Friday, September 02, 2011

Soccer Dad's Mideast Media Sampler 9/2/11‏

Today's sampler and analysis of Mideast media content from my pal Soccer Dad:

1) Darth Friedman
Lando: Lord Vader, what about Leia and the Wookiee?
Darth Vader
: They must never again leave this city.
: [outraged] That was never a condition of our agreement, nor was giving Han to this bounty hunter!
Darth Vader
: Perhaps you think you're being treated unfairly?
: [after a pause; nervous tone] No.
Darth Vader
: Good. You know it would be unfortunate if I had to leave a garrison here.
: [to himself] This deal is getting worse all the time!
Darth Vader: Calrissian. Take the princess and the Wookie to my ship.
Lando: You said they'd be left at the city under my supervision!
Darth Vader: I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further

Dialogue from The Empire Strikes Back

A few months ago, in End of Mideast Wholesale, Thomas Friedman wrote:
For the last 30 years, Israel enjoyed peace with Egypt wholesale — by having peace with just one man, Hosni Mubarak. That sale is over. Today, post-Mubarak, to sustain the peace treaty with Egypt in any kind of stable manner, Israel is going to have to pay retail. t is going to have to make peace with 85 million Egyptians. The days in which one phone call by Israel to Mubarak could shut down any crisis in relations are over.
It was an outrageous judgment then; the recent terror attacks from Egypt exposed the perniciousness of this viewpoint. Just as Darth Vader expected Lando Calrissian to accept his changing circumstances with equanimity, so does Thomas Friedman expect Israel to act. By Friedman's logic, Israel must keep Egypt happy, but Egypt need not reciprocate.

Guy Bechor questions this ideology in Mideast Rules must Change (h/t Love of the Land)
While Israel paid with hard, irreversible currency when it handed over land to the Arab side, the Arabs paid with soft, completely reversible currency - that is, words and agreements. Now we are hearing claims that these deals were made with the regimes rather than with the “people”; that is, they lack any legitimacy.

In Egypt there are many voices, including among presidential candidates, declaring that the Camp David Accord with Israel must be annulled or at least changed. That is, change the aspects that pertain to “peace” with Israel. Yet if the Egyptians wish to annul the Camp David Accord, will they return the Sinai desert to Israel? After all, they received this territory through the peace treaty between the two states, after failing to secure it through war. Yet for some reason, this is unthinkable for them.

Why is Israel responsible to make everyone else happy for there to be peace?

2) Can Libya teach us anything?

Many are treating the apparently overthrow of Qaddafi as a clearcut victory, though it may be too early to pop the corks. Still Reuel Marc Gerecht wonders if there's a lesson for Syria.

Syria will be his real test. The arguments for supporting Syrian protesters are easily as strong as those mustered to save the people of Benghazi. After months facing the regime snipers’ machine guns, tanks and torture, demonstrators are openly calling for foreign intervention. And the regime’s strategic sins against the United States are far greater than those committed by the Libyan Nero. Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah — the two terrorist powerhouses of the Middle East — are Damascus’s closest friends. Almost every Arab terrorist group, spawned in the hothouses of Islamic militancy and Arab nationalism, has had a presence in Damascus. The ruling Assad family has been the great enabler of terrorism against the United States — from the 1983 Beirut bombings to the 1996 attack on Khobar Towers, and quite possibly to Sept. 11 via the operational carte blanche given to Imad Mughniya and Hezbollah. Mughniya, Iran’s dark Arab prince who served as Tehran’s liaison with Arab terrorists, and Hezbollah likely aided al-Qaeda in the 1990s. More so than any Sunni-led Arab state, the Assad regime has reveled in its “front-line” hostility toward Israel.
For decades foreign policy “realists” dreamed of severing the Assads and Syria’s ruling Shiite Alawite clan from Iran and marrying them to the peace process. This delusional aspiration — it ignored the sectarian and religious reality of Syrian politics — appears dead. Addicted to viewing the region through a Palestinian-Israeli lens, Obama may finally look strategically at Syria.

Gerecht clearly believes that the United States needs to get involved because the Syrian government isn't just turning its guns against its own people but has been an enemy in war to the United States and its allies.

3) 1 million on the 3rd?

A funny thing with the protests in Israel, reality intruded. Isabel Kershner reports:

After six weeks of tent encampments and rallies featuring popular singers that drew as many as 300,000 people into the streets on the first Saturday in August, the Sept. 3 rally has been described by its promoters as a million-person march.
But for now the movement is in a kind of hiatus, with nagging questions about where it will go. The mid-August attack by Palestinian militants that killed eight Israelis near the southern city of Eilat, close to the Egyptian border, followed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza, proved to be a major interruption, abruptly changing the public discourse back to the more familiar mode of Israeli security in hostile surroundings.
In addition, disagreements have emerged among the groups that make up the leadership of the protest movement, along with increasing grumbling about some of the higher-profile leaders themselves. The giddy festival atmosphere that first enveloped the social protest has dissipated. The rows of tents at the flagship encampment lining Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv are gradually emptying.

