I was recently reading an article by Daniel Serwer, talking about the Foundation for Defense of Democracies annual meeting on the Middle East. A panel of supporters of the Iraq War tried to drag Obama over the coals for being shy with American military power. It very effectively underlined for me what conservatives, and especially those who convinced themselves that Iraq was going to be an easy win, do not grasp about the realities of the Middle East.
In plain and unambiguous terms, Israel is safer today because of Obama, not Netanyahu or McCain or any warhawk. Yes, you read that right. All the right-wing bomb-Iran-types didn’t get their war, didn’t get to try (and fail) to bomb out the Iranian nuclear program, didn’t get to run the risk of triggering another World War with the nuclear program in place of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, and yet increased security still got accomplished.
Syria is approaching the goal of eliminating its stockpile of chemical weapons; 86% of its toxic weapons material has been removed, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. That includes over 88% of the 700 tons of the most toxic chemicals, among them mustard gas and materials for the formulation of the nerve agents sarin and VX. Because of Obama’s diplomacy, not I’ve-got-a-hammer-and-thus-every-problem-is-a-nail military imperialism. This is a huge step, nearly incalculable in terms of its effect on the balance of power in the region. This is the kind of thing people like Bush launch wars to (supposedly) accomplish. Why wasn’t Syria a target like Iraq? Two words: Russia, and oil. Russia would have backed Syria, and the oil production in Syria is too anemic to tempt the right-wing oil looters.
The IAEA reports that Iran has cut its stock of medium enriched uranium by three-quarters. It has completely diluted half its stock to low enriched uranium, and it has converted a quarter of its stock into reactor fuel, ahead of the established schedule. It would be difficult and time-consuming to reverse this progress. Even if Iran were to renege on the deal today, it would take them months to reconstitute enough uranium for one bomb, and the world would see them doing it. There is no indication that Iran is about to break off negotiations or go back on its promise. In short, Netanyahu’s bomb has been drained. His red line has been implemented. Is he happy about it? Of course not. Are the Republicans who decried the threat of a nuclear Iran lauding him for his efforts? No. Because it’s not the way THEY would have done it. However, we’ve seen how they would do it… no thanks. McCain’s “Bomb Iran” quip wasn’t just an abuse of a classic song.
Think of how Obama has operated to rid the Middle East of WMDs (a vital part of the US and Israel’s collective security) and compare it with the “tough guys” who preceded him. Bush and Cheney launched a ruinous, failed war that did nothing to increase our national security (indeed, it weakened it by tying up overseas military forces that could actually defend the nation and pouring out funding like water to do it), and failed to find or destroy any WMDs. Obama, by diplomatic maneuvering, managed to avoid getting sucked into the Syrian conflict, while successfully ridding the country of chemical weapons. To have managed to achieve this in the midst of a civil war is a huge success, and any other president would be basking in praise from all sides for it. And if the successful implementation of the agreement with Iran continues, we could have a viable permanent solution that reliably keeps nukes out of the hands of Tehran’s faux-democratic dictatorship. The GOP solution to both circumstances, echoed by the conservatives in the current Israeli government, would have seen us once again neck-deep in a Middle East quagmire for little to no return for anyone but the defense contractor corporations. This does not even consider the fact that, given their often expressed preferences, a Republican president and administration would have kept us in Iraq and Afghanistan
If all continues in this direction, Obama will have done what Bush promised and more, at a fraction of the cost, and with no war. I’m just wondering what crime or failure his disloyal opposition will try to create out of it… because they surely will.
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