Redacted from an extensive article by Dr. Mordechai Kedar,
Ph.D. Bar Ilan University
21 September 2012
In the past, the United States was the “glory of the world” mainly after it came to the aid of Europe in the Second World War, the victory over Germany and Japan in 1945, and the American success in establishing a democratic state in South Korea (1953) following the war against the communists, who were allied with China and the USSR. However, the glory of the United States has faded during the last generation. Historians point to Vietnam as the beginning of the process of decline; the war lasted 16 years (1959-1975), cost the lives of almost 60,000 American soldiers and ended in a disastrous American rout and Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, falling to the Vietcong, the militia of communist North Vietnam.
The Vietnam War left parts of American society with a lack of will to fight for the values of freedom and democracy, especially if it’s a question of fighting in countries outside of the United States.
In 1973 the American ambassador, his deputy and the deputy ambassador of Belgium were kidnapped in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan by the Palestinian organization “Black September”, and were executed on the personally telephoned orders of Yasir Arafat.
In April 1983 Hizb’Allah – the long arm of Iran in Lebanon – blew up the embassy of the United States, in another breach of its sovereignty, and killed 63 people and in October of that same year demolished Marine headquarters in Beirut killing 241 American soldiers and citizens. The American reaction was to flee from Lebanon, which very much encouraged Hizb’Allah and its patrons in Iran and Syria, and caused the United States to appear as a country without a backbone.
A month before this, in March of 1983, Hizb’Allah attacked the United States embassy in Kuwait, and in June, 1985 Hizb’Allah organized the hijacking of an American passenger jet of TWA.
In June, 1996 Hizb’Allah carried out an attack on an American military base in Saudi Arabia, and all of these attacks carried out by Shi’ite Hizb’Allah with Iranian inspiration were left unanswered by the Americans.
Qadhaffi’s Libya also contributed its part in aggression against the U.S. with the attack on the disco in Berlin where a number of American soldiers were killed as they were enjoying a night out in 1986. The aggression was answered with an attack on Qadhaffi’s palace, and although his adopted daughter was killed, he did not stand down.
In 1988 he organized a revenge attack on a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing almost 300 people. What was his punishment? Nothing, until 2011, when the United States was dragged into attacking Libya, almost reluctantly.
August, 1990, Saddam Hussein disregarded the warnings of the United States and invaded Kuwait, one of the West’s main suppliers of oil, claiming that Kuwait is a province of Iraq. In this case, the West became outraged, and led by the US in January, 1991, entered a war that successfully liberated Kuwait, but did not liberate Iraq and the world from Saddam Hussein.
In March 1991 the Shi’ite rebellion against Saddam (who had been vanquished in Kuwait) began, but he put down the rebellion with great cruelty, costing the lives of tens of thousands of Shi’ites, and the United States did not lift a finger.
In October 1993 an American commando force entering the city by helicopter, tried to capture two terrorists in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. The helicopter was shot down by the Somalis, who then killed 18 American soldiers and defiled their bodies. All of this was recorded on camera without fear of enraging the Americans.
Bin Laden, after his mujahedin succeeded in throwing out the Soviets from Afghanistan and accelerating the collapse of the Soviet Union, decided to turn the American weapons against the United States, “the world leader of heresy, permissiveness and materialistic culture” according to bin Laden’s description of the U.S. In December 1992 jihadists attacked hotels near the port of Aden where soldiers of the United States were housed.
In February 1993 the first attempt to collapse the twin towers was carried out in New York.
In August 1998 the United States embassies in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and Dar as-Salam the capital of Tanzania, were blown up, killing 224 and leaving thousands of wounded.
In 2000 al-Qaeda attacked the frigate USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, killing 17 soldiers. On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda organized a series of attacks in the United States on symbols of commerce and government, which caused about 3000 fatalities.
In the aura of the beginning years of the 2000′s in which the United States was perceived as vulnerable despite its great strength, Islamist terrorists did not hesitate to slaughter American citizens and soldiers on camera, for example Daniel Pearl in 2002; Nick Berg, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley in 2004.
As a result of the attacks of September 11, 2001 the United States entered into an all-out war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime of Afghanistan, which sponsored the organization. A blitz war brought the collapse of the regime and the dismantling of hundreds of al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan. The coalition led by the United States achieved total control of the entire area of Afghanistan within months, but today – after more than eleven years of Sisyphean (Greek Mythology – relating to Sisyphus – Endlessly laborious or futile fighting, and at the cost of much blood and treasure) the soldiers of the United States and their allies control only about 5 percent of the area of the state. It seems that Afghanistan is about to become the second Vietnam.
Later, an international coalition led by the United States conquered Iraq in 2003, but since then, organizations who adopted the ideology of al-Qaeda, challenged the stability that the United States tried to create in Iraq, by carrying out hundreds of attacks that killed thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens.
