Monday, July 27, 2009

Dumb US power

From THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 23, 2009, by Saul Singer:

"We are determined to channel the currents of change toward a world free of violent extremism, nuclear weapons, global warming, poverty and abuses of human rights and, above all, a world in which more people in more places can live up to their God-given potential."
- US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, July 15

"...the world of terrorists and other violent extremists - of insurgents and IEDs - is with us for the long haul... Iran's going to have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons to the people in their region a lot sooner than they're going to have the capability to deliver them to us."
- US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, July 16

The Obama administration is torn between the audacity of hope and the morass of realism. One moment the rhetoric soars, the next it tugs rudely down to earth.

. . . "We need a new mind-set about how America will use its power to safeguard our nation [and] expand shared prosperity," Clinton said last week. The key, she said, was to use "smart power," which she defined previously as using "the full range of tools at our disposal - diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural - picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation."

. . .Obama's idea of "smart power" seems to consist of expecting less of friends and foes alike...

[However] Obama has taken positions so far outside the Israeli consensus that even the opposition has refused to take his side. Obama's use of dumb power has had a circle-the-wagons effect here, while gutting the potential effect of any tough talk toward the Arab side. The Arab states know they need to do nothing so long as the pressure is on Israel to deliver.

The smart power way would be to take the exact opposite approach: start by concentrating public pressure on the Arab states to move toward Israel. Arab normalization would create much more pressure on the Israeli government to reciprocate than what the US is doing now.

. . .What needs to be understood is that the constellation of threats that face the world now - primarily the nexus of terrorism and nuclear weapons - is no less of a bubble than the one whose collapse just left the global economy in shambles. Speculative bubbles look solid and endless when you are in them and then disintegrate in the blink of an eye. The world of terror is such a self-reinforcing yet fragile edifice.

The Green Revolution in Iran shows just how fundamentally weak the terrormasters . . . The mullahs' crackdown, while perhaps superficially succeeding, has set off a wave of internal and external pressure that is just beginning to gather force.

. . . now is not the time to grasp the mullahs' bloodied hand and relegitimize their regime, but to refuse to recognize the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-led government while offering to embrace any new government that abandons the road of oppression, nukes and terror.
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