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20 February 2011

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jon

I would hope that Israel might see that its' long term prospects are improved by having dynamic democracies as neighbors, as opposed to unstable, weak militaristic autocracies. I see little hope of that happening in the near future.

Egypt has already begun to open the Rafah crossing to Gaza on a limited basis. Whether that persists remains to be seen.

The generals have said that they will continue to honor all existing treaties, so the peace with Israel should be secure, at least in the short to mid terms. I have the sense that Egyptians might have great differences with Israel, but that they will proceed from a basis that acknowledges Israel's nationhood. Israel could put much of that worry to rest by reaching a reasonable accommodation with the Palestinians, but it seems they think there is more blood yet to be squeezed from that turnip.

While the public has little love for Israel - and many in the Mid East seem to see their own local repression writ large in the treatment of Palestinians by Israel - I'm not sure how eager any truly are for military conflict with Israel. Egypt's military seems to take very little public notice of Israel.

In the long term, I'm not sure what the US really needs in the Middle East, other that continued operation of the Suez Canal. Oil production is starting to slip, and with it will slip the power and leverage of the oil states. Oil is only an existential problem to the degree that we have refused to manage our power needs differently. If desired, this could be done within twenty years, and immediately reduce the importance of oil producers. So the US must bridge the next fifty years or so as economies inevitably transition to something besides oil as a primary energy source. Until then, the region remains a critical, short term problem.

The US has to remain cordial with oil producers to maintain the continued flow. And we have to provide some check on Israel's adventurism, which regularly threatens to destabilize that relationship. Much of our efforts with Israel seem to be propitiating it into behaving responsibly. Israel is undoubtedly aware off this, and manufactures occasions to be provocative, so that attention doesn't stray too far.

With the Arab street in convulsions from Morocco to Iran, Israel seems to be taking a second look at their position and behavior. It is sobering to be surrounded by firestorms. I think this pause will be short lived, and Israel will rather seek to capitalize on the disruptions to find ways to further destabilize and weaken arab governments, though it may set the stage for extremists to assume power later.

Clifford Kiracofe

jon,

yes it is a more complicated situation now. personally, I would like to see the entire region at peace.

Ha'aretz carried this perceptive piece by Aluf Benn:

" There is growing concern in Israel that Egypt will become a hostile front, adding to the feeling of international isolation which has only intensified since Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister. The recent vote at the UN Security Council over the Palestinian resolution to label the settlements as illegal only increased this sense of isolation. With 14 states supporting this measure, Israel needed an American veto to foil it.

The Palestinians may have lost that vote, but the issue demonstrated which side in the conflict enjoys widespread international recognition.

Bolstered with Congressional support, Netanyahu forced U.S. President Barack Obama into the veto - which he had avoided using to date."
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/egypt-is-no-longer-committed-to-an-alliance-with-israel-against-iran-1.344482

The hardliners in Irael, and their Lobby here, may conclude that Obama could get "soft." So would they set into motion maximum support for a Republican pro-Israel hardliner for 2012?

What to do? Activate the Christian Zionist faction of the Republican Party (and Tea Party). We already have seen recent visits to Israel for the "first" primary (little does New Hampshire know): Huckabee, Barbour, etal...

VietnamVet

Clifford,

The American Government is totally bought. Lee Atwater and wedge politics so screwed democracy that DC politicians don’t give a damn what Americans think. The donors, Israeli PACs and big oil, control Middle East policy.

The correspondence here is clear that there are experts in business, government and academia that are well aware of the dilemma America faces. However, the corruption is so persuasive America cannot act in its own best interests.

The Tea Baggers are revolting against the federal government and politicians who could care less about them. But, they're just handmaidens for their wealthy handlers whose goal is to flush government down the toilet, crush unions and end income taxes.

Clifford Kiracofe

VV,

The Zionist lobby goes way back into US politics to the late 19th and early 20th century as I explain in my book, "Dark Crusade" (London: IB Tauris, 2009).

Because the United States was so generous to our allies as to float World War I and World War II on our domestic oil reserves, we had to start looking around more seriously after WWII. This took us to the Middle East.

One can argue our oil industry has had to work around the power of the pro-Israel Lobby. Did our oil industry block Truman's fatally mistaken recognition of Israel in 1948? No. Did it prevent Israel and its buddies France and UK from attacking Suez in 1956? No. Did it block Israel's
1967 war of aggression? No. And so on.

If our oil industry had so much clout, then why are we not in Iran, where we should be? Why are we not in Syria, where we should be? Why were we not in Iraq earlier?

The US government, under pro-Israel political pressure, blocked our oil industry from many significant business opportunities.

The oil industry could not defeat the pro-Israel Neocon doctrine of "Dual Containment" of Iraq and Iran

Thus, arguably, US policy actually helped foreign international oil companies, some publicly held and some state owned, to come into the picture where we should have been competing.

Tea Baggers seem split between the Ron Paul/Rand Paul libertarians, who are not necessarily pro-Israel, and the Michele Bachmann/Dick Armey etal. hardline pro-Israel types. Bachmann is a Christian Fundamentalist/Zionist. This significant split has received too little attention.

Charles I

The BBC is breaking news that Tunisia has asked for Ben Ali's extradition from Saudi Arabia, a country I'm skeptical has many extradition treaties.

Where would the Saudi's go when its their turn?

w/r/t to

Tea Baggers seem split between the Ron Paul/Rand Paul libertarians, who are not necessarily pro-Israel, and the Michele Bachmann/Dick Armey etal. hardline pro-Israel types. Bachmann is a Christian Fundamentalist/Zionist. This significant split has received too little attention.

