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   OCTOBER 1999 -  Issue #118    


What Role for America in the Future Mideast?

Herbert Zweibon

In a recent essay in the Wall Street Journal, Norman Podhoretz recalls an anecdote about Benjamin Franklin leaving the hall in which the deliberations over the Constitution were taking place. A woman stopped Franklin and asked, "What have you given us, Dr. Franklin?" He replied: "A republic, if you can keep it." The Jews were given a state in 1948, Podhoretz continues--but the intellectual rot, decline of morale, and overwhelming sense of defeat that characterizes contemporary Israel raises serious questions as to whether or not the Jews "can keep it."

Israel and world Jewry are not the only ones who need to ponder this question. Official Washington, too, should be thinking long and hard about the consequences for the United States if Israel is destroyed or weakened to the point of helplessness.

What are the prospects for American influence in a future Middle East where Israel is not a factor?

If the United States cannot defeat Saddam Hussein's Iraq, it is hard to imagine that the U.S. would be able to contain the Syrian-Iraqi-Iranian alliance that would be likely to dominate an Israel-less Mideast.

Moscow, an old hand at meddling in the Mideast, would quickly resume its traditional role as the Arab world's most significant patron. Obviously, the new Russia is not as powerful as the old Soviet Union, but today's America, too, is not nearly as powerful or determined as that of eras gone by.

Russia's desire to reassert itself in the Middle East is evident in its decision to forge ahead with massive arms shipments to Syria, despite Syria's inability to pay for them. Russian Suhoi-27 bombers, T-80 tanks and S-300 air defense systems are on their way to the Assad regime, along with Russian specialists who will upgrade Syria's Mig-21, Mig-23, and Mig-29 jets. At a time when Russia is suffering severe economic problems, it will be sending some $2-billion in weapons to Damascus, even though the Syrians already owe Moscow billions of dollars from previous weapons shipments. Why the Russian generosity? Because arms equal influence.

Which is precisely what the United States will not have in the Middle East of the future, if it continues on its present path of encouraging and pressuring Israel to commit national suicide, thus eliminating its only ally and source of pro-Western regional influence.

The outlines of the final "solution" that the Clinton administration intends to implement--or, if necessary, impose--have become painfully clear: an Israeli retreat to the indefensible pre-1967 borders, possibly with small, insignificant adjustments here or there; some kind of Palestinian Authority control over portions of Jerusalem; the return of Arab "refugees" to Israel, and many more to the PA-occupied territory; the expulsion of Jewish residents from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza; and a surrender of the entire Golan Heights, with an international force of toothless "peace-keepers" to provide the Israeli public with the illusion of protection.

In the short run, it will mean a tiny, weak Israel utterly dependent on the good will of its Arab neighbors. In the long run, it means, in all probability, the destruction of Israel entirely. In any event, it will mean a Middle East in which Israel is of no regional significance, cannot intervene or affect any regional conflict, and will be unable to protect or advance American interests.

In the name of a phony "peace," the U.S. will have destroyed its own chances for influence in what is arguably the most strategically-significant area in the world.

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


The Israeli Death Wish - Part 3 ...3

Iraq: The Continuing Storm ...8

A New Name for the Holocaust Museum ...10

October 1999               - 1 -               Outpost


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