November 17, 2012

Obama's Middle East Policy - Does It Exist?

With Israel using an Iron Dome to halt the rainfall of missiles into Tel Aviv, and Egypt seemingly set to step in on the side of Hamas, with Iran so close to nuclear capability, one has to wonder if president Obama not only slept through the 3 a.m. phone call, he may have slept through the entire foreign policy portion of his presidency.  Obama's Middle East policy does not exist, everything he's done so far has been static isolated, flat-footed reaction to events moving at a pace he can't cope with.

The real question isn't whether Obama has a Middle East policy, but rather whether he can develop one before events in the region get out of hand.  Actually, I'm being overly harsh; the president has stated some policy on the Middle East.  What's missing, is strategy.

The scope of the conflict is much larger than many realize, and the escalation is still in progress.  Via the Jerusalem Post:
n total, Palestinians fired 740 rockets toward the Jewish state since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, but only around 30 landed in built-up areas. Iron Dome intercepted 245 projectiles in total, maintaining a 90% intercept rate. Only 27 of the rockets, about 4 percent, ultimately landed in urban areas.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz instructed the military on Saturday afternoon to increase the rate of strikes on terrorist cells, among them rocket launching squads.
Word is that the U.N. and Iran will engage in direct talks Iran in December.  By December, it may be too late for peace in the region.  More importantly, talks are not a policy.  Diplomacy is not a policy.  Talks and diplomacy are tools to work towards policy objectives.  Neither are air strikes and sanctions policy.

Obama has stated that U.S. policy towards Iran is that the U.S. will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapon capability.  That's part of a Middle East policy.  It's less effective than say "let's eliminate our dependency on foreign oil" and not as robust as a policy for the entire region, but it's still a policy.  What's missing is the appearance of a cohesive strategy to support that policy.  What's also missing is an understanding of the broader picture.  Israel, long having flirted with the idea of a unilateral strike on Iran, is being dragged into action on a secondary front with Hamas that could easily escalate into broader confrontation - with Egypt, Syria and/or Iran.

Without an understanding of that potential, the president's team is likely once again to get caught flat footed and end up reacting instead of planning.  That's the sort of approach that leads to an increasingly hostile Muslim Brotherhood dominated government in Egypt, or a Benghazi attack in Libya that left 4 Americans dead with no consequences for the perpetrators of the murders.

The president's team is in over their heads on foreign affairs, and the Osama Bin Laden credit they got, but never truly earned, is not going to bail them out at home, and certainly not abroad.  Things are going to get much worse very quickly, and there's no line of sight to anything getting better at any point.  


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This