Let's get serious.... we are at a turning point not because the big changes are happening today but because they are clearly visible a bit down the road. Now is the time to make decisions about what to do.
It is going to be easy to make little day-to-day, reactive decisions. Yet, this approach will be inadequate. On each of a half-dozen impending crises, a strategy is needed...... Here they are:
- Lebanon. An alliance of Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Michel Aoun's local Christians, and pro-Syrian Lebanese politicians are trying to take over the country's government.
- UNIFIL. This force ... is looking the other way as Hizballah is being rearmed.
- The Hariri murder investigation. It's pretty obvious, even from investigators' interim reports, that Syria was behind the murder of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.
- The Gaza-Egypt border. Egypt and the European Union (EU) promised Israel that they would keep terrorists and weapons from crossing into Gaza for use by Hamas..... Is anyone in Cairo or Brussels going to confront this miserable failure and the real chance that it might lead to a bloody war that will be their fault?
- Hamas in Gaza. The strategy of Hamas is to build up semi-regular military forces, large stocks of rockets, and then try to do in the South what Hizballah did in the North.
- Iran's nuclear drive....who believes that any serious sanctions are going to be put on Tehran or any other effective means will be taken to stop it?
- The future of Iraq. The U.S. decision to withdraw, as proposed in previous editions of this column, is a correct one. Yet how is this going to be done without diplomacy making it worse (see below)?
There is a great deal of talk about solutions to these issues, misperceived as they are, but the focus is on four phony panaceas, which will clearly not work. In fact, they are likely to make the extremists bolder and more reckless:
- Reactivating the Palestinian-Israel peace process.....you've got to be really reality-challenged to believe in this one.....Hamas daily explains it will not change its goal of destroying Israel and is salivating for a chance to get out on the battlefield.
- Negotiations with Syria. Right. Give them Lebanon, forget about Hariri, and they'll happily come to meetings for the next ten years. But make peace with Israel, you must be kidding.
- Bringing in Iran and Syria to decide Iraq's future. So the solution is to throw Lebanon and Iraq to the wolves, begging the radicals to see this proves the West wants to be friends? Could anything possibly persuade them more not to make a single concession because victory is nigh?
- Convince Iran by talks and concessions to stop building nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. Why should they, when they know defying the West will cost them zero?
As I said at the start of the column, let's get serious.
Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university.....Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online at: http://gloria.idc.ac.il/columns/column.html.