Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Simple Plan

Bibi prepares a trap for Ahmadinnerjacket.
I think we all get that Netanyahu apparently thinks US foreign policy is utterly at his disposal, and to some degree it is, with some justification. Israel is our friend and ally, beset and surrounded by mortal enemies (not, it should be pointed out, entirely without some mutual antagonism over the years), and it's not like any of the Arab League countries are rushing to help even a little bit with helping out the Palestinians, some of whom must undoubtedly prefer to move to, say, Jordan or Saudi than stay for another generation in a teeming Gaza refugee camp.

But whatever. Every president tries and fails to craft some sort of peace accord, it's part of the political dance. As far as Iran's lamentable attempts to manufacture a nuclear weapon, what never gets mentioned is that they may have practical reasons to do so that have nothing at all to do with Israel, despite Ahmadinejad's tedious bluster. Iran has three very large next-door neighbors (Russia, India, Pakistan) which have long been nuclear powers, seen the respect that gets accorded to them as a result, has a bitter enemy across the Strait of Hormuz that has also attempted to acquire nuclear tech in the past, and its neighbor to the west got shocked and awed precisely because it had not yet acquired nukes, and thus presented no deterrent.
Although I've written extensively (and I hope at least somewhat knowledgably) about foreign policy and geopolitical strategy over the years, two issues I've studiously avoided are Israel/Palestine and nuclear proliferation (aside from, in a couple of cases, the possibility of terrorist pilferage from post-collapse Russia, and the illustrious career of A.Q. Khan). This is primarily because it's fairly simple to see extensively the merits of both sides of both arguments (all of which are intensely emotional issues for many people), and to write oneself into a nasty corner in the process.

No matter which side you end up taking in the Israel/Palestine debate, you wind up looking like a bit of an asshole, because each side does have some merit:  Israel has a right to be paranoid, given the poisonous indoctrination many Arabs get through their state-sanctioned media outlets, and the encouragement for nihilistic teenagers to strap on some C-4 and roofing nails and head for the nearest pizza joint or bus; while on the other hand it's difficult to see what Israel expects Palestinians' (and Arabs in general) reaction to be when families are rooted out of houses by illegal settlers, pregnant women die at three-hour checkpoints in the sweltering sun, concrete walls delineate lives and livelihoods. It's not a stretch at all to stipulate that people who are not allowed to live normal lives will go crazy; if you treat them like animals, it won't take long for some of them to figure that they might as well act the part.

So setting all that aside, what's really interesting about Netanyahu's speech is that 1)he persists in trying to goad us into what would not be a quick surgical strike cleanly removing a metastasizing Stage 3 spreading tumor, but rather a catastrophic regional conflict and (best case scenario) civil war in a well-armed country of 80 million people surrounded by volatile and opportunistic neighbors; 2)he thinks he can do it with a cartoon drawing that would embarrass a fourth-grader. You would never know that Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons of its own, not to mention the best-trained and armed conventional forces at the ready.


daver said...

'Read More' is just a nuisance in a blog like this, because you don't post enough for it to be necessary. Readers will generally read everything anyway.

If you must, doing it the way Sullivan does it (if you can figure out how) would be preferable.

Heywood J. said...

Thanks for the feedback. The main reason I've started doing the "Read More" thing is because I don't want to put people into "TL;DR" mode the second they see a long post.

That's somewhat deceptive, I suppose, and I don't mean it to be, but because I tend write a lot of longer-form items it seemed like a useful strategy. I'll take a look at how Sully does it and see if it applies here. I can pretty much put the page break anywhere so we'll see how that goes. Thanks again.