I wish that Kershner had provided more details about the dissatisfaction with the leadership of the protests. Of course the emptying of the tents may just be a sign that summer's over and that protesters no longer have the time.
Despite Kershner's generally positive portrayal of the protests, Challah Hu Akbar pointed out that a feeder demonstration did not go well.

Some 20 activists from southern Israel marched to Jerusalem from the south and are protesting against the cost of living in front of the prime minister's residence.

If the million protesters don't show it won't be the only recent underwhelming protest.

4) Yelling "fire"

The new editor of the Jerusalem Post, Steven Linde defends his decision to fire Larry Derfner:

By trying to rationalize the murder of his fellow Jews by terrorists, Derfner – who has always been the consummate journalist for the Post – went beyond the pale. Consequently we terminated his employment.

The move, I stress, had nothing to do with threats to cancel subscriptions or advertisements; it was an editorial decision taken on moral grounds. While politically independent, the Post is a quintessentially Zionist newspaper priding itself on its patriotism and credibility, as well as its balanced reporting and diverse commentaries.

If I'm understanding Linde he's arguing that Derfner's post was similar to yelling "fire" in crowded movie theater. So he, in turn said, "you're fired." A rabbi was recently arrested for incitement, so I wonder if there may have been a legal concern too.

5) Followup

Yesterday I wrote that Ehud Olmert was Netanyahu's successor, which is technically correct, since Netanyahu served as PM from 1996-1999 (I didn't write "immediate"), given the context, I meant "predecessor." Thank to Carl for pointing it out!

please helps me write more gooder!


B.Poster said...

Thomas Friedman's statement that Israel was paying "wholesale" for peace and now they must pay "retail" is beyond the pale outrageous!! Israel has not, in fact, been paying "wholesale" or "retail." They along with America have been paying far, far above retail. What they have been paying is the equivelant of a shakedown like what organized criminals or loan sharks do. Now Mr. Friedman expects Israel to pay more!!

When Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan threatened America, the greatest generation did not pay retail, wholesale or whatever for peace. They mobilized all of their might and destroyed them. Egpyt poses a far greater threat to Israel than Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan ever posed to America.

Frankly, I'm not sure how Israel should proceed here. This is a decision for Israelis to make. IF they chose a WWII style response and they could implement it, it would be justified. IF this happened, we must remember Egypt is also an enemy of America. It would be in our interest for Israel to succeed. Due to logistics, training, intellegence capabilities, and technological capabilities Israel would be in the best position to lead the operation and America's best option would be to completely and entirely STAY OUT OF THE WAY. By doing this the operation would have the greatest chance to be successful.

B.Poster said...

The comparison of Syria to Libya is curious. For any kind of military action against Syria to happen, there are several factors to be considered. 1.)Is there support for such an operation among American "allies?" 2.)Is there an opposition group or groups within the country who can do the heavy lifting on the ground to give the operation a reasonable chance of success? 3.)How will Russia and Iran, Syria's major allies respond?

The answers to 1 and 2 are an emphatic no. The answers to these questions regarding Libya are an emphatic yes. With regards to question 3 Syria appears to be much more important Russia and Iran, especially Iran, than Libya is/was. As such, there is a virtual 100% certainty that any military action against Syria will lead to direct military action by Russia and Iran against the American mainland and/or American interests around the world. I don't envision anyone in the American military establishment having the stomach for that. Also, major casualties on the American mainland are not good for the reelection prospects for political leaders either. Even if 3 is ignored entirely somehow, military action against Syria CANNOT happen without the answers to 1 and 2 being yes. Right now the answers to them is an emphatic NO.

The sanctions against Syria are a toothless, meaningless joke that actually have negative utility and serve only to make an enemy stronger. They should be scrapped entirely, as they are worse than useless.

Essentially the Syrian government is here to stay no matter how much American leaders might like it and no matter how much the author of the article might like. In charting a course for its national defense, American political and military leaders must act with that reality in mind.

Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis that only Israel has to give for there to be peace. Unfortunately that has been the plan all along. Never did Israel insist that anything other than its existence be recognized so the Arabs could demand anything they wanted in return. It almost seems that Israel has forgotten that she WON all the wars of annihilation and that maybe just maybe she should demand a whole lot more and maybe just maybe the Arabs should be expected to act civilized.BTW it doesn't matter what the Friedman's of the world think. Quite frankly they became unbalanced both literally and figuratively along time ago.

It reminds me of the silly question, that after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, Truman should have begged the Japanese to surrender and the Japanese said well only under certain conditions. The truth of the matter is that the Arabs lost and Israel needs to demand their unconditional surrender.

Everyone is so worried about Arab honor, I say what honor? How is there honor in celebrating the murder of children and the slaughter of innocents.They are devoid of modern civilization and should be treated thusly. If they wish to be a part of society they need to abide by civilized rules. Of course I know that won't happen. Too much oil need, and antisemitism in the world for anyone to stand up to the Arab world and give them conditions for inclusion.