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Maariv, Israel

The United States Simply Hasn’t
Learned Its Lesson

By Dr. Cello Rozenberg

Translated By Hannah Stork

15 September 2013

Edited by Thomas Phippen

Israel - Maariv - Original Article (Hebrew)

The United States’ transition from initial reaction to Syria to proposing a response to being pulled into unrealistic proposals regarding Syria, is liable to cause the heaviest damage to the nation which considers itself to be the greatest world power. Let me be clear from the start: The above statement is not to lament the lack of an immediate attack on Syria. Secretary of State Kerry is correct in his views regarding the end of the crisis. In other words, the solution will be political and not military.

Clausewitz was famous for saying, “War is a mere continuation of policy by other means,” but his adage has now been implemented in a twisted fashion by Obama and his administration. Let’s not forget that the same Clausewitz also declared that “war is the province of danger,” and there is no reason to rejoice in fighting for fighting’s sake. However, today Obama’s government appears confused and unstable in its decisions. And even if it’s only an appearance, it can still have weighty implications for the future of the United States and of the free world.

In an article that I wrote on Aug. 28, I contended that the Cold War has returned. There were those who disparaged this contention, but the reality is that Russia has returned to center stage politically and is clashing with the United States, just as it was during the height of the tensions between the two powers. And that is exactly the point: Russia leads and the United States reacts. This reactionary foreign policy is a first-level strategic error.

Russia’s last recommendation, according to which Syria is willing to accept international oversight of its chemical weapons supplies — a recommendation that the Syrian minister of foreign affairs essentially created, by the way — and America’s incredibly fast response pose extremely difficult dilemmas to the free world. If the United States were to accept the Russian recommendation as a possible solution, without attacking Syria, Iran could dominate the entire region. There is no realistic way to oversee Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

Bad for the Free World

The world has failed at oversight, time after time, in similar cases. The most prominent example is Iran. Indeed, the Iranian government tricked the world for many years. Negative reports from the U.N. overseers accumulated frighteningly. Countless times, Iran disregarded inspectors; even more often, they weren’t even allowed into Iran. Under the childish belief that perhaps Iran would cease its uranium enrichment program before the creation of nuclear weapons, a scenario of horses escaping their stables was created.

Neither the U.N. nor any country in the world has an exact indication of what is happening in Iran. This situation is bad for the free world; it’s bad for everyone who is of the opinion that the existence of such a devastating weapon in the hands of fundamentalism is extremely dangerous. Due to events in Syria, the Iranian issue has been forgotten, but, unfortunately, the centrifuges and nuclear development programs in Iran continue to operate freely. The world has shifted its gaze away from Iran, and for its government, this is a grace period like no other. It’s unnecessary to identify the likely implications.

After saying all of this and putting forth a hesitant criticism of the American government, we must also deal with the European hypocrisy that has made the matter more difficult for Obama. I do not intend to suggest that European leaders must ignore the opinions of the people in their countries. Along with that, this whole process of parliamentary approvals and complicated bureaucratic labyrinths speaks to an era in which Europe is sinking into a deep, sweet sleep. There have been periods in European history — both recent and distant — in which this kind of sleep we are seeing today leads to grave disasters.

Europe won’t be able to wash its hands of responsibility if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon. And that’s the main point. Regardless of all the media attention, Syria is just a symptom of a more serious disease that is ruling in Europe. This fact is more than a little discouraging for the U.S. government. Let’s not forget that past American presidents who were extremely militant and quick to draw weapons did not simply ignore European support when deliberating on engaging in war with global implications.

Europe’s decision to withdraw its hands from the Syrian crisis and to turn a cold shoulder to the United States is very worrying. We must remember one basic thing: The United States is not threatened. Its citizens are very safe. Those who are being lenient will contend that American reluctance to military action is understandable: What is not understandable is Europe’s stance. The scenario playing out between Europe and Iran is how the free world is likely to deteriorate into an abyss while the faces of Iranian leaders shine with joy.



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