How to best capitalize on this? Both sides seem often impervious to fact, let alone self or national interest, even when presented in the starkest format.

Clifford Kiracofe

Charles I,

Do not yet have a sense of what is up with Tea Party and the split between the Fundamentalist Christian Zionist faction and the Libertarian faction.

Noted on the Patriot Act extension, the Libertarian faction seemed to vote against while the Fundamentalist/Christian Zionist faction seemed to vote for it.

It would take a member by member analysis to sort this out some.

Armey is a Fundamentalist Christian Zionist. He is said to work for an influential international law firm based in London. This raises some issues. Armey moved very hard out of the gate to gain influence over Tea Party.

Michele Bachmann, Fundamentalist Christian Zionist, moved quickly in the House to establish a Tea Party caucus of which she is chair. She was in LA recently working the Jewish Hollywood crowd very heavily for campaign contributions.

The main consideration here is to Middle East policy. A member by member analysis of the new Tea Party types in the House could give indications of pro-Israel voting patterns. You could also establish overt campaign donations to each Tea Party member from known pro-Israel groups and individuals.

Arun

I don't know if you all noticed this:

New York Times, Feb 19
here:

In another turn of events likely to provoke the anxiety of the West about the potential consequences of Egypt’s revolution, the government of Egypt granted permission to two Iranian warships to pass through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, officials said. No Iranian warship has traversed the canal since Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and some in the Israeli government called the Iranian move an act of provocation.

fanto

Prof. Kiracofe, your information about who supported the birth of Israel state is only a part of the whole, let's not forget that Joseph W. Stalin was also very much in favor, but for a different reason. I enjoy your comments and congratulation to the "upgrading" your position in Col. Lang's "Circle". (quotation marks do not mean irony, only 'tongue in cheek' - nothing bad intended).

William R. Cumming

So the whole of an ARAB world in flames boils down to oil and Israel? Doubtful to me because I believe internal corruption of the elites is the main driver. Oil issues and Israel may yet be drivers but well down the road. This mass protest movement is aimed to first sort out the generic unfairness of elites in the ARAB countries to work to benefit the entirety of their population. Hey sounds like the US does it not?
But like Revolutionary France turning externally violent in a warping of its history for all time so far this huge event in 21st Century history IMO and ignorance perhaps is not going to be about OIL and Israel but a deeper effort and human rights and the significance of basic unfairness in the ME. That force may yet overwhelm Israel but not necessarily from external pressure but from internal pressure in that theocracy. I know count several young motivated college educated professionals who have returned from Israel and learning that they don't qualify as JEWS or as Citizens under Israeli internal policies. But let's have the US government tell the American people exactly how many people in the US and in Israel carry both US and Israeli citizenship? That seems to be an important fact for the US polity to consider when weighing its policy options to me! I would like to hear any arguements as to its irrelevancy or immateriality to US policy formulation? And as readers of this blog know not sure when JUS SANGUINIS ended as US official policy on citizenship? And Naturalization policy generally! Do we discriminate agains ARABs in the naturalization process? Time for some really heavy oversight by Congress. Oh that's right they will be shutting down the Executive Branch March 5th so they have other things on their minds. eorPerhaps I am confused.

Clifford Kiracofe

fanto,
Thanks for the comment. We can recall Stalin's ardent supporters among the Palmach thus offering opportunities for Soviet penetration.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmach

Charles I

Its very interesting, Gadaffi's son was on tv eating a bit of crow and threatening tribal civil war to the last bullet, heavy on the tribal and last bullet.

The BBC is reporting right now the cascade of defections, resignations, execution of soldiers refusing to fire, and most significantly, the alignment of tribes, including the majority Warfla against the regime.

To whatever end.

Perhaps antithetical groups are rational enough to depose their common foe. Quel surprize.

Charles I

ps. Clifford, you've done us yeoman work these last exciting weeks, nothing unusual, thanks very much for all your work.

The beaver

Don't know whether this is the right thread to ask this:
Why is Cameron in Egypt?

I believe that, after the UN veto on Friday, Cameron is being sent to "influence" the junta in preventing Iran from using the Suez Canal on behalf of the P3 and Germany.

Clifford Kiracofe

Charles I,
Thanks, much appreciaed.

All,

Useful perspective on the fear setting into Israel.

"Ben-Eliezer's response is telling, not least because it is well known that Israel supported the Shah regime in Iran and has not proven itself to be a particularly staunch supporter of Palestinian democracy. Democracy in the Middle East is, after all, conceived by this and prior Israeli governments as a threat to Israel's interests.

Dan Margalit, a well-known commentator, made this point clear when he explained that Israel does not disapprove of a democracy in the largest Arab country but simply privileges Israel's peace agreement with Egypt over internal Arab affairs."
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/201121814292835839.html#

jon

Arun, I find it mildly amusing that Israel seems to be very excited by two Iranian boats transiting the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. I don't recall too much interest when, about a month ago, there were reports of an Israeli sub slipping off to patrol the Persian Gulf. A cruise missile equipped sub which may or may not possess nuclear weapons. Sauce for the goose, and all that.

crf

jon, I'm not sure that Israel really sees the Iranian warship using the Suez canal as threatening.

An Israeli politician saying even modestly rational things about this event (let alone, middle east issues, in general) would be touching the third rail. The opposition and press would have at him.

So I think any outrage is press-driven and just political pro-forma.

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