By: HASSAN FARAZIAN
SUMMARY: This is a commentary on an article by Bret Stephens (The Hillary Myth – WSJ, Tuesday, July 17, 2012) that was written over – four years ago – and the contents of which seems to be still pertinent within the context of American domestic and foreign policy. Thus despite the very rhetorical tone of the Presidential elections, the issues pointed out below continue to challenge United States’ vision, credibility and lack of clear insight in a divided, compromising, and costly endeavor that continue to besiege strategically or structurally American foreign policy posture.
Hassan Farazian, Ph.D
July 30, 2012
Dear Mr. Stephens
I enjoyed reading your concise and to the point article regarding Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (The Hillary Myth – WSJ, Tuesday, July 17, 2012), and despite my unequivocal support of President Obama, I agree with your overall analysis of this administration’s foreign policy being, to say the least, very disappointing, and the Secretary of State’s performance, as you suggest, grossly exaggerated.
To compliment your article’s assertions and, respectfully, point out certain divergence of view, I would like to also underline the following: Referring to the two articles in the New York Times and Foreign Policy, you suggest that “… you’re almost tempted to suspect one was cribbed from the other.” You are absolutely right and most definitely, not probably, that is what has happened. After all, and with all due respect to you and a few of your colleagues, the U.S. media has completely lost its touch of credibility, independence, and objectivity. The reason? Probably the “green stuff” that is hard to come by with all the technological evolution and, therefore, whoever pays the piper—in one form or another—calls the tune. Obviously, you have had to put it in a very subtle and diplomatic language talking about the above-mentioned articles, but I am sure you are very intelligent to know how things really work in the media.
I take the pain in pointing this out because as the fourth major pillar and wheel of our democracy (executive, Legislative, Judiciary, being the others), it has been punctured beyond repair. The easy and sweet money has corrupted our media so much, sometimes so very subtly and sophisticatedly, that it is hard to find an analysis or reporting without serious slanting agenda. Had it not been for such state of affair and the lack of conscious assertion of facts by the media, the Bush/Cheney team may have thought twice before forging forth into the United States’ most disastrous foreign policy adventure—that we shall never recover from because of its consequences either at home or abroad. But the media chose to remain conspicuously silent, to say the least, and very (yes, very) cowardly on the margins of the factual debate until it was too late, resembling the shameful images of Monday morning quarterbacks. Just as we never heard anything in advance from the media financial programs, paper or audiovisual, about the unfolding 2007-2008 banking crisis until afterward.
As for U.S. foreign policy, in a nutshell, it suffers from the following:
• ANY FOREIGN POLICY, particularly one conducted by a supposed Super Power needs a plan, even if a bad one. Assassinating Bin Laden or other adversaries does not constitute a grandeur foreign policy plan, or being dignifying for the United States.
• Briefly, U.S. foreign policy reveals the following: In the Middle East, the hotbed of U.S. foreign policy events are unfolding in spite of American actions (not policy) leaving a bittersweet taste for the U.S. with both former allies who have actively become antagonistic and the new challenging elite who have no reason to have any faith or trust in America.
Iraq and Afghanistan: We are leaving Iraq and Afghanistan with the tail between the legs and handing them over on a silver platter to Iran and Pakistan. Along with the continuing civil war that no one wants to admit and again conspicuous absent of U.S. media for that matter, other than cheering of the troops coming home.
Iran, Israel, and the Nuclear Proliferation: The Iran equation should be analyzed from precisely the above combination. The historical events of the past three decades have made both Iran and the U.S. very suspicious of each other and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, and persisting interventions in the Middle East has not helped the climate of mistrust. Israel, however, is the tail that has continued to wag the American foreign policy with its strong and unbashful Israeli lobby (God forbid, should you say Jewish as you will be dammed with anti-Semitism). Thus the question that merits asking is: Does Israeli national security interests constitute the same for the U.S.? Furthermore, must every administration continue to give a blank check to the Israeli lobby and/or be baptized by their uncompromising and downright arrogant demands? The snubbing of both President Obama and Vice President Biden on his trip to Israel are only two open incidents of a recipient, non-crucial “ally” acting as the strongest in U.S./Israeli relationship, precisely because of their domestic Israeli lobby that has turned the entire American Congress into their undeniable Lackey and corrupted US-Israeli relationship in their favor.
As for Hillary Clinton’s relations with Israel, respectfully, you have got it wrong. She has been a close friend of Israel and has cemented that relationship during her successful election to the Senate through securing extremist Hasidic Jews’ vote in New York. (It became known, her brother had secured a Presidential pardon by President Clinton in exchange for $400,000 and in return the Hasidic Jews had given their “group vote” to her. Thank God it wasn’t a group sex deal.) Therefore, she has not bowled Netanyahu as you suggest but has very cunningly stayed away from troubled territory that could have agitated her future Presidential chances.
The point is that the Israeli lobby has been the main challenge of U.S. foreign policy over the past half-century—period. This was certainly brought and talked about in the open during the 1970s by George Ball, a respected Washington insider in a Mike Wallace 60 Minutes episode and as lately as 2006 by Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and no less an authority in dealing with the Arab/Israeli conflict Zbigniew Brzezinski (see Foreign Policy July/August 2006). The espionage case of Jonathan Jay Pollard who was rightfully given life in prison for spying in Israel’s favor is the classic, but not the only one that proves the rashness of Israeli action that knows absolutely — no bound.
