There is currently a remote possibility that the Russian strategy will succeed
in averting US military action by persuading Bashir Assad to hand over his
chemical weapons of mass destruction for demolition by the international
But even if that happens, President Obama’s vacillating
response to the horrors in Syria will still be considered manifestation of the
ongoing erosion of America’s superpower role as guardian of the free world
against the burgeoning forces of Islamic terrorism.
In the absence of
effective presidential leadership, the American people have grown weary of
shouldering the burden of policing the world and sending their youngsters to
battle extremists in faraway places. Obama’s policies have dramatically revived
America’s dormant isolationist inclinations.
This is fortified by the
Europeans who, absorbed by post-modern moral relativism, refuse to share the
burden and are now barely willing to even symbolically endorse the engagement of
the United States in global military initiatives to contain Islamic
Burying their heads in the sand, Western nations seem to deny
that jihadism, much like nazism and communism, represents a fundamental threat
to Western civilization that if not confronted, will ultimately wreak havoc in
their own neighborhoods.
The procrastination and unpredictability of
President Obama has already convinced US allies, including the so-called
moderate Arab states, that America has become a paper tiger. Understandably,
they no longer believe that they can rely on a vacillating, indecisive
Commander-in Chief. In their eyes even the ineffective former president Jimmy
Carter appears a valiant warrior compared to the dithering Obama.
attitude is unlikely to change irrespective of whether Congress endorses Obama’s
request to punish Assad for gassing his own people.
Even if Congress
approves an American strike it will be a limited maneuver neither intended nor
likely to produce regime change. It will probably have negligible deterrent
effect and may even enable Assad to portray himself as the heroic victor who
triumphed against the mighty US.
Israel stands in a difficult position in
the midst of the tension. Understandably, it is unwilling to side either with
the murderous Assad or the monstrous al-Qaida terrorists now dominant among the
Syrian rebels. There is little doubt that we would wish a plague on both their
But Israel recognizes that if, after Obama’s repeated promise to
act if Assad crossed the “red lines” and employed chemical weapons, Congress
rejects his request for a military response, the weakened president would suffer
further humiliation, highlighting US impotence and strengthening the
isolationist trends that have already dramatically impacted on American public
This would have severe negative ramifications on Israel and the
entire region and, above all, embolden the Iranians towards attaining their
Conscious of the overriding Iranian issue, Israel does
not wish to see Congress humiliating the president in this context. But it is
also highly concerned neither to become embroiled in the Syrian civil war nor
lay itself open to accusations of dragging America into a new
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to be credited for acting
with diplomatic astuteness. He has muzzled his traditionally outspoken and
irresponsible ministers. He has succeeded in walking a diplomatic tightrope in
avoiding humiliating Obama while simultaneously sending a clear message to the
Syrians that were they to implement their threats to attack Israel, we would not
remain passive as we did during the Iraq war.
organizations find themselves in a bind. In a bizarre turn of events, the Obama
administration has turned to Israel and AIPAC to lobby Congress on its behalf.
The major American Jewish organizations reluctantly responded positively and
urged Congress to endorse the president’s request but are attempting to
distinguish this from their traditional pro-Israel lobbying.
is a no-win situation.
Should Congress approve a military strike, they
will face accusations of dragging their country into a new conflict. Conversely,
should Congress reject Obama, the intervention will result in severely damaging
the standing of the Jewish lobby in the American political arena.
as Israel is concerned, it is crucial that in conjunction with increasing
Islamic fundamentalist threats in the region, we factor into our strategic
planning the new US isolationism and European indifference.
absorb the reality that we are a people who stand alone and can depend on no one
but ourselves to deter our adversaries.
Our greatest concern remains
If the US and the West are incapable of deterring Iran from
developing a nuclear bomb, we will be obliged to make difficult decisions, weigh
the diplomatic consequences and consider the practicality and chances of success
in initiating independent action.
This must also serve to strengthen our
resolve to bury any remaining delusions that we can rely on third parties to
guarantee borders or intervene in a crisis in relation to the Palestinians. In
this Alice in Wonderland environment, the US and the Western European countries
are unlikely to ease pressures on us to make further unilateral
Even our “friends” are more inclined to focus on the
construction of homes in the Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem than on Syrians
massacring thousands of their own people.
Therefore, in the foreseeable
future, in the absence of Palestinian leaders genuinely committed to peaceful
coexistence, it would be insane for us to succumb to global pressures to make
further unilateral concessions, ease security or cede additional territories
without genuine reciprocity.
At the same time we should take solace in
the fact that there are also positive developments that benefit
Despite the Obama administration’s retreat toward isolationism, the
American people and Congress continue to enthusiastically support Israel. This
is of critical importance because, whereas we have never asked the US or any
other country to engage in wars on our behalf, the US backing ensures that we
retain our edge, with access to the latest technological military equipment, and
enables us to defend ourselves and effectively deter the barbarians at our
This also makes it unlikely that US would totally abandon us in
the diplomatic and political arena, and likely to continue acting as a barrier
against those seeking to impose sanctions against us.
Despite the active
presence of jihadists among our neighbors, at a time when the military power of
some of our most committed adversaries has dramatically eroded, our military
strength is at an all-time high. This significantly diminishes the threat of a
conventional war of aggression against us. In fact, the IDF today is capable of
deterring all our adversaries combined. We must of course continue to strengthen
and develop our military superiority.
Another important positive
development for Israel has been the Egyptian revolt against the Muslim
Brotherhood regime, preventing the rise of an Islamic totalitarian
This represents a body blow to Hamas, effectively an
extension of the Muslim Brotherhood and considered as such by the new Egyptian
regime. It has already resulted in military action against the jihadists in
Sinai, lessening a major threat to security on Israel’s southern
Overall, when one balances the positive developments within the
regional turmoil, it is clear that despite frequent gloomy and pessimistic
chatter, we can regard Israel’s position as one of strength.
website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com.
He may be contacted