The operational, intelligence and political fiascos that led to and followed the
September 11 jihadist assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, all derive
from the same problem. That problem is the failure of US President Barack
Obama’s conceptual framework for understanding the Middle East.
Islamic revolutionary wave sweeping across the Arab world has rent asunder the
foundations of the US alliance system in the Middle East. But due to Obama’s
ideological commitment to an anti-American conceptual framework for
understanding Middle Eastern politics, his administration cannot see what is
That framework places the blame for all or most of the
pathologies of the Muslim world on the US and Israel.
What Obama and his
advisers can see is that there are many people who disagree with them. And so
they adopted a policy of delegitimizing, discrediting and silencing their
opponents. To this end, his administration has purged the US federal
government’s lexicon of all terms that are necessary to describe
“Jihad,” “Islamist,” “radical Islam,” “Islamic terrorism” and
similar phrases have all been banned. The study of Islamist doctrine by
government officials has been outlawed.
The latest casualty of this
policy was an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk,
Until he was sacked this week, the instructor taught a class
called “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism.”
According to Col.
Dave Lapan, spokesman for the Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint
Chiefs of Staff, the instructor was fired for committing a thought crime. He
“portrayed Islam almost entirely in a negative way.” Dempsey himself ordered the
probe of all Islamic courses across the US military educational
The administration’s refusal to accept the plain fact that the
Islamic regimes and forces now rising throughout the Muslim world threaten US
interests is not its only conceptual failure.
Another failure, also
deriving from Obama’s embrace of the anti-American and anti-Israel foreign
policy narrative, is also wreaking havoc on the region. And like the conceptual
failure that led to the murderous attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, this
conceptual failure will also come back to haunt America.
false conceptual framework argues that the root of instability in the region is
the absence of formal treaties of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
It claims that the way to pacify the radical regional forces is to pressure
Israel to make concessions in land and legitimacy to its neighbors.
is not unique for his embrace of this conceptual framework for US Middle East
policy. He is just the latest in a long line of US presidents to adopt
At the same time the concept that peace processes and treaties ensure
peace and stability collapsed completely during Obama’s tenure in office. So
what makes Obama unique is that he is the first president to cling to this
policy framework since it was wholly discredited.
Israel signed four
peace treaties with its Arab neighbors. It signed treaties with Egypt,
Jordan, the PLO and Lebanon. All of these treaties have failed or been rendered
meaningless by subsequent events.
Today Israel’s 31-year-old peace treaty
with Egypt is a hollow shell. No, Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood regime has not
officially abrogated it. But the rise of the genocidally anti-Semitic Muslim
Brotherhood to power has rendered it meaningless.
The treaty is no longer
credible, because the Muslim Brotherhood, including Egyptian President Mohamed
Morsi, reject Israel’s right to exist. Their rejection of Israel’s right to
exist is not a primarily political position, but a religious one. Morsi and his
regime perceive Jews as the enemies of Allah deserving of
Morsi himself has a rich record of pronouncements attesting
to this fact. For instance, in November 2004 he said, “The Koran has established
that the Jews are the ones in the highest degree of enmity towards
He continued, “There is no peace with the descendants of apes
In January 2009, Morsi called Israelis “Draculas who are
always hungry for more killing and bloodshed using all kinds of modern war
weapons supplied to them by the American administration.” He accused Israelis of
“sowing the seeds of hatred between humans.”
With positions like these,
Morsi has no need to pronounce dead the peace treaty for which Israel
surrendered the Sinai Peninsula, and with it, its ability to deter and block
invasions from the south. Its death is self-evident.
The peace was made
with a regime. And once the regime ended, the peace was over. The fact
that the peace was contingent on the survival of the regime that made it was
In 1983, Israel signed a peace treaty with Lebanon.
The treaty was abrogated as soon as the regime that signed it was overthrown by
Islamic radicals and Syria.
Then there was the peace with the PLO. That
peace – or peace process – was officially ushered in by the signing of the
Declaration of Principles on the White House lawn on September 13,
Today, the Obama administration opposes PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas’s
attempts to receive international recognition of a Palestinian state through an
upgrade of its position at the UN to non-member state status.
Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice explained that the Obama administration opposes
the PLO’s move because it believes it “jeopardize[s] the peace
But this is not a credible reason to oppose it. The reason to
oppose it is because the PLO’s move harms Israel.
