Tehran grasps it;
Jerusalem doesn't. By ignoring it, Israel is in greater and greater peril with
each passing day
| The first rule of strategy is to keep your opponent busy attending to your
agenda so he has no time to advance his own. Unfortunately, Israel's leaders
seem unaware of this rule, while Iran' rulers triumph in its application.
Over the past few weeks,
Israel has devoted itself entirely to the consideration of questions that are at
best secondary. Questions like how much additional assistance Israel should
provide Hamas-controlled Gaza and how best to fend off or surrender to the
international diplomatic lynch mob have dominated Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu's and his senior ministers' agendas. Our political leaders — as well
as our military commanders and intelligence agencies — have been so busy
thinking about these issues that they have effectively forgotten the one issue
that they should have been considering.
strategic challenge — preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — has
fallen by the wayside.
In the shadow of our
distraction, Iran and its allies operate undisturbed. Indeed, as our leaders
have devoted themselves entirely to controlling the damage from the Iranian
supported, Turkish-Hamas flotilla, Iran and its allies have had a terrific past
few weeks. True, Wednesday the UN Security Council passed a new sanctions
resolution against Iran for refusing to end its illicit uranium enrichment
programs. But that Security Council resolution itself is emblematic of their
It took a year for US
President Barack Obama to decide that he should seek additional sanctions
against Iran. It then took him another six months to convince Iran's allies
Russia and China to support them. In the event, the sanctions that Obama refers
to as "the most comprehensive sanctions that the Iranian government has faced,"
will have no impact whatsoever on Iran's nuclear weapons program.
They will not empower the
Iranian people to overthrow their regime. And they will not cause the Iranian
regime to reconsider its nuclear weapons program. They won't even prevent Russia
from supplying Iran with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to protect its nuclear
installations from air assault.
Those long awaited, and
utterly worthless sanctions underline the fact that life is terrific these days
for Iran's leaders and their allies. A year ago, the Iranian regime was hanging
by a thread. After stealing the presidential elections last June 12, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and his boss Ali Khamenei required the assistance of all their
regime goons to put down the popular revolt against them. Indeed, they needed to
import Hizbullah goons from Lebanon to protect themselves and their regime from
their own people. European leaders like French President Nicolas Sarkozy were
openly supporting the Iranian people as they announced their intention to
overthrow the regime.
But then Obama sided with
the regime against its domestic, democratic opposition. Intent on giving his
appeasement policy a whirl, Obama took several days to express even the mildest
support for the Iranian people. In the meantime, his spokesman continued to
refer to the regime as the "legitimate" government of Iran.
Obama's support for
Ahmadinejad forced European leaders like Sarkozy to temper their support for the
anti-regime activists. Even worse, by keeping the democracy protesters at arm's
length, Obama effectively gave a green light to Ahmadinejad and Khamenei to
resort to brute force against them. That is, by failing to back the democracy
protesters, Obama convinced the regime they could get away with murdering scores
of them, and torturing thousands more.
A year on, although the
regime's opponents seethe under the surface, with no leader and no help from the
free world, it will take a miracle for them to mount major protests on the one
year anniversary of the stolen elections. It is unimaginable that they will be
able to topple the regime before it gets its hands on nuclear weapons.
A year ago Ahmadinejad was
afraid to show his face in public. But this week he received a hero's welcome in
Istanbul. He had a bilateral meeting there not only with Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Erdogan but with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
In the past year Iran has
deepened its strategic ties with China and Russia. It has developed an open
strategic alliance with Turkey. It has expanded its strategic web of alliances
in Latin America. Now in addition to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia,
Iran counts Brazil among its allies.
Then there is Lebanon.
Like the regime in Teheran, Iran's Lebanese proxy Hizbullah lost the Lebanese
elections last June. And like the regime in Teheran, Hizbullah was able to use
force and the threat of force not only to strong arm its way back into the
Lebanese government, but to guarantee itself control over the Lebanese
government. Now in control, with Iranian and Syrian support, Hizbullah has an
arsenal of 42,000 missiles with ranges that cover all of Israel.
Then too, Hizbullah's
diplomatic situation has never been better. This week former US ambassador to
Iraq Ryan Crocker called for the US to initiate a policy of diplomatic outreach
to the Iranian-controlled illegal terrorist group. Ryan is the second prominent
US official, after Obama's chief counter terrorism advisor John Brennan to call
for the US to accept Hizbullah as a legitimate actor in the region.
