By Isaac Yetiv, PhD
Isaac Yetiv, PhD
LA JOLLA, California — Most people identify the “Middle-East problems” with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that is only one of them, and not the most dangerous to peace and stability in the region and in the world.
Today, the two poles of potential disaster for the security of the United States and its allies are in Pakistan and Iran, both Islamist countries, the former already in possession of the atomic bomb, the latter working frantically, and uninhibited, to achieve that goal. Both manipulate at will , and pull the anti-American strings in Iraq and Afghanistan where we are still deeply involved, and the US foreign
policy makers have no clue on how to counter their malevolent meddling.
Pakistan–America, and the world, were baffled at the occurrence of two events, in appearance contradictory: How could Bin Laden find a protected safe haven in the heart of Pakistan, a short distance from a military base? And how could he be easily detected by the CIA and killed by an American military unit in his “palace?” In fact, these events can be reconciled if we understand the political realities in Pakistan.
There are two main factions existing side by side in Pakistan, inside the government, inside the military, and inside the ISI (their equivalent of our CIA), one moderately pro-American, the other viscerally anti-American. They are roughly equal in power and influence, hence the precarious equilibrium ; but in numbers, and mass following, the bad guys prevail, and they are biding their time until the propitious moment when the other side falters (for example if it ceases to bring the billions from the US), and then, they will provoke an insurrection , and a showdown to seize power.
So, the anti-American officials helped Bin Laden settle among them, I assume with the quiet acquiescence of the pro-American government and ISI officials who preferred not to confront them. And agents of the pro-American clique, through ideology or bribes, informed the CIA of Bin Laden’s presence and other military details to facilitate the military action that killed him.
The situation in Pakistan is very volatile; it is a tissue of contradictions that requires from the president and the State Department the agility of a tightrope walker which ,regrettably, they have yet to show. To date, we have given Pakistan more than 20 billion dollars, and rather than fight the Taliban, they allow them to live, unmolested, among them, and to use their country as a base for their attacks on our military and on the Afghani government agents . Most of the hardcore Taliban are in Pakistan, very few are in Afghanistan.
Iran– The regime of the Ayatollahs thrives in “fishing in muddy waters.” Most of the time, the mud is made in Tehran. The situation in Pakistan and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq , supplemented by our inexplicable intervention in Libya, are an undeserved bonanza for Iran because they keep America busy and bloodied and they drain its economy, thus reducing its influence in the region and the risk of its military intervention in their backyard. This neutralization of the Great Satan empowers Iran to work feverishly and defiantly, without fear of retribution , toward their crown achievement, a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it. If they are not stopped, they will become the hegemonic power, not only in the Gulf area but all over the Middle-East. Weak Arab neighbors will accept their new master and do its bidding; strong and rich Arab neighbors will be forced to develop their own nuclear arsenal; Israel may be tempted to preempt and attack the Iranian nuclear installations “to prevent a second holocaust.” America’s fleet in the Gulf will be paralyzed and idle for fear of “starting a nuclear war,” and the Europeans, because of the new long-range Iranian missiles, will submit to Iran’s blackmail.
Even if the mullahs choose not to use their newly-acquired “force de frappe,” (in the words of Charles de Gaulle,) –a hypothesis not at all certain because of their religious fanaticism– the world will tremble…and do nothing else. Iran will intensify its miltary action, by proxy and even directly, in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lebanon via Hizballah, Gaza, and any other flammable point, Arab or Muslim.
Even now, Iran has received the presidents of Afghanistan and Iraq to prepare for a post-American “alliance,” and the VP of Iran, under the nose of American “occupation forces,” was welcomed in Bagdhad and was accompanied with 170 CEO’s of Iranian companies for the purpose of “lucrative business.” And we continue to spend billions of dollars, “nation-building” these countries, and “protecting” them ! From their newly-acquired friend and ally, Iran? This is simply absurd.
As one American general said: ” The only thing worse than attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities is letting Iran become a nuclear power..” And time is runnng out, really.
The Wars-- In his 2008 electoral campaign Obama distinguished between “the good war” in Afghanistan and “the bad war” in Iraq. Then, despite the war weariness of the army and the American people, the blood and treasure we have already suffered (500 billion dollars, 4,500 dead in Iraq, 1,500 in Afghanistan, thousands of wounded) the commander-in-chief committed military assets, without approval of Congress, to another “half-war” in Libya that is, in fact, a civil war in which both sides are armed and fighting. Despite his hatred for America and past activity of terror that killed Americans, this timethe Libyan dictator has done nothing to provoke our ire into entering another war, even if we are “leading from behind.”The excuse of “humanitarian reasons” is laughable and hypocritical, since we didn’t do the same with Syria whose dictator has killed no less of his people, mostly civilians, not armed and not fighting. We are helping destroy Libya without even knowing who will replace the Kaddafi regime. Islamist fundamentalists? Muslim Brotherhood fanatics? Al Qaeda? Most recently, we even joined 30 other nations to “recognize” a group of rebels as “the legitimate government in Libya,” which means giving them money and weapons, thus taking sides in the civil war and exposing ourselves to terror acts of vengeance. This does not seem as very wise US foreign policy.
Time has come to withdraw our boots, completely, from Iraq and Afghanistan, now and not in 2014 , without leaving a residue force “to train the local police and the army” –how many years have we been saying that, and still not trained?– The other reason for the continuation of the expensive and thankless “occupation” is that “if we leave, the Taliban will come back.” Does it mean that we will have to stay there indefinitely to avoid that prospect? And what about other countries, like Yemen, Somalia for example? Shall we occupy them and wage another war? Certainly not. There are other ways to protect our national security without endless wars of occupation that we can ill afford.
U.S.-U.N. Relations – After the failure of the League of Nations , the United Nations was established in 1945, and raised new hopes for a world without wars and the triumph of justice. But what began with a few democracies has today become a conglomerate of dictatorships and ruthless regimes oppressing and killing their own people and threatening and attacking their neighbors.
In resolution after resolution, an automatic majority condemns and vilifies Israel, and votes against their benefactor, the United States. Abba Eban once said : “If Algeria proposes a resolution that the earth is flat, flattened by Israel, it will be adopted by a majority.” We all remember the resolution that “Zionism is racism, ” which prompted our ambassador Patrick Moynihan to walk out in anger. (It was later repealed)Some call this organization a joke; others call it a farce. What else can you call it when Iran has been “elected” Vice-President of the General Assembly, when Libya, Syria, Cuba, Saudi Arabia are, or have been, members of the “Human Rights Council,” when it has criticized the United States for killing Bin Laden, when it could do nothing to prevent or limit the genocide in Sudan , Rwanda and elsewhere?
As Mark Steyn wrote: “The UN system is broken beyond repair. In May, even as its proxies were getting stuck into their ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Sudan was elected to a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Commission. This isn’t an aberration: Zimbabwe is also a member. The very structure of the organization, under which countries vote in regional blocs, encourages such affronts to decency.’
The US pays about a quarter of the UN budget , and 31% of the budget of the UNWRA that takes care of the Palestinian refugees only. The UN pays outrageous salaries and benefits to its functionaries who have accumulated millions of dollars of unpaid parking violations in New York City.
As I wrote elsewhere, it is time to put an end to this very expensive charade: Take the US out of the UN and the UN out of the US ! Without the US, the UN will not survive. And then, replace it with the Organization of Democratic Nations (ODN).
Yetiv is a freelance writer based in La Jolla. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org