Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Obama's Sputtering Foreign Policy - Israel and Iran - Is Tactical Nuclear War Next?


With the spotlight finally off the perpetual health care debate and attention focused on the opening of the United Nations at last we can talk about some of our foreign activity. Then again, the way things are going perhaps Obama doesn't want to address foreign affairs.

So far after taking the world by storm in the election Obama has gotten pretty much nothing from our friends and enemies around the world as they are so deeply engrossed in their own problems they have neither the time nor the desire to be concerned with ours.

Don't forget, they still blame us and our capitalist greed for the world economic meltdown and it is most likely deserved. Still the world remains interlocked and what happens here does impact everyone around the world so what are the concerns?

Israel & Iran

Iran continues to stir the pot in the Middle East. With their flawed elections, persecution of Iranians, and nuclear threats it is as if they are baiting Israel to do something. They better watch out. Recent events could indicate the way is being cleared for Israel to attack Iran and there is a real chance it will happen before the end of the year if not sooner. First Obama asked Israel to stop building settlements and defiantly they kept on building. In fact there is nothing he asked them to do to help pave the way for peace talks that got done.

It is a strange sequence of events that has surrounded this peace effort as at first Obama was suspected of being much too supportive of the Muslim positions. Of course he did receive strong Jewish support in the election so his relationship to the Muslim world was a concern to the Jewish community. Until recently he seemed to be taking a much more neutral position on the Israeli - Palestinian issues.

However, one should never underestimate the impact or ability of his two closest and most influential advisors, Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff and David Axelrod, White House Senior Advisor as both are Jewish and have strongly supported Israel. In fact Emanuel even volunteered to fight for Israel during the first Desert Storm war.

As you may recall, in the campaign Obama promised to reach out to the Muslim world and all our enemies and nothing has come of it. His campaign promises to lead the way in building a better world have been locked in the vault of things I never should have said as reality sat in.

Russia and the Missile Defense Shield

One recent event seemed unrelated to the Israel - Iran issue but makes some sense in the larger picture. When Obama stunned the world last week and unilaterally cancelled the missile defense shield the US had promised Poland and Eastern Europe, it might well have been an action meant to appease the Russians. Now Russia was justifiably upset by the prospect of the shield, but to give away something like that without getting anything in return seems to be a strange way to conduct foreign policy.

It was almost as if Obama was saying Eastern Europe doesn't count. The fact he cancelled the agreement on the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union only added insult to injury. Before Stalin and Hitler were done with Poland nearly six million Poles died (civilian and military) during World War II, ranking Poland third behind the Soviet Union and Germany for the most deaths in the European sector of World War II. This represented nearly 22% of the entire Polish population before the war.

So what did the move by Obama mean? Well Russia was Iran's strongest ally. Would the action by Obama open the door to an attack by Israel on Iran nuclear facilities? Russian support for Iran was a factor in Israel not attacking. As for Israel, while never admitting they have a nuclear weapons capability intelligence estimates say the Israeli's have between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, at a minimum. They also have a multitude of ways to launch them including missiles and jets.

Then there is the oil situation. Russia is a growing economy and oil reserves make Russia #7 in the world in proven oil reserves. With oil prices being kept high by firms like Goldman Sachs, expanding the oil sales would go a long ways toward financing the Russian economic recovery. But five of the top six nations with oil reserves all are in the Middle East while the last is Venezuela in South America, whose government makes it an unreliable provider to the markets.

Iran happens to rank #2 in the world in oil reserves behind Saudi Arabia and just ahead of Iraq though in spite of American occupation Iraq still cannot get oil production to a decent level. Should Israel attack Iran and happen to disrupt the Iranian oil production in the course of destroying the Iran nuclear sites it would be a financial windfall for Russia and might keep them from retaliating for the attack on their ally.

Such an attack would be consistent with previous attacks by Israel to protect their homeland and would be consistent with the worldwide Zionist movement, of which Emanuel, according to his parents, is aligned. It would no doubt result in some kind of retaliation by other Muslim nations but the prospects of becoming a major war would seem unlikely. However, it would certainly strain USA military resources as we would be the only nation to come to Israel's defense.

One can only hope diplomatic efforts, unsuccessful in terms of Iran's nuclear capability and stymied in terms of the Israeli - Palestinian peace process could progress and eliminate the need for such an Israeli attack but time is rapidly running out.

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