Israel, Iran & Iraq: A crisis point in the war on terrorism
It has become evident that Iran and--to a lesser extent--Syria are behind the current war waged against Israel by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Iran has been emboldened by the Bush Administration's unwise invasion of Iraq and the quagmire it has created there. With the defeat of its enemy, Saddam Hussein, Iran has been able to assume the leadership role in the Islamist jihadi war against Western democratic society.
Israel is the most convenient target of the Islamist terrorists because the Iranians recognize that only the U.S. is displaying any understanding of Israel's current plight. The European Union seems more concerned with Israel's "disproportionate" defense against Hezbollah and Hamas rocket attacks on civilian communities and territorial incursions than in Israel's right to defend itself. The obvious question is how Great Britain, France, Italy, and the others would react against similar foreign attacks on their lands.
Saddam Hussein's secular but tyrannical Iraqi regime was a horrendous government. But it served as a barrier against Iran and other Shiite jihadis. Saddam's defeat brought a Shiite-dominated government into power in Iraq.
For the moment, some of its leaders appear to be pro-American. But they are threatened not only by Sunni insurgents but by fellow Shiites eager for an alliance with Iran's Shiite regime. Polls have shown that most Iraqis want the U.S. to get out now.
According to an American general's recent assessment, our forces in Iraq are now tied down in civil wars between Sunnis and Shiites and between different Shiite factions. He said that this communal strife is now more responsible for the violence that has brought chaos to Iraq than the fight against the Sunni insurgency. This is a formidable argument for redeploying U.S. forces out of Iraq and basing some of them in nearby friendly Arab states.
It is extraordinarily ironic that after defeating an Iraqi army three years ago, the U.S. is now training and equipping a new Iraqi army. The new force is dominated by the Shiites, many of whom were recruited out of anti-American militias. They are apparently more loyal to pro-Iranian interests than to the Americans who liberated them from Saddam.
It is conceivable than in any U.S. confrontation against Iran, the new Iraqi army could turn against us. Once American influence in Iraq is weakened, it is also conceivable that Iraq's new army would join the Islamist jihadi war against Israel.
The only positive element in the current Middle East crisis is that the so-called moderate Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states have surprisingly criticized Hezbollah and Hamas for heating up the situation. Amazingly, some of these Arabs have even shown more understanding of Israel's plight than many Europeans.
All of which underscores the fallacy of the Bush Administration's naive obsession to "promote democracy" in the Arab world. Were open elections to be held in these nations friendly to the U.S., the bad guys--the Islamist terrorists--would undoubtedly acquire considerable new influence or even complete control. This was demonstrated in the recent elections in the Palestinian Authority, where Hamas was triumphant, and in Lebanon, where the Hezbollah members were elected to the parliament for the first time.
In assessing the Middle East, it is striking that Israel is a tiny sliver of land, populated with only slightly more than 5-million Jews--virtually all of them refugees or descendants of refugees from European and Muslim countries. Nevertheless, as outnumbered as they are, the Arabs and even some Europeans depict Israel as the villain in the Middle East and as a menace to world peace.
Yet the Israelis are surrounded by more than a billion Muslims in 22 Arab nations and more than a dozen other Islamic countries, most of them historically dedicated to Israel's destruction because of the alleged mistreatment of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinians have indeed suffered because of the establishment of Israel in 1948. But the Palestinians suffer from self-inflicted wounds. As history shows, they have passed up opportunity after opportunity to have their own independent nation, largely because they are unwilling to accept compromise. Their primary objective is to destroy the tiny Jewish state.
Note that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was organized three years before the 1967 war. Only after that war did Israelis take control of the West Bank and Gaza. With no Israeli territory recognized by international law as "occupied" land before 1967, the PLO's obvious goal was to "liberate" the state of Israel itself.
The result is that Israel, contrary to historic Jewish traditions and values, has been forced to become a garrison state, constantly forced to defend itself--as no other nation in the world does--to simply survive.