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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Sudetenland 

That's what Hitler called Czechoslovakia. He said it was German land. Ahmadinejad, Iran's President, refers to Israel as Palestine. He says it's Muslim land. He has articulated his sense of the politics of the issue, and this is well documented. He is also clearly pursuing a nuclear capability which could be used to eliminate Israel.

In the new, "Iraq Study Group" world, the world of James Baker and Robert Gates, Israel is, in my view, a less well regarded ally of the US. I think this markedly increases the likelihood that Israel will take unilateral action against Iran. This would be consistent with its actions viz. Iraq in 1983.

We should remember Sharon's very public remarks -- "Israel will not be Czechoslovakia." Mssrs. Baker and Gates will be tempted to offer up Israel as a sop to Iran. This would be a part of a new "Grand Bargain", it seems to me.

Israel is unlikely to accept that. See Netanyahu's commentary yesterday in that regard (HT: Powerline). The question is -- is it in America's interest to use Israel as a spear tip against Iran?

MORE from TigerHawk: As I wrote a couple of months ago, proxy war is back in fashion. Iran is waging war against Israel through Hezbollah and Hamas and against the United States through various obstructionist factions in Iraq. As in the Cold War, Israel is far more valuable to American interests as a proxy than as a bargaining chip. It is a grave mistake to assume otherwise.

More from CP: I am not sure James Baker would agree with TH. His vision of Israel is more akin to a goat fed as bait to a tiger, as opposed to a genuine proxy. Remember how he instructed Israel to stand down in PG I and let missiles rain down on it; then he marched them off to Oslo. Sharon would not have put up with it. Netanyahu won't; it is not clear what Olmert intends.

12 Comments:

By Blogger skipsailing, at Wed Nov 15, 11:03:00 AM:

why I don't like Baker:

first, he's associated in my mind with a failed presidency. GHWB was so inept I wound up voting for Perrot. Bush the elder was incapable of DC hardball and showed fecklessness at an alarming level. Baker was there, IMHO and thus I'm troubled.


Baker is termed a "realist". If one were to look up 'realist' in the Webstah's one would see a picture of Jacques Chirac. Realism is the process of abandonning principles in favor of short term "gain". No where was this more clearly illustrated than "no new taxes".

I don't trust him and I wonder what the f word he's doing in DC now.

Nothing good, is my opinion.  

By Blogger DEC, at Wed Nov 15, 11:42:00 AM:

Skipsailing said: "Baker is termed a 'realist'."

A realist understands the resources he has available, and he has an excellent grasp of what he can accomplished with them. A realist likes to simplify things. Breaking down complex problems into simple tasks makes them easier to solve. A realist also knows his limitations. He won't hesitate to bring in outside help.

I like Baker. But you don't. However, you still have Lawrence Eagleburger and Alan K. Simpson in the group. These are not men who look at the world through rose-colored glasses.  

By Blogger sirius_sir, at Wed Nov 15, 12:14:00 PM:

DEC, your definition of realist is perhaps one I can accept. But to properly define selling an ally down the river, or abandoning any other principle, for short-term gain seems to require another word. Also, this business of asking Iran and Syria to help us out in Iraq seems quite delusional. Maybe we should start calling these guys delusionists instead.

Powerline has a good article on the issue, with reference to both Israel and Iraq. Their take? The problem with the "realists"--Baker, Scowcroft, Gates--is that their grip on reality seems to be tenuous.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 15, 12:56:00 PM:

Israel should covertly set off a Nuke in an Iranian mine.

1) The Europeans, Americans and most of the UN would assume Iran successfully tested a nuke, and impliment sanctions.

2) The Mullahs MIGHT begin to understand they cannot destroy Israel without destroying their country.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Wed Nov 15, 01:10:00 PM:

As you have indicated elsewhere DEC you value pragmatism over principle. Your definitions work well in the business world but I didn't vote for an administrator, I voted for a commander. The difference is significant IMHO.  

By Blogger DEC, at Wed Nov 15, 01:20:00 PM:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

By Blogger DEC, at Wed Nov 15, 01:26:00 PM:

Skipsailing said: "As you have indicated elsewhere DEC you value pragmatism over principle."

I am not Don Quixote.  

By Anonymous BIRD OF PARIDISE, at Wed Nov 15, 03:07:00 PM:

Well the ilegal aleins entering this nation call parts of america AZLAN and we dont want any part of any damn North American Union  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Wed Nov 15, 04:49:00 PM:

Yes, DEC you most definitely are not don quixote.

it seems that Austin Bay has some of the same concerns as me.

here's the address (yes, one of these days I'll learn how to do links!)

http://www.strategypage.com/on_point/2006111515258.aspx

Here's the quote that sums up my concerns:

James Baker was secretary of state in 1991, when the Iraqi people were consigned to the depredations of their tyrant. Baker needs to remember that, if he -- an old master of Realpolitik -- counsels a policy that leads to anything less than victory.

I supported Bush the elder's decision, or at least defended it on the grounds that he lacked a true mandate for the trip to Baghdad.

but it was a wrong choice then and I worry that this guy Baker will advise the wrong choices now.

chicken Kiev will suddenly re appear on menus accross the length and breadth of this great land.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Nov 15, 07:36:00 PM:

Regarding Gulf War I: People like to think that the decision to leave the Iraqi government in place was made in a vacuum. It was not. The President and company wanted to topple Saddam. They genuinely did. But the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians, Syrians, et al. wouldn't allow it. The Saudis almost didn't let us into their country to deploy for a war against Iraq at all. King Fahd didn't think Saddam was a threat. In the end, regional power politics over rode. *That's* realism (in the geo-political sense) and it wasn't an American decision; it was an Arab one. Ref: The Gulf Conflict, Freedman and Karsh.

As for the argument about the word 'realist...' Presuming that it is used in an international relations context, the simplest definition of a realist is someone who sees the struggle of nations as a zero sum game of power in which the winner has the most power. As in algebra, or poker perhaps; he gained power, therefore I lost power, and the point of the game is to acquire as much as possible. If you are winning, the point is to keep winning. Gains don't have to be short term; they just have to be gains.

What's that famous quotation? Britain does not have friends, she has only temporary interests? That's a fair description of realist thought.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Thu Nov 16, 10:10:00 AM:

The problem of throwing goats to the tiger is you eventually run out of goats and have to face the well-fed and fully-grown tiger who is used to being fed.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Thu Nov 16, 01:38:00 PM:

Dawnfire, the quote is from Lord Palmerston.

“Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”  

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