Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hoping for a Dormant Middle East

Iowa, for the moment, is out of range of any missiles the Islamic Republic of Iran possesses and the caucus results tell the story of a bipartisan political desire to deal with other issues. Love him or hate him, George W. Bush has managed to subdue to Jihadist movement to the point where both parties believe they can backburner the problem of religious violence. Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post reminds everyone that dormancy implies a temporary lull in activity and the atomic bomb is still an object of lust.

The Day After: Here again, it is important to note that Israel's neck isn't the only one on the line -- although it is first in line. A defeat of Israel -- which can also take the form of simply rendering Israel vulnerable to annihilation -- will be the greatest victory the forces of global jihad have ever experienced. If this is added to an unspoken US acceptance of Iranian hegemony in Iraq, then the position of Western nations will be imperiled.

When the jihadist rejection of the sanctity of human life in favor of martyrdom is taken into consideration, the level of threat the jihadists manifest is arguably even more lethal than that manifested by the Soviet Union. As the frontline state in this war, the role of Israel's leaders is to point out these truths to the world and to their citizens.

What is clear is that there is virtually no support for anything but passive resistance to the desire of the Iranian regime to acquire nuclear weapons, and the favorite tactic of those seeking to avoid active confrontation is the implementation of bureaucratic guidelines.

Raising the Costs for Tehran: There are three separate, but often overlapping, sets of sanctions in place against Iran. The UN Security Council has passed two resolutions against Iran -- Resolutions 1737 and 1747 -- that blacklisted a number of Iranian officials and entities. … The European Union (EU) has followed the UN with two rounds of its own sanctions, in many areas going well beyond what was required by the UN. … The United States has its own list of designated Iranian officials and entities, some of whom have been named by the UN and EU as well. …

To date, most of the focus on the Iran sanctions regime has been on which entities were added to these various blacklists and which were left off. There has been far too little attention paid to how effectively the measures are being implemented. Far more could be done on this front.

Of course, guidelines are as effective as the enforcement supporting them, and there is growing evidence that the isolate, embargo and deprive strategy is being discarded by the neighbors required to make it effective.

Why U.S. strategy on Iran is crumbling: The Gulf has moved away from American arguments for isolating Iran. American policymakers need to do the same. The states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are accommodating themselves to Iran's growing weight in the region's politics. They remain key parts of America's security architecture in the region, hosting massive US military bases and underwriting the American economy in exchange for protection. But as Saudi analyst Khalid al-Dakheel argues, they are no longer content sitting passively beneath the US security umbrella and want to avoid being a pawn in the US-Iranian struggle for power. Flush with cash, they are not interested in a war that would mess up business.

The most optimistic way to look at these events is to hope the wealthy Arab world has agreed to assume primary responsibility for the Jihadist mentality of their own creation. I’m sure President Bush will be content leaving office with a stabilized Middle East. An Islamic region still filled with widespread discontent and overt hatred, but with limited outbreaks of raw destruction. This may be the best that can be achieved in the short term.