The peace process is
dead. It is dead because it was a fraud. The Palestinians negotiated in bad
faith from the beginning. It is dead because the Palestinian Authority
lost the Gaza Strip to Hamas in 2007. It is dead because Abbas and his PA
have no capacity to make peace with Israel, even if they wanted to – which they
don’t. This is so because their people will not accept peaceful coexistence with
Israel. The Palestinian national movement is predicated not on the desire to
establish a Palestinian state, but on the desire to destroy the Jewish
Abbas made this clear – yet again – this week in a statement
published on his official Facebook page. There he said outright that his
claim that Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian territory applies not only
to Judea and Samaria, but rather, “the point applies to all the territories that
Israel occupied before June 1967.”
With peace partners like this, it is
beyond obvious that there is nothing that Israel can do short of national
suicide that will satisfy them.
This brings us to Jordan. Jordan is one
of those stories that no one wants to discuss, because it destroys all of our
cherished myths about the nature of Israel- Arab relations, the relative
popularity of jihadist Islam and the US’s options going forward.
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is composed of three population groups. Ethnic
Palestinians comprise the vast majority of Jordan’s citizenry. The Hashemites
have always viewed the Palestinians as a threat to the regime, and so blocked
their integration into governing and military hierarchies. The Palestinians have
always been opposed to Israel’s existence.
The second largest group of
Jordanians is the Beduin tribes. Until the last decade or so, the Beduin tribes
in Jordan, like those in Israel and Sinai, were not particularly religious, nor
were they inherently opposed to peaceful coexistence with Israel.
Beduin served in the IDF in large numbers. The Beduin of Sinai served in
Israel’s Civil Administration in Sinai and opposed the peace treaty that
returned them to Egyptian control. And the Beduin of Jordan did not oppose the
monarchy’s historically covert, but widely recognized, strategic alliance with
All of this has changed in the past 10 to 15 years as the Beduin
of the area underwent a drastic process of Islamic radicalization. Today the
Beduin of Sinai stand behind much of the jihadist violence. The Beduin of Israel
have increasingly embraced the causes of irredentism, radical Islam and jihad.
And the Beduin of Jordan have become even more opposed to peaceful coexistence
with Israel than the Palestinians.
This leaves the Hashemites. A small
Arabian clan installed in power by the British, the Hashemites have historically
viewed Israel as their strategic partners and protectors of their
Since the fall of the Mubarak regime, Jordan’s King Abdullah II
has been increasingly stressed by regional events and domestic trends alike. The
rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has empowered the Muslim Brotherhood in
Jordan. The rise of pro-Iranian Shi’ite forces in post-US-withdrawal Iraq has
made pro-Western Jordan an attractive target for triumphant jihadists across the
border. The rise of Islamist forces in the Syrian opposition, not to mention the
constant subversive activities carried out by Syrian regime agents, has limited
Jordan’s maneuver room still further.
Emboldened by all these forces, the
Jordanian Beduin are now in open revolt against the monarchy and its refusal to
abrogate the peace treaty with Israel.
This revolt was exposed in all of
its ugliness in recent weeks following Abdullah’s appointment of Walid Obeidat
to serve as Jordan’s new ambassador to Israel.
Obeidat’s tribe disowned
him and his family and branded him a traitor for accepting the
appointment. His tribe invited the other tribes to join it in a mass
rally demanding the abrogation of the treaty and the destruction of
In this state of affairs, the strategic value of Israel’s peace
treaty has been destroyed. Even if Abdullah wished to look to Israel as a
strategic protector, as his father, King Hussein, did in the 1970 Jordanian
civil war between the Hashemites and the Palestinians, he can’t. In 1970, the
Syrians shared Hussein’s antipathy to Yasser Arafat and the PLO and therefore
did not intervene on their behalf. Today, there is no Arab force that would back
him in an Israeli-supported fight against Islamic fundamentalists.
in recognition of the fragility of the Hashemites’ hold on power, last week it
was reported that the US has deployed military forces to the kingdom. According
to media reports, the force consists of a few hundred advisers and other teams
whose main jobs are to assist Jordan in handling the 200,000 refugees from Syria
who have streamed across the border since the onset of the civil war in Syria,
and to help to secure Syria’s chemical and biological arsenals. It is more than
likely that the force is also in place to evacuate Americans in the event the
In the current situation, the US has very few good
strategic options. But it does have one sure bet. Today the US has only
one ally in the Middle East that it can trust: Israel. And the only no-risk move
it can make is to do everything in its power to strengthen Israel.
adopt this policy, the Americans first need to discard their false conceptual
frameworks regarding the Middle East. Unfortunately, as the US response to the
Benghazi attack and its continued assaults on Israel make clear, there is no
chance of that happening, as long as Obama remains in the White