As for Syria, it too has
only benefitted from its alliance with Iran. The Obama administration has waived
several trade sanctions against Damascus. As it battles the Senate to confirm
its choice for US ambassador to Syria, the administration has become the
Assuming the Senate drops
its opposition, Syria will receive the first US ambassador to Damascus in five
years as it defies the International Atomic Energy Agency and openly
proliferates nuclear technology. Today Syria is both rebuilding its illicit
nuclear reactor at Dar Alzour that Israel reportedly destroyed on Sept. 6, 2007
and building additional nuclear installations. Lucky for Bashar Assad, the IAEA
is too busy trying to coerce Israel into agreeing to international inspections
of its legal nuclear installations to pay any attention. Since June 2008, the
IAEA has carried out no inspections in Syria.
And that's the heart of
the matter. The main reason that the past year has been such a good one for Iran
and its allies is because they have managed to keep Israel so busy fending off
attacks that Jerusalem has had no time to weaken them in any way.
It is true that much of
the fault here belongs to the US. Since entering office, Obama has demonstrated
daily that his first priority in the Middle East is to force Israel to make
concessions to the Palestinians. As for Iran, Obama's moves to date make clear
that his goal is not to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Rather, it
is to avoid being blamed for Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Moreover,
Obama has used Iran's nuclear weapons program — and vague promises to do
something about it -- as a means of coercing Israel into making unreciprocated
concessions to the Palestinians.
The problem is that
despite overwhelming evidence that Obama is fundamentally not serious about
preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel's leaders have played
along with him. And in so doing, they have lost control over their time and
When Obama first came into
office, he was committed to three things: appeasing Iran and attacking Israel
for constructing homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria and refusing to support the
establishment of a Palestinian state.
Obama was only partially
dissuaded from appeasing Iran when Ahmadinejad rejected his offer to enrich
uranium for the mullahs last December. As for his other goals, he coerced
Netanyahu into agreeing to support Palestinian statehood last June and Obama
coerced him into ending Jewish home building in Judea and Samaria last
Ahmadinejad's rejection of
Obama's outstretched hand forced Obama to launch his half-hearted drive for
worthless UN sanctions. But he used this bid to coerce Israel into making still
more unreciprocated concessions. After pocketing the prohibition on Jewish
construction in Judea and Samaria, Obama moved on to Jerusalem.
From there he moved to
forcing Israel to accept indirect negotiations with the Palestinians through his
hostile envoy George Mitchell. And once he pocketed that concession, he began
pressuring Israel to surrender its purported nuclear arsenal.
Following that, he has
moved on to his current position of pressuring Israel to accept a hostile
international investigation of the navy's enforcement of Israel's lawful
blockade of the Gaza coast. He also seeks to weaken Israel's blockade of
Hamas-controlled Gaza and force Israel to accept a massive infusion of US
assistance to Hamas-controlled Gaza. This last Obama action plan was made
explicit on Wednesday when the US President announced his administration will
give $400 million in assistance to Gaza, despite the fact that doing so involves
providing material aid to an illegal terrorist organization controlled by Iran.
Obama's actions are
clearly disturbing, but as disturbing as they are, they are not Israel's main
problem. Iran's nuclear program is Israel's main problem. And Netanyahu, his
senior cabinet ministers and the IDF high command should not be devoting their
precious time to dealing with Obama and his ever escalating demands.
To free himself and
Israel's other key decision makers to contend with Iran, Netanyahu must
outsource the handling of the Palestinian issue, the Obama administration and
all the issues arising from both. Netanyahu must select someone outside of
active politics to serve as his special envoy for this purpose.
position should be the mirror image of Obama's Middle East envoy George
Mitchell's role. He should be given a suite of fancy offices, several deputies
and aides and spokesmen and a free hand in talking with the Palestinians and the
Obama administration until the cows come home.
In the meantime, Netanyahu
and his senior cabinet ministers and advisors must devote themselves to battling
Iran. They must not merely prepare to attack Iran's nuclear installations. They
must prepare the country to weather the Iranian counter-attack that will surely
follow. Those preparations involve not only fortifying Israel's homefront.
Netanyahu and his people must prepare a diplomatic and legal offensive against
Iran and its allies in the lead up and aftermath of an Israeli strike against
The most obviously
qualified person to fill this vital role is former defense minister Moshe Arens.
Aren has the experience, wisdom and gravitas to handle the job. Bereft of all
political ambitions, Arens would in no way pose a threat to Netanyahu's
Netanyahu chooses, he must choose quickly. His failure to bear in mind the first
law of strategy places Israel in greater and greater peril with each passing