% of Americans, and they will stand behind you. If you doubt, look at the polls as they relate to the Arizona law that does nothing more than require enforcement of laws already on the books but ignored for so long by our politicians. Obama may try to inject our military into the equation, but he does so at his own risk. Our military is the last bastion of pure America with people who take their oath to protect and defend the constitution seriously. The majority in the military have doubts about Obama’s commitment to the constitution and any order by Obama for our forces to fire on Israeli’s would start a conflagration here that would make our civil war seem tame. If you believe in God then I would say you must act and have faith that God is listening…I do. God Bless the United States and may it never turn its back on Israel.

  • Central Ohio 06/14/2010 at 2:16

    I agree with the above comment about a possible attack because Obama may be a 1 termer. Hope Israel is prepared for a 3 front war.
    In my dream world a U.S. president would have used the murder of Neda as a rallying point. Why didn’t we offer any Iranian citizens passport to Iraq when the protests were strong? To much islamic internal strife I guess.
    What a shame that the death of this beautiful young women met with such passivity. I was deeply disturbed when I viewed her death on Youtube. I felt as if I saw freedom and liberty dying. I wonder what President Obama felt? I wonder if the President remebers Neda. __d help us.
    The video is graphic, but it is still on Youtube.

  • OneJewess 06/23/2010 at 21:54

    Caroline, ditto for me what Mike in San Diego wrote. I, too, broadcast your work to as many people as I can. Your work is crucial, exactly because of its quality. You supply facts, videos, and clearly expressed assessments based on critical reasoning. Thank you for not loading your work down with mere propaganda. Thank you and all your crew for the Latma videos, recent music vids especially. Most of all, stay safe. We need you, and that, alone, makes you a target. Don’t take anything for granted. Please!


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