A serious misstep in Syria – Whose side are we on?

A serious misstep in Syria – Whose side are we on?

By Retired Admiral James A. Lyons
The Washington Times
June 24, 2013

Underlying the chaotic situation throughout the Middle East is the Obama administration’s dysfunctional political strategy of switching sides in the Arab Spring revolutionary wars. The Obama administration has abandoned U.S. allies in the global war on terrorism and formed an alliance with many of the Islamic jihadist groups and militias that Americans have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan — and few have noticed.

In Libya, the U.S. wound up supporting the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was listed as an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group by the United States and the U.N. Security Council. The Arab Spring movement only served to legitimize the Islamic supremacists under the umbrella of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Obama administration promoted as a moderate political force. I am confident that the administration’s “enlightened” strategic policy of providing political and material assistance to the Islamic jihadists was carefully guided by the many Muslim Brotherhood front groups and agents that have direct access to the White House and have been able to penetrate virtually every key government agency responsible for national security.

All the propaganda about freedom and democracy was wishful thinking. Rebel atrocities were simply ignored. It would have been unconscionable to imagine the United States aligning itself and supporting groups that decapitated their enemies, but under the Obama administration, that was just what the U.S. did. What happened to American values? Until now, the U.S. never would have made common cause with terrorists, let alone groups that are out to destroy the country. In Libya, the U.S. ignored the atrocities as well as the rebel leadership’s association with al Qaeda. For the record, there is no difference between the rebels’ ideology and al Qaeda‘s. Both stand for Islamic supremacism governed by draconian Shariah law, which is incompatible with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. As thanks, Americans got the Benghazi attack.

Compounding the strategic mistakes in Egypt and Libya, which brought the Islamic supremacist Muslim Brotherhood to power, the U.S. now plans to provide political and material support to al Qaeda-allied rebel groups in Syria. Once again, the U.S. is ignoring rebel atrocities and aligning itself with sworn enemies, the Islamic supremacists.

National security advisers who assure Americans that support will go only to rebels supporting freedom and democracy are fooling themselves, if not us. U.S. leaders can’t even get to the bottom of the Internal Revenue Service scandal, let alone rebel groups that shift alliances on a daily basis. On either side of the Syrian civil war, there are no “good guys” the U.S. should legitimize by giving support. We must recognize that both sides, Shiite and Sunni alike, profess a jihadist ideology, both are U.S. enemies, and both would destroy America if given the opportunity.

Strategically, we do not have a dog in this fight. Our principal and overriding strategic issue in the Middle East is preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability. Every other issue pales in comparison. Therefore, our response to the Syrian civil war should be asymmetrical. Because Iran is deeply involved in the conflict, the U.S. should take advantage of that situation by repositioning forces so that it is ready to launch devastating strikes to eliminate Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Such a strike would have the effect of bringing “balance” back into Syria’s civil war and would be a long-overdue payback for Iran’s almost 34 years of war against the United States. We cannot forget the thousands of American lives lost as a result of Iran’s not-so-stealthy aggression, nor its material support to the Sept. 11 hijackers.

With the election of a so-called “pragmatic moderate” as Iran’s president, there will be a loud chorus arguing that the U.S. needs to hold in abeyance any military action against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure until we see how the new president will address American concerns. It must be understood that President-elect Hasan Rowhani is not a “pragmatic moderate.” He is a hard-core disciple of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and fully supports the apocalyptic views and repressive character of the current regime, including the destruction of Israel and the United States. As Iran’s former principal nuclear negotiator, he stalled any meaningful progress on changing direction in Iran’s drive to achieve a deliverable nuclear weapons capability.

As an indication of his “moderate” views, Mr. Rowhani called for the execution of the “Green Revolution” activists in 2009, whom President Obama chose to ignore. Furthermore, with Mr. Obama snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq, which is now Iran’s main conduit to provide support to Syria, the U.S. needs dramatic action to restore its credibility. With Iran’s committed involvement in supporting the Assad regime in Syria’s civil war, an asymmetrical response by the United States to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure will bring balance back into the civil war and restore U.S. credibility by eliminating a principal threat to U.S. objectives in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as ensure the survival of U.S. ally Israel.

Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Conventional wisdom re: Israel/US relations vs. the facts

US-Israel Ties: Conventional Wisdom Challenged

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought”
“Israel Hayom” Newsletter, September 22, 2011

The suggestion that US-Israel relations are trending downward is a derivative of baseless conventional wisdom, as reflected in a recent study by Haim Malka, the Deputy Director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

For example, conventional wisdom assumes that the recent turmoil, on the Arab Street, has deteriorated Israel’s geo-strategic standing. However, the New Middle East Disorder threatens the survival – and exposes the tenuous nature and reliability – of every Arab regime. It underscores Israel’s unique stability, credibility, capability and unconditional alliance with the US. Israel’s added-value to the US is further enhanced by the pending US evacuation of Iraq and Afghanistan, which will shorten Washington’s strategic arm, possibly triggering an eruption of additional regional volcanoes.

While vital American interests remain intact, they face intensified threats, deeper Middle East penetration by Russia and China and
the rapid disappearance of dependable Arab allies. Israel is the only Middle East ally which could effectively extend America’s strategic hand without requiring a single American serviceman. Therefore, the regional upheaval necessitates expansion of the mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation, such as:

The upgrading of port facilities in Haifa and Ashdod for the Sixth Fleet.

The prepositioning in Israel, for American use, of US combat aircraft, missiles, missile defense and counter-terrorism systems; closer cooperation between the defense industries of both countries;

Equalizing Israel’s ally-status to that of Australia and Britain; etc.

Conventional wisdom contends that US public support for Israel is declining. Nevertheless, a September 15, 2011 public opinion poll, published by the Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill, reaffirms that support for Israel is an important issue for Americans, transcending religious, partisan, gender, age and economic lines, also among Independents, who constitute the most critical American voting bloc.

For instance, 63% of independent voters consider (a positive) US policy on Israel to be very, and somewhat, important. 76% of independent voters assume that President Obama is either
supportive (26%), or not sufficiently supportive (50%), of Israel.

According to 2010-2011 Gallup polls, support for Israel is rising, placing Israel consistently among the 5-7 most favored nations, while the Palestinians are lumped with the least favored Iran and North Korea.

Conventional wisdom presumes that the Palestinian-oriented tension between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu reflects a downward turn of strategic cooperation. Still, US-Israel strategic and commercial cooperation catapulted dramatically between 1948 and 2011, while Israeli Prime Ministers were bullied by US Presidents.

For instance, Truman imposed a military embargo to foil Israel’s declaration of independence. LBJ threatened Israel against preemption – and against annexation of East Jerusalem – in 1967. Reagan leaned on Israel to prevent the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, imposed a military embargo, opposed Israel’s war against the PLO in Lebanon and formally recognized the PLO.

And, Bush 41st opposed any pro-Israeli legislation in Congress and tried to cut financial assistance to Israel. In retrospect, since 1948, the frequent episodes of Palestinian-oriented tension between US Presidents and Israeli Prime Ministers, have been nothing but bumps on the path of an unprecedented surge in strategic cooperation.

Conventional wisdom supposes that US-Israel relations evolve, largely, around the Palestinian issue. However, the unique US-Israel ties have been nurtured mostly by shared Judeo-Christian values, which transcend contemporary democracy and peace. These values were instilled by the 17th century pilgrims, inspired the rebellion against Britain, coalesced by the Founding Fathers and forged the current US systems of government, education, law and morality.

Shared values have facilitated fertile collaboration in the face of mutual regional and global threats, while disagreements persist on the Palestinian issue. In addition, the US has leveraged Israel’s innovative manpower. According to George Gilder, one of America’s high-tech Gurus: “The US defense and prosperity increasingly depend on the ever-growing economic and technological power of Israel…We need Israel as much as it needs us.”

Irrespective of conventional wisdom, the two-way-street, mutually-beneficial relationship, between the leader of the Free World and its sole soul-ally in the Middle East, trends towards a dramatic enhancement in the face of dramatic mutual threats and challenges.