Iran, its eastern neighbor, also entered into the Iraqi turmoil, training, arming and financing Shi’ites who remembered well the American betrayal of March 1991, and between the years 2003 and 2008, caused many American fatalities. American intelligence had innumerable proofs of Iranian involvement in the killing of American soldiers, but the United States never ventured to even the account with Iran for this, because of the fear that it would have to open a new front, in addition to those of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Over all, American taxpayers poured into Iraq more than a trillion (a thousand billion) dollars. President Obama, as he promised, withdrew the United States soldiers from Iraq in December 2011, and as a result of the American flight, Iraq today is effectively controlled by Iran.
Despite the international ban on Iran to export weapons, and on Syria to import them, Iran supplies the murderous regime in Syria with weapons, ammunition and fighters who are airlifted over the skies of Iraq. The Americans know this and don’t do a thing.
Another American failure, no less important than the failure in Iraq, is the failure to stop the military nuclear program of Iran. The United States under Obama is afraid of drawing red lines for the regime of the Ayatollahs, who are hurtling ahead towards acquisition of the bomb, which may be able to reach as far as New York, not just Tel Aviv.
Thus, in a continual process of declining strength, the United Stated has become a paper tiger in dealing with the Arab and Islamic world. The Islamic bandits draw strength from American weakness, and it is precisely Obama’s attempts to engage the Islamists, beginning with the Cairo speech (June 2009), that increases the Islamists’ demands from him.
On this background of American weakness are additional facts, which the people of the Middle East see well: North Korea does as it pleases with its nuclear plans and missiles, despite Western and Japanese objections. In the past the United States acceded to the nuclearization of India and Pakistan.
In October 2011, Iran attempted to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, no less than the capital of the United States. The Iranians have no problem calling the United States “the Great Satan” which has only one meaning: that holy war must be waged against the United States – a jihad for the sake of Allah, which will only end with the destruction of the government of the United States and the conversion of its citizens to Shi’ite Islam.
The murder of the American ambassador in Libya this month was only another link in the chain of American failure to understand the Middle East.
Islamic zealots sense the American weakness and increase their pressure. The Americans have adopted the culture of “political correctness” that makes them “be nice” even if the one they are dealing with is not nice at all. They enable Islamic organizations to act freely in the United States, to establish mosques almost without limitations and preach violence against the “infidel” in these places, under the right of freedom of expression, of course.
People who are identified with radical Islam come and go in the White House and serve as “advisers” to the president and the secretary of state. During the past generation, the State Department has led the conciliatory and defeatist policy of the United States, which has brought the superpower of the past to be only a paper tiger in the eyes of the Arab and Islamic world.
Since last year, by instructions from above, all American investigative authorities – CIA, FBI and others – have been forbidden to ask people whom they are investigating questions about their faith, and all training programs for investigators have undergone censorship by an obscure committee, whose members are not known. Islam, which has an ideological platform for many of the terror activities that were carried out against Americans in the the United States, has ceased to be a matter that can be investigated or to asked about or related to in any way.
Thus – for example – the terrorist event at the Fort Hood base (November 2009) in which Nidal Hasan (a Palestinian Muslim) murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded 31, has become “violence in the workplace”, and the attempt of a Pakistani to set off a car bomb in Times Square in New York (May 2010) has become a “traffic accident”
The ignorance of the administration in the eyes of the Middle East has been proven over the past three years, when more than once, people of the government issued statements such as, “The Muslim Brotherhood is mainly a secular movement”, “Iran can be persuaded by diplomatic means to stop enriching uranium”, “There is no proof of the existence of a military nuclear program in Iran” and “Islam is a religion of peace”.
When the heads of the American government speak thus, the Muslim Brotherhood on the Sunni side of Islam, and the Iranians on the Shi’a side, know that they have nothing to worry about. The “Great Satan” has lost its teeth and its will to use its horns. The United States is quickly losing its will to defend its values, and in the Middle East this fact is clearly evident.
The conclusion that Israel must draw from all of this is clear: It’s security must not depend on the ever dissipating American determination, because some Americans who determine policy have the tendency to throw their friends – as in the case of Mubarak – under the bus. Therefore, Israel must place before her invading neighbors a real, concrete and credible threat, because in the Middle East peace is given only to those who can not be nvanquished, and freedom is given only to him who is ready to fight for it.
The Middle East is no place for bleeding hearts, and especially those whose glory has passed and is no more. The Arab and Islamic world knows how to appreciate and honor only those who honor themselves, who know how to draw a clear red line and then be willing to battle anyone who desires to harm them, to go to battle in order to guard the freedom of their region and their global glory.
However, the malaise of the United States need not be terminal: In the times of Ronald Reagan, George Bush the father and George W. Bush the son, there was in the United States a different image, because then at least, there was the will to cope with the problem-makers, not to appease them and not to surrender to them. Those were the days and those were the people. Are there any left like these? Where are they?
Mordechai Kedar is an Israeli scholar of Arabic literature and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University. He holds a Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University. Kedar is an academic expert on the Israeli Arab population. He served for twenty-five years in IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
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