Right now, I believe the Middle East is considerably more dangerous than it has ever been before. Consider:
1. Iran continues to develop its nuclear weapons capability. This is the same Iran that has funded various terrorist groups, fomented civil war in Iraq, declared a Jihad against the US, and vowed to “wipe Israel of the face of the earth.”
2. Syria is in turmoil.
3. Iraq is embroiled in a civil war between the Shias and the Sunnis. For all intents and purposes, it is no longer a viable nation. ISIS has been gobbling up territory seemingly at will as any organized resistance has melted away. For the uninitiated, ISIS is an extremist splinter of al Qaeda, which al Qaeda, itself, has labeled as too radical. As they have expanded their territory they have captured weaponry that the US originally had provided to the Iraqi army. At some point in the future, they may be returning this weaponry to us in a less than pleasant manner. Even worse, in the last couple of days it has been disclosed that they have captured fissionable material, which means that they now have the capability to make nuclear bombs. True, they lack the ballistic capability to “deliver” these bombs, however, they can and likely will manufacture “dirty” bombs, which can fit in a suitcase. Setting off one of these “dirty” bombs in a mall or train station can do significant damage. Congressman Peter King and others have warned that the threat of such dirty bombs being detonated in the US is very real.
4. Israel and the Palestinians are engaged in an undeclared war in Gaza. The Palestinians have the backing of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad with whom they have formed a “Unity Government.” The conflict was precipitated by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last week, one of which was an American citizen. Israel responded with rocket attacks and bombings. Since then, there have been a series of reprisal attacks back and forth. It has been raining rockets with no end in sight. Non-combatants are dying. Reportedly, Hamas is targeting Israeli civilians, including children. On the other hand, the Israelis, in an attempt to minimize civilian casualties, have been providing advance warning of their raids so that Palestinians civilians can vacate the targeted areas, although there have been reports that Hamas has forbidden these civilians to leave. (It seems that Hamas is more interested in creating martyrs than in saving lives.)
5. The turmoil is threatening to spread into other countries, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
In the midst of all of the foregoing, what has been the response of the US, the supposed world leader? After all, these situations did not sneak up on us; they have been months if not years in the making. Has it done anything to rein in Iran? Has it attempted to settle the conflict in Syria? Has it taken any action to deal with ISIS? Drones? Bombings? Anything? The ISIS army is not hidden in mountains, jungle or caves. It is right out in the open traveling on major roads in large convoys and very vulnerable to attack. Has it come to the aid of its one ally in the Middle East, the only one that doesn’t hate it and repeatedly try to attack it? The answer is no, no, no, no, no, and NO.
The situation with Israel is particularly egregious. Throughout his Presidency, President Obama has given Israel the cold shoulder. His support has been tepid, at best. He has continually provided concessions to the Muslims, even their terror groups, despite the fact that they have publicly vowed to destroy us. In this case, it took Mr. Obama over a week to reach out to Israel, and, even then, it was only after several world leaders had already done so – Angela Merkel of Germany, David Cameron of the UK, Stephen Harper of Canada, Francois Hollande of France and even Ban Ki Moon of the UN. Build a consensus, and lead from behind indeed. And what action did Mr. Obama finally take? Did he pledge support? Did he condemn the violence of the Muslim terror groups? Did he threaten to withdraw the $440 million in foreign aid we currently provide to the Palestinians, and, indirectly to Hamas? Nooooo. Obama’s response was to caution Israel against responding too violently. Reportedly, he told Mr. Netanyahu that, yes, Israel could defend itself, but not too strongly. Well, I ask you, what does that mean? What kind of half-hearted support is that?
As it is, Mr. Netanyahu has been strongly criticized within his country, even among his political allies, for not responding strongly enough. For example, there have been reports in the Israeli press that Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister and heretofore one of his strongest supporters in the coalition government, may withdraw his support. If so, that will force a “vote of confidence,” which Mr. Netanyahu may very well lose ending his term as Prime Minister.
CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION
It appears to me that most Americans are not taking the current situation in the Middle East as seriously as they should. The attitude seems to be “The Middle East is in turmoil again. What else is new. We don’t need to get involved. We’re tired of fighting. We have a big ocean between us and them.”
Well, I’m not advocating “boots on the ground” for several reasons, which, due to restrictions of time and space, I don’t want to get into at this time. But, there are many other actions that could be taken to stabilize the region, such as reinstating sanctions against Iran, withdrawing foreign aid to terrorists, droning and bombing ISIS and re-affirming support of Israel.
As it stands now, the US has left a power vacuum in the region and the bad guys are rushing to fill it. We need to take our heads out of the sand, stop hiding under our beds. The harsh truth is that the longer we wait, the worse it will get and the harder it will be to remedy it.