Now, we seem to have a choice. We two potential enemies in the Middle East. Libya was a distraction just to remind us that all Islamist evil does not reside in Iraq and Afghanistan, but here are Iran and Syria just begging for IT.

Plainly, President George W. Bush had no choice after 9-11. He had to invade Afghan-istan because something violent had to happen to someone after the sinister attacks on U.S. soil, even if the targets were symbolic and the horrible casualties were collateral damage. He couldn’t attack Saudi Arabia, the source of the funding for the U.S. attacks. The Saudis are our best customers for conventional and high tech weapons, and they own a growing chunk of our infrastructure and institutional wealth. He couldn’t attack Pakistan, or even accuse it of harboring Osama bin Laden, because Pakistan has nukes and has been looking for an excuse to use them. And there was still some processing of lies and rumors to be done before he could attack Iraq.

Now, we can blow Syria away and call it a humanitarian action. We’ve never liked Syria, anyway, but always considered it the responsibility of Israel, which really hates Syria. And there’s Iran, whom Israel hates but also fears. Americans are almost worn down enough to attack Iran, having heard so much conflicting information about nuclear aspirations that we don’t care what the truth is.
Israel has been able to call U.S. shots in the Middle East for a long time. 90% of the U.S. government is ready to obey any whim of Netanyahu, who remains militant on Iran and strangely silent on Syria.

So, what are we waiting for? The U.N.? Hardly. The U.N. has been frustrated by China and Russia’s tolerance for Syrian mayhem, and by U.S. vetoes of every effort to sanction Israel’s bellicosity.

The painful truth is that we have tried serious diplomacy with neither Syria nor Iran. Secretary Clinton has actually shown some real chops for diplomacy over the past couple of years, but to become a senator from New York, she had to take the pledge to favor Israel in every case. That remains a problem.

In a snapshot, he impossible dream for the Middle East is this: The U.S. mediates non-aggression pacts between Israel and Iran and Israel and Syria. This would be done after a treaty establishing a Palestinian state, facilitated by a U.S. promise to cut aid to Israel by 50% for each month of negotiations. Israel would have to confess it has a nuclear arsenal and make concessions to preclude development of Iranian nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Syria would be required to legalize opposition parties and share power with all segments of society, and reduce military forces in exchange for secure borders and trade. The U.S. would have to demand of each country that their peace groups be represented in plans and negotiations.

It’s pie in the sky, but it’s every bit as likely as any people gaining peace or security or justice from the same old violence. – RN