As for Iran, the U.S. (and Israel for that matter) must read the writing on the wall that it is too late to stop Iran and the regime that by the way has the backing of the entire population on its side for its nuclear program. Hence, the implementation of the anti-missile defense system that the U.S. has begun is the best short to medium term solution. The U.S. must understand that the Iranian regime’s sticking to its gun is only a deterrent for a possible U.S. attack. The mullahs realize the consequences of their hypothetical aggression against either Israel or the West and will not dare challenging or question the U.S. resolve. They just want to make sure that the heavy price U.S. or Israel would also have to pay is well understood if Iran is attacked. Hence their persistence on the same path. It is, if you will, a de facto application of the strategic doctrine applied between the two Superpowers for decades known as MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). This again, in the short run, can be the only practically acceptable solution. If any doubt, a look at both Pakistan’s and India’s development of their nuclear programs should confirm the futility of U.S./Israeli actions should they continue on the same path.
The Persian Gulf Nations: There too, perhaps with the exception of “Dubai Corporation” that benefits all parties, like Hong Kong after the Communist revolution, every head of states from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, Yemen, and the Gulf Council, in general, will be living in London—their de facto Godfather. Just because the Western media and particularly the U.S. is again conspicuously silent or at best very quiet about the daily ongoing socio-political upheavals there, as supposed to Syria, does not make it go away. It has only been swept under the carpet. What is the U.S. policy there? Wait and see, wishful thinking? If there is a policy at all, it is the most well-kept secret and a change of pattern in Washington’s usual behavior of leaking secrets?
China and Russia: Unfortunately, the relations with both countries are also going nowhere but—south. China has continued to make enormous political and strategic leaps in both the region as well as globally—hence increasing the cost factor to U.S. foreign policy. Russia too is very dubious about U.S. gestures and like U.S. view of Russia does not consider them anything other than lip service. The fact is that the U.S. never kept its words after the fall of communism regarding the expansion of NATO, and continued to push the envelope despite many warning signs at the time that led to Russia’s invasion of Georgia. The same mistakes are reproduced currently in the Middle East pushing the Russian nerves to its limits—particularly with the deployment of the anti-missile both there and in Europe. The downing of the Turkish fighter jet by Syria should also be seriously considered as Russian act of drawing the line— just like its Georgia invasion.
Turkey: Haunted by its past historical nationalistic ego and too enthusiastic in becoming the Western interface and political valet with the Arab/Muslim world is treading a very dangerous line. Its sociocultural makeup and the ethical divergence—particularly the Kurds in the East—can suddenly become the same surprise powder keg at has been the source of the socio-political explosion in the region. What goes around, will come around and Turkey will be well advised to bid too wildly for the Western strategic interests.
Africa: The entire continent slowly but surely has become infected with the Al Qaeda phenomena, spreading out of control with far-reaching effects—possibly even for Europe. Here is the next quiet tsunami in the making.
Last, But Not Least: Not only the U.S. foreign policy lacks any coherent, applicable and realistic policy, sadly, it is also deprived of truly competent and courageous and intellectually apt foreign policy decision makers. The same myth that you have applied to Secretary Clinton is true going all the way back to Henry Kissinger whose legacy we are still paying for heavily. The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of dead wood to be cleared from the American foreign policy apparatus. Yet, like heavy lumber, the status quo continues to hold on, linger, and weigh on U.S. foreign policy, thereby doubling down on the dead end direction of U.S. foreign policy that, let’s face it, isn’t going anywhere. As the saying goes, you can take the horse out of the stable but you cannot take the stable out of the horse. In the same way, the status quo U.S. foreign policy decision makers—continue to arrogantly ignore the realpolitik of international relations.
The one thing certain is that all empires go down because of massive military spending and one other factor most people, even experts, forget—massive debt service (interest). The British and the French finally received and felt the bad news during the fiasco of the Suez Canal in 1956 that proved to be their coup de grace leading to Macmillan’s reflection that Britain had become only “first among equals.” Then the British establishment still unwilling to let go of the past or accept the reality of the, again in MacMillan’s words, “wind of change” tried to stretch its fantasy and illusion, just like the current U.S posture now, all the way up until the early 1970s when it announced the withdrawal of all British forces from East of Suez and the Persian Gulf. Then, the Shah of Iran very competently, along with the Nixon Doctrine filled the gap—militarily, politically, and thus financially. The same path, by mending the fences with Iran—the Superpower of the region whether we like it or not–is the only way to rescue what is left of U.S. might and influence in the region. Some would argue it is being done behind the scene with regards to Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., another well-kept secret? Not likely and certainly not to the magnitude needed. However, persisting on the same path may prove eventually for the crisis in the Persian Gulf to be U.S. demise equivalent to the Suez fiasco. I love those doggy metaphors—ever seen a dog chase its tail?
It is with great pleasure and anticipation that I look forward to hearing your comments.
Hassan Farazian, Ph.D.